Beer Summit

Jim Koch, founder and chairman of The Boston Beer Company, brewers of Samuel Adams Beer, is a pioneer of the American palate as...

\nJim Koch, founder and chairman of The Boston Beer Company, brewers of Samuel Adams Beer, is a pioneer of the American palate as well as a quiet leader in conscientious capitalism.

If a local microbrewery opened in your vicinity sometime in the last 20 years, you have Koch in large part to thank. Establishing Samuel Adams in 1984, Koch kicked off the craft beer movement, awakening American drinkers to the vast potential of taste and sophistication in beer beyond the bland mass market offerings of Miller and Busch. Along the way, Koch has continued to innovate with flavor, alcohol content, cask aging, and ingredients to concoct offerings that extend the traditional definitions of beer. Koch is also deeply involved in community issues, and defines his company's mission to include a reinvestment in the ecosystems of which it is a part, whether the greater craft brewing movement or the Boston area where they are headquartered.GOOD: How is beer the new wine?JIM KOCH: When I came of legal drinking age in 1967, the number one selling wine in the U.S. was Thunderbird, a cheap brand that cost 80 cents a bottle. The word "wino" meant a derelict, homeless person. The preferred drinking vessel was a brown bag. There were no custom-made fancy glasses to enhance the flavor. So, if you look at the sophistication of the contemporary drinking public, and the wines that are being made, beer is going through that same transformation. It's really only the beginning. In sales volume, craft beer is still just 4 percent of the overall market.G: Before the craft beer movement, was American beer ever good?JK: In the 19th century, American beer was considered the equal of European beers. Pabst Blue Ribbon, for instance: the blue ribbon was a big deal. It won the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, a highly contested competition with beers from all over the world. But when Prohibition came in, brewing skills went away. During Prohibition, people brewed lighter beers that were easier and quicker to make, so tastes changed after 1918. Then, after World War II, brewers couldn't get enough barley and they started putting more corn in. They discovered making it lighter costs less, people will drink more, and you can sell it for the same price.G: Just as there are certain optimum places in the world to grow wine grapes, beer also has a geography. Your beer, for instance is brewed primarily with aromatic Hallertau mittlefrou hops harvested in Bavaria.JK: There's a certain latitude which determines day length during growing season, roughly where you get 16 to 17 hours of daylight at solstice. You need someplace that gets adequate water, because hops are vines, [but] it can't be too humid. They're not really grown in coastal areas because they'll get mildew and bugs if it's too humid. And then, certain soil conditions have to prevail. The ground has to be loamy enough to hold water, but not too rich. Bavaria, Germany; Kent in the U.K.; Bohemia in the Czech Republic: These are the classic growing areas for fine aroma hops.G: What's needed to grow quality hops in the United States?JK: We need to develop unique American aroma hops. For years we would try to grow Hallertau, Tettnang, Kent, and other cultivars that came from Europe, but it they never achieved the quality of the originals. What you see now are American cultivars developed at research universities. Oregon State and Washington State have programs to develop aroma hops in the United States. We're making test brews with a number of different American hops and the results are getting much better.G: A couple of years ago, when adverse growing conditions created a worldwide hops shortage, you made 40 tons of surplus hops that you had contracted for in advance available to other craft brewers at no additional cost.JK: I knew it wasn't going to last forever. We came into the market at a time when hops were cheap and easily available, and this was my way of reminding the newbies that we help each other. There's lot of mutual support among craft brewers. It's like if you needed advice, or someone needed to borrow your welding equipment-we're yeast neighbors.G: Since last year, you've also been funding a microlending program, providing grants and support service to New England entrepreneurs who want to start food or beverage-related businesses. Tell us about your commitment to conscientious capitalism.JK: I learned about adding value from Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's. It's very easy to support an appealing charity and write them a check, but very quickly you run out of the ability to write checks. If you're doing something that adds value, you create a renewable resource. In our case, something we've been involved with since the beginning is our brewery in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston. It's a traditional, historic brewery, dating back to the 1860s. When I first saw it, I fell in love, but the neighborhood was dangerous and depressed, the site had been neglected, trees were growing out of the facade, and squatters lived in some of the buildings.So we got together with a community-based nonprofit neighborhood development corporation and set out to renovate the site to provide jobs for local residents, who were largely recent immigrants. That was 25 years ago. To this day, we're still a tenant. Our landlord is a community-based nonprofit corporation. We never wrote them any big checks, but we helped turn around the neighborhood and created more than 200 jobs at the brewery. Ten years from now, those jobs are still going to be there.I feel this kind of thing may have limits-when a company grows past a certain point, or becomes absorbed into a larger corporate structure, the social mission can't really be sustained. Ben Cohen got forced out when Ben & Jerry's was bought by Unilever; Stonyfield Farm was bought by Danone. Coming up in the '80s and '90s, there were a bunch of companies whose founders I met at some point-the Body Shop, American Girl, Tom's of Maine, Nantucket Nectar, Stacy's Pita Chips-and all of them were founded with some social mission, but at some point they all sold out.One of the things that's unique about craft beer is that none of us has sold out: Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams are all run by the original founders, and we've all turned down offers for enormous amounts of money. I like to think it says something about the passion that brewers have for their product. Brewery photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kafziel
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less