Beer Birthday: Zambo

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Today is the birthday of David Zamborski, better known to the brewing world as simply “Zambo.” He used to brew for BJs in Southern California but then number of years ago moved to San Francisco to take over the brewpub operations at 21st Amendment, where he spent several years. and later he moved to Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, where he was the Director of Brewing. Wanting to get back to his brewpub roots, Zambo’s now the brewmaster and Santa Barbara Brewing, and since we were there on vacation a few weeks ago, stopped in for a few pints and to hang out. Zambo’s doing great things there, he’s a terrific brewer, and it shows it what he’s making there. Join me wishing Zambo a very happy birthday.

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Luke Nicholas, from New Zealand’s Epic Beer, with Zambo during a visit to 21A.

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John Tucci (from Gordon Biersch), Aron Deorsey (from Beach Chalet) and Zambo at a release party for Anchor’s California Lager.

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Brendan Dobbel, Rich Higgins, Aron Deorsey and Zambo at a Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp a couple of years ago.

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At the Anchor Christmas Party a few years ago: Zambo, Rich Rosen (Pi Bar, Chenery Park), Jen Garris (Pi Bar), my wife Sarah, Lloyd Knight (21A), Dave Suurballe (everywhere), James Renfrew (formerly with Potrero Hill Brewing) and Shaun O’Sullivan (21A).

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At Santa Barbara Brewing a few weeks ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Josef Groll

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Today is the birthday of Josef Groll (August 21, 1813-November 22, 1887). He was born in Vilshofen an der Donau, Germany. Many consider the Bavarian brewer to be the inventor of pilsener beer.

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Josef Groll’s portrait.

According to the Wikipedia account:

The citizens of Pilsen were no longer satisfied with their top-fermented Oberhefenbier. They publicly emptied several casks of beer in order to draw attention to its low quality and short storage life. It was decided to build a new brewery capable of producing a bottom-fermented beer with a longer storage life. At the time, this was termed a Bavarian beer, since bottom-fermentation first became popular in Bavaria and spread from there. The climate in Bohemia is similar to that in Bavaria and made it possible to store ice in winter and cool the fermentation tanks down to 4 to 9 degrees Celsius year-round, which is necessary for bottom-fermentation.

Bavarian beer had an excellent reputation, and Bavarian brewers were considered the masters of their trade. Thus, the citizens of Pilsen not only built a new brewery, but also hired Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer. Josef Groll’s father owned a brewery in Vilshofen in Lower Bavaria and had long experimented with new recipes for bottom-fermented beer. On October 5, 1842, Groll produced the first batch of Urquell beer, which was characterized by the use of soft Bohemian water, very pale malt, and Saaz hops It was first served in the public houses Zum Goldenen Anker, Zur weißen Rose and Hanes on 11 November 1842, and was very well received by the populace.

Josef Groll’s contract with the Bürgerliches Brauhaus (citizens’ brewery) in Pilsen expired on April 30, 1845 and was not renewed. Groll returned to Vilshofen and later inherited his father’s brewery. The Pilsen brewery was directed by Bavarian brewers for nearly sixty years until 1900.

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Groll around age 60.

Here’s a description of Groll and his development of pilsner from the German Beer Institute:

The modern Pils may be a northern German brew, but it was a Bavarian brewmaster, Josef Groll, who started it all a scant 160 years ago, when he accepted a new job. Groll, who was born in 1813 in the Bavarian village of Vilshofen (some 100 miles northeast of Munich), prepared a new mash on October 5, 1842, at his new place of employment, the Burgher Brewery in the Bohemian city of Pilsen. As it turned out, the brew that Josef was mixing in the mash tun that day was truly revolutionary…it was the very first blond lager. It was a brew that was to set the style for an entirely new line of beers. The beer that resulted from that first brew was first served on November 11, 1842…and it has conquered the entire world ever since.

