Welcome to Mcilhenney Brewing, a family-owned and -operated craft brewery proudly located in Alpine, California, just 30 miles east of downtown San Diego. Founded in 2021 by Shawn, Jamie, Pat, and Val Mcilhenney, we brew all of our beer onsite and offer styles to please every taste. Enjoy them in the homey atmosphere of our tasting room and outdoor patio or grab a growler to go. Either way, we’re sure you’ll be back to visit us again soon!
If our home on Alpine Blvd. looks strangely familiar as you approach, you’re not mistaken! After years of home brewing and studying brewing science at UC Davis, all while working full time as a firefighter in eastern San Diego County, Shawn’s father Pat started Alpine Beer Company in 1999. With recipes in hand but nowhere to brew on a larger scale, friend and founder of AleSmith Brewing Company Skip Virgilio offered up spare tanks at his brewery for Pat to use and Alpine Beer was born. Pat soon found the perfect spot on Alpine Blvd. to set up his own shop and in 2002 Alpine Beer Company opened in the very same location that we’re in now. In the burgeoning San Diego craft-brewing scene of the time, Pat’s beers quickly gained local, then national attention putting the town of Alpine on the destination list of savvy beer drinkers from both near and far.
Flash forward a few years. By 2006, Shawn had worked his way through the ranks at Alpine learning the ins and outs of running a brewhouse; from filling growlers for customers to cleaning tanks to transferring, carbonating and packaging beer. That same year, Shawn brewed his first recipe and batch of beer specifically for the Strong Ale Festival held at Pizza Port Carlsbad, a Double IPA named Bad Boy. To say the beer was well received that day is an understatement. Bad Boy earned bragging rights as the first keg to kick at the festival. “It was all downhill from there,” Shawn recalls with a laugh. Though Pat remained involved with the brewery, Shawn took over as Head Brewer in 2006 and the accolades continued to pour in over the years including Rate Beer’s #6 Brewery in the World, multiple World Beer Cup, GABF, and SDIBF awards. After an acquisition by a larger brewery, the pandemic hit and Shawn, like many others, found himself looking for work. Though he received offers from existing breweries, the choice was clear. Alpine is our home and there is no other place we would want to be.
And so in spring 2021, we opened our doors in the same spot where Shawn created that batch of Bad Boy fifteen years earlier. While Shawn is handling the brewing side of things, Jamie is taking care of tasting room and business operations. Also a well-respected veteran of the San Diego craft-beer community, Jamie spent more than a decade with Pizza Port Brewing Company bartending and in management as well as event coordination. Shawn and Jamie are raising their family (son Cameron) right here in Alpine and that close-knit feel carries over to our tasting room. “We wanted to create an atmosphere here where locals and visitors alike can come to relax with a pint and feel like family,” explains Jamie. Adds Shawn, “It’s a place where people are greeted by name at the door, not judged by the beer they order and can just feel really comfortable spending time here.” Pat and Val, though retired, will be involved as brand ambassadors and lending their brewing and business expertise.
With up to 25 taps of house-brewed beer available at any given time, your biggest issue might be deciding what to order. In addition to hoppy IPAs, hearty stouts and lighter brews, expect to see fruited beers, seasonal offerings and barrel-aged specialties. No matter your palette, we’ve got you covered. So please stop in and spend some time with us. We can’t wait to raise a pint with you. Cheers!