@Google Presents Greg Koch: Stone Brewing Co.

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 11.01.2012

>>Male Presenter: Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Paul Carff. I'm on
Google's developer-relations team. I'm a home brewer. I've been at
Google five years. Today we have -- first of all I want
to thank everyone for joining us. We have a great crowd
here enjoying the beer and the books. I want to let you
know we're going to be welcoming Greg Koch from Stone
Brewing Company today. Greg is going to be talking about
his book. He's CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing
Company in San Diego, California. The Stone Brewing
Company was voted the -- I want to make sure I get this
right. All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth in 2008 and
2009 by Beer Advocate magazine. So please, prepare
yourself to receive the gospel according to Stone and
join me in welcoming Greg.
>>Greg: Thank you. Thank you. Everybody enjoying a little
afternoon beer here at Google? [audience responds] I think so. That's good.
Because actually I notice -- I've noticed over the years
that the Q and A section is always a little bit better when
people are enjoying some beer in the audience. So I'll look
forward to it. I've got to talk around 40 minutes or so.
And then, I'd love to do some Q and A with you guys. Go
into any subjects that you would like. Again, I'm the
CEO, co-founder of Stone. We've been around for now just
a little over 15 years. So, basically I decide -- or I
describe the history of Stone and our success kind of
based upon this very simple phrase -- don't be different
to be different. Be different to be better. And we've
applied that in a number of ways -- which I'll go into a
few. But first, I actually want to give a little bit of
a foundation on beer here in the United States for some
of you who may not be so familiar. This is going to be
the quickie super-rush course. So it used to be back in
the late 1800s there were of course many thousands of --
several thousand breweries in the United States. But
they only went as far as a horse drawn carriage could go out and
back in a single day. They were very limited in distribution. Fast forward to the industrial
revolution. Transportation changes and changes in
refrigerations led to the big guys eater the smaller guys and
consolidation and a number of breweries in the United
States started to drop precipitously from a high of over
3500 breweries in the United States around 1880. To around
the turn of the century, about half that. And of course,
this is the mother of organized crime in the United
States. For those of you who get that, this is of course
Carrie Nation. Carrie Nation was behind the women's
temperance movement which eventually led to Prohibition,
which led to organized crime [laughter] . It's true.
In the so-called noble experiment. Now, once Prohibition ended, about 800 and something
breweries opened back up, but then many, many years of consolidation
continued. Until, in 1979, we hit the ultimate low point
of beer in the United States where there were just 42
breweries and only one, Anchor, right here in San Francisco
was making something different. The rest of them --
their flag ship beers of all of the other breweries were
interchangeable fizzy yellow stuff -- unfortunately so
common today. But now today we know that beer is no
longer equal to just this fizzy yellow industrial stuff.
In fact, over the last several years, major domestics
have been declining. The imported stuff has been flat at
best. And it's been craft beers that have been on the
rise and are really setting the tone for beer in the
United States. We've gone from a country of lowly to a
country of elevated when it comes to beer. And the world
is now looking at the United States and looking to the
United States for its inspiration. So this again gives
you an idea. If you look -- I think this is kind of
interesting. If you take out Prohibition. This one very
significant dip out here. You can see that the line
probably would have been much the same. We probably
would have historically ended up in much the same point.
A lot of people misperceive Prohibition as being the
killer. It wasn't. It was just a major pause button in
the direction the beer industry was already going. This
is me and my partner Steve Wagner when we were starting
to put the brewery together in 1996. And that's us
today. Notice, I haven't changed much. Steve has kids. [laughter]
I think that's the difference. And this is our brewery
today. Again, that's what we started with in 1996 and
this is where we're at today. We spent our first nine
and a half years in the former spot very inauspicious generic industrial suite in a multi-tenant,
Tilt-up concrete warehouse. And then, six years ago, we built our purpose-built
facility with our brewery and a restaurant attached.
And I want to show you this. This is where we started
and this is what it looks like now with our restaurant
. And I want to paint a little bit of a picture of what
we've done here. For those of you who have visited, you know we're
out of the way. We're 30 minutes from downtown
San Diego. We're 25 minutes from the coast. We have no
sign on our building. We have a complete ban on high fructose
corn syrup. We serve only organic produce and natural
and free range meats. Our menu is decidedly eclectic.
We don't have any processed foods. We don't allow
them into our kitchen. And it's difficult to find. For
the first several years, Google maps would send you
to the wrong place [laughter].
>>Male #1: I can confirm that.
>>Greg: I got a confirmation here. But with all of that. And
also, the three closest restaurants to us are an Applebee's,
a Chili's and an Olive Garden which would suggest by
traditional matrices of looking at how companies make
decisions about where they have their possible populace
that would be interested, this is not a place to do all
of these really crazy left turns, if you will, that we did
with our restaurant. And yet, over the last five years,
we've grown to become the largest restaurant in our part
of the county. And we have grown every year usually 20
or 30 percent. This year we've grown 13 percent because
our kitchen is no longer large enough to handle any growth past that. So we're expanding it
in January. So that is sort of our thinking different
perspective. Because I looked at it -- we have our own
phrase. You have your two-word phrase, I think. Or
three-word phrase -- do no evil. Ours is just two words
and it's not even official. Which is -- what's that?
>>Male #2: It's a black slide >>Greg: It's a black slide. We're okay right
now. [laughter] Tech support right on top of it. And ours, informally,
has been 'be amazing'. So I thought what's more amazing?
