Five Tips For Enjoying Any Restaurant Experience

•07/25/2014 • Leave a Comment

We welcome back guest blogger, Nick Blakeslee, for a follow-up to his previous post, Year One at Standing Stone. Nick has now been with us for over two years and he’s ready to share a bit more about what he’s learned in the food industry…with a dash of humor, of course. 

It’s hard to believe I’ve been at Standing Stone for two years. It seems like yesterday I was writing my year one blog post about receiving my Standing Stone Commuter bike.  We have a lot to catch up on, you and I, as some things have changed since then.

Rest assured, I still have my bike.  I’ve only crashed it a handful of times, most of which happened because I was trying to be cool and ride with no hands.  Once I went up on a curb and tried to balance on the edge of the sidewalk. Easy enough, right? It ended with my tire sliding off, and me face first on the ground in front of a family of four.  They were nice enough to stifle their laughter and seemed genuine when they asked if I was OK.

“I’m good,” I labored to say, readjusting my helmet and desperately trying to get the breath back into my lungs.  My only hope is they were nice enough to forget my face.  Moral of the story: bike tricks are cool, but helmets are cooler.

nick bartending

photo courtesy of Dave Blakeslee

I also picked up bartending. In the time I’ve spent talking to patrons, mixing drinks and serving beer, I’ve learned I can make a mean Bloody Mary.  Some servers and customers say they appreciate my attention to detail, others wonder why I take so long to make a pretty simple drink.  They tap their feet and check their watch, wondering what the heck is taking so long.  Chaos can ensue around me; drink orders may pile up as my work flow increases, but when that Bloody Mary gets ordered it’s like time stands still.  For the briefest of moments, it’s just me and the Bloody Mary.

Most of all, I’ve learned to be a more capable server.  Two years have given me plenty of opportunities to make mistakes and ample time to hone my skills.  I think I’ve finally hit my stride.  Malcolm Gladwell once said that it took ten thousand hours to achieve true expertise.  I’m about eight thousand short, but I think I have at least a tinge of server savvy.

And what better way to use that dash of expertise than to share it with all you beloved readers?  I’ve compiled a quick how-to when dining out at a brewpub.  Recently we shared some tips and hints for enjoying beer entitled, What Can You Do with a Sample Tray? 

I’ve come up with my own, and the title is a work in progress.  I’ve been told, Tips and Tricks for Enjoying a Restaurant works well as a title, but I don’t want my creativity stifled.

I think my title is much more descriptive, it leaves the reader wanting more, all while being succinct and far from wordy.  Without further ado, here goes:

Nick’s Five Tips and Hints for Enjoying Food and Experiencing Restaurant Atmosphere While Having a Memorable Time and Positive Relationship with Your Server. 

Tip 1:  Allow plenty of time to relax.

While many restaurants are perfectly capable of accommodating time constraints patrons may have, it’s more fun to not be in a hurry.  The dining experience should be far from fast food and no one enjoys feeling rushed when they’re eating.  It’s hard to fully enjoy your food or your beer if you are constantly checking your watch.  So come early and have a beer, a glass of wine or simply sit and relax. You can always try a sample tray (lots of breweries have them) before a meal so you can choose a beer you like most.

Tip 2: Try something different.

I’m guilty of ignoring this rule.  I’m the type of person who finds what they love and sticks with it.  I have my ‘regular’ item wherever I go.  Cashiers give me a worried and surprised look when I order something different, their faces saying, “Who are you, and what have you done with Nick?”

That said, you’ll never find something new if you don’t try something different.  Standing Stone’s menu has a broad range of items ranging from Thai to Mexican to Italian.  Look for ingredients in items that you enjoy.  If you’re a chicken and vegetable person, why not try a Chicken Curry?  Are you a fan of greens and cheese?  Try a Pea Shoot Pizza.  Get a little weird, and look for menu items you can’t get anywhere else.

Tip 3: Ask questions.

Your server knows what’s most popular in a restaurant and has probably tried most everything on the menu.  Ask them what they like.  Tell them things you prefer or things you don’t.  Look to your server as a guide; they’re a sort of food Sherpa to culinary contentedness.  Ask them which beers or wines go best with which foods.  Inquire on which dishes are popular and which are not.  Take advantage of the knowledge they have.  They want you to have a positive experience just as much as you do.

Tip 4: Get to know your server.                   

I know for me personally, the tables I enjoy most are the ones who get to know me as much as I get to know them. And, of course, there are perks. I know a server who would personally tour out-of-towners around local mountain biking trails if they inquired. We even invite a few regulars to our annual Thanksgiving morning football game in the park. We’re actually a lot of fun, I promise. However, if you’re into having an intimate meal and catching up with friends or family, we totally understand that, too. Just know I’m here if you need me.

Thanksgiving Football 2013

photo by Nick Blakeslee (with Standing Stone’s very own GoPro!)

