Stone Brewing – Liberty Station
World Bistro & Gardens
San Diego, CA
Stone Brewing and I have had a back and forth relationship over the years. My first encounter with any of their brews was in my mid 20’s. My roommate and I had a bunch of friends hanging out at our place one night, the tallest member of the group brought over a Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, in a 22oz bomber bottle. It was crazy bitter and after passing the bottle around no one was able to finish it. I believe there was about 7-8oz left and I said “I’ll finish it,” and chugged it down. This was back when I thought it was cool to take the most horrible tasting shots possible or to finish off any sort of fowl tasting beer, to prove that I was a “Man” and I could take it. Thankfully I have matured (slightly) and no longer look at beer or alcohol in the same manner.
This past winter I got really into barley wines and started buying any new barley wines I came across. Stone Old Guardian hit the shelves and I bought one, drank it and reviewed it. To put it mildly, I was not impressed. I have heard from many others who really enjoy it, yet another instance of different people having different tastes and palates.
A few weeks ago my favorite local beer retailer was sampling the Stone Coffee Milk Stout. I was worried it would be too hoppy, but I wasn’t about to turn down a free tasting of a beer. I took a sip and was amazed. This milk stout wasn’t hoppy at all. It has a traditional milk (sweet) stout flavor on the front and middle and then the coffee flavor hits at the finish, making it a wonderful beer. “Alright Stone, you win this round,” I thought to myself. I decided I would have to be more open to their beers going forward.
Then an event took place two Saturday’s ago that changed my opinion of Stone for good. Though I may not enjoy all of their offerings, I discovered that they make so many good beers that no matter your palate you will find at least a few that you will thoroughly enjoy. I will hence forth always be a fan of Stone Brewing.
On Saturday night of Beer Blogger Conference 2014 we were all taken to the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. We walked outside our hotel to find multiple party buses waiting for us. I have never been in a limo before, while technically these were not limos, they were even better. Thirty to forty of us piled into each bus to find what I can only define as “stripper poles” in the middle of the bus with cushioned seats wrapping around the sides. There was club style lighting and a radio for music. Of course some member of our group had to attempt to pole dance, with varying levels of success.
We arrived at Liberty Station and were given the red carpet treatment. We were able to enter using the side gate instead of having to walk all the way around to the main entrance. We were all given glasses and a punch card that we wore around our necks. There were two beer stations with 5 unique Stone beers at each. This is where we could use our punch card badges to get up to ten 4oz samples. They also had stations of food set up. Tasty flat breads, another item I can’t remember, and then some delicious parmesan meatballs, of which I ate more of then I care to share.
Before grabbing food, I immediately went to a beer station. My first glass was of the Stone Passion Project, while my co-author’s first glass was of the Woot Stout 2.0. We enjoyed both, but as I prefer darker beers, stouts in particular, and he prefers lighter brews, we happily switched glasses. My apprehension of Stone beers was quickly fading as my liking of their beers was steadily increasing. Next, I tried out the Stone Witty Moron, a nice witbier. Ate some more parmesan meatballs and then went up to the bar that the general public had access to, even more choices of Stone beers to enjoy. I tried out the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station Great Bowman’s Beard, a wee heavy scotch ale. I didn’t realize at the time, that it was a specialty beer made specifically for the Liberty Station venue. It was quite good.
Next came the most surprising Stone beer I had the entire evening. They had an Imperial Hefeweizen. As soon as I saw this, I tracked down Kraft, as Hefeweizens are by far his beer style of choice. He grabbed a glass, and the second he had sampled some, with the impatience and rudeness of a 5 yr old child, I reached out my hand to his glass and asked if I could try some. Being a gracious friend he allowed me to take the glass from his hand. I tasted it and was thoroughly amazed. This beer was so light with incredible flavor, hard to believe it was an Imperial sitting at 9.6% ABV.
I know I had a few more beers before we left but the memory of the Stone World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station Call It What You Want (the Imperial Hefeweizen), overshadowed the rest of the brews I tried. We journeyed back to the hotel now getting the full party bus experience; it was dark out so the lights in the bus really popped and we were all, at least slightly, intoxicated. During a weekend full of highlights and joys, the dinner put on by Stone sits up near the top.
P.S. While I wasn’t able to bring any Stone beers home with me, I have been sitting on a bottle of their Russian Imperial Stout. I was weary of trying it out after my experience with the Old Guardian. I am now very excited to crack open that bottle. Look for that review to come out as soon as the temperature starts to drop.