Smack dab in the middle of the South Boston zone of Jamaica Plain--that's J.P. to locals--sits the spiritual home of the Sam Adams family of beers. Although the vast majority of Sam's namesake lagers and ales are brewed out in Cincinnati or in contract batches around the country, the Boston Beer Company still runs their Boston location as a research and development brewery. In other words, these free samples might include some experimental varieties yet to be unleashed on the public.
A tour includes a trip around the brewery and three 7 oz. samples in a free souvenir glass. Repeat visitors may notice every factoid, joke and rhetorical question remains the same regardless of who's guiding the tour, a situation crying out for a Rocky Horror-esque audience participation segment.
Be sure to hide your Sam's glass if you go for the doubleheader and head up to their crosstown rival, Harpoon Brewery. Harpoon ditches the walking portion of the tour and gets right to the beer: Tastings are done scrum style with your sampling limited by time rather than by the glass. Twenty minutes of drinking are followed by a ten minute spiel that explains the offerings on tap. Thus educated, you've got fifteen more minutes to choose your path through the taps before your friendly bartender stops pouring anything smaller than a take home growler. (Obviously, the growler is highly recommended.)
Booze adventurers looking to maximize their free beer intake have their best luck on Saturdays. With both breweries less than four blocks from public transportation--Sam Adams near the Orange Line's Stony Brook stop, Harpoon close to the Silver Line's Silver Line Way--it wouldn't be a stretch to hit both in a day.
Pin-point your route on our Boston Beer Tour Map.