 

Tip 5: Have a good time.

Most of us don’t go out to eat just because we’re hungry; we do it because it’s fun.  It’s nice to go somewhere, eat good food and not have to worry about the dishes afterwards.  Bring friends and family, or make new ones when you go out. You’ll have a much better time if your mentality is to have a positive experience rather than just to fill a hungry stomach.  It’s possible to have both.

 

And there you have it.  That’s what I’ve been able to come up with in the two years I’ve worked here.  If you look at the time invested, it’s about five months per tip.  Which is either really impressive or not at all, depending on how you look at it.  Make sure to let me know if you think it’s the former.  If it’s the latter, it’d probably be best to keep it to yourself (I’m sensitive).

A friend of mine once said there’s no substitution for time invested.  Regardless of how well I’ve used it, the time I’ve invested has paid off so far, hopefully for both you and me!

Pints for a Purpose 2014/2015 Application Period Open

•07/16/2014 • Leave a Comment

pints_logo_smOur Pints for a Purpose application period has just opened for the 2014/2015 season! Encourage your favorite nonprofits to apply for the beer-sales donation program between July 15th and October 15th for a chance to be chosen by our employees as one of five local organizations to be celebrated here at the brewpub.

Giving back to our community has always been one of Standing Stone’s central missions, and providing donations to nonprofits is one way we like to do it. A few years ago we put together our first formalized in-house donation program dubbed Pints for a Purpose. Employee-chosen organizations are given specific benefit evenings, during which $2 of every pint of beer sold from 5-10pm goes to the featured nonprofit. It’s that easy!

Here are the participants from last year’s Pint for a Purpose:

pintsforapurpose fotasAshland Food Project – Bringing in over one thousand pounds of food a year for local food banks.

CASA of Jackson County – Speaking for the safety and well-being of children who have come under the care of Child Welfare due to abuse and/or neglect.

Rogue Valley Farm to School- Educating children about our food system through hands-on farm and garden projects, and increasing local foods in school cafeterias.

Friends of the Animal Shelter- Helping animals in area shelters by encouraging adoption, improving quality of life, and educating the community.

OSF’s Daedalus Project – Raising funds to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and support those living with the condition.

rvf2sAll in all, our beer and nonprofit-loving customers raised over $2,000 last season for these grassroots groups. It’s a great way for supporters to enjoy local brews and give to a good cause at the same time.

To apply, go to our online application page and check out the guidelines. Once the application period has closed, we’ll put together a list of all the applicants for our coworkers to vote on. We’ll then host monthly benefit evenings for the chosen nonprofits throughout the winter. Together, we’ll get the word out for fans, friends and family to come out, enjoy a beverage (responsibly, of course) and support these groups!

The Family Stone: Behind the Scenes Photos

•07/14/2014 • Leave a Comment

At Standing Stone Brewing Company we have a lot of fun at work. Like, a lot of fun. Besides the beer and food, it’s one of the great perks of being a part of the “Family Stone,” as we like to call it. Throughout our adventures at the brewery, group races, relays and events we’ve collected a fair amount of photos that we have stored away in an online album, and it’s about time we share a few. Some of these silly, fun characters are now Standing Stone alumni, but most us are here planning new group activities and adventures all the time.

Here are some of our favorite group moments from the last year:

Mark and Gina race to the top of the boat ramp during the 2013 Siskiyou Challenge Relay Race. Standing Stone entered four teams with 24 total employees! These two are from teams “Sparkle Motion” and “Sun’s Out, Guns Out.”


mark and gina

Nick scored pink girl sunglasses somewhere for our bike ride in the 2014 4th of July parade. Co-owners Alex and Danielle Amarotico were chosen as this year’s Grand Marshals, and we cruised our Standing Stone commuter bikes along the route behind them. 


nick sunglasses

Get your workout on! With really good food and beer so readily available, a few of us decided a Standing Stone Bootcamp was in order. Check out those lean, mean muscles.

flexing

(photo: N. Blakeslee)

 

Yep, we work out in the wintertime, too.

workout group

(photo: N. Blakeslee)

 

We had a fantastic crew working the 2014 Winter Beer Dinner at Standing Stone. Six courses and three hours later, here we are taking a little break and showing each other some love at the end.FOH huddle

And here’s the kitchen crew that brought you all those amazing courses. Don’t let those crossed arms fool you – these folks get giddy about preparing a beautiful and thoughtful plate of food.BOH huddle

Whoa there, Easy Rider. Did you know Standing Stone has a Brammo electric motorcycle? If you haven’t heard, it’s because the hum of the battery-powered engine is so quiet. It’s perfect for quick trips to and from our One Mile Farm, and errands around Ashland.alex on bike

The “Family Stone” and others after our annual Turkey Day football game.  (For NFL scouts reading this blog, please show up at 7am sharp for some awe-inspiring football). 

