June 26th marked the official opening of the new Alpine Beer Company Pub (1347 Tavern Road), a long-overdue expansion of the restaurant and taphouse affiliated with increasingly popular Alpine Beer Company. The new location sits about a mile west of the original pub, which opened about six and a half years ago in the same building as Alpine's tiny brewery and tasting room. While that tasting room remains open and serves growler fills, it's far too small to accommodate more than a handful of people at any given time.
While a partnership with Mira Mesa brewer Green Flash in the past year has greatly increased the production of Alpine favorites, including Nelson and Duet IPAs, the majority of Alpine's nearly three dozen beers have only been available at the pub and tasting room. Long lines out the door became the norm, particularly on weekends, as wave upon wave of beer-geek pilgrims from home and abroad have been making the nearly 30-mile drive from San Diego city center to sample the beer and smokehouse barbecue.
Pub manager Danielle Faught opened the original restaurant, which offered seats for about 36 people.
"We were bursting at the seams," she says, "and we just needed more space for our customers because we were turning people away left and right."
The new restaurant's dining room and rock-garden patio offers roughly 200 seats — a more than 500 percent increase in capacity — and yet Faught says its first week in business customers making the trek still found half-hour wait times for dinner.
"We allow reservations now," she says, "so we're asking people that do have large groups to please make a reservation so we can plan ahead."
Faught oversaw construction and decor of the restaurant — even painting some of it herself. Features include brick walls, reclaimed-wood accents, and open-beam ceilings. A 25-handle bar serves about 10 Alpine beers and 15 guest taps. Construction is also underway on an outdoor bar that will offer another 25 taps for direct service to the garden seating.
Executive chef Jamie Holst took over the pub kitchen last August, and with the move has been able to expand the menu, reducing the number of fried dishes and adding some elevated fare, including salmon and filet mignon. She says beer-battered cheese curds and pork belly have been popular in the new location, along with brisket and other barbecue items carried over from the old space.
Taster flights are available, though not growler fills. Beer-wise, the greatest impact with the new restaurant is the increased capacity for consumers. But in terms of Alpine, the unincorporated area with a population of around 15,000, the greatest impact may be employment. Faught says the old pub claimed 7 employees — the new restaurant employs 57.