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Greg Koch doesn’t care if you don’t like Stone Brewing’s Co.’s beer. Case in point, the label on a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale:
This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory…
Koch, Stone’s CEO and cofounder, insists that when he wrote that caption back in 1997 when they first released the beer, it wasn’t a marketing gimmick. He really didn’t want people who prefer “fizzy yellow beer” to buy this hoppy, high-alcohol monster without fair warning. Of course, he did have some fun with it, reveling in the mocking tone of the Arrogant Bastard.
“That’s a tone of voice that I attribute to the beer and not to myself. Although maybe there is a little bit of me in there,” says Koch, who with partner Steve Wagner started in 1996 what would become one of the largest and most beloved craft breweries in the United States.
That little bit of arrogance — although you might swap that descriptor out with optimism, passion, or persistence — is in large part what has made Stone the giant success it is today.
Stone Brewing started early in the craft beer revolution, when the market had little interest in bitter, heavy brews, but Koch and Wagner had strong and unwavering opinions about good beer. When they decided to start their own brewery they knew they had to stick stubbornly to their ideals, and accept that some set of people would like it … or they wouldn’t.
But they did, and as Americans came around to more aggressive flavor profiles in their beers (with Stone and other small breweries leading the charge), the Southern California-based operation grew rapidly, averaging 50 percent annual growth and ranking consistently as one of the country’s fastest-growing companies and best-reviewed breweries.
In this interview you will learn:
Why Greg has never had to ever pay for advertisement for Stone Brewing Co
How to develop a cult following
Creating something that people truly want
What it means to follow your heart and create true art
Marketing copy 101
& much more!