The flagship brand of the Boston Beer Company, Samuel Adams — or Sam Adams, for short — was founded in 1984 by James “Jim” Koch and Rhonda Kallman. The following year, Samuel Adams Boston Lager was named “Best Beer In America” at the Great American Beer Festival. Three decades later, the Boston Beer Company is the second-largest craft brewery in the United States. Preferring to spread the wealth, the company is known to take place in a lot of philanthropy, including Brewing The American Dream — for which over $400 million in loans has been given out to entrepreneurs — and the Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Competition.
Sam Adams is also known for experimenting with its flavors. Beyond the popular aforementioned Boston Lager and the expected Sam Adams Light, the brand has branched out in recent years with the Samuel Adams Rebel IPA, the Samuel Adams Utopias — believed to be the world’s strongest commercial beer — and its Nitro Project. The brewer also puts out limited-edition seasonal varities and variety packs.
Just prior to the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day — when Samuel Adams Hopscape and Fresh As Helles were on the market — Downtown caught up with Megan Parisi, head brewer at Samuel Adams Nano Brewery. We did not get to ask Megan about the newly-reformulated Rebel line, which includes the Rebel Juiced IPA, but our Q&A did deliver plenty of insight into what’s ahead for Sam Adams. More on Sam Adams can be found at www.samueladams.com, beyond the company’s homes on Twitter and Facebook.
What do you wish more people knew about Sam Adams?
Megan Parisi: As the craft beer industry has grown increasingly popular over the past several years, it’s important to credit Sam Adams founder Jim Koch as one of the pioneers who sparked the craft beer revolution. Jim took a lot of risks in creating a universally loved beer at a time when people were just settling for fizzy, light, flavorless beer, which was the only beer on the market. Now, Boston Lager has become a staple beer, and Sam Adams continues to be a game-changer in the beer industry by constantly innovating.
To be a brewer at the brewery that pioneered extreme beer and the now-commonplace practice of barrel aging, is an honor. And to oversee our nano-brewery, the epicenter of our R&D beers, is awesome. I’ve contributed to two of our new seasonals, Hopscape and Fresh As Helles, which are now part of our rotating seasonal program, an industry practice our brewery established as well.
How did you wind up working for Sam Adams?
MP: I started my brewing career in 2004, working at a few other breweries before joining the Sam Adams team in 2015. I’ve always felt that Sam Adams had an authenticity and quality that’s unparalleled in the industry, and I knew when I joined in 2015 that I’d be a part of a truly innovative and beloved brewery.
Sam Adams just unveiled two new beers in time for both the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. Do you have a favorite of the two holidays and which beer do you suggest drinking for each occasion?
MP: That’s a tough one! Both beers are delicious in their own right but if I had to choose one, I’d say Hopscape is more fitting for the big game as it has a lot of “umph” to it. The hoppiness in the beer also balances the spiciness of food like Buffalo wings, which we all know we’ll be consuming a lot of! Fresh As Helles is also a great beer, but with the honey element, it’s the perfect brew to share with your sweetheart!
February events aside, what is coming up for Sam Adams?
MP: Sam Adams hosts its annual LongShot American Homebrew Contest, which recognizes homebrewers from around the country for their innovation, passion and quality homebrewed beers. We’re excited that craft beer drinkers from around the country will be able to enjoy the Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest variety pack in April, featuring the 2016 winning beers. As for other announcements, we’re constantly brewing new ideas and beers, so you’ll have to stay tuned!
When not busy with Sam Adams, how do you like to spend your free time?
MP: When I’m not making beer, I enjoy drinking beer, but prefer to call it “research!” I do like to stay active too. I began running seriously a couple of years ago, and now I really do look forward to the calm and peace of that quiet time to myself — and reward myself with a beer if it’s a later day run, not a morning one! Boston is also such a beautiful city, it’s wonderful simply to walk around here with no real agenda, and take in the sights and people.
Any upcoming travel to New York planned?
MP: I would absolutely love to get to New York soon, it’s been far too long since I’ve been, and I always love spending time there. Right now, I am simply too busy brewing to get away.
Do you have a favorite bar or restaurant in New York?
MP: There are many great places to choose from. It may sound touristy, but I was sad to see Carnegie Deli close. Over the years I have enjoyed many a pastrami there with some 5th Avenue pie after a concert at Carnegie Hall — even one in which I performed!