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 U.S. The best part of it all—we’re going to be constructing both simultaneously, so that our fans in the Eastern U.S. or Eastern 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. 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, would 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. All they would want in return 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 late 2015 through late 2016. 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. 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?

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?

One more time. All together now. YOU MUST BE 21 YEARS OF AGE AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE. (Same for individual age requirements outside the U.S.)

Just how rare are these beers?

Pretty damn rare! The bottles in this campaign will ONLY be available during the 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.

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?

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 $500 (a $100 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 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.

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 until you can make it 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.

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.

What’s the deal with the Stone gift cards?

Each collaboration beer comes with its very own $10 gift certificate redeemable at any Stone Brewing Co. location; a little something extra to thank Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionaries. Additionally, some of the collaborators we’re working with will provide gift certificates for their venues as an added bonus. Early adopters take note, the card will be available to the first cross-planetary brewing revolutionaries.

Which collaborators are also contributing gift cards?

Check out our Indiegogo campaign page and click on individual collaboration beers for this level of specifics.

When will I receive my gift card?

Rejoice…you won’t have to wait until the new facilities are open. At the close of this campaign, we will mail out the gift cards. We’re fans of instant gratification, too!

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 pricetag 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.

 

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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74 Beers Ago: Looking Back on 2013

We at Stone count ourselves lucky to have so many fans of what we do and the beers we create. Most of those who’ve tagged along as we forge through this hop-studded journey have taken fandom to new heights. That level of devotion is something we don’t take lightly and work to reward by coming up with new beer recipes and getting those brews into our staunch supporters’ hands and pint glasses. As devotees keeping a watchful eye on us will attest, 2013 was a big year for new Stone brews. But even our most keyed-in fans were probably unaware of just how big. We say this, because after examining 12 months’ worth of brewing schedules, even our jaws dropped to the floor when we discovered that we had delivered 74 new beers outside our not-so-standard standard-issue brews this year. So, join us, won’t you, as we revisit them and other notable Stone happenings from the year that was.

A Hoppy Standard Bearer: Stone IPA

When Stone co-founder and original brewmaster Steve Wagner crafted our initial batch of Stone IPA, little could he have known that that highly hopped first attempt at amplifying a British classic would become so popular and, for many beer drinkers, an India pale ale by which all future New World interpretations of the style would be judged. For many, Wagner’s bright, potent creation was their first IPA. (Was it yours? If so, let us know on social media using #StoneIPA)

Stone Fans Educate the World c/o #EnjoyBy

We’ve said it time and time again—one of the most rewarding aspects of being in the craft beer biz is engaging with fans who are not just proponents of ours, but fellow appreciators of high quality beer. Like us, our fans help to spread the good word about what good craft beer is all about. That pushing forward of information and education about a superior quaffable medium has been extraordinarily apparent in the engagement and interaction inspired by our über-fresh, über-hoppy Stone Enjoy By IPA.

What a Year: Looking Back on 2012

It seems like we say this every twelve months (probably because we do), but this has been a huge year for us at Stone. Perhaps the biggest yet. Things never slow down here, and that’s the way we like it. Truth be told, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we had a spare moment! So a heartfelt thank you goes out to each and every one of our fans for ensuring we maintain the breakneck pace we’ve become so accustomed to.

Despite our infatuation with constant rapid progress, we feel compelled to take a moment, be it ever so brief, to reflect on the year gone by. A lot happened in our brewhouse, at our restaurant, in our community and beyond. This was a very good year, one that should be fully remembered for years to come. In that spirit, we submit to you, our valued fans, a retrospective of 2012 at Stone.

Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA Here – End of Days Near

Hopheads, you’re officially on the clock! You’ve got 35 days to uncap and savor the abundantly fresh hoppiness of Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA. But before you start grousing about being given the directive to consume your beer (at this point, it’s good to realize that there is absolutely nothing to complain about here), know this—we’re not the ones with the death-grip on the stopwatch. This quite literal “deadline” has been decreed by the ancient Mayan civilization.

The Fight Against Expired Beer

Jacob McKean

It is hard to overstate the importance of drinking fresh beer. But it may not be immediately obvious to the uninitiated that beer is best served fresh in the first place. It is, after all, fermented, and fermented foods often get better with age. Kimchi, yogurt, miso, kefir, kombucha: these are foods whose quality depends on the serene patience of their creators, a willingness to let the invisible magic of fermentation happen at its own pace, and be ready to enjoy when it’s ready.

Further complicating matters is the fact that some beers do indeed improve with a degree of age. Properly cellared (55 degrees or less, dark, cozy), beers on the robust, high ABV end of the spectrum can evolve & improve with time.

The nine year-round beers we brew DO NOT fall into this category. They are—dare we say—delicate creatures that only express the full-spectrum of their brilliance when FRESH. Freshly brewed beer is bright & fragrant, with clean, well-defined flavors that reflect our brewer’s intent.

Once expired, beer can become a sad, faded reflection of its former self, as age, oxygen, and light sinfully corrode the precious liquid. Drinking such beer can leave a less than favorable impression that’s hard to shake.

For that reason, we go to tremendous, expensive lengths to ensure that fresh beer is available to you. But we can’t be everywhere at once. That’s why we need YOU to join in the fight against expired beer.