The power of saying who you’re not for

Greg Koch and his partner, Steve Wagner, started Stone Brewing in 1996. After a few years of experimenting with home brews, they finally opened a brewery.

But they had to solve a BIG marketing problem. Most Americans had never heard of craft beer, much less tasted it. Even worse, most people who tried Stone’s hoppy, high-alcohol beers, hated it. It was too intense for them.

Koch and Wagner knew they were in trouble. They knew they were going to have a hard time winning customers. But they didn’t quit. And they were brave. Because instead of downplaying the public’s early reaction to their beer, they wore it as a badge of honor.

So they named one of their first brews Arrogant Bastard Ale. And proudly stated on the beer’s label: This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it.

And then magic happened. They started earning a cult-like following for their strong, bitter Southern California beers. Today, Stone Brewing is one of the largest craft breweries in the U.S, employing more than 1,100 people.

And this is the power of saying who you’re not for.

P.S. This piece was originally posted in my Nishi weekly newsletter where I share colorful thoughts on copywriting + loads of helpful resources and interesting stories. Subscribe to my newsletter here.

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