Monday, December 7th, European countries will get their first official taste of Stone brews on draught, as the inaugural batch of beers out of the new Stone Brewing Berlin brewhouse will simultaneously debut at 6 p.m. local time in as many as 40 tap rooms in Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
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In a statement issued via press release, Stone cofounder Greg Koch said, "We’ve worked long and hard to introduce our vision of bold, innovative craft beer to Europeans, and that day has finally arrived."
Most of the craft-beer bars involved are hosting Stone tap-takeover events to celebrate the arrival of the brand, known for its variety of boldly hopped ales that helped put the West Coast IPA style on the world map. Judging by their promotions for the event, they're expecting a receptive audience. A Facebook event page for one such takeover at Berlin's Monterey Bar professes, "We’re excited to join more than 30 venues across Europe to celebrate in this craft beer milestone." A similar statement for Amsterdam's Beer Temple calls it "A worldwide craft beer celebration."
Ben Fisher, a manager of Berlin's Castle Pub, says via email, "Stone has an almost cult-like following here in Berlin," adding, "The beer lovers of Europe are ready to clink their glasses to Stone Brewing." While he says Sierra Nevada sends beer that way, he doesn't see other San Diego breweries represented, but, "Now that Stone is here, we are curious to see what new [breweries] may be inspired by their presence."
The first beers released by Stone Berlin include Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard (what the Italian bar Open Baladin Roma calls Arrogante Bastarda) and Stone Xocoveza. The latter may be particularly surprising to local craft-beer fans who've had a hard time finding it in San Diego.
Xocoveza released in limited quantities last year as a collaboration with Baja brewer Insurgente and Chris Banker, who originally submitted it to a Stone-sponsored homebrewer contest. The so-called mocha stout features peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, and cocoa, and proved immediately popular locally. Stone brought it back just before Thanksgiving this year as a seasonal release, only to see it sell out within days. A post on Stone's Facebook page reports, "Shelves have been cleared across the country in record time," and goes on to promise "a few more batches" are being brewed to keep up with holiday demand.
The Xocoveza recipe remains the same in Berlin, other than using German-sourced coffee and cocoa (by Five-Elephants Coffee and Belizyum, respectively). All of Stone Berlin's beers are currently brewed on a 10-hectoliter system (European for roughly 8.5 barrels) that will serve as a pilot system, pending completion of a 100-hectoliter brewhouse. Stone Berlin's brewery, restaurant, and gardens will be located in a historic brick gasworks in Marienpark, a southern neighborhood in what used to be West Berlin. The $25 million project is expected to open in March 2016.