2014 Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Competition: Meet the Finalists

Entrepreneurs nationwide in the food, beverage, and craft brewing industries have been perfecting their two minute business pitches as part of our Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Competition. This national contest offers small business owners the chance to win a $10,000 grant, extended coaching and mentorship from members of our team, and an opportunity to pitch their product to key retailers and buyers.

We’ve hosted four regional “Pitch Room” competitions this year in Chicago, Denver, Boston, and New York City. We’ve heard from a total of 23 small business owners who had just two minutes to pitch their products to a panel of expert judges ranging from members of the Sam Adams team (including Jim Koch), retailers, buyers, and business experts. Following the pitch, the small business owners were offered valuable feedback putting them one step closer to perfecting their sales pitch. When a small business is starting out, sometimes all they have is their pitch or their story, so improving this pitch goes a long way to enhance one’s selling abilities at the offset.

As a new element of the competition, we partnered with Entrepreneur magazine to host a “Wild Card” Competition, giving small business owners across the country that couldn’t attend a regional competition the chance to submit their best pitch by uploading a two minute pitch video online. Once we narrowed that pool down to X finalists, our drinkers helped us choose who would be moving on to the Pitch Room Finals (more on that below).

This year we have nine finalists who will be participating in the Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Finals in New York City on December 4th!

Meet the finalists:

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Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Brewing & Business Experienceship: A Q&A with ChuckAlek Independent Brewers

As part of the Brewing the American Dream program, craft brewers nationwide have the opportunity to apply for the Samuel Adams Brewing & Business Experienceship. Through the Experienceship, each year one craft brewer is selected and provided the opportunity to experience extended coaching and mentoring from the Samuel Adams team, access to beer industry events, and the opportunity to brew a collaboration beer with us at the Boston Brewery.

2014 Samuel Adams Longshot American Home Brew Contest

This year’s Experienceship winner is founder and head brewer Grant Fraley and co-founder and CEO Marta Jankowska of ChuckAlek Independent Brewers. ChuckAlek Independent Brewers opened its doors in January of 2013 in Ramona, CA. Named after their grandfathers, Chuck and Alek, the brewery pulls some of the past into the present by creating “Old School Beers for New School Palates,” with a particular focus on porters and stouts. We had a chance to chat with them about how they got into the craft beer industry, what they’re currently brewing, and how Brewing the American Dream has had an impact on their brewery.

Q: How did you get into brewing?

A (Grant): I got started brewing at home several years ago when I first moved to San Diego.  I got interested in doing more European and classic styles while pursuing my master’s degree in Geographic Information Science over in Germany and Austria.

Q: When did you make the jump into starting your own brewery?

A (Grant):  Marta and I were really interested in exploring different styles of beer that weren’t readily available in San Diego. You can get triple IPAs, double IPAs, black IPAs – they’re all so prevalent. We were brewing a lot of British and German styles at home and we were like hey – this isn’t really being done, so there was a good opportunity to bring underrepresented styles to San Diego craft beer drinkers. We opened ChuckAlek Independent Brewers with help from friends and family, but most of it we built out on our own, including the brew house.

Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced?

A (Marta): One of the biggest challenges we faced was articulating our identity. One of the best pieces of advice we got from a friend in the beer industry is that we needed to form a very clear story as to who we are and our mission. There are already so many breweries in San Diego, so if we just went into it saying “hey, we make awesome beers” we might be OK, but no one would really notice us.  That really took us some time.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of owning your own brewery?

A (Marta):  It’s a lot of fun! We get so many customers come in who are blown away. People come in and the first thing they ask us is “what’s your IPA?”  We have to divert them and say, we don’t do an IPA, but we do some of the best porters in San Diego County and you should really try one. You see the doubt in their face, but then they try it and say “Oh my gosh, it’s so good!” We get multiple people like that in a day. It’s fun to challenge San Diego’s taste buds a bit.

Q: Your brewery specializes in recovering, reviving, and recreating heritage craft brews – what are examples of some of the styles you have brought back?

