Stone Brewing Searches for an Identity Amidst Lawsuits, Closures, and Controversies

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by ESHBG, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. ESHBG

    ESHBG Disciple (327) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,660) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    A few topics of discussion concerning beer sales from the above linked article:

    “During the pandemic, at a time when Stone should be seeing a boost in packaged beer sales comparable to other national breweries, its numbers—especially for its flagship IPA—are lagging.”


    “While most other large breweries saw sales for their flagships grow this summer as Americans shopped for beer at grocery and big-box stores rather than bars or specialty shops, Stone’s IPA lagged. From June through August, dollar sales of Stone IPA were down more than 10% versus a year ago in chain retailers tracked by IRI. During the same period, Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai IPA was up +16.8%; Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale was up +13%; Sam Adams’ Boston Lager was up +9%; Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Pale Ale was +6.4%; and Odell Brewing Company’s IPA was +4.5%.”


    “Overall, Stone’s portfolio of brands was up +6.6% in total dollar sales in IRI-tracked channels from July to August compared to a year ago, thanks to Delicious IPA and Fear.Movie.Lions Double IPA. For comparison, Stone’s peer breweries were up by double digits during the same time frame: Sierra Nevada (+18%), New Belgium Brewing (+25%), New Holland Brewing (+13%), Revolution Brewing (+15%), Cigar City (+18.5%). Sales of key brands including Arrogant Bastard, Enjoy By IPA, Ripper Pale Ale, and Tangerine Express Hazy IPA are all on pace to lag behind last year’s numbers.”

    It sure appears that beer consumers are not supporting Stone well in the past few months (in comparison to other brewery's sales). Maybe Maria can turn this aspect around?

  3. Porphyry

    Porphyry Initiate (37) Jun 20, 2017 California

  4. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (73) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    "Our priorities over the next six months will be to not set any new priorities over the next six months"
  5. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,932) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Society Trader

    Yeah this is something good to point out. It seems that most large breweries were putting out mix packs during this time and they were priced pretty favorable. I actually am still buying Real Ales 12 pack of IPA's that I have gotten for $13.99 to $15.99 (been thru 4 of them). I am somewhat trying to keep my money in the state of Texas, but all I am seeing from Stone are their Mix packs at $19.99. So If I can support a Texas brewery and get good beer for a good price, I will keep going in the direction.
  6. mambossa

    mambossa Aspirant (243) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    No shit, they’re cannibalizing their own flagship on the shelves by only producing more IPAs. If Bell’s or Cigar City had 12 other IPAs on their release calendar, pretty sure it would be a similar story.
  7. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Champion (854) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    Technically aren't they getting into the "Harder Kombucha" industry? Kombucha already contains alcohol, though minimal enough that I've had my ID checked when purchasing it.
    Sheppard and ChicagoJ like this.
  8. chimneyjim

    chimneyjim Initiate (170) Jun 23, 2004 Oregon

    These Stone threads have a morbid fascination, observing the slow circling of the drain.
  9. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Champion (854) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    At this point they are BrewDog without direction.
  10. rodbeermunch

    rodbeermunch Poo-Bah (6,031) Sep 30, 2015 Nevada
    Society Trader

    Seems like its just math for the most part?

    When Stone IPA first got on shelves in ~50 states, there were very few competitors offering IPAs . . . and then New Belgium, Founders, Sierra Nevada, 10 Barrel, Terrapin, St Archer, Bell's, Cigar City, Deschutes etc. . . caught up and consumers had more choices, not to mention the 8000 local drink fresh, drink trub gloop glop ipas came around. Of course SNPA has been on shelves before Stone, and that too has seen a dip in sales, IMHO, for the same reason.

    Its easy to have a big market share when you're competing against less options. (It was easier for MASH to get massive ratings for its finale, they were only competing with 3 other channels and no internet). Its easy to grow when you're entering new markets.
    mikeinportc, FLBeerGuy, JMN44 and 4 others like this.
  11. jasonmason

    jasonmason Initiate (191) Oct 6, 2004 California

    That right there is the kind of bold leadership we have come to expect from Stone.

    That was a weird article. Not the reporting (which raised and tried to get comment on salient points), but Stone's responses. I think they're still trying to project the tired 'we're too cool for plans' pose...but at this point it comes off as unprofessional and out of touch.

