Alpine Beer Company comes to Indiana for the first time

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader/Hop Notes

Alpine Beer Company is a small brewery located in Alpine, Calif., with a somewhat large reputation.

It put itself on the beer map right away with beers like Duet (West Coast IPA, 7 percent ABV), Pure Hoppiness (West Coast style double IPA, 8 percent ABV) and Nelson (rye IPA, 7 percent ABV).

But because it is a small brewery, the brewing capacity was limited, as well as distribution. As far as I know, up to this point, this beer has only been available in California.

However, a little over a year ago, things changed. Pat McIlhenney, the owner of Alpine, and Mike Hinkley, owner at Green Flash Brewing, have known each other for years through the San Diego beer scene.

Since Alpine was brewing at capacity and still needed to make a bit more money in order to expand, Pat asked Mike a favor — could Green Flash brew one tank a week of Alpine beer. Because he had extra tank space available, Mike agreed, and that arrangement continued for about a year. Then, last November, the announcement was made that Green Flash was buying Alpine.

In this time of larger corporate breweries buying out smaller ones, this situation might be of some concern to craft beer enthusiasts. However, even though Green Flash is one of the largest 50 craft breweries in the U.S., according to the most recent Brewers Association report, it seems as though this merger might be a good fit.

Here is what both owners had to say about this agreement in a November 2014 San Diego Union-Tribune article.

“It will be one company with a subsidiary — Alpine Beer,” Pat McIlhenney said.

“Being able to produce and distribute Alpine beers across our market,” Hinkley said, “that will create financial success for us.”

Currently, Green Flash is brewing the following Alpine beers at its facility:  Duet, Nelson, Hoppy Birthday, Captain Stout, Alpine Ale and McIlhenney’s Irish Red. As soon as they get a hop back installed at Green Flash, they will also brew Pure Hoppiness as well.

According to Mario Lopez, Green Flash district manager for the Great Lakes Region, Alpine will never be a full time product for anyone outside of California, and they aren’t looking for Alpine to be a line extension for Green Flash.

Alpine has worked very hard to establish its identity in the beer community, and Green Flash doesn’t want them to lose that. But with the new situation, Alpine can get some of its beers on the road once in a while.

The current plan is to have a rotation for it around the country and every area should get a drop every six to eight months or so.

And that is how we will get some Alpine beers at Goshen’s Constant Spring on Friday, June 12.  Beginning when the doors open at 4 p.m., there will be a Green Flash/Alpine tap takeover featuring:

Unfortunately, this will be a draft only event with no bottles available in the area.

When I was in southern California a few years ago, I was able to get some Pure Hoppiness and Exponential Hoppiness (West Cost triple IPA, 11 percent ABV), and I have a friend who visits from Oregon occasionally who brings bottles of Alpine and these are quite a treat.

At this point, The Constant Spring is getting the only Alpine kegs in Elkhart County as far as I know, so don’t miss out on this!

Looking ahead at the Constant Spring schedule: Thursday, June 18 they will be tapping Founders KBS (bourbon barrel aged imperial coffee stout, 11.2 percent ABV, IBUs 70) and Blushing Monk (Belgian raspberry ale, 9.2 percent ABV).

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