Koch Does NY Times

Jim Koch gives compelling interview in New York Times – discusses industry consolidation

With less than 1 percent of beer sales in the United States, Boston Beer is now the nation’s leading independent brewer.

Yes, the beer business is changing. Radically.

“There has probably been more change in the last four months than at any time since Prohibition. Ninety-five percent of the beer made in the United States is controlled by two companies, one based in Belgium and one in South Africa. It’s stunning,” Koch says in the interview.

When asked how it felt to be the country’s largest independent brewer, Koch responded by saying “it’s bizarre and sad. It’s a little like your kid’s Little League team winning the World Series because no one else showed up.”

For the full interview go to here.

Comments

  1. drewseslu says

    Nice interview, I really liked this quote:

    “There will always be people looking for novelty and obscurity. I’m not trying to be obscure. I’m trying to change the way Americans think about beer.”

  2. jesskidden says

    from the article:

    Koch: “When I started Sam Adams, beer drinkers had two choices: mass-produced domestic beer that was consistent and well made — the equiv of fast food — or imports.”

    I know the NY Times on Saturday is often a very thin paper, so perhaps they had to edit Koch’s comments to fit the alloted space? Certainly, he meant to say:

    “When I started Sam Adams, beer drinkers had two choices: mass-produced domestic beer that was consistent and well made — the equiv of fast food — or imports. Except, of course, for the craft beers being brewed by companies like New Albion, Boulder, DeBakker, Cartwright, River City, Wm. Newman, Sierra Nevada, Yakima Brewing & Malting, Thousand Oaks, Real Ale, Redhook, Hale’s Ales, Buffalo Bill’s, Mendocino, Chesapeake Bay, Manhattan, Columbia River [BridgePort], Hart, Kuefnerbrau, Riley-Lyon, Snake River, Widmer and St. Stanislaus- all of which started before the first contract-brewed bottle of Sam Adams saw the light of day. And throw in another couple dozens breweries that began in the mid-late ’80’s before I opened my first “pilot plant” brewery.” 😉

  3. jason.koehler says

    Hi Jess, didn’t know you posted around these parts.

    My suspicion is that he didn’t mean to impy that there were no other beers, but that he was talking about what was available within reach for the consumer. Sure, there were people making quality beer, but getting a hold of it was another matter, and continues to be a problem today.

  4. jesskidden says

    jason.koehler wrote:
    My suspicion is that he didn’t mean to impy that there were no other beers, but that he was talking about what was available within reach for the consumer.

    Well, I can only go by what he said (or, at least, what the New York Times quotied him as saying). Look, Jim Koch is a great salesman and as luck would have it, his “hucksterism” has benefited craft beer drinkers and craft beer brewers. I think it’s great that he’s “saved” the Schoenling and now the Schaefer breweries (I do worry about High Falls and City/Latrobe now, however), introduced so many styles to his line up, taken the high road (for the most part) with his advertising campaigns and that he’s done so well that he’s in the top 5.

    (Altho’ I think it’s pretty sad when the largest US-owned brewery [depending on how one defines it] has a mere 1% of the US market- but that sure ain’t Koch’s fault.)

    I, on the other hand, am a historian (well, you know, I play one on the internet 😉 ). I usually bit my tongue at all the god-like worship the guy gets in the “beer geek” circles (er, how does one become a “godfather of craft beer” when he doesn’t show up until a decade after the “kid” is born?). Every once in a while, tho’, some quote or another (and there are a LOT of them) of Koch’s gets my goat (no doubt, the same one that once graced so many US bock beer labels) and I mention it. There are a lot of, um, let’s say “controversial” parts of the Boston Beer Co.’s history*- I don’t think his success means those things shouldn’t be discussed or recalled.

    I also think that by accepting Koch’s version of craft beer history, one then tends to overlook the very important contributions that the pioneers who started the breweries I mentioned above made to the craft beer revolution. (Many of those beers I, as a “consumer”, had no problem “getting a hold of”, tho’ geography had much to with that, of course).

    * Taking the name “Boston Beer Co.” (once the oldest US brewery), the early years of the “consumer poll” at the GABF, the “Oregon Original” line, ridiculing the early true craft brewers, the “contract-brewing” labeling debate, “exaggerating” the family recipe and brewery history story, etc.