Keeping Up With The Stoneses
We are not even half way through with 2014, and two of the fastest growing craft breweries, located in The Full Pint’s back yard, are releasing significant new products seemingly every other week. Very recently, both Stone Brewing Co. and Firestone Walker Brewing have unveiled a ‘year round Session IPA and a Saison. Over the past 5 years, both companies have been compiling an awfully similar portfolio, and right now, it’s never been so apparent. It is my opinion that both have their fingers on the pulse of the craft beer consumer, and after one company unveils a new product, the other follows suit shortly after. I’m not calling either group a bunch of copy cats, but with consumer’s dollars and retailer’s shelf space at stake, you can’t help but see a little bit of competitiveness from both breweries. This is what my parents referred to as keeping up with the Joneses, or in this case, keeping up with the Stoneses (FireStone and Stone Brewing). Here is a matrix of similar products from both camps, along with some notes on what and why certain beers were placed or not placed in the matrix. If you are an up and coming craft brewer or one struggling to hit your stride, please take note of this formula. It seems to be working quite well for both breweries.
|Firestone Walker||Stone Brewing Co|
|Pale Ale||Pale 31||Pale Ale|
|Session IPA||Easy Jack*||Go To IPA|
|Double IPA||Double Jack||Ruination IPA|
|Triple IPA||RuinTEN IPA|
|Imperial Stout||Imperial Russian Stout|
|Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout||Parabola/BA Merkin|
|Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine||Sucaba|
|Anniversary Ale||BA Strong Ale Blend||Hoppy Strong Ale**|
|Widely distributed One-Offs||Collaboration Series|
|Boutique Barrel Program||BarrelWorks||Quingenti Millilitre|
- Stone just began brewing RuinTen annually, and does not refer to it as a Triple IPA. At 10.8% abv., we do.
- Firestone Walker just recently retired Walkers Reserve Porter after 10 years of production.
- Stone briefly bottled a Bourbon Barrel Aged version of Imperial Russian Stout, but it has not been included as an annual release that hit wide distribution.
- Firestone Double DBA, Pivo Pils, Stone’s Bastard Family and Smoked Porter Variants are very unique to their respective portfolios, that they were not compared. Time will tell if either side will “keep up with the Stoneses.”
- * Firestone Walker has dubbed Easy Jack as a Summer Session IPA. We believe this will become ‘Year Round.
- ** Stone Anniversary Ale offering is usually a strong hoppy ale that resembles a Double IPA with a few exceptions over the years.
- Firestone’s BarrelWorks has been an onsite only attraction in Buelton, CA and while Stone has offered a few Quingenti Millilitre to wide distribution, many of them are still Brewery Store only offerings.