“Jim Koch is a hard-working guy who has created a very honest product with Samuel Adams beer. I think there is a huge trust involved on the part of the consumer when a new flavor is introduced. He gets credit for knowing what he’s doing because it comes from genuine passion.”–Chef David Burke
“I have to admit that when I cook, I usually cheat,” confesses brewmaster Jim Koch, “because I use beer and my knowledge of beer to make the whole process simple.”
Adding beer to a recipe isn’t just another step, in Koch’s estimation, but a very important component: “The brewers have already assembled a spice package in the beverage; just connect the right beer with the right protein, and you have a home run.” Chef David Burke adds: “There is flavor in beer, just like in herbs and spices. When you add beer to food, to marinate or in a sauce, you impart those flavors.”
While most consumers still associate beer with casual dining fare, things are changing dramatically on the beer-crafting side. This has lead talented chefs to not only incorporate more brews into their cooking, but also develop their cuisine to pair well with beer.
“These days, I meet so many people who know so much about beer, which brew is made from which wheat and so forth,” marvels Burke. “There are genuine Sam Adams fans out there who endear Jim Koch with rock-star status. These are businessmen who know quality.” Koch appreciates the enthusiasm; he’s gone to great lengths to create a craft beer that consumers will take seriously, even as seriously as they take their wine: “Craft beer is brewed for flavor and complexity, just like a good wine, so sip it accordingly, because when you chug it, you miss all that.”
And there is so much to miss! Chef Burke calls Koch “the world’s greatest saucier,” because he flavors his brews like a saucier: “He has this amazing basic veal stock, say, that he puts a little of this and that into and takes it in all different directions.”
Take Sam Adams Summer Ale, for instance, Koch’s attempt to bottle the essence of summer. They start with color and clarity–in this case a bright, golden hue with a slight haziness to it–capturing that moment