Beer Birthday: Mike “Tasty” McDole

McDole
Today is also the birthday of living legend Mike “Tasty” McDole, homebrewer extraordinaire, and one time co-host of “The Jamil Show,” or “Can You Brew It?” and a regular still on the “Sunday Show” on The Brewing Network. Tasty would never refer to himself that way, and on Twitter he claims to be simply a “homebrewer and a craft beer enthusiast.” But most of us who know him would, as he also admits, “make [him] out to be much more.” And that is correct, I believe, as Tasty is one of the best. He’s a former Longshot winner, has given talks at the National Homebrew Convention and has won countless awards and has collaborated with numerous commercial breweries on beers. Join me in wishing Tasty a very happy birthday.

Justin Crossley & Mike McDole
With Justin Crossley at the Bistro Double IPA Festival in 2010.

mike-mcdole
With Shaun O’Sullivan at 21st Amendment in 2009.

Vic Krajl, from The Bistro, Award-Winning Homebrewer Mike McDole & Shaun O'Sullivan, from 21st Amendment
Vic Krajl, from The Bistro, Mike & Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment at GABF in 2009.

DSCN3976
Tasty at last year’s GABF in Denver.

Beer Birthday: Pete Slosberg

pete
Today is my friend Pete Slosberg’s 65th birthday. Pete is, of course, best known for Pete’s Wicked Ales. After that he toyed with the idea of making barbecue but decided instead to make some incredible chocolates and had a small company, Cocoa Pete’s. A few years ago, I traveled to South America with Pete (where we took to calling him “El Pete“), where we both spoke and judged beer at a beer conference/competition in Argentina, the South Beer Cup, and then flew to Brazil to attend a pair of beer dinners Stephen Beaumont was hosting and for a while he was working on Mavericks, a newish line of canned session beers, along with Half Moon Bay Brewing, although his son Alex stayed on with Mavericks, Pete and his wife Amy are just doing a lot of traveling and looking for the next adventure … or sour beer. Join me wishing Pete a very happy birthday!

petes-1
This was taken the first time I met Pete, over fifteen years ago at the KQED Beer and Food Festival in San Francisco, when I was more or less still a civilian. It was after I’d written a book on beer, but before I started working as the beer buyer for BevMo.

Pete & Amy Slosberg with Shaun O'Sullivan
Pete with his wife Amy and Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment, at one of Sean Paxton’s beer dinners during SF Beer Week earlier this year.

Pete Slosberg, helping out for the day, shows off a finished bottle
Working the bottling line at Russian River Brewing, with a bottle of Consecration.

Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean Paxton, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers
Matt Bonney, from Brouwer’s, Stephen Beaumont, Sean Paxton, Pete and Rick Sellers, from Odonata at the Bistro Double IPA Festival.

beer-din0602-03
Pete with his wife Amy and Celebrator publisher Tom Dalldorf at one of Bruce Paton’s beer dinners at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in February 2006.

P1040395
Martin Boan, who organized and ran the South Beer Cup, with Pete in Buenos Aires.

P1040762
Pete, with Edu Passarelli (owner of Melograno), Stephen Beaumont and me after a beer dinner at Edu’s place in Sao Paulo.

Beer Birthday: Vinnie Cilurzo

russian-river
Today is the 45th 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. Along with his partner Natalie, 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 their flagship Pliny the Elder has been picked as the best beer in America by AHA members seven years in a row. And Vinnie is one of the nicest people in the industry you’ll ever meet. Join me in wishing Vinnie a happy birthday.

vinnie
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.

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

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

drakes-fest06-07
Vinnie and Rich Norgrove from Bear Republic at the Summit Hop Festival a few years ago at Drake’s.

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

P1000599
Vinnie and me his 40th birthday party at the brewpub a few years ago.

Pyramid Closes Berkeley Brewery

pyramid-breweries
North American Breweries announced today that effective immediately, they’ve closed the Pyramid Brewery that’s been located in Berkeley, California since 1997. That leaves just the Walnut Creek alehouse remaining in California, after they closed the Sacramento brewpub in 2013.

pyramid-berkeley-bar

At Pyramid’s website, it offers only the following by way of explanation.

The Pyramid Berkeley Alehouse is now closed.

Thank you so much for your support and patronage over the years! We also want to thank our employees for their dedicated service. Our other locations remain open and available to provide great beers and a wonderful experience. We hope to see you there.

