There's one brewer that's arguably the heart, soul, and face of the craft beer industry: Boston Beer (NYSE: SAM). The tireless efforts of founder Jim Koch on behalf of the craft behind brewing great beer have made him an effective spokesman and patron for craft brewers. That his flagship Samuel Adams brand is also one of the best known and widely available craft beers is no surprise.

Yet there are signs Koch could be preparing to take Boston Beer in a new direction. Back in 2012, the brewer signed a four-year collaboration deal with Berkshire Mountain Distillers to tap into the emerging craft whiskey movement. The companies would produce a series of whiskeys that were distilled from Samuel Adams beers and aged in oak casks. The fruits of that joint venture are now beginning to emerge and it's perhaps appropriate to ask if this will now become a wider pursuit of Boston Beer?

Berkshire Mountain and Boston Beer announced on Tuesday that their latest creation, Two Lanterns American Whiskey, will be available at select liquor stores, bars, and restaurants in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Georgia.

Named to commemorate the two lanterns that were lit at Boston's Old North Church in 1775 to warn that the British army was approaching (an alert that helped launch the American Revolution), the whiskey was crafted by first triple-distilling Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and then aging the result for four years in vintage bourbon barrels. It took nearly 25,000 gallons of beer to produce the 1,000 gallons of whiskey.

Earlier this year, the two companies released Shays' Rebellion American Whiskey, a similarly distilled spirit that started from Samuel Adams Cinder Bock beer, aged in Samuel Adams Utopias casks for nearly three and a half years.

There will likely be more craft whiskeys coming out of this collaboration, and Berkshire Mountain has even started what it calls the Craft Brewers Whiskey Project that is partnering with 15 different brewers to create similar whiskeys.

But given Koch's penchant for investing in the craft industry, it's plausible the brewer may one day use its Alchemy & Science incubator to purchase Berkshire Mountain or some other craft whiskey distiller, much as it bought several craft brewers. Boston Beer now also owns a cidery, a soda company, and a seltzer water maker. A craft distillery doesn't seem so far afield.

And whiskey is far more popular these days than craft beer, which has seen its growth rate slow to mid-single digits. Sales of Samuel Adams beer are on the decline, but the American Distilling Institute says craft whiskey sales are growing 30% annually. Maybe we'll soon be calling Samuel Adams owner Boston Beer & Distillery.

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Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. 

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