Mcilhenney Brewing cans en route

Popular Alpine brewery debuting canned beers as part of its one-year anniversary

Death, taxes, never having a championship team in San Diego…some things are givens. So, too, was the fact that quality beer would spring from a small business in Alpine when Mcilhenney Brewing debuted last May. It was a return to form and the local beer scene for the company’s namesake family, which founded Alpine Beer Co. roughly two decades ago before selling it to Green Flash Brewing (which has since been sold to Canadian cannabis corporation Tilray, with production moved to Colorado) and separating from the business altogether.

Beer fans can be critical of new breweries, but with scads of awards and cult-favorite beers to their credit, the Mcilhenneys were the ale-industry equivalent of a sure thing. Everyone expected them to be exceptional, and that’s just what they’ve been from day one. Now, as they approach day 365, the Mcilhenneys are eager to give their fans a birthday present they’ve been longing for: canned beers.

“Being able to open the doors in the midst of 2021 was huge. It’s been amazing to see all the wonderful people who have made it out to the tasting room. The support from beer-lovers is such an honor,” says Tasting Room Manager Jamie Mcilhenney. “We know we are a destination spot, with most people driving out for the day or on their  way to somewhere beyond, so it’s awesome to be able to get a convenient packaged beer in their hands. And who doesn’t want a four-pack waiting for them in the fridge when they get home?”

Mcilhenney canned its first beer, a limited-edition barrel-aged imperial stout called Molotov Special, last November, but this will be the cans it releases as part of its this weekend’s anniversary festivities will be the first large-scale run, with more on the horizon. The trio of beers arriving in aluminum are popular New Zealand-hopped hazy Muntz, Wizards Wand West Coast IPA and Higher Times Triple IPA. The latter is an anniversary-specific release hopped with Cryo versions of Centennial and Simcoe, plus Chinook, Strata and assorted New Zealand varietals.

Those cans are rolling off a new three-head filler Mcilhenney selected in part because it fits into the small footprint it was able to clear out for the apparatus. The Mcilhenneys also acquired a retired depalletizer from their friends and contemporaries at Burgeon Beer Co. in Carlsbad. Both will be key to keeping canned beer in stock on a regular basis. For now, they will be sold exclusively at the brewery, but, if possible, the Mcilhenneys would like to self-distribute some to a handful of accounts throughout the county.

“We are looking to keep the core cans available in the tasting room and doing two-to-four specialty releases in cans,” says Mcilhenney. “We have a barleywine aging in barrels right now that we are excited to debut in December.”

Over its first year in business, Mcilhenney Brewing produced around 600 barrels of beer. The company is currently on pace to close 2022 with a barrelage of about 700.

Mcilhenney Brewing’s one-year anniversary celebration will take place from Friday, May 27 to Sunday, May 29. In addition to the inaugural cans, anniversary shirts will be for sale along with food from Burning Beard Brewing’s burger-focused food truck Punkspeare’s Brasserie.

Mcilhenney Brewing is located at 2363 Alpine Boulevard in Alpine

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