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Boston Beer Co. changes up Rebel IPA formula

chris morris for the boston globe/Globe Freelance

Boston Beer Co.’s national rollout of its Rebel IPA in 2014 was considered a success, an important way to grow revenue and to finally make a splash with a big IPA brand.

So what’s Boston Beer chairman Jim Koch thinking, changing the formula just a few years after the launch?

“Rebel was well received,” Koch says. “[But] I have this motto that the status quo sucks. The only reason the status quo exists is because we haven’t yet figured out how to do it better. We apply that to our beers.”

The Rebel move marks the first time the brewer of Samuel Adams has changed the formula for one of its prominent beers.


The move comes as Boston Beer faces its first major decline in sales in more than a decade: The South Boston-based company is dealing with competition from global giants gobbling up craft brands on one side and from the proliferation of small breweries on the other.

Boston Beer broke the news last week, explaining that the Rebel IPA has a new blend of seven hops, including one grown specifically for the company in Yakima Valley, Wash.

Koch says the latest version has “a little more intense hop character,” possessing more of “that piney bite.”

The label got a makeover, too. The bottles still have the same bold red color scheme, but this time there’s an eagle on the front. Shipments are starting to arrive in stores now.

“It’s a time when I think there are a lot of people who are just jumping from one [beer] to another,” Koch says. “The consumers are really pushing us as brewers to continue to bring them new and interesting flavors, and new and interesting beers.” — JON CHESTO

High times at Hill Holliday

Karen Kaplan likes to say that the best time to make organizational changes is when your company is doing well, not when it’s doing poorly.


So it makes sense that the Hill Holliday chief executive would unveil a trio of promotions in the wake of a year of big business wins, in perhaps the biggest personnel announcement for Kaplan in her four-year tenure as chief executive.

Kaplan says her ad agency has won seven of the past seven pitches it has made, ending a bit of a dry spell for the firm. A few of the business wins expanded work with existing clients, such as Novartis and Bank of America. Others brought new clients into the fold, companies like Planet Fitness and Tempur Sealy International.

As a result, the Interpublic Group-owned agency has grown its workforce by about 15 percent in the past year, to a total of 800 people, with about 600 in Boston.

Kaplan announced the latest personnel changes to a packed room at Hill Holliday’s Boston headquarters last week. Chris Wallrapp, the former chief growth officer, is now the agency’s president, a position it hasn’t filled since Kaplan became chief executive in 2013.

Meanwhile, Kaplan promoted Leslee Kiley to be chief operating officer, the first one the agency has had in nine years. And account director Kerry Benson succeeds Kiley as head of account management.

Wallrapp’s role will be more outward facing: client relations, building the agency’s reputation, and the like. Kiley, meanwhile, will work more on internal operations. And Kaplan says as chief executive she hopes to focus more on overall strategy and increasing the agency’s national visibility.


“Great momentum is a rare commodity in our business,” Kaplan says. “You’ve got to move [to] capitalize on it.” — JON CHESTO

Striking a confident pose with Garrett Harker

If the staff at Eastern Standard seems to be standing up a little straighter lately, here’s why.

About 85 employees of Garrett Harker’s restaurants — Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, The Hawthorne, Row 34, and Branch Line — attended a talk earlier this week by Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist who studies body language.

What Cuddy told them is that striking a powerful pose, putting their hands on their hips, or just taking up more space in general not only makes people feel better about themselves, it signals competence and trustworthiness during their interactions with others.

When workers convey self-assurance, it helps make the dining experience more enjoyable for guests, says Molly Hopper Sandrof, director of people for the restaurant group, which hosts an educational speaker series for its employees every January.

“If a server is nervous and hunched over or maybe fiddling with their hands, that doesn’t communicate confidence and presence in the dining experience,” she says.

Learning to carry themselves with pride is especially effective for women, who tend to have less expansive body language than men, says Cuddy, author of the 2015 book “Presence” and a frequent corporate speaker.

Cuddy, who worked as a rollerskating waitress in college and is a regular at Harker’s restaurants, is well aware that servers don’t have much power in their jobs. “The title of the role itself implies powerlessness and hierarchy,” she said.


But there’s no reason for restaurant workers to cower when a guest is upset that the kitchen is out of truffled veal bratwurst: “You’re not being chased by a tiger,” Cuddy said, “you’re just dealing with an unhappy customer.” — KATIE JOHNSTON

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