Stone Brewmaster Steele to Leave for New Opportunity

Mitch Steele may be saying good-bye now, but it’s really a hello to a new venture for the veteran brewer.

The 10-year brewmaster at Stone Brewing’s main operations in Escondido, California announced via a video posted by the brewery on YouTube that June 30 would be his final day at Stone and he will become a partner of another project.

Steele told Brewer Magazine he isn’t sure what he can say yet and may be able to speak on his new opportunity in a few weeks.

Steele is currently in Berlin, Germany. Stone’s Berlin brewery is slated to open on September 14.

Steele did say in the video that industry vets of “20-30 years” approached him and wanted him to partner in starting an operation.

“It’s a bucket-list thing,” he said. “An opportunity like this may never come again and it just was something that if I didn’t give this a shot I would regret it for the rest of my life.”

Between production facilities and taprooms, Stone will have a total of 12 outposts worldwide by 2017. Steele believes the brewery is in good hands with the head brewers throughout.

In the video, he praised the work of small batch manager Steve Gonzalez, Liberty Station brewer Kris Ketcham and lead brewer Jeremy Moynier.

“We have developed a really good [team],” Steele said, “it’s not as formal as an innovation team, but we are all a part of it. When you run a brewery as big as we are and with as many commitments as we have to get beer out the door, these are the guys we want here because they know how to do it.”


Co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner along with the entire Stone Brewing team wrote in the video: “As you wander, we know that you will never be lost as there are brewery doors around the world that will open for you and invite you in … and none more readily than the doors at Stone. We wish you incredible journeys. You’ve made an indelible mark, and we are proud to call you a friend.”

Steele came to Stone in 2006 when the brewery was one building making about 48,000 barrels of beer with less than 100 employees. Now the brewery pumps out more than 325,000 bbls annually with rapid new growth.

Steele talked in the video of some of his favorite beers over the years, including the 11th anniversary beer, a Black IPA that became a yearly named “Sublimely Self-Righteous” Ale, and the “Enjoy by …” IPA series that began in 2013.

“That beer has the shortest code length of any beer out there,” he told Brewer Magazine in a 2013 interview. “It’s all about making sure that people understand that drinking an IPA fresh is a totally different experience, and a better experience, than one that’s been sitting around for six months.”

Steele said that while working on the book “IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale,” he came up with the idea for Stone’s 14th anniversary beer, “Emperial” IPA.

“That was one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life,” he said of all the research he did for the book while in England with Wagner. “It was a lot of work and a lot of fun trips. … Man we killed it on the research. We did so many great interviews and so many great visits to brewing archives. How lucky am I to do be able to do that? That’s pretty amazing.”

Stone has not made an official announcement other than the video at this time.

“I’ll always be a fan,” Steele concluded in the video. “I came in a fan and I’m leaving a fan. I loved the beer before I came on board and that won’t change.”


Photo credits – Stone Brewing

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