Silvia Bennett, who manages the Alpine Village Market in Torrance. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski
“For many years,” says Otto Radtke, the general manager at Alpine Village, “we were one of the only places in Southern California to buy some of the best old world beers available.”
It may also be the only place in Southern California where Oktober Fest, which continues through October 27, is celebrated to the beat of oompah bands imported from Munich.
The breweries he’s referring to include Weihenstephaner, the oldest existing brewery in the world (1040 A.D., Weltenberg, Germany) and Weltenberger, which is the oldest existing monastery brewery in the world (1050 A.D., Weltenberg, Germany).
Alpine Village has been around since 1958, and had, onsite, one of the first breweries in this part of the state.
The Alpine Village Market was built later, in the mid-1970s, and there were no Coors or Budweiser cartoons in sight during a recent visit. Manager Silvia Bennett, who hails from Augsburg, near Munich, despite the non-German last name, points out that the beers I’ve been looking over with lust in my eyes also come from Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Holland, and Austria – there’s a keg of Austrian Zipfer that’s as alluring as a Viennese waltz.
German natives, or homesick visitors, can most likely find beer that they associate with their hometown or native region (the Alpine Village website says that they stock 150 different brands). For example, Bavarians might be familiar with Leikeim, which is brewed in Altenkunstadt. Apparently, Alpine Village is the only place where you’re likely to find it (at least in our neck of the woods).
Bennett says that the distributors sometimes send her samples of beer that she’s unfamiliar with, and part of her job is to try them out. Knowing this, I’m sure that there are a lot of people who would like to be her friend.
Radtke, who at one point in our conversation refers to himself as a curator of beer, is often in the same enviable position. He mentions a recent drive up to Northern California to pick up several kegs, and it sounds like quite an adventure with a successful payoff.
And if you don’t find something intriguing in the market? Then head over to the Alpine Village Inn and order an authentic German meal and ponder the German and Belgian beer selections as well as the American craft beers that are carried on tap. The list is always rotating.
“We put some time into carrying local breweries and breweries that are self-distributed,” Radtke says. “We currently have on tap the Eye Crosser IPA and Triple Blitz Black IPA from Das Brew (in Fremont), in addition to old world selections like Warsteiner Dunkel, Staropramen Czech Pilsener, and Kinetic Brewing’s Saison (from exotic Lancaster).”
Alpine Village is located at 833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance, near the 110 Harbor Freeway. 3100 327-2483. B