BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Craft beer brewers may look like small, easily picked-off minnows to their big-brew competitors, but they're deceptively dangerous when grouped into a school of nearly 1,700.Cooperation and collaboration among craft beer brewers is perhaps the biggest reason their sector grew 11% by volume and 12% in revenue last year after a 7.2% spike in production and a 10.3% jump in the overall craft beer take in 2009, according to the Brewers Association.
|Cooperation and collaboration among craft beer brewers boosted growth by volume and revenue in the past two years despite a 1% decline in overall beer sales by volume last year and a 2.2% loss the year before.|
Koch and Samuel Adams' sizable portion of that 5% gives Boston Beer more largess and leverage than some of its smaller craft siblings. Since 2005, Boston Beer's output from its Boston, Pennsylvania and Ohio facilities bulged from 1.35 million barrels to nearly 2.26 million last year while its share price swelled from $26 to nearly $100 in that same span. Even before it became a company of nearly 780 employees, however, Boston Beer tried to help other craft brewers through its annual LongShot brewing competition. Since that program started in 1995, it's spawned craft brewers in 1996 winner Bob Gordash's Greenville, S.C.-based Holy Mackerel Beers and 2006 winner Don Oliver's Turlock, Calif.-based Dust Bowl Brewing. When weather in Europe and reduced production in the Pacific Northwest endangered the supply of hops -- those sweet flowers that give beers much of their flavor and just about all of their aroma -- Koch and Sam Adams stepped in to lend a hand by giving away 40,000 pounds of its surplus hops to 200 small brewers. Koch says the small brewers could have saved themselves some trouble by contracting out their production to hops growers as his company does instead of buying hops on the "spot" market, but that going a different way shouldn't allow larger competitors such as Samuel Adams to crush their business.