Carol Stoudt Prepares for Retirement; Brewery to Cease Operations

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by jmdrpi, Feb 3, 2020.

  1. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,458) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania


    Adamstown, PA. February 3, 2020 — As the first female brewmaster since prohibition, Carol Stoudt helped to pioneer the Craft Brewing movement in the late eighties and early nineties by personally providing support and encouragement to fledgling breweries. Stoudt’s Microfests provided fruitful networking opportunities for brewers and members of the burgeoning craft beer industry.

    As Carol prepares for retirement, she has made the difficult decision to close the brewery that helped to inspire a generation of craft beer drinkers. “I did my part. Now it is up to the new generation to continue the tradition of innovation that defines craft beer.”

    In 1987, with her husband Ed’s support, Carol added a 30 barrel brewhouse to an already thriving business which included a 70,000 square foot Antiques Mall, Restaurant & Pub, and Indoor/Outdoor Bier Garden. An on-premise bakery and cheesemaking facility would follow.

    Under Carol’s leadership, Stoudts Brewing became synonymous with quality and is one of the most awarded Craft Breweries in the industry. Carol’s legacy is built on authentic German beers brewed in the time-tested Reinheitsgebot tradition.

    “This was a difficult decision to make,” says Carol, “but we’re not moving enough volume to justify the expense of keeping the brewery open. However, we’re not closing the doors to any business opportunities that could help the Stoudts brand live on.”

    Production will scale down immediately and brewery operations will cease by early Spring in order to prepare the Brewery for sale.

    Operations will continue as normal for all other divisions of the Stoudts enterprise. The Restaurant & Pub is adding a trivia night and Sunday brunch menus, the Bier Garden will continue to host weddings and events, and the Bakery and Antiques Mall continue to support the local community.

    When asked about the future of Stoudts, Carol says “Stoudts is more than a brand or a location. We’ll just have to see what the future surprises us with.”


    I wonder if there is much of a market for someone to buy/invest, as Stoudts are one of the industry veterans that seemed to fail to make any adaptation to the changes in the craft beer market over the last 10 years or so. Besides the actual brewery, not sure how much market value the brand has left.

    I may have to go out and buy a pack of Fat Dog or Double IPA before it disappears forever.

    **Edit - I see on their website that they apparently at some point did add a "Queen of Hops" seasonal line of modern IPAs, but I can't say I ever saw these on any store shelves.
  2. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (955) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Sad news indeed.
  3. PABrewReview

    PABrewReview Initiate (141) Apr 30, 2019 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    It's an awful thing to have to say, considering Stoudt's incredible contribution to the craft brewing scene, but there probably is not much value to the brand moving forward. Very sad to see this.
  4. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,458) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Yeah, I realized instead of me using the word "veteran", the term "pioneer" would have been more fitting for our region. 1987 is well before Victory, Yards, Sly Fox, Troegs, Lancaster, Weyerbacher, etc. all opened in the mid-90s.

    Here's a nice article on Carol Stoudt and the history of the brewery from the 30th Anniversary in 2017.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    IMO Carol pretty much summed up the issue right here:

    “This was a difficult decision to make,” says Carol, “but we’re not moving enough volume to justify the expense of keeping the brewery open. However, we’re not closing the doors to any business opportunities that could help the Stoudts brand live on."

    Some person may advocate they were just too late here - should have produced Juicy/Hazy IPAs five years ago.


  6. RKP1967

    RKP1967 Aspirant (277) Sep 26, 2010 Virginia

    Does this mean the black ipa or Porter will make a comeback?
  7. EastHarris

    EastHarris Initiate (46) Jan 9, 2012 Pennsylvania

    A huge loss. This is what happens when you don’t buy “shelfies”.

    I expect the trend to continue.
  8. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,756) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I guess I'm not surprised and I believe we will see more breweries closing. I suppose I am part of the problem, if there is one, always looking for something new. Like it or not though, that is the market today and breweries need to adapt. The last beer I bought from them was a four pack of old abominable a few months ago. First Stouts purchase in years and it wasn't that good. Frankly there is too much good beer available to feel this loss in any meaningful way.

