It's not like it's difficult to find great craft beer around San Diego. With more than 100 craft breweries and counting, at this point it's probably harder to find macro-brewed swill than a pint made with love in between Oceanside and Otay Mesa.
That doesn't necessarily mean it's all good beer—there are some pretty obvious standouts that are worth traveling for, and Alpine Brewing Company's new location (1347 Tavern Rd.) is definitely one of them.
I'll admit that as a North Parkian, I don't tend to stray too far from my front door for beer. Why drive when I can enjoy what's arguably the best array of breweries, taverns and bars in the entire county only minutes away from my couch? However, Alpine has always been the far-and-away exception to my pretty staunch anti-driving lifestyle.
As the "Home of Pure Hoppiness" (I'm a die-hard Duet fan, personally), it's always been worth the 60-mile round trip for monumentally amazing BBQ and their mind-blowing collection of some of the best IPAs in the country, and now even more so. More tables means less waiting, and if there's anything I hate as much as driving, it's waiting in line.
Alpine's tenfold expansion is just down the road from their original Alpine Boulevard location, even closer to the Highway 8 on-ramp than before. The new bar seats 14 drinkers and the inside seating holds at least 100, but the real gem is the sprawling outdoor patio that's nestled among shady trees to give it that amazingly elusive feeling of ultimate craft beer dorkery meets complete comfort without any BS. Plus, I can personally attest that their new air-conditioning unit is running at full speed, which I'm guessing will be warmly embraced throughout the summer. Expect the same great BBQ as before, although here's hoping their famous poutine will become more than just a Sunday special.
As always, Alpine's robust tap list boasts all the standby favorites like Nelson, Pure Hoppiness, and Willy Vanilly, but now a rotating guest tap list provides even more options (although why you'd drink something other than an Alpine beer at Alpine Beer Company, I'll never know). With four of the 14 guest taps pouring Green Flash, I'd wager at least 30th Street and West Coast to be regularly available.
I'll admit when I first heard about Green Flash's acquisition of Alpine, my immediate reaction was pure selfishness. How dare they try to introduce their beautiful collection of brews to beer enthusiasts other than myself? However, my second reaction was... still selfish. I realized that more output means more Duets, Nelsons and Hoppy Birthdays for me as much as the next craft fanatic. This enormous expansion that's now open seven days a week, plus doubling their output via Green Flash, means that Alpine is only becoming more available to the thirsty masses.
Between the 3,000 yearly barrels (and counting) plus potential nationwide reach via Green Flash's distribution and East Coast location, I'm calling it now: Alpine in cans is next. You heard it here first.