A (Marta):  This year we did a historical beer project called the Archives Series, which traces the history of porters and stouts from 1804 all the way up to 1933. It’s been really fun – we’ve been working closely with beer historian Ronald Pattinson. Ron helped us by consulting on various beer styles and recipes, making sure our recipes were as accurate as possible. He also joined us in a collaboration project we did with Stone Brewing Co. – an East India Porter called Colonel Sykes.

Q: How has the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream (BTAD) program helped support your brewery?

A (Grant): We didn’t sell our beer outside of the tasting room for the first six months or so. We decided that we wanted to use some of our brewing capacity to get our beer out into the marketplace, and that was about the time we received the loan through BTAD. We used that loan to help purchase our first couple dozen kegs, and to hire a part-time sales representative to go out and land some of our initial accounts. Now we’ve gone from half a dozen draft accounts to more than three dozen draft accounts. We’ve also gotten some great coaching on marketing and media outreach – it has been useful advice for how we want to represent and market our brand.

Q: What are you looking forward to about the Experienceship?

A (Grant/Marta): Coming to Boston of course!  We can’t wait to see the brewery, soak in all of the advice we can get our hands on, and get some good feedback from Jim Koch about the next steps to take. We’re also looking forward to the collaboration beer – we’re hoping to do a Revolution Era Porter or Stout, something that could really dig into the history of Samuel Adams and Boston while showcasing the types of beer styles we are best at.

Want to learn more about ChuckAlek Independent Brewers? Visit their website.

How Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream is Helping Food and Beverage Businesses Become Pitch Perfect

In 2008, when we launched our Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program, we imagined that new food and beverage business owners would benefit greatly from access to all kinds of coaching – from how to procure ingredients, to marketing opportunities like how to create a compelling label and website, to addressing a variety of legal issues, and even leasing commercial space. But what we didn’t anticipate is that so many would want help figuring out the best way to tell their own story – essentially becoming “pitch ready” for some of our country’s biggest retailers.

As part of our program, we host Speed Coaching events across the country where business owners receive advice from Samuel Adams employee-volunteers representing a range of business functions. At every event from coast to coast, our coaches, who have a wide range of expertise, were being asked the same questions:

“How can I pitch my product to a national supermarket chain?” or “How can I get a restaurant to use my product as a new ingredient?”

So we decided to help.

In 2013, we created the Samuel Adams Pitch Room to help small business owners in the food and beverage industry practice and perfect the art of the sales pitch. The result is a no-holds-barred, best-pitch-wins competition. We view it as “Shark Tank” meets The Food Network.

SamPitch13_Final_210_LowRes

The Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream 2014 Pitch Room Competition will consist of four regional events leading up to a finale round in New York in December.

In each regional competition, food and beverage entrepreneurs will put their best pitch forward for national chain buyers, successful food entrepreneurs, and members of the media who report on the food industry.

The schedule of regional events is as follows:

Chicago – April 7th

Denver – May 21st

Boston – October 6th

New York City – November 17th

The winner of the finals in New York in December will receive a $10,000 business grant from Samuel Adams; coaching from Samuel Adams employees across a variety of disciplines and subject areas; as well as great exposure for their brand and product.

The 2013 Pitch Room winner was New York-based Brewla Bars (pictured above), an all-natural, craft-brewed adult Popsicle manufacturer. Over the past year, the brother and sister team, Brewla owners Rebecca and Daniel Dengrove, have been putting their $10,000 grant to work expanding operations and formalizing their distribution. They’ve also received coaching from Samuel Adams experts in print production and design, HR, procurement, finance, public relations, and marketing.

Want to give us your best pitch? Applications are now being accepted for the Chicago Pitch Room. Applications for the other Pitch Room events will be open at a later date, as noted on the website.

Contact us with any questions about our April 7th Pitch Room Competition or for information about other upcoming events.

Q&A with Small Business Owner & Brewing the American Dream Loan Recipient Edward Belden of Peddler’s Creamery

The many business challenges that our founder Jim Koch faced when starting Samuel Adams, became the inspiration for creating our Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program.  Through the program, we partner with microlender Accion to provide access to capital and much-needed nuts and bolts business advice to small business owners just starting out in the food and beverage industry to help give them the support Jim wished he would have had early on.

