Alpine, you have a problem

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by OTB, Aug 12, 2012.

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  1. Czar_chasm

    Czar_chasm Aspirant (240) Jun 20, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for the response. I'm hesitant to call him out by name for a couple of reasons.

    1) The rest of the trade went without any issues. I was able to get TREAT, DL' 11, DORIS, older viscosity, and the Odins Raven as agreed. There were some good extras (terrapin WnB, FW velvet merlin, Victory Storm King, some other stout I hadn't tried).

    2) When I contacted the trader, he wasn't aware that the box was missing the Charleville Box of Chocolates. He also claimed that both beers at 3 weeks tasted fine and he wasn't aware of any bottling / infection issues. He immediately offered to send the missing beer with replacements for the infected beers.

    I may be naive, but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt when it's possible that this was all just a simple mistake (missing a beer, sending an infected extra, and trading for a possibly infected beer). If anyone contacts me for a reference for this trader I'll let them know what happened but I don't think it's appropriate to publicly out him in this thread.
  2. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    Hopefully the Odin's is the new batch, and if the Token was an extra then that isn't as bad. He very could not know that it has an infection depending on how he got his bottles. But if he is a local and keeps his thumb on the beer pulse in the area it would be hard not to know of the issue. At three weeks there were no signs of infection, though Token was fairly underwhelming for a BA beer, possibly back blended too much. I really enjoyed Odin's fresh and wish I drank all of mine within a few weeks.

    I think you are right not to name the trader since you do not suspect any foul play. Plus it sounds like he was generous in the other extras and sent some standout beers. However, I would be cautious trading with someone that may not be knowledgeable about what they are trading. I also gave a Token as an extra, but this was within the first weeks of me getting it, and didn't learn of the infection until a few weeks after sending it. The rest of my bottles will be used to torture friends and then most likely my plumbing system.
    SageO, Czar_chasm and HopsintheSack like this.
  3. DougOLis

    DougOLis Initiate (185) Aug 15, 2008 California

    How did the tasting of Token and Odin's go? Infected?
  4. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    Unfortunately didn't try them, too many other beers too few people. But I do plan on opening them soon
  5. funkel81

    funkel81 Devotee (423) Jan 23, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    let me know, i'm very curious since they've been refrigerated since day 1 and should be totally fine!
    nanobrew likes this.
  6. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    Been drinking quite a bit of Alpine lately, mostly bottles directly from the brewery. Had the following issues that are prompting this post:

    Expo- Bottles are worlds away from flavor/body I experienced having this beer on draft. Bottle was about four days old. While discussing with beer buddies, topic came up. Seems guys are getting different tastes from different bottles. Same batch of beer. So, is this a case of "specialty beer, huge hops, going to have some different flavors between bottles" or is Alpine needing to crack down on their brewing/bottling quality control issues to ensure that their beer tastes the way it was meant to. Boils down to this: between two bottles of Expo, you might end up with two very different flavor profiles, with both beers being the same age.

    Nelson- Borderline flat bottles. Same flavor as draft, still a very tasty beer, but no explosion of aromas, and no dispersion on tongue. Disappointing. These bottles were approx. 1 week old, and refrigerated their entire lives.

    PH- Flat bottles two batches ago. Not sure what happened- Alpine decided to blame it on a power outage. Luckily, I did not visit Alpine the week these beers went on sale.

    Odin's- Infected bottles. BA, so that might have been the reason.

    I'm wondering if Alpine is brewing too much beer with too few quality control measures. I know that they have been pushing to raise money for a new brewery, which would hopefully allow them to brew their beer on a larger, state-of-the-art system. Why hasn't that happened yet? Smaller, less accomplished brewers have had no problems getting funding for expansion. Here are my questions:

    1. Is Alpine suffering because of their business plan? They want to expand, but they don't seem to like the idea of outside help, or the idea of hiring any professional brewers other than Pat & Sean. Those guys make killer beer, but they are just two guys. Hire another pro and a couple of very capable assistants BEFORE opening the new brewery. There is an intense demand for Alpine Beer across the country. I believe that they are doing their best to achieve max output on their systems. But if they are under-staffed, the product quality will suffer.

