You read the title correctly! Now before you get too incredulous, let me explain. I love Stone Brewery beers (or at least most of the ones I have tried) and I think that Stone is a worldwide brewing leader in supporting the craft beer industry. So for the first time in my many visits to Stone Brewery and Bistro Escondido over several years, I decided to take advantage of the extensive selection of fantastic beers that Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens features from breweries all over the world.
My wife, daughter, and I drove to the Escondido location for Stone Brewery and Bistro. The entry to the Bistro is a delightful tunnel of plants, stone, and steel. From huge boulders to small cut-stone bricks, the design of Bistro and Gardens leverages the brewery name to create a unique, impressive, and beautiful ambiance. As we turned the tunnel corner, the huge wooden and glass entry doors beckoned us to enter and relax.
The Bistro is very popular so I highly recommend reservations for any day of the week and weekend reservations are absolutely essential. Indoor and outdoor seating are available. Weather permitting, I prefer the outdoor seating but always make certain that the table seats are in shade.
As we walk into the hangar-like Bistro, we encounter a huge stone boulder bubbling water into a pool and a magnificent wooden bar with numerous taps and busy bar tenders. We pass outside to wooden tables surrounded by large quarry stone boulders, a large fish pond with flowing water, and a great view of the gardens. We sit down and relax. There is also a large, covered outdoor bar for patrons that seek the outdoors. The menu offers tasty food selections for all. However, I must admit that I can rarely (if ever) tear myself away from ordering the BBQ Duck Tacos with pineapple-habanero salsa. The tacos are absolutely delicious! Stone Bistro prepares the pineapple-habanero salsa to create a perfect mix of sweet and spicy hot without making the salsa too spicy. The salsa is the perfect complement to the tacos and I always order extra.
Stone Bistro offers numerous selections of Stone and other craft brewery beers on draft and bottled. In this case, I had already identified a couple of “must-drink“ beers that I’ve never tried – (1) De Molen Tsarina Esra Imperial Porter and (2) De Struise Black Albert Belgian Royal Stout. My daughter joined my goal of ordering a non-Stone beer also. She ordered a Stift-Engelszell Gregorius Trappist Quad (Stift-Engelszell, an Austrian Abbey, doesn’t appear to have a webpage in English). Here are my notes on these beers.
Gregorius Trappist Quad (9.7% ABV): Brewed with honey, Gregorius Trappist Quad pours a very dark brown color and produces a lovely tan foam head with tiny bubbles. The beer has a very malty aroma with some hints of bread. This beer is full-bodied and well carbonated in a pleasant way. Flavors of caramel, dark fruits like raisin and fig, and toasted barley malt abound. Any evidence of honey is very subtle. The high alcohol content does not interfere with the rich flavors in this well-integrated beer. The beer finishes with a malty flavor that has hints of anise and molasses. This is a delicious, complex, and solid beer that makes me want to travel to Austria.
De Molen Tsarina Esra Imperial Porter (11% ABV): Located in the Netherlands, De Molen is rapidly becoming one of my favorite breweries. Imperial Porter is a stronger version of the Baltic Porter and represents a recent new porter style that has emerged in both North America and Europe. The style is almost similar to a stout but without the roasted malt flavor. Tsarina Porter pours a very dark brown color (almost black) with tan brown foam. The beer has a sweet caramel aroma with hints of dark chocolate. Tsarina Esra is medium-bodied with wonderfully low carbonation that creates a delightful, “melt in your mouth” creamy experience . The beer tastes of sweet chocolate malt, coffee, molasses, and slight licorice. The beer finishes with a chocolate malt flavor and mild bitterness. Delicious and wonderful!
De Struise Black Albert (13% ABV): Brewed with 100% Belgian ingredients, Black Albert is produced by De Struise Brewery for (and as a tribute to) Ebenezer’s Pub, which RateBeer, BeerAdvocate, and many others have called a World Class Gastropub. This beer pours blacker than black with a dark brown foamy head that lingers seductively. An aroma of malt, fresh coffee, dark chocolate, and floral hops seduces you into raising the glass to your mouth. Black Albert is full-bodied with lovely carbonation and a richness that coats your tongue and throat. The flavor starts with 80% Cacao chocolate, followed by complex hints of coffee, caramel barley, dried dark fruit, and licorice. There is some alcohol warmth that is a perfect component to the flavor. The finish consists of mocha, dark chocolate, and a wonderfully integrated hops bitterness. This beer is powerful, complex, balanced, and elegant. Black Albert makes me want to misbehave!
After lunch we toured the garden, which features private nooks for sitting and relaxing while enjoying a beer, a large pond with waterfall, and quarried stone.
After our stroll, I stopped by the Stone Brewery Store to purchase beer to bring home. I bought a 1 liter growler of Stone RuinTen Double IPA. The next day I had to taste it! Here are my tasting notes:
Stone RuinTen Double IPA (10.8% ABV): Stone RuinTen was first released in 2012, as Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Stone Ruination IPA. Stone Brewery then decided to continue making the beer under the name Stone RuinTen. This IPA packs a whopping five pounds of hops into each barrel! Stone RuinTen pours a beautiful clear copper color with white foam head. A Cascade floral hops aroma prevails but is coupled with grapefruit and citrus. The beer is full-bodied with a spicy and tingly feel that is quite pleasant. Stone RuinTen has a spicy grapefruit/citrus flavor with malt and pine. The beer finishes with an intense, dry hops bitterness that is not overwhelming. This beer is a heavy hitter and a Double IPA Lover’s Delight!
And THANK YOU to my lovely wife who encouraged the trip, took most of the photographs and was the designated driver!