Stone Brewing Company Tap Room, Downtown

I learned today that the Stone location inside Petco park is no longer a Stone location. Stone beer is still served inside the park, but there is no Stone tasting room. That takes one off The List, which means there are actually 25, not 26, San Diego craft beer satellite tasting rooms. (Don't worry, more are coming soon.)

The Stone Tap Room on J Street is, however, just outside the third base outfield. It is a great place to grab a beer or two, and some food, before or after a game. Or any time you are downtown, for that matter. It is a sophisticated room, comfortable and inviting. From my experience, lots of tourists in town for a game drop by here to sample some Stone before heading into the park.

Parking is the main issue downtown. On game days, nearby parking lots jack up their prices: the lot I tried, about two blocks away, was going to charge me $25 for three hours for "event parking" even though it was four hours before the game and the lot was nearly empty. Fortunately, I found an open meter and paid $1.75 for an hour and change.

The food menu is not as extensive as that at, say, Stone's Liberty Station World Bistro and Gardens (it is a little hard for me to get my head around the fact that that was 98 reviews ago!). But there is good selection, and what I ate (the hummus plate) was flavorful and large enough to share.

Service was outstanding. The beertender was excellent at explaining the beer on the menu as well as talking about the San Diego beer scene. As he worked the bar, checking in with customers regularly, it struck me that he was talking to each of them about beer in the just the way they wanted to talk about beer. It was neat to watch.

The beer selection seemed smaller than, say, the Stone Company Store in Oceanside. There was still plenty to choose from, and a good variety of Stone's famous IPAs as well as other things they aren't as widely known for but which are also very high quality. I had half pours of two beers and got the last bit of Ghosthammer IPA before the final keg blew. Being the end of the keg, it wasn't in prime condition, but it will be back next summer and I'm looking forward to it.

Merc Machine (Imperial IPA, 8.2% ABV). Take me out to the ballgame... a great IPA for a hot day. Crisp, bitter, refreshing. If it were a little less piney, it would be even better. 3.75/5

Stone 21st Anniversary Hail To the Hop Thief (Double IPA, 9.8% ABV). Very good. Sweet, tropical fruit, floral, melon notes, low-key pine, nice bitter bite.  3.75/6

The Stone Company Store on Kettner is right next to the Santa Fe Depot, about 1.4 miles from Petco Park. Both Stone locations downtown have merchandise and bottles to go. When you are at the Tap Room, consider wandering a block or so over to the also-excellent Half Door Brewing, another good spot before a ballgame.

http://www.stonebrewing.com/     795 J St, San Diego, CA 92101

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