Here’s Greg’s take…
But it’s interesting really from a Croatian perspective. Their insistence (alleged) on a cold chain only went to a certain point - I’m not sure if all their distributors committed to it fully - though I can say that, at least, some (ours) tried. But I can also say that, at least in some countries, I’m not sure it was followed.
Cans are also a welcome sight for most beer geeks - they make the beers harder to sell in some places but Stone kinda has the weight to push it. Saying “kinda” since Stone isn’t the hugest of names to your average bar owner - only the beer geek kind, and not all are.
Then it’s a problem with their beers. Thing is, their main lineup simply isn’t impressive in many Euro countries - it would have been 5 years ago in many more, but right now - one can often find better, even FAR better fresher local examples of their styles. In my opinion - Ruination 2.0 is an excellent Double IPA and it definitely had its own potential niche. Go To IPA is a pretty darn good Session IPA - and it had its potential niche in the Croatian market - most local examples are summer seasonals. However, Stone IPA simply wasn’t better or that better than most (fresh) local IPAs. Regular Arrogant Bastard isn’t impressive in 2018. Ripper is at its best a good, but unimpressive APA. At its… “less best”, just unimpressive.
Their specials in 0.75l bottles were extremely overpriced, and not always with value inside. Their atavistic disregard for presenting their specials on their website did them no favors either - they made some great ones, they made some average ones… Eh.
Shame, the place is definitely great, wish I managed to visit it while it was still Stone.
It looks a beautiful place. If they got out before it really compromised their business they will have done well and been smart.
In the UK their beers tend to sit on supermarket shelves, without refrigeration, for months (in many cases past their ‘best before’ date).
I agree that in 2019 Stone probably isn’t the draw it was ten, or even five years ago. Even in countries where craft beer is harder to come by.
What if they started opening small venues in many places with small production capability - and each started putting out many different cans frequently? Maybe even not using the precise Stone brand - but variations. Is small the current future? Too much overhead on large venues? So many things inquiring minds want to know.
Stone must have done near zero research of the German market.
This is a win-win situation.
Stone will have some money back. Will not probably cover the investment they made, but will save them some money.
Brewdog found a good and already tested and running location where to brew beers in EU in case of an hard Brexit
We Berliner will not lose an amazing place to enjoy beer. Selection will be different, but if we want Stone, there is still the Tap Room in Prenzlberg.
It is easy to say now “I’ve told you that…” and Mr.Koch wrote it in his blog indeed, but as Bitterbill correctly said, they probably overstimated the German market
or underestimated the power of beer tradition?
There’s that typical American “I want it done yesterday!” attitude also. Think that attitude doesn’t work well over there.
Was it another town like München or Düsseldorf I would have agree. Berlin has no tradition. No earlier than 6 years ago the only berliner weiss available were the one of Kindl and Brewbaker (the only crfat).
IMO the problem with the Bistrot is only one: location. I love craft beer, I regurarly visit craft beer bars and breweries. Still, to reach Stone it took me more than one hour with train+subway+bus to reach it and on the way back (it was just midnight of saturday night, in hippie party hard Berlin!) I could only choose between walking in no man’s land until reaching the nearest station or grab a taxi. Being January with minus degree I opted for a taxi, paying 50 euro, more than what I’ve spent that night having 5 beers.
Was it worth it? No. Would I do it again? No. With the same money and just less than the double of travelling time I can go to Leipzig and drink 4 liters of beer, visit 3 breweries/bar and make a nice day trip. Expecially because I can drink Stone in all bars in Berlin now, even some of their Pilot Serie reach some selected craft beer bar.
Prices were not an issue, while in Berlin this is still a problem. Stone managed to keep prices affordable, compared to some new german craft brewers who is offered for 21 euro / liter (Fuerst Wiacek anyone?).
It is still a great loss, but as I said at the beginning, a win-win situation. It is interesting to see what BD will do out of that place. They have an amazing location in the city center, they are opening a second one in Ku’damm in June (can’t wait for that!) so who’s gonna go to Marienfelde for just a Punk Ipa?
nah. They were just way too American believing their brand would be so strong that people would drive out of their way into the middle of nowhere to their taproom (which is a 20 minutes walk away from pretty much every bus, train or subway station) like they do in suburban USA. That their taproom was so large that you could fit airplane carriers in there did not help.
Oh man, I was at the Stone location in Richmond Virginia last weekend and had considered buying some of those Berlin collabs since they were the cheapest price I’ve seen any of them going for anywhere… Might have to get back there soon just to get those ticks before they’re gone.
I agree with the location problem.
I have been to Berlin twice since Stone arrived and I have never bothered going out to it. I always stay in Charlottenburg and it was too much effort. I shall not be going now either, we have a BrewDog outlet in Birmingham and I don’t go there.
Just had a word with a few directors at BrewDog Jeremy.
They think they’ll turn a profit again this year without your support !
Who cares? There are better places in Berlin…
Another article here:
A personal view is that Greg Koch seems to be a slightly odd character, not exactly humble about what has happened in Berlin. Some might slink away with their tail between their legs instead of blaming everyone else for the project failing.
Throughout history many businesses who have thrived in their own market have then spectacularly failed when trying to apply their ‘successful business model’ in a another country, where there are different customs & traditions
Whilst it seems clear that BD buying the site is partially a hedge for Brexit and it appears that that there is huge spare capacity I hope that James Watt’s optimimsm is justified. It’s a huge deal for Brewdog but I just hope the sum paid reflects the work that needs to be done to make the site successful rather than being based on the squillions that Stone ploughed into the site.
Interesting to read one of the comments below the article likening Stone’s situation now with that of Green Flash a year or two back (they ended up being owned by the bank that they owed a ton of money to).