Until Groll made his new beer, the standard drink in Pilsen was a top-fermented brew, an ale. But not all was well with the Pilsen ale, because on one occasion, the city council ordered that 36 casks of it be dumped in public. It had become all too frequent that the beers available to the good burghers of Pilsen had been unfit to drink. This caused them to stick their heads together and to hatch a drastic plan: They would invest in a new, state-of-the art brewery and contract a competent brewer to come up with a better beer. In the 1840s, that meant a brewery capable of making Bavarian-style bottom-fermented brews, that is, lagers. Because of the reputation of Bavarian beer, Bavarian brewmasters, too, were held in high regard. So the citizens of Pilsen not only built a Bavarian brewhouse for Bavarian beer, they even engaged a Bavarian brewer to rescue the Pilsner beer from oblivion.

The fellow they engaged for the job was the above-mentioned Josef Groll of Vilshofen. He was an intrepid brewer who clearly rose to the challenge. Instead of using the standard dark malts of his day, he kilned his malt to a very pale color — a technique that had only recently been perfected in Britain. Groll then made use of only the finest of local raw materials. He flavored the brew with plenty of hops from the Saaz region of Bohemia (today, Czech Saaz hops is considered one of the finest aroma hops money can buy) and, of course, brewed with the city’s extremely soft water. From these ingredients he made an extract, which he fermented with good Bavarian lager yeast — and a new beer was born. Nobody before Groll had ever made such an aromatic golden-blond, full-bodied lager.

When Joseph’s contract was up, on April 30, 1845, he went back home to his native Bavaria, but his new beer’s reputation spread quickly beyond the limits of Pilsen. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Joseph Groll sure had cause to feel flattered. Initially, the designation Pilsner beer was just an appellation of origin — a beer made in the city of Pilsen. But soon the new brew was copied everywhere. The first imitators were in adjacent towns with similarly soft water and equal access to Saaz hops. This was the beginning of the Bohemian Pilsner style. But breweries across the border, in Germany, began also to be interested in the Bohemian phenomenon … they had to, because it started to eat into their own sales. This was the time in Europe, when the emerging railway network made the transportation of beer possible to just about any major city.

By the turn of the 19th century, it had become chic from Paris to Vienna and from Hamburg to Rome to drink the beer from Pilsen. The beer’s name had become a household word, usually in its abridged form of Pils. The term Pils had evolved from an appellation of origin to a designation for a new beer style, the very model of a modern lager beer. When Groll died in the village of his birth, in little Vilshofen, on October 22, 1887, he probably had no idea how profound a revolution he had brought about in the world of beer!

Groll’s beer was taking the continent by storm and was even making inroads in Munich, where brewers were starting to make their own variation on the Groll brew. The Burgher Brewery of Pilsen, however, where it had all started, was far from flattered by the imitations its beer had spawned. This brewery was far more interested in supplying the demand for Pilsner beer itself than having other breweries usurp what it considered its proprietary brand name. In 1898, therefore, the Burgher Brewery of Pilsen went to court in Munich. It sought an injunction against the Thomass Brewery, which had come out with a blonde lager, named “Thomass-Pilsner-Bier.” The verdict that the court handed down in April 1899, however, went against the plaintiff. The court argued that “Pilsner” was no longer an appellation, but had become a universal style designation.

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A diorama of Groll in his lab at the Pilsner Urquell Museum.

And this account is from Food Reference, but appears to have been written by Pilsner Urquell:

Most importantly, Martin Stelzer also discovered a brewmaster who would change the way that beer was brewed forever: a young Bavarian called Josef Groll.

The first brewmaster, a visionary, young Bavarian Josef Groll, revolutionized how beer was brewed, looked and tasted.

Beer as we know it has always been produced using the same basic ingredients, hops, barley and water, and for thousands of years was brewed in open vats with fermentation occurring at the top of the brew.

Groll was able to look beyond what was possible and combine his knowledge of an innovative new bottom fermenting process, known as ‘lagering’, with his access to the finest local ingredients at Plzen: a special type of two-row fine-husk barley, the locally grown Saaz hops and of course the uniquely soft local water.

In 1842 Josef Groll’s vision became reality. He succeeded in making a beer the best it could be.

Josef Groll was an unlikely hero, so rude and bad-tempered he was described as the ‘coarsest man in the whole of Bavaria’ by his father.

But it is the fate of every genius to challenge those around him. Throughout history those who have made a step change in their fields, those who have had an idea of true originality, have had one thing in common, the ability to see beyond the ordinary, and create something extraordinary.