From very simple matrix, organic local produce or commodity
produce? Easy decision, I thought. What's more amazing?
Major brand high fructose corn syrup sodas or locally
made sodas that we create recipes ourselves and some
of the specialty stuff in the bottles. I thought
that was pretty easy. Generic deep fried stuff and
chicken sandwiches and French fries and things like
that or barbecue duck tacos and spicy beef and broccoli
stir-fries, the more interesting menu that we
have. And so, that's what's led to our decision here.
In fact, I'd like to actually read just a little bit -- a
small excerpt from the book to give you further idea into
our thought process here. So, what makes our tale
different -- or more interesting than that -- are the
stories of the mega-breweries. Well, we're a craft
brewery and that unquestionably adds interest. We get to be creative and inventive and have
fun and make tasty beer without being brought down by
some marketing department's focus-driven ideas about
focus group driven ideas about what some random sampling
of the populace thinks that perhaps others might think that they might
want. What? Hell, I barely understood what I just said there. So
you can imagine my level of interest and any conclusions
that might come out of interpreting the key matrices of the core objectives when overlaid
with extrapolated bell curves and consumer acceptance
coefficients. Truth is I have no idea what I said there
either. But I digress. I was heading toward telling you
why I thought a book about the Stone Brewing Company story might be a
good idea. And the reason is I wanted to share the very
simple idea that doing it our way is better. And by "our
way" I really mean "your way." And what I mean by that
is that I believe things are almost universally better when
people do something the way they think it should be done.
The way they truly think is the best way. If you don't
care for what we do and how we do it, then you're not our
customer. And, if you're not our customer, we don't need
to fashion ourselves to your personal taste. In fact, I
think we shouldn't. If we did, it's questionable whether
we'd make a loyal customer out of you. And we'd almost
definitely alienate our customers who have been loyal.
I'll turn it around the other way. If you do something
you're quite good at and you're doing it your way, then
it's simply up to me as your potential customer to decide
for myself whether or not I like what you do. If I do,
then I've just discovered that finally someone is doing
whatever it is you do in a way that gets me excited. I'm
thrilled that you've learned to do what you do so well
and you're doing it in a way that's unique and special.
On the other hand, if I don't like what you do, then I
can simply move on. Sure, I might decide that the best
possible thing I can do for you is to explain how much
better it would be if you do what you do the way I think
you should do it. But, if you're smart, you'll file my
invaluable advice in the round file. Now, I'm not one to
say that all advice or perspectives from others are
bad. Far from it. So how do you separate the barley
from the chaff. It's simple. Does the advice support
your vision or does it attempt to derail it? If the
former, lean in. And that, in its own way, is what this
book is about. Think of our story as providing a
supporting context for your vision whatever that may be.
As long as it's good or you're good at it or at least on your
way to getting there.
So that kind of thought process and philosophy has led
us to this building now. And, you know, positioning statement right there. [chuckles] This is
what the American populace has for so long thought of beer.
Of course, they haven't thought of it with the sticker
on it. They thought of it with the contents of that glass.
They thought of beer as being this rather simple,
mostly just wet, cold, carbonated. And, for perspectives,
there's something called IBUs. International bitterness
units. And you can actually measure the bitterness
in beer. The bitterness threshold -- low-end of the threshold
that the human palate can perceive is around 7. Major industrial
beers tend to be around eight to 12 IBUs. For perspectives,
this is where we start. We start at 45. So four times
more bitter than the typical industrial stuff. Going all
the way up the scale -- and this is just a small
selection of the beers we produce -- going all the way up
to over 100 when the human palate can only perceive up to around 85
to 90 IBUs so we have several beers that are more bitter
than the human palate can perceive. And when we started
off, nobody was asking for this stuff. Nobody ever said,
"I want this kind of thing." People didn't mostly know
that beers of this sort even could exist. Which leads me
to another small excerpt that I'd like to read you from our
early days when we were starting off. And this is
talking about our first year here. It says, "we were
having a tough time. We had a number of accounts, but a
few of them were turning big numbers and by this time we
were hemorrhaging about 30,000 dollars a month and desperate to
reach a critical mass. We hadn't lost faith but things
were looking a little bleak at the time especially on
paper. A lot of consumers were still finding Stone Pale
Ale challenging, which was the first beer that we ever
produced. It was much more bitter than most people's
palates were ready to appreciate at that time. I can
remember sampling Stone Pale Ale with bartenders and
restaurant buyers and having them react with this, "it's
just so bitter." Sure, we could have listened and scaled
back on the hops, but we didn't want to. It wasn't our
nature. We were brewing beers we liked to drink and, if
they didn't like it, well, we'd find other people who did --
hopefully, maybe. Instead of easing up, we decided to go
bolder. In August of 1997, we released Stone IPA to
celebrate our first anniversary. IPAs are almost de rigueur now for
most breweries, but at the time, they were quite unusual
and drinking an IPA was a new experience for a lot of
people's palates. Bitter, yes, but the fresh flavors and
aromas that came from the hops -- wow. And at the time,
few people knew beer could even taste like this. Hop
heads were being born and Stone certainly was one of the
delivery rooms. This hunger for hops was a great thing,
because we were gearing up to release another brew. It
was and still is an aggressive beer. You probably won't
like it. It's quite doubtful that you have the taste or
sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this
quality and depth, [laughter] as I wrote on the back of the
Arrogant Bastard Ale label back in 1997. We first
released this in November of 1997. It was -- it is
considered to be the very first -- the progenitor of the
American strong ale category. 7.2 percent. Intensely
bitter. Intensely flavorful. I will fully admit that,
when we released this beer -- as you'll find out in the
book -- we actually had the recipe from before we actually opened
the brewery. My partner Steve and I developed this -- by
"Steve and I" I mean him 99 percent and me one percent, to
be fair. We developed this recipe before, but we didn't
release it for nearly a year and a half, because we were
convinced -- weren't convinced that the public could
handle it. And that's one of the only times that I've
actually not trusted in the public -- the good taste of
the public -- and I was proven wrong. And I'm glad to
say I was proven wrong. We produced about 100 cases and
it sold out. And we produced 100 more and it sold out.
