Stone Brewing CEO announces "True Craft".
$100 million in financing is available to a small group of craft breweries in exchange for minority, non-controlling stakes in their businesses.
MUSINGS OF A FOOD AND BEVERAGE VISIONARY
Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing, just announced the creation of what he calls "a craft beer investment company" this weekend at the EG Conference in Carmel, California. The conference is billed as "a conference and a community of brilliant innovators driving our most creative industries". Tickets are $4,000 to attend the event which you can learn more about here.
Koch's talk details the struggle many independent food and beverage entrepreneurs are facing, saying that "todays artisan entrepreneur is locked into the internal struggle not to be consumed by commodity businesses, who actively sacrifice quality and character on the alter of the almighty dollar." He goes on to highlight the problems with the industrialized food and beverage industry and champions craft brewers and food manufacturers who follow the ethos of artisanal entrepreneurship which he describes as having "passion, heart, and soul."
Koch specifically calls out Bend's own 10 Barrel Brewing when referencing a photo he took at a Burbank airport bar which featured mostly AB InBev selections. "...it's a little disconcerting that the worlds largest brewer is working so hard to capture our little slice of the market. Anyway, over recent years, commodity brewers have been quietly purchasing a number of craft breweries in a plan to steal craft away from its independent authenticity." He also declares "I will never sell Stone to big beer, ever."
THE LAUNCH OF A BEER FUND
“I specifically want to foster a world of uniqueness, depth, and character, and enter our solution” he said. "True Craft, which I am announcing for the first time today. How do we create something that can help the independent artisan remain independent and allow their philosophies to flourish? True Craft is that answer. It's the alternative to being pushed out or bought out by the mega industrial commodity world."
“True Craft’s goal is simple: Give craft brewers another option than selling a majority interest to private equity or selling out to big beer.”
According to Koch, True Craft has secured $100 million via a group of “independent investors,” that will be used to acquire “minority, non-controlling” stakes in craft breweries, and possibly even artisanal food manufacturers. Discussions with additional investors looking to help finance the new venture are ongoing according to the story on Brewbound.
Additional information is available in Stone’s official press statement, reprinted below the video of Koch's talk at EG. Bend Station will continue to follow this as more information is released.
ESCONDIDO, CA – Today 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 visitstonebrewing.com or the company’s social media sites: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and TheStone Blog.