    2. What is the quality of the ingredients being used? In my limited brewing experience, quality of ingredients can have a HUGE impact on a batch of beer. It can also have a huge impact on the cost of brewing that beer. Does Alpine brew every batch with fresh ingredients? Do they inspect grain and hops to ensure consistency amongst multiple batches? I honestly don't know, because they (like so many nano/micros) closely guard their brewing process.

    3. Why is Alpine beer so inexpensive? We're talking about a very highly demanding beer to make, and a beer that people will drive hundreds of miles to buy. So is Alpine charging enough per bottle to ensure that they can continue to make a quality product? I understand the desire to sell to locals at a reasonable price, but you can pick up a 22oz bottle of Nelson, Duet or PH for $6.00 at the brewery. I would happily be willing to pay $2-3 more per bottle if it means a more consistent product (and an eventual expansion.) Expo was $10 a bottle (up $1 from last batch), but folks would happily pay $12-13. Setting your prices low to keep locals happy is fine, but it will always be the leading cause of a decline in quality.

    4. How many bad bottles of good beer am I willing to buy before I stop buying that beer altogether? I know that I can get a more consistent product from Ballast Point or Russian River, and I know that I can get my nano fix from Hess (who will refuse to sell a beer that isn't up to standards), so how long will I continue to spend my beer budget on bottles that might be bad?

    Alpine still makes the best beer in San Diego. I will still hike up the mountain for growler fills, and I will still seek them out at local bars. But I've bought my last bottle for a while.
    pmarlowe likes this.
  7. OTB

    OTB Devotee (419) Sep 2, 2011 California

    I personally think the current batch of Nelson is not their best. Starting with the super hazy off brownish color. It tasted ok but not like the last batch which was off the charts amazing. Other than a few flat bottles of PH I have never had any major complaints and will continue to buy until hell freezes over. Personally I wouldn't use Ballast Point as the poster child of consistency. The current Sculpin available on the retail market is in no way the product of just a few years ago.

  8. besaunders

    besaunders Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2007 California

    If a picture paints a thousand words,
  9. biglobo8971

    biglobo8971 Devotee (481) May 6, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    only problem I have with Alpine is their inconsistencies in the number of times they are in my fridge.
    BrewtifulMind, glitchedmind and jodan like this.
  10. vacax

    vacax Initiate (0) Jun 3, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    I have a few Tokens left, we can fix your problem real quick.
    pmarlowe likes this.
  11. biglobo8971

    biglobo8971 Devotee (481) May 6, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    who's in your pocket??? if you said "I have a few Bad Boy growlers, or Hoppy Birthday growlers in my pocket" you would be on. But I am not going to jump on the one style I think Alpine is not the best at.
  12. ChanChan

    ChanChan Devotee (474) Dec 12, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I had Pure Hoppiness a while back and it was pretty bad! It tasted like it had been open for days, flat, and old!! Good thing its a batch issue! I would definitely give it a go again as long as its available and healthy!
  13. heesu

    heesu Initiate (148) Jul 2, 2012 Michigan

    Had similar issues with bottles of PH, expo, and Nelson. Only PH was bad to the point of replacing, which they did. So yeah, I mean, a few flaws but overall no big deal.
  14. BrianTheBrewer30

    BrianTheBrewer30 Aspirant (211) Nov 17, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Oh I pray to God more and more people read this thread and stay away from Alpine. Just so the rest of us can start seeing it in more stores and do not have to worry about bottle limits at the brewery anymore.
  15. grandmeaulnes

    grandmeaulnes Initiate (0) Oct 18, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    You and me both, brother.
  16. johndoe8

    johndoe8 Initiate (144) Jun 9, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    - i bought some of the latest batch of nelson, carbonation was fine out of bottles.
    - the summer batch of expo has always been worse than the winter batch. it's been like this for 3 years now. it's surmised that it has to do with how hot it gets out in alpine. i believe hops are also most fresh in the fall, but don't quote me on that.
    - the last batch of ba odin's wasn't infected. i've opened 3 of them now, shared them with quite a few people. the first batch was pretty badly infected. so was the only bottle release of ba token. the nastiness from the chez monieux is starting to subside, but it's still pretty gross right now. hope it goes away in a year or two, otherwise, sucks to be me.
    - if you're a fan of hess or ballast point, please support them over alpine. alpine has plenty of supporters already.
    - the ph bottles were attributed to the power outage. i drank one, it was flat. was unhappy. i brought back the bottles, they swapped them out for fresh carbonated ph. going out to alpine is a huge pain in the ass for me, but i was there anyways for hoppy birthday fills.

