Nov. 10--Made in Massachusetts is an ongoing feature taking you inside the products made right here in the Bay State and the people who make them.
These days, craft beer is much more than a hoppy -- erm, hobby -- to the brewing industry. The practice of distilling limited batches of inimitable brews is now a staple in tap rooms across the country, especially in Massachusetts.
Samuel Adams, the flagship brand of the Boston Beer Company, drove the craft beer trend when it first opened more than three decades ago. Since the brand's inception in 1984, the lust for brewers to dive into unchartered territory has grown wildly. Times have changed -- namely, the supreme reign of the Indian Pale Ale.
And while its original Boston Lager remains a top-selling fixture, Sam Adams is all in on this new, heightened era of craft beer. Its brand new tap room in Jamaica Plain is proof.
The tap room on Germania Street, located next to the Sam Adams Brewery, beer garden and "Bier Keller" (or beer cellar), opens to the public on Friday after nearly one year of planning and construction. The space feels both rustic and urban with its long wooden tables, brick walls and uniform hanging lights. Its main purpose? To feature one-of-a-kind brews for patrons new and old.
"In the long time I've been a brewer, the craft drinker has evolved so much," Jennifer Glanville, a Sam Adams brewer of 16 years, said Thursday night after ceremoniously cutting a red ribbon to celebrate the tap room's opening. Glanville recalled when she first invented craft beers for friends and family who would tell her -- "ah, we're good. We don't want to try that."
"As the craft drinker has evolved, it's given us as brewers an opportunity to really continue our experimentation and innovation," Glanville said. "This room brings this to life."
She and Megan Parisi, Head Brewer of the Sam Adams nano brewery, detailed the many hours and processes it took to perfect the list of beers on draft at the tap room. Such champion beers included the New England IPA and the 2015 Vintage American Kriek, a Belgian Cherry Ale.
Parisi spoke excitedly about the New England IPA, a 6.8-percent beer that she described as crisper and less bitter than its west coast counterparts. Instead of emphasizing the bitterness of many IPAs, Parisi said this brew "kind of just deliver[s] all of the best things about the hops."
Other spunky brews include the American Kriek and Nitro Fat Jack -- a double pumpkin beer made using hundreds of pumpkins brought over from the Commonwealth Kitchen location across the street from the brewery.
With its innovative beer, the tap room will operate as both a casual bar and event space, according to Glanville.
"We love suggestions because we really want to make this a space where everybody has things that they love to do," Glanville said, using the board games and table games around the room as examples.
Those who want to take their craft beer a step further will want to visit the Bier Keller just a short walk away from the tap room. The Keller, once a dirt and cement storage space for landscaping equipment, was slated to host offices for Sam Adams before Glanville proposed making an old-fashioned beer cellar instead.
Dim hanging lights reveal barrels upon barrels lining the edges of the room. Sam Adams was one of the first American brewers to practice barrel-aging, the time-consuming process that led to the invention of Utopias in 2001. Now produced in limited quantities each year (this year's batch knocked in at just under 29 percent alcohol), a glass of the barrel-aged Utopias sips more like a cognac than a beer.
"Every year's release of Utopias has a different blend in it of all of the years' prior," Glanville said in the Bier Keller.
From Monday through Friday, Sam Adams Brewery offers tours of the cellar, allowing guests to try three exclusive, barrel-aged brews paired with cheese from a local cheese monger.
The cellar even became physically intertwined with the beer: Boston Beer Company co-founder Jim Koch urged Glanville to search for yeast in what was, at the time, still a dusty basement. She dove into the mess of cobwebs to take test swabs, successfully finding viable yeast that was later used in some batches of the Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Kru beer.
Glanville lit up while talking about the processes behind her brew babies -- and she knows others will too.
"People can come in and ask about these beers and taste them," she said. "Drinkers want to learn more about what you're doing."
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