AleSmith San Diego Pale Ale .394

AleSmith San Diego Pale Ale 394

Brewed by: AleSmith Brewing Company

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: Pale Ale
  • Variation: American
  • Limited: Tasting Room, locally distributed in bottles.
  • ABV: 6%
  • IBU: N/A

Notes: Portion of sales proceeds given to the Tony and Alicia Gwynn Foundation (TAG).

Brewer’s Notes and Ingedients

San Diego Pale 394 will showcase abundant piney and citrusy hop aroma and flavor from an intense dry-hopping schedule. A balanced malt profile will round out these hoppy flavors with a biscuity finish to enhance drinkability!

Hops: N/A

Malts: N/A

More San Diego Pale Ale 394 Images

First Impressions

Artwork: Vector artwork of Tony Gwynn batting next to a large “394.”

Color: Quite clear, almost see through golden-orange hue.

Aroma: Mildly malty and floral, with pre-dominantly sweet grapefruit peel.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 12oz. Bottle

Served in: Official 394 Pint Glass

In early 2014, local baseball legend Tony Gwynn reached out to AleSmith with his desire to collaborate on a beer. The reason?

After his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2007, Tony began attending the induction ceremony each year. Former pitcher Tom Seaver would bring his own wine (Seaver Vineyards), but not share it with any hitters who had done well against him. So Tony Gwynn thought if he could not have any of the wine, he’d bring his own beer.

The name of this ale is a tribute to Tony Gwynn’s career best batting average of .394, held during the strike shortened 1994 baseball season. Sadly, “Mr. Padre” passed away ten days after its release on June 16, 2014.

When Tony Gwynn played baseball it was no secret he was a perfectionist, spending hours watching game film to improve his already stellar hitting. That same approach was used to brew 394.

Peter Zien first met with Tony Gywnn to do some tastings, and determine his palate and likes/dislikes. From there test batches of the recipe were brought to Tony for feedback, where the recipe was revised several times.

Some other noteworthy facts about this beer:

  • Distribution: According to a beertender in their tasting room, the week before Tony Gwynn passed away he expressed his wishes to his daughter for the beer to be distributed in 12oz bottles. AleSmith honored that wish, and Pale Ale 394 marks the first time they distributed beer in 12oz size.
  • MLB & Fonts: Look at the pictures above. Notice the difference in fonts used for “Pale Ale” on the pint glass vs the six pack and bottles? Major League Baseball forced the change after the initial wave of 394 merchandise was released last summer. They thought the AleSmith artwork resembled too close of a similarity to the 1984 Padres uniforms. Thanks for making our glasses collector’s items, MLB…

When AleSmith released San Diego Pale Ale 394 last year, they pitched it as a crossover between their X (pale ale) and IPA, but it’s better than either of those. AleSmith absolutely crushed it with this beer, just like Tony Gwynn did with MLB pitching.

AleSmith San Diego Pale Ale 394 poured a tall, fluffy cap on top of its transparent coppery body. Eventually the head reduced itself into a lasting layer of creamy froth that thickly laced the entire side of the glass.

This ale was aggressively carbonated, with many spindles of fast, racing bubbles. 394’s medium-light body, coupled with tasty hoppiness made for one drinkable, and refreshing pale ale. It might have been a little too drinkable for its respectable 6% ABV.

San Diego Pale Ale 394 started off floral, and somewhat mild for its heightened aroma. It quickly transitioned to pine, and as the finish rounded third and headed for home, there was a juicy rush of sweet, drying grapefruit with malt.

All of these hop flavors blended together seamlessly, and left our tongue tingling with grapefruity hop goodness. San Diego Pale Ale 394 went deep with hops, while maintaining the smoothness and drinkability you look for in a pale ale.

Final Score: 5/5

5 Stars

Tony Gwynn’s career best batting average may have been .394, but San Diego Pale Ale batted 1.000. It’s almost unfair to lump this hop forward IPA-like ale in with the pale ale style, but this was the best pale ale we have ever had.

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