Beer history News

Coals to Newcastle?


There has been an interesting reaction to the news that influential American brewery Stone are opening a brewery in Berlin.

‘Craft beer’ cheerleaders are whooping; cynics are… well, cynical.

Instinctively, it does seem arrogant (though ‘on brand’) to attempt to evangelise about beer in Germany, of all places.

But we can’t help thinking of the mid-19th century when Germans* were taking their newly-perfected and fashionable ‘lager beer’ around the world, investing in breweries everywhere from Budapest to Boston.

Stone aren’t doing anything Anton Dreher wouldn’t, are they?

German was then a ‘concept’ rather than a nationality, and included Austria.

10 replies on “Coals to Newcastle?”

Contemporary German brewing is in a bit of a bad way & could probably do with a crafty kick in the pants. My impression on a recent visit to Belgium is that they’ve taken American influences on board & carried on as before – so now instead of lambics, saisons, ales, lagers, doubles, triples and quads you can get lambics, saisons, ales, lagers, IPAs, doubles, triples and quads. Hopefully the German scene will prove as welcoming to new influences & as resistant to takeover.

As well, Brooklyn Brewery is building a brewery in Stockholm in a joint venture with Carlsberg Sweden.

It’s a good move IMO, and the analogy with Germanic brewing taking root in the States in the 1800’s is broadly apt. Stone will add colour to the local scene but I doubt it will displace centuries old German brewing traditions.


Was the spread of German-style brewing in the 19th century a marketing led exercise, something deliberate or just a consequence of the German migrants to the US wanting the beers they drank at home? Re Stone, Berlin is the right place for it and the two brewing cultures can easily co-exist so I don’t see why anyone should suggest Stone stay in SD (let’s just forget about the horrid word evangelise shall we, beer is a pleasure not a duty). We are an interconnected world after all.

Good question. Still working that out, but probably a bit of all three. In London, which we’re a bit closer to understanding, there was a substantial German population c.1870, but they weren’t, as we read it, the primary market for imports.

Adrian, it was all three, depending where bottom-fermentation became implanted.


Just over 20 years ago Belgian Pier Celis set up a brewery in Austin, midway through the rebirth of modern American craft brewing. Since then the number of breweries in the US has more than doubled. I’m not suggesting Celis is responsible for that, but I do believe that as (yeast-sorry, had to!) cultures mix and ideas cross pollinate it can lead to new inspirational ideas and lead to growth in the market.

“Coals to Newcastle?” Surprisingly, Southport used to export sand to Saudi Arabia. Compared to that, Americans brewing beer in Germany isn’t so astonishing after all.

Forget the Germans what sort of
Impact do you think it will have on the uk beer scene. I recently paid just over £7 for a bottle of stones in a brewdog bar. Ok it was London and yes it was a large bottle but it still quite expensive. I justify as I see that it’s an import from the states and travelled a long way to get here. If you can get stones from over the pond will it mean there products will be widely available and maybe hit the shelves in uk supermarkets. Wetherspoons are always have stones/another brewer beer at there festivals would they get some of there beers in stock ??? Who knows.
Sierra Nevada and goose island may have another brother to play with

The only thing that I find surprising about this is that Stone have picked a relatively wealthy country to do this in, which will add to the costs somewhat. I’d have thought the Czech Republic or Poland a better better, in finance and business terms. Maybe it was the land and sea border access that was the clincher.

Of course (smooths hair, twirls moustache), I saw this coming a long way off. (paragraph titled “Dragging bottled beer from California to Europe is, if you stop and look at it, a really stupid idea.”)

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