Stone World Bistro and Gardens, Escondido, Calif.
When every other craft brewer in America has a brewpub, a brewer really has to go out of their way to stand out. When you brew a beer called Arrogant Bastard, however, it's a given that an average burger-and-beer-sampler brewpub just won't do.
Stone still offers a free tour of its Escondido brewing facility and a look at how its Levitation low-alcohol session beer, Ruination IPA and high-octane Arrogant Bastard ales are made, but it's a sideshow compared with the offerings at their Stone World Bistro and Gardens. Roughly 12,000 square feet of dining space get a floor-to-ceiling window onto the brewery and a one-acre garden of fruit trees, pine forest, flowering plants, brooks, koi ponds and fire features as its bookends. Where there isn't running water or flickering flame, there's a ton of bar-front seating lining the patio or tucked between stone formations.
Stone didn't lay out all of this money just to throw chicken nuggets into a fryer, which is why the slow-food-inspired menu features locally grown organic produce and naturally raised meats. The kitchen goes entirely meatless on Mondays to cut down on its carbon footprint, but the artisanal cheeses take up much of the slack. A string of events such as the artisanal food and craft beer festival and sour beer festival in June and the brewery's 15th anniversary invitational beer festival in August help draw the summer visitors, but having a strong, hoppy beer in the quiet of Stone's garden has a lure all its own."It's an all-in-one beer and food playland," Simpson says. "They built it to be a beer-lovers refuge from the real world. And the weather's always awesome."