Monday, August 16, 2010

Stone's Greg Koch on NPR's Marketplace

Stone Brewing's co-founder Greg Koch was interviewed by Kai Ryssdal on NPR's Marketplace.  Here
is the link to the article, and there is also an audio feed.  Koch discusses Stone's European plans in the interview.  Here is a discussion on Stone's European brewery exploration:

Ryssdal: So where are we in the Stone expansion process?
Koch: We have a colleague who is out over there now, just hit the ground this past Monday. We're looking for an existing brewery site to retrofit their brewery to brew the style of beers we brew, would like to be a region where people would want to visit, good quality of life. But frankly, somewhat of it's in the "I'll know when I see it" category.
Ryssdal: Why do you have to make it there? Why can't you just take those bottles that we saw inside on the line, put 'em in a carton, put 'em on a boat and send 'em over to wherever you want in Europe?
Koch: We could, but we don't want to for a variety of basic, fundamental reasons. One is the time that it takes to ship our beer over there, and our beer is best when it's fresh -- and we steward that religiously. Now, when it comes to doing that and sending it refrigerated to Europe, that's extraordinarily expensive. And so, when it gets all the way over there, that's going to be quite an expensive equation for the consumer. But I think the primary reason is the carbon footprint. I think it would be irresponsible for us to send high volumes of beer from one country another and completely ignore the carbon footprint.
Stone is going to brew Stone beers in Europe, not new beers designed for the European market.  Good for Stone!   It is interesting in the interview that interviewer Ryssdal says the Europeans drink "fizzy yellow" beer, but here is what three Europeans, interviewd in an English pub, have to say about an American brewer coming to Europe:

Ryssdal: Greg Koch, CEO and co-founder of the Stone Brewing Company, talking about his plans to expand into Europe. It occurred to us that we could talk all day about what Europeans may or may not want. But why not just put the question to actual Europeans?
Barry Southern: I think American beer is a lot lighter. It has a fizz. If you would have a hot dog or a hamburger, you would then associate that with American beer.
Matt Wright: You wouldn't go for an American beer. You'd go for Stella, wouldn't you? Or a Kronenbourg, a European beer.
Chris Hubbard: I think if they could just offer something unique, as long as the quality is good, I think people would take it up.
Ahh, the difference of perceptions.  Stella or a Kronenbourg over any beer Stone brews?  Please, if the comment wasn't ignorant it'd be an insult.  I assume (based on no evidence) that Stone will focus on a Great Britain location for its new brewery.  If Stone picks the UK, its beer drinkers are in for a treat, and Stone, along with Scotland's Brew Dog, will jolt the English beer palate. 

I make it to Stone Brewing several times a year, as it's about forty minutes from my house.  I happened to be near the brewery today and stopped by to fill a growler and pick up some swag.  I heard the Greg Koch interview on the way home from the brewery - what a strange coincidence and time to queue the music from Twlight Zone.  


The Hop Daddy said...

I love Stone, don't get me wrong, but I wonder if Stone truly NEEDS to be in Europe (for "carbon footprint" reasons, etc.), or if being in Europe makes them feel more "worldly", exotic, and important on the beer scene. If they are truly so large and the demand is so high, why not just expand or scout another location locally. New Belgium has an awesome operation, but I don't know exactly where they fall in relation to Stone's distribution. I probably should.

Rational Realist said...

Of course, Stone doesn't need to build in Europe, it still has plenty of market share to grab here in the US. I don't know if it makes Stone feel more worldly, but Stone has done the collaboration beers with some European brewers and probably feels comfortable there. I also think there is considerable upside, from a business standpoint, for Stone. New Belgium is the third ranked craft brewer and Stone is not in the top ten, based on 2009 sales volume (from a Wall Street Journal article). I have read a few English blogs discussing Stone beers, and the reaction has been negative, and some of the descriptions sound like they are drinking old beer. Wait until they taste a fresh Stone beer, we'll see if they are worthy!