Stone Brewing Co. CEO Talks Germany Expansion and New IPAs
You may know Stone Brewing Co. for their bold beers that are heavy on hops, and unique flavors like their double IPA, or their well known, cheekily-named Arrogant Bastard Ale. The Daily Meal also voted them the second-best brewery in America. We spoke to CEO Greg Koch about what’s next for the growing craft brewery.
Congratulations on the move to Germany! Can you tell me about the decision to expand there?
For so long, the reputation of American beer has been very low internationally, it would be the butt of jokes. But as we know, the scene of American beer 30 years ago and today are very different, now we are lauded by other brewing cultures for our creativity. Still there are a lot of people internationally who think of Americans as Coke, Bud, and Michael Bay movies. I feel some sort of duty to help the rest of the world understand the depth, complexity and awesomeness of American brewing movement. As for Germany, German beer culture is challenged; it’s primarily a cheap commodity culture, they don’t have an understanding of special beers, so we want to try to change that.
Can you tell me about any new brews you’re working on?
This is our newest smallest member of our lineup. It’s 4.2 percent, coffee; same ABV as Guinness, but the coffee isn’t too overwhelming. The other one we have is our 35-day IPA. Most brewery IPAs are 90-120 days. It says on the bottle Enjoy by 9/20/14. This is an uber-hoppy beer, very aromatic and flavorful. Not all hoppy beers are created equal, so don’t be afraid! You want to drink this when it’s super fresh, and the distribution is limited. We have a high level engagement with this one with hashtags and whatnot, we monitor the chatter, the places that chatter most bump up their position to get another batch sooner. It goes to the group of people that’s most enthusiastic about it.
How do you maintain the craft brewery feel while growing?
By always remaining faithful to who we are. We are cantankerously independent. As we’ve grown, our attitudes haven’t changed. We are still fighting the revolution against the idea that beer is a lowest common denominator beverage. We have won many battles, but haven’t won the war, and the war is people’s right to have access to decent quality beer. That goes for food as well as drink. We live in this lowest common denominator commodity world, the idea that Cheez-its and a Mountain Dew can be lunch at my nephew’s school is astonishing, it’s not even food. Let’s not pander, or pull any punches, let’s not produce a beer just because it would sell to a mass audience. If I came out with a fizzy yellow beer, well, that’s the kind of beer we make fun of. We would still be able to sell the sh*t out of it, but we aren’t in the business to sell the sh*t out of bad beer.