Stone Brewing is one of the largest craft breweries in the United States and 1 of the 5000th fastest-growing private companies. The brewery was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner. Probably their best known beer is the Arrogant Bastard, but don’t worry you don’t have to be one in order to enjoy this beer!
They are also well-known for their IPAs and stouts and – well – that gargoyle that people always confuse with the devil. Sure he doesn’t have a very friendly look on his face, but he usually has a beer in his hand. I am only defending him as that previous sentence may also describe me from time to time.
As you may have gathered from my blog I am a beer drinker. I plan my trips around seeking out great beer while I travel. Yes I catch some historical sites here and there, but all of my trips with breweries. If a historical site happens to be near a brewery, then it’s a win win.
Stone Brewery had been on my list of places to visit for many years, however while there I was faced with a challenge. I would be bringing my non-beer drinking friend, Meg, on a brewery tour. Like I told her, and I will tell you as well, even if you do not like beer I still recommend taking a brewery tour. They are fascinating, specifically the bottling room.
Meg and I arrived to Stone Brewing early in the afternoon with the anticipation of having lunch and catching the tour. We were sidelined as most of the tours were sold out when we got there (YIKES). I would have planned ahead and bought tickets but Stone’s policy on tours is first come first served. I recommend visiting the San Diego Safari Park if you need to burn some time waiting for a tour (this is actually what we did). We got a 6pm tour and made reservations for dinner for after the tour. It worked out quite well.
We arrived back to Stone from our “African Safari” ready for our tour and some taste testing. As were about 30 other people. The tour was overwhelming large and unfortunately we were punished with a jackass on our tour. I can only assume his parents did not pay enough attention to him growing up.
The guide told us while inside the brewery “to not touch anything as this was an active brewery”. The jackass touched everything. As the guide gave his presentation about what goes into beer, he passed around hops and told us to “smell the hops, but don’t eat them”. Jackass ate them. The guide then passed around a vile of wort (beer before yeast has been added) and told us “to smell it, but don’t drink it”. Jackass of course drank it. Jackass was irritating the crap out of me and I was a second away from telling him what I thought… but that’s what jackass would want, someone paying attention to him. So instead I stood and glared at him, which again, I can only assume being as he behaves, he is use to getting glared at.
The tour wrapped up rather quickly. I was not sure if that was because the tour was that short or if jackass was dictating how long our tour was. We filed back into the tap room where Meg and I moved away from jackass as much as we could. Although we could still hear him. Of course we could.
For our beer tasters we were given four 4 oz tastes. The beers we tasted were selected by the tour guide. Given the fact that Meg is not a beer drinker, I would have preferred to pick out more milder beers for her to taste. Starting on IPA’s is not a great way to introduce beer to a non-beer drinker. But in fairness to Stone they probably assume people who go on brewery tours are beer drinkers. The assortment of tastes were bold choices, but Meg gave it her best. OK really she just sipped them and handed them over to me. I wasn’t driving so it was OK that I had the extra beer!
After finishing up our tastings we headed over to the bistro. The bistro is an impressive 8,500 square feet. What is really cool about the bistro is that Stone brings in a large amount of their food from local and organic farmers. And you can definitely taste the quality in their food. I opted for the Arrogant Brisket which was served with a sweet potato mash and greens. The beer was cooked with the Arrogant Bastard Ale and was made to perfection. I devoured everything on the plate!
Want to check out the brewery tour and bistro for yourself? Stone Brewery is located at 1999 Citracado Parkway in Escondido. Tours are offered M-F 12,2, 4 & 6pm and S-S 12-6pm. The tour will cost you $3 but you get to keep your tasting glass as a souvenir! Children and non-beer drinking adults can take the tour for a $1. The bistro menu is upper scale with entree pricing ranging from $14 to $35 and an average of $20 per plate.