Alpine Beer Co.
Career fireman Pat McIlhenney opened this microbrewery in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2009 that he became a full-time brewer. About 30 minutes outside San Diego, the brewery is situated in a tiny retail complex off Alpine Boulevard—an unassuming location that belies the company’s history of competition success. Together with his son Shawn, McIlhenney produces hop-forward beers like Pure Hoppiness and Duet, along with a signature Irish Red, chocolate oatmeal stout, and spicy-sweet Mandarin Nectar. Tastings and growler fills are available in the brewery, while home-cooked barbecue is served in the adjacent brewpub, a diner-like space with black-and-white-checkered floors.
The brewpub is as tiny as it is popular, so arrive before six to avoid the dinner rush; if there’s a wait, you can simply head to the tasting room.