More than any other brewery in San Diego, I wanted to visit Stone. (Sorry, others—not a sleight against you. I’ll get to you too, someday.) Part of the reason is that Stone is more well-known around here than the others, and (this sounds a little dumb) they have a kind of "celebrity brewery" cachet about them. For me anyway. So I was thrilled when we made it up there.
The brewery and their restaurant—their World Bistro & Gardens—is located up in Escondido, about 30 miles north of San Diego. Their location (as we discovered) is a little out of the way, but it was totally worth it: they have the best facility of any brewery/restaurant combo that I have yet been to. And yes, this time I have some pictures.
When you get off the freeway, you weave around the auto sales district of Escondido a bit, and through what looks like the business and industrial district—not someplace you would expect to find a brewery. When you hit the Citracado Parkway, upon which it’s located, you come around the curve from the industrial section onto a road surrouded by bare, grassy lots and open space.
Stone Brewing appears just over the rise, a lone large stone and concrete building surrounded by—nothing. It’s a big facility, with a lot of parking. It’s rather incongruous considering what you’ve come through to find it.
They have the area all to themselves, and they’ve really made the most of it. We entered through the gift shop/brewery tour entrance, and the guy behind the counter was immediately personable: he related a story about how people were always coming in with little kids (like ours) and wanted to buy a kid-sized Arrogant Bastard shirt (which we didn’t). They always have to turn them down.
The main entrance, just off the gift shop area and fronting the restaurant, is centerpieced by a giant stone in the middle of the room. Appropriate!
You then enter the restaurant, which is huge, with very high ceilings, a wall of windows on the left fronting the brewing tanks and operation, and another wall of windows on the right overlooking their patio and park-like area. Did I mention it was huge?
Everything is worked up in raw natural wood and lots of stone and concrete, and looks very new and very well thought out. You see the right side wall has large garage-style doors built into the windows so they can open right up to the patio in nice weather. Fortunately, it was a beautiful hot day and we got to sit outside.
The bar is in the middle of the interior restaurant space:
You can see just above and to the right there’s another level with more seating. I didn’t go up there, though.
They have an incredibly large beer menu with literally dozens of beers on tap and in bottles—many of which are local from the many breweries in the area besides their own. I started with the Stone sampler—their Pale Ale, Smoked Porter, IPA, and Arrogant Bastard. I’ve had them all (or nearly all of them) before, so it wasn’t anything new, but I come all this way to Stone Brewing and don’t have their beer? I think not.
After the sampler, I got a pint of AleSmith Nautical Nut Brown, and my brother got the AleSmith IPA. Both on tap, both excellent.
Nut Brown: Chocolatey and rich… slightly roasted… nutty, like roasted nuts—hazelnuts? IPA: Strong hoppy aroma, equally strong in the mouth. Smooth and crisp. Woody from the hops.
The food was awesome. My buffalo burger came with a side of the Arrogant Bastard onion rings and I swear, these were the biggest onion rings I’d ever seen. They were amazing, too. I couldn’t even finish my meal.
The patio area was very well designed; lots of propane heaters built in, an outdoor bar (not in use), and as I mentioned, it drops down to a park-like area: a lawn with stepping stones, landscaping, and a small stream running behind things. The kids loved that; they got to go run around while waiting on the adults.
And finally, last picture: Stone brewing, from the lawn, towards the patio and building:
Bottom line, this place is amazing and simply the best brewery facility I’ve visited. The location is a little out of the way but the result is totally worth it. If you’re in the San Diego area and you don’t visit Stone, kick yourself. And then kick yourself again and throw a few slaps in for good measure. I need to go back just so I can spend a few days at the brewery.
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029