Beer Birthday: Dr. Bill

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Today is also the 52nd birthday of William Sysak, better known to the beer community as Dr. Bill. Dr. Bill’s massive tastings are the stuff of legends, and he’s now transported them — albeit on a smaller scale — to working at Stone Brewing’s World Bistro & Gardens. He has impeccable taste, be it in beer, wine, whisky, cigars, what have you, and is one of the most fun people to taste with. Join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.

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Dr. Bill and me sharing a plate of frites before the final judging at the Hard Liver Barleywine Festival in 2008.

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Dr. Bill with Matt Bonney, from Brouwer’s/Bottleworks in Seattle at Slow Food Nation 2008 at Fort Mason.

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Dr. Bill at Falling Rock, hosting one of his legendary tastings, during GABF in 2006.

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Dr. Bill’s player’s card when he joined Stone Brewing.

Beer Birthday: Tom Peters

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My good friend Tom Peters, one of the owners of Monk’s Cafe and Belgian Beer Emporium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, turns 60 today. His enthusiasm for and promotion of Belgian beer has few equals. And he throws perhaps the best late night parties of anyone I’ve ever known. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

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Tom Peters with Dave Keene, owners of the best two Belgian beer bars on both coasts.

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Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters.

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Tom Peters, with Rob Tod from Allagash in Portland, Maine, at GABF.

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Me and Tom after the Great Lambic Summit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology during last year’s Philly Beer Week.

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In Belgium, with a perfectly poured Orval, with Daniel Neuner, William Reed and Justin Low.

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Also in Belgium, with a Fanta and Frites sandwich.

Beer Birthday: Garrett Oliver

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Today is Garrett Oliver’s 52nd birthday. Garrett is the head brewer at Brooklyn Brewery and has done more for the craft beer industry to promote pairing food and beer than just about any other person alive. If you haven’t picked up a copy of his book, The Brewmaster’s Table, you should definitely do so. He was also tapped to be the editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer, which came out three years ago (and which I also contributed to). He’s the best-dressed brewer in the world and a great person. Join me in wishing Garrett a very happy birthday.

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Garrett and Bruce Joseph, from Anchor Brewery, at the Brewer’s Dinner before GABF a few years ago.

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Tom Dalldorf, published of the Celebrator, Garrett and me share a beer at d.b.a.

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Giving a cooking demonstration with beer chef Bruce Paton at GABF in 2005.

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A happy Garrett with Randy Mosher at the World Beer Cup dinner at last year’s CBC in Chicago.


Dancing with Jessica, formerly of the Brewers Association, late one night after GABF in 2004 at Falling Rock.

Beer Birthday: John Mallett

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Today is John Mallett’s 50th birthday, John is the production manager at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a post he’s held since 2001. John has a great sense of humor and I recall a particularly side-splitting kvetching evening-long conversation with him and Fal Allen at CBC in San Diego a number of years ago (not the most recent one) and last year we judged together in Japan, which was great fun. John me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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Mugging for the camera at GABF in 2007, with Bob Pease, Ray Daniels and Mark Dorber.

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At Bruce Paton’s “Tion” Beer Dinner. That’s John in orange trying to smooch with Peter Bouckaert from New Belgium.

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John, me and other judges in Tokyo to judge at the Japanese Craft Beer competition in 2013.

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John with Fred Bueltmann of New Holland Brewing, at Red Horse Ranch in Michigan (photo purloined from Facebook).

If you’d like to see John wearing lederhosen, click here.

Beer Birthday: Mark Ruedrich

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Today is the 63rd birthday of Mark Ruedrich, co-owner, and original brewer, of North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg. Mark was a marine biologist who discovered good beer while living in England. Looking for a spot to build a brewery in Northern California, he was drawn to the tidal pools around Fort Bragg, and built a mini-beer empire there beginning in 1988. His Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout was one of the first truly great world-class beers made by early American microbreweries and helped the nascent industry on the map. Plus he’s great fun to share a pint with. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

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Mark with North Coast co-owner Tom Allen at GABF in 2006.

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North Coast brewer Ken Kelley with Mark at the brewery last year.

Beer Birthday: Paul Gatza

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Today is also Paul Gatza’s 50th birthday. Paul is the Director of the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado. He’s held numerous executive positions with the BA and its previous incarnation, the Association of Brewers. An avid homebrewer, Paul is great face for the BA and a terrific person. Join me in wishing Paul a very happy birthday.

