Rumors continue to abound regarding Escondido, CA based Stone Brewing Company’s East Coast plans. There are cities that have, according to their officials, been ruled out by a location scout contracted by Stone. While Stone spokesperson Sabrina LoPiccolo has told us that there is no information on a decision, and claiming to other media outlets that no city has yet been ruled out, Stone’s president confirmed a few ‘finalist’ locations in an interview with The Norfolk Metro. Cities that have been reported as finalists for the brewery include Cincinnati, Greenville, Greensboro, Richmond, Norfolk, Charlotte, Roanoke, and Philly.
Philadelphia’s proposal went unreported during the initial media rush of proposals, but it comes as no surprise as the city was previously courting New Belgium brewery to open in the city’s Navy Yard. New Belgium eventually chose Asheville for its East Coast location. Stone’s president, Steve Wagner, claimed that port access is a “big plus”, as the brewery will need to receive goods and ship goods overseas to its new brewery in Berlin. Looking at the finalists that have leaked thus far, it’s clear to see that a few of those stand out as port cities. Where does that put Bethlehem?
Bethlehem’s proposal, headed up by former mayor John Callahan, who now works as a business development director for a local law firm representing development company Sands Bethworks, was a long shot to begin with, albeit an awesome idea. The company put together a nice marketing book to try to lure Stone to Bethlehem. Other cities came up with silly jingles and some went as far as to change archaic booze laws in their states to entice the brewery. Overall, Stone reportedly received upwards of 200 proposals for the new brewery. While Bethlehem hasn’t been officially ruled out, it doesn’t look good.
What’s next? Well, the Sands Bethworks team has wasted no time in looking for suitable replacements if the Stone project does fall through. Tami Kennedy, a representative of Shipyard Brewing Company based out of Portland, Maine confirmed to The El Vee that their company’s owner, Fred Forsley, traveled to Bethlehem to see the proposed brewing site. Shipyard currently sits as the 14th largest craft brewery, according to sales statistics released by the Brewers Association. Like Stone, Shipyard has been steadily increasing their production year after year. Founded in 1994, Shipyard, and its sister brand, Sea Dog, are now distributed in 33 states. Shipyard has seen a 30% increase in sales each year for the past five years, according to the brewery’s owner. Shipyard just recently expanded their Sea Dog Brewery, opening a 20-barrel brewery in Clearwater, Florida. Shipyard’s spokesperson states, “Our company is always interested in new opportunities for growth and he was interested to see this site. Beyond that visit to the site, there is no additional information.”
While that may be so, it shows that the Bethlehem crew is actively hunting alternative breweries to open up shop on the south side of Bethlehem, surely a great sign for beer lovers in the area. We’ll keep trying to track down other potential suitors for the Bethlehem brewery site and report back. Former mayor John Callahan and developer Michael Perrucci did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this article.