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Sam Adams Buys a Round for Small Beer, Food Businesses

"When I started Sam Adams what would have been really helpful to me that I couldn't get [was] loan money ... even to get nuts and bolts business advice. Even for me with a Harvard MBA, I didn't know how to make a sales call or design a label or how to set up a payroll [system.] Those are things that 20 min with somebody who does that will prevent a lot of expensive mistakes," he says.

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The program will also extend its popular speed coaching activities in cities throughout the country. This year the program is hosting events in 10 locations: Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC - and, for the first time, Miami and San Francisco.

At the speed-coaching events, business owners are paired with Sam Adams employees, as well as local business experts who provide advice in their areas of expertise. Each attendee has the opportunity to participate in a series of high-impact, one-on-one 20-minute coaching sessions intended to address their specific problems and concerns.

For example, a business owner with a packaging question might meet with one of Boston Beer's packaging or graphic design experts who can provide specific ideas on color, style and size to help capture the attention of potential consumers.

Brewing The American Dream was launched in 2008 and strongly supported by Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch. It was originally formed to help local New England small businesses (and yes, even small craft breweries) get the financing and resources they need.

The program has since expanded nationally. Accion has doled out $1.9 million in microloans through the program to 225 small businesses across the U.S., with the average loan at about $8,000. The initiative has also provided coaching to more than 3,000 business owners and created or saved nearly 1,400 jobs, Boston Beer says.

While there is no annual revenue minimum for applicants, established companies are preferable. "What we want them to do with the loan is use it to grow their business and create jobs, profit so they can pay the loan back and then we can recycle that loan to another small business that can do the same thing," Koch says. "We have had business where we've made two or even three loans."

At a corporate level, Koch says connecting with food and beverage entrepreneurs keeps Sam Adams connected to its entrepreneurial roots - an advantage when competing with the likes of beer conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) and Molson Coors (TAP - Get Report).

"For Boston Beer, it keeps our people in contact with our own entrepreneurial roots. In our business, [Sam Adams] makes up 1% of the U.S. beer market so we have to stay entrepreneurial and maintain our small business mentality and culture and this is a way of doing that," he says.

That said, Koch notes that the fund has more money available to lend than applicants right now.

"[We have] some significant resources that we could share we could help other business do what I didn't have," Koch says. "Sam Adams has helped create a revolution in in brewing. Maybe there's another Sam Adams out there. It would be cool if we could help them make their way down the path that I've been down."

Shares of Boston Beer were gaining 0.7% in New York to $158.61 to extend its advance this year to 18%.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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