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We ask you to join us in supporting small businesses this holiday season, especially on Small Business Saturday. Here is a list of business owners in our program and be sure to check out featured products on Pinterest.

Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with small business owner Edward Belden, founder of LA based Peddler’s Creamery. Peddler’s Creamery produces high quality artisan bicycle-churned organic dairy and non-dairy ice cream and frozen desserts that features local ingredients. Edward Belden received a loan from Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream to help fund his start-up equipment for his unique fresh churned ice cream and supplies.  He has participated in numerous speed coaching events and was even featured on the bottom of our Boston Lager 6-packs.

Here’s what Edward had to say about the idea behind his business, the importance of being involved in the community, and some of the best business advice he has received:

Q: Where did the idea for Peddler’s Creamery come from?

A: I loved making ice cream, eating ice cream, and riding bicycles. I was riding my bike past an ice cream place soon after graduating college and the idea to put them all together popped into my head!

Q: What are the benefits of fresh churned ice cream?

A: It allows us to use fresher local ingredients. You can also have more unique flavors that you might not have in a typical ice cream shop experience. It’s also fun to have customers participate in the process by getting their own chance to peddle the bicycle that churns the ice cream.

Q: 5% of profits from Peddler’s Creamery go to social and environmental causes. Which organizations have benefited from this and why do you think it is important for your business to invest in the community in this way?

A: We have worked with Habitat for Humanity, LA County Bicycle Coalition, and Downtown Women’s Center. Where are in an area in LA that is trying to help a lot of people transition out of homelessness and we feel it is really important to invest in the community. On Small Business Saturday we are going to be hosting our first Churning for Charity event and donating the ice cream volunteers make to the Downtown Women’s Center.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?

A: One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding funding. There is a lot you can do on your own – you can create recipes and have an amazing product, but you need to be able to create your own capital. Having the opportunity to work with a company like Samuel Adams was incredibly helpful.

Q: How has Brewing the American Dream helped your business?

A: Knowing that there was capital and additional support coming in through the program was super helpful and the network we have developed is incredibly powerful. Samuel Adams helped us get the word out about our business – we were featured on posters in bars in LA and also on the bottom of Boston Lager six packs. It was cool to be able to go to my local grocery store, pick up a six-pack of Sam Adams, and show it to my friends.

Q: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry who are just starting out?

A: I think the best advice is something I got from a friend of mine – follow your passion and jump in. Don’t be afraid to take make your own path.

Want to learn more about Peddler’s Creamery? Check out their website.

Celebrate Small Business Saturday with Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream

BTAD logoThe many business challenges that our founder Jim Koch faced when starting Samuel Adams became the inspiration for starting our Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program.  Through the program, we partner with Accion to provide access to capital and much-needed nuts and bolts business advice to entrepreneurs just starting out in the food and beverage industry to help give them the support Jim wished he would have had early on.

As the holidays draw near, we hope everyone considers supporting our small business partners to round out their shopping list.

We ask you to join us in supporting small businesses this holiday season, especially on Small Business Saturday.

Here’s how you can participate with us:

Touring the Boston Brewery this week? All of the donations from the complimentary tour will go towards the Brewing the American Dream fund. Be sure to check our website for holiday hours.

In Boston but can’t make it to the brewery? Order a Samuel Adams Boston Brick Red on tap at participating locations. We donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Brewing the American Dream fund for every keg sold.

We encourage you to check out our Brewing the American Dream Business Directory to find a small business participating in the program near you.  We’re also featuring products from Brewing the American Dream participants on Pinterest.

Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Competition

These past few months we’ve been traveling across the country meeting with small business owners in the food and beverage industry. Although this time, we’re not sourcing ingredients for a new beer. Entrepreneurs nationwide have been perfecting their two minute pitch to expert judges as part of our Pitch Room Competition which offers the chance to win a $10,000 grant, extended coaching and mentorship from The Boston Beer Company, and an opportunity to pitch their product to key retailers and buyers.