    i haven't had any problems really with bottled alpine ipas. i typically only buy nelson, sometimes some ph and duet, and this ph problem is the first time i've ever had issues with a bottled ipa, and they resolved it as best as they could. feel free to support the other fine local breweries for your bottled ipa needs if you are having a tough time with them. san diego has a lot of good breweries who need your support.
    heesu, SageO, Retsinis and 1 other person like this.
  17. Retsinis

    Retsinis Champion (857) Sep 25, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Thank you! Seriously. Alpine is doing just fine, despite any issues. Glad to see Hess is getting some love in the US Pacific forum, seem them mentiond a few times on different threads today, nice. (seem them flamed before too, which I rarely agreed with personally) I think Ballast Point is also just fine imo, given their distribution, bottling, size, etc.

    Hess, on the other hand, is the smallest one in those three. Doesn't bottle, (three exceptions of 1st, 2nd anni & Torulus) doesn't distribute, (except self distribution) & rarely get's kegs out of the brewery. Looking to change once the new location is open though which is promising.

    Last, I am in no way comparing breweries here either, just saying fat chicks need love too.
    BrewtifulMind likes this.
  18. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    I'll support Hess when they have a 64oz growler that isn't $25.
  19. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    I think that it is ok to be critical of Alpine, even though I love their beer and their attitude. I think that they are the best nano brewery in the country, and possibly the best brewery on the West Coast.

    I occasionally have questions about almost every brewery I try- I figured that beeradvocate might be the best place to get some interesting answers. I really am curious about where they source their grain and hops, and I would love to see how a brew day goes- how many brewers, how do they ensure accurate recipe measurements, how old is their equipment, etc. I'm just interested in figuring out how they make such incredible beer. I'm also interested in how a batch can go bad- even just slightly so. I realize that brewing is difficult, and that conditions play a huge role in the profile of a beer. But I want to know how they combat that, and whether they track it.
  20. Retsinis

    Retsinis Champion (857) Sep 25, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    No arguments there, I only have 2 prowlers for that same reason. Though I have them filled any time i'm in SD, or give them to be filled when someone I know is heading that way, so they were worth it for me.

    I mainly chimed in since this thread & another Alpine one, has been going for a few weeks now.
  21. johndoe8

    johndoe8 Initiate (144) Jun 9, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    i'm not really a hess fan. personally, i like the idea of them being so close to my work. i like the prospect of them possibly putting out something remarkable in the future, but right now, their product doesn't really earn my dollars. which is fine. but i hope someone else props them up so at one point they might make something i like :slight_smile:

    same with ballast point. although i will say that i do order ballast point when i'm at petco
  22. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    Hess started out strong. Last Intrepidus I had was an astringent mess.
  23. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    Hess should make some strong headway once they get Nate Sampson brewing their batches full-time. They're having issues getting their new brewery finished. I think they picked a beast of a building with a ton of concrete removal necessary for the plans they have. But it will be a beautiful space, and a much-needed North Park/South Park brewery to hit up. Grazias is the best (only?) cream ale in town (although I don't think they do any lagering). Grazias Induresco is one of my top twenty San Diego beers. Does vary from batch to batch.

    Once that new brewery does open, be prepared to see their beer everywhere around town. Did hear some interesting news about their staffing this weekend, though. We'll see how that shakes down. They might actually be less friendly (with the exception of one just-departed staffer) than almost any other brewery in town.
  24. HopsintheSack

    HopsintheSack Devotee (452) Apr 17, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Don't get me wrong, I love Alpine, but thats a bold statement.
  25. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    It is- but I can remember where I was and what I was doing the first time I tasted Nelson. Not many other beers out there have made that kind of impact on me. It's all relative, and I'm sure plenty of other folks remember different beers. But they made an impact on me.