    Carol was undeniably a pioneer for women and for better beer, I'll toast to her tonight.
  9. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Crusader (752) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    That was an interesting read. Thank you for sharing.

    I can only wonder if things had turned out different had the Stoudt family sought out and partnered with the Pasdtry family...:wink:
  10. Tucquan

    Tucquan Poo-Bah (3,048) Oct 11, 2007 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I first started dinking their beer in the late 1980s. It was local, fresh and delicious. Aside from Sierra Nevada SNPA, this was my first introduction to American Craft Beer. Sorry to see them closing.
    Ozzylizard, beergoot, NodEast and 5 others like this.
  11. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (762) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Sad to hear

    Carol helped turn me on to craft at a beer fest way back in the day.

    Looking at their web site its pretty void of any style that people are looking for.

    Back in the day I bought plenty of those 750 bottles of fat dog, did it have a different name back then?

    The APA was a staple as well.

    The last thing I bought was four play IPA a few years back. I liked it but its not memorable.

    I always enjoyed flea marketing and stopping by for a beer.

    Maybe they will keep a small footprint to brew for the restaurant.

    If I remember correct Carol walked away once before and the beer really suffered till she came back.

    Anyone remember those awesome festivals they had with all the breweries you never heard of before, the wurst and bread. They were always a blast and the after parties with the brewers at the hotel were great.

    I had a keg of Stoudts weizen at my wedding.

    cheers Carol and Ed

    #11 Giantspace, Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  12. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,748) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    We interviewed Carol for BA mag back in 2008. Here were her 9 Steps to Beerdom:
    1. Throw your heart—and your back—into it
    2. Go your separate way
    3. Keep good company
    4. Seek out new markets
    5. Wal-Mart it ain’t
    6. Don’t fight a rolling stone
    7. Take your time, make it right
    8. Enjoy the contradictions
    9. Evolve

    Stoudts ceasing production is an immeasurable loss for beer and its community.
  13. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,414) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Out of all the breweries we lost in the last decade this stings the most personally for me.

    I would have supported them if I could in the last few years but it's been years since I've seen Stoudts Gold, Smooth Hoperator, or even fat dog on the shelf.

    Damn shame. But hey at least we have a bunch of local breweries putting out the same beer under different labels with slightly tweaked recipes... /sarcasm
    #13 FatBoyGotSwagger, Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  14. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (762) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Feels like #9 did not happen

    AlcahueteJ, beergoot, Ranbot and 4 others like this.
  15. guinness77

    guinness77 Meyvn (1,294) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    Pretty sad to see this. I haven’t really seen their beer in my parts in a few years but the imperial Oatmeal stout was a favorite of mine back in the day and their pilsner was a must buy when I saw it. As someone said in the thread earlier, this is probably gonna become a more common thing to happen to breweries like Stoudt’s. Hopefully someone steps to the plate and can help them out.
  16. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,795) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    2020? It was an incredible run. But this is definitely a passing to be mourned.
    2beerdogs likes this.
  17. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Was gonna pull out some reference sources but BREWBOUND's article saves me the trouble:
    Damn. That's tiny for a +30 year old brewery.

    So, after that,I had to pull out some more sources.
    1990 = 3,000 bbl.
    1995 = 13,600 bbl.*
    2007 = 8,000 bbl.

    * In-house 5.8k + 7.8K contract-brewed at The Lion.
    # 43 in the AoB's Top Craft Breweries List

    I don't know what this world's comin' to... (never did, I suppose).

