A cool thing Boston Beer does every year is the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Experienceship, which awards a unique mentoring opportunity to one craft brewer annually as part of its Brewing the American Dream micro-lending and coaching program. The program was launched in partnership with Accion, a leading nonprofit provider of small business capital and coaching, and since 2008, through the support of Brewing the American Dream, Accion has lent more than $6.4 million to 625 small food and beverage businesses.
This year, Samuel Adams announced that N.J.-based craft brewery Flounder Brewing Co. was selected as the winner of the 2016 “Brewing and Business Experienceship,”
Founder Jeremy “Flounder” Lees, and his two co-founders, his brother Dan and cousin Billy, were selected by a panel from Sam Adams, based on their passion for brewing quality craft beer, current success, and strong growth potential.
Similar to an internship, the Experienceship provides hands-on educational and enrichment opportunities tailored to the winning brewery’s needs. As part of the program, the team at Flounder Brewing Co. will receive a trip to the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery for coaching and mentoring from a variety of Samuel Adams experts and brewers involved in ingredients sourcing, sales and distribution, package design and more. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to brew a collaboration beer with the Sam Adams brewers and receive funding to attend industry events such as The Great American Beer Festival.
In 2005, Flounder along with his brothers and cousin began experimenting with brewing in the garage of their 90 year old Ukrainian grandmother, Babi. Their grandfather, a beekeeper and the original artisan in the family, was the inspiration for the Flounder Brewing Company’s flagship beer, Hill Street Honey Blonde Ale. The family sought out a $6,000 loan from Brewing the American Dream when they decided to purchase a small system and move from a garage to a nano-brewery of their own in Hillsborough, N.J. Flounder Brewing has continued to grow and now has more than 10 seasonal and year-round craft beers and will be expanding and hiring their first employees in early 2016.
“We’re really excited to have been chosen for the Brewing and Business Experienceship,” said Lees. “Our beers are brewed with the hope that every time you crack one open, you’ll have a good time, take a moment, and enjoy the people around you. We encourage everyone to experience their beer. This program will help us provide that experience to more drinkers and help us expand. We can’t wait to meet with the team at Sam Adams, and really look forward to visiting the Boston brewery.”
“This is our fifth Brewing and Business Experienceship, and the program continues to provide our fellow craft brewers with valuable support and advice – something I had trouble finding when starting Samuel Adams 31 years ago,” said Samuel Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch. “I first brewed Sam Adams in my kitchen and the Flounder Brewing Company first brewed in their garage, so we understand the challenges of expanding and scaling as an up-and-coming brewery. I look forward to working and collaborating with the Flounder Brewing family as they continue to provide innovative craft beers in New Jersey and beyond.”
Brewers who have received the unique Experienceship include San Diego-based ChuckAlek Independent Brewers; San Francisco-based MateVeza, Rochester, N.Y.-based Roc Brewing Co. and Denver-based Brewery Rickoli. Each brewery released a limited availability collaboration beer with Sam Adams and has received a loan as well as coaching through the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program. To date, the program has provided loans to nearly 30 craft brewers across the country in an effort to continue to support the booming craft beer industry.