Sir Issac Newton observed an apple, and it changed how we see the world. A certain Mr Columbus discovered the New World by rejecting how everyone had seen the old one. And in 1842 Josef Groll created a beer that changed the way the world would see beer.

From the dawn of civilization, beer had been a dark, murky liquid. Then a protest by the citizens of Plzen, Bohemia, inspired the change that would influence the entire beer industry and set the standard for all lagers.

After furious citizens had dumped no less than 36 barrels of undrinkable sludge into the city’s gutters in 1838, it sparked off a remarkable chain of events – a new brewery building, an innovative new brewmaster and finally the world’s first golden beer.

On 4 October 1842 in St Martin’s market, Plzen, Josef Groll unveiled his new creation to widespread sensation, after all a golden beer had never been seen before.

News of this remarkable Plzen beer spread throughout Bohemia. The arrival of the railway and the beer’s popularity amongst German and French tourists soon meant that Plzen’s famous brew gained international appeal.

But with success inevitably came competition. Josef Groll’s original golden beer soon spawned many imitators, many of which also claimed to be Plzen or Pilsner beer, whether they came from Plzen or not. In fact, today Pilsner has become a generic term around the world for any bottom-fermented golden beer sold as ‘pils’ or ‘pilsner’.

In 1898, the brewery acted to protect itself against inferior competitors and the beer’s name was changed to Pilsner Urquell- a German phrase meaning literally “from the original source, Plzen”.

Some say the name was changed to satisfy consumer demand for the original golden beer. But as those who know their beer will tell you: you can tell the original Pilsner by its slightly darker shade of gold, and of course by its taste which is a world apart.

Beer Sweden also has a nice two-part account, as does Brewing Techniques and Food Reference. Pilsner Urquell’s Czech website also has a brief history and a timeline. Brewer K. Florian Klemp wrote Presenting Pilsners for All ABout Beer, which includes Groll’s story.

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Beer Birthday: Julian Shrago

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Today is the 40th birthday — the Big 4-O — of Julian Shrago, brewmaster at the Beachwood BBQ & Brewery in Long Beach, California. I can’t remember when I first ran into Julian, probably either one of the early Firestone Walker Invitational Festivals or possibly out at GABF, where in 2013, he won Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year and the following year, won big again as Large Brewpub of the Year. Julian is a great brewer and made his mark very quickly after turning pro in 2011. I visited the brewery last summer, and it really is one of the best. Join me in wishing Julian a very happy birthday.

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My wife Sarah, Matt Brynildson and Julian at the Firestone Walker Invitational earlier this year.

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Jamil Zainasheff, Julian and Mitch Steele in San Diego for the Stone/Heretic/Beachwood collaboration in 2014.

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Beachwood BBQ chef Gabe Gordon, Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo, and Julian at a beer dinner at Beachwood shortly after they added the brewery in 2011.

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Julian with Charlie Papazian at GABF in 2006.

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With a group of ne’r-do-wells in Sacremento this summer.

[Note: Middle three photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer In Ads #2374: Keep Up Your Vitality


Sunday’s ad is from Pabst, from 1903. Many brewers made other related products besides beer, notably malt extract, to be used primarily in cooking as an ingredient in breads and desserts and even as a tonic. According to Briess, which still offers it today. “What is Malt Extract? Malt can be further processed to produce liquid or dried sweeteners called Malt Extracts.” They were essentially “the original starch- or grain-based sweetener.” Many brewers survived prohibition making malt extract, both for legal uses and for homebrewing, but Pabst was making and advertising decades before. In this ad, if you have a tough job, Pabst Malt Extract can help. Even if you’re a mailman facing “the bleak winds of spring” it can help you “keep up your vitality.”

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Historic Beer Birthday: Fritz Goetz

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Today is the birthday of Fritz Goetz (August 20, 1849-May 3, 1917). He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but moved to Chicago as a young man, eventually going into the copper business, which changed names a few times, but settled on the Goetz Company. In addition to copper brewing equipment, they also sold tanks, and general brewing and bottling equipment. The business was so successful that in his obituary, it was noted that “There is hardly any brewery, bottlery or malting plant in the United States or Mexico where there is not some machine or apparatus manufactured by the Goetz Company.”