The East Bay Express has a bit more of the story, explaining “Berkeley’s Pyramid Alehouse (901 Gilman St.) is now permanently closed, according to a message on the restaurant and brewery’s answering machine.”

pyramid-berkeley

Of course, the story isn’t complete without acknowledging that they haven’t been brewing at that location since 2013, when the brewers voted to unionize and shortly thereafter the company suspended brewing claiming it was to “fix a quality issue.” Which was obvious nonsense, especially now that the closure has gone from temporary to permanent. The original “temporary” period to “fix” the brewery was supposed to be 6-9 months, which meant it should have reopened and brought back the laid-off brewers sometime between March and June of 2014, or a little over one year ago.

This is, at least in part, what happens when breweries become part of larger businesses like equity firms, who only care about profit and bottom lines, and not the businesses themselves. Pyramid is part of North American Breweries (NAB), and was created in 2009 when equity firm KPS Capital Partners (KPS) bought it along with Magic Hat, Portland Brewing, Labatt’s USA, Genesee and a couple of other brands. In 2012, KPS sold NAB to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a subsidiary of Florida Ice & Farm Co., for $388 million.

East Bay Express later added this update, apparently from a press release from NAB:

The company decided to close its Berkeley facility in order to prepare the building for sale — “after an extensive evaluation process. “We have made the decision to focus our West Coast production in our Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington locations,” said CEO Kris Sirchio.

Frankly, that’s about as believable as the celebrity or political figure embroiled in scandal who retires “to spend more time with his family.” I’m sorry to see the brewery go, but frankly NAB has become a difficult company with many layers to get through before finding an actual live person who can, or will, answer questions about the company’s brands. When Sacramento closed, I spent hours on websites and phones just trying to find someone who would comment or answer questions, and this time I’m not even going to try, given how awful it was last time. One commenter on the EBE piece said, “[w]ord on the street is that another brewery is looking to purchase the property,” so perhaps we’ll have good news about the location soon.

pryamid-berkeley-logo
R.I.P. Pyramid Berkeley 1997-2015.

Beer Birthday: Alec Moss

half-moon-bay
Today is Alec Moss’ 71st birthday, which is quite frankly still hard to believe. Alec doesn’t look a day over 40! Must be the beer and motorcycles. I first got to know Alec when I worked with him on some private label contract beers I did for BevMo when he was head brewer at the now-defunct Golden Pacific Brewery in Berkeley. Alec then spent some time at Redbird Brewing before moving to the coast to be head brewer at the picturesque Half Moon Bay Brewing, but he retired a few years ago. Every time I see him now he seems to be enjoying his retirement enormously, especially now that he’s also been working part time for Anchor Brewing, building them a pilot system and working on it, too. Join me in wishing Alec a very happy birthday.

Alec-Moss
Alec and me yesterday at his 70th birthday party at the Tornado.

alec-pours
Alec in the brewhouse at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.

he-tor-1
At the Toronado for He’Brew’s release party. From left: Alec, Pete Slosberg, formerly of Pete’s Wicked Ales, Jeremy Cowan of Shmaltz Brewing and Rodger Davis, now with Triple Rock Brewing.

DSC_2357
Alec with Tom Dalldorf at the 2011 Anchor Christmas party.

P1000524
Last year at the Breastfest in San Francisco, from left: Alec, Jeff Botz, Arne Johnson, Betsey Hensley, Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo and Abalone Rob Mika.

Beer Birthday: Arne Johnson

marin
Today is my friend Arne Johnson’s 50th birthday. Arne is the head brewer at Marin Brewing in Larkspur, California. Arne makes some great beers and is a terrific person to boot. Join me in wishing Arne a very happy birthday.

arne-j-2014
Arne and me earlier today at a birthday party for a mutual friend at the Toronado.

arne-j
Arne and me at the Brewer’s Dinner at GABF in 2006.

tbwf06-03
Arne relaxing with a few barleywines at the Toronado Barleywine Festival.

bistro-dipa06-04
Rodger Davis of Triple Rock and Arne enjoy a beer out front in the warm sunshine at the Bistro’s Double IPA Festival.

boontfest06-08
Arne Johnson and Melissa Myers, formerly with Drake’s Brewing, at the Boonville Beer Festival.

Breastfest Returns To Marin This Saturday

bteastfest
This Saturday, the Breastfest moves back to Marin, and will be held this year at the Fairground Island at the Marin Civic center in San Rafael. The fest starts at Noon tomorrow, and tickets are $55 in advance and $65 at the door. Either way, it’s supporting a great cause. Over 60 breweries and 10 wineries coming together in hopes of raising money for a cancer clinic offering alternative treatments for low-income women with cancer. The new location is awesome When I first moved to Marin, we lived near the Civic Center and spent a lot of time there. It’s a great spot for a festival.

