Beer Birthday: Don Russell

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Today is fellow beer writer Don Russell’s 59th birthday. Don writes a beer column for the Philadelphia Daily News under the nom de plume Joe Sixpack. He also writes a blog online, Beer Radar. His most recent book, What the Hell Am I Drinking?, was published last year and can still be ordered directly from the author. Don is a fellow Pennsylvanian, a crack card player, and one of my very favorite people to share a beer and discuss the issues of the day with. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

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Don (center) with me and Lisa Morrison at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich during a press junket to Bavaria a few years ago.

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Don, with fellow Pennsylvanians Lew Bryson and Jack Curtin at GABF.

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Me and Don at the kick-off for the first Philly Beer Week in 2008.

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Don with Pete Slosberg, signing books at GABF a couple of years ago.

Beer In Ads #1372: It Was Rugged, Mates


Wednesday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1962. A sailor at a bar telling tall tales. What are the odds? In this story, “it was rugged, mates,” our intrepid man of the sea begins. “33 days in a lifeboat and worst of all no Schlitz!” No Tiger, either, but can that really be the worst thing? Sounds like this must not be the first retelling.

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Beer In Ads #1371: Over The Border From Canada .. Comes


Tuesday’s ad is for Carling’s Canadian (Red Cap) Ale, from 1934. I like tat the ad is effectively showing one way to get through border security, though I don’t suppose that’s what they had in mind for this Canadian beer that — wait for it — was brewed in Ohio. And I love that the reason they decided to make it was for those “admirable people who have been impatiently waiting for someone in America to brew a real Canadian ale.” And according to the ad copy, “you’re going to like it.” Why? Because “it’s a palatable, hearty, comforting drink for a man’s man. That’s certain.” But what about the ladies, you may be asking yourself? Not to worry. “And for the girl who shoots and paddles and swings a wicked mashie.” Don’t do any of those things? Then stay the fuck away from this beer, you’re not the right kind of girl for Red Cap.

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Top 10 Beer Brands Worldwide 2014

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Last year, I posted a list of The World’s Top 10 Beer Brands . That list, from Drinks Business, was for sales as of the end of 2012. Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal tweeted a chart showing a newer list of the top ten, from Euromonitor International. Their data was accompanying a story, SABMiller Considers Best Route to a Global Beer Brand, though I couldn’t see the context, since only WSJ subscribers could see the entire article. No matter, I was keen to see if this year’s numbers were similar, as you’d expect, from last year, even though the source of the information is slightly different.

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It’s pretty close to last year’s list. The top two, both Chinese brands, remain unchanged. But Bud Light has jumped up from #5 to claim the third spot, while Bud slipped down one to #4. Yanjing Beer, which was #4 on last year’s chart, slipped to #6, while Brazil’s Skol shimmied up from seventh to #5. Heineken moved up one to #7, while another Chinese brand (owned by ABI) — Harbin — is at #8, but was not on last year’s list. Finally, Brahma and Coors Light switched placed at the bottom of the list. Last year, Coors Light was #9, this year it’s Brahma. Corona was #6 on last year’s chart, but is not on the list at all this year.

Beer Birthday: Ken Grossman

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Today is the 60th birthday of Ken Grossman, who founded Sierra Nevada Brewing in 1980. I can’t say too much about how much Ken has done and continues to do for the craft beer industry, while at the same time being wildly successful. Join me in wishing Ken a very happy birthday.

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Ken with two of his children, Brian and Sierra, both of whom work for the company. I took this in 2007 for an article I did for American Brewer on passing breweries from one generation to the next.

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At the Craft Brewers Conference in 2007, John Harris, from Full Sail, Ken’s daughter Sierra, Ken, and Garret Oliver, from Brooklyn Brewery.

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“Inside the Brewers Studio” at the 2006 GABF with Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co., Ken, Charlie Papazian, founder of what is now the Brewers Association, and moderator Tom Dalldorf of the Celebrator.

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Ken and Sam Calagione at the Life & Limb beer dinner in 2009.

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Ken and Jeremy Cowan, from Shmaltz Brewing, at GABF a couple of years ago.

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Ken and Pete Slosberg, signing books at GABF last year.

Beer In Ads #1370: These 39 Colossi Break A Tradition


Monday’s ad is for Alloa Aluminum, from 1934. The thirty-nine “Colssi” in the headline refer to three-story tall aluminum fermenters being installed at the Hoffman Beverage Co. of Newark, New Jersey, which brewed from 1934 until it was bought by Pabst in 1946, who kept it going until 1985. But when this ad ran, it was a brand new brewery going into production the year after prohibition ended. And apparently, they were expecting to be pretty successful from the get go, because 39 fermenters is quite a lot to start out.

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Green Flash Buys Alpine Beer

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I don’t know many details at this point, but Craft Business Daily is reporting that “San Diego’s Green Flash has just announced their acquisition of small, local 3,000 barrel Alpine Beer Company. Financial terms were not disclosed,” adding — quite correctly, I think — “the age of craft buyers acquiring craft brewers is upon us.” I know that Green Flash had been brewing kegs for Alpine recently, while founder Pat McIllhenney was working on expansion plans for his brewery. As more details come to light, I’ll update them here.

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Alpine founder/brewmaster Pat McIllhenney with Tomme Arthur at the inaugural Firestone Walker Invitational a few years ago.

