So I’ve been to over 700 breweries in 20 countries and often frame my travel itineraries around beer. When I’m home, I like to try different beers as often as possible. But Stone is often the source of many of my favorites, and I’ve been wanting to visit Stone’s "homeplate" for many years. I’ve had trips to the San Diego area planned a couple times that got scrubbed for various reasons (including a pesky little brain tumor) and missed whatever opportunity I might’ve had to visit the original location. But I’ve wanted to go here forever. So this time, when I finally had the chance to get to SD, I framed an entire day around visiting Stone, and booked some sh*tty hotel room in Escondido specifically to spend some time here. WHAT A BUST. So on a Sunday night (granted, Valentine’s Day), we were told we couldn’t get a table, that they were "totally booked." But there was no indication of some special V-Day event, and for the 45 minutes we lingered around one of the bars, we saw at least a dozen empty tables the entire time. The whole vibe of this place comes across as overly snooty. Not a single member of the staff acted like they could give a sh*t if you were there or not, there was no effort to reach out to us as customers. We waited in line for 20 minutes at the bar while the indifferent bartenders stood around with their noses in the air, moving at the speed of fermentation. Of course, when we did get beers, they were stellar (props to the brewers). We might’ve stayed and jockeyed for a much-coveted seat at one of the two bars, but instead had our $40 round of 4 beers, got suckered into spending more at the quite impressive gift shop, and left. I was so, so, so disappointed with this visit, and realize now that Stone has become something on the verge of the "wicked" Anheusers, Millers and Coors’es that everyone despises so much. I can’t say I’ll abandon their beers because they’re so damn good ... But DAMN, did this place suck. Brewery #734.
Visited for dinner early Friday evening with the family. Really beautiful restaurant, despite being smack dab in a very ugly new industrial / warehouse district. After walking through the huge stone monuments, I felt transported elsewhere. We were seated outside, and the kids loved exploring the boulders, and the walking paths. The beer list during my visit was not blow your mind incredible, but was full of more beers than I could drink in one night. The food was well presented, well prepared and quite tasty. My wife had the fish special (Sea Bass, maybe?) and I had the Chicken Schnitzel. Both were good. The kids meals were also gourmet, and the kids enjoyed them. The service was friendly, and really engaged. I think we talked about every single beer on their list! The setting itself was the highlight, unique, beautiful and highly memorable. Also, thanks to my wife for driving!
94 = ★★★★½ (World class)
I only use the total score, not the component parts.
(Visited 04/2008): I was excited to finally have a chance to visit Stone on a recent business trip to San Diego. The brewpub is located in a suburb of San Diego called Escondido and is not too far off I-15. There is no signage but the building is pretty obvious. They have a fairly large private lot.
The walk up to the building is amazing, with huge boulders lining the walkway. You can catch glimpses of the massive beer garden that had to have cost a fortune in landscaping alone. The interior is every bit as impressive. Visitors are met with the Stone store in the lobby and then ushered into a gigantic space that looks like a converted warehouse. The entire brewing operation is viewable behind big glass windows. The bar is on the left with seating everywhere else. More stonework adorns the interior, and there is a tree right in the middle of the dining room. All in all the place has a tactile feel, it makes you want to touch everything.
The beer selection is very good. Unfortunately they were out of 2 of their own beers (including a pub-exclusive cask beer) but more than made up for it with the extensive guest list. Brewers like Green Flash, Telegraph, Port and Ballast Point were all represented.
Service was good on a busy weekday evening. Our server had a thorough knowledge of both Stone and guest beers.
The food was honestly a major letdown. While I can appreciate Stone’s commitment to local and organic food, I know for a fact that you can make better food with those constraints than what we tasted that evening. Especially for the ridiculously high prices. I had the mac ’n cheese and it was bland and uninteresting, and for $16.50 that is inexcusable. To put into perspective, I had a similarly priced truffle mac n cheese in Vegas since and it was phenomenal. My collegue’s duck tacos were similarly unimpressive.
Despite the negatives, I would absolutely come back here again (altough I would probably eat elsewhere first). No craft beer lover should visit San Diego without putting Stone at the top of the list.
Oakes (832) Vancouver, British Columbia | April 27, 2008
Well, it’s professional if soulless, with a pretty garden but yet it’s all so tacky...like a Disneyland of beer. Nice beer list but not spectacular. Kind of a good but not great sort of place. Worth visiting, mind you, as it’s quite unique in the beer world. The food was disappointing, I liked the duck tacos but the tempeh burger was mushy and left a lot to be desired.
