Taste Radio Episode 119

Samuel Adams & Boston Harbor Distillery: Rhonda Kallman

+ Greg Steltenpohl


A co-founder of Boston Beer Co., the maker of Samuel Adams, Rhonda Kallman has seen her share of success. Yet while she’s been to the top of the mountain, she’s also seen its nadir. Despite the ups and downs of her nearly three decades in the beverage business, she’ll tell you that there’s been one constant: there’s no substitute for entrepreneurship.

Kallman‘s latest project, Boston Harbor Distillery, extends a career that began in 1984 when she partnered with Jim Koch to create the now iconic Samuel Adams brand. Her path from Sam to spirits included both remarkable success and a decade of adversity, forcing her to overcome several personal struggles and the failure of a new brewing venture. In an interview recorded at her distillery in Dorchester, Mass.,  Kallman spoke about the defining moments of her journey, her methods for identifying disruptive concepts, why authenticity is the key to marketing innovation and the words that lifted her during the most challenging point of her career.

Also included in this episode: a conversation with Greg Steltenpohl, the founder and CEO of plant-based beverage company Califia Farms. Known as one of the foremost innovators in the beverage industry, Steltenpohl, who is also the founder of super-premium juice brand Odwalla, discussed the development and impact of business habits that he’s adopted during his nearly four decades in business. This episode is presented by Watermelon Road.

In this Episode

2:51: Incubate, Communicate, Masticate — The hosts discussed highlights and notable exhibits at the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show, including the event’s “Incubator Village,” which featured 11 incubators from across the U.S., among them the Chobani Incubator, The Hatchery, and CommonWealth Kitchen. They also spotlight Alpha Food Labs’ “The Future Market” which showcased innovative brands Yappah and Ocean Hugger, and chatted about a few interesting products sampled at the show, including those from Peekaboo Ice Cream, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, Harney & Sons, Tiny Hero Foods, and GT’s Kombucha.
12:14: Rhonda Kallman, Co-Founder, Boston Beer Co./Founder, Boston Harbor Distillery — Kallman shared stories about the early days of Samuel Adams and how the brand focused on an authentic message to drive trial and achieve traction; how she navigated a challenging and ultimately unsuccessful new venture in beer; why she saw an opportunity to innovate in the spirits business; and why it’s critical for brands in emerging categories to work together.
36:33: Greg Steltenpohl, Founder/CEO, Califia Farms — Recorded at the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show, Steltenpohl offered his take on important business habits and practices, including why listening is essential for successful leaders; how Califia uses “huddles” to create spaces for dialogue; how best to capture innovative ideas; and how to identify and avoid ruts.

Also Mentioned

Yappah, Ocean Hugger, Peekaboo Ice Cream, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, Harney & Sons, Tiny Hero, GT’s Kombucha, Samuel Adams, Boston Harbor Distillery, Odwalla, Califia Farms