Of all the nonsense metrics I like to use to measure brand strength, the most fun is my Facebook status update. By that shaky yardstick, I’d hit a deep wellspring of brand loyalty when I posted that I’d spent the day at Fast Company HQ drinking beer with Jim Koch, the beloved founder of the Boston Beer Company, maker of Boston’s finest brew, Samuel Adams.
The flood of Sam Adams drinking stories, jealous outbursts and requests for beer was immediate and enthusiastic. Conclusion: This is a product with unusual consumer engagement profile and a tenacious brand appeal. (The response had nothing to do with the beer-soaked company I keep.)
Koch is no empty keg. He comes from a long line of brewmasters, sports a double Harvard degree and gave up a lucrative career in consulting to do something incredibly risky that he knew would make him happy. Brewing beer. And now, it’s made him very, very successful. With Anheuser-Busch’s 2008 takeover by Brazilian behemoth InBev, The Boston Beer Company has become the largest American owned brewery in the United States, and at one million barrels per year, the largest craft brewer. In the process, Koch has become a TV icon nearly as cool as the Clydesdales.
In between beer tastings, Koch walked us through the history of the business, as well as his unique take on philanthropy–and the unusual steps he took to keep fellow craft brewers in business during a recent worldwide shortage of hops.
Video by Michael Shick