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Toasting in New Orleans for CBC.

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Working the AHA booth at GABF.

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At the podium during the opening of CBC in 2008.

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Paul giving his annual state of the industry talk at CBC in 2012.

Beer Birthday: Vinnie Cilurzo

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Today is the 44th birthday of Vinnie Cilurzo, founder and brewmaster at Russian River Brewing. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Vinnie is one of the best brewers in America and is credited with having made the first Imperial IPA. His Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, California won unprecedented back-to-back best brewpub (and brewmaster) awards at the World Beer Cups in 2006 and 2008. And Vinnie is one of the nicest people in the industry you’ll ever meet. Join me in wishing Vinnie a happy birthday.

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Vinnie and his wife Natalie from presented to Tom Dalldorf (middle), owner of the Celebrator, a Balthazar of their yummy Damnation Ale in honor of the magazine’s 17th anniversary. A Balthazar is 12 liters or contains about 16 normal bottles of beer.

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Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado, Natalie Cilurzo, Dave’s girlfriend Jennifer and Vinnie at CBC in Seattle.

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Garrett Oliver, brewer at Brooklyn Brewing Co., and Vinnie at the Brewer’s Dinner the night before GABF begins.

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Vinnie and Rich Norgrove from Bear Republic at the Summit Hop Festival a few years ago at Drake’s.

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Vinnie with his wife and Russian River co-owner Natalie at GABF in 2009.

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Vinnie and me his 40th birthday party at the brewpub a few years ago.

Beer Birthday: John Harris

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Today is John Harris’ 51st birthday. Until a little while ago, John was the head brewer at Full Sail Brewing and was responsible for many of their excellent beers. He’s more recently opened his own brewery in Portland, Ecliptic Brewing. John also plays washboard with the Rolling Boil Blues Band. Plus he’s a terrific person, so join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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By the Celebrator booth at OBF, from left, John, Tom Dalldorf, and Fred Bowman, co-founder of Portland Brewing Co.

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John speaking very passionately about something or other at Elysian Brewing in Seattle, as Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment is about to accost him.

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John rocks out on washboard with the Rolling Boil Blues Band at CBC in Seattle, with Marty Jones (left) and Celebrator editor Tom Dalldorf (in the center).

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During a collaboration brew at Gigantic at last year’s OBF, with John and Gigantic’s Van Havig and Ben Love.

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John and his daughter at his 40th birthday party.

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John and the same daughter 10 years later at his 50th birthday party.

Beer Birthday: Fergus Carey

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Today is the 51st birthday of Fergus Carey, better known simply as Fergie. Fergie owns Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is co-owner of Monk’s Cafe with Tom Peters and is also a partner in Nodding Head Brewery. Fergie’s always a fun person to have around and he’s as kind as soul as ever I’ve met in the beer world. Join me in wishing Fergie a very happy birthday.

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Fergie huddling up with Tom Dalldorf and his Monk’s Cafe partner Tom Peters at 2st Amendment in San Francisco.

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Tom Peters, Frank Boon, Jean Van Roy, Fergie and Armand Debelder at a Lambic Beer Dinner last month at Mon’s Cafe during Philly Beer Week.

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Outside Monk’s cafe: Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters, after the Canned Beer Dinner in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Travis Smith

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Today is also the 35th birthday of Travis Smith, who’s the founder of Societe Brewing Co. in San Diego. Before that, Travis brewed at Russian River Brewing for a number of years, before moving south, where he brewed at both The Bruery and the La Jolla Brewhouse. His brewery has quickly become one of the destination spots in San Diego, and his beers are especially tasty, standing out in the area surrounded by great breweries. Join me in wishing Travis a very happy birthday.

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Travis “MacGyver” Smith showing off the cork gun he made with spare brewing parts lying around the Russian River brewpub. It shot a beer cork a pretty fair distance and would pierce cardboard at 100 feet.

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Travis with Patrick Rue, from The Bruery, at GABF in 2009.

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Agostino Arioli, from Birrificio Italiano in northern Italy, with Vinnie Cilurzo and Travis, at Russian River Brewing in 2008 working on a fun collaboration beer, La Fleuette.

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Travis behind the handmade redwood bar at Societe a few days before they opened.