Beer Birthday: Ralph Olson

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Today is Ralph Olson’s 64th birthday. Ralph was the general manager/co-owner of HopUnion, a co-op that supplies hops to many of the craft breweries. Ralph’s pretty much retired but can still be seen at occasional beer events throughout the country. He’s been a good friend to and very supportive of the craft beer industry. Join me in wishing Ralph a very happy birthday.

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Ralph Olson, the Big Cheese from HopUnion. If you look carefully in between his “Sponsor” and “Exhibitor” badge you can see his title really is officially “the Big Cheese.

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Ralph and me at the end of the brewer’s reception at GABF in 2007.

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Dave Keene, from the Toronado, Dave Pyle, Ralph and Becky Pyle, who are also with HopUnion, along with my friend Dave Suurballe.

Beer Birthday: Charlie Papazian

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Today is the 66th birthday of Charlie Papazian, one of the most influential persons in modern brewing. Charlie founded the AHA, the AOB and the IBS back in 1978 (which today is the Brewers Association) and organized the first Great American Beer Festival. His book, the Complete Joy of Homebrewing was one of the seminal works on the subject, and is now in its fourth edition. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

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My favorite press photo of Charlie.

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Just before taking the stage during GABF 2007, from left, Glenn Payne (of Meantime Brewing), Charlie, Mark Dorber (formerly of the White Horse on Parson’s Green but now at the Anchor Pub), Garrett Oliver, and Steve Hindy (both from Brooklyn Brewing), Dave Alexander (from the Brickskeller), and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).

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Some NBWA luminaries at the 2008 NBWA welcome reception. From left, Jamie Jurado (with Gambrinus), Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim Jordan (from New Belgium Brewing) and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).

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On stage at the Beer Wars Live premiere with Ben Stein and Greg Koch.

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Charlie with Pete Slosberg at last year’s Craft Brewers Conference in San francisco.

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Of the literally hundreds of GABF and World Beer Cup award-accepting photos I have with Charlie in them, this is one of my favorites.

Beer Birthday: Chris Nelson

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Today is the 49th birthday of Chris Nelson, better known as The Beer Geek. Chris and his wife, Merideth Canham-Nelson, recently completed an around the world beer festival tour, but are still traveling the globe searching for great beer. A few years ago his wife also published Teachings From the Tap, her account of the year they spent circling the globe visiting beer destinations. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.

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The first “official meeting” of the Bay Area Beer Bloggers. From left: Merideth Canham-Nelson, me, Chris, JJ (the Thirsty Hopster), and Gail Ann Williams and Steve Shapiro, both from Beer by BART.

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In front of the Rocky statue in downtown Philadelphia during our trip to the first Philly Beer Week.

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At the OBF media tasting: Rick Sellers, from Pacific Brew News, Merideth and Chris Nelson, The Beer Geek, and Meagan Flynn (at right) with her assistant, Annalou, former publishers of Beer NW during the 2007 Oregon Brewers Festival.

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Chris, at right, with Shaun O’Sullivan, Merideth, and Jeff White in Pub Talk Radio in Monterey in September of last year.

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Chris and Merideth at Pangea in 2012 (photo “borrowed” from Facebook, by Virginia Vasquez)

Beer Birthday: Scott Ungermann

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Today is the birthday of Scott Ungermann, who’s the Production Director at Anchor Brewing. When I first met Scott, he was the Brewmaster at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fairfield, a position he held for almost six years, plus brewing stints at other AB facilities for over thirteen years. When I was working on my latest book, he gave me and my son Porter a great tour of the facility and I discovered we had several mutual friends since he was a 1995 graduate of U.C. Davis. Scott’s a very passionate brewer, and I was thrilled to run into him at the annual Anchor Christmas party, discovering that in April of last year he joined the team at Anchor. Join me in wishing Scott a very happy birthday.

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Scott showing my son Porter the brewhouse in Fairfield.

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A promotional photo from Scott’s ABI days.


Scott being interviewed in 2010 for a segment on KCRA Channel 3 NBC television in Sacramento.

Beer Birthday: Grant Johnston

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Today is the 61st birthday of Grant Johnston. Grant was the original brewer at Marin Brewing when it opened in 1989, and spent a number of years at Black Diamond Brewing in Concord, California. Grant was very influential in the early days of Bay Area brewing, and he’s an incredibly talented brewer. A few years ago he moved to the midwest, and these days can be found working a few days a week at the Argus Brewery in Chicago. Last year, I was in Belgium at the Cantillon Brewery when in walked Grant, quite by chance, so you never know when you’re going to run into him. Join me in wishing Grant a very happy birthday.

