Photo by Craig Smith

No Stone Unturned

Stone is going to put Columbus brewers under legitimate scrutiny. People traveling from St. Louis, Chicago, or Washington D.C. will care far less (or not at all) about the brewer’s humble beginnings in an OSU frat house, or its history in the local music scene. They are going to judge the beer, and if they don’t like it, they’re not going to worry about hurting a nice guy’s feelings.

Much has been made of Stone Brewing’s potential move to Columbus and the city’s effort to woo the brewery.

There are those who feel that the incentives being offered are unfair, as local brewers have invested so heavily in their efforts to grow the local beer culture with little or no help from government officials. 

On the surface, it seems a fair gripe, but when you look at the numbers, the city has to play ball. Stone is an established brand with a track record of success. They sell beer everywhere, not just at their taprooms, or to locavores who frequent independently owned bars. 

Stone will hit the ground running with a slew of new jobs, and once the taproom and restaurant are brought online, that will lure thousands of craft beer fans to Columbus. They won’t just stop at Stone, mind you. They’ll want to immerse themselves in our craft beer culture.

Likewise, Stone will not seek to slam the door on the local brewers. At their current taprooms, Stone routinely features beers from other brewers. In San Diego, Stone dealt with rival brewers in the area by inviting them over to collaborate on special offerings that Stone puts its considerable marketing weight behind. Make no mistake, Green Flash and Ballast Point wouldn’t enjoy the notoriety they claim today if Stone hadn’t paved the way. Rather than using its resources to crush competitors, Stone helped lift them up. The competition is spirited, but friendly.

Nobody in Columbus is going to have national reach any time soon, but Stone might just help that process along, provided the local brewers are up to the challenge. You see, that’s the biggest problem local brewers will face:

You see, that’s the biggest problem local brewers will face:

Stone is going to put Columbus brewers under legitimate scrutiny. People traveling from St. Louis, Chicago, or Washington D.C. will care far less (or not at all) about the brewer’s humble beginnings in an OSU frat house, or its history in the local music scene. They are going to judge the beer, and if they don’t like it, they’re not going to worry about hurting a nice guy’s feelings.

That’s not to single out any of our brewers – we’ve got a lot of good people brewing good beer in Columbus – but sometimes we treat our native sons with kid gloves. Every once in a while somebody misses the mark and nobody calls them out. Stone’s going to raise the bar, and that’s not a bad thing. Growth hurts a little sometimes.

Stone is doing precisely what most of our local brewers want to do one day, so having them here, with all of that experience, is a resource that could benefit everyone in the long run. A brewer like Stone, with its history, market presence, and buying power, can also help insulate local brewing partners from supply shortages that might otherwise cripple the industry.

This is a tremendous opportunity for Columbus, and all of the brewers we love. The city Stone picks will become an immediate, international craft beer destination. We’ll be fine without them, but we’d be better off if they set up shop here. This sort of opportunity doesn’t come around often.

Let’s drink it in.

For updates, visit www.stone2cbus.com.

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