I'm Greg @ Stone Brewing and "The Beer Jesus From America" - Beer Me Anything!

Discussion in 'Beer Me Anything' started by StoneGreg, Dec 4, 2019.

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  1. Claude-Irishman

    Claude-Irishman Champion (842) Jun 4, 2015 New Jersey

    Hey Gregg, Are you having problems in CA with getting enough water to brew?
  2. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,113) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    not gonna beat my head against another brick wall, but since when does knowing about german beer culture equate to knowing what a gose is?
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  3. Ranbot

    Ranbot Savant (901) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Since this thread hasn't been closed yet and my question seemed to be missed over the last 5 pages, nudge nudge...
    Forward along the Beer Me Anything vibes. :slight_smile:

    FWIW, once upon a time @StoneGreg came as close to complementing an "industrial" beer as you'll probably ever hear from him on a public forum:
    It's a back-handed compliment for sure, but he is responsible for a fairly large craft brewery and it's employees, which you have to expect he will protect above all else, so he's not just going to compliment a competitor. I think there's room in that statement to read between the lines though. He still dropped a stone on Jever, but I wouldn't take that show too personally. :grin:
    cryptichead likes this.
  4. WBJ3rd

    WBJ3rd Initiate (19) Oct 15, 2019

    Shout out to Brad Maki and Jim Sipp at Stone RVA. They helped me out!
    AlcahueteJ, StoneGreg and Scottsbeer like this.
  5. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    Ah, I see that I might have been misinterpreted here. Here’s my quote:

    “It’s up to us (at Stone) to decide what we want to do. It’s up to others to decide if they like it or not.” To me, the best musicians follow this basic principle. They decide what THEY like, and then the audience decides if they want to buy the album, request the songs on the radio, etc.

    We love, I love, the beers we make. No compromises. But that doesn’t mean that some of the ones I love the most will be embraced by the marketplace. That part is up to the market.

    So, our business model is simple: Brew and sell what we think are great beers. Fortunately, that business model allows us to attract and retain a VERY talented team!
    philhyde and ChazMania like this.
  6. ChazMania

    ChazMania Aspirant (208) Jun 13, 2006 California

    I appreciate that analogy to musicians, that clearly makes sense to me. I often write in odd time signatures and I love how the downbeat can change; but many people want "3 chord pop".

    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  7. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,530) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    @StoneGreg and @Snowcrash000 's statements weren't about "knowing about german beer culture". It was about "beer knowledge" in general.

    You don't think knowing about a wide variety of (historical and modern) beer styles would be an important part of general beer knowledge no matter where one lives?
  8. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,530) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Add me to the list of people that would love to see that beer make a comeback!
    StoneGreg likes this.
  9. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    This is a very complex reality that’s at play here. To be a bit reductionist...and that’s always going to have some pitfalls...the European beer distribution system is a bit old school, and oriented to the industrial side of the equation. This includes:

    * A system geared towards distribution and sales of pasteurized commodity beer. I don’t have an exact number, but Europeans likely drink 90% pasteurized commodity beer. I suspect it’s higher, but don’t know for certain what the stats are.

    * This system does not really require a particular level of speed to market. It’s not the way it’s done.

    * The system treats beer like it can be warm stored all day long (it is), delivered warm (it is), and sold warm on store shelves (it is).

    * Paying for shelf space, either outright or via discounting, is common.

    * Beers are dated long into the future. You are correct, most consumers don’t think of freshness dating in the way that we do in the US.

    * On Premise (bars, restaurants, hotels, venues) primarily operate on the Tied House system in which ONE brewery owns the rights to what beers are able to be sold in that location. This is why it’s quite uncommon to find more than 1-3 tap handles in an average bar. The breakouts are what’s called (in the UK) a “free house,” and they not accepted loans or other financial incentives to tie themselves to one beer company, and thus can make beer decisions as they see fit. Free houses as a business model is emerging around Europe, but still a small percentage. I have often referred to allowing your bar or restaurant to be tied to a brewery as a form of indentured servitude. However, it’s the entrenched incumbent system, and is the norm.

    I have personally visited Bamburg. I love it. Great culture. Great beers. Franconia is a bit of a microcosm. It’s also judged by visitors who are not living a normal life when they visit, so they view it through rose colored glasses. Go hang out at the local gentrakemarkt (beer stores) in the region, and you’ll see people largely buying commodity pasteurized beer for super cheap. I went to a special beer fest in the woods with a local brewer friend about an hour outside of Bamburg. There were maybe a dozen breweries represented with bier garden installations, carnival rides and games, some decent food and a lot of crappy food...you know, typical. I was excited to spend a day and evening drinking the classic beers of the region. I was MASSIVELY disappointed. Not that they weren’t ‘exciting’ beers. I knew better and wasn’t expecting that. I knew that they’d be delicate, soft and nuanced. What I got instead was a lot of really really bad beer. I was shocked with the prevalence of basic brewing flaws...DMS, diacetyl, acetaldehyde. Most of the 12 different beers I tried...all in the Pils or Helles range, as that was all that was being offered at this bierfest...were undrinkable. It’s not just that these flaws were present, as some can be part of the classic character of beers of the region, but that they were present to such levels in the beers as to render them too far gone. I was happy that I found two different beers that were in the ‘excellent’ category, so I focused my day and eve on those and was just fine. Still, I was shocked to see such beer being served. I remember at one Biergarten I returned my mas (1 liter mug) for my pfand (deposit) with it 4/5 still full and a woman asked me why I didn’t drink it. I simply told her it wasn’t to my taste. She looked at me with pity and made a comment about an American not being able to appreciate good beer, practically patting me on the head as if I was a 14 year old. I chuckled (inwardly only), and left it at that, knowing she wasn’t the right person to get into a conversation about classic technical brewing flaws and acceptable levels of DMS, etc. My local Bamburg brewer friend couldn’t help agree with my assessment, and was a bit embarrassed. His beers were one of the ‘excellent’ category beers, so he personally had nothing to be embarrassed about.