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Grant and me at GABF in 2006.

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Grant (on the right) judging the 2006 Double IPA Festival in the cellar of The Bistro, with Tom Dalldorf, Vicky, our hard-working beer steward in the middle, and the Toronado’s Dave Keene in profile on the left.

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Brendan Moylan and Grant shortly before Marin Brewing opened in 1989.

Beer Birthday: Jamie Emmerson

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Today is the 52nd birthday of Jamie Emmerson, one of the founders, and the original brewmaster, of Full Sail Brewing. Now the Executive Brewmaster, Jamie steers the ship of Full Sail along with his wife and co-founder Irene. Jamie is a terrific person and active promoter of craft beer and the local beer community everywhere, but especially in Oregon. Join me in wishing Jamie a very happy birthday.

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Jamie with Art Larrance at the OBF Parade in 2009.

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Barney Brennan, me Jamie and Irene Fermat at SAVOR in Washington, DC a few years ago.

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With the ceremonial hammer at the opening of OBF in 2008.

Beer Birthday: Jeff Alworth

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Today is the 48th birthday of Jeff Alworth, blogger extraordinaire at Beervana. Despite annual trips to Portland, two years ago was the first time Jeff and I met, although we’d been corresponding with one another for many years. We sat down for a pint or three at one of my favorite Portland watering holes, Hair of the Dog. Jeff is one of the most thoughtful, engaging beer writers, and his new book, The Beer Bible should be published this spring. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

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Jeff and Alan Sprints at Hair of the Dog Brewery.

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Jeff and John Harris at Don Younger’s wake (photo by Lisa Morrison).

Beer Birthday: Jeff Mendel

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Today is the 54th birthday of Jeff Mendel, who’s currently with Left Hand Brewing out of Longmont, Colorado. I first met Jeff in Denver when he was one of the founders of Tabernash Brewing, who made on the best wheat beers I’d ever tasted outside of Germany. In 1998, Tabernash merged with Left Hand, and Jeff worked with them for over a decade more. Jeff was, and still is, very active in the brewing world, and also teaches a beer appreciation course through Lifelong Learning, part of the Boulder Valley School District. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

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Fred Bueltmann, from New Holland Brewing, and Jeff at GABF in 2013.

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Jeff for a story about his beer appreciation class.

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Tabernash founders in 1996, from left: BrewMaster Eric Warner, George Barela, Jeff, and Mark Lupa.

Beer Birthday: Michelle Wang

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Today is the birthday of Michelle Wang, who is the editor of the only craft beer magazine I know of published in China, Hops Magazine. We had a chance to meet a couple of years during a press junket to Antwerp that we both attended, along with some other beer journalists, and our paths have since crossed a few more times. It also great seeing her and hearing about the growing beer scene in China. Join me in wishing Michelle a very happy birthday.

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Me and Michelle at the World Beer Cup awards in 2014.

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Michelle, at right, with Conrad Seidl, Stephen Beaumont and me during a beer dinner in Antwerp last December.

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With Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb, showing off the 2nd edition of the Pocket Guide to Beer in Belgium.

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Michelle and Lisa Morrison in Leuven to judge at the Brussels Beer Challenge last year.

Beer Birthday: Jaime Jurado

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Today is the birthday of Jaime Jurado, who for many years was the Director of Brewing Operations for the Gambrinus Company, which included several beer brands and breweries, such as Shiner, BridgePort, Pete’s Wicked and Trumer. A couple of years ago, he moved to Pennsylvania, where he was the brewmaster at Susquehanna Brewing Co. in Pittston, but early last year he moved once again, this time to Louisiana, to become Director of Brewing Operations at Abita Brewing. He’s an incredibly talented brewer. More importantly, Jaime is one of the nicest people I know in the business. Join me wishing Jaime a very happy birthday.

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A blushing Jamie at OBF in 2006.

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Jamie with Lars Larson, brewmaster of Trumer Brauerei, at the Celebrator 18th anniversary party.

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Jamie (far left) with some NBWA luminaries at the 2008 NBWA welcome reception. From left, Jamie, Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim Jordan (from New Belgium Brewing) and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).

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Jamie with Todd and Jason Alström, founder of Beer Advocate, at the 2008 GABF.