Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stone Brewery

Well, it's about time that I started contributing to this goddamn webpage...

As you all know (to painfully annoying detail), I've been living in San Diego for the past year. What you probably don't know is that I started working at a bar that has 24 taps of high-end and local beers. Through this I've gotten accustomed to a lot of great california beer, reviews to follow. I've also had the pleasure of being in aroma proximity to the Stone Brewery. Having recently finished my fifth brewery tour, I figured I should share some of what I've found:

I'm not even really sure where to begin... You've probably all had a stone beer before, whether their hearty pale ale, or their tast-bud raping ruination double ipa. I recommend going out and buying their arrogant bastard ale right now. Anyway, their whole attitude is "you're not worthy" or "you won't like this beer," etc.. Their brewery is the same. Even finding the place... it's not on google maps (at least not the right address). The building is completely un-marked. You have to know where it is. As you walk up to the front of the brewery, you notice the incredible gardens that surround you. They have vines of lavendar and orange above your head and rows of ivy at your feet. You enter through the restaurant, greeted with a massive boulder in the middle. The smell is overwhelming. It's not the usually malty smell of a brewery. They take the floral, spicy aroma of the hops and mix it with the aroma of the gardens and taunting smells from the kitchen. The restaurant is open to the outside with koi ponds throughout, and is made of raw stone and unpolished steel. The bar, incredibly stocked with beers from Victory to Ommegang to Mad River on tap, and about 100 other specialty beers in bottles, gives way to the giant fermenting tanks, held immaculate behind a wall of glass.

During the tour, the guide carries a beer for "demonstration purposes," and casually demonstrates how to drink it in between each station. As for the tour itself, it's fairly standard. They pass around malts and hops that you can taste. Then they talk about the history of the brewery, etc. They let you see anything you want, unlike the bigger brewery tours. I got to go into their hop fridge. Once the tour is over, they give you a 7 oz taster glass and say you can have four beers from their ~10 different varieties. Of course this is not a strict number. They give you some bullshit about how you've got an honest face and they don't usually do this, then pour you some more beers. The best part about this is that this whole event so far has been free.

After I peruse the gift shop for a while, past shirts that say "fizzy yellow beer is for wussies" and beach towels with the gargoyle mascot exclaiming "you're not worthy" to all the annoying beachcombers, I head to the beer garden. That's right, behind the restaurant, there's and honest to god beer garden. They have rocks placed just so that you can rest your beer on them while sitting next the the waterfall. After a few hours, I get hungry and head to the restaurant. Stone specializes in having local organic foods prepared depending on what's available. The duck tacos are amazing, and I highly recommend the buffalo burger (get the extra peppers, but be careful, they're hotter than Kurtains' wing-o-death sauce). The food is incredible, but so are the prices. A full meal (without beer) will set you back ~$30-40 a person (with tip). After the meal, they set up a projector in the garden and played The Blues Brothers movie. Every week is a different classic movie. I don't really remember what happened after that, but I woke up in my own bed, so it was alright.

As far as I'm concerned, the Stone Brewery has it right. It's like Disneyland, only less anti-semitic and with a friendlier mascot. So if you're ever in San Diego, go to the Stone Brewery. Fuck the zoo... you can't drink a zebra.

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