This is certainly not the blog article I wanted to do today. Yesterday (2.3.20) the news came out while I was at work. In the morning before work, I started writing my next beer review – This Is The Way – by Broken Goblet, but with the news of Stoudts Brewing closing, I’ve pushed that back. Around 1PM or so yesterday, Stoudts Facebook page posted this message:
As we’re sure you know, the craft beer industry is changing. 33 years ago, when Carol Stoudt became America’s first female brew master since prohibition, craft beer was a total rarity with only about 150 breweries nation-wide. Today there are nearly 8 thousand. The truth is, with such an increase in competition, and with Carol and Ed preparing for retirement, we’ve had to make the incredibly difficult decision to drastically scale back brewery operations, with a plan to cease production by Winter’s end. At this point, we will still have a limited supply of beer for purchase and on tap in our brew pub.
We are considering all investment opportunities, but regardless of the brewery’s future, Stoudts as a whole will live on. The restaurant which has stood for 58 years will continue to serve scratch-cooked dishes and hand-trimmed steaks. The bakery’s 120-year old yeast culture will continue to produce perfect sourdoughs, and we will not slow down our commitment to vegan and heritage baking. The antiques mall will continue to house only the finest pieces, and the bier garden will be home to ever more musical evenings and dog-friendly events.
Thank you so much for joining us on this multi-generational journey. Your support has always meant the world, and we hope that you will continue to shape the future of Stoudts with us.
The Stoudt Family
P.S. our official press release can be found here: https://stoudts.com/brewery/Source: Stoudts Facebok page
Predictably, the Craft Beer online community erupted upon the news. Soon after their announcement, PennLive.com and LancasterOnline both ran stories (links provided at the ending in the sources). In Central PA, this is sadly not the first closing news in recent history. On January 25th, Crystal Ball Brewing in York PA closed up permanently. (You can read our coverage of it here: Crystal Ball Closing.)
All day yesterday, and so far today, my Facebook and Twitter feeds, Facebook groups, etc, are all posting the Stoudts message. Accompanied by congratulations to Carol Stoudt for retiring, as well as dismay at the closing of the actual brewery. Even across the country where Stoudts isn’t readily available there is all kinds of talk about its closing. Being one of the oldest craft breweries – at least of the new wave – and closing, its extremely disheartening.
Just to give you some kind of scope and size of Stoudts’ Brewing, look at how they have their own Wikipedia page: Stoudts Brewing Co. Not many craft breweries can claim that, let alone ones in Pennsylvania.
For some background on the Stoudts and their brewery, lets look to their beginning. Carol and Ed Stoudt began brewing and opening their brewery and restaurant in Adamstown, Lancaster County, PA, back in 1987. Carol is credited as being one of the first female brewers since Prohibition. At the time of their startup, there was only 150 active breweries in America, there is currently 8,000 some (at the start of the year).
Carol announced her retirement this year, and with that, the brewing aspects of the business will be shutting down. The Black Angus restaurant – Ed’s original start-up – will continue. At the start, Ed had his Black Angus restaurant and they added the brewing operations to it.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but we’re not moving enough volume to justify the expense of keeping the brewery open. However, we’re not closing the doors to any business opportunities that could help the Stoudts brand live on.” Carol Stoudt stated for the press release posted on their website (and circulated on social media).
Recently, Sly Fox and Stoudts did a collaboration for a new beer – Black Lager.
Similar to Crystal Ball’s closing recently, cited reasons are over-saturation of the market, pressures from giant breweries like In-Bev and CoorsMiller, and economic factors like the new sales tax, aluminum upticks, and other factors. PennLive recently did a write-up (just posted a few days ago) on the over-saturation of the craft beer market: Suds Up. Its a rather weak article, but does go over the talking points that most people have been discussing (in and out of the industry). (This will possibly be a future article here on The Beer Thrillers, where, perhaps myself and J. Doncevic and maybe others will discuss reasons for closings, and preventative measures for breweries in the area.)
