Beer Birthday: Dave Keene

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Today is the 59th birthday of Dave Keene. Dave, of course, owns the best beer bar in San Francisco, the Toronado, which this year has been around for 27 years. Dave is one of the great figures in the San Francisco beer scene and also one of my favorite Washoe partners, and we’ve had some monumental games and vanquished many fine players — you know who you are! Join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.

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Peter Bouchaert, brewmaster at New Belgium Brewing, with Dave at one of Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s beer dinners.

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Outside the Toronado for their 20th anniversary, Dave bookended by fellow publicans Don Younger (from the Horse Brass in Portland) and Chris Black (from the Falling Rock in Denver).

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At a beer release party for Brother Dave’s Triple. From left: Fal Allen, Mark Cabrera, Dave Gatlin (head brewer at AVBC) , Me and Dave.

Dave Keene & Tomme Arthur after a night of Washoes
Dave and Tomme Arthur, from the Lost Abbey, after a night of Washoes during SF Beer Week a few years ago.

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Dave Keene and me at the Summit Hop Festival held at Drake’s Brewing several years ago.

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Dave with Vinnie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, last year at the “Toronado 25th Anniversary Dinner and Blending Session.”

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In the back room at the Toronado, Dave, Alec Moss and me, at Alec’s 70th birthday party earlier this year.

Beer In Ads #1280: Beer Taxes Exceed $2,000,000 A Day


Tuesday’s ad is from the United States Brewers Foundation, from 1953. In a factoid-filled newspaper ad, the trade group sings the praises of the industry and their contribution to the economy. $2 million a day seems like a lot, though today it’s closer to $90 million a day, though it’s possibly more depending on which taxes are included in those statistics.

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The Battle Over Beer Label Approval

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The Daily Beast had an interesting profile of Kent “Battle” Martin, the person responsible for approving every single beer label at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, in Meet the Beer Bottle Dictator. I’d heard of Martin — um, Battle, I mean — before, but didn’t realize he was the only person approving or denying label applications. I think I assumed he was simply part of a larger staff. I can’t say having a single person in charge of interpreting a fairly vague set of laws in a particularly good idea. There have been some very strange, seemingly nonsensical and contradictory decisions over the years, and I’d always thought that was because those were made by various people interpreting the regulations differently, the way the California ABC does, or the arbitrary way that movie ratings are given. I have to say, I don’t think that should be left to just one individual, no matter how dedicated or hard-working, as Battle apparently is, according to the article.

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Beer Birthday: Jennie Hatton

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Today is the 43rd birthday of Jennie Hatton, who did P.R. for Philly Beer Week and several craft breweries in the tri-state area for a number of years. She cut her teeth working for Tom Peters at Monk’s Cafe. Jennie and her business partner Claire Pelino are responsible for many, many beer books being published as literary agents to a number of beer writers, including yours truly. Also, Jennie is one of my favorite people in the industry and she’s so much fun to be around that people refer to her as “The Wonderful Jennie Hatton.” Also, few people love tater tots like I do, and she’s one of them. That’s enough for me. More recently, she became the North American Brand Manager for Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. Join me in wishing Jennie a very happy birthday.

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Jennie and me on the floor at GABF in 2008.

Everyone wanted their picture taken with the Hammer, and Jennie was only too happy to oblige
Jennie wielding the Hammer of Glory during this last year’s Philly Beer Week.

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Jennie and the Reverend Kirk T. Berlenbach, Rector of Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church, at the Sam, Tomme & Old Beer event at Nodding Head Brewing during Philly Beer Week.

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Jennie with some of the best tater tots ever, at North Lanes Lounge in Philly.

Reveal Your First Belgian In The Next Session

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For our 91st Session, our host is Breandán Kearney, who is the beery half of Belgian Smaak, along with budding chocolatier Elisa. For his topic, he’s chosen My First Belgian, meaning to participate in the September Session, he wants to know about yours.

Our blog is called ‘Belgian Smaak’. We love (and investigate, write about and drink) fantastic beers from other countries around the world, but the reason we started the blog was that we were blown away by the variety of flavours that Belgium offers in its beer and wanted to enjoy our own adventure in taste.

Although David Turley of Musing Over a Pint did host a great session on Belgian-style triples (A Tripel for Two) back in February 2009, we noticed with no small element of surprise that there has not yet been a Session dedicated to discussing beers from this country generally and so we feel that we are the hosts to bring Belgian beer to the tip of your tongues both literarily and libatiously.

This topic was inspired by my own experience in moving to Belgium last year. Having only Guinness and Macro-Pils as a reference (until recently the only choice available in Ireland), my attitude towards beer was completely re-aligned when I first encountered Belgian beer culture.