    Last, “fizzy yellow beer” is in the eye of the beholder. To me...and hell, I’m the person that coined the phrase...it means any beer that is intentional dumbed down for the masses. It’s not simply the state of being yellow in color and having carbonation. We played on this when we released the beer Who You Callin’ Wussie a few years back, which was not a so-called fizzy yellow beer as it was anything but dumbed down with it’s solid malt body and aggressive Pilsner bitterness of 45 IBUs. The reference went over most people’s heads and it didn’t catch wind in its sails. Too much of an inside joke I suppose.
  10. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    Been too long since I’ve been able to chill out and drink beers with Mitch. Communicated that with him recently. Will aim to find a time to do that in 2020 for sure.

    LOL with the picture. Why does literally no one call out the OE 800 that’s clearly front, center and top of that pile?
    Ranbot likes this.
  11. Scottsbeer

    Scottsbeer Devotee (468) Nov 3, 2017 Florida

    Hey Greg,

    Your snarky reply to the offended Portman Group was perfect. However as a smart ass myself I do have a couple of questions.

    How long did you think about it before you decided to write the reply rather than choosing the obviously easier decision to just ignore them?

    Your reply was well written, you obviously spent some time with it. Was it as satisfying as I must assume it was to send it when you were done?

    What beer were you drinking that gave you inspiration when you wrote it?
  12. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,530) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Is the non-Espresso version the same/similar recipe as the original IRS?

    Also, I assume the retiring of Double Bastard, IRS, and Old Guardian was due to slowing sales. In hindsight, do you think the craft beer market shifting away from 22oz bottle packaging was a factor in this?
  13. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    I believe that is like saying that Gumbo is a cultural strength in the US. It might be in New Orleans and a few other pockets, but then from there it’s only in some other regional pockets, and after that it’s in various cities...if you know exactly where to look.

    What year where you 16? During a lot of that brand’s presence in the US, it was brewed under license by Miller and the recipe was an American adjunct lager recipe that could only be romanticized but the label, but not the contents (playing basketball with Dad memories being awesome though of course!).
    rgordon likes this.
  14. meefmoff

    meefmoff Devotee (435) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    I'm hoping someone (perhaps @Snowcrash000) can fill in the details a bit on which beers are perceived as industrial/fernsehbier in Germany. I found the following list of the biggest selling beers in Germany and while some in the top 10 strike me as obviously "industrial" (Becks or Warsteiner) where does a respected-at-least-on-BA brand like Paulener fit in? Thanks.

    AlcahueteJ, JackHorzempa and jmdrpi like this.
  15. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    I understand the snarky interpretation, and do not take umbrage with it, but to me it was not snarky at all. Well, not entirely.

    At first, I was just pissed off, and wanted to send an angry response. However, I knew that wasn’t the right way to approach it, so I waited until I simmered down a bit. It took a few weeks, and I was on a busy stretch on tour with Metallica so I didn’t have much time to focus on it then.

    I eventually wanted my writing to achieve a few things. Be truthful. Be exhaustively complete. Have fun writing it. Yes, it ended up being very satisfying.

    I wrote it over a period of a few weeks. A bit here, a bit there, as the inspiration struck. So, multiple beers (and often no beer) were employed in the process. Cheers!
    joecast, AlcahueteJ and ElmerLovejoy like this.
  16. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    Yes. Yes. And Yes.

    Actually, similar-esque for the first Yes, but definitely not ‘same.’
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  17. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    We don’t really need to be brand specific to understand this fact: Germany is like every single other beer drinking country in the world...most of the beer that is consumed is cheap, and pasteurized. If you call it industrial, OK with me. If you want to call it something, else OK too. That part is just semantics.
  18. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,419) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    Thank you for your elaborate and insightful answer, confirming some of my own thoughts. I do, however, feel obligated to tell you that it's "Bamberg", not Bamburg :stuck_out_tongue:.
    AlcahueteJ and StoneGreg like this.
  19. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    You are being intentionally reductionist to my statements, and taking one small piece out attempting reframe it.

    It feels more like you’re trying to beat my head against your brick wall. I have my own brick walls to beat my head against, thank you very much. :slight_smile:
  20. Scottsbeer

    Scottsbeer Devotee (468) Nov 3, 2017 Florida


    "Snarky" was by no means a derogatory term as it applies to the response to Portman Group!

    Their "offended letter" could have been dealt with many ways and in my opinion "snarky" was the classy way to handle them!

    The "snarky" response was obviously well thought out and, in my opinion, perfect.

    Rock on and cheers!
  21. StoneGreg

    StoneGreg Initiate (78) May 16, 2002 California

    All —

    Thanks for the great questions! I’ve really enjoyed the conversations. I need to sign off and focus on some other things. I hope to see some of you live and in person in the not too distant future.

    If you haven’t already, please sit down, pop open a beer of your choice, and check out the Beer Jesus from America documentary film. I think you’ll find it worth your time.

    And after you do, please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon.

    Cheers to everyone, and especially cheers to @Todd and @Jason for creating this magical place where we can gather and discuss, debate and take mutual joy in one of the most awesome things in the world: Beer!

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