The A’s To Your Q’s: Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations

There’s a reason no U.S. craft brewers have constructed breweries in Europe. It’s very difficult and, of course, expensive. Back in 2009, when initially looking into the prospect of building the physical embodiment of our ethos-driven brewing operation across the Atlantic, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but in pursuing that project, it became clear that it would be even harder than we originally estimated. But bringing the innovation and flavor of American craft beer to Europe is something that’s very important, not just for us, but for the fans of craft beer, present and future, who will benefit from access to high-quality New World brews. So, we spent years hammering out a plan that would allow us to get it done. Not only that, we pushed ourselves and our resources even further, and came up with a way to also open up a facility in the Eastern United States. The best part of it all—we’re going to be constructing both simultaneously, so that our fans in the Eastern U.S. or Europe will be able to take in the Stone experience in the not-so-distant-future. In the end, while our bold, interesting and delicious beers set us apart from the world’s thousands of other breweries, so, too, does the full-on Stone Experience that comes from being able to visit and see firsthand who we are, what we do and what we stand for at our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens eclectic farm-to-table restaurants and attached Stone Company Stores.

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But, because we’re moving forward with a very aggressive construction plan for our two new breweries, we are at our financial limit and must put the Bistro & Gardens experiential components on hold…unless we get a little help. And for that help, we’re reaching out to our fans across the globe. Some will call it crowdfunding, but it really isn’t. This is actually more along the lines of crowd participation, mainly because these projects will get done either way—we’re just allowing fans to help speed up the process—and, more importantly, we’re no scoundrels. In addition to a warm feeling of having done something rewarding, we’re giving you something in return for what is, essentially, an advance on your hard-earned funds…beer! But not just any beer. We’re talking collaborations between Stone and some of the most prestigious brewing operations on the planet. We’re talking BrewDog, Dogfish Head Craft Brewing, Victory Brewing Company, Le Baladin and many more. These one-time-only specialty beers will be brewed at our new facilities as soon as they are operational, funneled into collectible (and rather spiffy) one-and-a-half-liter commemorative bottles, and set aside for the thirsty beer enthusiasts helping us to do what we do, as well and as fast as we can.

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Surely, there will be those who question our crowd participation approach. That’s only natural when a company does something in a manner that’s never been done before. And without questioning, this world would be nothing but a bunch of mindless drones shackled in allegiance to the status quo. That would be unfortunate. Since the birth of Stone Brewing Co., we have railed against such behavior, demanding something far better than the norm. So, we respect that some may question what we’re up to, and expected this when we decided to embark on this ambitious endeavor. No brewing company of our size has employed this method before. Then again, no other brewing company has attempted to fund and execute such a large-scale, dual, cross-continental project. Given that, it shouldn’t be surprising that something without precedent involves elements that also lack precedent.

We respect your right to pose questions and will strive to answer them all (see below). Having alternative opinions about it is O.K., too. After all, there are numerous other ways we could raise the capital to move forward at the pace we desire. In fact, some have been utilized by other brewing companies—businesses much different than ours in many, many ways. Take, for instance, these scenarios:

  • Stone could team with a soulless, multinational conglomerate with deep pockets looking to play sugar daddy to an American brewery with a glitzy, marketable name it can exploit in exchange for transporting it and setting it up in a nice, little, tourist attraction-like place in Europe that will surely serve said mega-company’s purposes far more than said starry-eyed American newcomer.
  • Stone could cut back on efforts to make places like Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Stone Company Stores the must-visit places they’ve become. They’d be less inviting, less innovative, offer fewer of the incredible beers, large scale beer festivals, creative beer-centric events and local, sustainable, thoughtfully procured (and way more expensive) ingredients our fans love, but those places would be far more profitable.
  • Stone could lay off a bunch of employees and strain our workforce, essentially running a mill of miserable grunts reduced to near-robotic status.
  • Or, Stone could go the most traditional route—rounding up a bunch of rich folks, the majority of which wouldn’t understand one thing of substance about craft beer, but would have heard the stories of its rise and, therefore, instinctively know that this is something they simply have to be a part of. Throw in the fact that Stone is well known and has a great deal of marketing appeal, and it would be very easy for us to raise the investor funds needed to get these facilities built at the pace we desire. All our backers would want in return, naturally, is a piece of the pie. Of course, that would have to involve more than just an exchange of funds. This would be a large investment. They would want the oversight and input that they, as (real or perceived) masters of the business world, are entitled when handing over a big lump of cold, hard (emphasis on the “cold” part) cash. No problem, right? After all, as we stated before, they don’t know anything about craft beer, so they’re the perfect people to help guide our brewing program. They wouldn’t look to cut production costs, raise prices, alter our venues and events to be more profitable at the sacrifice of quality and reward to those who visit both…would they? The answer falls between “probably” and “definitely.”

