Oskar Blues Goes Big in NC Debut

Hey, if you open up a new brewery, you might as well open it up big, right? That’s what is happening at Oskar Blues, where they’re planning to take a run of Ten FIDY Imperial Stout — the first batch made at its new Brevard, N.C. facility,  as far as it can go.

Arguably the most complex brew in the brewery’s seasonal lineup, the Ten FIDY Imperial Stout will be made available in all 32 states where Oskar Blues is distributed thanks to the increased capacity.

And apparently there is room for more. On top of their consistent growth and plans to potentially push into three more states, the announcement includes a mention that a new late winter/early spring seasonal is in the works. Hey, if the space is there, use it.

Release is below.

BREVARD, NC – Oskar Blues is pumped to announce the release of the first batch of the award-winning Ten FIDY Imperial Stout from the East Coast brewery. This much-anticipated seasonal brew is now fermenting in the tanks at both the ColoRADo and NC locations. It’ll be released at parties at both Tasty Weasel Tap Rooms and distributed to all 32 states where Oskar Blues is sold.

Less than nine months after the first North Carolina brew bubbled, the brewers have recreated all seven of Oskar Blues’ regular line-up of beers, finishing with the much-anticipated, highly-coveted Ten FIDY (10.5 percent ABV).

This supremely full-bodied seasonal, that has bulldozed beer connoisseurs, will be available at your favorite watering hole or retailer earlier than ever  this year—in September—thanks, in part, to the new(ish) brewery. Following the successful release of our spring seasonal, GUBNA, the FIDY will be available until February 2014 (or until it sells out), making it a perfect holiday gift beer. Stay tuned, as Oskar Blues plans to brew up a brand new seasonal in 2014 to be sold between the GUBNA and Ten FIDY releases!

The Brevard Ten FIDY release party takes place on Thursday, August 29, 2013, at the NC Tasty Weasel. Come taste the first NC FIDY, plus another special Ten FIDY tap. The night includes a chili cook-off with brewery judges (bring extra chili to share), music from This Mountain, a rockin’ folk band from East Tennessee, Ten FIDY corn hole, and special T-shirts featuring the “First in FIDY” license plate.

Western North Carolinians who visit the brewery will be among the lucky first tasters of this uniquely crafted brew, with its inimitable flavors of chocolate-covered caramel and coffee that hide the hefty 98 IBUs underneath a smooth blanket of malt.

The Longmont Ten FIDY release party will happen on Friday, August 30, 2013, at the ColoRADo Tasty Weasel Tap Room. The night’s offerings will feature a vertical tasting of FIDY from years past, plus a barrel-aged FIDY, a firkin of FIDY Pale, and a Nitro Smidy. Because if its hefty ABV, FIDY is uniquely cellarable and gets bought up and stored by beer geeks nationwide. The nectar becomes even more smooth with age.

An Asheville Ten FIDY release party will take place at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. Keep an eye out for other bars and restaurants celebrating the return of this boundary-busting brew.

Oskar Blues’ Ten FIDY has been showered with accolades that almost stand up to the size of this behemoth-in-a-can, including:

  • “The biggest, baddest, boldest beer in a can” from Celebrator Beer News
  • “2008 Beer of the Year” The Denver Post
  • “100 Rating” – Ratebeer.com
  • “A-Rating” – Beeradvocate.com
  • Gold Medal – 2010 and 2012 World Beer Championships
  • “Top 51 Beers” – 2011 Beer Magazine

Ten FIDY is a super-strong beer that takes strength to make. This brew is made with an enormous amount of two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops. Ten FIDY’s nearly 5000-pound grain bill is just short of 50 percent specialty malts, which are packaged in 55-lb bags and loaded into the mills by hand. The many bags of oats are poured directly into the mash tuns. The oats and rice hulls have to be lugged up 20-odd stairs to the top of the brew-decks.

“Brewing Ten FIDY is unlike any of the other beers we make. We have to mash-in two batches just to get one kettle filled because we only take the most concentrated wort from each mash. It’s a very time consuming and labor intensive process. This is part of how we make Ten FIDY so unique, rich, and complex,” says Brevard head brewer Noah Tuttle.

