Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

Koch throws his Stone into European waters

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Could the closed Highate Brewery be a target for Stone's ambitions?

I am intrigued by the notion that the Stone Brewing company is looking for a site from where it could brew its beer in Europe. This is no Californian dreaming, but yes, the Escondido-based company, close to the Mexican border is looking for a European base for its beers.

One of the sites being looked at is the closed Highgate Brewery in Walsall in the West Midlands. Sadly the company that owned the historic Victorian Tower brewery, which was built in 1898 went into liquidation several weeks ago and 22 workers have been laid off. Stone Brewing chief executive Greg Koch confirmed the brewery in Sandymount Road, Walsall was one of the “possible locations he was considering”.

Koch said after he had heard about the brewery being up for sale, he posted a message on the Save the Highgate Brewery FaceBook page, which had sparked a lot of speculation locally and on the net that Stone had put in a bid for the company.

But the web surfers’ dreams of those who want to save Highgate will probably be wiped out as Koch says in a statement on Ratebeer: “We have the greatest respect for the existing traditional styles brewed in Europe, however those traditions are not ours.”

Stone is currently evaluation locations in nine different countries and Koch says there is a “lot to sort through. We are indeed intending to brew Stone beers that are substantially similar – or as precisely the same as we can get – to what we brew in Escondido,” he said.

The move raises interesting question about the provenance and integrity of beer. But does a Michelin starred chef stop being a good chef because he changes his frying pan? So why cannot a world class brewer and a company that makes a fantastic interpretation of an IPA bring that skill to Europe?

And a company with the marketing skills of Stone would shake some of the stuffed shirts who run breweries in Europe. Commercially beer a is relatively low cost purchase for the drinker and shipping it across oceans and continents is expensive and not the greatest use of resources.

So Stone’s throw into Europe could be a welcome blast to the world of beer.

Stone’s proposal to set up a site in Europe can be found at http://www.stonebrew.com/rfp/

The Save Highgate Brewery campaign can be found at FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=132472633446481&ref=ts

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Written by timhampson

August 13, 2010 at 6:42 pm

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