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December 27, 2010

California Brewery Trip Part 2: Stone Brewing and Interview with CEO Greg Koch

Our next stop on our whirlwind brewery tour of Southern California was at Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, CA. Still shimmering-new, Stone's facility and adjacent gardens is quite a marvel. I think one of us likened it to the Disneyland of Breweries.

We had originally planned on taking the tour, but since we spent longer than we planned at Lost Abbey, we missed our shot at the one at Stone. That gave us the opportunity to sit down, relax and have a late lunch and a few beers. Even though CEO Greg Koch was out of town attending the Beer Blogger's conference in Denver, he graciously agreed to answer a few questions via email. You can read the full text of the interview below.

When the weather is nice, the doors are opened and seating is expanded to the outside next to the gardens.

Looking in from where we were seated outside, you can just barely see the large brewtanks behind the glass at the back.

The center of the gardens on the Stone grounds.

Looking back from the gardens at the building.

John Kleinchester, We also visited Lost Abbey/Port Brewing in San Marcos and they explained to us about how they occupy your former building. What was it like moving from the old location to the new? 

Greg Koch, CEO Stone Brewing Company: Exciting! For years we’d struggled to work within the confines of a series of suites in the old building (we grew to 24,500 sf in that building…the Lost Abbey brewery is in our original 7100 sf), so we were stoked to be able to design and build a space that was to our specific design.

JK: And how did it come about that they were the ones to take the spot?

GK: We’ve been friends with those guys for a long time. We let it be known that the brewery was available, and they responded. We worked together to come to a mutual deal…and the rest is history!

JK: The brewery/bistro site is more of an experience than most other breweries I've visited. Do you foresee the future European Stone location as being something similar?

GK: Well, “similar” in that it will be different and eclectic with its own unique personality, yes. It’s our goal to create something that will hopefully grow to be as special as what we have here in Escondido.

JK: Has the bistro always been about local/natural/organic ingredients (i.e. no high fructose corn syrup in the sodas) or is that something that changed at some point? Will the new European location would follow the same model?

GK: We set those standards from the very beginning of the restaurant. When we decided that we wanted to open a restaurant, I started researching food and the food system we use here in the US. It’s pretty messed up IMO, and I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience be a part of the commodity food system. Thus, the decisions that we’ve made. Yes, we will use similar ideals in Europe if we open a restaurant at the brewery location there.

Thanks to Greg for the interview and if you're headed to the San Diego area, I recommend you take the short drive out to Escondido so you can experience this little beer oasis for yourself. 

Stay tuned for Part III featuring Ballast Point and Green Flash Brewing companies!

December 15, 2010

America Voted World's WORST Beer Producer

This was posted on The Huffington Post today:
America didn't just repeat as producers of the world's worst beer, we increased our margin of victory by 7 points (in a new survey of 3,400 respondents from 99 countries). Hard to say if American beer is getting worse, or the rest of the world's beer production is improving. Or, perhaps our reputation is simply spreading. As the long-standing joke goes: What does American beer and making love in a canoe have in common? Both are amazingly close to water.
This is just idiocy for many different reasons. Firstly, its a survey of 3400 people in 99 countries. So basically a TINY amount of people asked what they think of beers in different countries. No chance that a majority of them even know that the good beer in this country is on the upswing. In fact, I'd even guess that this was just an opportunity to knock America because of general declining opinions of us as a nation. Terrible. Then again, there's also the possibility that the rest of the world's palettes are finally refining and realizing that we mass-produce a ton of terrible Light Adjunct Lager... But those same people should realize that our craft market share is growing, and technically Budweiser, "The Great American Lager" isn't even American owned anymore.

On top of all of that, if you look at the photo for India (seen above) it has a freaking flight of Dogfish Head. What in the hell? Did they think Dogfish Head India Pale Ale is from India? Someone tell them its made in the beautiful state of Delaware. Any way you look at it, this is an entirely worthless article... You're welcome for sharing it!


December 3, 2010

Barcade Jersey City: December Update

Its been a while since our last check-in with Barcade's new downtown Jersey City location. I decided to walk by on my way home from work yesterday and was happy to find that work on the place is starting to shape up. The photo above was taken through their front door. It looks like we're seeing the beginnings of a bar perhaps? Also, even though it was already mentioned that this Barcade location would also be serving food, I was excited to see that the permit taped to the window listed work being done on a "food prep area". Awesome. One other thing I noticed was another permit stating that nothing would be allowed closer than 5 feet to the curb. I'm assuming this means that there will indeed be outdoor seating available here, which is a great addition.

They've also set up some official websites for you to follow:

It looks like the opening is in sight and I for one cannot wait.

December 1, 2010

California Brewery Trip Part 1: Port Brewing/Lost Abbey

Earlier this month I flew to Los Angeles to visit some friends and attend the second-ever show of Conan on TBS. And what's a vacation without cramming in as many breweries as possible? San Diego and its surrounding area is chock full of awesome breweries, so I convinced LA friends (and future purveyors of West Coast Ten Dudes Brewery operations) Ian and Josh to do a road trip with my up-and-coming-hop-head girlfriend Tash and myself.

Team Beertography gearing up for our first beers of the day.

Our first stop on our route from Los Angeles to San Diego was The Lost Abbey / Port Brewing in San Marcos, CA. Until planning this trip,  I hadn't realized that Lost Abbey and Port were one in the same. Another interesting fact we learned was that this building was actually Stone's old facility until they moved to their brand-new state-of-the-art one in Escondido, CA.

Look at that wonderfully huge list of beers. Having only had 1 or 2 Lost Abbey beers ever before, it was a real treat ordering half pints of as many beers as possible.

They may not look comfy, but what says "awesome brewery" more than seats made out of KEGS and grain bags? (they're actually very comfortable)

The tables are barrels. THE TABLES ARE BARRELS!

That's some nice lacing.

FACT: Every brewery needs a cat.

Staggering amount of barrels, all funkified. It was light headed-ness inducing.

Mash Tun, Platform, Lauter Tun

Sage, our awesome tour guide shows Ian the working of the bottling line. Everything at the brewery is crammed in at the moment, but that's only because they just bought the building next store and have just begun expanding into it. He also took us across the street where they have even MORE barrels. Like, hundreds upon hundreds of them. They're the barrel kings.

Not only did they gain their building from Stone, but this fermentation tank was shipped from Delaware by a dude named Sam Calagione (you may have heard of his new TV show, BrewMasters). You gotta love all of the collaboration and sharing that goes on in the beer world.

Special thanks go out to Terri and Sage who hooked us up with a fantastic private tour and also some limited-run beers in their "Hop Tea" series. I believe we got to try the Tea 4 and Tea 5 which were fantastic.

Stay tuned for Part II featuring Stone Brewing Company.