Despite our love for San Diego's favorite adult beverage, we don't usually have cause to review beer here. But then, no beer has ever been brewed specifically for Tony Gwynn. Until now, that is. Mr. Padre called Alesmith Brewing in March, looking to bring a special beer to this year's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Alesmith owner and brewmaster Peter Zien told the UT about it in June.
"And every year at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies," Zien said, "Tom Seaver would bring his own wine. But he wouldn't serve any to the players who had hit him well."
Zien brewed several pilot batches for Tony, making adjustments based on his feedback. While he never did get to take it to Cooperstown, Tony did get a taste of the final product before he passed, as did a number of Padres fans. Tony Gwynn San Diego Pale Ale .394 debuted at Padres Beerfest on June 6. And now Alesmith wants to make it available to even more San Diegans by distributing it in the brewery's very first 12 ounce six-packs, pictured in classic brown and gold above.
Yes, that is a baseball molded into the base of the glass.
So how does it drink? The beer pours a golden amber with an ample head of bright white foam. That head won't stick around too long, so enjoy it while it lasts. Give it a whiff and you'll catch just a bit of hop aroma, but just like Mr. Padre himself, this beer is more about finesse than power. You know the old joke about how you make a dry martini? Pour gin into a glass, hold it up to your lips, and whisper "vermouth". This is the beer equivalent. There's just enough hops in this to give it a touch of bitterness, but it finishes smoothly with a malty sweetness. And at 6% alcohol by volume, you can have two or three without regretting it in the morning.
After an extremely limited batch of 119 went on sale during November's San Diego Beer Week, Alesmith released another 1500 of the six-packs this week. There are still packs available at the brewery as of Thursday night, but they are selling quickly. If you can't make it there, you'll have to wait a little bit longer, but the brewer is hoping to expand distribution of the beer by the summer. Portions of all .394 beer and merchandise sales will benefit the Tony and Alicia Gwynn Foundation.