Hook and Ladder Brewing Company

Silver Spring, MD

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An idea that began brewing in the kitchen of volunteer firefighter Rich Fleischer has evolved into one of the country's fastest-growing craft beers. Hook & Ladder Brewing Company, the Washington, D.C.-area mission-based brewery founded by Rich and his business-minded brother, Matt, exemplifies the social entrepreneurship trend. Hook & Ladder is succeeding through its founding commitment to provide an exceptional line of beer while giving back to burned firefighters and burn survivors in communities across America and keeping donations local.

2008- Statistics show that Hook & Ladder is one of the fastest-growing craft brewers in the country. Hook & Ladder launches their new Variety Pack which includes two new beers, Pipe & Drum Irish Ale and Ember Amber, while the company increases distribution to 27 states with 110 distribution partners. Backdraft Brown takes home prestigious honor as the winner of the Washington Post's Beer Madness competition.

2007- Hook & Ladder ups distributor partnerships to 43 and is available in 11 states and Washington, D.C., raising philanthropic donations to a total of $20,000 since mid-2005. In October, the company introduces Hook & Ladder Lighter, containing just 94 calories in a 12-ounce bottle. As of November 1, packaged six-pack bottles hit store shelves from Virginia to Maine. Through the new A Quarter in Every Case program, Hook & Ladder and its wholesale partners donate 25 cents locally from each case sold to the same burn organizations that benefit from A Penny in Every Pint.

2006- Hook & Ladder signs its first distribution contract in Baltimore. The brothers convince the distributor to match Hook & Ladders $2-per-barrel donation to the A Penny in Every Pint program, upping the donation amount to $4 per barrel. Rich and Matt commit to keeping every donation local and partner with a Baltimore firefighter burn foundation.

2005- After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, the business re-launches as Hook & Ladder Brewing Company No. 2 with the capital necessary to ensure success and develops the company's philanthropic mission, A Penny in Every Pint.

2003- The Fleischers return to the East Coast where Matt enrolls in the Entrepreneur Program at the University of Marylands Robert H. Smith School of Business.

2002- Hook & Ladder builds a loyal following and lands a distribution partner, but a lack of capital forces Rich and Matt to halt production in late fall.

2001- Hook & Ladders Golden Ale wins a gold medal in the American Style Wheat category at the annual Great American Beer Festival, beating out 52 other entries.

2000- Matt Fleischer joins his brother in San Francisco to grow the Hook & Ladder brand.

1999- Rich hits the streets in the spring, selling Hook & Ladder Grassfire Wheat (currently sold as Hook & Ladder Golden Ale) and Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown.

1994- Rich Fleischer brews first batch of beer in his San Francisco-area kitchen.

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