Friday’s ad is for Carling’s Red Cap Ale, from 1950. In this ad, part of another series featuring well-known celebrities of the day and the tagline “x person, too, has graduated to Carling’s — the LIGHT-HEARTED ale!,” it features “American actress and singer” Ethel Merman wearing an Oxford cap, or mortarboard, with a small red cap on top of it while holding up a glass of Red Cap Ale.
Today is also the birthday of Todd Ashman, who turns 57. Todd is originally from Santa Rosa, but spent a number of years brewing at Flossmoor Station near Chicago, and then short stints at Titletown Brewing in Green Bay, Wisconsin and with Brewers Supply Group. Several years ago, Todd moved back to California to take a position brewing with a then-new brewery in Truckee, Fifty Fifty Brewing, which he’s made into an amazing brewing powerhouse. Some health issues sidelined Todd for a time, and he’s moved back to Santa Rosa, but I did see him in Philly for World Beer Cup judging. He’s currently consulting remotely as the operations manager for FiftyFifty, and is hopeful he can be back in Truckee after too long. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.
Today is the 59th birthday of Ray Daniels. Ray is the former director of Craft Beer Marketing for the Brewers Association and today runs the Cicerone program, which he founded, to certify beer professionals, similar to sommeliers in the wine industry. He also founded the Real Ale Festival that used to take place annually in Chicago. And he’s one of my favorite people in the beer industry. Join me in wishing Ray a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Prosper Cocquyt (June 9, 1900-October 22, 1954). He was born in Astène, Belgium, near Ghent, and is primarily famous for being an aviator.
Prosper Cocquyt was called “the uncrowned king of the airline pilots.” Shortly after learning to fly, in his early twenties, joined Sabena World Airlines in its inception, and opened several routes for them, including to the Belgian Congo. He flew for them for over 25 years, and was even “the favorite pilot of the Belgian royal family and the personal pilot of the kings, Albert I and Leopold III.” Flying Zone has a lengthy biography of Cocquyt, and so does another website.
He was married to Elza Timmermans, and they had two children, a boy and a girl. It’s possible she was part of the Timmermans brewing family, but I’m not sure. But there’s another reason he’s included here.
When World War I broke out, Cocquyt was only fourteen, and he had to abandon going to school and find work. He was hired by a brewery run by a friend of his father as a mechanic. He distinguished himself by his knowledge of mechanics, and so impressed his boss, at sixteen, he was named chief mechanic, and even received a degree in mechanic engineering and electrical engineering at 21, before abandoning working in brewing to begin his career as a pilot. As far as I could tell, he never looked back.
Today is the 59th birthday of brewing legend, Larry Bell, the iconoclastic owner of Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Last year, Larry was on a quest to attend every Chicago Cubs home game. This year, there’s the Bell’s 30th Anniversary. Bell’s doesn’t often get the credit it deserves for being the spark for craft beer in the midwest, having started in 1985, well before almost everybody else inside the two coasts. Join me in wishing Larry a very happy birthday.
Larry with Alan Sprints, from Hair of the Dog at the Full Sail Smoker during the Oregon Brewers Festival a few years ago.