A few months before Chris Spinelli was ready to open the doors to Roc Brewing Co. in April 2011, the former financial advisor faced a conundrum: He didn't have the $10,000 he needed to buy a keg washer, a device that - you guessed it - cleans and sanitizes kegs. He didn't have the funds because he couldn't convince a bank to give him a loan. And, without a keg washer, he couldn't figure out a cost-effective way to contract brew for other breweries, throwing his business model out of whack.
But Spinelli was in luck. A friend pointed him to Boston Beer Co.'s Brewing the American Dream program, which Samuel Adams' brewery launched in 2008, in partnership with the lending company Accion, to dole out microloans and provide mentorship to startups in the food, beverage and hospitality industry.
Spinelli filled out the application and subsequently received a $10,000 loan, roughly $9,800 of which he spent on the keg washer.
The loan helped the Rochestor, N.Y., brewery establish a foothold in a market, he says. "Without the loan we would have figured out some way to try to make it work," Spinelli says. "But it would have been much harder."