For many brewing companies, expansion means opening a tasting room in a different neighborhood, constructing an ell or a whole other building. Recently, those with the funds and the demand, including San Diego’s own Green Flash Brewing Company, have taken to building brewing facilities on the other side of the country. These are big boy scenarios. In the case of smaller brewing companies—the most prominent type of beer operation in America—expansion is often relegated to adding equipment or blowing out a wall and taking over an abutting industrial suite.
One small but immensely popular brewery, Alpine Beer Co. (2351 Alpine Boulevard, Alpine), is aiming to get bigger and attempting to navigate a different route in doing so. Owner and brewer Pat McIlhenney is in negotiations with Cold Springs Brewery to use their Minnesota facility to brew 5,000 barrels of three of their most popular beers. That breaks down to 2,000 barrels each of IPAs Duet and Nelson, plus 1,000 barrels of potent pale ale, Hoppy Birthday.
If this comes to pass, it would nearly quadruple Alpine’s total annual production, and serve as a means of reaching their ultimate goal of building their own production brewery. More immediately, this deal would solve a problem that has plagued Alpine for a long time—an inability to brew enough beer to sate a thirsty fan base. Alpine is considered by many a beer aficionado as one of the best craft breweries in the country.
To help maintain their solid reputation, McIlhenney will spend time overseeing brewing operations in Minnesota. The McIlhenney’s are particularly encouraged by the high quality water available at the Cold Springs facility. Beers produced using that glacial melt H2O will be available in Alpine’s current 22-ounce bomber format as well as 16-ounce, screw cap-affixed aluminum cans. As for concerns about trying to manage brewing half-a-country away, Alpine has few. Pat's son, brewer Shawn McIlhenney’s chief concern at this point is that the beers produced at Cold Springs may be even better than those brewed in Alpine.