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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!

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