Here is his obituary from the American Brewers’ Review for 1918:

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Historic Beer Birthday: Bernhard Stroh

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Today is the birthday of Bernhard Stroh (August 20, 1822-June 24, 1882). He was born in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, and after a detour in Brazil, emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Detroit.

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This biography is from Find-a-Grave:

Businessman. He left Germany in 1848, and joined a group of German settlers in Brazil for three years before arriving in America. He landed in Buffalo, New York heading by way of the Erie Canal. The boat he was on docked in Detroit. So Stroh took it upon him self to venture into the city. He liked what he saw and decided to stay. With a few hundred left from the Brazilian business venture he started a small brewery at 57 Catherine Street in Detroit. Soon after establishing his German brewery local patrons in Detroit aquired a desired taste for his German lager beer. Bernhard Stroh would have his sons personally cart small kegs of beer to his customers by wheelbarrow. For over a century now, local Detroiters have enjoyed the same “fire-brewed” taste that the Stroh Family created over 150 years ago.

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The Stroh family around 1871.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Stroh’s early days through Julius Stroh’s tenure:

The Stroh family began brewing beer in a family-owned inn during the 18th century in Kirn, Germany. In 1849, during the German Revolution, Bernhard Stroh (1822-1882), who had learned the brewing trade from his father, emigrated to the United States. Bernhard Stroh established his brewery in Detroit in 1850 when he was 28 and immediately started producing Bohemian-style pilsner, which had been developed at the municipal brewery of Pilsen, Bohemia in 1842. In 1865, he purchased additional land and expanded his business and adopted the heraldic lion emblem from the Kyrburg Castle in Germany and named his operation the Lion’s Head Brewery. (The lion emblem is still visible in its advertising and product labels.)

Bernhard Stroh’s original beer selling operation consisted of a basement brewing operation and was then sold door-to-door in a wheelbarrow. The new beer (Stroh’s) sold door-to-door was a lighter-lager beer, brewed in copper kettles.

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The Stroh Brewery around 1864.

This short account about Bernhard is from the Entrepreneur Wiki:

The Stroh family has a long history of brewing beer, which first began in Germany. However, due to the German Revolution, in 1849, Bernhard Stroh moved the business to the United States after three years of living in Brazil. He started his company with a budget of $ 150.00.

Stroh selected Detroit, Michigan as the location for his brewery and settled there in 1850. Stroh was 28 years old at the time. The company was known for making a Pilsner (also known as Pilzen) style beer. Pilsner beers are fire-brewed and lighter than traditional beers. In 1855, the company increased in size, and then shortly thereafter became known as Lion’s Head Brewery. The company had been known as Stroh’s Brewery until this time.

The most popular beer sold, Stroh’s, was first peddled via wheelbarrow. The new beer was brewed in copper kettles to enrich the flavor. The company name was then changed to B. Stroh Brewing Company when Bernhard passed in 1882, and his son, Bernhard Junior, took over the business. In 1988, Forbes estimated that the Stroh family had an estimated worth of 700 million dollars. The brewing company stayed in the Stroh family until the year 2000.

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Beer Birthday: Julie Radcliffe Atallah

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Today is the birthday of Julie Radcliffe Atallah, co-owner of one of the nation’s premiere beer stores, Bruisin’ Ales in Asheville, North Carolina. We took a family vacation to Asheville a few years ago and got to know Julie and her husband Jason. They were great hosts and terrific ambassadors for the beer in their community. Julie is also among the elite twitterati within the beer world online and writes the Bruisin’ Ales Blog. Plus, we’re both from Pennsylvania. Join me in wishing Julie a very happy birthday.

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Julie and me showing off my gift of Pliny the Elder I brought when I was vacationing in Asheville last fall.

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Julie and Sam Calagione.

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Julie and her husband and business partner Jason at their wedding in 2000.

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Last Halloween dressed as the beer Sexual Chocolate from Foothills Brewing.

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Julie surrounded by an awful lot of hair at her high school graduation.

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Julie at the prom!

Note: Many of these photos purloined from Facebook and other sources.

