this month's issue free!

San Diego Beer News

Tony Gwynn Pale Ale Six-Packs

Dec 8

AleSmith500 sixers of AleSmith’s Tony Gwynn tribute beer will be available via Brown Paper Tickets today starting at noon, with customers able to reserve up to two six-packs for pick-up starting this Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, 1,000 additional six-packs will be sold from the brewery’s Miramar tasting room.

The beer, San Diego Pale Ale .394, references Gwynn’s career-high batting average in 1994. After a few tasting sessions and meetings earlier this year, the Baseball Hall of Famer and his family decided they wanted Peter Zien and his crew to create a hop-forward beer with light body and color. AleSmith first released the beer to the public on June 6 at Padres Beerfest, ten days before Mr. Padre passed away.

A portion of the proceeds goes to the Tony and Alicia Gwynn Foundation, created in 1995 — the same year as AleSmith — to improve the lives of local children through social, academic, and economic programs.

Because of the beer’s popularity — 119 six-packs were sold quickly during San Diego Beer Week — AleSmith will continue ramping up its production. The beer has been on tap consistently at The Bar Key in North Pacific Beach, and according to TapHunter, it’s on at Brothers Provisions as well.

Marty Mendiola’s Second Chance

Dec 4
Photo courtesy of Rock Bottom

Second Chance Beer Company Co-Founder Marty Mendiola (Photo courtesy of Rock Bottom)

Long time head brewer for Rock Bottom La Jolla and former President of the San Diego Brewers Guild Marty Mendiola is setting off to start Second Chance Beer Company. Opening in 2015, the brewery will be located in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego County and feature his English Brown, Irish Red and Robust Porter recipes.

Under the auspices of Rock Bottom, Marty’s earned a hearty share of accolades from the two major brewing competitions: the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and the bi-annual World Beer Cup (WBC). His Longboard Brown won Gold at the 2012 WBC and 2009 GABF, Silver at the 2010 WBC and Bronze at GABF 2013. Moonlight Porter earned Gold medals at GABF 2013 & 2011, and a Silver award in 2010. Two different Red recipes: Rudolph’s Red and Ragtop Red won as well, with a 2010 Gold World Beer Cup award and two GABF Bronze medals (2013/10), respectively.

Three World Beer Cup awards and seven Great American Beer Festival medals is a very respectable amount of hardware for a small brewpub brewer. Larger breweries tend to hold the recipes of their brewers as proprietary. Even if Marty’s beers aren’t the exact same as his Rock Bottom recipes, it’s a safe bet that the beer brewed at Second Chance will be world class.

As San Diego County nears 100+ breweries, Marty and his business partner, Curtis Hawes, are optimistic in regards to over-saturation and competition. “Marty has been brewing in San Diego since before brewing was cool,” says Hawes. “He has over 15 years’ professional experience here, he attended the UC Davis Master Brewers Program…If you look at places like Denver and Portland, you see there is always will be room for another great brewery…” Marty adds, “[the] Carmel Mountain / Rancho Bernardo area is far from saturated.” Keep an eye on Second Chance’s Facebook page for updates.

Track active and in-planning breweries on our Brewery Watch list

Tags: , , , , , , ,

18th Annual Pizza Port Strong Ale Fest

Dec 3

strong ale 2014 post cardThis Friday and Saturday, December 5-6, Pizza Port Carlsbad is hosting the 18th annual Strong Ale Festival. With 80+ taps of beers 8% and above, we highly recommend eating well and not driving to this one.

The first Strong Ale Festival was held in 1997 and this year will feature big beers by way of taps, cask and bottle. Pizza Port Carlsbad’s head brewer, Mike Aubuchon, brewed four specialty beers for the event: Bird Dog Barley Wine (17%), Chocolate Mint Thunder Imperial Stout (10%), Passion Fruit Big Deal (9.5%) and a Barrel Aged Stout blend of Barrel Aged Z Man, Night Rider and Bird Dog (which will be available in 22 oz. bombers).

“The festival’s longevity is a tribute to the growth of the craft brewing industry and the fact that people want more flavor out of their beer.” Aubuchon continues, “It also helps that the festival is perfectly timed between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the summer heat, you want a light, refreshing beer. But when the cold weather hits, the heavier beers can warm you up a little.”

Sip gently! Here’s a link for tickets. A list of some of the beers is below. Read more »

Tags: , , ,

Coaster Booze Ban Proposed

Dec 1
Photo courtesy of the North County Transit District

Photo courtesy of the North County Transit District

San Diego faces yet another proposed alcohol ban in public spaces – and your help is needed to push for alternative public safety solutions.

