Jim Koch



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.

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