And we've been continuing to ramp it up. Ever since.
And we're now distributing in 36 states. And Arrogant
Bastard Ale, interestingly enough, is the number 1 selling
single serve -- because it's in a 22-ounce bottle format.
You buy it one at a time. Number 1 selling single serve
craft beer in the United States in chain stores. It's
quite interesting. This gives you an idea of our growth
over the years. This year we're going to do probably
right around 150,000 barrels. So, this is a picture of
Steve and I when we were bottling our very first bottles
of Stone Pale Ale. And that's us today. We have about
430 people that work with us at Stone. And we have a
restaurant. We have a distribution division. And sales
and merchandise. We're having a lot of fun. And I think
that, you know, it's been a privilege to be a part of
this renaissance that is craft beer. And you know, the
great thing about craft brewers is, we definitely get to
have more fun. One more excerpt they'd like to read to
you about some of the -- just the philosophy of
collaboration in brewing. Working together with other
brewers to craft interesting new beers has been one of
the most rewarding endeavors -- excuse me -- working
together with other breweries to craft interesting new
beers has been one of the most rewarding endeavors we've
undertaken. It's an interesting phenomenon that we enjoy
in this industry being able to call up somebody who
technically I suppose is a competitor and ask if they
want to come over and brew some beer with us. It's
almost like a grown up version of inviting someone to a
tree fort. [laughter] We have a ton of fun with it and the
experience is quite different every time as are the
beers. And that's one of the huge benefits. We always
push ourselves to make something we've never made before
and something none of us would have been likely to have come up
with on our own. Sometimes we work with an old friend we
don't get to see that often. Other times we might invite
one of the rising stars in the industry or an international underdog
we've become friends with. And whose work we admire.
And sometimes we invite passionate home brewers and give
them a chance to play on the big boy equipment. Whatever
the case, we always come away with a feeling of
accomplishment and a newfound respect for each other.
The exchange of knowledge and ideas never ceases to amaze
me and neither do the beers that we collectively produce.
Which leads to talking a moment about the Saison du Buff.
Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head on the left. Me in the
middle and Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing Company on the right. Got a
short video that we made to celebrate this collaboration beer
I'd like to show you. When Sam and Bill and I got together for "BUFF" Brewers United
for Freedom of Flavor in 2003, we put together
this little press conference and one person showed up. Jamie
Magee, from Yankee Brew News, Awesome Jamie. We
really thought when we did this that we might have some
real, you know, mainstream press people show up. No.
No. When Sam started out, Bill started out, I started out,
we didn't know what we could become. We didn't know the
things that we could do. We just knew that we wanted to
Video announcer's voice: [electronic music] In a world fraught with aggressive pushes
towards generic sameness at the hands of mega international conglomerate
brewers, three men have set out to create their own path,
to go their own directions, to brew boldly with great
passion, to rebuke commonly held ideas of what can and
cannot be accomplished in brewing. To make beers
bursting with sheer awesomeness. [music crescendos] >>Greg: With these three
brewers, the expectations are going to be astronomical.
>>Sam: We wanted to do a beer that we've never done before.
>>Bill: Bringing something new to the style is a challenge. I
think we're up to the challenge. I think we rose to it.
[music continues; glasses clink] >>Sam: We're hoping it has a lot of those
estery spicy notes of a traditional Saison but that the herbs
that we're adding are going to bring it to a place that
Saison has never been before.
>>Bill: Conversation going on amongst the three of us and
something came up about sage how much we loved the flavor
of sage. From there, there was a whole cascade of herbs
we just pulled into it.
>>Sam: I think we've cornered that parsley beer niche.
>>Greg: Because there's such a collaborative process, you want
to be very hands on with it. You want to touch everything. You want to understand.
>>Bill: It's an herb fight. The individual personalities of
the three breweries definitely have to shine threw. So
talking Greg off the hop mountain -- not an easy thing.
>>Greg: Saison is such a cool style because it's really
herbaceous. It's got peppery character and you got this
natural citrusy character as well. Add in the herbs that we're using and it just making
this thing to a completely new level.
>>Sam: I think it's going to be an extremely complex but
drinkable sessiony Saison that hopefully something that
the world's has never seen before.
>>Sam: Tough work.
>>Bill: Yeah.
>>Greg: Because I'm going to want to take a nap after lunch.
I'm just laying up against that rock. Boy, those are life
like garden gnomes you've got.
>>Greg: Yeah, so we had a blast with that. And we're going to
actually brew it again this coming spring in each of our
three breweries. The first time that we've redone a
collaboration; we liked it so much. And it's a great fun
to do stuff -- have a wide variety of collaborations. Of
course, collaborations can take many forms such as this
collaboration with Garrett Oliver the brew master from
Brooklyn Brewery. At least I think he thought it was
collaboration. [laughter] All right, if you know Garrett, that was
a lot funnier. So, you know, in looking at philosophy in
business and how to approach things, I kind of came up
with this little axiom. I'd like to present it to you.
