Tour the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston

Visiting Boston? Like Beer? This Free Tour is a Must

Samuel Adams Brewery Tour Boston
••• Go behind the scenes and see how beer is made, then taste fresh-brewed Sam Adams craft beers after your factory tour. Media photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Samuel Adams. Brewer. Patriot.

I'm not thoroughly convinced that would be the order in which ol' Sam would list his achievements if he wrote his own resume, but it's the familiar slogan you'll find on bottles of beer made by the Samuel Adams Brewery. And when you tour this Boston landmark, you might just be convinced that lending his name and face to the beers produced by the Boston Beer Company is this hero of the American Revolution's most glorious legacy.

I'll tell you about the first time I toured the Samuel Adams factory, but I don't want to stand between you and free beer, so first, here are all of the details if you're planning your own visit to the brewery.

Sam Adams Tours

Tours of the Sam Adams Brewery are offered Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. roughly every 45 minutes. Tours are free, but a $2 per person donation is requested, and all monies collected are donated to local charities. The tour is open to all ages, but you must be 21 with proper ID to sample beer. For more tour information, call 617-368-5213.

The wait in line for a tour can be significant, particularly on Saturdays, so plan your visit for early in the tour day if you can. Here's an added incentive to be an early bird. The only brewery tour for which you can reserve tickets online in advance (still free, with a suggested $2 donation) is the first tour of the day: the Morning Mash In.

You'll need to arrive at the brewery by 9:40 a.m. for this tour, and as an added reward for dragging your carcass out of bed, you'll get to sample something special.

Getting to the Brewery by Car or Subway

The address for the Samuel Adams Brewery is 30 Germania Street, Boston, MA 02130. It is a bit off the beaten path in the city's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

For recorded directions, call 617-368-5080. Leave yourself plenty of travel time--driving in Boston can be tricky, and parking can be even trickier. You may want to get to the brewery by subway (The "T"). Take the Orange Line toward Forest Hills, and get off at the Stony Brook stop. From there, you'll need to walk to the Brewery by taking a left onto Boylston Street, your first right onto Armory Street, then your first left onto Porter Street. At the end, turn right and proceed toward Germania Street and the brewery's gates.

My Sam Adams Tour Experience

Bruce and I got hopelessly lost trying to find the Sam Adams Brewery on our first visit, in spite of the multiple sets of directions and the maps we had with us. Boston was particularly difficult to navigate back in those days due to the constant re-routing resulting from the Big Dig infrastructure project.

As it turned out, though, we arrived (finally) at the Samuel Adams Brewery at a perfect time. The preview video was just concluding, and we didn't miss a minute of the tour, nor, more importantly, of the beer tasting that followed. We caught just enough of the video to learn that it takes Sam Adams all year to brew what Anheuser-Busch brews in an hour!

That gap has been closed, I'm sure, as Samuel Adams' popularity has soared and its line of beers has expanded. There's even talk now that Samuel Adams is too big to be considered a "craft" brewer.

Our tour guide took over when the video concluded, providing us with a brief history of beer in Boston. We learned that more beer was produced and consumed in Boston than anywhere else in the U.S. 100 years ago. Our tour leader also told us a bit about Sam Adams' founder, Jim Koch, who, with three degrees from Harvard, is the "most educated guy in the beer business." Koch's great-great-grandfather had a brewery in St. Louis, and the recipe for Samuel Adams Boston Lager—the brewery's flagship beer—is derived from an old family formula.

Then, our guide pronounced that he would lead our tour group of about 50 people on the best part of the tour: the brewery itself.

"It's like taking you into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, only no guys in orange dancing around," he said.

He tried to hold our attention by sharing with us the Seven Wonders of Sam—taste, aroma, complexity, body, smoothness, finish, and balance—by allowing us to taste beer ingredients like Hallertau hops and by telling us about Sam Adams' revolutionary introduction of the idea of labeling beer with a "born on" date. But with the beer hall-style tasting room only a few steps away, he had his work cut out for him.

Once crowded inside the tasting room, we were able to sample four products made by the Boston Beer Company, which makes Angry Orchard Hard Cider and Twisted Tea Hard Iced Tea products in addition to the Sam Adams line of beers. We got to try the staple, Samuel Adams Boston Lager; the seasonal brew, Sam Adams Summer Ale; Samuel Adams IPA (India Pale Ale), which was our favorite; and a cider. Our guide and the bartender ascertained who of the group had a recent birthday, and we serenaded a young woman with "Happy Birthday," sampling at the same time the room's fabulous beer hall acoustics.

Of course, it was impossible to depart without passing through the gift shop, where Bruce purchased a Samuel Adams tray featuring a portrait of the famous patriot and brewer, or brewer and patriot if you prefer. If you can't get to Boston, a variety of Sam Adams gifts can be purchased online at the brewery's online store.

More Beer?

  • While you're in Boston, you can also tour the Harpoon Brewery, 306 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210.
  • If you're a craft beer and microbrew lover planning a trip to New England, be sure to read... Yankee Brew News.
  • Want to sip the best beer in the world? You'll have to travel to Vermont.
  • Want to cook with beer? From my New England Kitchen, here is my easy recipe for Patriot Pork Chops made with Samuel Adams Boston Lager! You can also substitute your favorite New England brew.