We don’t find any of the above acceptable. There is no point to Stone Brewing Co. existing if our deep-seated philosophies and commitment to excellent beer for all aren’t completely intact. Our fans deserve it. And that’s why we are reaching out to the people who matter most to us—the fans who love our beer and want more of it along with the Stone Experience—to meet our vision of more Stone faster and with zero compromise.

Despite our best efforts to share the impetus and reasoning behind our crowd participation efforts, we realize no blog post can answer all of the questions people are bound to have…but we’re going to try anyway. The following are some helpful answers to what are bound to be some frequently asked questions about this enterprise.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are you using IndieGoGo instead of Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is so passé! But seriously, folks—it all comes down to one site restricting alcohol sales and the other allowing us to give craft beer fans the kind of perks they, by definition, actually want—craft beer!

When will the beer be brewed?

Good question. We anticipate brewing the beers from late 2015 through late 2017. We’re promising amazing, mind-blowing beers—thus, they will take time. Not to mention the fact we have to first build our awesome Berlin brewery. Construction delays always have the potential of rearing their ugly heads, so it’s best not to talk in specifics at this juncture, but we’ll keep you abreast of the situation as we go and make sure everything’s crystal clear when the time comes for you to get your beer.

How much beer will there be and where will it be brewed?

During the course of the crowd participation campaign, we’ll announce new collaborations every three days or so. The beers will all be brewed in BERLIN. How many really depends on you guys. The more you front for, the more we’ll make.

How old must I be to purchase a collaboration beer?

In the U.S., you must be 21 years of age at the time of purchase. This is the law, so it’s best not to employ creative—nay, misguidedly hopeful—mathematics. Of course, for those outside the U.S., legal drinking ages are different, so make sure you meet individual requirements for your country of residence.

Can I buy beer now if I’m not 21 but will be 21 by 2015?

Again, you must be 21 years of age AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE. (Ditto the individual age requirements outside the U.S.)

Can I buy beer now if I’m not 21 but am giving it as a gift to someone who is 21?

Nope.

Just how rare are these beers?

Pretty damn rare! The bottles in this campaign will ONLY be produced in association with this crowd participation campaign—from the time of announcement until the time they sell out or the campaign ends, whichever comes first.

Will any of these beers be available for retail purchase later on?

Anyone, including distributing companies and retail operations, can purchase the beer during this campaign at the same price as the general public. There is no way for us to police who purchases the beer via this platform. However, if it should end up being resold at a retail establishment, it’s very likely the retailer will sell it at a substantially higher price. We may take some of the beer and package it for sale at a later date, as well,  however, if we do, we’ll package them in 750-milliliter non-commemorative bottles that we will sell for $30. Yes, that’s the same price as we’re offering the 1.5-liter bottles, so ordering now gets you double the beer at the same price. We recommend pre-ordering.

How many collaboration beers may I purchase?

First off, we LOVE your attitude, and are glad to say you can purchase AS MANY BOTTLES OF AS MANY OF THE BEERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE! How refreshing for ultra-rare brews, the majority of which are offered with a maximum per-person limit if you can even get your hands on them at all, right?

Can I purchase more than one beer at a time?

Yes and no. Yes, you may purchase more than one beer at a time, but only if you are selecting the case option where you get 12 bottles of the same beer. All other purchases must be made individually, one bottle at a time, per the limitations of Indiegogo.

Are there any discounts for bulk purchases?

We want to help appease the appetite of those who know they want a lot of a certain beer, so Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionaries will have the option of purchasing a case of 12 of any of the collaboration beers at the discounted rate of $300 (a $60 savings). Once this option has been selected, a Stone representative will contact you with an e-mail asking which beer you would like to select. Please note that all such selections are final.

What if I want to switch the collaboration beer I purchased to another collaboration beer in the series?

