Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jim Koch, yes or no?

A resounding YES! Koch (pronounced like Cook) is the founder and owner of Boston Beer Company, aka Samuel Adams. I'm a beer snob and, while I like pretty much every offering from Samuel Adams which I have tried, there are others I like better. For instance, I like the flagship SA Boston Lager, but IMHO Brooklyn Beer's lager is better. But that's just me and when all is said and done Jim Koch's breweries make perfectly fine beer. But so do a lot of other breweries, so why revere Jim Koch?

For starters, he began his company at a time when craft brewing was unknown and trying to forge a foothold in the American beer market meant going up against the huge breweries of Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors. Not only did Koch succeed in getting his company off the ground, he did it the American way: through hard work and perseverance. Samuel Adams is now the largest craft brewer in the U.S. and the largest American-owned brewer in the nation. That's right, the huge breweries are not American-owned any longer.

Koch encourages home brewing and each year Samuel Adams has a contest wherein home brewers submit their beers for blind judging. The winners get to travel to Boston and help brew their recipes, which are sold each Spring in the Longshot sampler packs (Longshot is the name of the contest). That is awesome! Koch has designed a new specially shaped glass that enhances beer drinking. Each year SA has a company-wide meeting which culminates with a round of beer trivia. When the world-wide hop shortage was at it's worst Koch agreed to sell--at cost--some 20,000 pounds of hops to other breweries that were having trouble procuring the hops they needed. And Koch did not do it publicly (though someone heard about it and made it public).

Jim Koch is an ideal example of a man who pursued a dream, made it happen the old-fashioned way and continues to operate it in that manner. And Samuel Adams isn't resting on its laurels. The mega breweries are about glitzy advertising, profit making and churning out tons of weak-tasting "beer" (which is made using rice or corn and hop extract instead of real hops), sold barely cheaper than craft beers. Jim Koch continues to run a company that stays true to its roots and hasn't abandoned what got it here in favor of making more money. Kudos to you, Jim Koch. May you continue to prosper.

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