The brewing company renowned for its in-your-face big beers and equally aggressive marketing campaign that pegs ‘fizzy yellow beer’ drinkers ‘wussies’ is approaching the final countdown before opening a second bottle and brew shop in southern California; that’s right, oh-quiet, quaint, artistic, family and dog friendly South Park– you’re about to get Stone’d.
Before all of South Park’s tree huggers get their organic cotton panties in a bunch, I’m here to report that the infamously gargantuan brewing company is not erecting Stone Palace No. 2 to mirror its North County castle; rather, the 14 tap growler-fill, bottle shop and small batch brew-pub is but a modest storefront within the historic and recently renovated Fire Station #9 building on 30th Street, home to indie establishments Station Tavern, VELO Cult and most recently, The Rose Wine Pub.
I know what you’re thinking. Modesty? Nano-brewing? Isn’t Stone Brewing Company, like, traversing oceans as we speak to divide and conquer Europe one self-righteous ale at a time? There’s an undeniable duplicity between Stone the Brand and Stone the Neighborhood Store, but as CEO and Co-Founder Greg Koch explained under the bill of his Arrogant Bastard hat, ‘North Park/South Park is becoming a culinary and craft beer corridor. The advanced philosophies of businesses in this area, and their appreciation of the art of craft beer, makes it feel like home.’ Translation: SOUTH PARK IS WORTHY!!!
Koch went on to preview more of what we can expect at the open Q&A session held this afternoon at the soon-to-open shop, emphasizing above all else what the store won’t be. According to the CEO, Stone Brewing Company Store South Park doesn’t want to compete with liquor stores, bars and surrounding restaurants; heck, it doesn’t even want to compete with itself, or other identity, depending on how you look at it. The store will serve Stone enthusiasts who want to fill up their growlers without traveling to Escondido (very handy for releases), and offer the chance to try some experimental, small batches of beer ‘unlike anything’ the company has produced before. There are no plans, just a possibility, that Stone Brewing Company’s successful ‘Beer U’ educational programs will satellite in South Park, and the same goes for flights and tasting events– not on the regular menu.
Because of licencing restrictions, the Stone Brewing Company Store can only feature goods produced by the company, a sad contrast to the Escondido location/distribution center where up to 20-something other craft brewery varieties are available in bottles and on tap. The South Park specialty store is slated to open at 11am and close anywhere from 7-9pm, operating 7 days a week, in as soon as 5 weeks time.
What does booze have to do with San Diego Beer Week? Ballast Point, in addition to being one of our region’s finest craft breweries, is also San Diego’s only distillery. On Sunday 11-7-10 Neighborhood Ale House dedicated 12 taps to Ballast Point and next door’s speak-easy, Noble Experiment, expertly mixed cocktails with both Old Grove Gin and aged 3 Sheets Rum from the distillery.
Once inside the opulent speakeasy, I ordered the Golden Rum Fiz(z). Aged rum, lemon juice, sugar, egg yolk and club soda combined for a rich and frothy libation; slightly puckersome from the lemon juice and balanced by smooth rum, the fiz(z) was easy to drink and delightful thru and thru.
The mixologists at Noble certainly live up to the hype. The Fiz(z) might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, and you can imagine the potential for disaster if these ingredients were mis-managed. The cocktail proved delicious and thought evoking; its rich flavors and simultaneous effervescence thrilled my palate, and made me think… how can I recreate this drink at home for breakfast?
Next door at Neighborhood, we sipped the rest of the night away with Victory at Sea imperial porter, Sour Wench, and the San Salvador Saison. Alongside our cheese plate (all Neighborhood cheeses come from Venissimo’s East Village location), the San Salvador was most enjoyable; a bright cinnamon nose opened up into a light-medium, sticky mouth-feel, packed with more spices that reeked (in a good way) of fall. Relevant to our recent hot and cold weather, the San Salvador was the best of all seasons; a summer-style body packed with holiday spice.
I’m sad to report that I’m not a fan of Victory at Sea ‘vanilla imperial porter’ this year. To my taste buds, it’s less ‘imperial’ and more bitter-roasty than I care to imbibe. I’ve had this conversation with several people, who agree. ‘What happened to that sweet, decadent, rich vanilla bean flavor, mildly bittered up by Scharffen Berger chocolate?’ The dark roasted malts seem to have taken over this year, except in the barrel aged variety that I sampled at the Brewer’s Guild Festival on Saturday. But even that one wasn’t like the Victory from the past that I recall so fondly. Sadness!
As with all of Neighborhood’s SDBW events, custom glassware and shirts were available for purchase (and will be throughout the week), discounted with a pour of beer.