There’s no rules for participating in this Session. If you’ve never tried a beer brewed in Belgian, now your chance. Or write about your favorite Belgian type of beer. The sky’s the limit. Their “aim here is to explore, discuss and hopefully celebrate the ways (if any) in which this fascinating beer culture has personally impacted on each of you, the passionate beer blogging community.” But see his thoughtful, detailed announcement for the myriad ways you can participate in next month’s Session.

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So put on your Belgian cap and write your blog post — no Flemish necessary — on Friday 5 September 2014, and link to Belgian Smaak’s announcement in your post. Also, he’s asking that you leave a comment below his announcement with a link to your post on that same day to facilitate doing the roundup.

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Beer Birthday: Conrad Seidl

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Today is the 56th birthday of Austrian beer writer Conrad Seidl. Our paths have crossed several times over the years, usually at judging events, and we’ve also contributed to some of the same international beer books. But during a press trip to Belgium in 2013, I finally had a chance to spend more time with Conrad and get to know him a bit better, which was great. He’s an amazing person — absolutely one-of-a-kind — and great fun to enjoy a beer with. Join me in wishing Conrad a very happy birthday.

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

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Roger Protz and Conrad, in Belgium, 2013.

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A press photo of Conrad and the 2014 edition of his “Bier Guide.”

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And it’s hard not to love this animated gif.

Anchor Releases Zymaster #6: Saaremaa Island Ale

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Anchor Brewing has released the sixth beer in their Zymaster® series, Saaremaa Island Ale.

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Anchor’s newest beer was apparently inspired by a trip taken recently by their longtime brewmaster, Mark Carpenter. He and his family vacationed on Saaremaa Island, a part of Estonia, and located in the Baltic Sea. According to Anchor’s press release, this “ancient island has been inhabited more than 8,000 years, and has been occupied by Germany, Denmark, Sweden, czarist Russia, and the Soviet Union. Its culture is a rich and fascinating melting pot. Yet few outside of Estonia have ever experienced its uniquely native beers. Mark enjoyed them so much that he not only brought back his memories of Saaremaa but some brewer’s yeast, as well. Inspired by Mark’s Estonian beer journey, Anchor’s Zymaster No. 6 takes you on a journey to Saaremaa by way of San Francisco.”

Beer is a journey. Wine is defined by time – on the vine and in the bottle – and place, known as terroir. But beer, thanks to the miracles of modern science, can now be made virtually anywhere in any style, transporting the beer-lover to whatever time, place, and flavors he or she desires.

“My wife and I were traveling through the Saaremaa Island countryside and we stopped at a bar,” said the Anchor Brewmaster. “I asked for a local draught beer and the unfiltered brew I was served was completely unique. It was the native yeast that intrigued me and ultimately become the inspiration for Zymaster No. 6. After returning to San Francisco, the Estonian yeast was isolated and cultured becoming the cornerstone of our pale ale which is complimented by the medium bitterness from Northern Brewer, a favorite hop here at Anchor. The result is a one-of-a-kind brew that transports me back to that countryside bar. We hope you’ll enjoy this beer journey, as well.”

Zymaster No. 6 (6% ABV) is a medium-bitter pale ale with Old World hop flavor and aroma. Made with pale barley malt, it has a light body and clean finish. But what makes Saaremaa Island Ale exceptional is the native yeast that Brewmaster Mark Carpenter clandestinely brought back from his Estonian beer journey. It took months for Anchor to isolate and culture this special strain, so essential to the unique character of Saaremaa Island’s indigenous beers. Anchor’s trial brews confirmed that this yeast, reminiscent of some Belgian varieties, contributes a richly complex piquancy to this deliciously distinctive ale with overtones of freshly ground clove and allspice.

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Anchor Zymaster No. 6: Saaremaa Island Ale will be available in limited release in 22 oz. bottles and on draught in select restaurants, bars, and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

Beer In Ads #1278: Home Of Budweiser


Sunday’s ad is for Budweiser, from the 1950s. This is a postcard showing the St. Louis brewery complex from above, but is not a photo. It’s an illustration, and these were a common way to advertise a brewery then, used not just as postcards, but as posters, calendars and other large formats that could be framed. I think they’re incredibly beautiful and wish someone would put together a coffee table book of these brewery works of art.

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Beer Birthday: Chuck Skypeck

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Today is Chuck Skypeck’s 60th birthday. Chuck was a founder of Bosco’s, a brewpub which has three locations in Tennessee and Arkansas, and also Ghost River Brewing. I met Chuck at BA functions several years ago and he’s always been one of the warmest, most genuine people I know. Last year, he joined the Brewers Association staff as Technical Brewing Projects Coordinator, and earlier this year we judged together in Melbourne, Australia at the Australian International Beer Awards. Join me in wishing Chuck a very happy birthday.

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Chuck and me at the Craft Brewers Conference in Seattle in 2006.

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From a 2011 interview in Memphis’ Commercial Review (Photo by Mike Brown).

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Chuck, me and a few others judging earlier this year in Melbourne at the Australian International Beer Awards.