Stone Brewing employees had to have been sick of the questions. No visit to their Escondido headquarters was complete without overhearing at least one person ask when the new facility at Liberty Station was going to open. The most heavily-anticipated craft beer event of 2013 happened on Wednesday when the public got their first look at the brand-new Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens at Liberty Station, and that patience has definitely been rewarded.
Stone quietly opened the doors on the new location. If you’re a follower of their Facebook page, you might be surprised to hear that they’re open. An update on Wednesday morning simply told people to stay tuned for updates on the Liberty Station location, and there was no formal announcement that they were open for business. The only clues about their opening came from people who raved about the lunch they had eaten there earlier in the day.
Great beer is what draws people to Stone Brewing, and you’re reminded of that as soon as you walk in the front doors. Gleaming fermentation tanks in the 10 barrel brewhouse immediately catch your eye as you walk up to the hostess station. Liberty Station’s brewers will eschew Stone’s traditional beers in favor of creating experimental specialty beers. The whole idea is to let the creativity flow.
The finished products from this mad science lab will only be available to drink at Liberty Station, and the first one is already on tap. J’s OT Stout is a dark oatmeal stout with strong coffee and cocoa flavors. While some stouts are heavy on the alcohol, this one clocks in at a nearly-sessionable 5.8% ABV. If this beer is any indication, there will definitely be some tasty offerings coming out of those tanks.
The main dining room breathes new life into the mess hall for the former Naval Training Center. Looking around, you might think that you’re eating dinner in the great hall of a medieval castle. The chandeliers and wall hangings give the room a warmed up gothic feel, and of course the Stone gargoyle looks down at all who dine in his presence.
If you’re not in the mood to sit down and eat, the large central bar has two sets of taps pouring 40 different craft beers. Just like the original bistro, rocks and water give a natural feel to the bar area, and there’s even one table that’s part of a fountain. Between the main dining room and the bar area, there’s a lot more seating than there is in Escondido.
If outdoor drinking is your thing, two smaller courtyards are there to accommodate you. One of the courtyards has outdoor seating surrounding a pair of bocce courts. It’s free to play, and the courts are first-come first-served. The second courtyard will host the Liberty Station incarnation of Stone’s popular late night summer movie series. There will also be a large courtyard, but that’s still under construction.
The food menu carries on their farm-to-table philosophy, and there are some new items to go along with old favorites. The bruschetta BLT from the original bistro might be the best BLT known to man, and it thankfully made the trip south. If you’re in the mood for something new at the new location, don’t miss the pretzel grilled cheese with fried tofu.
One thing worth noting: women won’t be able to retreat to the bathroom in groups to gossip in front of the mirror because there IS no mirror. A communal hand washing area lets men wash their hands looking across the sink at the women doing the same thing. Sorry, ladies.
You can tell that a lot of work went into getting this place just right. The result of their efforts is a beautiful temple to great food and beer. The Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is the major attraction that Liberty Station has been missing.
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