US craft brewer Stone Brewing of Escondido CA have taken the next steps towards establishing a European operation, by issuing a glossy 'Request For Proposal' document. The prospectus provides an insight into the brewing; distribution and retail-facing operations; corporate ethos pertaining to sustainability and environmental responsibility, and 'good neighbour' arrangements.
It doesn't say anything about how much beer Stone presently ships to Europe, but it's clearer now they want to in some way replicate their Escondido HQ, which probably means they intend to brew at least their core range of beers in Europe, so they can be sampled fresh and without accruing significant beer miles. I wonder if they would be using locally-sourced ingredients, or whether they'd have to import from the US.
Interested parties have some 2 months to submit completed questionnaires. If all goes well, the brewer expects to have identified a site by October this year.
The more I think about it, the more bold and ambitious it sounds. After all, the idea of a US brewer setting up in foreign markets usually means a new BMC factory somewhere. Stone have a niche following amongst spoogebeerians, so will have to build a volume market more or less from scratch. If they stay true to their philosophy, they'll aim to do that without advertising spend and discounting, selling between 15,000 and 30,000 UK bbl a year from a new plant about the size of the new Dark Star premises in Partridge Green.
I hope it gets off the ground.