Central PA definitely has a large assortment of breweries, and the list is ever growing. In Dauphin county, looking at towns like Hershey – Troegs Independent Craft Brewery and Iron Hill Brewing (with a Rotunda Brew Pub), in Harrisburg – The Millworks, ZeroDay Brewing, Boneshire Brew Works, The Vegetable Hunter, and Pizza Boy’s secondary location at Official BBQ and Burgers, in Middletown with Tattered Flag (as well as their location primarily for their distillery options in Hershey), Elizabethtown has Cox Brewing Company as well as Moo-Duck Brewery, and Hummelstown is set to open Rubber Soul Brewing (tentative date being April / May) and Howling Henry’s Tap Room. And this is just a small sample size. Its not going into other new breweries opening like Hemeaur’s and Wolf Brewing. Or the many other options in the Lebanon, Lancaster, Perry, and other counties close by.
For Stoudts Brewing, the brewery operations will cease in Spring, allowing the brewery to go up for sale. No word on any specifics on the sale or if there is any interested parties yet. The restaurant, and other adjoining and adjacent businesses will remain open for the foreseeable future. No word on exact dates, just the ambiguous ‘spring’ announcement. Most likely to give time to move all product on their floor. And to finish out the tanks and release what has been made.
In 2019 the Brewers of Pennsylvania Association honored Carol Stoudt with their inaugural “Presidents Award”. She was a pioneer and an inspiration for many in the industry, male or female, race or creed, she was an inspiration and a fantastic spirit for the community and industry as a whole. Her retirement is well deserved and hopefully will be blissful and peaceful. At the end of the press release she stated that she’s done her turn and its time for the next generation to take over. That regardless of the brewery’s future, the Stoudts tradition will live on. The Restaurant and Antiques Mall will remain in operation, and hopefully through investors or potential interested parties the brewery itself will be bought and remain brewing.
- Stoudts Brewing Official Page
- Owners of Stoudts Brewing to Sell Brewery (PennLive)
- Carol Stoudt Announces Retirement (Lancaster Online)
- Stoudts Brewery (Wikipedia)
Hopefully this will be the last of these closings articles I’ll have to write for a while. This was intended to be a beer review, not a sad closing article. I do have several beer review articles to post, some of which are: Doppelganger by Tree House, Loki (by Karl Larson) of Newfangled Brew Works, This is the Way by Broken Goblet, Anagnorisis by Boneshire Brew Works, and much more.
Sorry for this article only now coming out Wednesday morning, I started it yesterday morning (Tuesday, 2.4.20) and intended to finish it after work, but didn’t get a chance to (kids, life, stopping in at Newfangled Brew Works to try Karl Larson’s first small batch for them – Loki, myriad of things, etc.), but its finished now. I am finishing up a six-day work week today (yay!), but will have off the next three days (unexpected and unplanned three day weekends in the casino industry are basically unheard of, but so very well beloved). Tomorrow I have a funeral for my great Uncle Ed, who passed away on the 1st, on his 90th birthday. Possibly Thursday (tomorrow) night I will be doing the podcast for LOST Seasons 3 and 4, if not Thursday, probably Friday night. Saturday is the big bottle share at Tattered Flag with Breweries in PA. Myself and D. Scott will be attending that. So that should be interesting.
For those new to the blog, please check out some of our recent articles. Like the Tree House series of beer reviews: Sap, Autumn, Julius, and Haze (with Doppelganger forthcoming). Or check out my beer review of Florence by Hill Farmstead. Or you can check out some of our older beer reviews like LazerSnake by Three Floyds, or Baby Genius by Bissell Brothers, or The Veil’s Black & Blue Tastee.
And as always, I’ll recommend checking out our Facebook and Twitter pages (located at the bottom on the icons), and please click to follow us either through WordPress or by signing up with your e-mail so you’ll be alerted as to our next blog’s posting.
Cheers everyone! And maybe I’ll get to see you at the bottle share. Leave a comment here for any of your fondest Stoudts memories or if you’ll be going to the bottle share so we can meet up. Prost!