After Parting Ways With Stone Brewing Co., "Dr." Bill Sysak Announces Launch Of His Own Brewery | Wild Barrel Brewing Company Is Coming To San Marcos In 2017

October 22, 2016

Despite an aggressive global expansion that includes a recently launched brewery in Germany, Stone Brewing Co. laid off approximate 5% of its workforce this month, with rumors being that the terminated included the brewery's longtime beverage supervisor, cicerone, and pairing expert "Dr." Bill Sysak. Well, Sysak is apparently turning lemons into lemonade by focusing his expertise on the launch of his own San Diego brewery, announcing plans for the opening of Wild Barrel Brewing Company at an undisclosed location in San Marcos in 2017.

"Dr." Bill Sysak, regarded as one of the top craft beer experts in the world, took to social media to announce the launching of his new brewery in San Marcos, California, slated to open spring of 2017. Wild Barrel Brewing Company will have a 15 barrel brewhouse and will produce craft beers in a variety of styles. Bill’s thirty-nine years of experience in the craft beer world (including over seven years at Stone Brewing) should ensure an unforgettable lineup of brews.

"I’m very excited to officially announce this new project I have been working on over the last couple of years," remarked Dr. Bill. "It has been an amazing seven plus years at Stone Brewing. I am thankful to Greg Koch and Steve Wagner for allowing me to spread the gospel of craft beer to legions of fans nationwide."

"Dr." Bill Sysak is respected around the world for his encyclopedic knowledge of beer styles, flavor profiles, and his expertise at pairing beer with food. He has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, Draft, Imbibe, and numerous local magazines, TV, and radio. Bill is on the San Diego State University Business of Craft Beer Advisory Board, and instructs the courses Exploring Craft Beer and Secrets of Exceptional Beer and Food Pairings. His popular project Master Pairings was a weekly feature on the long-running series, New Brew Thursday, and was the star component of beer dinners at Stone and around the United States.

Sysak's goal is that his new brewery will be known for its “San Diego Weisse," sours implementing a variety of fruit additions, along with a constantly rotating selection of San Diego style IPA's to satisfy the most extreme lupo-maniacs. Rounding out the core lineup will be an American stout with coffee additions changing seasonally from local roasters, and a “crushable” Belgian Wit.

Wild Barrel Brewing Company also has plans for an extensive barrel program, beginning with 300 and progressing to 1,000 barrels within the first few years. The brewery will hold a number of small releases each year that will include a variety of barrel aged sours along with Bourbon-barrel Imperial Stout variations.

On October 13, news broke that Stone Brewing Co. laid off approximately 70+ employees, translating to 5% of its workforce. Stone, which was named the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States in 2016, celebrated its 20th anniversary this past summer. Although unconfirmed, this news paired with the announcement of Sysak's plans for his own brewery leads to speculation that he was part of those affected. Stone released the below statements regarding the lay offs:

"Due to an unforeseen slowdown in our consistent growth and changes in the craft beer landscape, we have had to make the difficult decision to restructure our staff. Unfortunately, this comes despite a year that includes the incredible accomplishments of opening two new breweries, which are ultimately expanding the availability of Stone beers and boosting the reputation of American craft beer in Europe.

"More recently however, the larger independent craft segment has developed tremendous pressures. Specifically, the onset of greater pressures from Big Beer as a result of their acquisition strategies, and the further proliferation of small, hyper-local breweries has slowed growth. With business and the market now less predictable, we must restructure to preserve a healthy future for our company. Even given this unfortunate circumstance, we will continue to be fiercely independent and, importantly, Stone remains one of the largest - if not the largest - employers in the craft brewing segment.

"It is crucial to recognize that this decision was made after much careful consideration. Approximately 5% of all team members were affected, and they were offered a substantial notice period and career transition services. The team members no longer with our company are talented, committed individuals who have held important roles in our organization, and we expect that their talents will be in high demand. This reduction was not a reflection of the work they did, but a careful decision made to ensure that our company will remain competitive and profitable. No additional layoffs are expected within Stone’s foreseeable future.

"In summary, we want to emphasize the following points:
– This year, we completed several significant investments that have been in the works for a number of years.
– A recent decline in domestic growth for the category and for Stone has forced us to restructure in order to preserve our independence in an increasingly competitive category.
– Stone remains one of the largest - if not the largest - employer in the craft beer segment and remains dedicated to providing our fans with fresh beer."