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. 🙂