Beer Birthday: Michael Jackson

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Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 73rd birthday. I first met Michael in the early 1990s, shortly after my first beer book was published. He is all but single-handedly responsible for the culture of better beer that exists today. He began writing about good beer in the 1960s and 70s and his writing has influenced (and continues to influence) generations of homebrewers and commercial brewers, many of whom were inspired to start their own breweries by his words. There are few others, if any, that have been so doggedly persistent and passionate about spreading the word about great beer. I know some of my earliest knowledge and appreciation of beer, and especially its history and heritage, came from Michael’s writings. Michael passed away in August 2007, eight years ago. I still miss him, and I suspect I’m not the only one. A couple of years ago, J.R. Richards’ new documentary film about Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter: The Movie, debuted, which I helped a tiny bit with as a pioneer sponsor.

I did an article four years ago for Beer Connoisseur, for their Innovator’s Series, entitled Michael Jackson: The King of Beer Writers, A personal look back at the man who made hunting for beer a career. I reached out to a number of people who also knew Michael for their remembrances as well as my own, and as a result I’m pretty pleased with the results (although the original draft was almost twice as long).

I’ll again be playing some jazz and having a pint of something yummy in his honor, which has become my tradition for March 27, which I’ve also started declaring to be “Beer Writer’s Day.” Join me in drinking a toast to Michael Jackson, the most influential modern beer writer who’s ever lived.

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At the Great Divide Brewing’s media party in Denver over fifteen years ago.

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On stage accepting the first beer writing awards from the Brewers Association with Jim Cline, GM of Rogue, Stan Hieronymus, who writes Real Beer’s Beer Therapy among much else, and Ray Daniels, formerly of the Brewers Association.

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At GABF in 2006, still wearing the same glasses. But my, oh my, have I changed. Sheesh.

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With Carolyn Smagalski receiving an award at Pilsner Urquell.

Beer In Ads #1506: Nothing Like It


Thursday’s ad is yet another one for Budweiser, this one from 1961. It’s another ad from their “Where there’s life” series, this one is called “Nothing Like It.” A man eating a pizza by himself is having a beer poured for him by a uniformed waitress. I love how everyone dressed up to eat pizza. We do that at home, too. I find it best to wear a suit whenever we order a pizza for delivery. But I usually choose a different beer.

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Patent No. 1995626A: Manufacture Of Minim Alcohol Beverage

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Today in 1935, US Patent 1995626 A was issued, an invention of Karl Schreder, for his “Manufacture of Minim Alcohol Beverage.” There’s no Abstract, as far as I can tell, Minim means low-alcohol. I wonder if that was a common term back then? It’s not one I hear these days. Curiously, although the invention relates to what they call “low alcohol beverages,” the percentage of alcohol is never discussed, which strikes me as odd. Here’s what is revealed:

It has been found that Termobacterium mobile (Lindner) (Pseudomonas Lindneri-Kluyver) discovered by Professor Dr. Lindner is particularly suitable for the manufacture of beverages containing a low proportion of alcohol.

A process for the manufacture of beverages of this kind forms the subject-matter of the present application.

For obtaining a high grade end product it is essential that the preparation of the malt and of the wort be carried out carefully.

Okay, but what is the “high grade end product?” Is it non-alcoholic or near beer below 0.5% a.b.v.? Or something that might be considered a session beer with an alcohol percentage lower than a beer of typical strength?
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Beer Birthday: Bill Brand

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Today would have been Bill Brand’s 77th birthday, if not for the tragic events of February 8, 2009. Bill, of course, was hit by a Muni Train that evening and passed away twelve days later, on February 20. He was a bastion of support for the local beer community for decades, and one of it’s most visible media faces. He did a staggering amount of good to help brewers throughout the Bay Area, and wrote about the beer he loved so much with an unmatched passion and zeal. His Bottoms Up blog was read by millions, the newest form of his What’s On Tap newsletter that stretched back into the early 1990s. It was my great honor to take over his column and try to continue his legacy of support for craft brewers in the Bay Area and beyond. Drink a toast to the memory and legacy of William “Bill” Brand today. Happy birthday Bill, you are most certainly missed.

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Dueling laptops; Bill and me at Magnolia on February 6 for the tapping of Napa Smith Original Albion Ale by Don Barkley. Photo by Shaun O’Sullivan.

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At the Falling Rock during GABF week in 2004. Clockwise from left, Bill, Lisa Morrison, me, Tom Dalldorf, Stephen Beaumont and my cousin Mike, who lived in Denver at the time.

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Bill toasting with a pitcher of Oakland’s new Linden Street Brewery, with Fraggle at the far right, whose birthday would also have been today. Photo by RRifkin.

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Bill taking notes at the Monk’s Blood Dinner at 21st Amendment, February 8, 2009. Photo by Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh.

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Drink a toast to Bill today, it’s how he would have wanted to be remembered.

