How Heady Topper is brewing social change: The Alchemist’s Jen Kimmich

Heady Topper, the legendary and elusive IPA from The Alchemist named one of the top 100 beers in the world, has spawned a cult following — and social change. Alchemist co-founder Jen Kimmich is an influential political activist who serves on the boards of the Vermont Public Interest Group, Vermont Council on Rural Development, Main Street Alliance, and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, among other organizations. She has been at the center of efforts to pass paid family leave, reduce climate change, and raise the minimum wage. She discusses her commitment to good business and good politics, the work of the charitable Alchemist Foundation and its college scholarship fund for local high school students, and why she and her husband, Alchemist co-founder John Kimmich, insist on brewing local and staying small. (March 28, 2018 broadcast)

Jen Kimmich, co-founder, The Alchemist

Vermont’s craft beer revolution

In 1988, the Vermont Pub & Brewery opened for business as the first brew pub in the state. Today Vermont craft beers are taking the state, and world, by storm. Out of state visitors now flock to Vermont to bring back a sample of brews, such as The Alchemist’s Heady Topper and beers from Hill Farmstead, that have become cult classics.

All this is happening against a backdrop of consolidation in the beer industry. On October 13, the world’s leading brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, announced its plan to take over its main rival, SAB Miller. If the deal happens, it will be the biggest merger in brewing history, creating a company with sales of $55 billion. It means one mega brewer could soon own nearly half the world’s top beers.

But the microbrewers are posing a challenge to the megabrewers. In 2013, sales of craft beer (by volume) exceeded the sales of Budweiser, America’s top selling brew. And 44 percent of Americans between the ages of 21 and 27 have never tried a regular old Budweiser. We talk about Vermont’s craft brew phenomenon with its pioneers.

Steve Polewazyck, owner, Vermont Pub & Brewery

John Kimmich, co-owner, The Alchemist

Dave Juenker, owner of Blackback Pub, a craft beer pub in Waterbury, Vt.

Steve Cook, deputy commissioner, Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing

The Alchemist Story: Brewing the World’s Best Beer & Giving Back, 8-14-2013

John Kimmich, co-owner of The Alchemist Brewery, discusses staying small and local, recovering from disaster, giving back, and the secrets behind Heady Topper, rated the world’s best beer. We also talk bikes with Larry Gordon of Zoombikes and Brian Somers of Tin Pot Ice Cream, who delivers ice cream by bike.