While Comic-Con brings millions of dollars into the San Diego economy, it’s a double-edged sword for locals who live and work downtown. While throngs of cash-wielding pop culture fanatics clog the downtown core, it makes it virtually impossible to do any other business downtown. That temporary inconvenience does reap some nifty rewards for San Diegans beyond economics, as it also draws an eclectic cast of characters from the entertainment world to San Diego. Some of those very characters gathered at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station for Wednesday’s Hop-Con 2.0.
Stone Brewing started taking advantage of Comic-Con’s star power in 2013 when Stone CEO Greg Koch first teamed with Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton and Fark.com’s Drew Curtis to create Farking Wheaton W00tstout. With its celebrity star power, sweet flavor and high alcohol content, the initial version of the bourbon barrel-aged stout proved to be a hit across the beer and nerd spectrum. The group faced one big complication when it came time to brew version 2.0.
With Koch in the middle of a sabbatical when W00tstout brew day rolled around in 2014, the celebrity duo enlisted the help of actress, comic and homebrewer, Aisha Tyler. “I was gone during the brewing of W00tstout, so I essentially handed over the keys to the brewery to these two jokesters,” said Koch, referring to Wheaton and Curtis. “They actually made a really intelligent decision to bring Aisha in as a replacement Greg.”
As final preparations for Comic-Con were underway at the San Diego Convention Center, Hop-Con attendees sipped several different variants of W00tstout (including 1.0, 2.0 and casks of 2.0 doctored with oatmeal cookies and s’mores), and noshed on hors d’oeuvres from the Stone Bistro kitchen. Besides W00tstout, there were also several specialty beers brewed for the party by luminaries like Wil Wheaton (white sage IPA), Team Unicorn’s Rileah Vanderbilt (lemon-ginger hefeweizen), and NASA JPL’s “Mohawk Guy,” Bobak Ferdowski (cucumber and jalapeno blonde ale).
Besides serving as a public debut for W00tstout 2.0, Koch also took the opportunity to speak out about Stone’s recent announcement of their new Berlin brewery. Koch announced the fourth fundraising collaboration beer to be brewed at the forthcoming brewery, an “ultra-über” version of W00tstout that will bring Wheaton and Curtis to Berlin. “We’ve been jokingly calling it Schrödinger’s W00tstout, since we don’t know what’s in it,” said Wheaton. A $30 donation to Stone’s IndieGoGo campaign will buy a 1.5-liter bottle, whenever they brew it.