    :astonished:Damn, man, now I feel bad... I've been going to that place (flea mkt and restaurant) since before they added the brewery.
    Rfro5, 2beerdogs, AlcahueteJ and 2 others like this.
  18. Auror

    Auror Defender (619) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts

    The goodwill of the brand name is still worth something. Someone could buy the name/recipes and contract it at better economics of scale or with better/different distribution. Like Long Trail did (via Otter Creek) in 2011 with The Shed in Vermont.
    roan22 and beaulabauve like this.
  19. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,357) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    Dammitt, RIP. Really loved Stoudts Gold.
    ESHBG and PABrewReview like this.
  20. jkrich

    jkrich Meyvn (1,239) Nov 1, 2001 Florida

    I am really sorry to hear about Stoudt's closing. It is unfortunate that since I have been living in Florida for the last few years, I have not had the pleasure of enjoying her beers. I have fond memories of buying a case of 26 oz. bottles of her Gold and Pilsner at her brewery while on a road trip from New England down to Louisville, KY in the late 1990s. I certainly hope she enjoys her retirement; all of us will certainly miss her beers.
    PABrewReview likes this.
  21. officerbill

    officerbill Devotee (452) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    You'll burn in hell for that one :grin:
    Beer_Stan and PABrewReview like this.
  22. BJC

    BJC Initiate (181) Nov 9, 2002 New Jersey

    I met Carol Stoudt at the Old Bay in New Brunswick NJ in the early 90's. They made great flavourful lagers : helles, dunkles, bocks etc. Good luck to her on her retirement.
  23. pinyin

    pinyin Disciple (361) Sep 19, 2013 New York

    I used to frequently purchase Stoudt's Gold Helles Lager for years in NEPA, and then it just disappeared from shelves around 2016. A really good helles for a very fair price.

    Makes me wonder if they just didn't get the shelf space and distribution from 2nd and third tier distributors in PA.
    PABrewReview and beaulabauve like this.
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I look forward to see what you are wiling to pay here.

    Cheers to you!
    PABrewReview likes this.
  25. Tilley4

    Tilley4 Poo-Bah (2,180) Nov 13, 2007 Tennessee
    Society Trader

    I loved their Pils and Smooth Hoperator.... they had a presence in TN for a while and I bought religiously because I loved their work....then..they disappeared and haven't seen them since... sad news indeed... they made very good representations of German styles....
  26. firecrotch23

    firecrotch23 Initiate (80) Mar 4, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Guessing this means the end of McGillins 1860 IPA? Very underrated beer from one of the best bars in the city
    PABrewReview likes this.
  27. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,458) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Cheers to the legacy of Stoudts!

    Price was not their issue. I stopped on the way home today from work at my local beer store and picked up 4 packs of Fat Dog ($10.25), and their new NEIPA ($12.25 for pint cans). Which are good prices for those styles compared to all the local smaller breweries.
    The issue is their stuff on shelves doesn't move, then it's old, then it really doesn't move. Vicious cycle. The Scarlet Lady they had was dated July, not good for an ESB. The Fat Dog was that old too, but I picked it up since not really an issue for that beer.
    The second issue is the on the back of my Stoudts glass. This glass is about 15 years old, and their lineup is still the same. Most current craft beer drinkers want something new, even from their favorite breweries.
    AlcahueteJ, sulldaddy, ESHBG and 11 others like this.
  28. DavidK1126

    DavidK1126 Initiate (49) May 7, 2019 New Jersey

    I've known her for years, and about a year ago she told me that business was bad, and she said that she thought that the issue was that drinkers were continually seeking something new. What a terrible turn of events.
    jcos, Rfro5, AlcahueteJ and 2 others like this.
  29. beaulabauve

    beaulabauve Disciple (355) Aug 5, 2011 Louisiana

    I decided a few months ago to stop drinking only new offerings for just this reason. Hell, half the ones I was drinking, Weren’t that special. I have now taken a vow to only drink great beers and hopefully do my part to keep those breweries on my local shelves. Might be corny, but its how I’m feeling these days.

