In 2014, Greg Koch, co-founder of Stone Brewing in San Diego California created a huge brewery location by refurbishing an abandoned gasworks plant in Berlin. Less than five years later, Stone announced they were closing their doors.
Many Germans were confused by Stones ambitious project since Germany is already known for its beer. What would make an American company think they had a place here? Koch acknowledged that macro-brewed beer in Germany is better than those in America but he insisted that Germans needed to try what he described as better tasting beer.
Two immediate obstacles hit the Stone Berlin brewery. One was the beers Stone offered were significantly more expensive than the German beers available at the other 13,000 breweries in the country. The second was that it was served in cans. Beer snobs like me prefer the preserved taste a can provides but in Germany canned beer is considered cheap beer.
Another cultural hurdle that faced Koch was the Reinheitsgebot (see our other post on German beer purity here) which Koch describes as a “form of brainwashing.” The purity law which man German breweries take pride in states that beer can only be created with four ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast.
The giant Stone Berlin Beer Garden ended up being too expensive a project to maintain and Stone has sold the location to Scottish brewery Brewdog (we discussed Brewdog in this blog post). The news of the closing came in a post titled “Farewell Stone Brewing Berlin: Too Big, Too Bold, Too Soon.”
A full length documentary is being released called “The Beer Jesus of America” which covers the history of Stone Brewing and the move to Berlin. More information can be found here: https://www.beerjesusfilm.com/
Do you think American Craft Beer has a place in Europe? Was it American hubris that caused the failure or German purity law stubbornness?