    The sellout theorist in me certainly raised an eyebrow at the 'our new CEO won't be available for comments for months' quote.
  12. PatKorn

    PatKorn Initiate (161) Aug 30, 2007 Texas

    If I was Tony Magee I would be pissed about being compared to that other guy
  13. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Defender (626) May 11, 2012 Missouri

    When Stone started changing/discontinuing the core beers, they lost most of their appeal to me. Sucks as I really enjoyed them, cheesy marketing or not.
  14. Troy-Hawaii

    Troy-Hawaii Savant (934) Jun 15, 2015 Hawaii

    A case of Sierra is about $26 in Hawaii and a 12 pack of Stone is $25. I don't think Stone is twice as good as Sierra so why buy 12 Stones when I can get 24 Sierras? Nothing special about Stone as there are so many craft beers that are better and cheaper. Stone is big enough that they have economies of scale to be more in line with other craft brewers so they are pricing themselves out of the market, especially during these hard times.
  15. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Zealot (571) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Nice article. I wasn't aware of the private investment made in 2015. I'm changing my post from another thread about them potentially righting the ship. They will be sold in the next 2-3 years.
    Harrison8, ESHBG, WCKDVBZ and 2 others like this.

    WCKDVBZ Meyvn (1,034) May 9, 2014 South Carolina

    Exactly! Sucks for them, but it's very hard for me to feel sympathetic. Being too cocky and arrogant can "bite you in the ass" sometimes. They need to start making other styles and possibly bring some of the old favorites back. Have better packaging and pricing too. Every time there's a new Stone beer release announced on here, it's always some kind of an IPA. At least for the last 3-5 years.
  17. Satchboogie

    Satchboogie Savant (960) Oct 16, 2010 New Hampshire

    I stopped caring about stone when they cut out the IRS and Old Guardian to brew more DIPAs
  18. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Defender (626) May 11, 2012 Missouri

    Not to mention discontinuing Levitation and Sublimely Self Righteous, or tweaking Stone IPA and Ruination. Wtf?

    And do they even do the anniversary beers anymore? Those were always fun
  19. dlcarst

    dlcarst Initiate (107) Aug 21, 2015 Illinois

    If Stone would bring back Old Guardian, Double Bastard, IRS, Sublimely, etc. I'd be happy to buy more Stone. But why would I buy any Stone IPAs when I can get them fresh from every local brewery?
  20. Satchboogie

    Satchboogie Savant (960) Oct 16, 2010 New Hampshire

    They kind of ruined Stone IPA and ruination. I do miss Sublimely Self Righteous, that was good.

    I didn't realize they actually stopped with the IRS! I stopped paying attention when they introduced the 'odd beers for odd years' crap with IRS. Double Bastard getting the axe is unforgivable to.
    jakecattleco and Harrison8 like this.
  21. hillind

    hillind Aspirant (268) Apr 24, 2010 Pennsylvania

  22. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,075) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    No reason for me to drink Stone. There are other brands offering up equal or better beer at lower prices.

    As an added bonus, these companies don't (at least to my knowledge) try to strong-arm others in the industry out of competition and are more approachable from a marketing aspect, i.e. they don't come off as self-centered.

    Of course, I may eat my words if Stone brought back RIS / Old Guardian and priced them competitively with other similar options.
  23. Sheppard

    Sheppard Meyvn (1,298) Mar 16, 2013 Virginia

    Stone, to me, has always had slightly premium pricing (not to the extent to Ballast Point with Sculpin, but more than other stuff on the shelves). With the increase in competition, I don't think they warrant that premium any more.

    I wonder how much releasing Enjoy By messed up their thinking from a production stand point. Enjoy By was a revelation when it first came out and I think helped introduce (for better or worse) a wider audience to the fact that hoppy beers shoul to be consumed within a given time frame (or at least that it is advisable). At the same time, I wonder if it forced Stone to think that they need to create an ever evolving portfolio of brands in order to stay interesting, even if it means reformulating their flagships.

    Stone is a national brand. How many breweries have succeeded in being a national brand, having a presence at grocery stores, while having turnover in their product portfolio, including flagships or yearly releases? At that level, it's about scale and getting to better price points. It's about reliability (having those same brands available). Stone has failed at those.
    bret27, FonyBones, bubseymour and 5 others like this.
  24. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (819) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I had to laugh and I’m sure I will get grief here but how the hell is SN $26 a CASE in Hawaii and here is approaching $40 before tax?

    The fact that Bigfoot is under $45 a case here almost proves to me that we are getting ripped off on SN core here and no one can explain why.

    On topic I love AB and just bought a 6x16 the other day for my wife. $12 is not a bad price. All their other beers are quite expensive when you look at the 6x12 package size and then look at better beers for less $ right next to them. When I can buy fresh 4x16 Shape of Hops For $8-10 why am I even going to consider any Stone iPA?

  25. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,495) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    You should email that to stones new CEO. Its good advice
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,660) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Time to make some :popcorn: and await the first post which complains about this complaint.

