Jim Koch from Sam Adams: Micro Loans, Craft Beer & Goose Island

October 14 2011 - 3:52 PM

Logo-ieLast week I had the privilege to talk with Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adams, about their new "Brewing the American Dream" effort as well as what constitutes craft beer and craft brewers, where Goose Island now fits and what's coming up from Sam Adams.

The Brewing the American Dream program focuses on individuals and start ups that wouldn't qualify for conventional bank loans as the capital request would be too small or they have a non-traditional model that wouldn't qualify.

CF: How do you evaluate these opportunities differently than a loan officer would?
JK: “Loan officers won’t even look at the kinds of businesses that we’re lending to. The purpose of the (program) is to make loans of $25K and under. We’re lending in the funding gap.  A bank cannot make money doing this kind of lending. It’s not uncommon for us in the program to help the applicant fill out the application.”
CF: Do you ever redirect business people who don't qualify?
JK:”Our objective is to help small business grow, succeed and create jobs. (Our speed coaching provides) 20 minutes with experts… open to everyone. (We've) made 100s of loans and 1500+ coaching/educational engagements ."

As a matter of fact this Monday, October 17th from 6-8:30pm, is the program's Speed Coaching at the Kitchen in Chicago 324 N. Leavitt, Chicago, IL 60612. The areas of focus include: Marketing and E-Commerce, Packaging, Sales and Distribution, Business Financing & Legal Advice for Your Business. Register here as space is limited.
CF:  How involved are you personally in these decisions?
JK: – Not at all. ACCION decides. (ACCION is their not-for-profit financial partner)
CF: You are the largest American-owned independent brewery. How do you define craft beer?
JK: “Craft beer is defined by the Brewers Association. It's small, independent, traditional (flavorful)
under 6 million barrels."

CF: Goose Island sold… does that diminish them in any way?

JK: “Goose island is a wholly owned and made by Anheusier Busch at their brewery in New York. I don’t think the beer has changed. It's up to whoever wants to make the definition… It doesn’t come from a craft brewer.”

CF: I recently saw the Sam Adams Imperial Series… Where is all this interest in high ABV (higher alcohol content) coming from?
JK: “Those beers are a lot of fun to make. The imperial (high alcohol) part of it allows you to pack a ton of flavor into a beer.”
CF: What new Sam Adam's beers are you excited about?
JK: The Barrel Room Collection…. Beers that are made with wild yeast and other organisms. Wooden barrels in Boston and Ohio is where they create KMF, Kosmic mother funk.

This results in strong beer where wild organisms from a 150 year old brewery have been introduced giving it unusual flavors including a lot of sour…

Look for both series:

Barrel Room Collection:
New world triple

13th hour – Belgian stout
stone brook red – sour
American Kriek – lambic w/cherry
750ml with champ/cork
Small Batch Series:
Griffins Bow – oak aged barley wine (new Zealand hops)
Tasman Red IPA – uses Tasmanian hops
The Vixen – chocolate bock w/chile
Imperial IPA 3rd Voyage features cascades from Captains Cooks Pacific voyage

–Josh Brusin