Historic Beer Birthday: John Hauck

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Today is the birthday of John Hauck (August 20, 1829-June 4, 1896). He was born in Bavaria, but came to the U.S. as a young man. He “worked for his uncle, Cincinnati brewer George M. Herancourt, before starting his own brewery in 1863, the John Hauck Brewery

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Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:

Brewer. A native of Germany, he was born in Rhenish, Bavaria and came to America when with his family when he was a child. After leaving school, Hauck found employment in a brewery with his uncle, Mr. Herancourt. Hauck returned to Europe for a few years before returning to the United States and worked for another uncle, Mr. Billiad, in a brewery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and established a brewery of his own, the Dayton Street Brewery, which became known for its “Golden Eagle” brand. Hauck’s brewery was extremely successful and he rose to prominence as one of Cincinnati’s famous brewers. His business was later renamed as the John Hauck Beer Bottling Company in 1863 and produced thousands of barrels by the end of the 19th century. Hauck went into business with Conrad Windisch from 1863 to 1870. He was also president of the Western German National Bank in Cincinnati. John’s son, Louis Hauck, became president of the company in 1893. Hauck died in Newport, Kentucky in 1896 when he was 66 years old. His residence on Dayton Street later became a museum.

Hauck’s uncle, George Herancourt, owned the Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball team in 1884 and 1885, but declared bankruptcy in 1885. Hauck “took over as principal owner of the team. He delegated to his son, Louis, the day-to-day management of the club.”

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Here’s a short history of Hauck’s brewery from the Heritage Village Museum

Cincinnati has been the home to many breweries throughout its history, one of those being the John Hauck Brewing Company. John Hauck was born in Germany in 1829 and moved to America when he was a child. After completing school and returning to Europe for a few years, Hauck came back to America and worked for his uncle in a Philadelphia brewery. He eventually moved to Cincinnati and began his own brewery with John Windisch in 1863, called the Dayton Street Brewery. The brewery was located on Dayton Street close to the Miami-Erie Canal, which they used to fill the steam boilers, providing power to the machinery. In the first year of business, the Dayton Street Brewery produced 10,000 barrels of beer. By 1881, they were producing 160,000 barrels of beer and had become Cincinnati’s second largest brewery. John Hauck bought out Windisch’s shares of the company and renamed it the John Hauck Brewing Company. By 1884, the brewery was covering the entire city block bounded by Central Avenue, Dayton Street, York Street and Kewitt Alley. Hauck’s brewery was highly successful and he rose to prominence as one of Cincinnati prominent brewers. Hauck was a big supporter of the community and supported Cincinnati institutions, such as the Cincinnati Zoological Society. Hauck was also president of the Western German National Bank in Cincinnati. Louis Hauck, John’s son, took control of the brewing company in 1893. John Hauck died in Newport, Kentucky in 1896. The Hauck residence on Dayton Street remains and is owned by the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

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Beer In Ads #2373: The Joy Of Living


Saturday’s ad is from Pabst, from 1903. Many brewers made other related products besides beer, notably malt extract, to be used primarily in cooking as an ingredient in breads and desserts and even as a tonic. According to Briess, which still offers it today. “What is Malt Extract? Malt can be further processed to produce liquid or dried sweeteners called Malt Extracts.” They were essentially “the original starch- or grain-based sweetener.” Many brewers survived prohibition making malt extract, both for legal uses and for homebrewing, but Pabst was making and advertising decades before. In this ad, a confident-looking woman is riding a horse straight toward us, demonstrating the “abundant health” she’s achieved by drinking Pabst Malt Extract.

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Historic Beer Birthday: George Younger

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Today is the birthday of George Younger (August 19, 1790-September 25, 1853). He was the son of James Younger and the grandson of George Younger, who founded the brewery that would become George Younger and Son in 1764. It was located in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, in Scotland. There’s surprisingly little information about this George Younger. His father, James, expanded the brewery, and presumably, this George kept it going but there’s almost no details about him or his life that I could find.

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Here’s his Meadow Brewery around 1890, before it became known as George Younger & Sons.

Ron Pattinson has a post about Boiling at George Younger in the 1890’s, and also about the early years of George Younger.

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