Spirt of Philadelphia First Friday 2017 Leaderboard

The Craft Beer Billionaire Club Adds A Member

by Ryan Hudak on Jan 27, 2015 in Beer
The Craft Beer Billionaire Club Adds A Member

Recently, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Ken Grossman was added to the extremely exclusive club of craft beer brewers who are valued at over $1billion. Other members of the club include Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co. and Dick Yuengling of, of course, Yuengling—though Dick doesn’t consider his brewery to be craft.

While this is great news for the craft beer industry as a whole, and certainly for Grossman, it should serve as a bit of a warning to anyone who is thinking about starting a brewery to make a quick fortune. Only two people have reached this plateau, and they’ve both been slugging away at the business for over 20 years. Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is among almost every craft beer fan’s “revelation beers” – the beer that turned their black and white Budweiser lives into full color craft beer experiences – and it still took this long for Grossman to hit a billion.

Which is not to say it’s impossible to make a great living—there are plenty of millionaire craft brewers out there, and plenty who are living as comfortably as they would like from their beer. But if your plan is to be craft beer’s Donald Trump, it’s not going to happen overnight—and probably won’t happen at all. Just think of the major craft beer pioneers who have been doing it forever and still aren’t on the list—Stone, Dogfish Head, Victory, etc.

But, if you get into brewing for the love of the game, which is what Ken did, and which is what Jim Koch, Greg Koch, Sam Calagione, and Bill Covaleski all did, you just might have a shot at that beer empire. Drinkers will be able to taste passion and love, and they will respond. What they won’t respond to, though, is corporate money grabs (see: the latest backlash for 10 Barrel and Elysian). Keep your beer integrity, and good things will come.

Photo via Flickr


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