My manager was in town last weekend from Texas for a conference this week, and since he happens to also be a homebrewer and beer lover, he wanted to go down to Stone Brewery. It just happened to be Mother's Day here in the States, but since Mexico celebrates Mother's Day on the 10th, and I had already had flowers delivered to my Mom in NorCal, I was off the hook for a trip down to Escondido.
Stone Bistro was fairly crowded for Mother's Day, but not so bad that we couldn't have got a table if we wanted. But we opted for the bar. Since it was lunch the menu was somewhat limited, but I had a great buffalo hamburger and fries. Now Stone has a huge bottled beer selection in addition to their brands they have on draught. To start I had a Levitation Ale with my meal, and then a Pale. Both of course were exceptional. Very clean and crisp with the hop character that makes Stone so special. I really wanted to have a Ruination Ale, but as I was the driver I figured I better stick with the lighter ales.
So while the Stone beers were great, the true highlight was a beer that my manager had us try. We bought a 750ml bottle of Cantillon Vigneronne It is similar to a Belgian lambic/gueuze in that is is spontaneously fermented and very sour, but is different in that instead of cherries or raspberries, the Vigneronne is made with white grapes added to the lambic. (I had tried some Kriek while in Belgium and liked it very much.) Before we were allowed to order, our well educated server Tegan made sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. "Do you like sour beers?", "Have you ever had a Lambic?", "This will have more vinegar taste than a traditional Gueuze". She knew her stuff, and at $20 a bottle it's a good thing she asks, because most people would taste the Vigneronne and think it was bad. But all warnings aside, we got a bottle and I'm really glad we did. It was by far the most sour and vinegary beer I have had. But it was excellent. After a few sips, you really get past the initial sourness and can start to taste the different flavors from the grapes and wild bacteria.
After the Vigneronne we each had another beer out in the beer garden and then went through the gift shop before the trek back up to The OC. I have a new appreciation for sour beers now and look forward to trying some more.