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Sam Adams to start moving into whiskey

xmacroxmacro Posts: 3,402
From the WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303836404577474741116948830.html?mod=rss_whats_news_us_business
Boston Beer Finds Route Into Whiskeys

Boston Beer Co. SAM +2.33% is diving into a multi-year pact to supply two of its craft beers to a Massachusetts-based distiller, which will turn them into whiskeys.

The plan underscores the growing popularity of the craft distillery movement, which has grown exponentially the past five years, following in the footsteps of craft beer 25 years ago.

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Inc., which was founded in 2007, is buying thousands of gallons of Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Cinder Bock to be distilled in wooden oak barrels and eventually hit shelves by 2015.

Berkshire will receive all profits from the sale of the whiskeys produced in this venture, and the initial products will be branded by Berkshire, though the Samuel Adams name will be indicated on the label.

All whiskeys begin as a beer but the beer used to make whiskeys usually isn't meant for initial consumption.

Boston Beer founder and Chairman Jim Koch said the craft distilling movement comes as consumers seek niche products that aren't made by huge companies. The whiskeys will likely command premium prices as the distillation process is more expensive when using a craft brew. Retail prices haven't yet been set Berkshire, which already produces six different spirits sold in 19 states.

Berkshire founder Chris Weld said when he began as a craft distiller in 2007, there were roughly 30 individuals working in the niche industry domestically. That figure has since jumped to around 300, Mr. Weld said.

The Samuel Adams whiskeys batch will initially be small—producing 1,000 to 1,500 nine-liter cases, though more batches can be developed along the way. Mr. Weld said the Samuel Adams whiskeys will taste different from each other, as Boston Lager is a lighter beer and should highlight sweet, fruity aromas during the distillation process, while Cinder Bock is heartier and smoky.

Boston Beer mostly operates in the craft-beer industry, which makes up a small percentage of the U.S. beer business though demand in the higher-priced segment is growing rapidly as seasonal blends and other new flavors appeal to more consumers. Boston Beer also sells Angry Orchard ciders and Twisted Tea, broadening the company's slate of alcoholic beverages.

Industry observers and distillers say consumers in recent years have shown a greater interest in moving on from vodka, considered by some to be relatively tasteless, to richer-flavored spirits like whiskey and rum. That trend can help broaden the appeal of Samuel Adams whiskeys and other new brown spirits hitting shelves.

Analysts have lauded the resurgence of brown spirits as alcohol companies like Brown-Forman Corp. BFB +0.62% launch new flavors such as Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey that have become a hit with consumers. Total domestic whiskey volume grew 1.8% last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of America, besting the performance of rum, gin, and brandy and cognac.

Other craft beer makers have moved into distilling. Oregon-based Rogue Ales began distilling spirits in 2003. "For us, it was quite logical," said Rogue President Brett Joyce. "We thought there is no reason why craft brewing is any different than craft distilling."

Mr. Joyce and other craft distillers say consumers are responding to the artisan nature of the products they are cultivating, often from locally sourced products that result in more varied spirits than what the mainstream players sell.


  • wwesternwwestern Posts: 1,397 ✭✭✭
    Hopefully they'll age something out in their spent utopias barrels!
  • wwhwangwwhwang Ottawa, ON, CanadaPosts: 2,878 ✭✭✭
    Nice. Sam Adams being one of the few national brand American beers I enjoy, I'd like to see how their whisky turns out.
  • VisionVision Posts: 3,900 ✭✭✭✭✭
    BOSTON YOURE MY HOME......... I loved Sam when I was drinking... I might have to pick it back up.
  • JCizzleJCizzle NYCPosts: 1,912 ✭✭
    Meh, will probably be mediocre at best.
    Light 'em up.
  • VulchorVulchor FloridaPosts: 4,826 ✭✭✭
    Im sure it will be as $hitty and overhyped as all their beers--------I know, Im in the minority here.
  • Rob1110Rob1110 Posts: 1,455 ✭✭
    I agree with Vulchor and JCizzle. I'm not impressed with Sam Adams at all. I find everything they do to be very middle of the road or least radical even of the more obscure or radical styles that they've tried lately. I do, however have confidence in Berkshire Mountain Distillers as I've had a few of their products and all have been good. It should be interesting. I'm sure I'll get to try it.
  • Jetmech_63Jetmech_63 Posts: 3,454 ✭✭✭
    I agree with you above, Sam got crappy about the time they broke out of the craft category and went mainstream. Thier imperial stout is a joke, as most of their other styles they mass produce. The extremely limited stuff that comes 2 per x-mas sampler....the stuff that tips a hat to their craft beer roots like Old Fezziwig and Chocolate Bock(which is damn good) are about the only things i like from them, my opinion.
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    I agree with wwestern, they potentially have LOTS of really cool barrels they could age this stuff in...
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • phobicsquirrelphobicsquirrel Posts: 7,349
    I like a couple of their beers, especially their imperial double boch!
  • JCizzleJCizzle NYCPosts: 1,912 ✭✭
    If that is the best thing on tap at a bar, I'll drink it, but that's about it. They make a decently average beer that's better than your run-of-the-mill mass-produced lagers (although I think Sam Adams is now the 4th largest beer producer in the country) but when you put them up against someone like Stone, Rogue, or any number of other breweries like that, they can't touch 'em.
    Light 'em up.
  • BombayBombay Posts: 1,207
    Interesting to see where this leads. I can handle the original Sam Adams, but when they get crazy with the flavors is where they lose it for me. Being in CA there are some pretty good and down right wonderful craft beers in the area and so I never really reach for Sam A. but not against it. Being that I am starting to get into whiskey and scotch, I will stay informed and mostly likely give it a run.
  • oldsoulrevivaloldsoulrevival Posts: 631 ✭✭
    Sam Adams is one of the very few massively produced beers that I actually like. They've managed to keep their craft despite increased distribution. This might be really interesting - I'll definitely try it.
  • JaxcolonJaxcolon Posts: 24
    Im sure it will be as $hitty and overhyped as all their beers--------I know, Im in the minority here.
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