Mass. Market: Boston Beer Teams Up With Magic Hat Co-Founder

From Mass. Market:

Alan Newman thought he was leaving the beer business for good when Magic Hat Brewing Co., the company he co-founded 18 years ago, was sold.

But then Boston Beer Co. chairman Jim Koch called with an offer that was too good to refuse.

The craft beer industry, it turns out, isn’t an easy one to escape. Newman is now running Boston Beer’s new subsidiary, Alchemy & Science. Koch has given Newman a blank slate to generate ideas – and access to Boston Beer’s resources and staff – to make investments in the craft beer industry.

Newman’s first task: acquire Angel City Brewing in Los Angeles and oversee the completion of its new brewery this spring. It’s not really clear yet what kind of other projects we’ll see down the road – a journey with an open-ended nature that Newman seems to relish.

Koch’s focus remains on his company’s flagship Samuel Adams brand, which had morphed into more than 50 styles of beer by 2011, essentially tripling what the company offered a decade ago. With the creation last fall of Alchemy & Science, Koch has a new place for the experiments to continue under new brand names – and a new research chief to oversee the new lab.

After Magic Hat, Newman worked with former colleague Stacey Steinmetz to seek a new outlet for their energy and creativity. They considered a number of different business ideas, and even came close to buying a potato chip company. The self-confessed business junkie says he picked the name Alchemy & Science because a successful business requires plenty of intellectual planning, and, at some point, magic needs to take over.

The call from Koch that turned Alchemy & Science from an idea into a business was nearly two decades in the making. Newman says their friendship dates back to when he started Magic Hat and sought advice from the Boston Beer guru. When he left a visit with Koch at the company’s Jamaica Plain brewery, Koch made sure to tell Newman not to hesitate to call if he had any questions. Newman says he took Koch up on that offer many times over the years.


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