Raise a pint glass to the real Samuel Adams

Samadams Boston Beer Co. doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to the HBO miniseries John Adams, even though one of its main characters is John’s cousin Samuel Adams, the Boston revolutionary who inspired the brewer’s most popular beer. This may be because Sam Adams is presented on the program as little more than a common thug whose idea of a good time is watching British dudes get Gatoraded with tar. If Jim Koch wants to set the record straight about the real Sam Adams, he should enlist the historian Jeremy Stern for a testimonial. On the History News Network’s Web site, Stern criticizes the depiction of Sam as “a leering, ranting, even dangerous fanatic … the very image of the corrupt urban politician.” In fact, says Stern, “praise for Samuel’s character went beyond Massachusetts. In 1819, Thomas Jefferson, who had no reason to polish Samuel’s record, wrote … ‘I can say that he was truly a great man, wise in council, fertile in resources, immoveable in his purposes.’ ” Regular viewers, meanwhile, are waiting for Sam’s big bar scene. As one reviewer writes, “Will Sam Adams finally give the others a taste of that new ale he’s been raving about?”

—Posted by Tim Nudd