Stone is a joke.
There's the cue to stop reading. I will say though that Greg Koch is great. Love the guy.
That's fair. As I re-read my post, it was not all that clear and the wording was poor.
My honest opinion is this:
- We are getting Stone in Ontario because they've exhausted their American growth
- Stone isn't exactly a cutting edge brewery that beer geeks covet. They do make solid beer and are certainly not a bottom-tier brewery, but in many ways they do qualify as a mid-tier brewery in terms of overall beer quality and creativity.
- Sierra Nevada is basically the same as Stone in both respects, but I would argue that the overall portfolio of SN is somewhat more interesting than Stone's. That, of course, is for my palate.
Another comment: to your point about bringing back lots of Stone on beer runs to the US. I am curious to see if that starts to change, especially given how much better beer distribution in WNY has become. Two years ago, I would load up on Stone in Buffalo. A year ago, I would still get a bunch. Over the past 6 months, I may grab a bomber of Enjoy By and that's it.
Interestingly, this serves as another example of how the beer you buy is all relative to the other choices. At one time, Stone was one of the best in Buffalo, Now, with the likes of Founders, Bell's, AleSmith, Prairie, Jack's Abby, Maine, FW, Crooked Stave and The Bruery all entering WNY within the past 18 months, the beer scene there has changed so much that Stone has become less desirable to many (myself included).
But Ontario is a long way away from that point...
I agree that Stone has most likely exhausted it's American market growth. Not sure if that is a bad thing though. They did 136 million in revenue in 2013, that seems pretty good to me. Plus I believe, and always have, that the craft beer market is finite. There are only so many people willing to convert to the good stuff, and it's a small portion of the market. In the end I'm happy with whatever reason brought Stone to Ontario. It's been something I've been looking forward to for a long time.
Stone not being a "cutting edge" brewery: Well, I'm not sure how to respond to that one. If cutting edge means "new", then yes, they're not. They're a 20 year old company in a business addicted to new. They seem to still be putting out creative recipes with their one offs and collaborations and what not. I always go back to consistent quality though and Stone delivers that in droves. They still make world class beer, just like they've always done. They're not a "grail" company by any means anymore though that's for sure. I'm OK with that though. Just means more Stone for me. What do you think they could do to be "more creative"?
I love Sierra Nevada too, but I would put Stone above them. Can't go wrong for the most part with either.
To your last point about better distribution, I, so far, haven't been buying less Stone, I just end up spending more money overall.