Ruined By Success: Why We Shouldn’t Feel Bad For Jim Koch

Boston Beer Company, sire of Sam Adams, is the ultimate embodiment of the American Dream. Launched in co-founder Jim Koch’s kitchen in 1984, the company has since become one of the largest American-owned breweries and raked in over $830 million in sales last year. Having recently celebrated its 30th birthday and a slot at number 21 on Forbes’ Best American Companies list, the Boston Beer Company is at the top of its business game.

But Jim Koch, once referred to as “the Steve Jobs of beer,” is resentful because he thinks you’ve abandoned him.

In a recent article for Boston Magazine, writer Andy Crouch asserts that the burgeoning craft beer movement in the United States has deserted Boston Beer Co. in its pursuit of the microbrew, despite the company’s instrumental role in establishing craft brewing as an enterprise. While Sam Adams is still billed as a “craft beer,” grumblings in the brewing community have called into question whether a brewery that brings in over $600 million in revenue can still be defined as a “craft brewery.”

Once a niche industry, craft beer has become a serious contender in the American alcohol market and boasted upwards of $14 billion in sales in 2014. According to the Brewers Association,

When Sam Adams Boston Lager was introduced in 1985 it was one of the only “craft beers” on the market, making it stand out from contenders like Budweiser and Miller that monopolized the industry. To his credit, Koch’s DIY-style marketing strategy of going bar-to-bar to push his product was an impressive display of devotion, and the company no doubt owes its prowess to Koch’s relentless peddling in its infancy. Now a $2.9 billion company, Boston Beer Co. paved the way for other American craft breweries to make an entrance into the industry by legitimizing the advantages of small batch beer brewing.


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