We understand being selective. We were VERY specific in our choices, too. Just wait until you see all the incredible folks we’ll be brewing with! We don’t well up with glee in making this decree, but NO CHANGES will be allowed. Once a decision is made, the die is cast.

Is there an option for me to cut to the chase and order all of the collaboration beers at once?

Due to certain restrictions beyond our control, beers must be purchased individually, however, it will be easy to stay on top of each beer release simply by checking in on our Indiegogo campaign page or following Stone on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+.

What if I have a change of heart and no longer want the collaboration beer I purchased?

Sorry, but all sales are final. Choose wisely and be at peace with your decision before clicking PURCHASE.

Why don’t you know what style of beers most of the collaborators will be brewing?

In the case of some of our collaboration beers, the ideas flowed instantaneously, so we’re able to disclose what those brews will be. However, in preparation for this campaign, rather than place deadlines on creativity, we vowed to give the brewers time to fully explore the depths of their imaginations so our fans get something truly special in the end.

Can you ship me my beer?

We’d love to ship beer to the U.S., but we’d be breaking so many laws that countless badges would be on us faster than you can say “Carmen San Diego.” You will be asked to choose your pick-up point from Stone locations on the West Coast, east of the Mississippi, and in Europe when the beer is almost ready.

If you are not shipping beer in the U.S., what are you sending me?

We’ll send you a delightfully rare, never-before-seen certificate that will be redeemable, at a time yet to be determined, for the precious bottle of beer you buy today. Don’t worry, when it gets closer to beer o’clock, we’ll send you an email with further instructions. You will also receive a high-resolution certificate via email recognizing you as an official Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionary.

Where will the pick-up spots be located?

That list currently includes Stone Company Store – Escondido, Stone Company Store – Pasadena, Stone Company Store – Berlin and the yet-to-be-determined site of our Eastern U.S. facility, but additional locations may be added between now and pick-up time.

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Where will the Eastern U.S. facility be located?

Well we just told you, we don’t know quite yet, but we are honing in on about a half-dozen locations that seem very well suited for our operations, and hope to announce the final spot by the end of September.

OK then, where will the Berlin facility be located?

At the historic site of a former gasworks operation dating back to 1901 in Berlin’s Mariendorf area.

What if I don’t live in an area where Stone has a pick-up location? How can I get my beer?

Your beer will be kept in the most optimal of conditions for up to one year after the announcement of its release. That will give you time to plan a trip to one of our designated pick-up locations, however, if you can’t get to us, there are options. It’s permissible to dispatch a mule 21 years of age or over to pick up your beer. Please note there is a chance that, should you select our Eastern U.S. location as a pick-up venue, it may not be fully constructed by the time your beer is ready for pick-up. At that point, you’ll need to wait until the Eastern U.S. location is officially open, however, you will still have until one year from the date of the beer’s release to pick it up.

What do I need in order to claim my beer?

The all-important redemption certificate and photo identification are all that is required if you are picking up the beer yourself. If you send a representative, the certificate and a communication authorizing a particular individual—who must then provide their photo ID—is required to claim the beer on your behalf. The last thing we want is for your spoils to get into the wrong hands!

What if I lose my voucher?

Don’t! ‘Tis a precious item. (But if you do, just shoot an email to revolution@stonebrewing.com)

How long will I have to claim my beer?

One year’s time from initial notification that your purchased beers are at your selected pick-up spot and waiting for you to claim them.

Why should craft beer fans help fund breweries in the Eastern U.S. or Europe?

Why not? Especially when you’ll get rare craft beers produced in collaboration with some of the most highly regarded brewers in the world in exchange for what is, essentially, an advance on funds you would have spent on beer anyway? This is in no way a donation. You help us get our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens locations open and you get beer. You don’t help us, and you don’t get beer…and have to wait for said Bistros. It’s your choice and we’re above arm-twisting…but not above giving beer fans more beer!

Why does Stone need money in the first place?

Thanks to fans of our beer, we have attained a great level of success over the past 18 years. As those who’ve been paying attention have seen, we’ve grown at a rapid rate—adding on to our brewery, upping beer production and distribution, growing our workforce, opening Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone Company Stores, Stone Brewing Tap Room, Stone Farms and more. We’re always reinvesting our profits back into Stone and doing something new, which leaves us on a bit of a shoestring budget at times. We have enough money to open breweries east of the Mississippi and in Berlin, but not enough to immediately install our dining, garden and retail elements. Rather than wait and provide a less-than-optimal experience, we’re willing to enlist our incredible industry collaborators and offer “beer futures” so that, hopefully from Day One, all visitors to our new facilities get the full-on Stone Experience.

