As a San Diego hophead I recognize that Alpine Beer Co. makes some of the best IPA’s in the world. Despite how infrequently Alpine’s beers show up at local bars and bottle shops, we’re pretty damn spoiled with the fact that the brewery is a short 30 minute drive from San Diego, where we can buy bottles and fill growlers five days a week.
Alpine has extremely limited distribution outside of their own brewery and pub, I’ve heard there are a few shops in the LA area that occasionally get Alpine’s beer (legitimately from an actual distributor, there are many more shops around the state that buy beer at Alpine and then resell it, a process frowned upon by the brewery) but for the most part if you want to drink Alpine’s beers you have to be in San Diego (and maybe even drive up to Alpine). The fact that their beer is so good, and so hard to come by outside of our small corner of the country has caused quite a bit of demand amongst beer geeks out there. Demand that just cannot be filled by Alpine’s rather small brewery.
So when I learned that Alpine Beer Co.’s Pat and Shawn Mcilhenney were headed to Fort Collins to brew an Alpine style Double IPA in collaboration with New Belgium Brewing Company I was certainly excited for the beer itself, but recognized this might be a much bigger deal to those folks within New Belgium’s wide distribution area but outside of Southern California. A whole lot of people are about to be exposed to Alpine Beer Company, many probably for the first time. Thankfully Super India Pale Ale is superb beer and even though it wasn’t brewed in Alpine, CA it’s well deserving of having Alpine’s name attached to it.
I picked up a bottle of Super IPA at Bine and Vine (which I hadn’t been to in a month or so, I have to say it’s looking pretty nice in there) last night for $6.99, I think I saw them tweet that they’re now sold out but are expecting more next week. New Belgium brewed a lot of this beer, 1400 barrels according to one of Alpine’s past email newsletters, which they state is almost equal to Alpine Beer Co.’s entire annual production, but demand is expectantly high. It’s all over town, but may take a bit of searching to find, especially at some of the more popular beer spots.
Super IPA is everything you would expect from an Alpine IPA, big and hoppy. Without having drank the two side by side (so this may not be an accurate comparison) it reminded me a bit of a bigger version of Duet. Quite a bit of citrus and pine hop flavors supported by a malt backbone that doesn’t get in the way of the hops. It comes in at 9% ABV but it’s not overly sweet or too boozy. Super IPA is delicious, but I don’t know that it’s any better than other Alpine IPAs/Double IPAs (in fact my tastebuds are still loyal to Nelson). So while I hope to drink a few more of these while they’re around, once this one-off beer is gone I’ll go back to drinking Nelson, Duet and Pure Hoppiness and have no complaints. But for those beer drinkers that aren’t as lucky to be able to pick up beer’s from Alpine regularly, this is indeed a special treat.
And as a side note, I think this might be one of the coolest beer bottles I’ve ever bought. I don’t save too many bottles, but this one is a keeper.