Crafty Pint / 31.10.12
When news broke earlier this year that the directors of Little World Beverages, the company that owned Little Creatures, had recommended an offer from Lion to take full control of the business, there were a few sharp observers who asked what would happen to another of Australia’s favourite breweries. Little World Beverages was a 20 per cent stakeholder in Stone & Wood and, as such, if the deal went through then Lion would own that stake in the Byron Bay brewery.
Earlier this month, the deal did go through, with Little World Beverages becoming part of the growing Lion portfolio, the implications of which remain to be seen from a Creatures Pale-loving punters point of view. That gave the green light for the three guys behind Stone & Wood – Brad Rogers, Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich – to make their decision. And today, they have announced that they have decided to buy back the 20 per cent and take full control of the business themselves, news that will no doubt cheer many in the Australian craft beer community.
“It was a pretty tough decision,” says Jamie. “But we’ve made a lot of tough decisions, such as choosing to brew every single beer we sell ourselves, with Stone & Wood. When we first heard the news that Lion had moved on Little World Beverages back in June, our initial reaction was that this was a chance to move away from that corporate world and stand on our own two feet. We couldn’t do anything until the deal was wrapped up so we had a month to do the final mulling.
“[When we formed Stone & Wood] the three of us left a big corporate to do our own thing; we were the first people to leave that company and form their own brewery in its history. It was OK to have Little World involved as they were still relatively small and didn’t really take a corporate approach to it, but having a multinational involved didn’t really work.”
So they three of them took the decision to invest more of their own money into the business, one that has seen them take the local – and, increasingly, international – beer scene by storm with their Pacific Ale. There’s no need to list all of its awards again here but, as an aside, we heard a story when in London recently about a landlady of a quality beer pub that had snagged two kegs of the beer and declared it the best they’d had at the venue…
Looking ahead, Jamie says: “There will be no difference here. Little World were quite a background investor so you won’t see any real change. Well, apart from us having a bit more debt in our pockets!
“We’re now four years into that journey and the confidence in what we’ve achieved so far made the decision easier.”
For business partner and head brewer Brad Rogers it caps a huge year in which he has also been appointed chairman of the Craft Beer Industry Association and Chief Judge for the Australian International Beer Awards.
“We’re all very, very excited,” he says. “I’ll never forget walking in with Jamie [once we’d made the decision]. Sometimes you just know you’re doing the right thing.”
Stone & Wood Statement
30th October 2012
From the Founders
As most people would be aware, Little World Beverages Ltd has been a 20% shareholder in Stone & Wood since 2009. Although a public company, Little World was a relatively small and well-respected craft brewer, and also a supportive partner in our business.
Following the recent acquisition of Little World Beverages by Lion (a subsidiary of Kirin) we, the founding shareholders of Stone & Wood, have taken the decision to buy back the Stone & Wood shares that are held by Little World Beverages Ltd / Lion.
Whilst we believe Lion has displayed a thorough understanding of the craft beer market, and are currently better placed to participate in it than any other large brewer in the world, we feel we have made the right decision for our business.
We are very proud of the company we have built since establishing it here in Byron Bay in 2008. It would not have been possible without the support of our shareholders, customers, drinkers, suppliers and the strong team of people working beside us each day, who are all contributing to create the Stone & Wood community.
It’s an exciting time at Stone & Wood at the moment, and 2012 has been filled with many milestones:
• Doubled our production capacity to produce upward of one million litres
• Pacific Ale voted No 1 beer in the Local Taphouse Hottest 100 beers
• Pacific Ale awarded a Silver Medal at the World Beer Cup
• Launched our third beer, Jasper Ale, in our permanent line up
• Conducted a successful seasonal release of Pacific Ale in the UK market
We are only four years into our journey and we have a lot of hard work and good times in front of us. We love playing an active role in developing craft beer in Australia and are looking forward to what lies ahead as we continue to write the Stone & Wood Brewing Company story.
Jamie, Ross, and Brad