The Pacific Surfliner Café car features a rotating selection of flavorful IPAs and beers from craft breweries across Southern California, including the popular Stone IPA brewed by Stone Brewing. Headquartered in Escondido, this San Diego company has grown to be the 10th largest craft brewer in the country.
Their newest release, the Stone Tangerine Express IPA, officially hit store shelves in February, but Pacific Surfliner riders had an exclusive chance to try it first.
We sat down with Stone Brewing’s Innovation team – the group responsible for developing the new tropical brew – to talk about beer, trains, and insider tips for visiting San Diego County.
L to right: The Stone Brewing Brewery Innovation Team: Joel Grosser, Kris Ketcham, Steve Wagner, Jeremy Moynier, Steve Gonzalez, Peter Wiens, Thomas Tweedy (not pictured, Thomas Tyrell)
Can you tell us about yourselves and the roles you play at Stone Brewing?
Jeremy Moynier (JM): I’m the Stone Brewing Senior Innovation Program Manager. As part of the Innovation team, I work with an awesome group of brewers to search out new ideas and ingredients and create new beers. We’re constantly trying different flavor profiles and techniques that break convention and celebrate the art of brewing. Our team also assists with the release process. I won’t lie: it’s a great gig!
Steve Gonzalez (SG): I’m the Stone Brewing Senior Manager of Small Batch Brewing and Innovation. Our small batch series represents our most exclusive beers that have been aged and stored in a variety of ways. The Xocoveza Charred, for example, started as an intense mocha stout that mimics the flavor of Mexican hot chocolate. A special batch was aged in Oak Kentucky Bourbon barrels for six months, which added some really delicious caramel and vanilla flavors.
How was the new Stone Tangerine Express IPA created?
SG: Originally we brewed a small batch of this beer as an exclusive for Whelihan’s Pub and Restaurant, a Pennsylvania and New Jersey-based restaurant chain. They wanted something tropical, so we tried different fruits and hops while developing it. The feedback was so positive that we started talking about releasing it nationally.
What makes the Stone Tangerine Express IPA unique?
SG: What makes this beer unique is how the pineapple enhances the tangerine, and the tropical hop profile really pops. The pineapple is like the percussion section in some really great bands: you almost don’t even notice it, but if it weren’t there the rest of it would not be as intense or work together quite so well.
What foods from the Café car would make this beer hit a high note?
SG: Fresh fruit is really complementary with citrus, so the Fruit Cup, for sure. Whole grains and citrus pair well together, as do nuts, so I would recommend the Trail Mix and Whole Grain & Bean Salad. Any of the fresh sandwiches would work great – I would just avoid strong cheeses.
We’re excited to be part of the special pre-release of the Stone Tangerine Express IPA on the Pacific Surfliner. Can you tell us more about how that came together?
JM: Our team first made the connection with the Pacific Surfliner when brainstorming about the name. “Express” had us thinking of trains, and we had this relationship established with Amtrak that made this a perfect fit for launching the new beer. Many of our team members, including our Executive Chairman & co-founder, Greg Koch, have ridden the train up and down the coast. We love that the Pacific Surfliner has such a focus on craft beers so it felt like just the right place.
Can you tell us about the work that goes into producing, bottling and distributing your IPAs?
JM: It’s a huge team effort. Countless people are involved when it comes to creating a beer and getting it all the way into the hands of our fans. It is a lot of work but ultimately it’s fun. Besides working together we often have shifters together – and what’s better than having a beer with family at the end of the day!
What can visitors to your tasting rooms expect during a visit?
JM: Both the Stone Company Store – On Kettner downtown and in Oceanside offer beers on tap, growler fills, beers for sale by the bottle or can, and Stone merchandise. The Stone Brewing Tap Room by Petco Park offers all that plus food and a lineup of 16 taps! Beers on tap are always rotating so you’ll have to ask the bartenders what’s most popular at the moment. In addition to the Stone Tangerine Express IPA, Stone Ripper is a great one to try! It’s a San Diego Pale Ale and also brand new to our lineup. It’s tropical and hoppy with a crisp, clean finish.
Where do you take out of town guests when they visit?
JM: If they are into beer and food it’s easy: I’ll do a North County brewery trip (to include Stone Brewing of course). I love to be mellow and just hang with friends at any of several great spots in town. San Diego is unique in that we have a ton of great beaches with unique communities, and then you can turn around and be in the mountains in less than an hour.
Jeremy’s Picks, Tips and Tricks
- Favorite Stone Brewing Offering: I’m still a sucker for Stone IPA. I just don’t get tired of it.
- Tip for Picking an IPA: If you are in San Diego, it’s a challenge. There are a lot! My best advice is to ask people – beer lovers love to recommend beers. Even if they are attached to a certain brewery, they will give you other options as well because most of us are always wanting to try something new along with our old standbys and usually have favorites from many breweries. For example, one of my all-time favorite IPAs is Blind Pig from Russian River.
- Hobbies Outside of Brewing Beer: Music, eating and drinking, walking or hiking, and being with friends and family.
- Favorite City in Southern California: San Diego – I’m biased. And though it’s technically not in Southern California I would say San Luis Obispo, on the other end of the Pacific Surfliner route!
- Best Thing About IPAs: A good one makes you want another one!
- Favorite Food: Sushi
The Stone Tangerine Express IPA will only be available onboard for a limited time, so join us soon on the Pacific Surfliner if you want to try this tropical brew alongside our beautiful coastal views. You can also take the Pacific Surfliner to Oceanside or downtown San Diego and visit the Stone tasting room to try all their great beers – each is just a short walk from the train station. Plus, you can show your Pacific Surfliner ticket and receive $1 off 1L Growler Fills, $2 off 2L Growler Fills and/or $1 off a pint of beer (limit 2).
Learn more and plan your trip at pacificsurfliner.com. Cheers!