Business

Sam Adams creator Koch becomes billionaire amid craft beer surge

Boston Beer shares have increased tenfold since mid-2009, driving founder Jim Koch’s net worth above $1 billion.
Boston Beer shares have increased tenfold since mid-2009, driving founder Jim Koch’s net worth above $1 billion.Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg News

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Armed with a family recipe and a flair for marketing, C. James ‘‘Jim’’ Koch popularized craft beer in the United States and turned Boston Beer Co. into the second-largest American-owned brewery. It also made him a billionaire.

Craft beer such as Sam Adams has been a bright spot in an otherwise stale US beer market. Total American beer sales fell 2 percent in the first half of 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, while the craft brew segment grew 15 percent. Boston Beer’s sales increased more than 17 percent during the period.

‘‘What he has done is amazing,’’ said David Geary, president of D.L. Geary Brewing, a craft brewer in Portland, Maine. ‘‘He’s very focused, a brilliant marketer, and he sort of taught us all how to sell beer.’’

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