The Story Behind .394 Pale Ale, the Hall of Fame Collaboration with Tony Gwynn

San Diego Pale Ale .394

FIRST INTRODUCED AT PADRES BEERFEST IN 2014 – AleSmith Brewing Company’s San Diego Pale Ale .394 has become a quintessential brew in America’s Finest City, and one with a meaningful backstory for San Diego baseball and craft beer fans everywhere. Forged in collaboration with Hall of Fame inductee, Tony Gwynn, this hoppy pale ale has emerged as the unofficial craft beer of San Diego baseball since its debut, with 2023 marking its ninth year of homerun hops in Padre territory and nationwide.

It all began in 2014

When Tony Gwynn, now otherwise known as “Mr. Padre,” was introduced to AleSmith Owners, Peter and Vicky Zien, after expressing interest in crafting his own beer to a mutual friend. The process of crafting a beer was kicked off at the Gwynn’s home with an informal AleSmith beer tasting, and the Ziens and Gwynns enjoyed getting to know each other. Integrity of brand and crafting a beer of the highest quality were discussed, and Tony shared that he wanted the beer to be “light with a kick”.

They worked together to hone a brew that comprised a flavorful, malty profile showcasing a tropical fruit and citrus-forward hop character, and slight caramel sweetness to add complexity and balance. The Gwynn family was enlisted to provide feedback on each test batch, and the resounding winner was a golden pale ale full of American hop flavor and aroma, balanced with subdued bitterness and a malty sweet finish. Named in honor of Tony’s record-setting, single-season batting average, San Diego Pale Ale .394 has since won the hearts of craft beer fans near and far.

After a four-year battle with cancer, Tony passed away on June 16, 2014- just 10 days after the official release of his dream beer at the Padres Brewfest. His daughter, Anisha Gwynn, shared that he spoke proudly of how the beer had been received by the festival goers. The collaborative gift of .394 Pale Ale to the San Diego craft beer community marked one of Tony’s final projects prior to his passing. The AleSmith team mourned with Tony’s family over the loss of the city’s beloved baseball legend, and out of respect, awaited their decision on the future of Tony’s signature beer.

Shortly after Tony passed, I asked Alicia about going forward with the beer – or not,” recalls Peter. “She emphatically replied, ‘We need to keep Tony’s dream alive. He wanted this beer everywhere and anywhere for baseball and craft beer fans to enjoy.’ I promised her that we would put our heart and soul into every drop of .394 brewed, and it’s been wonderful to watch how well it has been received!

“Like so many San Diegans, the Ziens have been extremely supportive since Tony’s passing,” said Alicia Gwynn. “It brings to light just how much my husband meant to this community, making it so fitting that his life, times and memory will have a permanent home in the heart of San Diego at a place where his fans can pay tribute and remember so many wonderful memories. For us, it’s as much about Tony as the people who loved him, and we’ve come up with opportunities for his fans to be a part of the museum in meaningful, lasting ways.”

Tony’s contribution to the beer community lives on in AleSmith’s year-round rendition of San Diego Pale Ale .394, as well as in their limited-edition variety released every baseball season, Hazy .394. The hazy counterpart teems with more intense aromas of citrus and tropical fruit, while touting a pleasant hazy appearance with a creamy finish – paying homage to its original form while bringing something new to the seasonal lineup. They continue to keep .394 close to home, never forgetting the Padres player that brought this signature brew to life.

Honoring Mr Padre’s Legacy

The AleSmith team is grateful to have worked with Tony and his family as closely as they did, and the iconic beer he ideated lives on in support of the Gwynn’s nonprofit, a 501c3 organization dedicated to providing support for underprivileged San Diego youth.

Visit the Tony Gwynn Museum

Padres fans or those seeking to support the family and Tony’s memory are encouraged to visit the Tony Gwynn Museum, open daily and located inside of the AleSmith’s Miramar Tasting Room, where a large collection of authentic Tony Gwynn memorabilia is on display. Free to enter and open during Tasting Room hours.

Events in the Tasting Room

Mr. Padre 2000th/3000th Special Releases

Join us on Saturday, August 5th at AleSmith Brewing Company to celebrate our second annual Tony Gwynn Day. In honor of his 2000th and 3000th hits in 1993 and 1999, two special commemorative beers featuring artwork by Ground Floor Murals will be released in 16oz 4-pack cans and on draft in the tasting room. Come tour the Tony Gwynn museum and get amped for the game with DJs, raffle prizes, and live art activations from Ground Floor Murals leading up to the Padres vs Dodgers Watch Party at 5:40 PM (Drink specials available during the game to help root for the home team).

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