How much is $1 million really going to expedite the construction of the Bistros and Stores?

Significantly, but admittedly not as much as, say, $5 million. But we’re not against raising that much…or more. No matter what, the funds raised through this campaign will be funneled directly to these projects and moving them up on the construction schedule.

What percentage of the $50 per bottle price tag goes to producing, packaging and delivery of the beer?

100% of proceeds raised through sales of the collaboration beers will go directly to expediting of construction on the aforementioned facilities to complete the Stone Experience.

You still haven’t answered all of my questions. Where can I go for more information?

Your best bet is to go straight to the source—check out our Indiegogo campaign page.

 

Anything But Just Another IPA: Beachwood/Heretic/Stone Unapologetic IPA

We can see the headlines now: Stone makes another IPA! The world is shocked at such a divergence from a company that hardly ever explores hoppy beer styles. Yes, that’s sarcasm! Obviously, no one will be shocked to discover we’re making yet another aggressive IPA. We’ve never tried to hide our lust for hops. Heck, we freely fly our hophead flag. But we’re sure the question will arise. Stone has already made a bunch of IPAs, so why make another. Isn’t the already lupulin-obsessed market saturated with hoppy beers? And who says the world needs another IPA, anyway? We do!

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Long Lost Epic: Stone Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale

By now, many are familiar with our newest brewing foray, the Stone Stochasticity Project. But even two brews in, you may not be familiar with the term “stochastic,” especially in the context of brewing. The definition of stochasticity is wordy and probably only truly makes sense if you’ve studied Probability Theory in depth (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy doesn’t count—that’s Improbability Theory), but even our one-track minds picked up on the potential and complexity of this idea. In layman’s terms, stochastic is a non-deterministic, or random, state. So, why not just say that? For one, the scientific background would be lost, and random just doesn’t have the same ring as Stochasticity, nor all the connotation. Two, the Stone Stochasticity Project is much more than just brewing beer. It involves delving beyond what most people think about beyond beer’s four main ingredients. So where does that leave us in our ever-evolving quest for good craft beer? Right at the newest member of this series, Stone Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale, a beer that holds up to the stochastic and technical nature of this venture.

Crank It Up: Kyle Hollingsworth / Keri Kelli / Stone Collective Distortion IPA

Our new double India pale ale, Kyle Hollingsworth / Keri Kelli / Stone Collective Distortion IPA recently wrapped up a whirlwind, coast-to-coast pre-release tour. Considering this fruity and pleasantly earthy brew’s rock star status, it seemed fitting to afford it the touring band treatment its co-creators are used to. That duo consists of The String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth and guitarist Keri Kelli of Alice Cooper and Skid Row fame. Together, like savants providing a reliable backbeat for a most magnificent jam session, the duo guided us toward the recipe for this neo-traditional beer. The hop bill consists of Calypso, Comet and Nugget hops, given staccato-esque punctuation thanks to healthy dry-hopping with Vic’s Secret, a recently introduced hop from Australia. But anybody can come up with an out-there (or Down Under) assemblage of hops. What turns this already blaring imperial IPA up to 11 is spicing from coriander seeds and—a first for us—elderberries. It’s unlike any IPA we’ve ever made…and we’ve made a lot of IPAs!

Spicing Up Spring: Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Pepper

Most of our fans are under the impression Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Peppers debuted in 2012. There’s good reason for this. In May of that year, we launched a website, announcing the existence of that beer along with its cousin, Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean. This coincided with our national launch of both beers, but as those whose fanatic-level knowledge of our humble brewing company know, both beers came into being years before, though their impetuses were quite different. The epiphany for the bean-bolstered brew came when one of our small batch brewers plopped a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream into a pint of Stone Smoked Porter, while the smoked jalapeño-infused version was presented as an alternative to thin, fizzy, low-flavor macro-lagers offered around Cinco de Mayo.

