After three years without any investment, Stone Brewing, one of the largest U.S. craft breweries based in San Diego, California, announced to close their True Craft investment fund. The fund was thought to buy small, non-controlling stakes in breweries that needed capital to grow, and did not want to sell to major brewing groups. This “allows craft breweries to stay craft breweries,” Greg Koch, Stone Brewing’s co-founder said when the fund was launched in 2016. “They can stay independent. They can get financing and flexibility that they need to flourish, while keeping their soul and control.”
As it looks now, the concept never worked out. The USD 100 million fund capital stayed untouched and will now be used for other needs of the company. “It was an idea that never came to fruition,” Koch told San Diego, California, based PACIFIC media.
“We’ve spent an enormous amount of time working behind the scenes, because that’s how this kind of thing works,” Koch already said in July 2017. “The unfortunate fact of the matter is that some of the valuations coming from the buyouts by companies such as Constellation Brands and AB InBev have skewed the market.”
Another reason might be that the company was experiencing severe headwinds in the last years.
In October 2016, Stone Brewing’s freshly appointedCEO Dominic Engels, had to announce laying off approximately 5 percent of the company’s staff. “Due to an unforeseen slowdown in our consistent growth and changes in the craft beer landscape, we have had to make the difficult decision to restructure our staff,” he explained (inside.beer, 14.10.2016).
Another hard hit was the failure of Stone’s international expansion policy. In April 2019, Koch had to admit that the new brewery in Germany’s capital Berlin was not running as expected. “We invested a significant portion of a decade and significant millions building Stone Berlin. And it didn’t work out,” Koch said. Finally, the brewery was sold to Stone Brewing’s Scottish competitor Brewdog (inside.beer, 5.4.2019).