UPDATE: I have now received a press release from Green Flash with additional details on the deal:

At Alpine Beer Company this morning, Green Flash founders, Mike and Lisa Hinkley and Alpine Beer Company founders, Pat and Val McIlhenney announced that their breweries will join forces, teaming up to share resources, knowledge and experience. Both the McIlhenneys and the Hinkleys view the affiliation as mutually beneficial, and are committed to supporting each other for the success of both breweries. Each company will remain independently operated and maintain its distinct brand and culture. Pat will remain Alpine’s President and Brewmaster to oversee all operations of Alpine Beer Company while also ensuring Alpine beers continue to meet his unwavering standard of quality, whether brewed at the Alpine or Green Flash facilities. The most notable change will transpire over the next several years, as Alpine beer will become available to their legions of fans from across the country who have only experienced the greatness of Alpine beers while visiting California.

In a “handshake agreement,” Green Flash began brewing Alpine beer in November 2013 at their San Diego facility with the goal of helping longtime friends at Alpine raise capital to expand their production capacity. Green Flash has been producing three of Alpine’s brews (Nelson, Hoppy Birthday and Duet), increasing Alpine annual production from 1500 to 3000 BBLs.

The experience of brewing together has been a successful learning experience for both breweries. Green Flash Brewmaster, Chuck Silva divulged, “It was both intriguing and challenging to meld our philosophies while we worked together to scale up Pat’s recipes to be brewed in larger quantities. We worked together to stay true to the original beer and were very happy with the ultimate results. Working with a close friend is a real treat, but for me, brewing with Pat and making Alpine beers, is yet another highlight of my brewing career in San Diego.”

The successful arrangement they have shared over the past year was the impetus that prompted the breweries to take their relationship to the next level. Each views the partnership as an organic evolution that will benefit both of their operations in many ways. “Our team was thrilled to be able to brew the awesome beer from Alpine when we began teaming up,” says Mike Hinkley of Green Flash. “The excitement of our brewers is what prompted me to think about additional ways we could work together and help each other. We perceive this solid new partnership as an incredible opportunity to continue to explore our craft while benefiting from the passion and experience of Pat McIlhenney.”

“After working with Green Flash for the past year, I have come to truly trust and deeply respect the entire Green Flash operation – Chuck and all of their brewers are meticulous, yet easygoing, and I am comfortable working with the team,” says Pat McIlhenney of Alpine Beer Co. “There are many benefits in teaming up with Green Flash as a partner. Not only are they committed to producing high-quality beer, the company culture and mom and pop roots of Green Flash are very similar to our own.”

Alpine employees 20 people, is distributed exclusively in California with the ability to produce a maximum of 1500 BBLs from their San Diego County brew-house, with most of their beer sold directly from their on-site pub. Brewing capacity limitations have made it impossible for Pat and his team to support the overwhelming demand for their exceptional products. As partners, Alpine will be able to tap into the growing Green Flash team of talented brewers, their production capacity, access to capital, and human resources in operations and administration. Mike added that “I am hopeful that the culmination of the next few years will be that, together, we build a new production facility in Alpine. Maybe we will even brew some Green Flash ale in Alpine.”

“I know there is strength in unity, which will allow both of our breweries to secure even higher quality ingredients – we will be a great force as a team,” exclaims Pat. “However, the most important advantage is how this partnership will help improve the quality of life for my employees. For the first time, Alpine will be able to offer our team an excellent company benefits package including affordable health care, 401K plans and other perks made possible by this exciting partnership.”

In 2015, Green Flash will begin bottling select Alpine brews in 22oz bottles adding to the three current draft offerings. Collaborative brews are already in Chuck and Pat’s top-secret conversations, so consumers can expect these to appear in their tasting rooms and at the best craft beer bars in Southern California. The two Brewmasters are already talking about how they can work together at Green Flash’s Cellar 3, a special barrel-aged beer packaging facility that is currently under construction in Poway, and will include a cork-finish bottling line.

Chuck said, “I consulted Pat and borrowed some of his ideas when I made our tenth anniversary Flanders-style ale, which was a great success and will be recreated at Cellar 3. I am always on the look-out for ideas. With Pat and me on the same team, you can count on us to push the envelope even further.”

Mike summarizes, “This partnership is win-win-win. Green Flash wins because we are teaming up with a truly iconic brewery. Alpine wins because they get to see their beers enjoyed by so many more of their adoring fans. But most of all, beer geeks everywhere win, because Chuck and Pat will be working together to create beers that will blow their minds.”

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Green Flash Brewmaster Chuck Silva, Alpine Beer Company President and Brewmaster Pat McIlhenney and Green Flash Co-Founder and CEO Mike Hinkley.

Beer In Ads #1369: Did Somebody Say Ballantine At The Beach


Sunday’s ad is yet another one for Ballantine Ale, this one from 1946. This is from a series of billboard ads from around the same time I stumbled upon, though I’m sure the originals in color are more spectacular. In this ad for Ballantine, they’re advertising with a man at the beach, buried in the sand. Wearing quite the floppy hat, and a goofy grin. An unseen person is holding a bottle of beer in front of him, apparently saying; “Did Somebody Say Ballantine.” I think they’ll have to hold the bottle to his lips and tip his head back, too.

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Beer Birthday: Jack Curtin

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Today is fellow Pennsylvania beer writer Jack Curtin’s birthday. You can read his writings and rantings on a variety of subjects at his Liquid Diet Online, Curtin’s Corner, I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing and The Great Disconnect. If you think I don’t know when to stop, check out Jack’s voluminous output. Plus Jack is one of my favorite people to kvetch about politics with, over a pint, of course. Join me wishing Jack a very happy birthday.

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Jack, at right, with fellow Pennsylvanians Don Russell (a.k.a. Joe Sixpack) and Lew Bryson. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, too. What is it about the Commonwealth and beer writers?

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Jack and me at Nodding Head during Philly Beer Week a few years back.

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Tomme Arthur and Jack.

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Jack with Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Nodding Head’s assistant brewer.