For Immediate Release
Greg Koch / Stone Brewing Co.
(760) 471-4999

Stone Brewing Continues
A Grass Roots Tradition

San Marcos, CA --- Stone Brewing is certainly no stranger to grass roots promotions. Since its inception, the brewery has had a strict no advertising policy in regards to its highly regarded beers. Instead, the company has relied solely on word of mouth and tools such as the brewery's website, email newsletter, annual charity beer festival, community involvement, and free tours and tastings at the brewery to spread the word of the company's great beer

To continue with this grass roots campaign of keeping fans informed, Stone Brewing recently launched a new feature called Greg's vBlogs.  According to the company's website, 'vBlogs', also known as 'video blogs' or 'vlogs,' are "minimally edited (often completely unedited) 2-6 minute videos of Stone happenings, philosophy, news, culture and the progress of our New Brewery Project."

"When Greg first approached me with the idea I was a bit skeptical of the return for the time involved,” said Stone Brewing Art Director, Mike Palmer. “After thinking on it, it made sense." Not only did it give Stone Brewing the added communication of audio and video, but Greg's vBlogs could be published at any frequency the brewery wanted, allowing the rate of posts to reflect what the team deemed worthy of publishing.

Palmer got to work on the interface and the video compression, while Stone's IT Administrator, Bryon Wischstadt, did work on the backend for powering the rating system, times viewed and content publishing system. A list detailing the hardware and software technologies used in creating and powering Greg's vBlog can be found below.

One of the great advantages the vBlog brings is that it allows Stone fans to participate in brewery goings-on, from the time that CEO Koch got popped on the "no trash left behind" policy and had to scrub out the break room microwave, to advice on how to properly cellar Stone Special Releases, to highlights of the Stone 9th Anniversary Celebration, to weekly updates on the building of the new $13 million Stone Brewing facility.

Founded in 1996, the Stone Brewing Co. is one of the fastest growing breweries in the country. Additionally, Stone Brewing is one of the highest rated breweries in the world according to both and Stone Brewing Co. is currently open for tours and tastings every Friday from 3-6pm and Saturday from 11-3pm, at [OLD ADDRESS REMOVED]. Stone Brewing will move in late 2005 to 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA. For more information, go to


Make your own vBlog!
It's quick and easy!

Webmaster Mike Shows You How...



You need content for your series of vBlogs. It just so happened that Greg Koch, the co-founder of Stone Brewing, wanted to share the excitement of life at Stone with beer fans. The building of a new $13 million brewery, restaurant & beer garden, everyday happenings at Stone and strong opinions about beer provide plenty of content.

Greg wanted to do this with a video camera at first, but the bulkiness of them hampered spontaneity. I had gotten a new Canon SD110 digital camera the year before and have been really happy with it. The new version had just been released with stunning video capabilities. 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second to be exact. The small size makes it perfect for Greg to be keep with him at nearly all times. He currently has two 1 gigabyte cards on hand that can capture somewhere around 10 minutes of video each.

Greg then downloads the video clips onto his laptop (an Apple 12" Powerbook G4 1.5ghz). If needed, he'll piece clips together using QuickTime 7 Pro. You may ask, "why not iMovie or Final Cut?" Well, because they just aren't as fast. First off, they require you to import the clips in and convert them into DV format, which is time consuming to say the least. Secondly, it's just overkill. Greg's vBlog videos are purposefully recorded in one take and don't require any complex edits, transitions or audio layers. At most, Greg simply pieces various clips together in chronological order. QuickTime Pro allows cut, copy, paste, save simplicity - something critical to making the process quick, easy and convenient. All key to keeping it a fun and easy documentary style process.

From there, clips are compressed using the MPEG4 codec in Sorenson Squeeze. This will bring a 250mb file down to just under 10mb with a relatively high level of retaining clarity and fluid motion. The frame size goes from 640x480, down to 320x240 pixels. With the recent release of QuickTime 7 for Windows, H.264 playback is becoming a cross platform standard. In the near future, we are planning to provide an H.264 version of Greg's vBlogs. File size will remain almost exactly the same, but the resolution will increase along with image quality.

The next step is to copy a few frames out of the latest video into Photoshop and size them down for thumbnail previews on the webpage. Just recently switched over to making animated thumbnails in Photoshop's accompanying web geared application, ImageReady.

A great little FTP program for Mac made by Panic software. Transmit has more features than Greg could ever need, but at the same time - simple enough to just click "Connect" and drag the latest movie and thumbnail to upload to the server from anywhere Greg has an internet connection. Haven't taken the time to add Transmit's new Tiger dashboard widget. Cool stuff that can actually get you excited about something so dull as file transfer protocol, or not - depending on your geek quotient.

The website has a database running in MySQL. This is where we store all the text records for each vBlog. This stores data for the the location of the video and thumbnail along with titles, descriptions, dates, ratings, times viewed, related links and more. Many sites out there have already made content management systems for this task. Bryon Wischstadt (Stone Brewing's IT Manager) and I spent a long time comparing boatloads of these systems from freeware to multi-thousand dollar solutions. In the end, though there were some seriously great creations out there, we decided to build our own. Why? Besides keeping track of vBlogs, the custom database allows for us to catalog vBlogs, photo albums, tasting notes, articles, press releases, special weekend tappings at our tasting bar, events and more in one central database. We call this nexus of all things Stone the "timeline database." I'll explain this more in the XML section.

So you have a database in MySQL, but how do you get data into it? That's where PHP comes in. Greg has a private login portion of the website where he can put in all the info for the latest vBlog in a simple webform. The result is a process where Greg can author his own content without needing to do any html coding and only requires minimal file management. So if he wants to post something at 1AM on a Sunday, he needs no help from Bryon or myself - instant gratification! PHP also determines how webpages will display info from the database like where the date goes, what order the vBlogs are in and how many are displayed per page.

Having our centralized "timeline database" has also allowed us to make an RSS news feed (also generated in PHP). The timeline database pipes all the Stone info including the latest vBlogs to our fans down to the second they are posted. It notifies our fans without having them need to check the vBlog webpage for when a new video is posted. RSS feeds are picked up by newsreaders and are becoming more an more common everyday. More info on Stone RSS News Feeds can be found on this page. Over the past year or two, people out there have bridged audio with RSS and made a new medium called PodCasting. Named partly because people often move these audio programs onto their iPods for mobile listening. Recently Apple officially announced support to put videos right into iTunes from a Podcast feed. We're currently reconfiguring the vBlogs in order to utilize this new feature.

The program Bryon and I use to generate web pages and edit code.

Bryon has done lots of work with Greg's vBlog. It wouldn't be half of what it is now without him. Having someone well versed in PHP programming and database knowledge has come in handy to say the least. He is completely responsible for the advanced features of the system like ratings and view counts. He's not a bad guy to work with either and brews up some great homebrew.

So there you have it. Simple, huh?