BeerNews.org is reporting that Stone Brewing Company will be exiting the state due to, well, let's be honest, lack of interest. To quote a Stone rep: "WI: We are exiting the state due to challenges in keeping a volume flow that would ensure frequent shipments of fresh beer."
On the other hand, Stone is looking at getting into Minnesota: "MN: Indeed, we are researching the market and talking about potential with some folks." So, our loss is their gain, I guess.
I'm somewhat conflicted about this news. I mean the bad news is that one of the best, and one of my favorite, breweries in the country will no longer be available. The good news is that product won't be sitting on the shelves and we won't have to suffer with half-assed product support from a company that doesn't care about our market. Towards the end here, we were barely getting seasonal releases, we didn't get any Vertical Epic or Anniversary releases. Conversations with retailers in the Madison area reveals that a Stone rep hadn't been through in probably close to a year or more. Moreover, the distributor (GenBev here in Madison) wasn't pushing it (favoring to foist Supper Club on us instead) and general consumers weren't demanding it.
The other thing this means is that Wisconsin breweries are doing a good job of selling in the state. Consumers are foregoing out-of-state breweries for quality offerings from O'So, Furthermore, Central Waters, Lakefront, and Pearl Street - not to mention Capital and New Glarus. Stone is only the most high profile of a number of breweries that have tested the water here in Wisconsin, just to turn tail and leave - Steamworks comes to mind.
So, one of my favorite deals in the city - Double Bastard on tap at Jordan's at Happy Hour for $3 a glass - is going away. A shame. Guess I'll to pick some up in Minnesota or Illinois when I'm there.