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#PairedWith: Stone Saison

Few, if any beer styles offer such a wide-ranging array of flavors as saison. Alternately referred to as “farmhouse ales” for the French and Belgian rural structures in which the style originated, no two taste the same, and therein lies the glory of the saison. Anything goes…and we like that! Tangy, earthy, peppery, herbaceous, floral, spicy and fruity are among the numerous descriptors that can accompany this rangy beer style. So, when conceptualizing our new Stone Saison, we were essentially able to go in any direction we wanted. It seemed only right to bottle up a Belgian-style beer that, while different from most of the incredibly hoppy offerings we’re known for, clearly embodied who we are; something 100% Stone! It was a tall order, but one sip is all it’ll take to show fans why we think we came through with flying colors.

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The Next Step: Stone Enjoy By 04.20.14 IPA

We, like many hopheads, are immensely bullish on the incredible flavor and intense citrusy, bitter impact provided by our ultra-fresh Stone Enjoy By IPA. But believe it or not, for us, it isn’t just about the beer. Yes, given the massive outpouring of affection for this West Coast double IPA, that last statement sounds kind of odd, but it’s true. Stone Enjoy By IPA was forged with greater intentions than mere satiation. It was designed to convey the importance, nay, the necessity of drinking hoppy beer when it’s fresh. We overtly stamp each batch with a 35-day Enjoy By date, and when that day comes up on the calendar, this beer should be out of your fridge and off retailers’ shelves. Drinking it beyond the date printed on that evergreen bottle simply won’t provide the same, vivid experience. But we went far beyond the bottle, communicating the facts on freshness via our Stone Enjoy By IPA website and our social media channels. It was a worthwhile endeavor, and much of that was thanks to you. Through social conversations online and over pints of this beer, many who had no idea how important beer freshness was have been converted, thus improving their quality of life and craft beer enjoyment forever. For those of you who helped increase the reach of that lesson, we thank you and are excited to share the steps we’ve taken to further broaden the reach of this important message and share in the many splendors of Stone Enjoy By IPA.

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The Whole Story: Stone Stochasticity Project

There’s been some major buzz around a new beer lately. Maybe you’ve heard about it…a double IPA infused with a grove’s worth of hand-peeled grapefruit zest. For devout Stone fans (or more casual visitors to our booth at last year’s Great American Beer Festival), the name of this beer—Grapefruit Slam IPA—probably sounded quite familiar. After all, one of the one-offs we received the most compliments on from beer lovers was our Stone Ruination IPA – Grapefruit Slam Edition. Given this, of course, those deeper down the Stone rabbit hole wondered if we were behind this mysterious new Stochasticity Project brand, despite the fact the beer was registered under a different entity, Koochenvagner Brewing Company. We have something to say to those questioners, especially those who were most vocal—thank you.

Hop Bursted: Stone Go To IPA

Stone makes nine year-round beers. For most brewing companies, that’d be enough, especially when you add in the massive number of specialty beers, collaborative ales and other cool non-year-round stuff we cram into the brew schedule. But we’re not most brewing companies. We know that the face of American craft beer is constantly evolving, and with it, the tastes of beer drinkers across the nation. While we’ll never follow trends (but will absolutely do our darndest to start a few), it’s important to keep our eyes, ears and palates open to what our fans desire, and we’d have to be blind, deaf and dumb (in the literal sense) to fail to see beer fans’ love of session India pale ales. They’re popping up everywhere as folks look for lower-alcohol beers delivering the poignant flavors of imperial IPAs. There’s definitely a plethora of modern day scenarios and a need for lighter ABV brews. These served as the impetus for brewing our Great American Beer Festival gold medal-winning session beer, Stone Levitation Ale in 2006. But beer lovers cannot survive on amber ales alone—even if they are intensely hoppy and just 4.4% ABV—so we spent much of 2013 working on several recipes for our very own session IPA, and now, that fruity, piney, altogether hoppy newcomer, Stone Go To IPA, will be available to fulfill your big flavor sans overwhelming ABV needs all year long.

Honoring His Memory: Matt’s Burning Rosids

It’s rare that we at Stone are lost for words, yet, in remembering our dear friend Matt Courtright, it’s tough to even know where to begin. But it seems the most appropriate place is with the very special person that we miss so much. Mattwas an architect from Michigan who followed his passion for craft beer beyond his vocational and geographic boundaries, making a drastic career change to become a professional brewer. From the moment he came aboard, we knew we had someone special within our ranks. And not just because he was an extraordinary brewer—which he most certainly was. No, there was much more to Matt than his workplace assets. So much more.