Saturday, Jan. 18
I vowed to use my first airline miles on a trip I normally wouldn’t be able to afford to see friends I normally wouldn’t be able to visit. The opportunity came up to visit two of my very good friends from college basketball, Roni Jo in Boston and Kelsey (Bakes) in Pittsburgh, so I had to take it. Plus I would be going to Boston with Jamey! Definitely a perfect way to cash in some rewards.
Jamey and I took a red eye flight from Seattle that got us into Boston at 6:30 am. Roni picked us up, and her sister Alicia (another good friend!) had coffee waiting for us once we arrived. We were pretty pooped, but after some coffee and a Roni Jo breakfast we had gotten a second wind and were ready to start exploring. We also had the pleasure of meeting David, Roni’s boyfriend, before heading out.
Our first stop was the Sam Adams brewery beer tour. The original brewery, it is pretty small, and they only use it to create new brews. Their beer is now mass produced in Ohio and Pennsylvania. So, the tour was pretty short, much shorter than the tour of the Budweiser Brewery Mom and I went to in St. Louis. However, the tasting at the end was far superior! But first what we learned about Sam Adams.
First Stop of the Tour
The first ingredient that creates the flavor of the beer is the malt. They passed some around for people to taste, but since I am feeling under the weather, I doubt anyone wanted my fingers rubbing up against their malt balls. The next ingredient is the hops, and then water. They use only Boston water, and in the Ohio and Pennsylvania factories, chemists match the water molecules to the same as found in Boston. I’m probably forgetting some things, but we were in the back and it was difficult to hear.
We were then shown the process room with all the giant metal cylinders. It was easier to understand here rather than at Budweiser, since all of the steps take place in one room, where at Budweiser it is spread over a gigantic campus.
This year, Sam Adams is celebrating their 30th birthday, and we learned that they are the most awarded brewery by its 30th year. Probably my favorite moment of the entire tour was when the guide asked if anyone knew the only Sam Adams beer that was not first created in the Boston brewery, and the most Bostonion man I’ve ever seen confidently stated, “the Saamuel Adams Buoston Laga.” It was awesome.
We were taken to do the tasting, where our guide actually told us how to properly taste beer:
Step 1: Appearance
The shade indicates the roasted malt of the beer. Also look for clarity. You should be able to see your fingers through the glass (unless it is a wheat beer, known for their cloudiness). Also check the foam, because it shows the quality of the ingredients. A think head of foam means the beer has a lot of protein that comes from the malted grains.
Step 2: Aroma
Gently swirl the beer in the glass and take a whiff of the hoppy aroma. Look for floral, grass, herbs, citrus, caramel, biscuit, or a chocolaty smell that will give a hint of how it will taste.
Step 3: Taste
First taste on the front of your tongue to check the sweetness. Then, take another sip and swash it back to the very back of your tongue to check the bitterness of the hops. The sweetness should be balanced with the bitterness of the hops.
Step 4: Body
As the beer crosses the middle of your tongue, is it thin or heavy? The level of effervescence combines with the sugars and alcohol to create a crisp or dense taste.
Step 5: Finish
What is the aftertaste like? Does it leave you wanted to drink more? (Then it must be good!)
We tested our tasting skills with the Spring Seasonal (my favorite), the winter blend, and a KMF (short for Kosmic Mother Funk). The KMF is a Belgian-style ale barrel-aged for at least nine months.
Roni, Jamey, and I Enjoying Some Fresh Brews
We finished up and took a brief look through the gift shop. I found an amazing shirt with a “Grumpy Monk” on the front, representing one of their seasonal craft beers. Since I have actually met grumpy monks, I thought this was a must-have purchase.
Grumpy Monk Logo (not my photo)
We headed back outside, and what was rain when we came in had turned into gigantic snowflakes! We were really excited to see the city covered in snow. And we weren’t disappointed. It snowed at least 3 inches as we walked to Fiore’s Bakery where Roni used to work for lunch. Tip: if you are ever in Boston and want a good cup of coffee, vegan baked goods, or sandwiches, definitely look this place up. They make their own bread, and the sandwiches are to die for! I had the Christopher Robin, and it did not disappoint.
Jamey and Roni in Front of Fiore’s
We headed back into the snow, coffee in hand, to pick up some fresh meat Roni and Alicia specially order from the Farmer’s Market that is currently out of season. We also trekked to the Jamaica Plains Pond, which was a winter wonderland of untouched snow. I don’t think I’ve experienced so many snowflakes falling into my mouth without me trying to catch them.
After our journey we returned in the mid-afternoon for a much needed power nap. Roni’s apartment is cozy, with home-made quilts, comfy blankets, and of course, the blob. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of sitting on the blob, it is a gigantic beanbag chair that has been passed down from Roni’s father and was the most sought after place to relax in our college apartment. We dosed off to some piano lessons next door.
Jamey on The Blob
Roni made her famous lasagna for dinner. We had ambitions to explore a nearby bar or two, but since we are all Libras we couldn’t decide where to go, and by the time we got done discussing that possibility and other things, we couldn’t rally to get going and resolved to have some more wine (or tea, for the sick girl) on the couch, reminiscing over college memories while absently watching horrific images of animal’s eating each other on National Geographic Amazing Moments.
David returned to the apartment with his guitar and he and Roni serenaded us with Bruce Springsteen, the Avett Brothers, Dave Mathews, The Eagles, and Mumford and Sons.
Nothing like ending the day with familiar tunes and catching up with old friends.