Patent No. 1021669A: Beer-Tapper

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Today in 1912, US Patent 1021669 A was issued, an invention of William W. Frisholm, for his “Beer-Tapper.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that his “invention is an improvement in beer tappers, and consists in certain novel constructions, and combinations of parts, hereinafter described and claimed. Sometimes the language in these is just wonderful, case in point:

The object of the invention is to provide an improved device for tapping beer and other effervescing liquids which will permit the entering of the device into the keg or other receptacle without waste, and which, while permitting the free egress of the liquid, will also permit the entrance of air under pressure to force out the liquid.

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Beer Bornday: Fraggle

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Today would have been the 48th birthday of Mark Martone, better known to the beer world as “Fraggle.” Fraggle always called them borndays, so I’ll continue that tradition for him. Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke last year in late June and passed away a few days later, on July 5, 2014. Fraggle, along with Rebecca Boyles, founded the terrific Beer Revolution in Oakland, near Jack London Square on 3rd Street. I first met Fraggle when I featured him and Rebecca in an article I did for Beer Advocate magazine on beer geeks several years back. It’s been great to see them turn their passion into their livelihood, and go from civilian to pro over the last few years. Join me in wishing Fraggle a very happy bornday, and raise a toast to his memory today or tonight or all day long. He would have wanted it that way. And don’t forget to support Fragglefest, the festival in his honor, which will take place later this year on August 15, 2015.

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Fraggle and Jen Muehlbauer at the Celebrator 25th anniversary party in 2013.

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Jesse Friedman, Fraggle and Ron Silberstein at the Anchor Holiday Party in 2012.

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With Steve Donohue and me at the SF Beer Week opening gala in 2014.

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Rebecca and Fraggle at Santa Rosa’s Beerfest in 2007.

Patent No. 848228A: Cooler For Beer

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Today in 1907, US Patent 848228 A was issued, an invention of Johann Ettel, for his “Cooler for Beer or Other Beverages.” There’s no Abstract, and the description is without a doubt one of the worst OCR conversions I’ve ever seen. For example, here’s what should be the introduction, verbatim:

To afl’ whom` if my Concern.- l Be it’known that I, JOHANN ETTEL, a enbject of the Em eror of AustriaHungalj, Brooklyn, county of Kings,

new and useful Improvements in (loolers for Beer or other Beverages, of Whiel’ithe following is eepeei’lieet-ion- L The`presentinvention ‘has for its object to provide n. meier for heer or other beverages principally in hors;restaurant-s, mul the like.- v

Which I think we can infer that Johan Ettel, who was from Austria-Hungary, but living in Brooklyn, invented a new beer cooler.
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Beer In Ads #1505: Count ‘Em


Wednesday’s ad is another one for Budweiser, from 1960. It’s another ad from their “Where there’s life” series, this one features puppies and is called “Count ‘Em!” Bud wants you to look at 7 — count ‘em, 7 — words on their label. They don’t say which ones, but I assume it’s “Choicest Hops, Rice and Best Barley Malt.” Or you could go with “Brewed by our original all natural process,” though it’s hard to see what is so original. At any rate it doesn’t seem wide to let the consumer pick which seven words to pick off the label to tell them “why Bud is so good.”

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Beer Birthday: Anat Baron

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Today is the birthday of filmmaker Anat Baron, whose Beer Wars movie started people writing and talking about the beer business, from all sorts of angles, four years ago, and while it’s slowed down, the discussion has yet to have completely gone away. Or as Alan from A Good Beer Blog puts it, “joined to the long standing discussion about the beer business and added an interesting interpretation.” Love it or loathe it, it has certainly managed to capture people’s attention, and if that’s all it’s done, that’s still a huge positive to my way of thinking. But it’s also opened quite a few minds to what those of us who’ve been embedded in the beer business have known forever, which is how the business operates, where it’s fair and unfair, and what you can do as a consumer to support the beers and breweries you love. Join me in wishing Anat a very happy birthday.

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Anat behind the bar.

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Publicity photo for Beer Wars.

Patent No. 8678247B2: Creamy Foam Beer Dispensing System

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Today in 2014, just one year ago, US Patent 8678247 B2 was issued, an invention of Paul Haskayne, Robert W. Shettle, Donald W. Smeller, Jarrell L. Jennings III, and Merrill R. Good, assigned to the Lancer Corporation, for their “Creamy Foam Beer Dispensing System.” Here’s the Abstract:

A creamy foam beer dispensing system includes a coupler removably securable with a keg, a transportation tube, and a faucet having a handle coupled with a plunger communicating with the transportation tube. The handle is movable among a closed position, an open position, and a creamy foam position. In the closed position, the handle maintains the plunger squeezed against the transportation tube such that no beer flows from the faucet. In the open position, the handle lifts the plunger substantially, completely off the transportation tube such that beer flows smoothly from the faucet. In the creamy foam position, the handle lifts the plunger off the transportation tube a distance such that an aperture created in the transportation tube produces creamy foam flow from the faucet.

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