Believe it or not, there was a day in America when “fancy pants” beer meant Heineken. An import from Holland, Heineken was like the truffles of beer and changed the complexion of your Dad’s garage refrigerator from the red, white and blue of Budweiser and gold of Coors to an electric green.
But then Sam Adams, using a recipe developed in 1860, came along and changed everything in the mid-90’s, starting a microbrew craze that continues to sweep across America and spurring the craft beer obsession that has altered the landscape and language of our beer culture. Cask ale, anyone? Only $14 per bottle!
The American public has always had an intriguing relationship with beer. Even as U.S. beer drinkers and the beverage they love have grown more sophisticated and worldly, our society stubbornly refuses to let beer become the domain of the 1%.
Some examples: Miller High Life implemented a hilarious ad campaign featuring a delivery guy who lambasted pretentious beer drinkers. And hipsters managed to pull off one of the great ironic miracles of our time by making Pabst Blue Ribbon cool again (OK, the recession probably helped too).
Yet throughout the years Sam Adams has always rocked steady, enjoying the elevated status it earned by combining that blue collar Boston grit with exclusive microbrew elegance. Sam Adams has always been a beer that anyone could drink without making a political point other than “I know good beer.”
This summer, however, Sam Adams will begin selling its popular Boston Lager in cans. Had the brand decided to do this in its nascent stages during the 1970s and 1980s, it may never have reached the level of reverence it currently holds. Cans were for lesser brands that sold their products in 30-packs (because that’s about how many you’d need to drink to feel buzzed).
Yet thanks to technological breakthroughs with the lining, canned beers no longer take on a metallic flavor, which opens the door for taste-conscious brands like Sam Adams to deliver and sell their products in the more convenient and much cheaper old-school beer can. (New York-based brewery Six Point Craft Ales only releases its brews in cans for that very reason.)
But will the public accept this evolution in one of America’s most reliable and respected beer brands? We’re guessing yes–as long as they don’t make a 30-pack.