Iconic Tour

Sam Adams founder Jim Koch describes the moment he found out he was a billionaire

Jim Koch
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When Jim Koch found out he had become a billionaire, it was his daughter who broke the news.

Her friends were confused. "Em, your dad's a billionaire? Why are you scooping ice cream for $7 an hour?" they asked her. She relayed the question to her dad, founder of The Boston Beer Co. the brewhouse behind Sam Adams beer.

"It was actually pretty funny because when it happened I didn't know," Koch said in an interview with CNBC at the Iconic conference in Boston last week. "You know, Forbes prints this thing and they don't notify you. But it got in the Globe and my daughter told me."

How Jim Koch brewed his way to success

Koch (pronounced "cook") launched the company from his kitchen in 1984 and today, at 67, he still has the perpetual jolly look of the sort of fellow who might have just been interrupted from brewing his own beer in his suburban kitchen.

You would be hard-pressed to find a picture of Koch in anything other than khaki pants and a denim button-up shirt with the "Sam Adams" logo on it.

In September 2013, Boston Beer's stock price pushed Koch into the Billionaires Club. He ranked on the Forbes' list of billionaires in 2014 and 2015 but fell off this year the stock price fell.

Koch's only regret about the billionaire list was that his dad had passed away a couple years before he had achieved that hallmark status. He thinks it would have been cool if he'd been around to see his son become a billionaire. Otherwise, the brewmaster doesn't seem to mind all that much one way or the other.

"Now I get to be an ex-billionaire, and it doesn't feel any different," Koch said.