As summer draws to a close, I’ve noticed people in my neighborhood are grilling out more often. At dusk, plumes of smoke puff upward from back yards all around me. Even on weekdays, we barbeque as if to savor the precious days left of warm weather.
I find myself buying beer on weekends. It’s something I rarely do in the winter months. I’m loyal to Sam Adams because I believe in CEO Jim Koch’s desire to help other businesses in his region grow. He sponsors the change he wants to see.
When Jim Koch started brewing Samuel Adams beer out of a nearly abandoned brewery complex, distributors told Boston Beer Co. they would not deliver his products to liquor stores and bars. Too small, too fragile as an upstart, no one wanted to take the risk.
So Koch added another task to his To-Do list: on Thursday and Friday afternoons he’d snake his truck through alleys in Boston to stop at local bars and sling kegs off the back of a truck.
The company is proud of its latest initiative “Samuel Adams: Brewing the American Dream,” an initiative with Accion USA, a nonprofit that assists small-business owners, to offer small loans from a $250,000 donation by Boston Beer as well as business consulting services to New England entrepreneurs working in the food and beverage industry.
Through grit and a passion for quality beer, Koch built a brand that is internationally known, but still Boston Beer accounts for just 0.8 percent of the US beer market. As Koch sees it, that means the company still has to act like a small business, and its employees must think like entrepreneurs.
Most of the businesses funded through Koch’s program probably won’t go on to become national brands like Boston Beer. Indeed, the fund is specifically targeting catering companies, restaurants, and bakeries that fly just below the radar. But his goal is to create jobs and revitalize neighborhoods as Boston Beer did in Jamaica Plain. Funding 30 small businesses that create ten new jobs each makes the collective impact Koch proud to catalyze.