San Diego craft breweries join forces
Green Flash Brewing Co. acquires Alpine Beer Co.
San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Co. announced that it has acquired Alpine Beer Co., also of San Diego. Green Flash Founders Mike and Lisa Hinkley and Alpine Beer Founders Pat and Val McIlhenney noted that the merger will allow the breweries to join forces to share resources, knowledge and experience.
Each company will remain independently operated and maintain its distinct brand and culture. Pat McIlhenney will remain Alpine’s president and brewmaster to oversee all operations of Alpine Beer, whether brewed at the Alpine or Green Flash facilities. The most notable change will transpire during the next several years, as Alpine beer will expand distribution beyond California, the company says.
In a “handshake agreement,” Green Flash began brewing Alpine beer in November 2013 at its San Diego facility with the goal of helping longtime friends at Alpine raise capital to expand their production capacity, the companies say. Green Flash has been producing three of Alpine’s brews — Nelson, Hoppy Birthday and Duet — increasing Alpine’s annual production from 1,500 to 3,000 barrels.
Both companies have noted that the experience of brewing together has been a successful learning experience. “It was both intriguing and challenging to meld our philosophies while we worked together to scale up Pat’s recipes to be brewed in larger quantities,” said Green Flash Brewmaster Chuck Silva in a statement. “We worked together to stay true to the original beer and were very happy with the ultimate results. Working with a close friend is a real treat, but for me, brewing with Pat and making Alpine beers is yet another highlight of my brewing career in San Diego.”
The arrangement they have shared during the past year was the impetus that prompted the breweries to take their relationship to the next level, they added. “Our team was thrilled to be able to brew the awesome beer from Alpine when we began teaming up,” Mike Hinkley said in a statement. “The excitement of our brewers is what prompted me to think about additional ways we could work together and help each other. We perceive this solid new partnership as an incredible opportunity to continue to explore our craft while benefiting from the passion and experience of Pat McIlhenney.”
Pat McIlhenney added in a statement: “After working with Green Flash for the past year, I have come to truly trust and deeply respect the entire Green Flash operation — Chuck and all of their brewers are meticulous, yet easygoing, and I am comfortable working with the team. There are many benefits in teaming up with Green Flash as a partner. Not only are they committed to producing high-quality beer, the company culture and mom-and-pop roots of Green Flash are very similar to our own.”
As partners, Alpine will be able to tap into the growing Green Flash team of brewers, production capacity, access to capital, and human resources in operations and administration, the company says. “I am hopeful that the culmination of the next few years will be that, together, we build a new production facility in Alpine,” Mike Hinkley added in a statement. “Maybe we will even brew some Green Flash ale in Alpine.”
Pat McIlhenney added in a statement: “I know there is strength in unity, which will allow both of our breweries to secure even higher quality ingredients — we will be a great force as a team. However, the most important advantage is how this partnership will help improve the quality of life for my employees. For the first time, Alpine will be able to offer our team an excellent company benefits package including affordable health care, 401K plans and other perks made possible by this exciting partnership.”
In 2015, Green Flash will begin bottling select Alpine brews in 22-ounce bottles in addition to the three current draft offerings. Consumers also can expect to see some collaborative brews appearing in the breweries’ tasting rooms and at craft beer bars in Southern California in the future, the companies say. The two brewmasters also have discussed how they can work together at Green Flash’s Cellar 3, a special barrel-aged beer packaging facility that is currently under construction in Poway, Calif., and will include a cork-finish bottling line. “I consulted Pat and borrowed some of his ideas when I made our 10th anniversary Flanders-style ale, which was a great success and will be recreated at Cellar 3,” Silva said in a statement. “I am always on the look-out for ideas. With Pat and me on the same team, you can count on us to push the envelope even further.”
Mike Hinkley summarized the benefits of the expanded relationship: “This partnership is win-win-win. Green Flash wins because we are teaming up with a truly iconic brewery. Alpine wins because they get to see their beers enjoyed by so many more of their adoring fans. But most of all, beer geeks everywhere win, because Chuck and Pat will be working together to create beers that will blow their minds.”