If you’re in the beer industry, you’ve probably heard the name Rhonda Kallman.
Credited with helping launch Boston Beer Company alongside Jim Koch in 1984, Kallman has experienced a lifetime’s worth of entrepreneurial successes and failures – and she’s lived to tell the tale.
After spending 15 years building Samuel Adams – and the craft beer industry itself –Kallman departed to launch what she originally envisioned as a beer business incubator, called New Century Brewing Company.
“For decades, I had watched great brands be built by enterprising entrepreneurs or families that had a dynasty over in Europe,” she told BevNET’s Taste Radio during a recent interview.
Some of those companies were sold to larger strategic players, like Anheuser-Busch, and Kallman says she would watch the acquirers “virtually liquidate” and “suck all of the marketing out of” the smaller brands.
“I thought that I could leverage my expertise and passion for building things,” she said of the decision to leave Boston Beer.
So Kallman created two brands, Edison Light and Moonshot, the latter of which was infused with 69 milligrams of caffeine — and was eventually banned by the federal Food and Drug Administration in a regulatory sweep aimed at caffeinated malternatives like Four Loko.
“Timing has a lot to do with successful businesses,” she explained on Taste Radio. “For me, the launch of that was the beginning of a 10-year doom loop, both personally and professionally, but the learning out of it is remarkable and is really helping me succeed in this next venture.”
That next venture, Boston Harbor Distillery, launched in 2015 and currently puts out a variety of small-batch whiskey, rum, distilled beer and liqueur products.
In the latest episode of Taste Radio, Kallman tells her story and discusses the defining moments of her personal and professional journey.
Listen to Kallman’s interview on episode 119 of Taste Radio here.