It has two major matrices. They have this intersection.
It depends on your goal. If your goal is to either do
the same old same old. Which I think you guys don't do a
lot around here. That's not the nature of your company.
Or is it your goal to be creative. And then on the other
side, it's your ability. And either you suck [laughter]
Or hopefully you don't suck. Right? So let's look at
each one of these equations. Same old same old and you
suck. What do you get? Doomed. [laughter] You're doomed. Yes,
I'm not going to repeat that, but. Or, same old same old
approach but you don't suck. Well, maybe doomed to
mediocrity. How about creative and you suck. Well,
doomed, [laughter] but you're likely happier and just maybe you
learn how not to suck at what you're doing. So you could
be creative and not suck. And of course, that is --
that's the ultimate success. And you know, I think that
the takeaway that I'd like to share with people. And I
get to talk to college students from time to time. So
many people think that they need to do the -- they need
to focus on not sucking at the same old same old and
that's the path they feel they need to take. I realize I'm preaching
to the converted here at Google. You know same old same
old just ain't gonna fly. If you do it and you're
really creative and you don't suck at what you do, you
can be pretty amazing. I think we're in a room with
that. So I want to share this. That's me back in the
music days. I used to be in the music industry before I
got into beer. And I think you can probably see some
rock and roll filtering through to the Stone Brewing
Company. It was actually up here in the Bay Area. There
was this -- actually, so the analogy I want to make is,
some of the best bands -- it doesn't matter whether it's U2 or Metallica or Fugazi--,
are great because they did what they wanted to
do and they were great at it, right? If they weren't trying to be flavor of the month,
they're not trying to please people other than to please
themselves and then, that of course has, pleases their fans.
And so, it doesn't matter whether Rolling Stones or Grateful
Dead or Metallica. When Metallica came out with the
Black album -- I remember there was a magazine called
Bay Area Music or Band magazine and they put Metallica
on the cover when the Black album came out with this caption
and I love this caption and I've always carried
it with me to this day. And the caption went. "Metallica
didn't go to number 1. Number 1 came to them." And that's
what I've tried to do in my professional life in beer is to
create things that are worth coming to. Because we decided
-- Steve and I decided at Stone, we weren't going to
try and cross that line and go to the public. Figure out
what the public thinks that they want. We've never
done any focus groups. In fact, I believe in not listening
to the public if you want to do something great.
You've got to listen to yourself and then people who support
your vision will follow you if you're good. And
this is another small story. I was playing blackjack
in Vegas many years ago and sitting by some grizzled
old guy. And I was playing sort of frivolously. It was probably
3 in the morning. And you know, this guy -- we
fell into this conversation. It was probably a few words
here. Every few hands. We weren't really chatty or anything.
He just shared a little piece of advice that
I've also carried with me. He said, "you know, if I
was going to lose, I'd mail it in. If I was going to break
even, I'd stay home." He said, "Son, I came here to
win." And that actually spoke to me and I've always remembered
that the very simple words. It's like, you know, I
thought when I was going to get into beer, I got into it
because I'm a beer geek. I fell down that rabbit hole. I
became a mad passionate enthusiast for craft beers. And
I felt eventually I just had to be a part of it.
And I just said to myself, "I'm not going to do this,
you know? If I was going to lose, I'd mail it in. If I
was just going to be mediocre, I'd just stay home. But I
came to do what I thought was a great job." Hopefully
other people would eventually agree with me. So what's
the future hold for Stone. I thought I'd share with you
some of the things we're doing now as well as working
This is Stone Farms. I'm a believer in organics. I'm
a believer in local and sustainable. So we actually
revived a small local organic farm that had failed last
year. And we took over the farm in March of this year.
And we've now revived it. We supply a lot of the veggies
for our restaurant from this farm. To our restaurant
there. So, up there in the right, you can see our
existing brewery, restaurant and gardens. This year, at
the end of the year -- or excuse me, one year from now we
hope to be up and running with the second production
facility right next door. And then, across the street, as you
can see we'll be putting in additional outdoor area and a
hotel. We're actually building a 50-room boutique hotel. [chuckles from audience] Thought
it would be fun. It's going to be really cool, too. We
won't have a check-in counter, but you will be able to
get your room key at the bar. [laughter] This is a picture of
what's called Liberty Station. It's an old naval
training center close to downtown San Diego. It's a
historic grouping of buildings. And we've decided to put
in a second Stone Brewing Bistro and Gardens. It's just a hop, skip,
and a jump from the airport in San Diego. And this is a
little of an idea what it will look like. It will be
22,000 square feet. So if anybody's been to our
restaurant now. It's going to be more than double the
size. We'll have a 10-barrel brewing system there. This
is my other book -- Brewer's Apprentice-- which I wrote
with the help of 20 of my friends from Sam from Dogfish, and
Vinnie from Russian River Brewing Company. Nick Floyd from Three Floyds all contributed.
And I interviewed for particular chapters going deep
dives into chapters on hops, on brewing water, on malt and
mashing and so on. It's a really fun book. Chapter with
Ken Grossman. Much respect to Ken and everything that
he's built with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. A
true leader. And then, of course, I think many of you have
heard we're working on our project to be the first
American craft brewer to own and operate or own brewery
in Europe. Taking it to the mother land. [laughter] You
may not be aware. Common perception both in Europe and
United States around beer is I would say about 30 years
old. Common perception in the United States amongst the
average American, they think American beer sucks.
