Since 2016, big news has been brewing in Napa and the wait is finally over. Just in time for BottleRock Napa Valley, the famed Stone Brewing of San Diego is opening its Napa location inside a 10,000 square foot, 141-year-old stone building on the Napa River.
Formerly a grocery and feed store, a shirt factory, a winery and a car dealership, the historic 1877 Borreo building on the corner of Third St. and Soscol Avenue sat vacant for 15 years before Stone purchased it, on their third try. “I love Napa and have been visiting for the past 30 years. I fell in love with the Borreo building seven years ago when I first set foot inside,” said Stone Executive Chairman and Co-founder Greg Koch, who has an affinity for opening Stone locations in historic spaces. “It took us some time to bring it all to fruition, but the outcome is a perfect synergy of a destination I love and an incredible historic building with tons of character that we could preserve.”
That history and character are ever-present in the brewery’s uber-industrial interior. Rebar, metal and wood burst from the exposed ceiling on the second floor, the floorboards are charred, the host stands have rusted metal, the two bars were built from wood salvaged from the building’s old ceiling boards and rustic tables and chairs are made out of old barrels that once aged Stone beer. The building also maintains its original windows on all sides, but then six additional, 10x10 ft. windows have been cut and retrofitted with roll-up garage doors overlooking the Napa River.
The 10-barrel brewery operations take place on the first floor and guests can get a peek at the action through a large glass windowpane. There’s a downstairs bar that will mainly take to-go beer purchases and an outdoor patio that seats roughly 60 with communal benches, four-tops and adirondack chairs. The upstairs offers a more classic drinking and dining experience, serving lunch and dinner. A 28-seat island bar sits at the center of the expansive room and an additional 75 seats are available at tables and in a small lounge area.
With 24 beers on tap, about a dozen will be classic Stone brews that are shipped up from their flagship brewery in Escondido. But lead brewer Steve Gonzalez, who has been with the company since 2012, will also craft several Napa-specific beers for the new location, sourcing local ingredients, aging in wine barrels and potentially collaborating with nearby wineries. “He very much wants to showcase some local, fresh, well-crafted beer that’s specific to Napa and Wine Country,” said Stone Brewing Napa general manager Daniel Lowe.
In the future, the list will spotlight a few specialty beers from Stone’s other locations, like Richmond or Berlin, and guest taps from local breweries. Beers are served in five, 10 or 16 oz. pours and can be taken home in crowlers or growlers. And in true Napa fashion, there’s wine: a red and white on tap, plus a small selection of local wines available by the glass and bottle.
As for the food, Stone isn’t serving up the standard bar fare, crafting instead a menu that’s artisanal, sustainable and local. The menu will expand in the coming weeks, but for now, drinkers can order up items like soft pretzels made with grain from the brewing process (and served with a Stone IPA whole grain mustard), the Stone Impossible Burger and a poke fire bowl dressed in hot sauce. “We support local purveyors and farmers and our fellow brewers and restaurateurs. We stand for independence from industrialization and we upend the status quo,” said Koch. “You can expect to see unconventional beers coming from our brewery, surprisingly thoughtful cuisine and a very authentic presence from us as members of the Napa community.”
Stone’s official grand opening celebration takes place this Sunday, May 6, from 2 p.m. to close. The event will feature 11 Stone beer selections, food, live music from Fu Man Chu and the chance to talk shop with brewmaster Gonzalez. The brewery will be open daily; Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.