Monday, October 25, 2010

Safari #15: Sam Adams Brewery

You'd be hard pressed to find a Bostonian who dislikes beer - and this one has grown to love it.  One of the most popular brews in town is Sam Adams, and over this past weekend (with visiting guests in tow), I had a chance to visit the brewery in Jamaica Plain (JP).

Home brewers and beer connoisseurs alike will appreciate the informational nature of the tour which gives you a full picture of the brewing process.  For a special olfactory experience, hops are passed around the room for rubbing between your hands.  The aroma gives you a better appreciation of the high-quality ingredients Sam's uses for brewing. 

The JP location focuses largely on tours and brewing smaller craft beers, including the once yearly Utopias brew which contains anywhere from 24 to 27% alcohol by volume.  Other U.S. locations focus on brewing large quantities of the top sellers including the Boston Lager and seasonal brews.

The tour ends in the tasting room where three types of beer are offered.  Guests first get to sample the Boston Lager, Sam's flagship brew.  Second comes the seasonal selection, which in our case was the Octoberfest.  Last, we sampled a craft selection called the George Washington Porter, which is not sold in stores. 

If you're new to Boston and haven't had a Boston Lager, there's no better way to try it than at the source.  The sampling glasses given at the tasting are complimentary and yours to take home after the tour.

  • Go on a Weekday.  Weekend tours fill up quickly.  We showed up just before noon on Friday and made it right into the noon tour.
  • Stop by Doyle's Cafe.  Doyle's was the first bar to serve the Boston Lager on tap and a tour bus (with a fun and knowledgeable guide) will take you there for a meal - and special deal.  For $4.50, you can purchase a pint of beer served in Sam Adams glassware to take home (1 per guest).  The bus runs every 15 to 20 minutes to take you back to the brewery.
  • Drink the Irish Red. All proceeds from this beer help to support local entrepreneurs find capital to open their own businesses.  A great way to support the local economy!
  • Give the suggested donation.  The suggested donation for the brewery tour is $2.  Sam Adams uses these funds to support to local charities.  To learn more, visit the Sam Adams website.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Safari #14: Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Guilty as charged.  I've passed the Boston Public Library (BPL) in Copley Square more times that I'd like to admit.  As a buyer rather than borrower of books, I didn't think that the library had much more to offer outside of books and research materials.  After a recent visit, I learned how wrong I was. 

We Bostonians should be proud to know that our library was the first free, municipal, public library in the United States (say that to yourself a couple of times).  Pretty amazing.  With this spirit in mind, the library was painstakingly designed as a testament to spirit of learning and the appreciation of the arts.  The best way to learn about the library is to take a free, one hour guided tour, which focuses on its history, architecture, and art - of which there is alot.

Not to Miss
If you don't have time to take a guided tour, make sure to stop by and see the following sights:

The Entrance Stairway.  From the murals and fixtures to the and visually appealing marble, the entrance stairway is stunning.  When facing the stairwell, head towards the lion on the left side. Don't forget to rub its tail for luck.
John Singer Sargent Gallery (3rd Floor).  Known largely for his portrait and landscape paintings, Sargent is less known as a muralist.  When library architect Charles McKim asked if he would paint the third floor gallery, Sargent jumped at the chance.  It took him 26 years to paint the gallery, and sadly, he died before being able to finish it (a blank mural represents this).  The gallery art was recently restored, so this is a great time to visit and view the refreshed pieces.

The Courtyard.  If you're walking from the Johnson Building (the location of the circulation desk), you'll have an unexpected surprise just before you reach the McKim Building.  The courtyard made my jaw drop.

Quick Tips:
  • Visit During the Day.  While I loved seeing the Courtyard lit up at night, it was difficult to see some of the artwork as the natural light in the galleries dimmed significantly.
  • Eat in the Courtyard.  Either bring your lunch or buy it at the library cafe and eat outside in the courtyard.  What a beautiful setting to enjoy lunch with a friend - or someone special.
  • See More Art.  The museum displays many historical pieces quite frequently in partnership with other organizations.  The current exhibit was of vintage travel posters.  The next installation will display vintage postcards from Boston in the 1920's.
  • Get a Library Card.  Why not? While you're at the library, get a library card from the Circulation Desk.  It took me about 5 minutes using my Driver's License.