Ten FIDY is packaged in 12-ounce CANS and sold in 4-pack carriers, as well as on draft at craft beer retailers, growler fill shops, restaurant, bars and more.

About Oskar Blues Brewery

Founded by Dale Katechis in 1997 as a brewpub and grill, Oskar Blues Brewery launched its craft-brewed beer canning operations in 2002 in Lyons, Colo. It was the first American craft brewery to brew and hand-can its beer. Today there are more than 200 craft breweries canning beer. The original crew used a hand-canning line on a tabletop machine that sealed one can at a time. Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont packaged 59,000 in 2011 and grew to 85,750 in 2012 while opening an additional brewery in Brevard, NC, in late 2012.

Craft Beer Continues to Outpace Expectations

Craft beer industry posts double-digit growth, Boulder’s Brewers Association reports

Contribution by Alicia Wallace

Lindsay Kleinsasser enjoys a pint at Oskar Blues’ Tasty Weasel Tap Room in Longmont this past March. (Jonathan Castner / Camera file photo)

The craft brewing industry is sustaining its torrid growth pace by notching double-digit gains in sales and volume for the first six months of 2013, according to a report released Monday by the Boulder-based Brewers Association.

Dollar sales and volume for craft brewers — defined as “small, independent and traditional” — were up 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively, through June, according to the nonprofit trade association. During the same period last year, sales and volume were up 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

If the pace continues, it would be the fourth consecutive year of double-digit sales and volume growth for the industry, which has seen volume sales increase every year since 1969 and dollar sales grow since 1997, officials for the Brewers Association said.

“To sustain double-digit growth year after year is not to be taken for granted,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association. “But the craft beer revolution is on.”

The sales growth comes amid a continued swelling of the craft brewing ranks.

Through the first half of 2013, there were 2,483 craft breweries in operation in the United States, a more than 20 percent increase from the first half of last year. Additionally, there were 1,605 breweries in planning at the end of June.

The brewery boom has been felt locally, with new operations popping up throughout Boulder County.

Four weeks in operation, Louisville’s Twelve Degree Brewing has been four-and-a-half years in the making.

“Craft beer fans like to sample and experiment, so I think the idea of lots of small breweries — each with its own personality and style — is a very good thing,” Jon Howland, Twelve Degree’s founder, said in an e-mail. “I’m a big fan of Belgium’s beer culture and that’s the situation over there. Almost every little town has its own brewery and, in many cases, more than one.

“It’s really exciting to see this happen in the U.S.”

Craft breweries account for 98 percent of U.S. breweries, officials for the association said.

“More breweries are currently operating in the U.S. than at any time since the 1870s,” Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, said in a statement. “With each new brewery opening, American craft brewers are reinforcing the (United States’) position as the world’s most diverse brewing nation.”

Overall beer sales fell 2 percent through the first six months of the year, according to the Brewers Association report.

Leading the craft segment’s charges are the continued growth among established brewers within the industry, Herz said.

“The majority of new brewers are not at the volume yet,” she said.

Longmont’s Oskar Blues Brewery, the largest brewer in Boulder County, on Monday reported a 38 percent growth in volume for the first half of 2013, outpacing the craft industry by 25 percentage points.

Fueling the growth was the opening of a Tasty Weasel Taproom and brewery in Brevard, N.C., said Chad Melis, an Oskar Blues spokesman. Oskar Blues opened the additional brewery to increase capacity and to more easily supply the East Coast.

The boom in new craft brewers can help all within the industry, Melis said.

“I think there’s increased competition, but for us I think we’re still a pretty small industry,” Melis said. “As more and more people are opening up breweries, we’re able to tell our story through other people … I think it’s continuing to draw attention to quality beer.”

App Will Direct Sports Fans to Shortest Beer Line

It’s the classic sports spectator’s conundrum: You’re at the game and want to get another beer, but you’re worried you’ll miss too much action while in line behind fellow fans who also share equal affection for both booze and ball.

