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04.2008

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedOnBeerReport

A Grape Idea Becomes a Winner

IT LOOKS LIKE GRAPES are getting into the beer business. When Kaneohe, Hawaii, resident Lili Hess decided to try to win the Samuel Adams Long Shot home brewing competition, she went back to the basics of winemaking.

Competing against nearly 3OO fellow company employees around the country, she knew she’d need something to make her beer stand out in the crowd. The idea of a grape beer, melding the basics of wine and beer together, came from her fellow home brewer and friend Jonathan Schwalbenitz.

“I went to Jonathan and said, ‘You have great ideas, you know what the customers are drinking, let’s do something together,’” says Hess, who serves as the Samuel Adams International sales manager for Hawaii and the Pacific Rim.

“We knew we were not going to make the best pale ale or stout, so we did something different.”

This melding of grape and grain earned her first prize in the nationwide competition: a trip for two to Oktoberfest in Germany and the privilege of having her recipe brewed by Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston and distributed throughout the country in the Long Shot six-pack.

“So I told Jonathan if we win I’ll take you as my guest (to Oktoberfest) and our spouses can pay their own way,” says Hess with a smile.

The name of the beer is Grape Pale Ale. It’s mildly hopped with Samuel Adams’ signature hops, and Hess describes it as a light, easy-drinking Hawaii beer.

“It is like taking a bite of a grape and then having a sip of a nice pale ale,” says Hess.

For Schwalbenitz, a bartender at Murphy’s Bar and Grill and a confessed hophead, this is a dream come true.

“It was nice to finally make a beverage from a grape that is drinkable,” says Schwalbenitz with a laugh, as a shot over the bow of his wine geek friends. - CHAD PATA, MID WEEK

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