After reading Boston Beer's (NYSE:SAM) first-quarter earnings announcement, investors are probably thinking about tipping back a cold one themselves. The company's results show impressive free cash flow and the same sound allocation of capital that management has displayed in the past.

Earnings per share came in at $0.09 against a penny loss a year ago. However, as in the past, revenue growth was a bit of a struggle. But there are reasons for optimism, as the company will begin marketing its light brew more aggressively. The same strategy has delivered solid results for the traditional brews, and given the current move to lower-carb diets, now is the time to get the light brew out in front of folks again.

Don't pay so much attention to revenue, though, that you lose track of the share repurchases and consistent free cash flow that Boston Beer has rewarded investors with the last few years. Investors looking at the earnings release may wonder why I'm trumpeting free cash flow and share repurchases when the company only delivered the cash. It is because I believe Boston Beer made a good decision by not following the same old script and instead holding on to a little cash for the time being. Here's why:

A quick look at the last two years of share buybacks reveals that Boston Beer repurchased 2.78 million shares at an average of $14.26 per stub. However, revenue and free cash flow have been relatively flat the last few years, and at about $19 per stub the stock has increased a robust 33% against the average repurchase price. In addition, the enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio (EV/FCF) has gone from single digits to 12, which is still affordable but not nearly as attractive as last year, when the company repurchased the bulk of the shares.

For a company like Boston Beer that still has plenty of room for long-term growth but enormous competitors in Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) and Coors (NYSE:RKY), it can be a very smart move to save cash for a rainy day and repurchase shares only when delivering the most bang for the buck.

Investors should note that Boston Beer -- like Claire's Stores (NYSE:CLE) -- does have a dual-class share structure. One potential way to make up for the lack of voting power is to insist on conservative management and a slightly larger margin of safety. With strong free cash flow, Foolish capital allocation, and an EV/FCF of 12, Boston Beer may just have that safety.

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Fool contributor Nathan Parmelee wishes he had paid a little more attention to Boston Beer's business and a little less attention to its products. Nathan does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Send your feedback to Nathan here.