I live not too far from this place, so its an easy trip from Carlsbad to San Marcos for any of Stone’s special beer events. By far the most amazing decor and ambiance I’ve seen in a big brewery / restaurant. The gardens are a relaxing location to sip and contemplate brews with friends. Food, however, is way too overpriced for the quality you get. Go here for the beer, not the grub. Huge bar with a vast tap selection is quite impressive, with lots of import and local bottles too. You can usually find some nice vintage Stone beers as well, such as Old Guardian and various oak-aged beers. Double Bastard night is a must every year, and I hear their Winter Storm event is quite a rave too.
It’s like heaven on earth, the brewery experience done right. It looks like a nondescript office building on the the outside, but the inside has gardens, 2 bars, and huge water features. the food was tasty, the prices were reasonable,a and they had a shitload of vintage Stone goodness. Definitely a destination location.
I should like this place but I don’t. Their Big Wally World-sized parking lot was completely full at 11:30 am. Surroundings have that unmistakable smack of new cash. As I near the entrace, a Disneyesque horror mounts. I hear screaming kids. I see strollers and white-haired grandmas coming towards me. These are not beer people! Now I’m in and these guys are flush, the house that Arrogant Bastard built, eh. I should attest I’ve never been a fan of their marketing/advertising. At least nobody copies it. I like their beers. They go with Mexican food.
However, I discover there aren’t many beers I can’t get at home. Add to that, Escondido is at least an hour from Metro SD. You’d need to stay overnight in Escondido to do Stone properly. Nicht. Personally, it’s not even worth devoting a day’s detour to, certainly not something to plan around on a vacation or dragging the family to. Save yourself the trip. Didn’t try the "bistro" but at the outside bar, food was shit, and expensive, like microwave JImmy Dean and a dash of stale tortilla chips on a paper plate, not kidding. 99? They’re way overstaffed and yet service is spotted dick. Too popular to care. Total free-for-all. Left a little wiser and closer to the grave.
After visiting Liberty Station on Day 1 of my trip, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the long drive to Escondido. But I’ve always been impressed with Stone’s quality, and I really wanted to see this place. Trust your maps, cause there is no sign out front. Just a small rock with a gargoyle on it. Huge parking lot. I got there around noon on a Wednesday. Sat at the bar. Same exact menu as Liberty Station. High quality food (priced accordingly). Beer selection is your typical Stone variety that’s available almost anywhere. Some good guest taps too. Friendly staff. The gardens are worth checking out too.
Visited 2008 & 2015. Really liked this place and the beers in 2008, in 2015 not so much. Quite a bit of beers are so-so or over-the-top, and I didn’t care for the general Stone Disneyland vibe. Expensive. Some of the beers are good though, and bottle selection is nice.
Visited 21.4.16 after an extensive day at Pizza Port and Stumblefoot. Stayed for just one round - actual glasses, no tasting flights this time. Picked Liberty Station brews that were far inferior than anything by stone we had tasted previously. Our bad. An extensive menu, a huge place, decent service. Feels like a tourist attraction or perhaps a modern-day tiki bar. As a marketing professional I adored the attention given to the details. As a beergeek, I found the vastness or the place a little intimidating.
Wet Friday lunchtime on 6th May 2016, just as the 12:00 brewery tour was about to start. The whole set up is impressive and stylish with a large shop/growler/bottle refill area as well as the bar, restaurant part. Signage is poor outside but once in it all spans out nicely, gardens too wet to walk around or drink in on our day. Busy, friendly and expensive, very Californian.
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.