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When interviewing Alpine Beer Co. owner Pat McIlhenney about how he'll soon have some of his beers brewed at Green Flash Brewing Company’s Mira Mesa facility, we met at craft beer bar O’Brien’s Pub (4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa). Few brewer interviews are conducted without beers in-hand and this one was no different. While documenting McIlhenney’s every word over a 45-minute span, I took occasional keyboard breaks to reach for one of the brewer’s specialty creations, Alpine Red Card.

A dry-hopped, 6.5% ABV red ale, the beer might as well be red, white, and blue. It’s a patriotic brew created to be served at O’Brien’s, a venue that’s been recognized as the number one soccer bar in America, during Team USA’s Gold Cup matches. Well, actually, it was created as a tasty quaff to entice members of that team to stop by the pub after their recent international friendly against Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium. Regardless of whether that worked, it has the flavor to get me to return for another pint.

Like most Alpine beers, Red Card brings plenty of hop character to the party while remaining smooth and easy-drinking. It would be wrong to omit that since there are so many struggle (and fail) to achieve that sort of balance. But for me, what makes it incredibly enjoyable is the beer’s prominent caramel and toffee notes, made beautifully bittersweet by the hops. I was impressed enough to ask McIlhenney about Red Card’s malt bill, to which he replied, “most of our red ales have very complex malt bills, and this beer is no exception.”

So, there’s a bit of unsolved mystery involved with this week’s featured beer, but something that has been confirmed is its availability. Red Card will be on tap at O’Brien’s this Sunday, July 21 when USA takes on El Salvadaor in the Gold Cup quarterfinals. It will also be around on Wednesday, July 24, and again on Sunday, July 28. Hopefully, the US squad will be, too!

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