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Stone Brewing Co. Invades Des Moines

10/3/2012

Stone Brewing Co.’s founder Greg Koch made Des Moines his first stop in a week-long tour through Iowa as part of the acclaimed craft beer’s tap take-over.

My neighbor has hops growing on his backyard fence. He caught the craft brewing fever a few years ago. This has fostered a passion not unlike the one that’s been growing in Des Moines since the ’90s when Stone Brewing Co. threw corporate American beer back into the faces of the craft brew critics by developing Arrogant Bastard. The aptly-named brand proudly shuns the use of multi-million dollar ad campaigns to get people to buy the beer. Yet somehow, it’s grown to celebrity status among the big-wig beer guys of central Iowa — the gurus of the beer scene who really know local craft beer. Guys like Jeff Bruning at el Bait Shop and John George at Zombie Burger tend to agree that Arrogant Bastard, and Stone Brewing Co. itself, has earned the arrogance the beer is named after.                

They say the So-Cal beer, and its head honcho, Greg Koch, not only set contemporary craft brewing in motion, but put the art form on the modern-day map. So when Stone Brewing Co. invaded Des Moines last week it was kind of a big deal. My fellow beer-lovers, prepare your taste buds for the most uniquely hop-tastic beer that you’ve never tried.                

“For Stone to come to Iowa really validates and reinforces the culture that we’re working so hard to build here,” said George, bar manager at Zombie Burger. “The craft beer consumer market has been growing steadily. It’s more than just our job. We belong to this community; that means a lot to us. I’ve known people who have driven to Colorado for a day just to buy Stone beer. I’ve done it myself. Stone coming here is the greatest victory for craft brewing in Iowa” — so large a victory, in fact, that Des Moines threw Koch a party with live music and a Stone beer unveiling.                

El Bait Shop and Zombie Burger were among the firsts on the list of Koch’s stops on his weeklong tour of the state, and both are now featuring nine of Stone’s year-round lineup and two special releases that are here until they run out.                

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“It’s a full tap invasion,” said Bruning, one of the Full Court Press (a group of restaurateurs in the metro) owners at el Bait Shop. “There’s the Stone 16 Anniversary IPA, and we’re the only place that I know of in the state that’s getting their double dry hop Stone Ruination IPA for as long as it lasts. We’ll see how the other nine beers do, and see how it goes.”                

Stone Brewing Co. isn’t just good for Iowa; we’re good for them, too, according to its public relations representative Sabrina LoPiccolo. She said Iowa is part of a massive expansion for the company, as Koch has taken notice of the growing craft brewing community that’s sprouted in the Heartland. Local distributors are frothing over it, too.               

“Stone is the twice No. 1-rated brewery in the world by Beer Advocate,” said Cory Boatwright, at Doll Distribution. “They’re definitely a sought-after brand for pretty much any distributor in the United States.”                

Hence the arrogance, I suppose. So if you need a little “liquid arrogance” in your life, you won’t have to look far. Des Moines just got it. CV

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