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Old 12-30-2011, 12:31 AM   #1
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Default Stone Brewing tour

While visiting SWMBO's family for the holidays, I went to the Stone Brewery in Escondido, CA with my wife and her BIL. It was nice, but we voted it not worth it. The place is very POSH, not what we expected at all (never been to a brewery with valet parking). They have a nice, distinctive style, but it all seems a bit much. We got there around 11:30 for the 12:00 tour, and had to wait in line a half hour to get tickets for the 2:00 tour (week after Christmas= busiest time for them). We went and ate lunch in the bistro, which took us an hour and a forty-five minutes. The food was good, but very pricey; I dropped $75 on lunch for two. This included splitting an appetizer, 2 entrees, 5 beer samples and one full beer. The food was good, like I said, but I don't think it was THAT good. Then we took the tour. Very informative about the brewing process, but we learned nothing about the history of Stone brewing or the specific beers they made there. The tour actually takes you into the brewing floor, so that was cool, but they do not provide samples until the very end. At the end, you get four free samples, but they are the exact same samples I paid for in the bistro at lunch and you felt rushed to chug them; the sample area is the same as the store, and it's a very "go go go" atmosphere (again, we were there during their busiest week).

So, to summarize my experience:
Pros:
- very good beer
- the bistro offers a HUGE variety of beers, not just what Stone brews
- pretty cool atmosphere/decor
- food is tasty and locally cultivated
- get to actually go onto the brew floor

Cons:
- have to pay extra for variety of samples
- extremely posh
- cheapest food on the menu was something like $8 for a bowl of soup; cheapest entree was a $13 BLT
- tour guide only shared the brewing process, nothing about what makes Stone different than other breweries
- could not find ANY information/description on Stone beers outside of the $25 book they sold in the shop
- felt rushed to finish free beer samples

We went to New Belgium's brewery a couple years ago with the same people and we loved it. New Belgium felt like they really loved the beer they made and were happy to share it. Stone felt like they loved the beer they made and were happy to sell it to you. Will I drink Stone beers in the future? Yes. Will I go back there? No. Will I tell other people to go? I won't tell them to avoid it, but I will tell them what to expect.



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Old 12-30-2011, 12:45 AM   #2
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Thanks for the heads up. Seems like they have really grown and are into the business end of it all. Makes sense... that's what I expected after I heard about the theme park. Nothing special or limited release on tap eh?



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Old 12-30-2011, 12:51 AM   #3
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I don't remember having to pay for samples last couple of times I went. Just from going on the tour they give you some rather large number of free samples as I recall.

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Old 12-30-2011, 12:53 AM   #4
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Did you have Pliny the Elder when you were there?

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Old 12-30-2011, 01:02 AM   #5
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You should have checked out Green Flash Brewery while you were in the area. It's a dirty warehouse with none of the hype and some decent beers.

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:13 AM   #6
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Skip the food at Stone, thats what I do...too pricey for my taste..
Go get yourself a carne asada burrtito(sd has the best mexican food btw), eat it in the parking lot and then go in for some beers.. and save about 50 bucks....
Cant beat their draft and bottle selection tho...
igotsand

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:14 AM   #7
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Greg Koch really wants his brewery to be so damn high end, classy yuppie crap that I really can't stand him or Stone brewery. They make some great beer, but he's so arrogant about it and he goes around like he saved the beer industry, or that he's the best brewer ever because he's "pushing boundaries."

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:19 AM   #8
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Wow how arrogant a bastard valet parking at a brewery........

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Old 12-30-2011, 02:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunner65 View Post
Wow how arrogant a bastard valet parking at a brewery........
yumm double bastard....
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igotsand View Post
Skip the food at Stone, thats what I do...too pricey for my taste..
Go get yourself a carne asada burrtito(sd has the best mexican food btw), eat it in the parking lot and then go in for some beers.. and save about 50 bucks....
Cant beat their draft and bottle selection tho...
igotsand
This would definitely be my advice, but SWMBO has to limit the amount of California burritos I consume while in San Diego.

The free samples were the Pale Ale, Smoked Porter, IPA and Arrogant Bastard, in that order, and you can't substitute. If you ask for samples in the bistro, they're $2 a sample. It's a good sized sample, but there are plenty of places that will give you an ounce taste for free so you'll buy the beer you're sampling.

(I did not try Pliny the Elder, but did sample Moose Drool, which I can't find back home on the East Coast.)

I think Stone would be a cool place to go and order a beer and walk around the garden area relaxing, and you'd have to go every day for a year to sample every beer they have available there. Maybe the tour would be better when it's less crowded, but I left knowing nothing about Stone or its beers that I didn't know before I walked through the door (though if I had bought the $25 book I probably could have learned something). We decided that Arrogant Bastard is a perfect flagship beer for Stone.


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