Okay, now for the not-so-good.
I joined two San Diego Meetup groups recently to get out and meet more people with similar interests. I joined a food and wine group, and a photography group, because I need to get off the island more and explore new restaurants, and I would also like to explore new areas with my camera.
My first 'foodie' Meetup was at Stone Brewing's newest location - Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Liberty Station. I've been sampling a few craft beers since writing my article on Coronado Brewing Company and I thought this would be a good opportunity to sample a few more, meet some people, and try out a new place for dinner. The "event" was advertised as a celebration party for the publication of The San Diego Brewery Guide, the first comprehensive guide to more than 70 breweries in San Diego County. Our Meetup group was allotted 10 RSVP tickets for only $5 each. We were told we would "walk the tasting together and talk about beer... Stone Brewing would be tapping vintage and barrel-aged versions of Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine dating back to 2004...and after we finished the tasting, we could all have dinner together in Stone's awesome beer garden (I knew dinner was not included in the price)...the perfect night out!" Well, not quite.
I was the first to arrive. I have this thing about being on time to events. The hostess directed me outside to the Astroturf area where there was a rack displaying San Diego Brewery Guides. The author and his female assistant stood behind the table. I chatted with them for a minute and explained I was waiting for my group to arrive. A few others mingled around and I asked one of the men about the event and where the tastings were being held. Somehow, I expected a tour of the brewery and tastings of various beers, included for the price of my RSVP ticket. Silly me.
The rest of the Meetup group, all five of them, eventually arrived. We were all quite disappointed in what was offered at the "party" and I'm still at a loss about why I had to buy a $5 ticket for this event. Other than being entered in a raffle for who knows what, and being told I would be notified by e-mail if I won, I had the privilege of purchasing the $16.95 guide at a special 3 for $30 price. No thanks. There were tastings of vintage and barrel-aged barley wine offered, but only if you walked up to the main bar, ordered, and paid $5 each. There was no tour, but I was free to walk around the garden like everyone else.
I had a tasting of the 2007 vintage and agreed to go have dinner with the group and talk about beer and food pairings. The menu already had suggested pairings for each food item. Our Meetup leader ordered a few tasting flights with extra glasses. Quite frankly, I wasn't fond of any of the beers. I ordered two items from the Taste section of the menu: Carlsbad Mussels with Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, garlic, chilies and cilantro, and Fried Brussels sprouts with Pedro Ximenez sweet & sour and pancetta. I didn't care for either. The mussels were much too spicy and the Brussels sprouts extremely sweet. "The perfect night out" cost me $50, for average beer and average, overpriced food.