In mid-June beer drinkers began noticing that some bottles from Stone Brewing Company had a slight problem. Namely, the labels were upside down.
Now, after a few weeks of cryptic responses and no official recognition of the “error,” Stone has come clean and announced that the whole wacky affair is actually a part of its first-ever ad campaign, which it’s calling “Leave No Stone Unturned.” (WAH-Wah-wah.)
According to Stone’s co-founder, Greg Koch, the upside down labeling was not only intentional, it was meant to represent the company’s founding ethos and most deeply-held belief. He explains, “You see, every Stone is the result of trial and error and error and error until all that’s left is the best damn beer we can brew. We sweat the small stuff, constantly pushing the boundaries of independent craft beer. So no, these upside down labels aren’t a mistake. They’re the visual manifestation of our most deeply-held belief. Because in the pursuit of craft beer perfection, we leave no Stone unturned.”
Stone is a legitimate legacy craft brewery in America and the fact that it’s never actually run ads before really does say something about influential it’s been, particularly in the American West. That being said, this campaign isn’t without its flaws. First, the slogan, “Leave No Stone Unturned,” is also used as a hashtag by both a small collective of grotesquely muscled body builders, and by people who are enthusiastic about the mechanical removal of rocks and stones. Second, after spending some time combing through hashtags and mentions of Stone’s account on Instagram and Twitter, I found very, very few people who posted about the upside down labels, suggesting that drinkers either didn’t notice, didn’t care enough to post, or (and this seems most likely) Stone simply didn’t make enough upside down bottles, and didn’t distribute them widely enough, for the campaign to be all that visible prior to the announcement of the intentional hijinks (at which point posts about the bottles became more prevalent).
Whatever the case, if you find one of the upside down bottles yourself, you can now know with certainty that it is neither a mistake nor the beer equivalent of one of Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets, so you probably don’t need to hang onto it for posterity.