Greg Koch On Stone's Expansion to Berlin
Recently, Greg Koch, the founder of Stone Brewing, stopped by to visit with the College City Beverage team. He talked about Stone’s history, their new location in Richmond, and more. Here, you can learn what he had to say about Stone’s newest location: Berlin!
Berlin is a project we’ve been working on for upwards of 5 years. We’re installing an 85 barrel, 600-800 seat, brewhouse and restaurant in a beautiful 1901 historic gasworks factory just outside of Central Berlin. We’re expecting it to become one of the beer destinations of Europe. It’s really quite a facility, and we’re excited to show it to you. We looked at more than 130 sites in 9 countries for this perfect characteristic. I was looking for three factors:
- Being a historic property. I didn’t want to go all the way from San Diego to Europe just to build a green field warehouse, which would have been cheaper and more practical and we would have been done by now, but I wanted something that you could only get in Europe.
- The ability to grow. Some place we could expand and brew a reasonable amount of beer.
- A place you can come visit. We want to create a destination brewery and restaurant experience.
We know we are going into a territory that not only doesn’t know about our beer or the American styles of craft beer, but actually is pretty damn certain that American craft beers suck and aren’t worth trying. It’s always fun talking to someone over there in a random bar conversation. They say, *German accent* “So, what are you doing over here in Germany?” … “A brewery? In Deutschland? But you are American…”
There’s this sheer befuddlement. Don’t I know that American beer sucks!? A lot of people made fun of the United States and believed their beer was much better than ours. But, the craft beer movement has really changed things.
We are excited to bring new beer and our eclectic menu concept to Berlin. As Austin is to Texas, Berlin is to Germany. It’s the creative-leaning, artistic underground vibe and energy kind of city. A full third of the population isn’t from there, which means when you walk down the street, you hear all kinds of people speaking English, for none of whom it is their first language. But, it’s the common language to communicate. So, if you’ve never been to Berlin, you should be able to navigate fairly well with nothing more than a “danke” and “guten tag.”
It’s fun for me to tell the story of being the first American craft brewery to build, own, and operate our own brewery in Europe. And it’s really fun to think about this idea that we’re going over to a land of the traditional lagers and bringing beer styles that are completely unknown to most of the population. It’s exciting to think about how we brought the brewing tradition over to the United States some 150+ years ago, and now we’ve come full circle, and we’re bringing the beer styles to them.
In fact, many small brewers around the world (Berlin, Southeast Asia, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia, Italy, Scandinavia) are brewing what they specifically label West-Coast Style IPA. They are giving us an alliance. It’s no longer just an American craft brewer brewing a Bavarian-style beer.
We, as craft brewers in the United States, have earned a place on the world stage of styles. It’s no longer the Bavarian-Style Hefeweisen, the Belgian-Style Tripel, or the English-Style ESB. Now it’s the American Style double IPA. And these are now on that board of “classic world styles.” I think we can all be enormously proud of that fact.
*Some transcription was edited for readability