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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.