    Of course, there are plenty of nanos across the country that I've never tried :wink:
  26. SageO

    SageO Initiate (198) Jul 13, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Heh, at the rate that I've spent money there, I should probably have a stake in the company! Speaking of which, just about to leave work to head out there...
  27. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    I gotta say, I love most every brewery in San Diego. Most of them would be amongst the best breweries in many medium-sized cities around the country. But many good breweries means that it is our job to become as educated about beer as possible, so that our selections at the tap and the bottle shop help them decide what they need to focus on. You can't pick a better town to get a craft beer education.
    mactrail likes this.
  28. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (980) Jul 7, 2005 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    They're unquestionably bigger than a nano.

    They also have QC issues larger than most. Their range of "excellent" beers is limited exclusively to hoppy beers.

    All of that would preclude them, to me, from being discussed as the best nano brewery, let alone the best brewery on the west coast. Wouldn't even be in the discussion.

    That said... I'd say they quite clearly make The Best IPAs. Period. Other breweries make great ones, maybe even one or two I'd rank ahead of some Alpine beers. But I can't think of another brewery that makes so many legitimately great IPAs (and Pale Ales, hello Hoppy Birthday!).

    All of which makes it all the more perplexing that Exponential Hoppiness just isn't very good.
    vurt and HopHead84 like this.
  29. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    Great points. I'm not sure what their annual output is, but it has to be somewhere on the small side of micro, and since we have to contend with the likes of Stone, New Belgium & Sierra calling themselves microbreweries, I tend to label anyone who has limited bottling capacity/distribution as a nano.Anyone out there

    Expo can be awesome on tap- it suffers in the bottle, and every bottle I've had has tasted a bit different. Sometimes leaning towards thick and dank, sometimes thinner with little carbonation but some nice hop aroma. Nothing beats a growler of Bad Boy, a growler of Hoppy Birthday and a good Premiere League match.

    There are several breweries that put out a more stable, higher quality lineup but I can't think of a brewery that creates a greater furor on tap in San Diego. Except for Russian River in February.
  30. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

  31. grandmeaulnes

    grandmeaulnes Initiate (0) Oct 18, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I've had nothing but awesome experiences with literally every person at the brewery and pub.
  32. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    He's talking Hess...
  33. grandmeaulnes

    grandmeaulnes Initiate (0) Oct 18, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Oh, ok.

    Nothing to say about Hess.
  34. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    That's good to hear. Love the pub staff, and still trying to warm up to the brewery staff. I'll talk to them a bit more next time I'm up there.
  35. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    Steve is awesome. Say "whales bro" and you're in.
  36. grandmeaulnes

    grandmeaulnes Initiate (0) Oct 18, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Steve is the man.
  37. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    I've heard a couple of things that I don't want to believe. Keep an eye on the twitter feed- notice it hasn't been updated in a few days. Hopefully, all will be back to normal in a few days. If not, the friendliest member of the staff might be gone. I've always had an issue talking beer with a lot of the Hess team. It might be the fact that I don't get up there very often- literally once or twice, since I work weekends and have Mon-Tues off. I've always believed that you have to treat every patron like a regular. Maybe that is the midwesterner in me. But it's not a bad way to get people to feel at home, and to make your place a second home.
    pmarlowe likes this.
  38. besaunders

    besaunders Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2007 California

    I've found two people there to be friendly, but one definitely comes to mind. I haven't seen him at the tasting room the past few times I've been there, but I was under the impression that was because they were training the person that was supposedly going to be running the counter at the North Park operation.

    I'd probably stop going there at all if they screwed this guy over for no good reason.
  39. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    Yeah- he did point out that Expo had been added to the bottle list on the morning of the secret release. Let me by the first four bottles. And he's damn good at keeping up with facebook posts. They're all Midwesterners up there.
  40. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    I sent my wife up to buy expo - posted a pic I took of her on the webcam - he saw it before she even left and wrote evilc on the box!
    sbuysse and grandmeaulnes like this.
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