My favorite bands were ones
that just went for it. Early Jane’s
Addiction. Metallica. Primus.
Nobody ever asked for the kind
of music they were playing.
I didn’t look for a niche in the
market and decide there was a place
for a craft beer with a strong personality. It came from my music background, and just wanting to freely
express who we are. It’s a DIY mentality, often associated with punk
rock—a go-your-own-roadness and
a rejection of the norms.
I never expected to sell more than
maybe 100 cases of Arrogant Bastard
Ale. In 1997, nobody in the industry
would have said people wanted a 7. 2
percent alcohol, overly hoppy, overly
aggressive beer. It was a refection
of my feelings at the time, which
haven’t completely changed: a high
disdain for a corporate mentality and
those lowest common denominators
generally exuded by large brands.
The label that I wrote for Arrogant
Bastard calls a lot of that out very
directly. It lets people know that they
should expect something diferent—
and that it’s probably not for them.
But it became the top-selling
22-ounce beer in U.S. chain stores.
Stone IPA is our number-one
selling beer, but Arrogant Bastard
Ale remains a very important
part of our portfolio. It helped
put us on the map.
When my co-founder, Steve
(even after selling
Wagner, and I frst tried that beer,
we looked at each other with one
of those silent wow expressions,
like, “Holy crap. This is amazing!
How did we do this?” Of course,
Steve knew: He had made a mistake
with the recipe. He’d accidentally
doubled the amount of hops and
to private equity)
Greg Koch j Loud music—and louder brews
Greg Koch was a wannabe musician who ran a
rehearsal studio in Los Angeles for renowned
rock bands like Fear Factory, Fishbone, and the
Melvins. Then he co-founded Stone Brewing,
which quickly became enormously infuential in
the craf beer world, thanks to its strong brews
and even stronger personality. Stone Brewing is
a 12-time Inc. 5000 honoree. But forgive Koch for
being more excited about a recent collaboration
with Metallica. AS TOLD TO GRAHAM WINFREY