Thanksgiving Day Football

(photo: N. Blakeslee)

Last month we entered a 12-person team in the Wild Rogue Relay Race, and poured Standing Stone brews at the end in Gold Beach for all the racers. Our team name: Slaughterhouse 12 (yes, those are lamb costumes).

wild rogue group

(photo: N. Blakeslee)

Here are a few more hooligans from the 2013 Siskiyou Challenge Relay Race…siskiyou challenge tanks…and a few more still.sisk challenge

And at the end of the day, what we like to do best is sit down with friends and enjoy craft beer. gina sienna

We may have left out some photos of mountain bike rides, group runs, volleyball, and frisbee golf, but we’ll continue to bring our cameras along when we can. Watch out for more Standing Stone shenanigans in the future, just for the fun of it.

 

 

Happy 4th of July Weekend from Ashland’s 2014 Grand Marshals

•07/05/2014 • Leave a Comment

Happy 4th of July weekend! Yesterday, we had the privilege of leading this year’s Ashland, Oregon 4th of July parade through downtown. Standing Stone Brewing Company co-owners, Alex and Danielle Amarotico, were chosen as the 2014 Grand Marshals, and many of us cycled along behind their beautiful, classic car on our Standing Stone commuter bikesamarotico fam in car

Here is what the Ashland Chamber of Commerce had to say about their choice for this year’s Grand Marshal:

The Grand Marshal epitomizes this year’s theme, ‘This Land is Our Land’, to the fullest extent.  We’d like to congratulate, Alex and Danielle Amarotico and the Standing Stone Brewing Company as this year’s Grand Marshal.   Personifying the stewardship of our land, Alex, Danielle and Standing Stone are being recognized for their leadership with their sustainable business practices, investing in solar, their Farm and true ‘farm to table’ offerings at their restaurant and brewery.  Recently honored at one of the Top 100 Green Businesses to work for in Oregon, Standing Stone gives back to the community and its employees by offering one of the first employee bike programs in Ashland. Congratulations and we shall see you at the Parade!group photo

We had a great time circling our decorated bikes around the parade route, and we’re honored by this generous recognition. Thank you to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and all the parade volunteers who make this event a once-yearly great success!high five biking

In the spirit of continued celebration, come toast a pint of American craft beer at Standing Stone this weekend. We hope you had a fun and festive Independence Day yesterday, and wish you a safe, joyful and responsible weekend to follow!rachel bike wavingtaylor in carbiking downtowndanielle waving in carriding in car parade

Latest Specialty Beer: Whittle Wheat Hefeweizen

•06/23/2014 • Leave a Comment

hefe patioI say, “Hefe,” you say “Weizen!”

“Hefe-Weizen! Hefe-Weizen!”

That’s right, summer is officially here – happy solstice, everyone! There may be no better way to kick off summer than with a seasonal hefeweizen (pronounced HEH-feh-vite-zehn). Come get yours and cheer to patio dinners, pleasant bike rides, sunshiny days and sweatshirt nights.

This year we’re giving our annual specialty beer a fresh new name: Whittle Wheat, named after the builder of our historic brewery site. Floyd Whittle constructed our concrete, one-story building in 1925 for a total cost of $6,000 (a tad less than our half-million dollar brewery renovation in 1996). 101 Oak Street has been home to Morris’s Oak Street Garage, Pioneer Glass and Cabinet, and, eventually, Standing Stone Brewing Company. We love our brewpub’s open spaces, exposed concrete and brick, downtown location and back-patio mountain views. Thank you Floyd Whittle, and cheers to you!

About the Beer

This German style wheat beer is hazy yellow with mild banana and spice aroma, light mouthfeel, and a clean, clove flavor. 4.9% abv, 18 IBU

ssbuild1

101 Oak Street before Standing Stone Brewing Co.

Malt
•        Organic Wheat
•        Organic Pilsner
•        Acidulated

Hops
•        Bittering:  Organic Magnum
•        Flavor/Aroma:  Organic Hallertau

Yeast
•        Southern German Munich Wheat

 

Food Pairing Suggestions

Belly up to the bar with a pint of Whittle Wheat and fresh, local fare to match. We love this beer with flavors of the season: strawberries, goat cheese, fresh greens and seafood. Hefeweizen is versatile; it’s light enough to enjoy with salads, but the full mouthfeel helps it stand up to heartier fare. The yeasty fruit and slight spice complement a wide range of flavors. Here are our suggestions from our menu:

Beet & Goat Cheese Salad
Marionberry Cobbler
Pea Shoot Pizza
Thai Mussels (daily special)
Calamari with Fried Lemons

Come imbibe this summertime favorite while it lasts, and order with a wedge of lemon or orange for a fruity twist. Savor your beer outside on the back patio, or inside the brewery with views of Floyd Whittle’s historic garage.

