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San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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November 10th; The day Green Flash Brewing bought Alpine Beer Co.

It’s a Monday morning in America’s Finest City and its mega craft beer event, San Diego Beer Week, is in full swing. Most of us craft beer enthusiasts are contemplating which of the dozens of fantastic and fun events lined up all over the county to attend. Then something happens. News from the craft beer industry breaks and San Diego beer drinkers do a collective double take and everything in our world of hand crafted brews comes to a screeching halt at the news and we let out a gasp of “What with the what what?”

Green Flash Brewing has bought Alpine Beer Company.

Honestly, it took me several long minutes for me to wrap my head around the very notion of it. While it’s certainly not unheard of for a craft brewer to acquire a smaller craft brewer, Samuel Adams has been doing it for a while now (even if you don’t consider them to be craft any longer), the idea of it happening here in San Diego took me by surprise.

As is no longer shocking, after a quick perusing of my social media feeds, there was a lot of mixed reaction. Some people liked it, some didn’t. Some out right hated it while others where just hoping the beer wouldn’t be affected. I think if the announcement wasn’t coming on the heels of the news of Anheuser-Busch purchasing Portland craft beer legend 10 Barrel Brewing this past week, the news might not have met with such diverse reactions.

I think a lot of assumptions were made initially, and hopefully now that the shock has worn off, people see this for what it is, two craft beer companies coming together to make each of their brands stronger and increase their odds of continued success in a beer market that is, with the exception of craft beer sales, flat or in decline depending on whose numbers you are looking at.

After reading several articles on the sale and the official press release, which you can find here, it’s clear that this is a move the will benefit both companies and craft beer drinkers alike.

Green Flash has an incredible line-up of beers, excellent marketing strategies and well thought out expansions plans, including a new facility which has recently broken ground in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Their larger production facility will mean that Alpine beers, long coveted and argued to be the best IPA’s in the world, will now be available to more people. How can this be considered a bad thing?

On the surface, it may look to some as if this is like Anheuser-Busch, a giant corporation gobbling up the little guys in an effort to stop the competition. I believe there is nothing further from the truth. What A.B. is doing is an attempt to get a foot hold in a market that they have been boxed out of by purchasing companies like 10 Barrel, Goose Island and others that already have a foot in the door.

The situation with Green Flash and Alpine is totally different. For one thing, Green Flash helped to create the market they are in. To the people who run the company, craft beer isn’t about competition but about comradery and the belief that great beer brings great people together. Alpine Beer Company on the other hand, has enjoyed immense popularity, particularly for their murder’s row of IPA’s like Duet, Nelson, Hoppy Birthday, Exponential Hoppiness and others. However, the bottom line has always been that they are a small brewery in east county San Diego and the demand for their beers continues to outpace their ability to brew it all fast enough. An experiment earlier in the year, where Alpine allowed Green Flash to brew their IPA’s meet with Alpine head brewer & co-founder Pat McIIhenny’s approval. One could speculate that this was the genesis of the idea for the new ownership arrangement.

Alpine Beer Company will still be run the same way. The labels on the bottle will be the same. The beer in the bottles will be the same. Pat will still be making the beer to his exacting standards. The small brewery and brewpub will still be open in Alpine, the plans for a new, larger restaurant are still in the works. The biggest change will be the volume of beer made and where it’s made at; Green Flash. This opens the door to wider distribution throughout California and I’d guess it’s only a matter of time before 49 other states will get their chance at some of the best beer in the world. And perhaps most importantly, the roughly 20 employees who work at Alpine will now have the opportunity for health insurance, 401K and other perks that the small scale brewery was unable to provide before now.

While a tiny part of me is sad that the Alpine Beer Company that was something of San Diego secret is now done and over with, the rest of me is very excited for the the rest of California, and the country to now be able to get their hands on what I consider to be the finest craft beers on the planet, because if you’ve not had Nelson IPA from Alpine, you are truly missing out on something special.

Cheers,

Tom

 

 

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San Diego Beer Week 2014; It’s Here!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. Time continually seems to move with the rapidity of a crimson and gold cowled super hero (The Flash, he runs fast!). Yet here we are, almost 365 days removed from the start of one of the most amazing times to be a resident or a visitor to the Craft Beer Capital that San Diego has become. That’s right folks, the electricity in the air, the gentle rumbling of stomachs, that little bit of drool I have in the corner of my mouth… it all signals the start of San Diego Beer Week!

