It’s Brewery Anniversary Season!
Stone will cap off a trio of “twenty-something” celebrations
Stone's Co-Founder Greg Koch (middle) enjoyed last year's anniversary bash with festival attendees | Photo courtesy of Stone Brewing Co.
August is evidently old-timers' anniversary month in San Diego. This year, the first three weekends have been dedicated to celebrating three foundational breweries that have been making some of San Diego’s most notable beer for more than two decades.
On August 3, Coronado’s 23rd Anniversary Party brought together family, friends, and longtime fans for a celebration of Coronado Island’s first (and still only) brewery. As part of the festivities, the company released a great double hazy IPA that delivers massive tropical fruit aromas and flavors with tamed bitterness and smooth full-bodied mouthfeel. At 8%, the drinkability of this double IPA is an achievement worth celebrating in and of itself (it’s in cans at your local retailer).
The weekend after Coronado, it was AleSmith’s turn. On August 9-11, the Miramar brewery hosted a series of 24th Anniversary events that included live bands, exhibitions from local artists and artisans, special beer releases, and the commercial debut of CheeseSmith cheese (on sale for the first time to the public in the tasting room).
This weekend, Stone will cap the Trio-Versary season with a weekend of their own large-scale beer-centric events. The brewery has set aside August 16,17,18 to celebrate their 23 years in business with a series of rare beers and limited releases, a gathering of great breweries from around the country, and a variety of other events sure to keep all of Stone’s locations hopping for the entire weekend. “Our anniversary celebration is for our fans, who beginning 23 years ago, have supported our unconventional ways and joined us in challenging the industrial beer industry,” said Greg Koch, Stone Brewing executive chairman and co-founder.
Staging their main anniversary events at their home bases in Escondido and at Liberty Station is a departure for Stone, which has traditionally held the event at Cal State University San Marcos. “We’ve been hosting this event at Cal State University San Marcos for years and it’s been awesome” says Steve Wagner, Stone Brewing president & co-founder. “We made the switch in the spirit of keeping the event fresh and new. We recognized that the CSUSM location created a huge amount of work for Team Stone. The move actually gives the team a break while reminding people of how cool our sites are and giving them another reason to visit!”
Also new this year is the expansion of the festivities to three days from the traditional two. According to Wagner, because all of the many Stone locations wanted to participate, expansion of the festivities required an extra day to accommodate all of them. “Essentially, our Tap Room Teams and local fans – be it in Napa, Pasadena, Oceanside, Downtown San Diego, or Richmond – wanted in on the festivities and, after all, this is the anniversary of the entire company,” Wagner says. “We’re wondering why we haven’t done it sooner!
Friday will kick off the celebration with Stone tap takeovers at each of Stone’s taprooms in California and Richmond, Virginia. Twenty-three special beers will be flowing at each location all day long, and rare and vintage bottles will be made available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Saturday is Stone’s Rare Beer Festival at the World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido. The V.I.P. session is sold out, but tickets should still be available for the regular session from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. As Stone describes it, The Rare Beer Festival offers patrons “The finest and most unique beers from Stone and our favorite guest breweries. We’ll dig deep in our cellars—and the cellars of our closest friends – to deliver casks, bottles, and special release beers deemed worthy only for the ultimate craft fans.” Tickets are $99 and include 20 2-oz. pours of rare beers, endless 2-oz. tasters of select Stone Brewing beers, samples from Stone’s kitchen, and a Commemorative Stone 23rd Anniversary tasting glass.
Sunday, from 3 p.m.–6 p.m. is the Grand Celebration at Liberty Station (also known as the Stone Invitational Beer Festival) that will host 50 hand-picked breweries from across the country. Tickets are $35 and include 20 2-oz. pours of independent craft beers (with additional tasters available for purchase) and a Commemorative Stone 23rd Anniversary tasting glass. The event will also feature food trucks, live music, and a cigar lounge with cigars for purchase.
The entire weekend will be filled with special releases and cool beers from Stone, especially a bunch from Senior Manager of Brewing & Innovation Kris Ketcham and his team at Liberty Station. This year, the anniversary beer release is Uncanny Anni Double IPA, which is an 8.5% West Coast Style Imperial IPA that’s been crafted with no fewer than 10 different varieties of hops. “The name is a play on the fact that it’s only available in 22-oz. bombers and on draft,” Ketcham says, “despite the current can trend.”
Ketcham also says that, as always, the festival will “have a full booth of Stone Liberty Station creations. With so many beers to choose from, I highly recommend you try our collaboration with Boochcraft called “Vulcan Neck Pinch” and my personal favorite “The NeverEnding Session IPA (Vol 4).”
Stone always contributes to local charities in honor of its anniversary. They have donated more than $3.75 million since 1996 to charities including Surfrider Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Marcos, YMCA of San Diego County, and Fight ALD.
More information about Stone’s anniversary weekend can be found here.