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Stone Bistro and SD Beer/Food Suggestions Needed

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I hope my geography is correct and this is on the correct board.

I will be at a meeting all week next week and it will be my first time in San Diego and I am a beer nut and obviously a chowhound. I was wondering if there was anything that I really shouldnt miss out there- I am incredibily looking forward to getting some beers out there that I cant get on the East Coast (New Belgium/Russian River/among others).

One place that I would love to get to is the Stone Brewing house (I believe Escondido) and didnt know if it would be worth making the trip from San Diego or even how to do so. I understand their beer list and food offerings are quite impressive.

As an East Coaster making the first trip to SD, I would happily appreciate any suggestions or feedback. Thanks a lot!

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  1. I think it's worth making the trip to Stone Brewing, even though the reports on the food have been inconsistent. But the setting is beautiful, the beer is impressive and on our visit we enjoyed all the food we ordered. It is a bit of a drive, I'm sure their website can provide directions. We had a little trouble finding it but I don't think I mapquested it beforehand.
    Don't worry about Russian River and stuff like that -- concentrate on the San Diego breweries which are worthy by themselves.
    My absolute favorite brewery right now is Alesmith. They don't have a pub, but check on the site if you're interested in visiting it anyway. Their beer is widely available around San Diego, but I would highly recommend having dinner at the Linkery. It's all organic, seasonal, what have you food, but casual, with an amazing beer selection. The cask-conditioned Alesmith I had there was easily the best beer I've ever had.
    If it's not too far out of your way, a visit to Pizza Port is also fun.
    Here's my report with links to all the places I mentioned above. Happy drinking, and hope you don't end up with as big a headache as I did!
    http://eatingla.blogspot.com/2007/07/...

    1. It depends on transportation and your schedule. If you're here over the weekend, then a trip to Stone for a brewery tour is pretty worthwhile - just be sure to make a reservation in advance.

      As far as beer you can't get back east, the most common New Belgium offering you'll see out here is Flat Tire. Better by far are offerings from our local brewers at Pizza Port, AleSmith, Alpine, and Ballast Point.

      If you're staying downtown, then you have a few good options relatively close by for getting your fill of local beer.

      Downtown Johnny Brown's, which is in the Civic Center complex, has a great selection on tap. The Local Eatery and Drinking Hole also has a large selection of local stuff.

      A little further away, though close enough for a cab, is Hamilton's Tavern. Great selection of bottles and drafts.

      http://www.hamiltonstavern.com
      http://www.downtownjohnnybrowns.com
      http://www.thelocalsandiego.com/index...

      1. We go to Stone often for the outdoor setting and my husband loves the beer. The food is "interesting" and they try to be completely different than any other brew pub type establishment. I think they try too hard too be different and some of the food is a miss. Nevertheless I think it is a worthwhile trip and we always have good time there. It is about 30 min north of Downtown without any traffic.

        1. You might also try Pizza Port in Solana Beach or Karl Strauss in Downtown San Diego. Both have decent beers, although Pizza Port has the better reputation (some of their beers have medaled at the Great American Beer Festival).

          I like the pizza at Pizza Port, although it's on the heavy side. However, as with any brew pub (including Stone Brewery) don't expect great food.

          3 Replies
          1. re: wanker

            Karl Strauss used to be pretty bad. Lately, though, they have actually been brewing some excellent specialty beers. They have hired on new, younger brewers who are actually doing some interesting stuff.

            The biggest gripe I still have with them, though, is that they *only* serve their own beer. I would love to see them embrace the local brewing community and serve other beer too.

            1. re: Josh

              oddly enough, after being virtually absent from the San Diego scene I heard San Diego brewing Co. in Mission Gorge is finally making some interesting beers. Nice to see everyone getting involved.

              1. re: MrKrispy

                SDBC has the same prices, food menu and beer selections as Callaghan's in Mira Mesa.

          2. Any Pizza Port location will have many excellent beers on tap that are not sold back east - the closest one is Solana Beach. Hamilton's Tavern and O'Brien's are the best bars for total selection of craft brews. Ballast Point brewery has a home brew mart with a small tasting bar in the back - this is underground style, not a place to hang out, strictly for tasting things you'll get no place else. The Linkery and the Ritual Tavern are the best places for food that also have excellent beer selections - I think the Ritual has slightly more total selections. Stone has great beers, great atmosphere, but it's a long drive and like many I found the food lacking. If you go, consider a side trip to Port Brewing/ Lost Abbey in San Marcos - original, world class brews, many rare outside SD. The Port/ Lost Abbey brewery has very limited visiting hours, check their website before going. Downtown, I second the Local and Downtown Johnny Brown's - both solid, I give the edge to Johnny's for selection of hard to find locals. Seek out any beer from Alpine, Lightning, Mission, Ballast Point, Green Flash - these are all smaller breweries that export little or none of their product.
            You really can't go wrong as a beer tourist in SD. Have a great time!