The Breastfest is a unique fundraiser in that it is organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of the proceeds goes directly to low-income women who are battling cancer right now. These women are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends and they are truly grateful for your support. This cause is particularly personal to me, as I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was only 21 years old.

For its 15th year of fundraising, The Breastfest beer festival has a new location back in beautiful Marin County at the Marin Center on the Fairground Island. The fundraiser will feature endless eats and bottomless cups at no additional charge. Sip beers from 38 of the best California Breweries while listening to live music and supporting a great charitable cause.

All the Proceeds from the popular event will benefit Oakland’s Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, an award-winning non-profit women’s health provider. A pillar of low-income medical care in the Bay Area, Charlotte Maxwell has supported and saved thousands of lives by providing complementary integrative treatments for low-income women with cancer for 25 years. To date, the Breast Fest is the largest fundraiser for the clinic, which does not receive public funds.

A free-of-charge clinic that specializes in complete care for those who need it most, the clinic’s innovative comprehensive care model supports women medically and financially during treatment, giving a safety net that allows for full recovery.

The festival has also partnered with Lyft to get you to and from the Breastest safely. Get affordable rides within minutes after downloading the mobile app.If you’re new to Lyft, sign up with the promo code BREASTFEST for a free first ride up to $20. Once you download the app, create an account and enter the code in the ‘Payment’ section.Drink responsively and designate a drive or arrange a lift with LYFT!

breastfest-2015

Beer Birthday: Tim Clifford

sante-adairius
Today is the 43rd birthday of Tim Clifford, brewmaster and owner of Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, in Capitola, California, which is near Santa Cruz. Tim’s a longtime homebrewer and worked for Williams Brewing and also 7 Bridges for many years, and continue to be on the board of the Santa Cruz co-op. Although originally a history major, Tim’s passion went off in a different direction, happily, and he opened Sante Adairius in 2011, making some incredible and unique beers. Join me in wishing Tim a very happy birthday.

Friedman-1
Jessie Friedman and Tim at the SF Beer Week opening gala in 2014.

hop-tea-2
Me and Tim enjoying some hop tea, while picking hops at Moonlight Brewing’s hopyard in 2007.

Jeremy Warren Leaving Knee Deep

knee-deep
Knee Deep Brewing Co. founder Jeremy Warren announced earlier today via Facebook that effective August 3 he’ll be leaving the brewery he started five years ago. Here’s what he’s saying so far:

The past 5 years has been a great ride with Knee Deep Brewing. From my half bbl home brew in my garage to 11,000 bbl in an 18,000 sq. ft. warehouse! I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement.

Your constant kind words and criticism keeps us Brewers on our toes in making the best beer possible.

With that said, it is with a bittersweet feeling that I’m announcing my separation from Knee Deep Brewing effective August 3rd.

Don’t freak out! I will be announcing my new project soon!

I will not disappoint!!

So it sounds like he’s already cooked another project and will leave Knee Deep intact, which is great. Join me in wishing him well on his next adventure.

UPDATE: The Sacramento Beer published a follow-up yesterday about Jeremy’s resignation that includes speculation that he’ll be opening his own brewery, which naturally is what we’re all thinking. But co-founder Jerry Moore, who’s also apparently the majority owner of Knee Deep, states “he was not surprised by Warren’s decision and he insisted that Knee Deep will not skip a beat.” He then adds this:

“Knee Deep owns those recipes and I own Knee Deep,” said Moore, noting that Warren has been a minority owner. “Knee Deep will continue to make all of the beers we’ve been making. We have four full-time brewers who have been making these beers.”

I don’t want to read too much into that statement, especially since I don’t know Jerry Moore, but it’s hard not to see it as inferring an issue or issues that led to Warren’s departure.

jeremy-warren
Jeremy Warren from a recent article in Sacramento Magazine.

Beer Birthday: Andy French

southern-pacific
Today is the 47th birthday of Andy French, brewmaster at Southern Pacific Brewing in San Francisco, one of the new wave of breweries that opened in the city in recent years. I first met Andy when he brewed at Speakeasy, and after that would see him from time to time at Zeitgeist, though he first started brewing back East in the DC area. When his roommate Chris Lawrence, who also worked for Speakeasy once upon a time, decided to open his own brewery, he tapped Andy to work the mash paddles, and things have been going great since they opened a few years ago. Join me in wishing Andy a very happy birthday.

P1050466
Andy at his brewhouse in 2012.