Sam Adams Homebrew Contest Shows “Big” Doesn’t Have to Equal “Evil”

These bottles are a great way to find absentee husbands who spend too much time at the bar. Have you seen this man? Send him home (with milk!).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Boston Beer Company does an excellent job of providing a road map for up-and-coming craft breweries.  They got started brewing craft beer for the masses more than a decade earlier than the big names that caught the brewing bug in the late 90’s, and they’ve continued to stay close to their beer nerd roots even as their output has grown past the old definition of “craft brewery.”  They are both large and fairly benevolent, a combination that’s pretty rare in the corporate world.

Sam Adam’s Longshot Homebrew Contest is a great example of what I’m talking about.  The rules basically go like this; home brewers submit their brews to the company, the beers are judged, and the winners get their beers brewed on a large scale and distributed across the country. Very cool!  If you’re a competitive type of person who loves to brew beer, this is your Super Bowl.  Here are this year’s winners

A Dark Night in Munich

Created by Corey Martin

Corey has been working on his Munich Dunkel for some time and the result is this amber, medium-bodied brew. With a nice malty backbone, this lager has roasty, slightly spicy notes and a traditional doughy character from the yeast. It is well worth the time he took to perfect it.

Derf’s Secret Alt

Created by Samuel Adams Employee Fred Hessler

Fred wanted to go big or go home with his homebrew and decided to brew a kicked up Sticke Alt. This full-bodied ale has a big, malty character balanced by subtle orange and grapefruit notes from the hops. With a light amber color, this brew has a sweet finish.

Five Crown Imperial Stout

Created by Joe Formanek

For the past 15 years, Joe has been brewing his Russian Imperial Stout. This malt-forward brew has a rich complexity, with roasty and chocolate notes, yet enough hop bitterness to balance out the sweetness. This satisfying winter brew is full-bodied with an enjoyable velvety smoothness.

No company is perfect, and I’m sure folks can point to examples of Boston Beer wearing a black hat, but for a brand with the distribution and market position of Sam Adams to promote home brewing with such a cool competition (they even have a home brewing 101 page on their site featuring Jim Koch) shows their heart is in the right place.

I might not love every beer they brew, but I commend Sam Adams for fostering the hopes and dreams of future brewers across the country.  If you’re interested in trying your luck, you can check out this year’s competition here.

I will be picking up a six pack of the Longshot winners, which should be on shelves now, to show my support for the competition.  Hopefully the beers won’t suck – it’s always hit or miss with home brew, especially mine.  🙂



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Categories: Beer, Home Brewing


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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9 Comments on “Sam Adams Homebrew Contest Shows “Big” Doesn’t Have to Equal “Evil””

  1. April 9, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    What a stellar idea! S.A. does it again.

    BTW I’ve tried a couple of S.A.’s specialty beers of late, stuff like their Imperial Stout (wow– boozy and chock-full of flavor!) & their Dark Depths Baltic IPA (not bad at all–very hoppy).

    They really are showing their brewing skills as well as their marketing smarts. This is what I envision all the Big Boys could/should be doing. Whether you’re a purist and won’t drink BB on principle, or a sell-out like me, who will buy any beer that I really like, you have to admit that BB would be smart to come over to the Dark (vs. Lite) Side of the Force.

    • April 9, 2012 at 11:43 am #

      Agreed on drinking what you like. The remarkable thing about their newer “craftier” brews is the price. They are pretty tasty and remarkably inexpensive for what you get.

      • April 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

        Agreed. I was given grief over trying the new “craftier” brews from people who have a bad perception of Boston Beer Co., but honestly, they were quite good. Not perfect, but quite good.

        Boston Beer Co. has continually pushed the boundaries of what constitutes “craft” both quantitatively speaking and in terms of breadth of offering . No, they’re not a small 5-barrel house by any stretch of the imagination, but they are holding true to the core of their depiction of “craft” .

        My only hesitation on entering is with clause 7(d) in the rules . It states, “Should your homebrew be selected as the Grand Champion, you and your Co-Brewer must assign any and all patent and intellectual property rights in your brew to The Boston Beer Company if requested.” I’m not sure I want to surrender all rights to a beer I spent time, energy, and money in perfecting. It would depend on the returns from that arrangement, which seem meager from Part II, B. 4. (too long to quote – go read it in the rules)

        The devil’s in the details, but it’s not a bad thing overall. Being a Grand Champion gets your name – and face – out there, and the $5k prize certainly isn’t peanuts. But if you’re setting future sights on being a brewer yourself someday, it’s something to consider; the notoriety and cash reward, or retaining ownership of a recipe for a damn fine beer.

        • April 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

          Shit… links were stripped… See rules link in the parent post for those citations. See “craft beer” in the Sam Adams online encyclopedia for their definition. See their full beer list on their website. And, Google “Sam Adams 2 million barrels” for links to how they raised the ceiling for “craft” to 6 million barrels.

        • April 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

          Yeah, I’m glad the ceiling was raised, because Boston Beer and Yuengling both aren’t nearly the behemoths that AB-InBev and the rest are.

        • April 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

          And my second citation is incorrect. Should be “Part III, B. 4” not “Part II, B. 4”. And I haven’t even had a beer yet today… hmm, maybe that’s the problem. 😉

        • April 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

          I agree that you have to consider the fine print here, but for most (or all) of the people in the competition, it’s probably no big deal. I bet it’s a legal thing/ lawyers being…lawyers.

        • April 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

          Partially a legal thing, anyway. Boston Beer Co. definitely makes out in that they reap profits from the beer sales and obtain full rights to good and proven beer recipes. I’m sure other legal solutions could have been employed that equally benefit both the winners and BBC… But like I said, it’s all for consideration. There are many designers who enter the abomination known as design contests, too (free design work mostly performed out of context). But just as every gimmick has its catches, every person has their price. Mine, personally, is higher than $5k for a proven, winning recipe. But someone else’s may not be, and they may have very different motives, needs, and desires when it comes to brewing.


  1. Q&A With Sam Adams 2011 LongShot Winners | Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - April 26, 2012

    […] their beer geek roots and making something like the LongShot contest possible.  As I said before, big doesn’t necessarily have to equal evil – just look at those kids up in Boston. Rate this: Share […]

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