  27. imbrue001

    imbrue001 Initiate (185) Aug 6, 2010 Pennsylvania

    All I know is, I've gone out of my way not to purchase anything Stone ever since they started hating on the President. Can't say I'm shocked sales have suffered.
    Scotchboy, plaid75, SP23 and 2 others like this.
  28. carolinabeerguy

    carolinabeerguy Champion (864) Oct 10, 2005 North Carolina

    You must drink a TON of Yuengling.
  29. chrismattlin

    chrismattlin Champion (813) May 10, 2014 Ohio

    I like my beer apolitical; keep quiet and provide for me what I want out of you- the magic of beer!

    Maybe DO something nice for your community.
    But DON'T bother me with opinionated musing on life. I don't care. (Whether I agree or not makes zero difference.)
  30. JBogan

    JBogan Champion (859) Jul 15, 2007 California


    Yeah I know it's your brewery and you have a right to brew what you want and label it however you want. I also have a right to vote with my wallet.
  31. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (145) Feb 25, 2013 California

    My thought too. The reason they are losing share in supermarkets at a time when flagship supermarket craft beer sales are sailing is because they are priced too high. They aren't any better than Sierra Nevada, and most of us would agree they are a solid notch below SN. Simple economics. When I buy twelvers at Safeway, it's almost always the mixed SN ones. Better for less.
  32. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,495) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I really think @Sheppard nailed it. They want to play in the national distro/grocery pack pool but they want premium, local, self distro type pricing. Sam from DFH has been notoriously open about holding to premium pricing, but they still put sea quench at the same price as snpa on my shelves. 60 minute is comparable to other regional/national brands per 6 pack. Stone IPA is 2$ more (at least) per 6 pack. If they were still small enough (or serious enough about taking back and destroying old stock) to guarantee some level of freshness that might work. But they're not, and it doesn't. Even though I don't drink nearly as much lagunitas as I used to, I respect the way they've transitioned into a major international brewer. They offer an array of hop forward beers of consistent quality at an affordable price. Perhaps Stone's new CEO can help make the logic of that positioning clear to the ownership
  33. nomisugitai

    nomisugitai Initiate (114) Mar 11, 2006 New Jersey

    Enjoy By 4th of July is still in a store by me. No mark down. I think that I will look for it every time and see how long it sits.
  34. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (145) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Completely agree with all your points. I would drink more Stone beer, even given Koch's intransigence, given my nostalgia for them. Enjoy By is as responsible for getting me into hoppy beers as any other. We all recognize they need a reality check though. They can put themselves back in the game with it.
  35. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,081) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    It's true that Stone saw sales decrease by 1% last year after being up 12% in '17 and 3% in '18, but the most vocal pro-Trump brewing companies, Dick, Jr's Yuengling and Jim Koch's Boston Beer Co. did even worse - both were down all 3 years of the current Administration, except for Yuengling flat results in '18. (Although the idea that any of those yearly sales figures were at all affected by the brewers' political stances is kinda absurd :rolling_eyes:).
  36. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (944) Jul 7, 2005 District of Columbia

    Which is why I go out of my way to support them, because fuck that guy and more money to all businesses brave enough to alienate anyone who supports him.
    Singlefinpin, DIM, tinoynk and 3 others like this.
  37. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,028) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    I started really enjoying Stone beers at the time they started the Enjoy By series and also I’m the odd one that liked the reformulated 2.0 Ruination and 2.0 Pale Ale. They were more expensive than their primary competition on shelves but I was buying for taste and at that time I liked their hoppy beer flavors a lot. I’ve never been that fond of their flagship IPA however. I bought a single of Enjoy by July 4 Unfiltered this past year and found it taste rather average tasting DIPA conpared to the past. Their “Wussie” pilsner was a nice addition and I think they are pricing their AB well on shelves. That beer is quite aggressively hopped and is only supported by a very niche drinking audience however.
  38. ESHBG

    ESHBG Disciple (327) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Ha ha same! They have broken down one pack recently and put it in the mix a six section and it's still sitting there too (but it has more chance of moving here because some people just grab stuff).
  39. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (819) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I have gone out of my way to not drink Yuengling again and alert others since they support the president.

    I just bought some Arrogant Bastard the other day. I think that beer qualifies as a tribute, no?

    Singlefinpin, jwat, DIM and 5 others like this.
  40. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Champion (854) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    Corporations shouldn’t be in politics. Of course the easiest way to do this would be to ban corporations from donating to campaigns/political action committees, but the politicians need that revenue stream for re-election campaigns from the corporate teat.