The “Big 3” Struck out! So What’s Next?

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by RaulMondesi, Jul 10, 2020.

  1. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (3,211) Dec 11, 2006 California
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    Stone, Ballast Point, and Green Flash were once “The Big 3” - but all have seen failures lately:

    Stone gave up and sold their Berlin Brewery...

    Ballast Point were bought for a billion, but then sold for a pittance...

    And Green Flash, well, do they even exist anymore?

    So what’s next for these once “so called” giants? And what about the beer scene in general because of their colossal failures?
    GreenBayBA likes this.
  2. bret27

    bret27 Meyvn (1,094) Mar 10, 2009 California

    They just need to barrel age & cram desserts into all stouts, put out more hazies, limit distribution, increase prices exorbitantly, hold “brewery only” releases with online tickets etc.
  3. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (3,211) Dec 11, 2006 California
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    All Stone needs to do is bring back Stone RIS and I’d be cool with them.
  4. StonedRaider

    StonedRaider Initiate (154) Oct 25, 2007 California

    While we’re making requests, I’d welcome back Sublimely Self Righteous, Levitation and Vanilla Smoked Porter. That list reminds me that I used to love Stone. Sigh.
  5. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,485) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    To be fair, all 3 of those brands are still on shelves around here, and stone certainly seems to move a fair volume.

    But also, what about Sierra Nevada and North coast brewing? They have been around for decades and still seem to move a lot of beer. Oh and I should add Anchor still in there doing their thing. Who picked those as "the big 3" and when?

    I guess I'm not sure what the point is? The beer scene will have less ballast point and green flash in it? Stone will be less of a golden child for beer nerds? The hundreds of local breweries will continue to deliver an increasing portion of community beer needs?
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  6. pro100

    pro100 Initiate (107) Oct 12, 2014 California

    There it is right here
  7. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (3,211) Dec 11, 2006 California
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    My first real memory of Stone is when I flew out to DC in 2007 when my dad was on a business trip and he bought a 6 pack of IPA for our hotel room. (That seemed like a big deal that Stone was out there then). As far as Ballast Point, I remember a brief period in 2012 when Sculpin flew off of the shelves like Pliny, then the next thing you know it was mass produced and everywhere. Nothing ever really stood out about Green Flash, and maybe that’s why they eventually failed.
    AlmostDeadly777 likes this.
  8. FrogOut69

    FrogOut69 Devotee (491) Sep 24, 2013 California

    What's next? Concepts like Canarchy, but no more mega breweries.
    unlikelyspiderperson likes this.
  9. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (285) Oct 20, 2006 California

    Those three were the “big three” for the San Diego beer scene for a good chunk of the last decade (along with Karl Strauss, but I think a fair proportion of their sales were through their brewpubs so didn’t have the same kind of market saturation the other three did).
  10. gregoryG

    gregoryG Aspirant (211) Sep 8, 2009 California

    Almost forgot about Levitation. Used to buy tons of that stuff. I’d love to be able to drink some again
  11. jakecattleco

    jakecattleco Poo-Bah (2,327) Sep 3, 2008 California
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    Yes, more Levitation! I'd welcome a return of the original Ruination recipe, even though I'm tiring of 8+% DIPAs.
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  12. fegelFatso

    fegelFatso Initiate (184) Jun 23, 2013 California

    I think Stone should just reverse it’s beer offerings by 6-8 years and stick with that... I want RuinTen, Double Bastard, Stone IRS, and OG Wootstout and Wootstout 2.0
  13. PatKorn

    PatKorn Initiate (161) Aug 30, 2007 Texas

    So if you were at the top of your game for an extended period of time, like these three obviously were, and not so much now; that means you were never a giant?
    10 years ago most people on here were sucking at the teet of these 3 and saying they were the greatest thing ever. Now they're trash? Were they trash then and now we are so much more enlightened drinking hazy ipa we know better?
    It's like saying Shaq, Barkley, and Duncan are all old and tired so lets ignore their greatness when they played.
    To each their own but maybe a little more respect should be paid and less shade should be thrown.
    IDK. Guess I'm just the cranky old guy on here yelling at clouds.
    Carry on.
  14. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,485) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Well I think you all in San Diego will make it, even if you don't like stone anymore
  15. StonedRaider

    StonedRaider Initiate (154) Oct 25, 2007 California

    In the case of Stone, my complaint is that they’ve retired so many of the beers that made me love them. Much of the stuff they put out nowadays is mediocre. I just wish they would focus on the core products that made them great. Like someone said above, turn back the clock 6-8 years ago. A brewery like Russian River is a good example of a brewery that has found success with its core lineup.
  16. PatKorn

