CREATOR, SAMUEL ADAMS
I started home brewing with my dad in the 1960s, before it was legal. Back then it was tough to get supplies, but my dad was a brewmaster—in fact, five generations of family members were brewmasters. Other people would throw a football in the backyard; my dad and I brewed beer. After home brewing was legalized, I started playing around with it again. I bought my grains and hops from a guy who sold supplies out of his garage. You’d call him and say, “I’m coming over in an hour. Could you open the garage?” The quality was spotty, particularly of the hops. Generally, they were the brewers’ rejects. It was challenging, but I had a passion that went back 150 years. On my kitchen stove, I brewed my great-great-great-grandfather’s recipe for Louis Koch lager. Not every batch was a success. Brewing in the winter, I ended up steaming a lot of wallpaper off the walls. I can’t say it caused my divorce, but it didn’t win me any points with my then-wife either. It was tough in the beginning. I’ve had bottles blow up—it sounds like a muffled grenade going off. But the more I brewed, the more I realized I wanted to make a living doing what I love. When I started Sam Adams, everybody except the home brewers thought I was crazy. They supported me. I wanted to give back by starting the Longshot American Homebrew Contest [Samuel Adams brews and distributes the winning entries] to show beer drinkers that the line between a professional brewer and a talented home brewer is largely invisible. I still home brew. A few months ago, I made a beer with my daughter. She got her hands on some genetically modified yeast, designed to make bread with high vitamin A content. As I always say, making beer is about as hard as making bread.