The weekend before last, I spent the weekend in Long Beach with my sister, Anne, and youngest brother, Matthew. During a visit earlier this year, we sojourned down to the Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, which is just north of San Diego. Having had such a good time before, it was Anne’s idea to head down there again. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.
For the uninitiated, Stone is one of the premier craft brewers in the United States. Known for their unique, bitter, and well, in your face beers, they have steadily grown since their beginnings in 1996. While the rest of the country deals with the tanking economy, Stone’s revenue has increased 24% during just the first quarter of 2009. Since 2006, they have doubled their production with plans to produce 100,000 plus barrels of beer this year (More Stone facts).
Stone’s current brewery is tucked away in an unassuming industrial park. Among beer aficionados, a trip to Stone is indeed a pilgrimage (just check out these comments in my Flickr stream). With no exterior signage, the lovers of good beer still somehow easily find their way to the “faucet”.
With 30 some beers on draft, I was tempted to venture outside of a Stone beer, but since this was a special treat, I deemed such a purchase to be sacrilege! I started off with a 2007 Imperial Russian Stout and later moved on to an Arrogant Bastard and a Pale Ale. In typical Matthew fashion, as soon as my camera came out he pretended to not know me tried to move over a bar stool.
Our visit marked the beginning of San Diego Beer Week as well as the beginning of Arrogant Bastard Week back home. Stone hosts a competition each year to find the “Most Arrogant Pub” in the US based upon consumption of Arrogant Bastard in one week. Boston’s, our local here in Dayton, has won twice in the last three years. We are hoping to take top honors again this year. I found it quite fitting to celebrate the beginning of the week at Stone and the end back at Boston’s in Dayton.
Besides a brewery, Stone also houses the Stone World Bistro & Gardens. During our trip earlier this year, I didn’t know what to expect on the food side of the equation. What I found beat all of my expectations. Stone’s menu ranges runs the gamut. Bison Ribeyes to BBQ Duck Tacos to Mac ‘n Beer Cheese (which was fabulous!) to Lamb Osso Buco. For lunch I had the Artisanal Sausage Platter served over herb roasted potatoes and braised cabbage with a side of Stone Pale Ale mustard. The food was local, fresh, and amazing.
The Bistro itself is mostly open air and spills out into the gardens. With an indoor and outdoor bar to cater to guests, it really is an oasis for a meal or drinks with friends. During our lunch, the upstairs dining area was host to a chocolate and beer pairing. Events like these occur continuously. At a Sunday lunch, the bistro already had a steady crowd moving in. I can’t imagine a slow period here.
Since during our last visit we didn’t have time for the tour, I made sure we arrived plenty early to book a spot. Next post, The Tour…