    PatKorn Initiate (161) Aug 30, 2007 Texas

    That would be great, but unfortunately the public talks and they don't want those beers. While you and I love those beers and wish they would come back, BA members are the outliers for these beers. It's become clear the general public wants what is popular now; hazies, pastries, kettle sours with more fruit than beer, etc.. Beer flavored beer is in the minority now unfortunately. And breweries have to adapt to that, especially when you are as big as Stone is, or not survive. GF being a great example. They stuck to their mid '00's styles and paid for it. They didn't adapt and they will fade from memory soon enough. Circle of life I guess?
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  17. moosington

    moosington Initiate (168) Mar 29, 2009 California

    Ah man, I remember in like 2009ish when people stopped asking to trade for Pliny and started asking for Sculpin. It started to get really hard to find. That beer was dynamite then.
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  18. jakecattleco

    jakecattleco Poo-Bah (2,327) Sep 3, 2008 California
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    This is one of the leading factors I'm gravitating more to Rye whiskey these days. Most of the new beers don't appeal to my tastes, and its becoming more challenging to find new stuff that isn't sweet and actually has some bitterness.

    The demise of GF isn't solely attributable to one thing. After multiple recipe changes, packaged format changes with no price adjustment, and the whole Alpine debacle, there's no shortage of reasons why they cratered. Honestly I think their original recipes and 12oz/6packs would probably still sell well right now, but they alienated their customers far too long ago. My $0.02
  19. Nugganooch

    Nugganooch Poo-Bah (1,890) Jan 13, 2011 California
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    Stone Hard Seltzer
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  20. mhucker28

    mhucker28 Initiate (58) Apr 24, 2020 California

    Stone - I still enjoy a lot of their stuff and they are still a go to supermarket beer for me. If I am going to a party and want to bring some beer, Stone is a top choice. Otherwise, the market is just so much more saturated with good beer now, I am much more likely to get something directly from a brewery.

    Ballast Point - Used to be my favorite brewery and then they sold out and I noticed a pretty steep drop in quality. Haven't revisited since.

    Green Flash - was never a big fan of them, even when they were popular.
  21. Miruguy

    Miruguy Initiate (173) Nov 22, 2010 California

    I agree - no more mega breweries. From what i understand, the Canarchy model isn't panning out either. It seems to me that the industry is becoming more "localized" where the goal is to drive customers to the tasting rooms and sell direct with no middle man. It's no longer part of the business plan (and really no longer viable) to try to get mass distribution and then sell to one of the big boys. So maybe the future of craft beer and breweries is going to look more like the restaurant industry (i.e., a successful brewery will essentially be a lot like a successful local restaurant). Then, if a brewery really wants to grow, it will take a Modern Times-type approach (i.e., to build out multiple tasting rooms just like a restaurant would grow by opening multiple locations). I'm sure wall street will look to do something like roll up a number of the successful breweries under the premise that they will offer economies of scale (consolidated back end, distribution, etc.) and then try to package the thing up and sell it/take it public, but I'm not sure if that is going to work or even makes sense anymore (if it ever did). I suppose if a brewery founder wants to "cash out" these days, it will do an ESOP transaction like Modern Times and "sell" to the employees. It's definitely evolving, but i can't help but think it's ultimately going to a good thing for the beer consumer. We can already see it with the amount of great beer and number of great small breweries we have locally. We just need to get over this fucking virus and give our local breweries a fighting chance.
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  22. dcgunman

    dcgunman Savant (925) Jul 1, 2009 California

    Stone was pretty much my intro to “craft” beer scene. Yes before Stone I would occasionally have Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada mixed in with my Heinekens, Stella, Mexican lagers and imports. Never did care for the other Big 3. Michelob when it was around. And way back in the days the original Lowenbrau. It was Stone Pale Ale and IPA and eventually Ruination and Arrogant Bastard that turned me loose in all different directions with craft. Trying this and trying that before I found what I liked best, hoppy beers. The more IBU’s the better. Green Flash followed soon after with their OG west coast recipe. Ballast Point Sculpin was my new friend. Purchased 3 15gal kegs of this beautiful tasting DIPA from the soon to be gone Beachwood BBQ. With these big 3 changing comes more changes in OC/LA area. Didn’t need them anymore. Craft goes on.
    ChicagoJ likes this.
  23. dcgunman

    dcgunman Savant (925) Jul 1, 2009 California

    And I would say they struck out. There still around and serving their meh beers to those who really don’t understand the craft beer industry yet. When a few of them do they’ll understand there’s more to life than those meh breweries. But most wont. They feel comfortable in those surroundings. And I guess it’s all good.
  24. da_beer_badboy

    da_beer_badboy Initiate (63) Feb 9, 2017 California

    Stone giving up on their expansion into Europe last year hardly seems like an apt comparison to the other two’s domestic troubles. What is the premise of this thread, that no businesses should make mistakes? What is your indictment of Stone, who are pioneers in craft brewing and remained steadfastly independent?
  25. AndrewK

