Have you ever wanted to see the pinnacle of beer fests outside of Germany? Oktoberfest continues to hold the title of the most popular beer fest in the world, but here in America, many event organizers attempt to host the most grandiose party they can. Even the large event companies may fall short in some events, so sometimes you have to cut out the middleman and get right to the source. Many local breweries hold a special event on their anniversaries, from specials dinners to full-scale beer fests. Every year though, no other brewery blows the others away than Stone Brewery’s Anniversary Celebration.
Stone Brewing Company turns 19 this year, and to celebrate, in typical Stone fashion, they will throw a huge bash full of food, desserts, music, and of course, beer. A regular beer fest may remain in a small confined area with not much room to move about. At the Stone Fest, the website claims to have two areas: an upper and lower. However, once you arrive and inspect the area, you will discover that the fest may contain up to four levels, all with beer and more, and maybe even more levels than that. The lower area has an even lower level, and the upper area has an even higher level. Admission costs $45 and allows access to one of two sessions: 11am-2pm and 3pm-6pm. All guests get free parking and 15 3oz beer tasters from over 60 breweries serving over a hundred different beers.
The main level, upon which guests enter from, contains most of the food and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as the primary seating area, vendors, and a few beer booths:
Immediately up the stairs to the right of the entrance lies the VIP section. VIP admission always sells out fast early in the year, so if you desire to enter the VIP section, make sure you act fast next year for the 20th Anniversary! As for the cigar booth shown below, that usually sets up right outside the VIP section, so all guests can access it.
Turning right from the VIP section and walking through a shaded hall brings guests to the first of the upper level courtyards, complete with dozens of breweries and their booths.
Heading upwards from the aforementioned courtyard lands guests at yet another upper level courtyard with more breweries and potentially more activities, such as a music stage and some food vendors.
Of course, Stone Brewing does more than just make beer. This pony knows more than one trick – they churn out tremendous food too. Not only do they craft world-class gourmet dishes, but they distribute a line of retail food products, most of which contain their beer in it. At the anniversary this weekend, expect to find a variety of yummy foods from Stone’s kitchens, from foods you can enjoy on the spot to items that you can purchase to take home and enjoy later.
Finally, we get to the lower levels. The lower levels do not contain as much as the rest of the event space, but expect to find the one-off and rare beers down here.
Stone’s Anniversary Celebration has so much to do, see, eat, and drink that three hours cannot possibly allow most guests to experience everything. True fans would have purchased the full-day pass, which grants all-access to both sessions, covering a total of seven hours of twice as many beers as the regular session, and access to a rare beer section. Sadly, these tickets have all sold out, and always do every year within days after the announcement of the fest. This fest takes place mostly outdoors with limited shade, so apply sunscreen and dress for warm weather. As a beer fest, remember to bring your I.D. so you can get in, and it goes without saying that no one under 21 may enter.
Start working on your beer tolerances, as you can expect a beer festival every weekend in Southern California now through October!