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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sam is Dead in PDX

Good luck trying to find some Sam Adams Boston Lager in Portland. It's been a long time since I've bothered to look for any--I need it for symbolic purposes for a little party that begins this afternoon--and I had no idea what a rarity it has become.  The five sixers that constitute the usual stock at my local Fred Meyer* were long raided, and shoppers could not bring themselves to snag that last sixer of Sam Adams Light.  There were a few Rebel IPAs left--but as symbolism goes, "west-coast style IPA" doesn't really get it done.

Great beer selection; no Boston Lager. (source)
So off I went to Plaid Pantry**.  Apparently they don't stock it at all.  (Thirty brands of local beer, a few mass markets, but nothing from Boston Cincinnati. Then to Zupan's***.  Nyet.  Finally a hail Mary to Belmont Station, one of Portland's best bottle shops--and success!  Ordering maven Chris Ormand had the good sense to make sure some Boston Lager was on the shelves for just such an occasion.  I think there's something instructive in this story, but I'm not entirely sure what it is.  Just that, I suppose, a beer I thought was absolutely ubiquitous turns out not to be.  Good thing Jim Koch has that cider thing to fall back on.  Had I wanted a sixer of Angry Orchard, I could have gotten that anywhere.

*Fred Meyer ("Freddy's" to locals) is an old local supermarket chain.  It's owned by Kroger, but Fred Meyer was beloved to locals, and the home office--also in Cincinnati--made the wise decision to leave the name.  The stores are giant and have hundreds of beers and ciders for sale.

**Plaid Pantry is a local convenience-store chain

***Zupan's is a local high-end food market chain.  Also a huge selection of beer.  That we have so many weird local businesses is probably also instructive, but we'll leave that rumination for later.


  1. We tried Sam Adams Lager, Rebel IPA, Noble, etc. Tired them all and they just don't move in this market. Too many good local/regionals to choose from.

    Even did a tasting not long ago when we carried Rebel. Customers generally gave positive taste feedback but pushed back hard because it was made too far away and was too corporate. Talked to the tasting company. Said the feedback Sam Adams gets in similar to what they hear on Shock Top and to a lesser degree Blue Moon. Sam Adams is now reached ABI/Miller Coors status in Portland.

    Tim Cote
    VP of Marketing (and beer category buyer)
    Plaid Pantry

  2. They carry Sam Adams Boston Lager on the reg at my local Nopo Fred Meyer