    Stouts beers were good and they were classic. Hadn’t been on local shelves in years, and I really missed them.
    Whyteboar, Rfro5, rodndtube and 12 others like this.
  30. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,035) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    I only ever had one Stoudt beer--their pils--and I didn't like it. Way too grainy-sweet (I got big notes of corn???) for my tastes. However, I know Stoudt's is one of the earliest and most influential PA craft breweries. I'm sad to hear they are closing up, especially for all of you who are huge fans of them.
    ESHBG likes this.
  31. CheapHysterics

    CheapHysterics Aspirant (233) Apr 1, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Am actually drinking a Sly Fox/Stoudt's Collaboration (black lager) right now as I see this news for the first time. Carol Stoudt is a true pioneer in the industry and I wish her nothing but the best in her retirement - she has certainly earned it. Really hope the brand lives on somehow. Would hate to lose fat dog and Stoudt's pils.
    dagimp, ESHBG and PABrewReview like this.
  32. beerfinder

    beerfinder Aspirant (253) Jan 17, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Loved the 180 IPA they serve at McGuliins in Philadelphia that was brewed by Stoudts as their house IPA.
    roan22, NodEast and PABrewReview like this.
  33. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    ... as well as the house brands at The Old Bay (from a 2000 beer menu):
    NodEast and Bitterbill like this.
  34. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,111) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Their pilsner is still one of the best that money can buy...sad news indeed.
    ESHBG, guinness77, NodEast and 4 others like this.
  35. ericwo

    ericwo Initiate (94) Aug 21, 2008 Pennsylvania

    American Pale Ale was one of the first hoppy beers I liked when I first got into craft beer many years ago. Congrats on the retirement!
    thebeers and PABrewReview like this.
  36. Ranbot

    Ranbot Savant (907) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    This is sad. Stoudt's was the first beer festival I ever went to. When I had to take a trip down the PA Turnpike to Harrisburg or further, I always looked forward to stopping into Stoudt's on the way.

    I'm surprised there is no plan to down-size to a smaller brewing system just to supply the restaurant and keep the brand alive in some form. That would make me feel a little better about this sad news.
  37. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,458) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Wow, shrinking 8,000 to 2,400 bbl in 10 years is pretty bad. At least they didn't go the route of a lot of other regional craft breweries and plan or build out a big expansion when overall craft beer growth was high around the ~2010 timeframe.

    Do you disagree with the "first woman" part, or just the statement about Stoudts role in the overall industry? The way it's written does imply national influence when I assume their impact was limited to PA or the Mid Atlantic region
  38. Kadonny

    Kadonny Meyvn (1,368) Sep 5, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Will miss them for sure. I too was a fan of a bunch of their beers and bought a decent amount, but over the past few years I stopped because I could only find old stock on shelves. I remember trying to buy a keg of the Pils a few years ago and turned it down because it was almost a year old. Even the distrubutors were having a hard time brining in fresh beer from them.

    That aside, I'll miss them and I'll give Carol all the due in the world for being a pioneer in this industry and one that was local no less. Sad day.
  39. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,458) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    It would seem to be a simple numbers game.

    When I starting drinking in the early 2000's, in the "local" area of Southeastern PA there were about 10 microbreweries whose packaged beer was available in stores. Those I mentioned in Post #4, plus you can throw in Riverhorse and Flying Fish right across the river in NJ.

    Currently in the 50 mile radius around Adamstown, PA (location of Stoudts), there are now 215 breweries:,+PA,+USA&r=50

    Just to much beer available to hold on to a large market share.
  40. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,210) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey

    Damn, this is really disheartening news. Part of me me wishes they had latched on to some of the recent trends just to stay afloat financially, and part of me is proud of them for staying true to their roots. It's an unfortunate outcome.
    I feel like I used to see Stoudts everywhere in NJ about 10 years ago but their presence around here has been gradually declining since then.
    Agreed. I love that beer but always had trouble finding it near me. We got a drop of Stoudts Pils cans back in 2015 (had to go back to check my review, can't believe it was that long ago). The logo/design looked great on the cans. The beer was fresh and delicious. I went back to my local store the following week and the cases had already sold out. I remember being excited at the time that we were going to keep getting these drops of fresh Pils cans. Unfortunately, that was the last time I ever saw that beer. At least I got a picture of it.