For fans of one team, however, that ultimate first-world problem will soon become a thing of the past.

When the San Francisco 49ers unveil Levi’s Stadium, in Santa Clara, Calif., for the 2014 season, their new home will come with all sorts of built-in tech extras. For instance, a high-speed mobile infrastructure will allow fans to watch highlights and surf the web without their connections being jammed by tens of thousands of other fans trying to do the same.

The new stadium’s most impressive innovation, however, will tackle another problem entirely. Yes, as recently reported by Yahoo Sports’ Rand Getlin, a stadium-specific app will allow fans to track the shortest beer and bathroom lines in real-time to most efficiently plan excursions away from their seats:

Someday we’ll all tell our kids about the bad old days when we actually had to wait in line for five minutes to buy a beer. And you can rest assured that Mashable‘s intrepid San Francisco-based sports reporter will get right down to Levi’s Stadium once it opens to test out this important technological breakthrough firsthand.

In the meantime, tell us what you think about this app in the comments below.

Big Franchise Taps Into Marketing Opportunity with Craft Beer

Better Burger, Better Brew

Smashburger’s beer pairings continue to differentiate the brand.

Smashburger cofounder explains craft beer and burger pairing at Chicago event.
Smashburger cofounder Tom Ryan explains a craft beer and burger pairing at a recent Chicago event. Daniel P. Smith.
Inside Smashburger’s newest Chicago-area restaurant, a hip-looking joint in the city’s trendy Lincoln Park neighborhood, company founder and chief concept officer Tom Ryan holds up the brand’s Windy City Burger as if it’s Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Packed with layers of melted Cheddar cheese, haystack onions, lettuce, tomato, and spicy mustard on a pretzel bun, the Windy City Burger is the fast-casual chain’s exclusive offering for the Chicago market and continues Smashburger’s six-year run of creating local burgers across its 209-store national footprint.

“This burger,” Ryan says, “represents the heartiness and boldness that is Chicago.”

In quick time, Ryan turns the floor over to his company’s newest partners from Chicago-based Goose Island, among the nation’s most celebrated breweries. Goose Island’s brewmaster, Brett Porter, and head of education, Suzanne Wolcott, detail how the toasty, caramel malt flavors in Goose Island’s Honker’s Ale complement the Windy City Burger.

The June 20 beer-and-burger pairing launched Smashburger’s 10th relationship with a craft brewer and helped spotlight craft brews’ continued emergence in the limited-service world.

Once reserved for bars and full-service restaurants, craft beers have pushed into fast-casual eateries around the country, available at spots such as Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and Shake Shack. For most craft brewers, growing entry into the quick-service world is a welcome trend that provides expanded market reach and diversification.

“Craft beer is a 30-year-old overnight success story, and there’s no turning back. Localization of the beer market is in every nook of the U.S.,” says Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association.

“By tapping into craft brewing, one of the most energetic and innovative industries out there, we’re able to offer our guests something that is special, high quality, and distinctive.”

According to the Brewers Association, the craft category, which the Association defines as “small and independent” (wording that excludes the Anheuser-Busch InBev–owned Goose Island enterprise), captured 15 percent volume growth and 17 percent dollar growth in 2012. Craft brewing’s total sales share in 2012 was 6.5 percent by volume and 10.2 percent by dollars.

“This tells us there’s a growing segment of customers looking for craft beer and they’ll go where they can to get it and spend more at the places that offer it,” Herz says.

That surging momentum has motivated and inspired quick-service folks like Ryan to bring craft beer into the fold.

Over the last two years, Denver-based Smashburger has created local burger and craft-brew pairings in markets throughout the U.S., including partnerships with Summit Brewing in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Christian Moerlein in Cincinnati, Sixpoint in New York City, New Belgium in Denver, and Deep Ellum in Dallas. Ryan teases future pairings in Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California.

“The idea is that once we have enough stores in a given market, we’ll pursue these partnerships and write the next chapter of our localization,” Ryan says. “We want to cater to local tastes as part of our brand mantra, and local craft beer is something people are gravitating toward.”

