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SAN DIEGO -- Located in Escondido, Stone Brewing Co. is one of the fastest-growing breweries in America. On Saturday, April 9, they will pour samples of their Stone Levitation Ale and Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale to attendees of the third annual Rhythm & Vine Festival -- North County's music, wine and food festival.
Since its inception in July of 1996, Stone Brewing Co. has consistently increased their brewing percentage year after year. In 2005, they brewed 36,390 barrels (that is over one-million gallons of beer), reaching their brewing maximum capacity and subsequently relocated to their current facility that December.
Their new location allowed them to expand the brewery to 55,000 sq ft; their refrigeration area alone takes up 22,500 sq feet. Since then, Stone Brewing Co. continued increasing their beer production, and in 2010, they brewed over three-million, five-hundred thousand gallons of specialty craft beer.
Increasing Stone Brewing's beer production was not enough for co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, so in November of 2006, they opened The Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. In addition to featuring a one acre beer garden, the 8,500 sq foot restaurant is "the largest restaurant purchaser of locall, small-farm organic produce in San Diego," according to their website.
"We carefully source our ingredients, and pride ourselves on doing everything possible in-house, including making our own natural sodas (no HFCS in sight), all of our own bread, and we are working on developing our own charcuterie program," said Public Relations Coordinator, Randy Clemens.
"Naturally, our beer menu is impressive, boasting 32 rotating taps, a cask engine, and close to 120 bottle selections from craft breweries around the world," Clemens added. "There are also over 50 different wines to choose from in the event that we really can’t win you over to the beer side."
The Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens menu emphasizes quality, and does not serve your average pub food. In a letter posted on their website, Koch explains their atypical menu choices and their "Slow Food" approach:
"'Slow Food' was so-named as its goal is the opposite of 'fast food.' We believe it’s time to get our vegetables locally, to have our meats raised outside of factory, and to prepare our food thoughtfully and with flavor on the stove, on the wood grill, in a wok or in the oven, rather than with chemical enhancers and trans-fats in the microwave or a deep fryer. Although I gotta admit that we do have a deep fryer ... and that our organic Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings are damn tasty!"
"... We’ve all been to restaurants that feature a 'signature' item. It’s a unique dish or two with a special preparation that has grown to become something that people go out of their way for. As we worked on creating the menu here, we wondered to ourselves, ‘Why can’t all of our plates be signature dishes?’"
Clemens divulged a little more about the Stone Brewing menu.
"The Mac ‘n Beer Cheese is probably our most popular menu item. Made with Mike's Stone Smoked Porter & Garlic Beer Cheese and basil, along with Stone Smoked Porter Sausage from San Marcos' T&H Prime Meats & Sausage. You can make it veggie by omitting the sausage, or by substituting tofu or broccoli for the sausage. The BBQ Duck Tacos are also very popular.
"We follow the simple, and humble, philosophy of the international Slow Food movement, but also, any of our menu items can be easily adapted to for vegetarian/vegan diner. Plus, we feature a Meatless Monday menu."
Stone Brewing Co. has been a supporter of the Rhythm & Vine festival since its inception. Although they will not be serving their eclectic food items, they share this soon-to-be published recipe with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News readers.
"The Garlic, Cheddar, and Stone Ruination IPA soup is very rich and bitter, like the beer we use to make it [with]," Clemens said. " 'Dr.' Bill Sysak -- Stone Brewing's Beverage Supervisor and resident pairing expert/bon vivant -- likes to serve it alongside our Stone IPA or a flute of Louis Roederer 'Brut Premier' Champagne."
Garlic, Cheddar and Stone Ruination IPA Soup
A healthy pour of Stone Ruination IPA imparts a bold dose of bitterness that perfectly complements the sticky-sweet flavor of roasted garlic permeating every gooey spoonful of this hearty soup.
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) Stone Ruination IPA
1 cup whole milk
3 heads roasted garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 pounds sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
Freshly ground white pepper
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Melt 3/4 cup of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Add the flour, whisking briskly to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until the flour takes on a light blond color, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.
Stir in the onion and minced garlic and cook just until the garlic is aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock and IPA.
When the liquid begins to simmer, stir in the garlic, paprika, and cumin.
Puree until smooth with an immersion blender or in a regular blender.
Whisk in the flour mixture. Add the cheese a handful at a time, whisking after each addition, until melted and smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnishing each serving with some of the chives.
Note:Reprinted with permission from The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner with Randy Clemens, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Book to released mid-October 2011.
The third annual Rhythm & Vine takes place at Westfield North County (previously known as North County Fair) on Saturday, April 9, from 6 to 9 pm for general admission, and 6 to 10 pm for VIP admission. Rhythm & Vine plays host to fine-dining restaurants, wineries, breweries, spirit purveyors, and three live musical performances.
The event features gourmet cuisine from North County's most noteworthy chefs; wines representing regions from around the globe; an all-access VIP badge, granting VIP ticket-holders access to an exclusive VIP tent and after-party; a silent auction, featuring wine and lifestyle products perfect for the wine aficionado; and vibrant musical entertainment throughout.
Proceeds from the Rhythm & Vine event go directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Diego, which help support children when they need it most.
Tickets cost $75 to $150 and may be purchased online or by calling (858) 866-0591 ext. 203.
For those who would just like to enjoy the music, food, and non-alcoholic beverages, Designated Driver tickets are $40 in advance and $90 at the door. Military and students receive a special discount (available for pre-sale only) when they use the promo code “2011VIN.” The offer is a packaged deal of two tickets for $99, a total savings of more than $50.