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Sam Adams takes Roc Brewing under its wing

Zack Seward
Things are looking up for Roc Brewing Co.

Roc Brewing Co. got off to an auspicious start.

Last October, the then four-month-old Rochester microbrewery became the first of two beermakers in the country to win mentorship and funding from Boston Beer Co. - the craft beer behemoth behind Samuel Adams.

Boston Beer's $10,000 loan helped Roc Brewing buy a keg cleaner.

Now co-founders Chris Spinelli and Jon Mervine have just returned from their first mentorship session with the company that helped launch the craft beer movement.

"It's great to hear from the big guys and how they did it," says Spinelli. "We got to really learn things that could help us improve and move forward and become successful ourselves."

Secrets to scaling up

The key takeaways for Spinelli weren't specific to the beer industry alone.

Spinelli says staying true to the founders' vision in the face of growth is a challenge startups of all stripes often face.

"Pretty much all [Sam Adams does] is take their passion and love, and put it in their employees," Spinelli says. "[The employees] then make the company better - and push the beer and the company forward."

It's a lesson Spinelli plans to take to heart as Roc Brewing eyes expansion.

"We're really picking up pace and moving in the right direction," says Spinelli. "We just want to keep that ball rolling, especially heading into summer."

The three-person microbrewery wants to build an outdoor patio at their Union Street brewpub, Spinelli says. Big plans for Roc Brewing's one-year anniversary are also in the works.

Spinelli and Mervine will be heading back to Boston in April for more mentorship from Sam Adams founder Jim Koch.

Spinelli says they'll also be interviewed for a forthcoming IFC documentary on Sam Adams and the booming craft beer industry.

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