In partnership with Accion, we’ve hosted four “Pitch Room” competitions this year  in San Francisco, Denver,  Boston, and New York City. We’ve heard from 25 small business owners who had the opportunity to pitch their products in just two minutes to a panel of expert judges ranging from members of the Samuel Adams senior leadership team (including Jim Koch), retailers, buyers, and business experts. Following the pitch, business owners were offered valuable feedback putting them one step closer to perfecting their sales pitch.

Meet the finalists…

Sasm Adams Coaching30Cole Meeker, owner of San Francisco based Sea of Change Trading Company,  impressed the judges with his baked seaweed snacks. They come in a variety of different flavors including Thai BBQ and Maple Sea Bakin’. Cole’s dedication to keeping his ingredients fresh and all natural made him the judge’s pick.

Lindita winnerLindita Torres-Winter was the winner at the Denver “Pitch Room” event. As owner of Lindita’s Salsa, she has developed a salsa mix that gives you fresh salsa – all you need to do is add the tomatoes. Lindita grew up as a farm worker and picked tomatoes as a child. She created her authentic mixes based upon her Hispanic culture and heritage.

SamPitchRoom_437_LowResMichael Fairbrother of Londonderry, NH won the Boston “Pitch Room” event with his pitch of Moonlight Meadery. Michael became passionate about mead way back in 1995 when he tried it for the first time – since then, he has opened his own meadery that offers a variety of different styles of mead. Michael has extensive knowledge about mead and is dedicated to experimenting with his craft.

doves_figsRobin Cohen, owner of Doves and Figs based in Arlington, MA was a finalist at the Boston event and she will also be joining us in the finals. Robin produces delicious jams and all natural fruit spreads made with all locally grown products  made with no preservatives and made in small batches. The Boston judges loved her family story and her passion for her product.

BrewlaBrother and sister duo Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove, owners of New York based Brewla Bars, were the winners of the New York City Pitch Room event. Their all natural frozen bars made with craft brewed ingredients impressed the judges.

Lucca headshot editedCatherine Oddenino and Ruthie Vishlitzky, owners of New York based Luca & Bosco, were finalists at the New York City event. Their commitment to using all natural ingredients for their high quality ice cream.

The winners from our regional events have been invited to compete  in the “Pitch Room” finals at the Boston Brewery on December 9th – stay tuned for more details and may the best pitch win!

Holiday Cookies Baked with Winter Lager!

Winter Lager Pour ShotBaking cookies around the holidays is a Samuel Adams favorite among our brewers. And like all our favorite things, we take to it the only way we know how – by adding beer! While we know a thing or two about brewing, we tapped some real baking professionals for ideas on how to create this year’s batch of Samuel Adams Winter Lager cookies.

We’re excited to collaborate with LuLu’s Sweet Shoppe of Boston and Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices of Cincinnati – both proud participants in our Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program – to create our Winter Lager cookie recipe. While the recipe comes courtesy of Sandy Russo at LuLu’s Sweet Shoppe, Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices provided the spices we needed to add the holiday flavor.

Bake your own Winter Lager cookies (and send us some) by following the simple directions below!

Samuel Adams® Winter Lager Cookie

Recipe by Sandy Russo of Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Samuel Adams Winter Lager
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp orange powder
  • 2 Tbsp orange zest
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 egg

Winter Lager & Cookes #2Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugar for 3 minutes, add molasses, beat for 1 minute.  Add the egg & beer, beat 30 seconds.

Combine flour, salt, spices and baking soda.  On lowest speed of mixer, beat in half of the flour mixture.  Using a spoon, stir in remaining dry ingredients. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2-3 portions; press each into a round, flattened disk and wrap well. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll dough to ¼” thickness and cut into perfect pint shapes. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet & bake for 10-15 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.

Royal Icing (optional):

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract or pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in bowl and beat on medium high for 10 minutes. Icing will become thick and glossy. Spread over cookies immediately and enjoy!