Chickens, Cows & Lambs, Oh My!

•06/13/2014 • Leave a Comment

one mile farm entrance

Due to popular demand, we’re launching new monthly farm tours on Standing Stone’s One Mile Farm! Grab your favorite pair of boots and head down Oak Street for a walk around our brewpub’s pasture. The farm staff will lead summer tours every third Sunday of the month, May through October, starting at 11am.

 

Nearly three years ago we launched our farm project on Eagle Mill Road in Ashland, Ore. just a mile from our downtown brewery. Through leasing 265 acres from the City of Ashland we’ve been able to raise cows, chickens and lambs to provide protein for our restaurant’s menu. We also keep beehives for sweet honey harvesting and pollinating our pastures.

 

These farming practices give us the freshest ingredients possible for burgers, breakfasts, specials and more on our menu. Last year, we built an Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA)-licensed chicken and egg room (also called an abattoir) to do all our poultry processing in-house. We govern where our food comes from, how it’s handled, and how it makes its way into our favorite dishes. We feel this process gives us the freshest, healthiest and tastiest options possible when it comes to meat and eggs for our menu.

 

lambs

(photo: Marina Pecoraro)

In recent farm happenings, we welcomed 35 baby lambs this spring! Our herd of cows has grown to 37, easily supplying all the beef we need for our brewpub’s menu. Our composting operations are continuously turning brewpub by-products, like food scraps and biodegradable to-go ware, into rich compost material. Lastly, the three farm dogs, Stone, Ruby and IPA, turn three years old this summer. Happy birthday, kiddos!

 

How to get there: From Standing Stone Brewing Co. downtown, head down Oak Street to the very bottom. At Eagle Mill Road, take a right and continue under the freeway. Immediately after the underpass you’ll see One Mile Farm on the left. If you’re driving, we recommend parking on the road to avoid mud and parking jams on the farmland. Or, you can easily ride your bike for the mile trip from the brewpub.

 

Gather your family and friends for a fun, easy Sunday activity. Our next tour lands on June 15th, Father’s Day, so grab Dad for a late morning walk through our fields. Come see why we love raising our own animals and fostering a close relationship with the food we put on Standing Stone’s tables. Afterward, trek back up to the brewpub and top off your journey with your favorite craft beer.

 

What Can You Do with a Sampler Tray?

•06/03/2014 • Leave a Comment

chelsea pour 2While some craft beer lovers tend to stick with a favorite style, like hoppy IPAs or crisp lagers, some like to explore the full spectrum of craft beer possibilities. Either preference is great, as along as you’re supporting your local craft brewery! But if you’re the latter, our Sampler Tray is calling your name. For $5 you can try 2 oz. pours of all our house-made beers on tap (8 currently), from the pale I Heart Oregon to the deep, dark Noble Stout. Here are some ideas for enjoying your Sampler Tray to the fullest, either by yourself or with your beer-tasting buds:

 

Pair with a few dishes

We feel that one of the best ways to appreciate all the flavors in craft beer is to pair them with food. A great pairing combination can serenade your taste buds, making for one great culinary experience. Try ordering three appetizers from the menu and making your own great flavor combos. Our suggestions: Kimchi, Goat Cheese Fondue and Beef Satay Skewers. You’ll have a broad realm of spiciness, heartiness and sweetness with this food combo, perfect for tasting with all eight beers currently on tap.

 

Pair with one dishsampler

Understanding great beer and food pairings is easier when you try pairings that may not go so well. Order a sampler tray with your favorite dish off our menu, like the Lemongrass Beef Salad or Roast Beef Sandwich. Alternate tastes of beer with bites of food, and take notes on why each beer does or does not work. Is the Stone Swing Saison too light to stand up to roast beef? What about the Steel-Cut Stout? Does the Twin Plunge 2IPA make your tacos spicier, while the Dear Abbey calms the spice? Compare notes with your co-tasters and see if you come up with the same conclusions. Remember, there are no right or wrong preferences! What you like is all that matters.

 

customer samplerPlay some beer-tasting games

Craftbeer.com recently posted an article titled Beer Tasting Games to Train Your Palate. Try a few of these fun ideas with a handful of friends: Play a beer identification game, where everyone writes down five descriptors for each beer and then award points for repeated words or most creative words.  You can also rank beers by categories, and see how the ranking changes when you switch rounds. Try lightest to darkest color, then change to lightest to boldest flavor and see how the rankings change.


Join our weekly Sunday Beer & Food Pairing

Our pairing enthusiast, Meg, leads a weekly guided five-course tasting at 3pm on Sundays. You’ll discuss complementing, contrasting and matching flavors in beer and food, and taste some great combos. No need to make a reservation; just show up and we’ll take care of the rest! Pairing is $25 per person.

 

 

 
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