The sale of Stone Brewing to Sapporo U.S.A last week is without a doubt the biggest story of the year so far in the craft brewing industry. It has been a relatively quiet year news-wise in the beer industry as a whole, with few large acquisitions being announced half way through 2022. Although it was clear that Stone Brewing was financially stressed after testimony in the Molson Coors litigation became public, it was still a bit of a cultural shock when the sale to Sapporo was announced, perhaps in part because Stone co-founder Greg Koch repeatedly claimed over many years that the company would never “sell out.”
“Sure. I’d said it dozens of times. Quite possibly well over 100,” said Greg in a blog post describing his personal feelings about the sale to Sapporo. “I 1000% meant it every single time. It’s what I truly believed. I said it while pounding my fist both physically and metaphorically on the table. I’d said it over the telephone or on video with the narrative emphasis ‘…he says while pounding his fist on the table.’ The words: I will never sell out.”
Greg goes on to describe his personal feelings around the sale and that he will not be staying on with the company going forward. It has been reported that he will remain on the ownership team for Stone Distributing, which was not part of the Sapporo sale.
The sale ends a long, successful and colorful history since the San Diego brewery was founded in 1996. Additional insight is provided by writer Kate Benoit who describes the impact and meaning of the sale in a story here in Good Beer Hunting.