(Escondido, CA) – BeerPulse received a number of updates from Stone Brewing on Monday regarding the state of the company, in general, and specifically, progress of its various ongoing projects.
Growth has been on a hockey stick-like trajectory over the past several years with revenue reaching nearly $84 million in 2011. The company forecasted 2012 growth of 20-25% at the start of the year and is on track to hit that target through the halfway point. Though beer sales are obviously the main driver of growth, part of it comes from supporting programs like the Stone Company Store.
Stone is in the midst of proving the Company Store ‘model’ and, so far, it seems to be working. The company is considering opening additional stores in the future. The company already announced that the next spot to open will be in Pasadena. That location is slated to open in September and will be a hybrid of the South Park and Oceanside locations. There won’t be a gardens area as with Oceanside but there will be a patio.
The management team has also been working with the city on removing some obstacles that prevent it from opening a location adjacent to Stone Farms. Opening a location there would help create some financial sustainability around the Stone Farms efforts though no timeframe has been set for when that might happen.
Aided in part by its efforts at Stone Farms, the company plans to introduce a new menu concept. In addition to a stable of year-round offerings, there will be a flexible component to the menu based around seasonal (think in-season ingredients) and specialty dishes, not unlike its beer portfolio.
Back on the beer side, the new brewhouse will theoretically double brewing capacity up from 250,000 barrels; they are already approaching capacity at peak points of the year. The new system brings a similar design and size which will make training and transferring of recipes from the old system easier for the brewing team. The new system also gives the company added flexibility in implementing its specialty programs (like the recently-launched Brewer’s Cask), doing more collaborations and moving into brand-new territory that will come to light down the road.
Part of the foundation in those programs comes from experimentation and Stone plans to re-double its efforts there as well. The company will upgrade from its current 20-gallon pilot system to a new 5-barrel system with the goals of improving quality and potentially making beers that could be more easily transferred over to the primary brewhouses.
Stone World Bistro and Gardens Liberty Station will feature a 10-barrel system though they aren’t looking at it as a pilot system in the conventional sense. Beers brewed at Liberty Station will primarily be meant for consumption right in the restaurant though some beers may make their way around town on a limited basis. Brewers at the main brewing facility will likely be able to come over to Liberty Station and try their hand on the pub system as well.
Stone will break ground at Liberty Station very soon and expects to open the location 6-8 months from the start of construction, tentatively aiming to open it by March of 2013.
San Diego International Airport is still building out its new terminal/wing where Stone plans to open another World Bistro and Gardens location. Construction is scheduled to begin in March of 2013 and the location should open by July.
With respect to Stone’s proposal to sell beer at Kit Carson Park, there is no official announcement for now but it is way down on the priority list among the company’s other ongoing projects.
The management team is close to submitting plans for The Stone Hotel and Headquarters (and barrel-aging room) to the city but doesn’t expect to break ground until the first quarter of 2013. The hotel is projected to open 14-16 months out from the beginning of construction so mid-late 2014 is the current target.
Adjacent to that facility will be a two-acre area of gardens where Stone will eventually host outdoor events like Stone Sour Fest. This will allow for more space and less distraction from day-to-day Bistro operations.
On Europe, there is virtually no change since BeerPulse’s interview with Co-founder CEO, Greg Koch, in early May. The company put a lot of time, energy and money into a particular property in Berlin and it fell through so they are back to “square one.” Stone Europe has been “backburned” though the company did update its RFP and hopes to give it another go at some point.
The number of company employees now stands in the ballpark of 450 people and, with all of these projects in the works, is set to grow well beyond that.