The Stone Brewing Company have announced that they have plans to open a secondary brewery somewhere in Europe. This is an amazing idea, and something I wish other breweries would start doing as well.
First, let’s look at a company like Dogfish Head, the 11th largest craft brewer of 2010. They have grown immensely, especially recently. They are smart in that they have never wanted to grow too fast. However they are still growing remarkably fast. On the company blog and on Discovery’s Brewmasters show, they have publicly stated that they have had to dump batches of their rarer, specialty brews because it was not consistent with previous versions. When they dumped their 120 Minute IPA last year, it cost the company half a million dollars. People forget that beer contains living organisms (yeast) and simply doubling the recipe does not mean that the exact same beer will come out. The yeast can act differently from one batch to the next, especially when the batches are increased greatly. Besides this, Dogfish Head also regularly makes quite a few different beers that it does not distribute to the west coast. This is done to ensure that these particular beers are as fresh as possible. Recently they also announced that they would no longer distribute to England, Canada and 3 states currently in distribution. This is done so they can better focus on the states with the greatest demand and not simply growing bigger too fast. I’ve always wondered if it would be beneficial for business if they were to open a second brewery on the west coast. They could have their main Delaware brewery focused only brewing enough to distribution the east coast and their west coast brewery doing the same on the other side of the country. They could continue to brew smaller, consistent batches of beer and overall increase distribution to more states with more varieties.
Stone is doing something similar except in another continent. They state that the reason for this is to build their presence in Europe without the costs, financially and environmentally, of shipping beer across the world. They want to ensure that the best, freshest beer that best represents their company is available to Europeans. In addition to this, they will primarily only use ingredients available in Europe whenever possible. Because of this, they will be brewing different beers in Europe than what they currently brew in San Diego. They will still be in a style that is consistent with their brand but new recipes. Again in keeping with their reasoning for all this, the beers that they brew in Europe will not be distributed to the U.S. for the same reasons that they are not currently distributing beers to Europe.
I think this is going to turn out to be a huge success for Stone. They will create a global brand recognition without having to sacrifice quality. It will allow them to create even more unique beers using a greater variety of ingredients and overall increase distribution and sales. All of this can be done than cheaper than what it would cost if they were to try and accomplish these same goals all from their single brewery in San Diego, even if they were to expand it’s size. I would love to see this kind of thing happening more often. It doesn’t have to be in another continent or even country, but a secondary brewery can help a company like Dogfish to continue creating their off-centered ales for more off-centered people in more off-centered places.