            1 Reply
            1. re: juantanamera

              You guys are giving me some outstanding information to go off of. This is what Chowhound is all about. Thanks, Im leaving tomorrow am and have 3 nights of good food and beer ahead of me I hope.

            2. It may help to look at the web site for the San Diego Brewer's Guild: http://www.sandiegobrewersguild.org/a...

              San Diego has an absolutely world class beer scene and the local breweries continue to win many international awards at Beer Festivals. Stone is one of the big names but you absolutely MUST also visit AleSmith's brewery as they're one of the big local up and comers bringing home medals from the big international beer fests. I'd also recommend visiting Pizza Port in Solana Beach as it has won the title of best brew pub in America at least twice. Pizza Port doesn't bottle any of their beers but they do have a truly great selection of Belgian style brewers and in fact the head brewer, Jeff Bagby, is the only nonBelgian ever to be inducted into the Belgian Brewers' Association and the man ever received a visit by the King of Belgium a few years back when he was on a state visit to California. If you like Belgian beers then this is the next best thing to going to Belgium.

              2 Replies
              1. re: oerdin

                "Pizza Port doesn't bottle any of their beers"

                I think you are a few years out of date oerdin; they do now:

                http://www.portbrewing.com/

                Related to them (for your Belgian kick):

                http://www.lostabbey.com/

                1. re: oerdin

                  Alesmith is only open for visits infrequently, so it's best to check the website and see the times.

                  I recommend Alesmith 1000%. They are the best.

                2. My advice on Stone would be to go for the beer (excellent), and either (1) eat somewhere else, or (2) go in with no expectation of good food, and perhaps you'll be pleasantly surprised.

                  I'm not a huge fan of New Belgium, especially compared with other options you'll find out there.

                  I heartily second the Green Flash suggestion--the two things of theirs that I've had are excellent.

                  Russian River is a superb brewery, but they are located in Santa Rosa, which is outside SF, and have fairly limited distribution, so I don't know if you'll have luck finding any of their stuff in SD, but if you do, you should certainly try it!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: clarence6ybr

                    The Linkery has quite often Russian River beer. I remember that I had once the Damnation Golden Ale.

                    1. re: honkman

                      Russian River beers can be found at many places in San Diego. O'Brien's, Liars' Club, and Hamilton's Tavern all serve their beer.

                    2. re: clarence6ybr

                      "Russian River is a superb brewery, but they are located in Santa Rosa, which is outside SF, and have fairly limited distribution, so I don't know if you'll have luck finding any of their stuff in SD, but if you do, you should certainly try it!"

                      I picked up a bomber (22 oz bottle) of Damnation in Whole Foods just before Christmas. I'm pretty sure I've seen a few of their offerings in Beverages & More.

                      1. re: RB Hound

                        The only bottle we see in San Diego with any regularity is Damnation. Once in a while you'll see Temptation and Supplication. Better luck is had by going to pubs, where you can get Pliny the Elder and RR IPA on draft.

                        1. re: RB Hound

                          yah for some reason Damnation is ubiquitous but every other bottle is rare down here. Thankfully I regularly get my fix at Obriens

                        2. re: clarence6ybr

                          Well, I stand (pleasantly) corrected about how easy it is to find Russian River products in San Diego. I guess I've just been hanging out in the wrong places. Based on this info, it seems like there's better availability of RR bottles in San Diego than there is in San Francisco or San Diego (but maybe I've been hitting the wrong places there as well...).

                          1. re: clarence6ybr

                            I ended up going to the Linkery (twice) and the Vine. Thanks for the suggestions, I am going to write up a quick review.

                            1. re: clarence6ybr

                              Sorry, no. That's not correct. Russian River bottles are much easier to get in San Francisco. The only one you see here with any regularity is Damnation. Once in a great while you'll find Temptation or Supplication. What we do get here are drafts, like Pliny the Elder or IPA.