Stone Brewing began as the collaboration of beer lover/homebrewer Steve Wagner (Stone’s President and original Brewmaster) and beer geek/rock ‘n’ roll entrepreneur Greg Koch (Stone’s Executive Chairman).
Steve and Greg were originally introduced by a mutual friend in Los Angeles in 1989 when they were both working in the music business (Steve’s band just so happened to rent a room in Greg’s newly opened rehearsal studios). That encounter was short lived, and they didn’t run into each other again until a few years later when beer enthusiasm-driven fate led them both to a weekend class at UC Davis titled “A Sensory Evaluation of Beer.” That morning, Greg kept glancing over at Steve, thinking, “Where do I know that guy from?” Steve walked over during the break and said, “Aren’t you Greg?” After the class, and over a beer, Steve and Greg discovered that they shared an absurdly good taste in beer coupled with a fiery obsession for being a part of the craft beer revolution.
Over the next three years, Steve and Greg got together regularly and kept talking about beer and brewing. Bemoaning the tyrannical oppression of the American beer drinker at the hands of fizzy yellow beer makers and lauding the efforts of America’s rising craft brewers, the only possible conclusion became clear: They had to open their own brewery.
With Steve’s knowledge of brewing and Greg’s past successes in business, these two beer fanatics managed to cobble together the funds needed (with no small help from Greg’s father, Terry Koch) for some shiny new stainless-steel brewing vessels. After a long search, the newly formed team found the perfect location in San Marcos for Stone Brewing, and on July 26, the ribbon was cut and the first beer was tapped. Believe it or not, when a reporter and TV camera showed up to cover the fledgling brewery’s first anniversary, Greg was so nervous that he completely flubbed the interview, and it was never aired.
Stone Brewing has grown a lot since then. While the company’s growth was as steady as it was significant, what remained the same was Stone’s core values and drive to push the craft beer envelope. Both are key factors in the expansion projects that have come to fruition over the years since Stone was born.