The local breweries of the city have all be busy this past year. Most are growing, setting up new and larger brewing facilities. Some are cementing their reputations for quality, some are still starting up and this is their first year as part of the beer week fun, but one thing cannot be denied, over the past year San Diego has continued to turn out some of the finest craft beers on the planet and this is the week that we all, locals and visitors alike, get to celebrate and share our high quality fermentables with everyone at just about every bar, restaurant and brewery in town.

There are so many fun and incredible events every day between November 6th (Beer Week eve) to the end of the event on November 16th that it’s practically impossible not to find something to suit your needs. This is also an amazing opportunity to take your friend who maybe hasn’t yet had the opportunity to sample the craft beer scene here in town and help show them whats it’s all about and spoil them with some fantastically fresh and tasty beers as well.

The amount of events is almost impossible to cover here, but a pretty detailed listing is available at SDBW.org, so head over and check it out. There is also a convenient app available for your smart phone that will help make planning your time considerably easier.

A lot of the events are free to get into, but some do require tickets to be purchased. Please check with each location if you have any questions about that before you head out. Also, you might want to download a ride-sharing app like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar to make sure that in all of your excitement, you still have a way to get home.

I’m only going to mention a few of the insane amount of events/tastings/pairings and tap takeovers that are planned. Use the site listed above, or check social media of your favorite bars, breweries and restaurants for their event schedules.

November 6th (Beer Week Eve Kickoff)

Friend of the blog, Rudy Pollorena Jr. aka Crafbeerd, will be holding the first of many pop up events tonight at Mike Hess Brewing in North Park at 6pm. Swing by for a beer and check out the latest designs from our resident craft beer artist.

Ritual Kitchen will be hosting a Rare & Local taps event tonight featuring incredible beers from IPA juggernauts Alpine Beer Company as well as Alesmith, Groundswell, Lost Abbey, Monkey Paw and Ballast Point.

You might see me at both places today.

November 7 & 8th

Guild Fest – This is the spot where you can rub elbows with San Diego’s craft beer dignitaries while taking in a great view with craft beer and tasty food in your hands. A not to be missed event, tickets are required, get them at SDBW.org

November 9th

– Worlds Largest Bottle Share – Friend of the blog, Brian Beagle is helping to make this new event one that will be talked about for a long time to come. This is the opportunity to hit bars along the legendary 30th street, from Normal Heights to North Park to South Park, all on a shuttle bus as you and your friends share bottles (bring a few, nothing fancy unless you want) and get to sample some amazingly rare beers along the way. Tickets are only $10 and the event goes from 1pm to 6pm and knowing Brian, there will be a ton of fun along the way. Click here for more details and how to get your tickets.

– 6th Annual Green Flash Smoke Out at Carnitas Snack Shack. If that doesn’t say enough, this link will have to, because I don’t have the words.

November 12th

– Alesmith’s Speedway Grand Prix – So let me get this straight, I’m going to sample 12 different variations of the finest stout in all the land? Sign me up. Tickets here.

– Battle of the IPA’s at Urge Gastropub. A fun, blind tasting event where your votes will help decide the winner! This is always a good time and the food at Urge is second to none. No tickets required. More info here on all their SDBW events.

There is a very good chance that I’m at both of these events.

November 14th

Hamilton’s Tavern will host its Firkin Friday with dueling casks from Monkey Paw Brewing, with personal favorite Bonobos going up against their 3rd Anniversary Ale. No SD Beer week is complete without at least one visit to this fantastic bar.

Also over the course of the week head to Toronado for only about 50 different IPA’s and take a look and the new “other side of the bar” as Toronado grows! They will also be hosting an event on the 14th, no tickets needed but it should be a blast as always. Be sure to say hi to Nate.

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that will be happening in town over the next 9-10 days, depending on how you want to count. Check the websites of your favorite bars and breweries to see what they have going on. Lots of tap take overs, meet the brewers, keep the glass events that I can’t even keep track of.

Enjoy your Beer Week San Diego, you’ve earned!

Cheers,

Tom