Stone Brewing Company Store, Oceanside
The Stone location in Oceanside is a delight, an oasis of soothing green that feels hidden from everything around it. As you sit in the garden outside you can't help but relax, your senses heightened as you take in the dappled sunlight falling through the pine trees. It is a perfect setting for appreciating a beer.
And you will appreciate the beer. Stone may be most well-known for its super-hopped IPAs, but for me the best beer they make is in the stout/porter line, including some wonderful barrel-aged offerings.
My flight of five, served in a wooden box for easy carrying, focused on the dark end of the spectrum of offerings (they were pouring 20 beers, and the fridges were full of bottles to take home).
Nameology (Smoked Red Ale, 5.8% ABV; collaboration with Benchmark Brewing). Smooth, subtly smoky. Just lovely. 4/5
Stone Barrel-Aged Brown Ale w/Balaton Sour Cherries (Flanders Oud Bruin Sour, 8.1% ABV). Holy cow that's good. Tart, cherry, bourbon present but not overpowered. Under the pines with good music, it is an aesthetic experience. 4/5
Sweet Potato Oatmeal Stout (5.9% ABV). Slightly smoky/sharp but otherwise just a good stout. Can't taste sweet potato. 3.5/5
Pilot Series: Imperial Stout With Chocolate And Strawberries (7.5% ABV). I get nothing but coffee--no chocolate or strawberry. The bartender confirmed that was her experience, too. (I wonder if they put the wrong keg on the handle?) Not as advertised, but good. 3.5/5
Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout (Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, 13% ABV; a collaboration with Will Wheaton). For me, this has an unnecessarily high ABV (it doesn't add anything to the flavor, just makes it harder to drink). Still, it is a decent imperial stout. 3.5/5
Earlier this month I posted some musings on craft beer inspired by my visit to 10 Barrel Brewing. There, I pointed out that craft beer can at least learn from some of the things "fake craft" does well, like setting, sophistication, service and consistency. Stone Brewing, of course, is one craft brewer that is already firing on all cylinders on those metrics. The setting couldn't be better, and the sophistication of the operation comes through in every aspect of the experience. The service was excellent: both staff members I interacted with were welcoming and really knew their beer. And Stone has nailed making consistently good beer. In short, I wish this location was a lot closer to where I live.
www.stonebrewing.com 310 N Tremont St, Oceanside, CA 92054