Visiting taprooms and bottle shops in New York City this week, the brands representing San Diego beer in the nation's largest metropolis became consistently clear. Stone Brewing, Green Flash, Ballast Point, and AleSmith have been available in the five boroughs for years. Several of these breweries' core beers are sold at bottle shops and even in a few bodegas.
They also show up on draught at taprooms like Pony Bar in Hell's Kitchen, or Blind Tiger Ale House in Greenwich Village, where I even spotted Ballast Point's Grunion Pale Ale with Passion Fruit, on cask.
At "rare, new, and unusual beer" specialist Proletariat, on St. Mark's Place, I was told by a managing partner that the longtime prevalence of these brands have made them appear old hat. "We're trying to move forward," he said, "San Diego was the hub for craft for awhile, but now we're looking at what people are doing around the world." He did then point out that he had a keg of AleSmith's Vietnamese Speedway Stout on deck to pour that weekend.
I found similar sentiment at Tørst, a taproom in Brooklyn's perpetually hip Williamsburg neighborhood, owned by the Danish brewer behind Evil Twin beers, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. A bartender on duty there said, "We try to get hard-to-find stuff," noting that they'll occasionally put on kegs of Green Flash beers or Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin "as filler."
He did mention one San Diego brewery that they were still excited to feature: Alpine Beer Company. Prior to Green Flash purchasing Alpine last year, the East County beer was only available in-state, mostly in Southern California. But this spring, using Green Flash distribution channels, Alpine beers including Duet, Nelson, and Hoppy Birthday were made available to draft accounts in 31 additional states, including New York.
In September, these three beers were also made available in 22-ounce bottles. While they hadn't yet reached well-stocked East Village bottle shop Good Beer by mid-October, the staff there looked forward to their arrival. "We've started to get Alpine on draught, and hoping for bottles soon," said a clerk operating the shop's taps.
Such bottles have also become much easier to find within San Diego within the past year, and Green Flash has confirmed that they'll begin distributing Alpine beers in 12-ounce six-packs, beginning with Pure Hoppiness, shipping to all 50 states beginning November 1.
As for other San Diego beers that might find a receptive audience in New York, the clerk at Good Beer said, "Modern Times is definitely one we hear about all the time." And over at Tørst, the bartender opined, "We need to get some Lost Abbey here."