    AndrewK Aspirant (285) Oct 20, 2006 California

    I’m from the Bay Area, but 5-15 years ago those were the main SoCal brands you saw up here. AleSmith and Port/Lost Abbey had a decent presence, but not to the same extent as those three.
  26. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,485) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    That was my thoughts as well. BP clearly did strike out, or rather constellation brands struck out in their bid to take ballast point up a tier.
    Even green flash, who certainly messed up their expansion and botched their acquisition of alpine, appears to be rebuilding and making a go of it. I haven't tried any of their current iteration of beers but they're on shelves all over here and seem to move well.enough to.outlast other brands that have come and gone from our distro in the last year
  27. Cold1s4me

    Cold1s4me Initiate (16) May 9, 2020

    The “Big Cali 3” for me have always been
    1. Sierra Nevada
    2. Stone
    3. Lagunitas

    They all seem to be doing well Enough. I guess you can complain that they focus on macro styles as opposed to trendy styles. they still seem to continuously move tons of beer. So I’m not worried about them.
  28. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (3,211) Dec 11, 2006 California
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    Ok, I’ll rename the subject of this thread. “Ballast Point And Green Flash Strikeout, While Stone Foul Tips a 98 MPH Heater.” Are you ok with that one? :sweat_smile:
  29. ChazMania

    ChazMania Aspirant (220) Jun 13, 2006 California

    It seems to me that after Mitch Steele left, Stone struggled to make consistent beers. It does appear odd to me that the primary marketed beer I see from them is BuenaVeza. I also miss their prior catalog with: Double Bastard, IRS, Vanilla Porter and Pale Ale.
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  30. dcgunman

    dcgunman Savant (925) Jul 1, 2009 California

    I miss OG Nelson. :no_mouth:
  31. bret27

    bret27 Meyvn (1,094) Mar 10, 2009 California

    I think that’s a consensus among all.
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  32. bret27

    bret27 Meyvn (1,094) Mar 10, 2009 California

    That’s what I remember also. I have no idea how much of the market share they had, but those two were definitely the ones that had my attention. Lots of ‘top rated’ beers back then.
    I remember going up to sf during “sf beer week” to try cable car and ba speedway, then also going to lost abbey’s “Christmas in July” for duck duck geuze. And they started their beer clubs, which I didn’t get involved in.
    #32 bret27, Jul 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  33. da_beer_badboy

    da_beer_badboy Initiate (63) Feb 9, 2017 California

    Yeah it's better.
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  34. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,485) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    It seems like stone has just adapted much better than the other two. Europe and Asia might have been strikes (but that's just two!) But they seem to be doing fine in the states. They're still nationally distributed, still selling beer even though they are not competing with the likes of SN, lagunitas, bells, founders, deschuttes, etc on price (still see $14 sixers and near $30 12 packs in my area). They just abandoned the beer nerd set, at least in distro. Now they cater to this wider beer audience that seems to generally want soft and approachable flavors reminiscent of fruit.

    If we're calling Stone's trajectory a "strike out" then Green Flash suffered a career ending injury sliding into second on an uncontested double in July. And Ballast Point died of a cocaine overdose a few weeks after inking the largest ever guaranteed contract for a teenager
  35. jakecattleco

    jakecattleco Poo-Bah (2,327) Sep 3, 2008 California
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    That's great, worthy of a Bobby Bonilla contract!
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  36. hikanteki

    hikanteki Initiate (92) Oct 11, 2013 California

    The main difference is that nobody is asking for GF's old styles. They were decent enough, but I seriously can't name a single one of their beers off the top of my head right now. I remember they had an 8.8% stout I liked that sometimes had chili peppers, I guess I liked their IPAs at some point...idk. One of them might have been named after the west coast, or something.

    Whereas with Stone, I specifically miss their Sublimely Self Righteous, Imperial Russian Stout Espresso IRS, RuinTen, Smoked-Porter w/ Vanilla Beans, Cali-Belgique IPA and even some others that were ahead of their time but not necessarily core like Americano Stout and Green Tea IPA. Whereas each time I see a ///Fear.Movie.Lions I'm asking myself why I should care about that.
    #36 hikanteki, Jul 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
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  37. annakarina

    annakarina Initiate (191) Jul 29, 2016 California

    I’d rather drink GF Hophead Red than anything Ballast Point made.
  38. annakarina

    annakarina Initiate (191) Jul 29, 2016 California

    I still don’t get why Stone made Dayman, which absolutely ruled, then turned around and immediately fucked with the recipe.
  39. jakecattleco

    jakecattleco Poo-Bah (2,327) Sep 3, 2008 California
    Society Trader

    I'll admit, I love this sentiment but Sculpin circa 2008-2010 was equivalent enjoyment for my palate and preferences. Miss them both greatly, though hoppy reds are an endangered species right now.
  40. MonkeyBread

    MonkeyBread Defender (622) Apr 26, 2014 Nevada

    Green Flash is truly a strike out. What a disastrous series of business decisions. Out of the three I have the fondest memories of their old school beers though: West Coast IPA (Original), Palate Wrecker, Hophead Red, Imperial IPA, Road Warrior. All those hoppy offerings I used to drink a lot of. Palate Wrecker will always hold a special place.