Amongst the average European, they definitely think
American beer sucks. [laughter] American beer most definitely does
not suck. In fact, we are world leaders. And so, we
have completely transformed beer in this country, but
still, you know, there's a lagging learning curve. You
guys are on the front end -- front edge of the curve. In
Europe, and I'm going to say this and I know this is
going to be posted online. In Europe, most of the beers
suck. Just like most of the beers in the United States
used to suck. And there are -- for clarity -- there are
many, many, many amazing small breweries either traditional
or new startups that are doing great things in Europe.
So I -- you know, I believe in the movement of the craft
brewers and the traditional -- the artisanal brewers.
And we hope to just be a part of that. And I know that
we'll be able to put a little bit of a unique face on to
that to help get some attention. Plus, we like to
showcase other beers. Have you been to our restaurant?
You know we have 32 beers on draft and 130 on the bottle.
On draft, two-thirds are guest beers and in the bottle about 128
of the 130 are guest beers. Really specialty beers we
don't have any commodity beers. And we love sharing the
culture of the craft in specialty brewing across its many
wide and varied spectrums. In Europe, we hope to have a
restaurant as part of our facility there as well. And
although we haven't figured out exactly where. We've
been looking. We've visited 100 locations, 100 potential sites in nine
countries. Just as an example, if we open up a brewery
in Germany, which is possible, but I'm not making any
announcement here. It's possible. I'll bet you within
one year we have the best selection of German craft and
traditional artisanal beer in all of Germany. And it's
almost sad that we could even have a chance at claiming
that title that instead -- because you can't go to
Germany and find amazing selections of German beer all
over in bars or even stores. They're so small you can
count them on two hands in the entire country that have
amazing cross-sectional selections of great German
specialty and artisanal beer. So you know, the
traditional European culture has been, it's very insular. They drink that beer in
that town and that other town that's 20 minutes away.
It's like you know what I'm saying from down here to San
Jose. No, we don't drink Anchor. They drink that in San
Francisco. [laughter] We do not drink that here. Here we drink Gordon Biersch and
that's it. Or Tied House. And of course, as an American
craft beer enthusiast, you're like you're kidding me?
Yeah, I love Anchor, but I love all these other ones as
well. So that's the tone of beer in Europe right now.
So, as I said, our goal is to not just to be different to
be different, but to be different to be better. And with
that, like to have a conversation. Take your questions.
>>Male #3: So first off I'd like to thank you for coming here. I
started brewing beer like two years ago in college. It
was a huge fiasco. Most of the times with the two
plastic buckets and everything like that. Haven't gotten
back into it since I got out here. My roommate and
I -- we tried to experiment. And it seemed like every
time with using your words, it sucked. What process --
like, what point in the process did you find out that you know
this beer is going to be good. After you've boiled
everything. Do you have to wait till the very end when
you taste the final product that you know you have a quality
beer. Because we always had to wait till the very end
when we're like, all right, we found out this whole recipe
sucks. We have to start from scratch now.
>>Greg: Fair enough. And that's the challenge in home brewing
or brewing in general. So, as you get more experience,
you look to see these indicators all along the way. As
you steward the beer through the initial brewing process
and then through the fermentation process. You're
checking it and you kind of know what to look for so you
can see if it's going left or right or south -- hopefully
not. The main piece of advice that I would always give
for home brewing -- second to of course buying my book
the Brewer's Apprentice -- [laughter] is to home brew with friends.
Make friends with a local -- with people in local home
brew club or somebody who's an experienced home brewer.
Because doing it by the book is great. There are some
fantastic books out there such as the Joy of Homebrewing
by Charlie Pappazian. And many, many others I couldn't even
mention. But when you're doing it with somebody else
who's experienced, your learning curve is just like this.
Any other home brewers out here?
>>Male #3: I'm not surprised. I figured I'd find some other homebrewers here.
>>Greg: Join a home brewing club. And just watch your curve
go exponential.
>>Male #3: Thank you.
>>Male #4: Thanks for coming. Interesting factoid, my four-year-old
son has called your restaurant his favorite restaurant in
the world. He loves the beer garden. You mentioned collaborations. Are there any collaborations
that are up coming that you can tell us about or ones
that you;re really hoping to arrange?
>>Greg: We are -- where's my, coauthor Randy Clemens is here by
the way. Where is he? There he is. He's the coauthor of this book.
Everybody give Randy a hand. Randy works in PR with
us too. So, it turns out I can so I will mention it.
There's the up coming the Alchemist which is a great brewery
in Vermont. They sustained a lot of damage from
hurricane Irene. And they contacted us about -- if we
could do something the to do some fund raising for some
of the community out that way. And we decided because
the guy who runs the Alchemist is used to work with Greg
Noonan at the Vermont Pub and Brewery. So I'm getting
beer geek on you guys. Greg Noonan's considered to be the person who first created the black
IPA style in 1990. All the way back in 1990. So we'll
work with them. And Jamie Floyd from Ninkasi up in Eugene,
Oregon which is up in the People's Republic of Cascadia. Some
folks up there have called the black IPA style the
the black Cascadian ale. So we thought we'd do this little solidarity thing.
