Stone Brewing (San Diego, California)

Stone Brewing

I’ll admit that I got really lost on the way to Stone Brewing‘s location in Escondido, California (just north of San Diego) – the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. I mean “drive around the office park and check Google maps about 10 times, then find it and park in the wrong parking lot, then walk the length of a football field to the front door” lost.  But it was so worth it once I was safely inside.

Stone Brewing

Sitting at the bar in one of the many spaces of this huge complex.

Known for its IPAs (that’s Indian Pale Ales, for the beer novices), Stone Brewing’s iconic gargoyle is synonymous with good American beer and it is generally one of the leaders of the craft beer movement in the United States.  Not just for IPA lovers, Stone also makes some pretty great stouts, porters, and American pale ales, too.

What sets Stone Brewing apart is that they have opened a location in Berlin, Germany, which I believe makes them one of the first breweries from the U.S. to expand to Europe, a trailblazing move. What’s more interesting is that they chose Germany for their first international location – a country whose beer laws and regulations are older than any other law of the land. The Reinheitsgebot, or German beer purity law, is no longer the law in Germany, but many German beer purists still follow it to this day. The law, dating back to 1516, required that beer only be made from hops, barley and water.

Stone Brewing

Seriously? How is this in the middle of a brewery?

Anyway, Stone Brewing has 3 locations in California and Escondido is home to its largest. The World Bistro and Gardens is an expansive space, featuring a large center bar in a square format, a large indoor dining room and extraordinary outdoor space, including patios, decks, winding paths around ponds and streams, grassy lawns and more.

I sidled up to the only empty barstool I could find and was greeted by a friendly bartender, who presented me with the food menu and lengthy beer list. I may or may not have looked like I needed a drink.

The menu is elevated international pub fare, featuring soft pretzels (what good beer establishment doesn’t have pretzels?) – their take on it being Stone hemp-seed soft pretzels – , avocado tater tots and gourmet chicken wings.

Pretzels at Stone Brewing

If you are here by yourself, maybe DON’T order the pretzels and an entrée.

They also offer ceviche, salads, Asian fare, Mexican dishes, South American dishes and more. The menu is surprisingly varied and the food is really well-executed and delicious. If you’re expecting greasy pub food with no flavor, you’ll be sorely disappointed!

I started with the pretzels and the dish comes with three pretzels. For one person, it was way too much food to order that and then a main course, so if you’re on your own you should probably be more strategic in your ordering than me.  Never shying away from a bread basket, I did my duty, though. The stone-ground mustard and roasted poblano jalapeño cheese sauce was too tempting not to finish it all!

When I went last year, I had a deliiiicious barbecue pulled pork sandwich with house-made slaw and house-made barbecue potato chips, but it is no longer on the menu. It was pretty amazing, though.

Stone Brewing

Pulled pork goodness.

I was short on time so I was unable to tackle a tour, but tours are given all day long at the Escondido location and cost a measly $3 each. The schedule is M-F, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm , and Saturday/Sunday 12p-6pm every hour on the hour. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Stone Company Store at the front of the Escondido location. You must be there 15 minutes prior to your tour to check in and collect your physical ticket.

Stone Brewing

Enjoy one of the many beers on tap!

Speaking of the Stone Company Store, it’s a great place to pick up some swag for yourself or the folks at home. Not unlike the Guinness Storehouse store, it has everything, from t-shirts to bottle openers to candles, glassware, and more.

I wish I had more time to spend at Stone Brewing or that at least I had some friends with me to enjoy it, too. That’ll be for next time.  Cheers!

How to get to Stone Brewing in Escondido, California

Stone Brewing Escondido

Stone Brewing, Escondido
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029
Phone: 760.294.7866
Hours: Daily 11am-10pm; Friday and Saturday open until 11pm

 Have you been to Stone Brewing? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Ballast Point Brewing Company (San Diego, CA)

Ballast Point - Fish Out Of Malbec

Some of the biggest news in the craft brew world this year was the acquisition of Ballast Point Brewing Company by Constellation Brands. You might recognize Ballast Point’s famous, ubiquitous Sculpin IPA or Grapefruit Sculpin from your local grocery store shelf. However, there’s so much more to Ballast Point than what finds its way to your local store.

I had a few hours to kill during a free afternoon just outside San Diego at a conference last June and wanted to hit a few local breweries to maximize my time, sample some brews, and relax a little.

So, I started at Stone Brewing’s location in Escondido, CA and was browsing around the gift shop when I ran into several administrators of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control. I asked what other brewery I should check out in the area, since I only had time for one more, and they recommended that I check out Ballast Point. Those people obviously know their stuff, so who was I to disregard their recommendation?

Ballast Point Brewing Company

Outside the brewery

So, I plugged the address into my GPS and took off directly to Ballast Point Brewing Company in Miramar, which is north of downtown San Diego and northeast from La Jolla. One of Ballast Point’s five locations and home to its newest brewery, it’s in the middle of an office park, ten-plus minutes from the highway and if you think you’re lost, then you’re probably in the right place and are nearly there. There’s not a whole lot of parking for the amount of people who are actually inside.

