Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Are There Other Heroes of Craft Brewing?

Jim Fallows of The Atlantic shows his admiration for Jim Koch - not just for his beer but also for his approach to initial public offerings (IPOs) when Boston Beer Company hit the New York Stock Exchange in the mid 90's. The beauty of what Koch did, he says, was that:
"The heart of his idea was giving actual customers -- people who loved his beer -- a favored place in line for IPO shares, and a bargain price."
Everyone, by now, has heard about some of Facebook's IPO beneficiaries - not exactly institutional investors. But Koch, New York Times writer Jeff Sommer explains, was quite different:
"He sold shares at two prices. Some went to his customers, who, in a startling reversal, got a better deal than Wall Street insiders: $15 a share for the customers, versus $20 for those who bought at the opening price in a public offering run by Goldman Sachs."
Then, something fantastic happens... Fallows receives and filters a surge of comments from his beer enthusiast readers. Some want Fallows to expand on his idea of the "Hall of Beer Heroes":
"Don't forget Fritz Maytag on your list of heroes! He single-handedly saved a  classic beer style from extinction, and was the first to introduce what we now think of as American Pale Ale. A great modern-brewing pioneer!"
One reader expresses a much more political perspective. They write:
"I personally know of 3 people who began home brewing when [President Jimmy Carter] sparked the legislation that made home brew legal. One of these people ... is a commercial brewing concern now! One of several here in the greater Springfield, MA area."
I'd like to think that one day writers will look on with admiration at the good folks at DC Brau (Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock), Three Stars (Mike McGarvey and Dave Coleman), Chocolate City (Ben Matz, Jay Irizarry, Brian Flanagan, and Don Parker), or Hellbender (Patrick Mullane and Ben Evans, whom I've profiled).

Those people are making their mark in a town that isn't really revered for its own indigeneous booze production - yet.

Who would you put into a "Hall of Beer Heroes"?

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