Stone Brewing Co. Hops Into Germany

The brewery's dreams of tapping into the European market are becoming a reality.

San Diego County’s own Stone Brewing Company is hopping international borders and expanding into Europe, becoming the first American craft brewer to independently own and operate a brewery there.

The Escondido-based company announced plans Saturday to open a production brewery and restaurant in what is arguably the beer capital of the world: Germany.

With a $25 million investment, Stone will transform a two-acre historic gasworks complex in Marienpark – a Berlin suburb – into its World Bistro & Gardens by late 2015 or early 2016.

“This is a historic moment for Stone. I’ve wanted to say these next words for many years now: We’re coming to Europe. We’re coming to Germany. We are coming to Berlin!” said Stone CEO and co-founder Greg Koch in a release.

The space’s main, red-brick hall, built in 1901, will hold a brewhouse, farm-to-table restaurant and retail store for Stone beer and merchandise. The brewhouse should have at least a 70-barrel capacity.

On the same property, a second building will be dedicated to brewing operations, out of which the company’s ales can be packed up and shipped out all over Europe.

A third building will house large gardens to be used as an event space.

Koch and fellow co-founder and President Steve Wagner created Stone in 1996 and have since seen it grow into the tenth largest craft brewer in the U.S.

The duo have wanted to tap into the European market for five years now as demand for Stone brews there grew, and after sending out requests for proposals across the continent, they landed on the Berlin site.

While much of the beer will be made by local ingredients, the founders say they’ll most likely import some American hops to maintain their signature taste.

And with the wealth of competition coming out of Bavaria, Stone’s new brews will be a riff on regional styles as they look for ways to creatively use local ingredients.

But Stone fans don’t need to hop across the pond to drink up the beers brewed in Germany. The company launched an Indigogo crowd-funding campaign to raise at least $1 million. As an incentive, they’re offering three special beers – made in collaboration with other breweries at the Berlin spot –which can be bought at $50 for 1.5 liters.

In addition to its classic IPAs, Stone Berlin will also be pouring craft and specialty beers from other breweries in Germany, Europe and around the word.

Stone is also looking to expand its empire by building an East Coast base of operations, though the exact location has not been released.

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