10 Questions For...

Greg Koch

Stone Berlin / Stone Brewing / Executive Chairman

1) We know all about Stone’s history and the great beers you’ve been coming up with for over 20 years but for people that don’t know tell us more about your famous branding and gargoyle – what’s with that?

For centuries, gargoyles have been known to ward off evil spirits. Since 1996, our gargoyle has helped us ward off cheap ingredients, pasteurisation and chemical additives…the modern-day evil spirits of beer!

2) You’re based in San Diego and have been for a long time now, what’s your favourite bar and where is good to follow it for food?

There’s a pub in downtown San Diego called Neighbourhood, and that’s been my go to bar for many years. They are one of the first craft beer-focused bars in the area. Then more locally to me – in Solana Beach about 25 minutes north of downtown – I love going to Pizza Port. It’s a super-casual pub brewery, it’s classic SoCal beach culture. They have a lot of great guest beers on tap but they also make their own amazing beers. It’s a little bit noisy and a little bit chaotic, but it’s just awesome and I take every visitor from out of town there.

3) Now you’ve set up shop with Stone Berlin – what’s the reception been like?

We’ve been lucky to open a destination restaurant and brewery in a historic 1901 gasworks building, and people have been loving it. Interestingly it took Americans to create a place that has the largest craft beer selection in Germany – I think the previous number was close to 40, whereas we have 65 beers on offer and that could easily go up to 75. We have a big guest beer programme as we love sharing the culture of beers with people, and we ship over a number of beers from San Diego in addition of course to our 100 hectolitre Krones brewhouse.

In the US and UK, beer comes to you – in Germany you have to go to the beer – the country has a great beer selection but at your local supermarket it’s not that great – you have to go out and find them – take a vacation, hire a car and hunt them down. But things are changing and there’s great potential. The first craft beer-focused bar in Berlin – called Vagabund – is under four years old and was opened by three Americans. There are now around 15 craft beer bars in Berlin.

Stone Berlin IPA
Stone Berlin Brewing
Stone Berlin Xocoveza

4) Why Berlin and why now?

Soon after selecting the site I just fell in love with Berlin, as the city’s countercultural undercurrents of arts and music are palpable. Combined with its history and architecture, Berlin really is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe.

As with craft brewers all over the world, we feel this is a very exciting time for the industry in Berlin and in Germany. There are amazing craft and artisanal breweries creating exceptional beers throughout the country. We’re especially excited to join Europe’s craft brewers in the effort to show beer drinkers that there’s so much more out there than industrial beer!

5) Your restaurant at the Stone Berlin Brewery has a great philosophy and reputation already – tell us more about it:

Myself and Steve Wagner (Stone Co-founder) have been participants in the international Slow Food movement since 2000. Slow Food promotes getting “back to the table” and celebrates an artisanal, natural and quality approach to food. At our Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Berlin we draw menu inspiration from cultures around the world, while the ingredients come from local, small organic farms.

Don’t miss our Cheddar, Garlic & Stone Ruination Double IPA Soup, our Duck Tacos (Braised hoisin chilli duck, corn tortilla, barely dressed red cabbage, red salsa, Kohlrabi salad & avocado cilantro dressing) and Hauptstadtbarsch w/ Chorizo Butter.  

6) So where has become your go to hangout when in Berlin?

There’s a heavy metal-themed craft beer pub called Monterey, and around the corner is a great Italian craft beer bar called Birra.

Stone Berlin Go To IPA
Stone Brewing Logo
Stone Berlin Core Range Cans

7) Forget your last supper, what’s your last beer?

Oh my God, this is going to sound self-serving, but the truth is I would have my last beer at Stone Berlin. And I hate to give that answer because it sounds bad, but that’s where my mind goes. We’ve spent the last seven years building this place – and I still cherish the time that I am able to spend there. Other than that, I refuse to the answer the question – it’s too hard!

8) What do you think is the most exciting thing happening on the European beer right scene right now?

Rapid creativity – there’s a breaking away, throwing off the chains of repression of industrial beer and saying – as consumers – we want and we deserve something better. It’s not a particular craft beer, or bar or brewery, it’s the availability and freedom of choice we are now seeing as a consumer. This movement is my life and it’s my passion – and I am so excited everyday to know that we’ve helped with the success of craft beer.

9) Beyond beer – what’s your musical inspiration?

There’s a music magazine quote that has always resonated with me. In 1991, Metallica came out with the Black Album. And I saw the cover of a music magazine that said: ‘Metallica didn’t go to number one, number one came to them.’ And I’ve always remembered that, because that’s how I tried to make Stone. We never wanted to go to the people – we wanted to make the beers we believed in and then entice people over to our side.

10) Finally – what’s the most exciting thing we need to know about Stone Berlin that you have coming out this year?

I am loving our Berliner Weisse. But at our pilot brewery we are constantly making all these great beers and you can always find something interesting and fun on our beer list.

*You can read more of our exclusive interviews with top people in beer here

beer dejour
BEER DEJOUR BEER DE JOUR is a freelance writer and YEAST BERLIN Reporter who swapped chardonnay for IPA a few years ago and hasn't looked back. Living in London she regularly travels the world in search of her next perfect pint. Current obsession: Farmhouse ales. But for day-to-day sipping, it's all about a decent pilsner.

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