The impetus for my trip to San Diego was to go to the Stone 17th Anniversary Festival. A number of great beer bars and breweries were visited and you can read about that here.
Finally, it’s time for the Stone 17th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival! Something you might not know about the festival is what a major fund raiser it is for Stone’s charities: Surfrider Foundation, The Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos, The Palomar Family YMCA and Fight ALD. Over the seventeen years, they have raised more than $1,5 million for local charities. Damn impressive.
I bought the VIP Brewers Reception tickets for Friday night that gave you all-inclusive beer and food sampling. Thirty-one of the beers that were served Friday night weren’t being poured on Saturday so those are the ones I mostly focused on. Generous pours were put into our tasting glasses – so much so that I started asking for half pours as my intention wasn’t to get sloshed, I wanted to experience and enjoy the beers. The festival was held outdoors at the University and was a great setup. Lots of covered seating, decently spaced aisles to allow for line-ups and walking through, a massive Stone ice sculpture and a great two-person band. The food from Stone Gardens and other food vendors was fantastic – restaurant quality, not the usual greasy snack food you usually see at a festival.
Saturday we drove out to the festival again, this time with an all-access pass for the entire day that also gave us access to the rare beers section. Fifteen tokens, with no additional tokens being sold so choose wisely, my friends. We ventured out of the rare beers area once, foolishly, then quickly retreated back to this heaven on earth. Thirty-nine bottles and thirty-nine kegs including delightful treasures from The Bruery, Cascade, Russian River, Dogfish Head, Cigar City, Avery and on and one as well as many rare beers from Stone. As our hotel was a $100 cab ride away, each way, I was the designated driver on Saturday so sadly, I only tried sips of some beautiful beer and either gave the rest to Nicole or did the sacrilegious thing and poured. I know, you want to hit me now. So would I.
What a fantastic beer festival Stone puts on – I’d love to return and plan another holiday around it. This time, with my husband and staying closer to the festival area so one of us didn’t have to be the designated driver.
To complete the Stone experience, we went to the original Stone Brewing World Bistro Gardens for dinner. The outdoor seating is spacious and it leads into a little oasis garden. You wouldn’t have a clue that you were smack dab in the middle of an industrial area. Fantastic food and a gorgeous setting, not to mention the view of the brewery, makes this worth the visit.