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Associated Press
Greg Koch, center, CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, Calif., toasts the crowd after announcing the California company’s plan to build a brewery and bistro in Berlin.

Beer trend reversal brewing

US craft operations proving popular in Europe

RICHMOND, Va. – Helping to quench a growing thirst for American craft beer overseas, some of the United States’ largest craft breweries are setting up shop in Europe, challenging the very beers that inspired them on their home turfs.

It’s the latest phenomenon in the flourishing craft beer industry, which got its start emulating the European brews that defined many of the beer styles we drink today. The move also marks a continuing departure from the status quo of mass-market lagers or stouts, demonstrating a willingness of American breweries to explore – and innovate – Old World beer styles from Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. craft beer scene is so fresh and dynamic, Europeans are becoming as excited about it as Americans, says Mike Hinkley, co-founder of Green Flash Brewing Co. in San Diego.

“Even though they’re used to all these amazing European beers, now there’s just more variety,” he said.

Just last week, Green Flash became the first U.S. craft brewery to begin making and selling fresh beer in the European market under a deal with Brasserie St-Feuillien, a Belgian brewery founded in 1873. Under the watchful eye of Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva, the brewery is making and selling fresh West Coast IPA for distribution in the U.K., Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

Meanwhile, 500 miles away in Berlin, Stone Brewing Co. is taking a different approach to meeting overseas demand – spending about $25 million to renovate a historic gas works building into a brewery, packaging and distribution center, restaurant and garden set to next year or early 2016.

California-based Stone – one of the top 10 biggest craft breweries in the U.S. – will make beer for its bistro and distribution throughout Germany and Europe.

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