The partnerships, Ryan says, are also an effort to differentiate Smashburger in the ultra-competitive better-burger space. Same goes for the pairing suggestions from beverage and culinary experts, which are listed on the menuboard.

“I believe differentiation is the key to success in a highly competitive marketplace,” he says. “By tapping into craft brewing, one of the most energetic and innovative industries out there, we’re able to offer our guests something that is special, high quality, and distinctive.”

Though beer represents less than 4 percent of Smashburger’s total sales, Ryan expects the continued allure of craft beer to elevate that number. In fact, beer sales have jumped 20–50 percent in markets where Smashburger has introduced its craft-beer pairings.

Smashburger, which now has 11 Chicago-area stores, approached Goose Island about a potential partnership in mid-2012. Wolcott says Goose Island leadership appreciated Smashburger’s work to localize its menu and store environments, as well as the chain’s focus on quality.

“We’re a Chicago craft brewer that doesn’t take shortcuts, so we embraced what Smashburger was trying to do because it very much matches our work,” Wolcott says.

Over the course of nearly one year, Ryan, Porter, and Wolcott held numerous tastings to define which of Goose Island’s nearly 20 beers best complemented Smashburger’s signature entrées.

“The only challenge is to do this from an authentic perspective and commit the time to creating the pairings and rolling this out,” Ryan says. “Once in the restaurant, bottled beer isn’t hard to do.”

Ryan says the simultaneous innovation that has occurred in the burger and beer worlds affords his brand the opportunity to evolve America’s favorite food—the burger—and its favorite adult beverage for the next generation.

“With relationships like these, we can show people that burgers and beer are different than they used to be,” Ryan says.

A Glorious Map Of Craft Beer Across The U.S.

Infographic of the Day as Seen on FastCoDesign.com

Selected as the Infographic of the Day on Fast Company’s web site, this wonderfully created info graphic shows how craft beer has continued to flourish state-by-state. Enjoy this visual map of breweries, consumers and growth across our beer-boasting country.

[button link=”http://craftbrew.cirqlemedia.com/the-invasion-of-craft-breweries-in-the-u-s/” color=”orange”] The Invasion of Craft Breweries in the U.S. – Interactive Map[/button]

Which state makes the most craft beer? California. But that’s only part of the story. Lagunitas makes more than one amazing beer, as does Stone Brewing Co. Today, both of these once-tiny California breweries have blossomed into household names that you can spot on almost any decent tap. But they’re only two of the 316 craft breweries found in the monster state of California, which can boast almost double the craft breweries of the next mightiest beer state, Washington.

It’s one of many factoids you’ll pick up in The New Yorker’s interactive infographic that we have included here Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer. It employs a relatively simple interface–a few toggles and mouseovers–to convey an incredible amount of information, a brown, tan, and yellow state of the union of frothy fuzzyheadedness.

The new craft breweries in 2012.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I guess I’ve gotta move to California now.” Untrue! A more studied approach to consumption would be to weigh not just how many breweries are in a given state, but how many breweries are in a given state per person. In this regard, Vermont takes the crown. They may only have 25 craft breweries across the state, but with a population of only 626,201 people, that’s the best ratio of man to brewery in the U.S. Or if all-around performance is more your speed, Oregon should probably be your pick. It ranks fourth in variety, fifth in production, and second in breweries per capita.

It’s all enough to make a man wary of the sustainability of the craft beer movement. That is, until he cracks another cold one in the name of supporting the underdog.

[button link=”http://craftbrew.cirqlemedia.com/the-invasion-of-craft-breweries-in-the-u-s/” color=”orange”] The Invasion of Craft Breweries in the U.S. – Interactive Map[/button]

Craft Breweries Top a Record Milestone

U.S. Brewery Count Passes 2500.

A wonderful story from the Brewers Association this week highlights the continued growth, and consumer support of the Craft Beer industry in America.

The number of U.S. breweries continues to climb rapidly. Brewery Detective and Membership Coordinator Erin Glass reported the May 31 U.S. brewery count as 2514. This count is up 422 from the May 31, 2012 count of 2092. The count on May 31, 2011 was 1747. So we are at 767 more breweries in just two years. The annual increase in brewery count from May to May looks like:

2013–2514, an increase of 422 in the past year.

