Stone Brewing’s 17th Anniversary Celebration – Making Us Wish We Could Stop Time

Posted: August 20, 2013 in Beer, Events, Food, San Diego
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Stone Brewing Company celebrated their 17th Anniversary this past weekend with a grandiose festival of food, beer, music, cigars, and exercise. Taking place along a massive portion of the California State University San Marcos campus, Stone breaks all boundaries with the sheer area of this fest, not the mention the 50+ guest breweries invited to participate in the festivities by sharing their wonderful brews too. Stone wholeheartedly offered maps of the entire area, complete with a list of beers, food, music, and more. With such an enormous amount of space to cover, a single three-hour session would not provide enough time for first-time visitors to explore every part, despite a festival with two three-hour sessions. Although Stone offers an all-access pass that allows attendees to stay for a full seven hours, those passes tend to sell out within minutes every year. That said, follow along my journey through this year’s Stone Brewing Anniversary Celebration.

From the entrance, we make our way to the right to climb up the stairs to the upper festival, overlooking a bulk of the lower festival. Once past the University Hall, we find a courtyard full of guest brewery tents, and the Stone Brewing World Bistro cart. In this area, I obtained Mother Earth Brew‘s Sin Tax Peanut Butter Stout, Mission Brewery‘s Dark Seas Imperial Stout, and Green Flash‘s Serrano Chili Double Stout.

From the courtyard, we can climb up more stairs to find another upper area with more guest breweries, an IPA cart sponsored by Stone, food, a merch booth, and one of the music setups. Here, we find German metal band Kranken Welpen cranking out the hardest music this fest has heard. I also got to try Smog City Brewing‘s Third Nipple Tripel. By now, I started getting hungry, so I ordered some Arrogant Bastard-battered Onion Rings and smothered it with Stone’s own barbeque sauce.

Upon leaving the courtyard prior to the stairs to the lower festival, we find a cigar lounge to our right and the rare beer section directly ahead. Only those who purchased the all-access pass could enter the rare beer section, so I opted to head into the cigar lounge to explore. In here, I received a pour of Stone‘s 2013 Oak-Smoked Old Guardian.

I returned to the lower festival, which contained the majority of the action, as far as the beer and food went. Locating the Stone Brewing World Bistro tent, I stopped by this line to order some pierogis, which they served with a heaping spoonful of caramelized onions.

Following that snack, I strolled over to a nearby Stone Hop Wagon for a taste of Stone‘s 11.11.11 Vertical Epic aged in red wine barrels. I chased that one down with some Stone ice cream.

By now, the combination of all the beer thus far and the snacking had increased my hunger. Across from the Stone Hop Wagons, attendees could find free homebrewed sodas to sip on. These craft sodas hit the spot nicely, especially for a hot day such as this one. Further down from the sodas tent, Mike’s Beer Cheese served up cheese and cracker samples for all guests. All of these cheeses use Stone’s beer in the mix, each with a unique beer twist that you can easily distinguish upon tasting. A few tents down from the cheese, we find the infamous beer desserts.

In the immediate area, guests would find the Stone Cask beers poured here. The beers here changed depending on the session, with the second session serving a completely different lineup of cask beers. At this station, I procured for myself a 2013 Espresso Imperial Russian Stout w/ Vanilla Beans, and a 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA.

With my exploration coming to a close, I moseyed past the rest of this lower festival to discover the lowest section, where we could find the Stone Collaboration Court, the most popular area of the festival.

Through this chaos, I managed to first snag a Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout, a collaborative effort between Drew Curtis, Wil Wheaton, and Greg Koch. After that, I acquired Stone’s 2013 Imperial Russian Stout aged in Templeton Rye Whisky Barrels.

Sadly, by the time of this last beer, last call had already occurred, so I left with five beer tickets remaining out of the initial fifteen. When it comes down to it, no general admission attendee truly experienced the full three hours of their session. First off, every single attendee could not immediately enter the festival upon arrival – they had to wait in long lines to first receive their wristbands and glasses, then get back into another long line just to enter the festival. Although they made a last call fifteen minutes prior to the end of a session, all volunteers and staff stopped all pours at that time too, defeating the purpose of a last call. This means that the very first person in the line to enter the fest only got to experience two hours and 45 minutes of beer drinking at most. Security also promptly booted everyone out right when the session ended, not allowing anyone to stay to get water, sodas, or food to attempt to sober up. Lastly, all staff, volunteers, security, and other personnel need to know the same consistent information. When a volunteer says one thing, and a security guard contradicts that statement, this leads to very confused guests that could potentially get into trouble unknowingly and get kicked out of the festival. As one of the nation’s largest craft breweries, I would not expect them to allow these little things to slip by. However, little things add up over time, and if they add up for too long, they escalate into a large problem. I doubt this will produce any negatory effect on Stone in the long run, but some guests, especially future first-time visitors, may want to take this into consideration for Stone’s Anniversary Celebrations in the upcoming years.

  1. […] time. If this case arises, they must consider running two sessions, just like how Stone Brewing does for their anniversary. If they cannot run two sessions on the same day, then they can add another beer fest of the same […]

  2. […] time. If this case arises, they must consider running two sessions, just like how Stone Brewing does for their anniversary. If they cannot run two sessions on the same day, then they can add another beer fest of the same […]

  3. […] and Hangar 24 Craft Brewery took that go-ahead step last year. With as big as a local reputation as Stone Brewing, Hangar 24 stands toe-to-toe with the big guys of Southern California, never relenting in the face […]

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