So, long story short, we created the together the More
Brown than Black IPA and it'll be out. Randy, when is
it going to be out? Couple of weeks?
>>Randy: December nineteenth. December nineteenth.
>>Greg: December 19th. There you go. I think this is our first formal announcement
of that. So I hope that's good answer. Cool. If you
want to shout from the audience, I can repeat the
question for everybody if you don't want to get up to the
>>Male #5: What's the worst beer you've ever had and [inaudible].
>>Greg: The worst beer that we've ever produced?
>>Male #5: No, no, no.
>>Greg: That I've ever tasted. [laughter] The worst beer that I've ever
tasted. Unfortunately, I have to say that that's near
countless. But fortunately, not as countless as all
these incredible beers that I have also gotten to taste.
I am not on the side of the fence that says there's no
such thing as a bad beer. I can tell you, I'm in the industry, there's lots
of really bad beer out there. But fortunately, today -- this is what's so wonderful
about all this, there's more great beer than bad
beer out there by a wide margin. And the great beer out there
is really great. So, I'm not going to name a particular
brand name. But here's a challenge. So much of the bad
beer never intended to be great. They intended to fill
a market -- what they consider to be a market need or
market niche or market opportunity. Essentially selling lowest
common denominator stuff to the masses. So there
was -- it's not fair to point at it and say, "this is
a bad beer because the brew master or somebody, an insider,
would tell you under their breath, it was never intended
to be good. It was never intended to be great. Yeah.
>>Male #6: So there's black IPAs and Belgian IPAs. It seems like there's new
styles appearing especially with the long spectrum of
beer. What new styles are you excited about, are you
thinking about.
>>Greg: So with black IPAs and Belgian IPAs and all these new
hybrid styles being created. What am I excited about? I
definitely got excited about black IPAs when we first
came out with the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale that is later
become brought to our full-time line up as Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
which is a black IPA has become one of the better known
black IPAs and the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA which is our Belgian IPA.
One of the earlier versions available of that style.
God, what is coming up? You know, I just like that -- 15
years ago I had spent ten years learning about beer.
Nearly ten years. And I would have told you at that the time
we were starting Stone I felt that I knew the complete
spectrum what was available and possible. What could be
done. I was so ignorant. And I am constantly delighted
and surprised to learn these crazy things that brewers
are doing. I recently had a coffee IPA, you know? A
coffee stout makes all kinds of sense. The flavors
just meld naturally. The coffee IPA took it in a
different direction. It was delicious and I got to
contemplate that at 3 o'clock in the morning as I was
still awake. So, you know, I have a very small batch of
Crime and Punishment coming out. Punishment is Double
Bastard Ale with a ton of chili peppers from Stone Farm.
So it's 11 percent really intense, 11 percent really
strong Double Bastard Ale that we come out with once a year in
November And we have a barrel aged version with peppers from Stone
Farms. And it is punishingly hot. And it's -- so intense
in its flavor profile. It's not like the fizzy yellow
beers with a chili dropped in which are kind of one
dimensional. Learning. I used to pooh pooh chili beers.
It's gimmicky. And now, I know, you know a lot of people are
going to consider it gimmicky, that's fine, but the flavors are really
intense and deep and good. Yes?
>>Male #7: So I just returned from a trip to Belgium. I've had
the good luck to attend an annual software conference
there. And I made my annual pilgrimage to Cantillon and
I want to defend the Europeans for a moment. The brew
master there does not think American craft brews suck.
And in fact, he borrows ideas from them. They did a
collaboration beer this year with a grape farmer in the Rennes Valley
. So you know, there are enlightened folks there
>>Greg: Yeah, I'm sorry if I didn't suggest -- if I suggested
otherwise., you know,, John stayed at my house. I've
been to Cantillon many times. My first time was 1995; I'm a die hard fan of
everything they do. So just to set the record straight.
There are many, many, many small artisanal, creative, craft-
-brewing. You know with Cantillon , they would qualify as
being traditional because they are ultra traditional incredible
breweries going on. But most Europeans drink industrial
stuff and he'll tell you that. I have posted a video.
There's a YouTube video of a conversation that I had at Moeder Lambic
which is a place, a home if you will, the tap house that has the
most Cantillon on tap in the world. And just a short
walk from Cantillon and I spent some time talking. You
want to hear people saying bad things about the European beer
industry and about the Belgian industry? Listen to those
guys and what they say and they're in Brussels.
>>Male #7: Yeah, he told me lots of stories too about how the amounts of sugars in the
beer increase year by year to appeal to the Pepsi generation.
Same deal.
>>Greg: Yeah, we're kindred spirits, definitely. I agree with you.
>>Male #8: Can you tell us a little bit more about that decision
process of going from a beer enthusiast to deciding you
actually wanted to go into the business of brewing beer,
not just brewing beer.
>>Greg: It was a very challenging decision for me, because I
first discovered -- when I had my first Anchor Steam that
was my first epiphany moment, enlightenment moment in 1987. And we opened up Stone in
1996. So there was a fair gap of time there. There was
a -- I would say at least three years to even four years
where I climbed the cliff -- the mountain of beer
knowledge. Not to the top. I'm still climbing that one.
But I got high enough where it came time and I was
looking over the edge of actually doing it and I walked
along that edge of 'do I dare take that leap. Do I dare
take that entrepreneurial business risk', everything else.