2012–2092, an increase of 345 in the year.

2011–1747, an increase of 132 in the year.

2010–1615, an increase of 93 in the year.

2009–1522, an increase of 63 in the year.

The list includes 24 breweries we code as “large” in our database for A-B, Miller-Coors and breweries named for brands of Goose Island (packaging brewery), Leinenkugel’s and Blue Moon. In addition there are 109 regional breweries, 1214 microbreweries, and 1167 brewpubs.

The number of microbreweries passed the number of brewpubs in February 2013 for the first time since 1987.

Our count of breweries-in-planning is at 1559, up from 1228 a year ago. (But we did purge a couple hundred from the roles last fall and winter.)

It makes me thirsty just to think about our current pace of openings. I wouldn’t expect the rate of opening to continue at over two new breweries per day on average, but it sure looks like I’ll be posting about passing 3000 breweries sometime in 2014. When will this trend crest?

Contributor – Paul Gatza, Brewers Association

12 Ways to Market Your Beer Event with Social Media

12 Ways to Market Your Event With Social Media

Whether you’re planning a real-world event (like a “largely publicized craft beer event”) or a local event (like a “street fair or in-the-park beer social”), social media can be an inexpensive, cost-effective way to build buzz, fill seats, and turn a one-off gathering into a recurring event.

The trick is to know which social media tools to use and when to use them.  This article contains 12 useful social media tips designed to help your events shine.

Before Your Event

The first step is to make people aware of your event, to mark it on their calendar, and to

register. Here’s the game plan:

#1: Market Your Event Through Twitter

There are many ways in which you can use Twitter to raise awareness. Many conferences and events have their own hashtags, such as #smss10 or #metweetup. There’s no magic to creating one—just start using a hashtag in all your related tweets and encourage other people to do the same when talking about your event.

To encourage people to tweet out your hashtag and spread the word, sweeten the deal with a free pass, door prize or other giveaway for one lucky hashtag-er.

If your event is large enough, give it its own Twitter account such as @Blogworld or @socialmediaFTW, which serves as a customer service “hotline”and adds credibility to the event.

Mix up your event tweets by varying the message.

Mix up your beer event tweets by varying the message.

Constantly tweeting that your event is coming will annoy some of your followers, so mix it up: use tweets to announce new sponsors, special guests, an open bar, secret after-party, or to ask questions that might help shape the event.

Finally, ask for people to share your event with the simple phrase, “Please RT!” You’ll be amazed at the results. Just don’t overdo it; you don’t want to look desperate, do you?

#2: Market Your Event Through Facebook

Certainly you can update your status with news of your event, but don’t overlook Facebook events, which Facebook guru Mari Smith calls “one of the most powerful tools on the platform.”

A page for your event attracts fans.

I’ve found success by first creating a page for the event, and then creating a “Facebook Event” from that. This is especially helpful if you have a recurring event, such as an annual conference or a tweetup, as it helps build a fan base over time.

A page for your event attracts fans.

Other benefits of creating a Facebook page include:

  • You can add a “Like Box” to your website, blog or other web presence to promote your clambake.
  • You can invite fans as well as friends to the March on Washington.
  • You can take out targeted Facebook ads to reach people outside your network who would be interested in your Save the Whales Sit-In.

#3: Market Your Event Through LinkedIn

Promote business functions with LinkedIn Events to reach your professional network. As Lewis Howes points out in his excellent post, Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business with LinkedIn, “once someone RSVPs to your event, it shows up on the home profile of everyone that person is connected to, spreading the message for you.”

It’s simple and straightforward to create an event on LinkedIn. Once you’ve completed that task, it’s just as easy to invite up to 50 people from your LinkedIn network. It also shows up in the events search.

#4: Market Your Event Through Your Blog

Whether through an existing blog or a blog created specifically for your gathering, be sure to create posts announcing the event, calls for presenters, and sponsorship opportunities. Follow up with guest posts from presenters who should welcome the opportunity to reach a wider audience (and steal people who might have attended competing events!).

