What is it like going to Stone's Liberty Station with two young kids while you have a cold?
Cough, cough. Sneeze. Drink some water. Hmm, the beer bottle list is pretty impressive. Cough. Hey, where did my son go? No, don't put your hand in that pond. Sit over here. Sneeze. Cough... Cough. Cough. I'll take the ordinary bitter.
San Diego has a great beer scene. There are a bunch of famous breweries and even a cool place to check out yeast http://www.whitelabs.com/. In my view, any place you can check out yeast is cool. I like beer, so clearly a family trip to San Diego would feature some beer exploration, right? Almost. While many breweries and tap rooms are fairly kids friendly it’s still a stretch to bring your family out on a brewery adventure. That's to be expected. There is only so much beer sightseeing that my one-year-old and three-year-old can take. But still I push that limit. But on this trip? A brutal flu virus joined us as well. No! I want... no, I need to check out one beer place. Take me to some brewery or something, anything! In the end we made it to Stone Brewery's Liberty Station or as they call it Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens Liberty Station. Try saying that 10 times after drinking a bomber of Arrogant Bastard.
Given all I just said, this thing you are reading is in no way a review, I could hardly even smell anything much less taste anything. I guess this is more of a reflection on what you can expect if you are ill and have children and still want to go check Stone Liberty Station out. With that I am sure this is incredibly useful information for so very many people.
Stone’s Liberty Station is like a mega brew pub. The restaurant is massive (23,500 square, holy shit, feet). There is a very large outdoor area; a huge selection of taps and bottles; private rooms; private patios; Bocce Ball courts; a gift shop; a growler filling station; and a “outdoor cinema space.” It’s fancy and big! There's just a lot of stuff going on. The on-site brewery isn't large but puts out some interesting brews. I assume. I tried a couple and I am sure they were good for a normal non-ill individual.
The design of the restaurant incorporates some of Stone brewing's themes (you know the gargoyle thing plus “organic features” and “reclaimed wood”) mixed with the original architecture of Point Loma’s historical Naval Training Center. The old naval building adds a lot of character and make for an interesting and open space. Several unique features add to the experience: one table features a small waterfall with a little creek that runs underneath the table. The outdoor patio features a large water feature with koi fish a waterfall and a bridge.
What about the children? A question a parent always asks. There is a "kids menu" per se. The items on the menu are a bit esoteric for a young child who simply wants a PB&J and not “Jidori chicken with broccoli, garlic butter sauce and Parmesan cheese.” Seriously, where’s the mac and cheese? The chicken tenders? Just looking at the menu I start to feel like a bad parent. Is my child not foodie enough? Do I need to start teaching my three year old son about Jidori Chicken? Also, if your child likes broccoli I can only assume you are starving your child or using electroshock therapy. The children’s menu does feature a funny note about turning reckless children into fertilizer. Which is nice? No parents seem to acknowledge these rules and the patio leaves kids to reckless abandon. This is fine. In fact, this is awesome from a parent standpoint. Who cares, the adults too are consuming plenty of beer and become more childlike as the evening proceeds.
The beer menu is quite interesting and it is not limited to just Stone beer. There is, at least when I visited, a focus on San Diego and Belgian breweries (with a few Colorado ones mixed in for good measure). There are also the many unique brews that they make at Liberty Station. This is where we get to the most annoying thing... the prices. A pint is going to run you $7.00. Is this normal for California? And the only variation on price is the size of the glass. So a pint of 7% ABV IPA is going to cost you the same as the 3.5% ABV ordinary bitter that I picked out. That just seems silly to me. My own fault, obviously, for picking out the worst deal on the menu, but I really wanted to try that damn bitter. Oh well. The place is quite busy. People clearly don't mind the pricing. For me, the price is enough to skip the place on my next trip. I would rather check out the main brewery anyway.
Okay, let talk about some positive again. I promise not sound to sound cheap for the rest of this. The adult food is good (wait, the kid food is good, too. I ate all of my son’s Jidori chicken). The menu seems all over the board and doesn't have a particular style. You will find ribs, schnitzel, ceviche, and everyone’s favorite new wave foodie item: charred Brussels sprouts. While the menu is eccentric the quality is solid. This isn't five star dinning but you’re probably going to like the food. I ended up picking the pork tenderloin. I imagine it was pretty good, but my cough drops did not create the best pairing.
In the end, this is a great looking space. Reserving one of their many private spaces looks like a lot of fun and would make for a great party. The food is good. The pricing is lame. Would I go back? Maybe. For sure if I was loaded and had to throw an awesome party with expensive beer and bocce ball. No brainer, then. I wouldn’t avoid Stone Liberty Station or anything but there's just so many places for beer geeks to visit in this city that I am in no rush to get back. I did get a rad new Stone Brewing shirt at the gift shop (yeah, it was probably too expensive). Man, I am really turning into a cheap bastard. Oh! How awesome would it be if Stone put out a cheap lager to go along with Arrogant Bastard called Cheap Bastard? I would love that!