GUEST BLOG—By Brandon Hernandez, West Coaster Contributing Editor--It once went by the name and persona of McGuffey’s Ice Cream Parlor, the smallish left-most unit in the family of storefronts off Alpine Boulevard which eventually became the town’s craft-beer Mecca.
That status came via many hoppy returns provided by Alpine Beer Company (2351 Alpine Boulevard, Alpine), who took over the space nearly a decade ago, converting it to a bar-and-restaurant serving up bodacious beers and barbecue to match. It was far from perfect—it couldn’t seat nearly enough people to meet demand for those lupulin-laced ales and service was spotty—but the beer made up for any shortcomings.
Now, the venue and the new logic behind it makes the pilgrimage to Alpine much more worth the time and gas thanks to an overhaul issued by parent interest Green Flash Brewing Company.
Director of beer education Dave Adams took the lead in the remodel after successfully completing other high-profile Green Flash projects including its Cellar 3 tasting room in Poway and the spacious Alpine Beer Company Pub less than a mile west of ABC’s original digs.
Currently, that’s where the business’ fans go for ‘cue and other beer-friendly sustenance, while growler-toting voyagers united in their beery single-mindedness venture to Adams’ latest triumph. Gone is the checkerboard-tile flooring, red duct work lining the ceiling and perhaps the county’s smallest kitchen. The whole place was gutted, torn down to be built up into something befitting Alpine’s deep-country thematic.
|What is so cool about San Diego is you can go fill your growler at Alpine Beer in the foothills of the Laguna Mountains and half an hour later be tasting it at your beachfront terrace.|
Instead of walking into what looks and feels like an old-time diner, visitors now find themselves in a scarcely populated log cabin. The non-existent furniture isn’t an accident. The lack of indoor seating leaves lots of room for the lines that regularly form at the tasting bar, where samplers and full pours are both available. The bar and stools from the original restaurant have been pushed up against the windowed east wall and there’s a smattering of new stools on an alcove facing the street, but al fresco’s the way to go here thanks to Adams’ work to greatly expand the outdoor seating behind the tasting room. The entire “back yard” has been tiered and offers multiple picnic tables for prolonged suds sessions. Back indoors, the space remains bright thanks to plenty of windows plus skylights and dangling twentieth-century milk lights. Adams had considered going with trendy exposed Edison bulbs, but keeping things a bit more subdued works better in this case.
Overall, it’s a simple yet thoughtful project that makes a once lovable yet sadly deficient venue far more utilitarian and service-oriented. The staff have the means to succeed and that seems to translate to the overall attitude behind the bar. In the past, bartenders had a tendency to be edgy or outright rude, but service with a smile is the name of the game now, and that’s as important a face-lift as the one afforded this must-visit San Diego brew-scene gem.
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