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No fizzy yellow beer here: A visit to Stone Brewing in California

May 24, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin'

Mike and Stone Greg

I’ve been to a lot of breweries, big and small, but Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, Calif., may be the swankiest brewery of them all. The brewery features the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, which includes a 300+ seat restaurant, open-air patio, one-acre organic beer garden and company store.

And by sheer luck, I happened to show up at Stone on the day of the book release of “The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.,” a behind-the-scenes look at the history of Stone Brewing, with recipes from the bistro and never-before released homebrew recipes for Stone beers.

As a result, I got to meet Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, co-founders of Stone Brewing Co., and Randy Clemens, public relations coordinator at Stone, who are co-authors of the book. (That’s me and Greg pictured up top.)

And that’s not all! I happened to show up at Stone for a special tasting of the excellent 2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, which was aged in bourbon barrels. Later, on a tour of the brewery, I also got to sample Stone Pale Ale, Stone Smoked Porter, Stone India Pale Ale and Arrogant Bastard Ale. It’s hard to beat fresh Stone beer on tap.

Stone - tabletStone was founded in 1996 in San Marcos, Calif. The first keg of Stone Pale Ale was sold on July 26, 1996, to Vince Marsaglia of Pizza Port fame.

Stone - bottles & grainsThe tour at Stone started with everything you need to make beer!

Stone- tour guideOur tour guide’s sage advice: “If you’re worried about calories, ride your bike to the liquor store.”

Stone - Long view of tanksStone projects that it will produce 180,000 barrels of beer in 2012.

Stone - tanksThe brewery is among the fastest-growing in America over the past 15 years, averaging 43% year-to-year growth in that period.

Stone - bottling lineStone’s bottling line can produce 20 cases per minute.

Stone - Cases of Stone IPAStone IPA, along with Stone Pale Ale, are Stone’s flagship beers.

Stone- WussiesStone is known for brewing beers with “big character.” They are not for wussies.

Stone - restaurantStone’s restaurant, which seats 385, has 32 craft and specialty beers on tap, plus more than 100 bottles, as well as an extensive wine list.

Stone - GargoyleA gargoyle is the mascot for Stone Brewing Company and appears on Stone’s labels, which are some of the coolest labels around.


So it’s been eight months since my visit to Stone Brewing Co. in the San Diego area, and I’m just now getting around to posting these photos from the trip. And guess what? I’m headed back to San Diego very soon. So before I head that way again, please leave a comment below and tell me what breweries and brewpubs I need to check out in San Diego.

8 Comments to “No fizzy yellow beer here: A visit to Stone Brewing in California”

  1. Check out Hess Brewing if you get a chance. I’ve never had their beers but have been following them for years. They are one of the best known nano-breweries and have blogged about their trials and tribulations of opening a nano.



  2. Was just out in SD last month and did the Stone tour. You are correct, there is no other place like it! Unbelievable garden and space (and pretty good food also). They also mentioned that they were going to build a hotel across the street. If it is anything like the restaurant, it ought to be pretty swank! Best thing about the visit/tour was remembering just how good the IPA is when it is fresh (and how simple). Think I’m going to have to break out the Chinook and Centennials and do a homage…

    As for drinking in SD; if you haven’t been to a Pizza Port, do that for sure. I like the one in Ocean Beach, but any of them would be fine. Had their Bacon and Eggs coffee porter a couple of days before it won at World Beer Cup, awesome stuff!

    Other suggestion would be Lost Abbey, haven’t been there but Tomme makes some of the best beer around. (It isn’t really “in” SD though)

    • I went to Pizza Port in Solana Beach. It was petty great. Had the Jules Winnfield Dry-Hopped Stout, which was crazy. Also Swami’s IPA and Floral IPA. All very good. And pizza was excellent.

      I’ll have to check out Lost Abbey. Never had any of their beer.

      • If you haven’t had Lost Abbey, you must get some! Gotta be a close 2nd on my list to Russian River. Everything they make is good, but I really love his farmhouse and barrel aged beers. Also Cuvee de Tomme is a fantastic if pricey!

        Also for beer bars Blind Lady Ale House and the SD version of Toronado are great.

  3. Ballast Point has a little tap room/brew store across from University of San Diego (Mission Valley area). The beer is pretty good. If you are looking for some cool neighborhoody bars, go to the University Heights area and check out Rosie O’Grady or Triple Crown (I think, and its been awhile) they are on Adams Ave. south of Mission Valley.

    And go to Ocean Beach for the best hamburgers in the city…Hodads. Get a beer, burger, and then walk to the beach which is a block away.

  4. Evidently an alehouse with craft brews, Blind Lady, has opened right next to Rosie’s on Adams ave…worth checking out


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