On Saturday we went to the Stone Brewing 12th Anniversary Party at the Cal State San Marcos campus. It was the fourth time we’ve been to the Stone Anniversary party, and I think yesterday’s event was the most enjoyable of the four.
We started our morning with a hearty breakfast from the La Creperie booth at the Little Italy mercato: eggs, bacon, cheese, and guacamole wrapped up inside a fresh crepe, it’s like a breakfast burrito with a French twist:
We then headed over to San Marcos, arriving at the campus about 25 minutes before our session began. The line was very long but well organized, hugging the walls of the buildings for shade, and once the gates were open we slowly wound our way down into the courtyard where the party was held. With more than forty breweries attending (typically with 2-4 beers each) and ten tasting tickets each, we set out to find beers that we’d never had before or that we rarely find on draught.
We started out at the Avery Brewing tent, where there’s always interesting beer to be found. I got Ale to the Chief, a “Presidential Pale Ale”, and Chuck had Fifteen, Avery’s unique anniversary ale in a slightly sour Belgian wild ale style.
After Avery we headed to Brew Dog, a brewery from Scotland that’s just over a year old and making their debut in our consciousness. At their booth I tried a double IPA, which was incredibly malty and smooth for an IPA, and Chuck tried their Imperial stout. Both of these beers were quite good, and I’ll definitely have Brew Dog beers again if I get the opportunity.
We then headed over to Port Brewing, where Chuck tried “Just Another Barrel“, a sour Belgian style ale from the Lost Abbey, and I sampled the Barbarian Barley Wine (from Pizza Port San Clemente according to Beer Advocate reviews). The barley wine was sweet and a little less strong than some barley wines – highly drinkable but perhaps not a rich as expected.
Somewhere along the way, Chuck picked up a fan club (maybe they’ve heard rumors of his homebrew prowess?):
We also tried Double Dead Guy and Imperial Red from the Rogue tent, which were both strong and good, but which I didn’t take very good notes on. The Rogue brewpub in Portland is one of our all-time favorites, with a great atmosphere and a great variety of beers, definitely worth a visit.
Nearing our halfway point, we sampled some of the European beers: I tried Urthel Hop-It, a Flemish interpretation of a West Coast IPA, it was one of the highlights of the day. Hildegard, the head brewer at Urthel, brewed a collaboration beer with Tomme of the Lost Abbey – read about it here; I think we bought a bottle of this earlier in the summer, but haven’t tried yet. Chuck tried an ale from La Trappe, also known as Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven, the only trappist brewery in the Netherlands.
In case you’re suffering from beer fatigue by now, let me tell you about Mike’s Beer Cheese… a much-cherished tradition of the Stone Anniversary parties is the opportunity to sample Mike’s Beer Cheese in several flavors. These are soft, spreadable cheeses, each made with a different stone ale and other seasonings – and they are good! My favorite was the sun dried tomato/Stone Pale Ale one, followed by the Ruination IPA/mustard cheese. The others are Napalm Double Bastard (it’s spicy, did you guess?), and one with Smoked Porter and garlic .
Alright, back to the beers! We got to try some beers from The Bruery in Orange County for the first time: Black Orchard, a black belgian wheat beer, and Humulus Bruin, a Belgian brown with good hoppiness and bitterness.
Also: A trippel from St. Feuillien (which tasted hoppier than a typical trippel); a double brown from Oceanside Aleworks, which Chuck has fond memories of; Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing. an IPA from Rubicon in Sacramento, which looks like a fun place to go if I ever find myself in Sacramento; and the Heirloom Blend Cider from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, Oregon, which I highly recommend – not too sweet, not too dry, a good cider.
Another favorite tradition at the Anniversary parties is the Onion Ring tent – it always has a long line, since you can get a free sample or a whole plate of delicious Arrogant Bastard Ale-battered onion rings for only $3, but they’re well worth the wait:
These were also a great way to sample some sauces from Carlsbad Gourmet – there was a really good strawberry barbeque sauce that was my favorite, and several more flavors that were good as well.
Of course, no trip to the Stone Anniversary Party is complete without sampling some of Stone’s own brews, and this year was no exception. In the spirit of sticking with the more unusual beers, we visited their cask tent, where we tried Smoked Ported with Chipotle and the 12th Anniversary Ale.
I think having these beers on cask really brought out their flavors and unique characteristics. The porter with chipotle was quite spicy, with the chipotle adding a dryness to the usual smokiness of the Smoked Porter. The 12 Anniversary Ale on cask was the most impressive beer that we had on Saturday. We’d tried this, a Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, before at Stone World Bistro and in bottles, but the cask brought out a richness and depth of flavored that transformed this to a truly extraordinary beer experience.
See you next year for lucky number 13