We aren’t going anywhere…
While there’s been a fair bit of industry change and news over the last month or so, not a lot has changed for us since we put up a blog post called “In Beer We Trust” almost exactly two years ago. (Post copied below)
With a number of small breweries being bought out by large global brewers, and the same global brewers launching brands that on the surface look like small breweries, it can be tricky to know who is behind the brand on the label of the beer you are buying.
When you buy a beer with a Stone & Wood label on it, you can have faith in it because you know what you’re getting, you know who the people are behind it, and you know what they stand for.
We remain firmly focussed on being a local independent brewery that supports the community, one that takes care of the earth we walk on, and one that believes in our employees being co-owners in the business.
Check out the link here to see who’s behind a long list of “small” beers that are actually owned by a short list of big corporates.
In Beer We Trust
After a lot of announcements about small breweries all around the world being bought by, or “selling out” to, large global breweries recently, there is a lot of rumour, speculation and finger pointing going on in the local beer industry.
The exits from the industry that we are seeing overseas and here in Australia appears to be mostly driven by long time brewery founders deciding that they have done their time, or they have seen their businesses outgrow their ability to manage them. For others their business has not been able to reach the scale where it can provide an annual return to its owners, so the best way to get a return on their sweat and investment is to sell. Of course there are some operators who have obviously got into it to make a quick buck, and jumped ship at the first sign of a pay cheque.
We are both amused, annoyed and angered that we continually hear our name being thrown around as “the next one to go”, or that “those guys are just in it for the money”.
But we can understand why some people want to speculate or start rumours about the future of Stone & Wood or other breweries.
It’s a matter of trust (or a lack of it) that is driving that. People are supporting small businesses like Stone & Wood because they can’t trust big business and politicians anymore. Sadly, when small breweries who for years have played the anti-corporate card, sell out, it starts to tear away at that trust again.
If people are looking for who might be next, or who’s in it just for the money, then maybe they should be looking at those breweries who step back away from the hard calls, and don’t fully commit to the industry that they are part of, or the communities they operate in.
We work hard everyday to build people’s trust and faith in our business. We know it can’t just be expected, and that it has to be earned.
Over the years we have made tough decision after tough decision that should prove that we are truly, fiercely and proudly independent spirits, and aren’t “just in it for the money”.
In 2012 we bought our shares back from our friends at Little Creatures when a big corporate got too close.
When other brewers of a similar size to us choose to buy their beer from another brewer instead of brewing it all themselves, we have steadfastly refused to budge from our position that we will brew all of our own beer, despite the fact that we have had to let a massive demand for our beer go unmet.
We made the tough choice to invest heavily in our local community and build a new brewery in the region instead of outsourcing our growth, and having beer contract brewed. We value our local community and those that support us, so we are creating jobs and adding value to our good partners (our local suppliers). It astonishes us that some brewers will quite happily buy their beer from other breweries on the other side of the country or the world, and in doing so turn their back on the people that support them.
We are committed to having our highly talented team be co-owners in the business. Each year we welcome more of our team as partners and shareholders in Stone & Wood, and after our annual offer next month more than 50% of our team will be shareholders.
We are ensuring that we tread lightly on the earth we walk on, and through our Green Feet program we recently invested more than $200,000 on solar energy at our Murwillumbah brewery, and are committed to sustainable practices in our breweries to improve energy and water efficiencies.
Giving back to our community is a fundamental promise we have made to ourselves, and our inGrained program has been established to facilitate that. In the last twelve months we have donated over $100,000 from our own funds, and worked hard to raise a further $50,000 which has been directly provided to community programs and grass roots causes.
Importantly, we the founders of Stone & Wood are still highly engaged in and excited by the work we and the highly capable team are putting in to build a sustainable independent brewing business that the good people of the Northern Rivers can be proud of.
We are more than happy with the personal return we get from the business, and are comfortable that it’s feeding our families and our souls.
We’re having more fun now than we ever have, there’s lots to do, and we’re more about buying, building and bolting things on than selling them. Our recent announcements about the launch of our business incubator, the new sales and distribution business, and the new cider business, are testament to that.
To put it simply, we aren’t going anywhere.
Jamie, Brad and Ross
Watch our ‘The Way It Should be’ video.
I just got off the phone with a friend. “What do you count as an Australian beer?” I asked him. “Anything, but it’s gotta be cold” came the reply without a moment’s hesitation. So there you have it folks, straight from source.
It’s no secret that Australians love drinking beer. Bring to mind any quintessential Australian scene, i.e friends around a barbecue, surfing in the sunshine, backyard cricket, and you’d be hard pressed not to add beer into the setting. So why do Australians love beer so much? And what actually counts as Australian beer?
But how did it get here?
Beer came to Australia at the same time as Captain Cook. Brought over on the first fleet, beer reached our shore and there’s been no looking back. It was first promoted as a healthy alternative to the rum the convict hooligans were quite fond of guzzling (is it just me or does anyone else have the term ‘some things never change’ spring to mind).
Fast forward to present day, and you will find beer making up 48% of alcohol consumed in Australia, followed by wine at 29% and spirits at 21%.
Beers for here
Australia is a big country. Even in our present day it can seem daunting to attempt to travel the 5000kms from east to west, and that’s aided by our modern modes of transport. So rewind to early settlement dates and it would have seemed near impossible.
This induced a sense of ‘localism’, with people establishing relationships with the only beers they could access, beers brewed in their local region.
Think Western Australia’s love affair with Emu Export, South Australia’s partnership with Coopers, Victorians fiercely proud of their VB, and Byron Bay residents of New South Wales not batting an eyelid as they pledge their allegiance to Stone and Wood.
What’s the magic ingredient?
James Squire successfully cultivated the first crop of hops in 1804. Since then Australia has moved forward in leaps and bounds, producing many of the ingredients needed to make the delicious beverage so many of us enjoy today.
An Australian beer doesn’t need to have all ingredients produced in Australia. Many breweries make the most of globalisation and source different hops and malts from around the world, aiding in creating vastly different flavours and styles.
Australian Beer is, quite simply, beer made and enjoyed in Australia. It gets hot here. As a generalisation we tend to spend a lot of time in the sun. We don’t ask for much when it comes to good beer. Give us something cold, something thirst quenching and easy drinking, and you can be pretty assured that you’ve jumped through the necessary hops… I mean hoops. See what I did there.
Australian’s love beer that fits in with their culture. Pale ales and the beach compliment each other like fish does chips. Mid strength lagers fit perfectly into the Sunny Queensland scene, easy like a Sunday morning picnic.
We can’t not speak about the Friday- arvo-knock-off beer. A category all of it’s own, the Friday-arvo-knock-off beer is epitome of Australian beer. Flavour, colour, percentage, are irrelevant factors.
What constitutes a Friday-arvo-knock-off beer is a beer drunk whilst savouring the anticipation in the air of the impending weekend, of good times spent with friends in the sunshine.
Beers that are brewed with a lighthearted Australian lifestyle in mind are the beers that Australians love.
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