For several years I walked along that edge. Both Steve
and I did. Finally we just said we have to do this. We
felt compelled. So it's hard to say there was that one
moment or one trigger point. We just continued to do it. And
when I opened -- when we opened Stone in 1996, I thought
we were opening too late to make any level of a splash in
the beer industry at all, because the craft beer was so
dense at that time. In fact, I love the Bay Area. And
at that time, I really wanted to continue living in the
Bay Area. But we did it in San Diego. I love San Diego
of course, but I thought it was too dense in the Bay
Area. It would be no chance to have success as a small
brewer in the Bay Area because there are too many. Now
today, I believe, if you follow that other model that I
showed of not sucking following your passion. If you do a great
job, you can be successful.
>>Male #7: Thank you.
>>Male #8: Yeah. All right. I just moved out here not too long
ago from the east coast. So I've been following Sam and all
his delicious beers for some time and Victory as well and some of the others out there.
I came out here. I was concerned I wasn't going to find these
good beers. Then I discovered there's a lot. As you were just saying, there's a lot of
really good beers out here. There doesn't seem to be a lot of crossover between the
east coast and west coast beers. A lot of the beers I find here, I didn't find there
on the shelves out there. And I do find Dogfish Head here a little bit but only a couple of
their varieties. Are we still just fairly regional or is it just difficult to distribute?
Is there some difference in taste from east to west coast?
>>Greg: Yes, yes, yes and plus many other points on the laundry
list of the challenges of the beer industry and beer
distribution. But it does seem to be that west to east
for craft beers flows easier. You'll find more west
coast beers on the east coast or in the Midwest and the
east coast. And you'll find a little smaller flow this
direction. Traditionally -- traditionally is 15 years
ago, 20 years ago, even today. East coast breweries have
tended to often make what I will define as more polite
beer versus the beers -- I will be the first to admit at
Stone we make many beers that are considerably not
polite. And and so, the polite beers don't tend to
gravitate as much. If you're in California and you know
San Diego, you become this superhop head like many of us
have become. We can appreciate and enjoy those beers,
but we really gravitate back to something that's "Ooh yeah". Are
you finding yourself that way as you've developed your
knowledge curve of west coast beers and breweries and
have you made a trip back and said "wow this beer just
doesn't taste the same as it used to to me".
>>Male #8: I actually haven't been out here long enough to properly say
that I suppose. I haven't been back to the east coast yet,
since I've come here. There are just so many out
here. I haven't tried everything yet. But I have
noticed there is sort of a difference in flavor. Some of
the east coast beers are maybe a little smoother perhaps.
>>Greg: Smoother -- polite.
>>Male #8: Even Dogfish Head which is fairly aggressive. It's I
just had some of your IPA and it's a crisper sort of
>>Greg: A little more hop forward. I will often joke with
Sam. When Sam's over brewing at our place. We brewed
together before. And he'll be out this coming April
brewing with us. And I know I'll still make the same
crack when we're putting in the hops. I'll remind him --
Sam, these are hops. [laughter] He'll be, "yeah, Greg I know".
>>Male #8: This is the guy who says continually hop. Just
throwing it, and throwing it, and throwing it.
>>Greg: Yeah, it's good natured ribbing, of course, amongst friends.
Thank you.
>>Male #8: All right. Thanks.
>>Male #9: Hi. Thanks for coming. I just want to say your
Russian Imperial Stout is what dreams are made of. It's
one of the best ones out there. But quick question for
you about kind of the limited release beers that we've
seen a trend of. Cigar City has their Hunahpu's Day. Russian River has their Pliny the Younger.
Stuff like that. And then, outside of that you're seeing
like some of those beers people get them and then hork
them on Ebay for 70 dollars. What's your take on, you
know, people starting to do that in limited allocation
for limited and rare beers.
>>Greg: Limited and rare beers. It's a double-edged sword.
On the great side of the equation, it's really special
stuff, brewed and available to über enthusiasts who really
love all the nuances and differences and enjoy being part
of the culture of limited releases. And then, on the
other side -- the negative side -- is when people, against
the wishes of the brewer, maybe will rebottle it, put it in a growler,
put it on Ebay, ship it off and then when the person gets it,
they're getting a distant shadow of what the quality,
because the quality was damaged along the way. It violates
sort of the honor amongst -- honor to the brewer and
that's the negative side. And so, hey, name things in
life that don't have a positive side and a negative side
to them. So this is no different. So I would -- I
support it. I support this idea of being able to go in
all these great directions. Sometimes I'll see a
beer enthusiast forum posts and somebody say there's just
too many hoppy beers out there. Well, if craft beers are
five percent. Really über hoppy beers of that five
percent are, I'm going to take a wild stab and say, "two
percent?" So now we're talking two percent of five
percent and so on. So they're complaining about the 0.1
percent of stuff. Hey, don't complain. If there's 0.1
percent of this great wide variety but it only makes up this
tiny little slice of the market, celebrate the fact that we've
been able to diversify and get that geeked out. That's
how I see it.
>>Male #9: Cool, thank you.
>>Male #10: Hey, thanks for coming out here again. Just have a
discussion about what the market dynamics I guess of
gear. I really like your philosophy of not listening to
focus groups and really making what you believe is best.
Do you think that there's an opportunity for craft beer
to, like, take away some of the larger macro market even
more so than it has by, you know, just kind of like
educating people on this is what beer can actually
be. Or do you think it's more of an enthusiast this is
what I believe in my customer base. Do you think there's
any way through sponsoring sports events or things like that to where people
could just improve their perception of what beer is.
