Local brewery charting new course after 2020’s unforeseen twists
The Recorder, December 26, 2020. By MAX MARCUS, Staff Writer
COLRAIN: Stoneman Brewery had big plans for 2020. After eight years of moving between brewing facilities and trying and retrying different models for sales, the one-man company had all but secured a location at the Warfield House Inn in Charlemont that would double as a brewing facility and a taproom.
Then, in March, just weeks before the deal would have been finalized, the stock market crashed, Stoneman Brewery’s financial backers panicked, and the deal with the Warfield House Inn on Warfield Road was put on hold indefinitely.
Now, Stoneman Brewery owner and sole operator Justin Korby has regrouped, and expects to start 2021 with a different model that will similarly facilitate direct- to-customer sales ? partly by reviving a novel, membership-based system that the company used in its early days.
“Basically, I’m starting my company over again,” Korby said. “I like calling it the return of Stoneman.”
The Warfield House Inn project is not happening anytime soon, but it could still be an option at some point in the future, Korby said.
Instead, Stoneman Brewery will be doubling down on a different aspect of last year’s plan ? a mobile beer garden, built around a custom trailer that unfolds to reveal a bar with seating. The trailer was designed by Korby and his father, who is a retired engineer.
In last year’s plan, the beer garden would have been secondary to the Warfield House Inn taproom, as an alternative for times when the property was booked for weddings or other events.
Now, Korby envisions it as a more central part of the business, likely to be the main outlet for direct-tocustomer sales.
“That’s the model I’m focusing on ? to do direct sales through an epic beer garden,” he said.
He hopes to open next summer. The location of the beer garden is not decided yet, but Korby said it will likely be in Charlemont or Colrain.
The other big piece of the business will be revisiting a membership model that Stoneman Brewery used when it started, in 2012 ? a community supported agriculture system (CSA) that, at the time, no other beer brewery in the country had done.
Members will receive a case of beer every two months, and the membership fees are used to pay for locally sourced ingredients. Korby said he has streamlined the model since Stoneman Brewery last used it several years ago.
The CSA program will start in April, and is now taking online orders. The first cases will feature a selection of different beers, including special recipes, Korby said.
For now, Stoneman Brewery is taking pre-orders for a new beer called the Colrain Living Lager. Proceeds from the pre-order period (now through the end of December) will support the Colrain Historical Society and the Colrain Veterans Memorial Fund. Orders can be made at g r o w b e e r.c o m, and will be available to pick up in April. Reach Max Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-930-4231.