O Hops, Where Art Thou?
Cascade Hops

All of us beer geeks have done our best to support the local breweries and rage against the brewing titans. Of course, the big boys aren't all evil, but they make an easy scapegoat by passing off their product as beer, dumbing down America with their advertisements, and laughing at us all the way to the bank.

For awhile, Sam Adams has existed somewhere between the big guys and the local microbrewery: while their production numbers are huge, they do put out a lot of beer styles, and I've used them as a stepping stone for people making the transition from swill to Portland micros. And, stone me if you must, their Imperial Pilsner release this year was pretty tasty.

But, the main catalyst for this article is because over the last few years, Sam Adams has also done a great service to the consumer: they've educated. They've spent a lot of time and money talking about what goes into beer, what these ingredients do, and why they're important. Sure, they're selling a lot of beer because of these ads, but whether or not people purchase Sam Adams, they're a little more knowledgeable about beer at the end of the day. And is this entirely a marketing ploy or is it a transparent look into the company?

Maybe I'm a sucker, but I think it's a bit of both. Take their Hop Sharing Program for example. Sam Adams has stepped up and used their enormous hop buying power to give back to the beer community, especially the new upstarts with no hop contracts. This is the same spirit that is alive and well here in Portland among brewers. In fact, it is this spirit that helps our beer community thrive.

There will always be competition among businesses, but competition in this industry is atypical. The goal seems to be more about furthering the beer, not just stuffing profits in your pockets. Of course, a brewery needs profits and customers, but there is a prevailing sense of camaraderie that drives the industry forward. It is present here in Portland, and all the way across the country in Boston.