Meet Craft Beer's First Billionaire, Jim Koch

Categories: Wake Up Call

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swanksalot via Flickr
Sam Adams - New World Belgian Golden Tripel
(And don't worry, it's ok to celebrate. He's not related to those other Kochs.)

Jim Koch co-founded Boston Brewing Company in 1984, armed with a family recipe and a brewing process that his great grandfather used in the mid 1800s. These days the brewery, which you'll know for its signature Samuel Adams brand, is the third-largest American-owned brewery -- the largest "craft" brewery by far. As of this week, the Bloomberg Billionaire Index estimated Koch to be worth more than a billion dollars, making him the first person to earn a billion bucks by selling craft beer.

See also: Bye-Bye Beer? Americans Drinking Less Beer, Turning to Wine And Liquor Instead

Of course, if you ask a true craft beer fan, they might have more than a few strong opinions about Boston Brewing Co. It's no surprise that such a "fickle community of geeks," has a hard time embracing a company that could understandably be perceived as becoming too mainstream.

That hasn't stopped the company from experiencing steady growth over the last year. According to the company, they're on track to sell 3 million barrels of beer this year, or 1.2 percent of the country's total beer consumption. What makes this even more remarkable is that overall, Americans are drinking less beer now than ever before -- the exception to that rule being craft beer. While overall beer sales in the States is down, craft beer sales have grown by at least ten percent for the last seven years, according to the Brewers Association.

Forbes hasn't recognized Koch's billionaire status just yet, but you can view other beer billionaires on their Billionaire List.

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