The North County Transit District (NCTD) Board of Directors has scheduled a vote for December 18th on a proposal to completely ban alcoholic beverages on Coaster trains. This is not the first time this issue has been raised. Last year, NCTD staff and transit enforcement officials cited excessive alcohol consumption as a problem, contributing to train crowding, fights, noise, littering, and underage drinking, particularly during the baseball season. In response, a total alcohol ban on Coaster trains was proposed, but was quickly tabled after the NCTD received “robust public feedback” on the issue, including a U-T San Diego editorial which denounced the proposal as “overkill.”

The current proposal would rescind NCTD’s alcohol policy, “Ordinance No. 2,” which allows open containers and alcohol consumption on trains until 9PM. The proposed ordinance changes can be found online here, and more information can be found here. In their recommendation for rescinding Ordinance No. 2, District staff state that “NCTD’s most compelling concern remains the attendant liability and risk to passengers and crew associated with the safety concerns created by consumption of alcohol on board COASTER.” The proposal follows a Board evaluation of the recent “Civility Rules” public awareness campaign on Coaster trains, as well as increased transit enforcement.

As a Coaster rider, I understand the alcohol-related concerns for public safety, particularly during baseball season. Still, an outright alcohol ban is excessive, overreaching, and negatively impacts San Diego’s growing craft beer industry. A ban penalizes the responsible adults who occasionally enjoy a beer or glass of wine while riding on the train. It hurts small businesses that host beer or wine tastings on trains, such as San Diego Beer & Wine Tours. The prohibition on “open containers” may also jeopardize growler sales at local breweries and tasting rooms. It is important to note that a dozen breweries, brewpubs and tasting stores are located within walking distance or a short bike ride from a Coaster train station.

Reasonable alternatives can be effective in preventing unwanted alcohol-related misconduct. For example, Amtrak’s alcohol policy prohibits private stock alcohol consumption while allowing beer and wine sales on trains. This approach allows Amtrak to limit public alcohol consumption, prevent underage drinking (IDs are checked at the time of sale) and stop public intoxication (it is illegal to serve intoxicated individuals). It also allows for local craft beer to be showcased to locals and the thousands of visitors who use our train network each year; Stone IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale are available for purchase on Amtrak trains departing to and from San Diego (see photo).

Your help is needed to halt the proposed alcohol ban, which is only days away from a public vote! More time is needed to work with stakeholders on a compromise solution to address public complaints of unruly behavior, which are valid and require attention. Addressing safety concerns with a more measured approach can also promote one of San Diego’s fastest growing industries. However, if nothing changes, craft beer enthusiasts and responsible adults won’t have a chance to be heard.

There are three ways you can take action right now to protect personal freedoms in San Diego and ensure local craft beer enthusiasts can enjoy beer responsibly on Coaster trains:


Voice your opposition to the Coaster alcohol ban to NCTD by sending an email to You are welcome to use or modify the suggested template below for your email.

“Re: Rescinding Ordinance No. 2

To the North County Transit District Board of Directors,

I respectfully oppose the rescinding of Ordinance No. 2. A total alcohol ban on Coaster trains is an excessive and overreaching response to a narrowly defined public safety problem. I strongly urge the board to explore alternative ways to strengthening public safety on Coaster trains while also allowing responsible adults to consume alcoholic beverages.



The deadline for sending comments to the Board is December 17th, 5PM.


Tell your friends about the proposed Coaster alcohol ban, and encourage them to send an email to the North County Transit District. Share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Get the word out to your local brewery and brewpub, and ask them to share their opinions and perspective with the NCTD.


There is an informational workshop on this issue, along with other proposed changes affecting transit passengers, on Thursday, December 4th, 6-8PM at the NCTD General Administrative Offices, 810 Mission Avenue, Oceanside. You can learn more about the proposal from NCTD staff, and offer your opinions.

The public hearing where the NCTD Board will vote on the Coaster alcohol ban will be held on Thursday, December 18th at 2PM at the same location, 810 Mission Avenue in Oceanside. You are encouraged to give your public comments before the Board.

This article was written by West Coaster contributor Vince Vasquez. He is also a Senior Policy Analyst for the National University System Institute for Policy Research and has published reports on the economic impact of craft beer in the region.

