-- Two percent of the reason: he was a college classmate of my wife's -- along with Frank Rich, Chuck Schumer, Bonnie Raitt, Katha Pollitt, and other worthies. Those were the days (although I didn't meet Koch then and haven't since).
-- Ninety-eight percent of the reason: founder of the Boston Beer Company, and as such not just the creator of the Samuel Adams line but also the man who, as much as any other one person, deserves credit for leading America into its current Golden Age of Beer. When a Beer Mt. Rushmore is built, he'll certainly be there, along with Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada. Some other time I'll fill out the full Beer Rushmore lineup, or maybe instead a Hall of Beer Heroes. For now, here's Grossman, below, in a pose nicely similar to Koch's. Come to think of it, all pictures of happy brewers tend to be posed this way.
Today I learn of a new reason to hold Koch in high esteem. In the NYT's Sunday business section, Jeff Sommer explains how Koch went out of his way in the mid-1990s to structure the Boston Beer Company's IPO so that it advanced the interests he cared about in the long run, rather than wringing out absolutely maximum capital or returning most of its riches to those with the most extensive inside connections.