Sam Adams Founder Jim Koch Reveals 3 Drinking Hacks Learned Over a Lifetime of Boozing

Step into the dojo.

Photo: Caitlin Cunningham

As men, there’s something ingrained in our psyche that makes us believe we are professional consumers of alcohol. But, low and behold, we all occasionally wake up on Saturday mornings with hazy vision and pounding headaches wondering what the hell happened. 

Yes, sometimes we need a bit of help, and there’s no one more qualified to dish out drinking advice than Jim Koch, the co-founder of Boston Beer Company and brewer of the Samuel Adams beer brand. 

A sixth generation brewer, Koch was raised with a great respect for beer, and therefore has a pretty unique perspective on when and where it’s appropriate to crack a brew.  

As he tells us, “The foundational documents of our country, like the Declaration of Independence, were composed in taverns over a beer. So if you can found a great nation while you’re having a beer, you can probably have a solid business meeting too.”

His logic is pretty undeniable, but Koch is certainly not advocating that you lap up scotch from 10am to 2pm like a modern Don Draper, or revisit your college years with all-day binges (there’s a time and place for that, too). Rather, he’s suggesting there’s a healthy and responsible way to enjoy drinks throughout the day. 

And with his years of experience living, breathing, and, of course, drinking beer, you’d better believe he’s got some drinking hacks up his sleeve to help us all be responsible drinkers. Listen up! 

1. Drink without getting drunk.

Photo: Caitlin Cunningham

This first trick will allow you to have a couple extra beers during a business lunch without getting a buzz that turns into lethargy back at the office. All you need to do is activate a teaspoon of instant yeast you can find at your local grocery store in warm water and slam it down. 

The science behind it is simple. Yeast is a fungus that contains an enzyme that breaks alcohol down into its natural constituents. It’s the same enzyme found in the liver, so by ingesting it right before you drink, some of the alcohol will be broken in the stomach before it’s processed in the body, thereby preventing its intoxicating effect. 

“It works this way,” explained Koch. “You put a teaspoon of that in your stomach right as you start drinking. Everyone’s metabolism is different, so you’ll want to try it out. But for me, it takes 30 or 40 % of the alcohol out, so I can have three drinks and it will feel like two.”

2. Pay attention to your ABV. 

Samuel Adams flagship Boston lager clocks in at 5% ABV, considerably higher than Guinness draught at 4.2%. 

Another preventative measure simply comes down to knowing the alcohol by volume (ABV for short) of your drink of choice. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can tell how much alcohol is in your drink just by looking at it. Google comes in handy here.

“Be aware of how much alcohol is in a beer,” Koch told us. “For example, people think that the darker a beer, the stronger it is, which is not true at all. Don’t think that just because a beer is light in color it has less alcohol, and vice versa.”

3.  Drink all night, don’t get a hangover.  

Photo: Caitlin Cunningham

This one’s pretty simple: drink water, and stick to beer. Easier said than done in many cases, but hey—it works. 

“The only thing that’s ever really worked for me is drink a lot of water,” said Koch. But the real hack is basically stick to beer, don’t drink the punch, and when people start doing shots, go home.”