California beer maker has the last laugh in his German brewery
By Erik Kirschbaum
LA Times
Some Germans thought Greg Koch was courageous. Others considered the Californian crazy.

In one of the world’s biggest beer drinking countries, already saturated with 1,388 breweries and 5,000 brands of beer, the entrepreneur from San Diego was determined to establish an American-style craft beer brewery.

It took courage, craziness — and chutzpah.

But a year after Koch opened his now-thriving brewery, beer garden and restaurant in the Mariendorf section of south-central Berlin, Germans are no longer laughing at the 52-year-old executive chairman and co-founder of Stone Brewing Co.

It is a cavernous temple to beer built out of the ruins of an abandoned gasworks plant dating to the turn of the last century. About half of the splendidly refurbished 34,000-square-foot factory floor in the red brick building was turned into the brewery that will produce 925,000 gallons of beer this year for Germany and export to 24 European countries — especially Britain, Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia.

The beer styles are, for the most part, the same as those Stone produces in the United States, including Stone IPA and Stone Ruination Double IPA.

The other half of the former gasworks, separated from the tropical temperatures in the brewery by a spectacular floor-to-ceiling glass window, is reserved for the relaxed, California-style restaurant for up to 1,100 people. It has a bar that features 75 beers on tap and, for German standards, uncommonly friendly service staff.

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