>>Greg: So I use this old joke. How many psychiatrists does
it take to change a light bulb? The answer is one but the
light bulb has to want to change. So if you try the
to go out to the masses and say change, change, change, and
they're like huh? Whatever. Leave me alone, kid. I'm just
paying attention to the ball game and I just want to do
what I've always done with my buddies then I'm not here
to think about it. They're not interested in it. So
what we do -- I think what craft beer does really well at
is, we make ourselves readily available to those who are
interested in change. You know what? A friend of mine
introduced me. I went to a bar. I decided on a lark to
actually pick something different off of the shelf one
time and something clicked just a little bit and now I'd
like to know more. And now, there's a lot of avenues to
learn more. You can only go out to public so much and
actually get them to pay attention. Of course, we have a
very noisy world out there. So I think that, you know,
it's -- craft beer is growing so much because we --
collective we -- that includes you guys -- great beer
bars. Great beer shops. Great online resources. Beer
Advocate and Rate Beer. Twitter feeds. And Google plus
what you're doing with some of your initiatives and
existing initiatives. All of these things allow people
to communicate and it's spreading like wild fire. So I
see this exponential curve coming. And also, to close
this -- my response to you -- is that today a lot of the
decision makers at bars and restaurants, at markets and
grocery stores are now digital natives in craft beer.
They grew up in craft beer. And so, the old guard as it
changes over who didn't know about didn't care about is
being replaced by buyers and decision makers in our lives
that affect the behind the scenes equation that you guys
don't see and they're craft beer enthusiasts and it's
being reflected. So that's a great thing. That
exponential shift is coming. We're growing and I think
we're going to be like hold on. We're going to start
feeling some G force.
>>Male #10: Okay, thank you.
>>Male #11: Yeah, this is kind of a segue to your previous
question. Craft beer is growing so much. You've been in the industry for a while. You showed
the graph earlier about the macro group. Market
share going down. What are Budweiser and AnBev and those
type of people. What's their reaction to the growth of craft
beer. Do you ever think that they would actually change
their beer to be better or would they just more diversify
by doing.
>>Greg: There are certain things I won't say online or in
public. So, let me -- I'm going to try my best to answer
that. I cannot speak for the big industrial brewers.
But here's -- there's a fundamental dividing line and it
doesn't matter whether it's beer, cheese, restaurants,
coffee, etcetera. There's commodity side and there's
artisanal side. They behave very, very differently. So, artisinal side,
sometimes will make a mistake and try and behave
commodity. You see a great craft beer you respect and
all of a sudden you go to a promo night at a bar and
they've got hired models giving out blinky key chains.
That would be an example. And you're like going what's
going on? Where did you go wrong? And/or, a really big
brewer coming out with something über hoppy, which I
don't think they would. You know their customer base
doesn't understand it. And the core customer base are
like don't worry, I'll drink my local one instead or the guys
that I believe in. In the case of the big brewers, big
brewers in this country are focusing more on emerging
markets. If you look at it from the stock prices, the
global portfolio and the global direction, their growth
is not in the United States. Their growth is in the
emerging markets of China, India, and other places. And
Russia. And so, they speak -- you know, I speak in IBUs
and they speak in billions of dollars. And so, we use a
different language -- commodity language and artisanal
language. Their -- Anheuser Busch AnBev, . I'm not
speaking for that company. I believe this is what I've
read that they are down in their numbers and they're up
in their profits. So they're spending less money trying
to generate or grow the U.S. market and they're kind of
taking money out and putting it into emerging markets
where the real growth is. That's what I've understood as
I've read. Again, I'm not speaking for any of those
companies. Can't do that. >>Male #10: Oh cool, thanks
>>Male #11: So you talked a little bit about bringing back some of
your collaboration. Or one specifically. But I'm
wondering if you had any thoughts of bringing back the
other ones that you've done over the years since I didn't
manage to get enough bottles of some of them in would
really like a way to replenish my supply especially the
Scotch Ale from earlier this year.
>>Greg: Well, that one -- okay, so you're talking about the.
>>Male #11: Highway 78.
>>Greg: So that was a collaboration we did with Firestone Walker and, Randy, help. My
brain just went away. Where is he? He can't help. He left. That's
what I'm trying to come up with. Yeah, the Highway
78 Scotch Ale. Green flash. Pizza Port Carlsbad. Stone. Highway
78 Scotch Ale. So we intended to originally with the
original recipe age it in scotch whiskey barrels that
didn't arrive in time. So, when they did arrive, we
decided to rebrew it and it's been sitting in the barrels
since this past spring.
>>Male #11: Where exactly? Do you have latitude and longitude?
>>Greg: [laughter] At Stone try your best. So, we will be
re-releasing a barrel aged version of that this coming
>>Male #12: Google maps will help you [laughter]
>>Male #11: What about some of the other ones.
>>Greg: I would say that, you know, 99 percent of our
collaboration beers are vertical epic series beers. None
of the vertical epic series do we ever plan to brew. That's
kind of what that was all about. One time things. Our
anniversary beers or special one ups. Most will never be rebrewed so we can
go brew a new favorite. Every once in awhile, like the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale became
the Stone Sublimely Self-righteous Ale. Every once in awhile we redo it or
the Saison du Buff. But the book has a lot of home brew
recipes for that stuff so you can do it yourself.
>>Male #11: Thanks.
>>Male presenter: We've got to stop there, but thanks again for coming.
>>Greg: Yeah, thank you guys.