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Stone hopes to sink grey imports

April 24, 2015
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Caption L-R: Stone’s Stephen Houck with Aaron Edwards, owner of Sydney bar Bitter Phew

San Diego’s Stone Brewing hopes the ready availability of its beers direct from the brewery will stamp out unofficial channels.

Aside from the possible quality concerns associated with beer that is of unknown provenance, grey imports are likely to be more expensive than the official product, Stone international business development manager Stephen Houck told Australian Brews News.

“We went to several bottleshops and talked to the folks that were buying grey,” Houck said.

“Johnny [Latta – ExperienceIt Beverages] is actually able to get the beer over here fresher and faster and at a better price. It seems to me that as long as they can get a hold of the beer, there’s no reason to buy that grey market beer.”

Houck, who is in Australia this week for a series of events, stressed that ExperienceIt is the country’s only legitimate supplier of Stone – despite a recent crowdfunding campaign he said may have suggested otherwise.

“If there’s anybody else claiming that they are getting their beer from us, they’re certainly not,” he said.

Houck said he was impressed to find that the beers that had arrived on Australian shores had retained all of their hop aroma and flavour, thanks to being shipped in a refrigerated container.

“We have a core range of beers that is very aggressive on the hop aroma. If you’re having a Stone Go To IPA or a Stone IPA or a Ruination IPA, you should be getting those big hoppy notes from the beer,” he said.

“If the beer’s been corrupted you’re not going to get that hoppy aroma from it – you’re going to get a malt aroma. Those beers should always be very hop forward and bitter.”

Houck said Stone beers are now available in 96 Australian bars and bottleshops. Upcoming shipments will include various specialty brews such as the Imperial Mutt Brown, Anniversary IPA, Enjoy By IPA and Enjoy After Brett IPA.

“The majority of our beers we’re planning on getting down here. If people are interested in them, we want to make sure they get the opportunity to try them,” he said.

Stone Brewing has long bemoaned grey imports of its beers to Australia. In 2010, co-founder Greg Koch told Australian Brews News that Aussie drinkers should boycott the unofficial product.

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One Response to Stone hopes to sink grey imports

  1. - on April 28, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    I have tasted most of the beers in the bottle and on tap from various venues.Now everyone’s tastes are different but the beers are very over-hyped, pretty average stuff and just meh IMO. Definitely fresher but the beers just didn’t give me an omg moment…I was under the impression that this was a grey market/freshness problem but turns out it’s just how stone is…Maybe it’s just me (because alot of people seem impressed) but I’m fairly certain I know a really tasty beer when I have one and this well…isn’t.

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