(ESCONDIDO, CA) – Stone Brewing is ramping up for major expansion as it undergoes acquisition by Sapporo U.S.A. The #1 selling Asian beer in the U.S. plans to move all of its production for the U.S. market to Stone’s breweries, doubling Stone’s current production. In preparation for the growth, Stone has promoted from within. Nicole Williams (Escondido, CA) and Robert Kuntz (Richmond, VA) will oversee the entire brewing, packaging, maintenance, engineering, and water operations of their respective facilities.
“Sapporo was attracted to Stone for our advanced, bi-coastal brewery operations, and to adopt our incredible team,” explained Maria Stipp, Stone Brewing CEO. “They will entrust our team with their beers, and we already have the talent they need right here in our breweries. We have big plans to build out physical capacity and meet the production goals of both Sapporo and Stone. We’re thrilled to be promoting from within and to have Nicole Williams and Robert Kuntz leading us into this exciting time.”
Nicole Williams has assumed the role of Sr. Director, Brewing Operations for Stone Brewing – Escondido. Since joining Stone in 2018, Nicole has been driving reliability, efficiency, and capital improvements as a Brewery Process Engineer and most recently as the Sr. Manager, Maintenance and Engineering. She has been instrumental in the expansion of Stone’s brewery capabilities including the leadership, design and installation of projects to enhance efficiency and improve Stone’s sustainability efforts. Williams is a natural leader with a team-first mentality and a tireless commitment to safety.
Robert Kuntz is now Sr. Director, Brewing Operations for Stone Brewing – Richmond, VA. In his prior role as Head Brewer in RVA, Robert had a razor-sharp focus on quality and consistency in the brewing process. He joined stone in 2019. In 2021, Robert completed his Master Level qualifications from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling to achieve his Master Brewer certification. Stone Brewing – Richmond was built to brew up to 700,000 barrels of beer per year but is not yet built out to full capacity. Kuntz will oversee capital investments as the brewery expands to support Sapporo’s production.
Stone’s bi-coastal Director of Brewing Operations roles are essential in scaling the brewery’s award-winning beers to match the brewery, Tap Room and Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens experiences for fans at home. Williams and Kuntz work in partnership with a team of brewers responsible for Stone’s beer development. Stone operates small batch breweries for the purpose of innovation at Stone Brewing – Escondido, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station (San Diego) and soon, Stone Brewing – Richmond. In the coming months, Kuntz will lead the installation and management of Stone’s newest small-batch system in Richmond, VA, which will allow Stone’s East Coast team to play a larger role in Stone’s innovation pipeline.
Stone and Sapporo anticipate brewing a combined approximately 720,000 barrels of beer by the end of 2024. Stone’s total barrelage in 2021 was just over 360,000 barrels. The brewery anticipates an additional $20-$40 million in capital investment into its Richmond, VA brewery and $10-$20 in Escondido, CA. While taking on the production of Sapporo beers for the U.S., Stone will continue brewing its award-winning beers just as before, with the same passionate team.
ABOUT STONE BREWING
Founded in 1996, Stone pioneered the West Coast Style IPA, helping to fuel the modern craft beer revolution and inspire generations of hop fanatics. Today Stone operates breweries in Escondido, CA and Richmond, VA plus seven tap room and bistro locations. Stone offers a wide range of craft beers including its most popular Stone IPA, Stone Delicious IPA and Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager. The company’s long list of environmental efforts includes a LEED Silver Certification, world-class water reclamation and creative uses of spent grain. Stone has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. To find Stone beers, visit find.stonebrewing.com. For more information on Stone Brewing visit stonebrewing.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. In 2022 Stone agreed to a purchase by Sapporo U.S.A. with the goal of producing all Sapporo beers for the U.S. market at Stone’s breweries. The deal is expected to close in late August, 2022.