Tags: , ,

Green Flash Acquires Alpine Beer Company

Nov 10

via Press Release: At Alpine Beer Company this morning, Green Flash founders, Mike and Lisa Hinkley and Alpine Beer Company founders, Pat and Val McIlhenney announced that their breweries will join forces, teaming up to share resources, knowledge and experience.  Both the McIlhenneys and the Hinkleys view the affiliation as mutually beneficial, and are committed to supporting each other for the success of both breweries.  Each company will remain independently operated and maintain its distinct brand and culture.  Pat will remain Alpine’s President and Brewmaster to oversee all operations of Alpine Beer Company while also ensuring Alpine beers continue to meet his unwavering standard of quality, whether brewed at the Alpine or Green Flash facilities.  The most notable change will transpire over the next several years, as Alpine beer will become available to their legions of fans from across the country who have only experienced the greatness of Alpine beers while visiting California.

alpine and green flash_portraitIn a “handshake agreement,” Green Flash began brewing Alpine beer in November 2013 at their San Diego facility with the goal of helping longtime friends at Alpine raise capital to expand their production capacity.  Green Flash has been producing three of Alpine’s brews (Nelson, Hoppy Birthday and Duet), increasing Alpine annual production from 1500 to 3000 BBLs.

The experience of brewing together has been a successful learning experience for both breweries.  Green Flash Brewmaster, Chuck Silva divulged, “It was both intriguing and challenging to meld our philosophies while we worked together to scale up Pat’s recipes to be brewed in larger quantities.  We worked together to stay true to the original beer and were very happy with the ultimate results. Working with a close friend is a real treat, but for me, brewing with Pat and making Alpine beers, is yet another highlight of my brewing career in San Diego.”

The successful arrangement they have shared over the past year was the impetus that prompted the breweries to take their relationship to the next level. Each views the partnership as an organic evolution that will benefit both of their operations in many ways. “Our team was thrilled to be able to brew the awesome beer from Alpine when we began teaming up,” says Mike Hinkley of Green Flash.  “The excitement of our brewers is what prompted me to think about additional ways we could work together and help each other.  We perceive this solid new partnership as an incredible opportunity to continue to explore our craft while benefiting from the passion and experience of Pat McIlhenney.”

“After working with Green Flash for the past year, I have come to truly trust and deeply respect the entire Green Flash operation – Chuck and all of their brewers are meticulous, yet easygoing, and I am comfortable working with the team,” says Pat McIlhenney of Alpine Beer Co. “There are many benefits in teaming up with Green Flash as a partner. Not only are they committed to producing high-quality beer, the company culture and mom and pop roots of Green Flash are very similar to our own.”

Alpine employees 20 people, is distributed exclusively in California with the ability to produce a maximum of 1500 BBLs from their San Diego County brew-house, with most of their beer sold directly from their on-site pub.  Brewing capacity limitations have made it impossible for Pat and his team to support the overwhelming demand for their exceptional products.  As partners, Alpine will be able to tap into the growing Green Flash team of talented brewers, their production capacity, access to capital, and human resources in operations and administration.  Mike added that “I am hopeful that the culmination of the next few years will be that, together, we build a new production facility in Alpine.  Maybe we will even brew some Green Flash ale in Alpine.”

“I know there is strength in unity, which will allow both of our breweries to secure even higher quality ingredients – we will be a great force as a team,” exclaims Pat. “However, the most important advantage is how this partnership will help improve the quality of life for my employees. For the first time, Alpine will be able to offer our team an excellent company benefits package including affordable health care, 401K plans and other perks made possible by this exciting partnership.”

Last year's first Nelson brew @ Green Flash; photo by Tim Stahl

Last year’s first Nelson brew @ Green Flash; photo by Tim Stahl

In 2015, Green Flash will begin bottling select Alpine brews in 22oz bottles adding to the three current draft offerings.  Collaborative brews are already in Chuck and Pat’s top-secret conversations, so consumers can expect these to appear in their tasting rooms and at the best craft beer bars in Southern California.  The two Brewmasters are already talking about how they can work together at Green Flash’s Cellar 3, a special barrel-aged beer packaging facility that is currently under construction in Poway, and will include a cork-finish bottling line.

Chuck said, “I consulted Pat and borrowed some of his ideas when I made our tenth anniversary Flanders-style ale, which was a great success and will be recreated at Cellar 3.  I am always on the look-out for ideas. With Pat and me on the same team, you can count on us to push the envelope even further.”

Mike summarizes, “This partnership is win-win-win.  Green Flash wins because we are teaming up with a truly iconic brewery.  Alpine wins because they get to see their beers enjoyed by so many more of their adoring fans.  But most of all, beer geeks everywhere win, because Chuck and Pat will be working together to create beers that will blow their minds.”

Tags: , ,