Stone Brewing Extends Distribution, Says Goodbye to an Old Friend

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While announcing the retirement of one of the beers that nearly started with the opening of the brewery, Stone Brewing says hello to another market and hopes for all 50 states to have its beer by the end of the year.

The California and Virginia-based brewery will begin distribution to the entire state of Arkansas this week, but starting in November, it will be the end of the line for the brewery’s “Smoked Porter,” which debuted four months after the brewery opened in July 1996.

“I’ll always remember that a lot of people told me they never liked “dark beers” until they had this one — that’s pretty special,” said Stone president and co-founder Steve Wagner in a blog post late last week.

Stone Smoked Porter was the second beer produced by Stone, which opened in San Marcos, California by Wagner and Greg Koch.

“Times change and so must our beer lineup,” the blog post stated, “however heartbreaking it may be for us.”

Instead of halting production immediately, Stone will make the beer through the summer and celebrate the 20 years it has been around.


Wagner gave background to the creation of the beer, which was spurred on by a visit to Archer Ale House in Bellingham, Washington where he had an Alaskan “Smoked Porter.” “I had never had it or even seen it on tap before,” Wagner said. “It was one of those ‘perfect beer at the perfect time in the perfect place’ moments.

Although it was a few years before he and Koch started Stone, the style left an impression of Wagner. “It is a very drinkable beer, lots of character but not extreme or overly assertive,” he said. Smoked Porter will be available in the new market of Arkansas — Stone’s 41st state of entry — for this year before being retired. Stone has teamed up with Arkansas Craft Distributors and O’Connor Distributing for statewide distribution.

“With so many fans asking for Stone to arrive, we’re excited to finally make our beers available in Arkansas.” said Stone VP of Sales Todd Karnig. Karning noted that it’s Stone’s first foray into a new state this year and the beers will eventually be shipped from the Richmond, Virginia facility, which opened on March 2, 2016.

“We are thrilled to welcome Stone Brewing to Arkansas,” said David Machen, the Director of Operations for Arkansas Craft and O’Connor Distributing Alliance. “It’s both the company’s integrity and commitment to quality brewing and the culture of craft beer that make Stone a wonderful partner for us in our great state.”

Stone increased production from 2014 to 2015 by 13.4 percent, up to 325,645 barrels. The number is expected to increase for 2016 once the new east coast facility is up and running.

Along with 41 states, Stone is available in Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and 14 other countries. Stone expects to be available in all 50 states by the end of the 2016 fourth quarter along with five more countries through its Stone-Berlin, Germany facility, which will open this summer.


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