#5: Other Places to Market Online

There are plenty of online calendars, and you should list your event in any that seem appropriate.

Local papers, TV channels and radio stations’ websites often host a calendar of events that offer free postings. Tweetvite is a site for promoting and learning about tweetups, and Eventful is one of many sites where you can list all types of gatherings.

#6: Event Marketing and Registration Tools

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when handling online registration for your event. Constant Contact is a highly popular tool for the social media crowd sourcing and email reach and registration.

With these tools you can create and market your event, and even collect payments with registration. Registration forms appear on the event marketing company’s site and can be embedded into your website or blog.

Sharing tools let attendees post to Facebook and Twitter, which builds buzz and generates more registrations.

During Your Event

Just because your event has started doesn’t mean the marketing has ended! If you’re promoting an all-day affair of beer nirvana in the park, people will be milling in and out all day. Keep the excitement and foot traffic high by leveraging social media well into the night.

#7: Foursquare and Gowalla

Events on Foursquare will encourage attendees to share.

It costs nothing to create an event in Foursquare or Gowalla, and attendees who are hip to location-based apps will want to check in to your event for the extra points!

Since many people link their Foursquare and Gowalla activity to Twitter and Facebook, check-ins reach well beyond early adopters of location-based apps.

Events on Foursquare will encourage attendees to share.

You can greatly increase the number of check-ins by adding signs and table-top displays reminding people to check in, and even sweeten the deal with a giveaway or random drawing.

#8: Use Those Hashtags!

Hashtags make your event more findable, searchable and memorable.

People will tweet out memorable lines from your event, so make sure everyone knows the Twitter hashtag: put it in your literature, on name tags, and announce it during your keynote.

Hashtags make your event more findable, searchable and memorable.

#9: Live Blogging

If you’re putting on a conference, it might be worthwhile to have someone “live blog” the sessions. Instead of just taking notes, have them take notes straight into a blog post and publish it as soon as the session ends.

#10: A Picture Says a Thousand Words

Although Twitpics and iPhone photos are great and shareable, hire a photographer for the day. If you can’t afford one, consider an in-kind trade of a free pass. Make sure you come to an agreement on who owns the photos and how they can be used online to promote this and future events.

#11: Thoughts on Video

There are so many ways to use video at your event: quick interviews with attendees and speakers on Flip cams, recorded sessions, or live streaming the event with UStream.tv.

#12: After Your Event

After the glow of a successful comic book convention, bean supper or Tri for a Cure fades, it’s time to get back to work.

Create a blog post of your reflections on how the event went, what you learned, and even how the next one could rock even harder.  Ask for feedback and suggestions in the comments field. Post something similar to your Facebook page and encourage fans and friends to leave comments there as well.

Upload your photos to Flickr and other photo sharing sites and be sure to give them appropriate titles, descriptions and tags. Use the Creative Commons license to let them be shared as far and wide as possible.

After you’ve finished uploading your photos to Facebook be sure to tag everyone you know and ask them to “fill in the blanks” by tagging anyone else. This can have a viral effect as people love seeing photos of themselves and their friends, driving them all back to your Facebook page.

Post video to YouTube, Facebook and other video sharing sites. Ask your presenters to share their slides on Slideshare, again with appropriate tags, titles and links.

Wrapping Up

Undoubtedly, there are more sites and techniques to promote your event through social media. What platforms do you use, what techniques have proven especially effective, and how did you generate excitement and fill the seats at your last event?

Cirqle Media and Brewing-A-Brand have tools and support that can take your event to a new level.  If you have a beer event in the works or a 2nd annual that needs more lift – send us a note and will provide some ideas and marketing support that will get your vendors, sponsors and attendees talking about your event for years to come.

Contributing Writer Rich Brooks and Our Marketing Team

Jim Koch On How To Go From Kitchen to National Distribution

Happy Saturday beer enthusiasts.  I wanted to share a great article provided to us from Huffington Post.  While Sam Adams has bridged a fine line between micro and macro over the past decade, we can all agree that his story from home-brewer to national shelf space deserves merit. He took a small craft name back in 1984 to one of the most recognized beers in America.  In this interview, he shares some secrets for those trying to gain the respect of bars, taverns and stores across the country and abroad.

