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Many brewery tasting room visitors will recognize this scene. A placid space filled with craft beer fanatics and newcomers alike. Pleasant conversations between both factions over a few brews. Sometimes, the brewhouse staff who created them get in on the chitchat, talking about the beer’s make-up or offering up interesting stories about how it came to be, how they named it, or any other fun topic.


A party bus overflowing with sloshed partyers pulls up and dumps out right at the front door. Next thing you know, a leisurely, civilized experience is reduced into an unmanageable clusterf*** brought on by drunks who cram in, push, shove, stumble, holler, and generally wreck everything for a half-hour, before crookedly moseying out, taking their shit show to the next unsuspecting tasting room.

This phenomenon has been a big concern for many local breweries with tasting rooms. On one hand, they appreciate people wanting to visit and the fact that touring companies that do right by them and their patrons exist to bring business in. On the other hand, they despise the companies that break all the rules — don’t call ahead, promise things they can’t deliver (free beer, a tour, etc.), show up at or after closing time, fail to monitor their patrons’ sobriety level to keep it at a socially acceptable level.

One company, the county’s largest, is completely fed up. Starting today, May 1, Stone Brewing Co. will no longer allow any unregistered tour companies, party buses, or barge limousines on their premises.

CEO Greg Koch acknowledges there are good companies out there, citing BrewHop and Brewery Tours of San Diego as two viable service providers, and they will still be allowed to bring their clients in. It’s the companies that load tourers up with a complimentary, in-vehicle bottle of vodka, don’t control their unruly clientele, and fail to work within the regulatory framework of the breweries that Stone is looking to shut the door on.

It will be extremely interesting to see if this starts a trend. Certainly, having a company as big as Stone institute such a policy gives smaller companies that felt too minuscule to have much control over the situation a model to follow.

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Visduh May 1, 2012 @ 9:07 a.m.

There is a detail to this that might be overlooked. Let's say the limo drops the "patrons" off around the corner and they straggle in one or two at a time. How can the brewery staff really know how they got there? Then there's the issue of turning business away--always a very dicey proposition. Stone is wildly successful now, but in ten years? Who knows?

The description of the tours reminds me of some of the bay cruises that were rumored to be offered a couple decades ago. Cruise the bay and have all you want to drink! Yeah, combine binge drinking with the rolling of a boat, and you have a recipe for real misery, and a huge clean up job. But, hey, if that's what the tourists and conventioneers really want, give it to them.


jenjen May 1, 2012 @ 4:29 p.m.

So... does that "registration" maybe cost a little money?


k_fleming1904 May 1, 2012 @ 5:40 p.m.

Is Stone sniveling here? I thought that was for fizzy yellow beer drinkers.

If you want a family restaurant, open a family restaurant. If you want buses of people drinking your big character brews, make the darkest, strongest beers on the west coast, call it a brewery and build it an hour from the mass of SD's population. Well done, you have your dilemma.

It would make sense that the much beloved Stone aims to amicably resolve this with both the diners and the pour tourists, catering to both by accommodating them with separate areas. Make it fun for both and brand the location correctly. They never need to cross paths with proper design. A good example of this (while not a brewery) is Nicks in OB which does a great job separating 2 very different types of customers and does not require the bar crowd to walk through the dining floor when entering.

IMHO, I felt disillusioned st Stone after being to breweries worldwide. I had to shuffle through a stagnant and quiet dining room crowded by young kids and parents to get outside. I then realized Stone was not providing a brewery experience but a dining experience on that day. Something I would have enjoyed on a different day. It was only once outside that I could have a normal Hamilton's esque convo with my compadres and amigas. That put stone low on the list of breweries that I revisit.
Stone has an opportunity to reconsider their layout, benefit all customer's and allow the buses, who are increasing our public safety, to provide the best service for their customers as well.

All I'm saying is, Stone, If you build it they will come. The problem isn't the transportation providers, they are providing a great service to you, to your customers and to the other people on the road who are safer today. It's the branding and that's a positive fix. Restaraunt = food + atmosphere + dining clientele, Brewery = beer + buses of excited beer drinkers!
Oh and you're also the last stop on that brew tour so that doesn't help your cause. The problem at this location can be resolved within the business with creative thinking, not bullying. It's ridiculous to think that controlling the bus companies is going to solve the issue stated.


derp May 1, 2012 @ 11:36 p.m.

I'm sure the owners of Stone will be very pleased that you gave them such astute business advice. Clearly they need the help. /sarcasm


k_fleming1904 May 2, 2012 @ 11:15 a.m.

The beer is good, the location is poorly thought through. 100% of the people I asked said the same thing and were let down.
If you mistook my comment for helping I apologize. I thought It was clear that I was calling out the bad rationale.


Tom Gatch May 4, 2012 @ 11:03 a.m.

A well intentioned friend of ours took us there on the last trip up to the states a little over a month ago, but it was such an overcrowded and overpriced 'zoo' that we decided to go somewhere that might treat us more as valued patrons rather than cattle. A quick drive over to Fish House Veracruz in San Marcos solved the problem. The kicker is that I was still able to enjoy a delightfully chilled pint of Stone's brilliant I.P.A. along with my exquisite piece mesquite grilled baquetta fillet that had just been flown up fresh from the Sea of Cortez. Definitely a 'win - win' conclusion to our initial dilemma.


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