(Before you read this please know that I’m not really sure what I am trying to convey here, so I think this post is more likely to turn out to be a stream of consciousness rather than anything particularly coherent – apologies in advance).
Yesterday I was at Stone’s Brewery, Tap Room and Bistro, in Escondido, CA. Many years ago, those words alone would have sent shivers up my spine and sent me into a little bit of a fan-boy, pant-wetting moment. Unconnected to my visit, those beer geek days are LONG behind me and only lasted a very short time, but nevertheless, yesterday I felt really, really flat, and the whole experience was quite the opposite of what I had once imagined it would be.
Let me start by saying that the whole American beer scene owes Stone, Greg Koch, Mitch Steele and all of the people that made Stone a reality, a massive debt of gratitude. This post is not about any shortcomings that Stone may have, nor is it meant to necessarily convey any negative comment about my experience and visit, it’s just that the whole thing did nothing for me. However, I am guessing that says more about me than it does about Stone, but I am not 100% sure. (See what I mean about rambling, here?).
When I arrived in the USA in 2000, in Georgia things were bad. Not only did we have an ABV cap on beer, there was almost zero knowledge of great beer. Sure there were a few pioneers out there, people like Dave Blanchard, Crawford Moran, the Sweetwater guys (Sweetwater was only about 2-3 years old when I arrived in ATL) and a few others, but generally it was a mess. Although I knew a lot about beer back then, I wasn’t all that familiar with the American scene. A little digging quickly led me to a couple of protagonists that seemed like they were really trailblazing; Stone and Dogfish Head were those breweries.