Pro-Tip #1: Carpool if you’re going to come here with a group, if you can. And always designate a driver if you plan on trying more than just a flight!

Upon arriving, I first noticed that there’s an enormous outdoor patio with games and tables to sit and enjoy the food and brews. But when you enter the front doors, the sheer size of the place finally hits you – it’s huge! Continue reading

Wölffer Estate Wine Stand (The Hamptons)

We found ourselves at the Wölffer Estate Wine Stand last spring on the way home from tasting some mediocre wines on eastern Long Island.  And yes, most of the wines on Long Island are just that – mediocre. Unless you like sweet white wines and the occasional sweet red. But, the Wölffer Estate actually had some quality bottles that made me second-guess my natural inclination to bash LI wines.

wolffer estate wine stand

Look out at the vines while you sip on some wine

Ahh, the Hamptons. New York’s well-heeled elite and the ones who want to be elite flock to the East End of Long Island the second Memorial Day Weekend strikes and the Great Eastern Migration happens beginning Thursday afternoon every summer weekend. While the North Fork’s “having a moment,” as they say, the southern fork – better known as the Hamptons, which is a collection of little towns sprawling for miles and miles – still enjoys a reputation of the place to be for the summer and to enjoy passable wines while people-watching to your heart’s content.

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Bae and I were enjoying the sunshine after a long, cold winter and spring.

Anyway, Wolffer Estate Wine Stand. Continue reading

Brunch in Boston – North Street Grille

BrunchBoston1

Oh my God, you guys. On our recent trip to Boston during July 4th weekend, we decided to go get some brunch at the North Street Grille after some researching. It was easily one of the best brunches that we have ever had. The menu is à la carte, so no unlimited buffets or unlimited drinks here. But it doesn’t even matter. I dare you to try to finish one of North Street Grille’s massive entrées.

From our research, we knew that there would be a long wait for a table, so we tried calling ahead and making a reservation. Unfortunately, we had a party of 5, and reservations are only taken for parties of 6 or more. Remember this. We ended up waiting outside (the place is tiny!) for about an hour and 15 minutes for our table. Every time the hostess came out to announce a new party being seated, our hopes were immediately raised and then unceremoniously dashed.

It might actually go quicker normally, but it was the hostess’ first day on the job. I had read that the wait was astronomically long and that they lie to you about how long it will actually be. They did tell us that the wait would be about 20-30 minutes at first. So, that’s probably true.  But, I’m telling you about this wait because it was so. worth. the. wait. I would have waited 2 hours if I had to, in retrospect. We busied ourselves with conversation and reviewing their menu online, so that we would be ready to rock as soon as we sat down. Continue reading

Lobster Joint (Brooklyn, New York)

I have an unhealthy addiction to lobster rolls – especially the lobster rolls from the aptly-named Lobster Joint in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

I’ve tried other lobster rolls and they just haven’t delivered the same way that these do. (Sorry, Luke’s Lobster and Urban Lobster Shack – Lobster Joint has my heart here. Not that you’re not great in your own right, but… Lobster Joint). They’re fresh, not overly mayo’d if you opt for the New England version rather than the butter-based Connecticut iteration, full of quality meaty pieces of sweet, juicy lobster and not overdone. Sometimes, simple is best. And these….well, these are the best.

Lobster Joint - clam strips and lobster claw bloody mary

Fried clam strips and lobster claw Bloody Mary

The real delight , though, for me is the Continue reading

Get Your Sleep On – The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach (Miami, Florida)

My girlfriends and I stayed at The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach (a Kimpton Hotel) January 9-11, 2015 for my friend’s bachelorette party in Miami, Florida, and we were all very impressed and extremely pleased with the service and hotel in general. I’ve stayed at Kimpton hotels in NYC before (more than once) and this property blows them out of the water with its level of service.
I’ll just preface this that I didn’t take many photos because I didn’t have a camera with me, and only had my iPhone. Sorry.
Some of the folks who made our stay so great deserve special mention – Chase is a customer service dynamo and anyone can see that he is the perfect man for his job as Director of (Day)Life. Laz at the beach really took care of us and went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and had everything we needed, and even made sure that we transitioned seamlessly to a pool cabana from our VIP bed when it started pouring rain while we were at the beach. Andy at the beach did everything he could to remedy any issues we had with service or food/drinks. Gia at the pool was so sweet and provided great, prompt service. Tony at the door helped us store our bags and hail taxis when needed and was friendly, efficient and kind. And finally, Brad from concierge was a doll – and we saw a lot of him, because the bachelorette’s friends kept having champagne delivered to our rooms throughout the whole weekend.
With 4 girls sharing a room, yes, the room was a bit small and yes, the bathroom was small. But Continue reading