The ambiance of this establishment is stunning. The gardens are vast with bamboo and assorted plantlife eoncompassing walkways and benches. Combine that with perfect 75 degree, sunny California weather and it’s a fantastic environment for sipping a beer. The inside is gorgeous as well with its huge ceiling and stone construction. There is also a really cool retail shop inside. Beer is available to go in the form of bottles and growlers. The selection is very strong, aside from the obvious Stone lineup are plenty of high quality guest taps and bottles. The bartender was on the surly side, but still helpful and effecient. I didn’t eat on my visit. This would qualify as a must stop if one is in the San Diego area.
one of the 1% of places to go and have a beer, this place gets buzy come lunchtime. Come early if you want a tour. Beautifully designed, with lots of light coming in, incredible draught selection and bottle selection. Lots of classy stones in subtle places. Though we didn’t eat, just about everybody came for the food as much as the drinks. Everything served at the right temperature, state of the art system. taps had changed dramatically from the weekend. Service was excellent, the guys knew their beer at the bar, the girls serving the tables asking them details on every beer. Too cold for anyone to eat outside, but the flame and the pond with japanese fish was a riot. I spent way too much time here, taking up the time I could have used for 3 more pubs, but it was worth it.
I find it hard to believe that not everybody is highly satisfied with the food here. I had a great spicy soup and a superb yakisoba, fresh, refined and spicy. The serving was large enough, maybe not even smaller than average and with the average being too large, that’s perfect. Not a top culinary experience of my life, but so far beyond the usual pub fare that for a ratebeer entry, this deserves a solid 9. I amm all too happy to shell out double the usual pub cash to change the pace from greasy burgers. Besides that, they went for a rather upscale place though anybody could feel welcome. The beer selection is just stunning with all the Stone being completed by Dr. Bill hand-picked guest taps, most of them highly desirable at any time. It’s easy to come out with a large bill, but it will be a satisfactory one. It would normally not be the kind of restaurant I enjoy dining in, but the beer drew us in and kept us in through the whole evening. It must be said though that the place in this relatively new industrial area is not very conveniently located. You don’t want to drive out of here, but with the staff calling us a taxi, we had a mighty good night.
We caught the incredibly slow "Sprinter" (how ironic) from Oceanside to Nordahl Road and had a pleasant 15-20 walk over to Stone. First off we almost walked past the place as it was not quite what we had anticipated. I expected to see Stone logos blazoned all over the place. In reality outside looked like a large office building. Inside it is very different - large and modern. We picked up some tickets for a tour at the gift shop, then headed to the bistro for lunch and drinks. There was also a nice patio area to enjoy the sun. There is a fairly large tap selection of core Stone brews, collaborations and world-wide guest beers. Bottle list included vintage Old Guardian and retired stone brews such as StoneWall and Anniversary/Vertical Epic beers. Food was very tasty, if a touch pricy - I opted for bbq duck tacos (yum). Then we went on an excellent tour of the brewery and tasted all the beers on tap in the shop. For me this is a must visit destination in California.
Stopped here on my recent craftbeer tour of Greater San Diego. Coming from the east coast...this place is all you hear about...but after a couple of days hanging out in SD before I got here...many of the locals said to skip it altogether. The review of "jrallan34" from 7/4/14 is mostly correct and explains what most of the locals were talking about. Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to leave town without deciding for myself. Well no one disagrees the place is beautiful...and my high point was being able to drink a draft Pliney and Blind Pig side by side for the first time (only second time I’d had each)...ironic of course that my best memory there was of someone else’s beer. Bottom-line...good food...good beer...great ambiance...inside and out...but expensive...not many special Stone beers...and more of a restaurant then a craftbeer place. Still...a must stop for any craftbeer traveler.
A massive complex in the middle of nowhere near what seems like a hydroelectric plant and transformer grid. Inside is a massive, upscale lobby, gift shop, giant indoor restaurant with glass walls looking into a very large brewery. Outside is a garden, fountain, coy pond IIRC, bamboo everywhere. Lots of seating outside and inside. Food is pretty pricy and upscale, but very delicious and more exciting than the beer. Tap selection of Stone stuff was pretty good when I was there but nothing that was really "rare" or exclusive to the brewpub. Guest taps were very nice: Ballast Point, Russian River, Lost Abbey. Good selection of non-Stone beer. Very fun place to go, but I think it has more of a family feel or group party feel than beer excursion feel. Definitely worth visiting, but I’d go in the evenings on a date here or with a group of friends.