Commentary: This weekend, Stone Brewing’s Co-Founder Greg Koch made an announcement that he is heading up an organization called True Craft, as an alternative means for craft breweries to seek funding without selling to macro beverage corporations or private equity. This seems like a response to the realities many craft breweries are facing. Signs point to brewers hitting a wall in terms of how they can get to the next level to compete in the very competitive space. With loans, personal mortgages, and next generation’s college funds all in play, the quickest and easy way out of the financial hole has been getting a fat check from AB-InBev, or an opportunistic private equity firm.
It’s still too soon to tell how the True Craft model will work out, I am willing to bet some of the current portfolio mates from Stone Distribution will be early adopters. Think of Avery Brewing and Maui Brewing right out of the gate, as they have been very close allies with Stone over the years.
Here’s the video of Greg’s announcement as well as the press release from Stone:
(ESCONDIDO, CA) – Stone Brewing announces True Craft, a company established to invest in craft breweries which are dedicated to remaining true to the definition of craft beer. Representing camaraderie in the industry, True Craft will make minority investments in craft brewers while allowing those breweries to retain their independent soul and control.
“Some people start companies to sell out. Some start companies because they are compelled to follow their passion. True Craft is for the latter,” said Greg Koch, Stone CEO & co-founder. “Craft beer needs an alternative model to the one that requires founders to sell their company in its entirety. In a world in which there are constant forces toward homogenization and fitting in, I specifically want to foster a world of uniqueness, depth and character.”
Outspoken about their commitment not to sell out to Big Beer, the co-founders of Stone have been investigating an alternative that would provide financing and operational guidance to small brewers who might otherwise have few options to protect the passion, heart and soul of their company. A year and a half in the making, Stone will be participating in True Craft as a founding member. The new venture has received an initial $100,000,000 brought forth from an investor group committed to the long term model. True Craft will welcome a handful of the best craft brewers in the business alongside Stone Brewing. Each brewery may participate in True Craft and in turn the company will provide minority investments to its members with minimal stipulations. All breweries will be aligned in the philosophical mindset of banding together to preserve craft while retaining full soul and control of their businesses for years to come.
“This is about setting up a consortium so we can not just survive, but continue to thrive in a world in which craft is being co-opted by Big Beer,” said Steve Wagner, Stone President & co-founder. “This allows companies like Stone to follow an ethos that involves independence and passion for the artisanal. By investing in True Craft now, we can be confident that our vision is locked in beyond our professional lifetimes and we feel privileged to help others in our industry do the same.”
True Craft’s detailed structure is still in formation and will be announced at a later date.
About Stone Brewing
Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in 1996, San Diego-based Stone Brewing is the 10th-largest craft brewer in the United States. Stone has been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 11 times, and has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. The multifaceted company will be the first American craft brewer to independently build, own and operate a brewery in Europe, and is also building a production brewery and destination restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. Brewing at both locations will be underway in summer 2016. Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone has earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. For more information on Stone Brewing, please visit StoneBrewing.com or the company’s social media sites: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and The Stone Blog