Any self-respecting hophead should know Stone Brewing’s cofounder Greg Koch — he’s like if Steve Jobs and George Carlin had a baby who opened the brewery that put San Diego on the beer map. Fewer may be familiar with the other cofounder, Steve Wagner. He’s always been more like Wilson, the neighbor from the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement, who was ever-sagacious and avuncular though faceless. But when Koch stepped back from his frontman role in 2015, Wagner started elbow-rubbing, which is how he found himself at The Garden inside Santa Barbara Public Market for a tap takeover last Thursday, August 23.
Among the 17 beers, seven were IPAs, but five were aged in barrels, including three that once housed wine. That brings us to the most Central Coast of Stone offerings, available at The Garden for a limited time: the Stone Mission Warehouse Sour – Sauvignon Blanc.
Though Stone usually avoids wild, funky bacteria in their brewing, they opened a warehouse down Mission Road from their Escondido-based brewery for barrel-aged experimentation. The Mission Warehouse Sour line debuted earlier this year with this sauvignon blanc from the Central Coast, which is blended with two variants of Stone’s Cali-Belgique, an IPA fermented with a Belgian yeast strain: One was aged in red wine barrels and the other in larger foudres.
The end result is lightly funky and musty, with a punch bowl’s worth of juice flavors from grapes to strawberries to kumquats, all while blanketed with a dank, hoppy finish. Since bottles of these beers are only being sold out of Stone’s retail outlets, this is likely the only chance to get a taste here in Santa Barbara.