Beer Maverick

Alpine Beer Company Pub, Alpine, CA

The short drive from San Diego is definitely worth it for Alpine’s justly famous brews.

The Alpine Beer Company Pub, located in a strip mall in Alpine, CA, is about a 30 mile drive east on the 8 from San Diego. It is worth the trip for the beer alone: they pour 20 house taps and 4 guest taps. Alpine is part of the lore of the San Diego craft brewing scene and is justly renown.

On top of the beer, the Pub has a great atmosphere with—wait for it!—ALPINE-themed décor. There’s a large indoor space with lots of tables and a medium-sized bar, plus a covered patio and an even larger open outdoor area. To round out the “alpine” experience, several of the locals were wearing lumberjack plaid.

We found the service to be quick, helpful and friendly. The server at our table was knowledgeable about the beer and made good suggestions to shape a flight to our tastes. Even though the place was pretty busy on a Sunday afternoon, we didn’t ever feel neglected (until we tried to pay: there seemed to be a bottleneck at the lone credit card machine).

The original Alpine Beer Company brewery and tasting room is less than a mile down the street, if you want to check that out, too. The tap lists seem to be similar. Note that both locations are closed on Mondays. Another fact worth noting: A lot of Alpine’s beer is brewed and bottled at the Green Flash facility in San Diego: after a year of partnership, Green Flash acquired Alpine in 2014.

Back at the Pub, flights of four or six 4-oz tasters come served in a muffin tin—kind of cute, and certainly easier to handle than a long, narrow plank of wood. With a pint added to the six tasters, the bill came to just $15. (Bonus for readers: seven beer ratings instead of the usual four or five!)

Although we didn’t eat, the food menu looked good and people around us seemed to be enjoying their meals. I would have ordered the poutine except that we had eaten a mound of Thanksgiving leftovers including mashed potatoes with gravy just before getting on the road to go to Alpine. While there, we heard very good things about their Taco Tuesday.

I’ve had Alpine Duet IPA several times and liked it a lot. On this trip I sampled the following:

Nelson (Rye IPA, 7.0%ABV). Bright golden and a bit cloudy with white head. The floral/grassy hop aromas and hop bitterness are strong but not overpowering, creating a highly drinkable “RyePA”.  4/5

HFS (IPA, 6.5% ABV). Although hoppy enough to be an IPA, there’s something more interesting going on here. The sweet/floral taste and aroma is followed by a lingering note of strawberry. It almost tastes like a fruit beer but it isn’t. It’s pretty nice!  4/5

McIlhenney Irish Red (Red Ale, 6.0% ABV). This is smooth and malty with a nice amber color. It has less sharpness than I usually associate with an Irish red.  3.25/5

Ichabod Ale (Pumpkin Beer, 11% ABV). The amber color looks innocent enough, but then you get the cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose. The spices continue on the palate and the pumpkin flavor comes through, too. It was good, but I found it a little cloying by the end of the glass (as mentioned in other entries in this blog, I’m not usually a fan of pumpkin beers).  3/5

Captain Stout (6% ABV). This is malty and sweet, dark brown to black with just a touch of chocolate flavor. The mouthfeel is a bit too thin for a stout, according to me.  3.25/5

Mister Charlie’s Chocolate Stout (5% ABV). This one is actually a collaboration with McIlhenney, founder of Alpine, that was brewed at San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing Company, using Recchuiti Confection’s chocolate and burnt caramel syrups. While not bad, this stout struck me as too thin and as hitting just one note. There was a burnt flavor rather than the roasty-ness normally associated with stouts, and the chocolate was very subtle. Interestingly, I picked up almost nothing on the front half of my tongue.  2.75/5

Odin’s Raven (Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, 11% ABV). Deep dark brown with a cherry color undertone. A riot of flavors: Raisin, caramel, oxidized red wine, root beer. Definitely boozy but it is pretty smooth. The mouthfeel should be less thin to support so much powerful flavor.  3.75/5

Alpine Beer Company makes some excellent beer. It is worth the drive from San Diego to check them out and have a meal.     1347 Tavern Rd, Alpine, CA 91901

Don’t Just Take My Word for It (Links to Related Beer Writing)

San Diego Magazine’s Brewery Guide entry for Alpine Beer Co.

San Diego Eater on the opening of the new pub location in 2015.

Best of all, Mike Sardina’s excellent piece on Alpine Beer Co. from