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San Diego Update
No Lie: Liars’ Club Moves to Alpine
San Diego’s East County received a late Christmas present this year. The Liars’ Club, the venerable beach area pub that has consistently ranked as one the top pubs in the state, relocated from Mission Beach to Alpine. What is viewed as a huge loss for one area is the greatest gift East County beer lovers could have received. No other pub in the East County has as many taps or comes close to the quality of beers offered by The Liars’ Club.

At first, the move to Alpine seemed a strange one. Why would such a top-notch pub, deeply rooted in the beach scene and with such a huge following, pick up and move some 30 miles into “the sticks”? A number of circumstances prompted the move, one being the impending loss of the lease at the Mission Boulevard location. Also, The Liars’ Club co-owner Al Guerra lives in Alpine, and one very nice location became available there. The timing was perfect, and the move was made. From my point of view, it’s a winning move.

Some people have decried the relocation, stating that they would never drive “way out to Alpine.” The fact is, for everyone in San Diego County except those living within walking distance of the old location, the new location is almost as close and definitely easier to get to. Liars’ Club General Manager and co-owner Louis Mello told me that his drive from Kensington is still 20 minutes. But now he doesn’t have to spend 30 to 45 minutes trying to find a place to park his car. There’s plenty of parking and very little traffic outside the pub.

You don’t even need to have an entrée; this is a beer, meal and dessert in one glass.

The “soft” opening in Alpine took place on December 29. Tap selections included four beers from AleSmith, including Speedway Stout; three from Green Flash, including Imperial IPA; and a host of other local brews. In fact, half of the 32 taps were pouring beers brewed in San Diego County, including Alpine Beer Company, which is located just down the street. Out-of-town selections included beers from Moylan’s, Unibroue, New Belgium (La Folie!), Rubicon, Speakeasy and Russian River, whose Pliny the Elder is promised to be a permanent fixture.

A quick perusal of the bottled beers found numerous ones from Lost Abbey, AleSmith and Stone, plus Belgians such as Cantillon, Duvel and Malheur. Assistant Manager and Cellarman Chris Fisher has done a great job of assembling one of the best beer selections around. And it will only get better as the new location matures.

One of the great advantages this new location has over the old is the full kitchen. This allows for more flexibility in the menu and a nicer (no grease!) atmosphere in the pub. Most of the old favorites, such as the Fuego Burger and Seared Ahi, are still available. Also, you should definitely try the AleSmith Speedway Stout float with mocha ice cream. You don’t even need to have an entrée; this is a beer, meal and dessert in one glass. There are also plans for monthly beer dinners.

The pub has a dining area and a bar/lounge area. Both have comfortable booths, tables and room to mill about and rub elbows when you wish to. Fighting through crowds to get to the bar or restroom will not be likely on most occasions. License applications for patio seating are in the works, as well as a cabaret license for live music. Hard liquor is not yet available but may be later this year. The Liars’ Club is open every day from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

The aforementioned Alpine Beer Company, which is just a mile down the road from The Liars’ Club, has added some equipment to help increase production. They’ve picked up some hand-me-down conical fermenters from Green Flash Brewing to augment the existing grundy tanks, which must be very overworked. This will definitely increase the availability of such great yet quickly consumed beers as Duet IPA, Nelson and Exponential Hoppiness. Perhaps we’ll even get more of the Bad Boy IPA, the beer “too good to sell,” according to Pat McIlhenney, Alpine’s owner/brewer.

Other great news at Alpine includes the addition of three more taps in the tasting room, bringing the number to a lucky 13. Also, this spring look for Alpine’s latest venture: a BBQ restaurant. The McIlhenneys (is there a nicer couple in the brewing industry than Pat and Val?) recently purchased a commercial smoker and have plans to take over an existing restaurant in the same strip mall where the brewery is located. Oh, man: pulled pork and Pure Hoppiness. I can’t wait!

After attending the Strong Ale Festival at Pizza Port Carlsbad on December 1, I found it hard to believe that this was the 11th annual fest. It just didn’t seem possible that the years had gone by so quickly. The reality is that it was 10 years ago that the first SAF was held. The SAF certainly has grown over the years. I’m a little fuzzy on the details (strong ale influence, perhaps), but it seems to me that there were only about a dozen beers available at the inaugural event, and most, if not all, were from San Diego County. This year there were some 60 beers on tap. Most were from California, but there were a number from other states and some international offerings as well.

The two-day event got off to a wet start, as the Friday opening was beset with showers, which kept the crowds to a minimum. This caused a bit of congestion on Saturday, when the skies were clear and the masses flocked to the event. Even though the beer lines got rather long at times, the volunteer servers did their best to keep the crowd happy. It didn’t hurt that they were pouring the best selection of beers with at least 8% alcohol that day. Some of my favorites from the event were Green Flash 5th Anniversary Double IPA, Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale and the Grand Cru with Brettanomyces from BJ’s Oxnard.

Next up on the local fest scene is Pizza Port’s Belgian Beer Party in March. Check for more info on that. Also coming to the area this year are at least two new breweries. The plans are still in the mashing/sparging stage, so stay tuned.

San Diego will be the center of the brewing universe this April when the World Beer Cup and Craft Brewers Conference return ( Look for an extended report on San Diego’s beery hot spots in the next issue of the Celebrator.

The Liars’ Club
2806 Alpine Blvd.
Alpine, CA 91901

Alpine Beer Co.
2351 Alpine Blvd.
Alpine, CA 91901




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