Outside the Bubble: Samuel Adams Brewery

You know the drill.  You’ve got visitors in town and they want you to give them the “full Boston tour.” They want clam chowder and Red Sox gear and a Tom Brady sighting. You know that you’ve got cases to read and interviews to prep for and no desire to repeat a walk along the Freedom Trail. No offense to our forefathers, but that tour just takes too damn long. Then it dawns on you. There is one place that could satisfy everyone’s desires: your guests, longing for that New England history lesson (and you, longing for a cheap drink and no lessons in sight.) It is perhaps the only place in the city that offers a pre-brunch beer. (Does Jamaica Plain count as “in the city”? No one knows for sure.) This golden place is the Samuel Adams Brewery. It is the perfect activity for your out-of-town visitors and you will actually relish your time, too. Here’s why:

1. You need to get off campus.

Papers, projects, FIELD, independent study… Ditch the laptop and leave the HBS premises. Your dorm will not miss you. Yes, you have to take public transportation to get out to J Plain. And the Orange Line can be a bit skeezy. But once you meander your way through a few neighborhoods, turn the corner, and find yourself standing in front of the brewery, I guarantee you will say, “This was a goooooood idea.” The cost of the tour? Nothing. There is a $2 recommended donation (just check your coat pocket and cough up the change – all donations go to a local charity.) Two charming hosts will greet you at the door with a smile and a hand stamp. Their blood-alcohol level might be questionable for the mid-morning hour (or even for a late-night hour) but you will pretend not to notice because they are SO nice. (Shout out to Katie and Erik!) If you are lucky enough to have arrived at a reasonable time (there are no set times for tours to begin, you are just encouraged to arrive early), then you will be promptly guided to the trailhead of the beer journey.

2. You will learn stuff. But not too much stuff.

This tour is the perfect mix of explanation and non-explanation. You will learn about the brewing, mashing and fermenting. You will get to taste the barley and sniff the hops. You will get the chance to make a fool of yourself in poignant moments of the tour, such as when the guide rhetorically asks the group, “What does water do to the alcohol?” (To which I enthusiastically answered, “It makes it wet!” Yeah. I got a nice pat on the back for that one. And then I melted into the floor in embarrassment.) Even then, the jolly tour goes on in its easygoing fashion. After the history lesson and the brewery tour are complete, you will be ushered into the Barrel Room. And then?

3. You will drink.

You will be offered pitchers of three different Sam Adams beverages. I sampled the Boston Lager (so-so, but obviously the flagship brew), the Imperial Ale (a spicy cousin of the Boston Lager that will confound your “mouthfeel”) and my personal favorite, the Octoberfest (it’s like the whole Autumn season in a bottle!) The beer explanation continues throughout the tasting, where you are encouraged to take sips and experiment with different parts of your palette. This leads to extra drinking. There is a legal limit the brewery is allowed to serve, so once the tasting is complete you will be directed the gift shop where you can purchase various alcohol-themed souvenirs (Christmas is around the corner…) You will also be directed to the free party trolley waiting outside to shuttle you down the street to Doyle’s Café. If you flash your brewery tour ticket and hand stamp, Doyles will give you a free Sam Adams beer glass with any purchase. Order the onion rings. This is where your guests can indulge in the clam chowder.

The Bubble Wrap (Up)

This beer journey is the perfect tour for your out-of –town guests and the ideal Saturday morning anecdote for HBS stress. Have a drink, nibble on some barley and be thankful that none of the tour guides were dressed up in 18th century garb. Sorry, Freedom Trail impersonator of Sam Adams. We like the brewery tour so much more.

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