NEW YORK — The Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, hardly fits the image of a craft brewer anymore, although it retains that designation. Since it was founded in 1984, the company’s success is legendary: It has grown from a kitchen-brewing project into the fifth-largest domestic beer company in the United States that sells a wide range of alcoholic beverages. Last year, the company had annual revenue of $629 million.

But despite its size, Boston Beer has been waging a publicity campaign to cement its role as the grandfather of the crafts. One piece of that campaign is its small business lending program, called Brewing the American Dream, that it has run since 2008. This comes as the definition of who is and who is not a craft brewer has become a charged political topic because of special tax breaks in recent years.

Public relations aside, the program has helped small businesses. So far at least 230 food and drink entrepreneurs — including a dozen craft brewing companies — have borrowed nearly $2 million total. This year, Boston Beer expanded its lending program with business coaching events that will take place across the country.

The Huffington Post recently spoke with the company’s founder Jim Koch how he grew Sam Adams from a home-brew to huge business.

When did you know Sam Adams was going to be more than a brewing project in your kitchen?

I didn’t have an office or a desk — literally I was making beer or delivering it or selling it — and I called into our answering service and there was a message from a bar that I hadn’t even visited. They wanted 10 cases. I never thought people would be calling me for my beer! I always thought nobody would want this unless I sold it to them personally. That was around June 1985 and we had only been on market for a couple months.

Big beer has pretty solid grip on distribution. How did you start getting stores to sell your beer?

There was a store in the Back Bay and they didn’t carry Sam Adams and the owner said ‘No one asks me for it.’ So I took a bunch of empties and put them behind in the alley and I knew homeless people would take them in to redeem them. I got people redeeming the empties and that convinced him.

How can a small beer company actually get some prime shelf space?

For us, it’s asking for it personally. That works in the independent stores but big chains generally have these things called plano-grams or schematics, which are often done by big brewers and they are doing shelf set and they determine the prime shelf space. In addition to abject begging, which sometimes works, we also point out that Sam Adams is leading craft beer and it should have eye-level shelf space.

Where should a craft beer focus on getting distributed first, a bar or a store?

To me, it was bars because that’s where consumers are. It’s still where they are most likely to try something new. If they don’t like it, they only ordered a pint and they are not stuck with five more bottles.

Can a craft beer brewer really get a Bud-in-a-can man to try something new?

We can get mass domestic drinker. I have been getting them for 29 years. When I started it was pretty much what everyone drank, but we have converted a lot of those drinkers. There are times when a mass domestic drinker wants to drink something with more flavor and taste but sometimes craft brew drinkers want something poundable and thirst-quenching. Beer drinkers are less stereotypical than you think.

Are there too many craft beers?

There can never be too many good beers!

Are there too many not-so-good craft beers?

My dad would say all beer is good, some beer is better. But all beer is good, and I think that’s true. All are good when they are made, but issues are with smaller-volume, slower-moving beers that get stale and are stale when you buy them and you get beer that doesn’t even meet the standards of the brewer.

There are a lot of new beers on the market. What’s the best marketing trick to stand out?

You don’t need marketing. We didn’t and we were a successful brewery before we hired our first marketing person. When we did a new beer, we just changed the color of the label. We had some radio commercials. But I wrote them and I was the voice. And it worked. The idea that marketing has any significant role is a myth. As a small brewer you cannot compete with the big guys. They were doing a bunch of TV ads, so I got on radio and just talked and I told people about malt, yeast and about things that were missing in the conversation about beer.

Jim, how many beers do you drink a day?

It’s an average of two a day. It goes between one and four. And if I do that math, that’s 21,000 since I started making it. I drink the Boston Lager, the original. I have bottles in my refrigerator.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. The lede has been updated to make it clear that Boston Beer Company is a craft-brewing company.

Story credit from Catherine New – Huffington Post