Jim Koch is the founder and famous pitchman for the Boston Beer Co., also known as Samuel Adams. He grew up in Cincinnati and operates a Samuel Adams brewery there. He also will be the keynote speaker at next week's Ohio Craft Brewers Conference in Dayton.



Question: Why did you become a brewer?



Answer: I’m a sixth generation brewer so brewing is in my blood. In fact, my father worked in several breweries around Cincinnati. When I first decided to quit my job as a consultant and become a brewer, my father thought I was crazy! He saw small breweries like his close as the beer industry consolidated and large breweries who brewed inexpensive, mass domestic beers dominated the U.S. beer market. But, he helped me. He took me to the attic of our Cincinnati home and showed me what he considered the best recipe our family ever created: my great-great grandfather’s recipe for Louis Koch Lager, which later became Samuel Adams Boston Lager.



The first time I brewed the recipe for Boston Lager, two things happened: 1) the wallpaper peeled off my kitchen walls, and 2) I fell in love with the taste of Boston Lager. I thought that if I could taste this beer every day of my life, I'd be a happy man. That was my motivation for starting The Boston Beer Co. I wanted to make a better beer, one brewed with high quality, flavorful ingredients, and introduce it to the American drinker.



Q: There’s a concern that the craft beer industry – thanks to the phenomenal growth over the last few years – is reaching a saturation point, particularly in some areas of Ohio. Are there too many breweries? If yes, why? If no, why not?



A: Right now is the best time to be a craft brewer and craft beer drinker. There are more than 4,100 breweries in the U.S. today which means lots of experimentation and variety – so, I’ll drink to that!  But despite all of the growth, craft beer is only about 11 percent of the total U.S. beer industry (Sam Adams is just about 1 percent) so, there’s still plenty of room to grow, to innovate and to continue to introduce great craft beer to beer drinkers.



Ohio has seen a lot of growth as well, from about 50 breweries five years ago to more than 100 today, many who are my personal friends. Ohio has such a rich brewing heritage and it is great to see more and more breweries opening up, creating jobs and brewing some really good beer.



Q: Do you ever see a day when the Samuel Adams brewery in Cincinnati offers regular tours or opens a tasting room?



A: Right now, we’re focused solely on brewing at the Cincinnati brewery but I’ve learned never to say never! Only time will tell.



Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?



A: We brew about 60 different styles of beer every year. These beers range from favorites like our Boston Lager and seasonal beers like Cold Snap, Summer Ale, OctoberFest, and Winter Lager, to our Rebel IPA family of beers, and our new Nitro Project beers, a Nitro White Ale, Nitro IPA, and Nitro Coffee Stout, just to name a few!



While we brew a beer for every beer-lover’s palate, Boston Lager continues to be a crowd favorite (and the beer that is always in my fridge!).



Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?



A: I am proud that Sam Adams Boston Lager was a catalyst for what we know today as the craft beer revolution, so I don’t think I would change a thing. The one thing I do wish is that I could have a conversation with my great-great-grandfather about his original recipe for Louis Koch Lager. I’d love to be able to pick his brain and talk about how he came up with the recipe, what his inspiration was. I would love to have the chance talk brewing with him over a Boston Lager – the beer that has forever changed my life.



Editor's note: The Five questions with ... feature appears every Friday on the Ohio Beer Blog. If you are an Ohio brewer and want to participate -- or you want to recommend someone to participate -- email me at rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.