Beer Birthday: Forest Gray

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Today is the 50th birthday of Forest Gray, co-founder and president of Speakeasy Ales and Lagers in San Francisco. I first met Forest when Speakeasy first bottled their beer when I was the beer buyer at BevMo. For the last severnteen years, his brewery has made some terrific beers, especially their Big Daddy I.P.A. Join me in wishing Forest a very happy birthday.

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Forest with Brian Lenzo, from Blue Palms in L.A., and Meg Gill, now “on the winning team” with Golden Road, at a Speakeasy Anniversary event several years ago.

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The Speakeasy crew at the start of SF Beer Week in 2013. That’s Forest with the glowing hat. [Photo purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Tom Dalldorf

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Today is Celebrator publisher Tom Dalldorf’s 75th birthday. Since he’s famous for having his picture in the Celebrator and being at every beer event, I figured the Bulletin should be no different, despite his slowing down a bit these days. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

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Tom at the Celebrator anniversary party in 2007.

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Raising a toast with Full Sail brewer John Harris.

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Huddling up with the owner’s of Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia, Fergie and Tom.

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Mine’s bigger. Russian River’s Vinne Cilurzo with Tom in D.C.

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Looking like a deer caught in the headlights at the roast I threw for Tom when he turned sixty. That’s Stephen Beaumont on the left and me on the right.

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At Boonville, taking the Rubicon kegerator bike for a spin.

Beer Birthday: James Costa

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Today is the 45th birthday of James Costa. James is a brewer and co-founder of Oakland Brewing, and is also currently brewing at Half Moon Bay Brewing. But James has certainly made the rounds, and has also brewed for Moylan’s, Santa Cruz Aleworks, E.J. Phair and others. James is justly famous for his big, hoppy beers like the wonderful Sticky Zipper. Join me in wishing James a very happy birthday.

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James with Vic at the Bistro Double IPA Festival in 2009.

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James with Shaun O’Sullivan (left) and Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River) at the 2nd annual Single Hop Festival & Washoe Tournament in 2007.

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James with his wife Caroline (left), with Iron Springs brewer Christian Kazakoff and his then-girlfriend, Jodi, at the Toronado 20th Anniversary Party in 2007.

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At the Beer Chef’s “Tion” beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in September of 2006, James with Arne Johnson (Marin Brewing) and Vinnie Cilurzo.

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At another Beer Chef dinner, this one with Allagash, James offers some “Shrimp flavored Chips” to his wife Caroline, who wisely declined.

Beer Birthday: Melissa Myers

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Today is my good friend Melissa Myers’ birthday. Though now several years ago, her most recent brewing gig was at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro, California. She’s also brewed at Pyramid, Ross Brewing and Magnolia, among others, but now she owns and operates her own beer bar in Oakland, The Good Hop. There’s a stool there with my name on it, and after several years I finally took it out for a spin earlier this year. Join me in wishing Melissa a very happy birthday.

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Arne Johnson, of Marin Brewing, and Melissa at the Boonville Beer Festival several years ago.

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Former roommates Jen Garris and Melissa at the Anchor Christmas Party a few years back.

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Melissa and former Drake’s brewer Rodger Davis at GABF several years ago.

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Melissa and me at GABF once upon a time.

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Melissa with her adopted Daddy, “Big Daddy” Dave Keene.

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Melissa in high school, believe it or not. At a Super Bowl party she threw, Melissa made the mistake of showing me this photo while I had my camera in my hand. I snapped a quick picture of it in the photo album, which is why is looks out of proportion and a little fuzzy. I had to seriously crop it and straighten it out and generally fix it up. But I think the effort was worth it, don’t you?

Beer Birthday: John Martin

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Today is the 57th birthday of John Martin, one of the founders of Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse in Berkeley. John, with his brother Reid, started on of the first five brewpubs in the U.S., and the only one that’s still owned by the same family that founded it. John also owns Drake’s Brewing and the Jupiter Taproom, too. He’s active in the local beer community and also with the CCBA, plus he’s a great guy with a very distinctive laugh. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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Me and John earlier this year at Sour Sunday.

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Christian Kazakoff, former brewer at Triple Rock (now at Iron Springs) with John during the 2008 Firkin Fest.

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John, with his brother Reid, and Triple Rock brewmaster Rodger Davs at the brewpub’s 25th anniversary.

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John, me and Peter Hoey at last year’s opening gala for SF Beer Week.

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John in the brewhouse with his brother 26 years ago, on opening day.

Beer Birthday: Brian Hunt

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Today is iconoclastic brewer Brian Hunt’s 60th birthday — the Big 6-0. Brian owns and operates Moonlight Brewing in in Sonoma County, California, as almost a one-man show. If you’ve never had his “Death and Taxes,” “Twist of Fate Bitter,” “Bombay by Boat,” or his fresh hop ale, alternately called “Homegrown” or “Greenbud Ale,” then you’re really missing out on some of the most unique and wonderful beers around. Plus, Brian is one of the nicest curmudgeons you’ll ever meet, and one of my favorite people anywhere. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

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Hildegard van Ostaden, Urthel’s brewster, one of only a vert few female brewers working in Belgium, and Brian.

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Brian in his hopyard, with Russian River’s old assistant brewer Travis (who opened his own place, Societe Brewing), and Vinnie Cilurzo.

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Shaun O’Sullivan and Vinnie Cilurzo with Brian at the Bistro in Hayward, California.

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Brian at the Opening Gala for SF Beer Week a couple of years back.

Linden Street Brewery Becomes Oakland United Beerworks

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When Adam Lamoreaux opened the Linden Street Brewery in 2009, it was the first production brewery in the city since 1959. But it proved to be quite popular, and successful, but closed late last summer due to management changes to the company. Lamoreaux has moved on to a new venture, and the brewery has been rebranded starting today as Oakland United Beerworks.

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Current owner John Karnay, a longtime Oakland resident and businessman and award-winning brewmaster Shane Aldrich revealed today their new website, core brews and plans for the future.

“Oakland United Beerworks is born and bred in Oakland,” said Karnay. “From the beginning, our mission has been to bring Oaklanders — old and new — together with great brews. Oakland has evolved and grown, and so have we.”

Brewmaster Shane Aldrich originally joined Linden Street in 2016. He learned the brewing craft from Tony Lawrence of Boneyard Beer and Tim Gossack of Bell’s Brewing. He’s brewed at some of the Bay Area’s most popular and enduring brands, including Lagunitas, Moylan’s, Half Moon Bay Brewing, and Marin Brewing Company, where he won a prestigious World Beer Cup award.

“Oakland’s diversity, artistry and authenticity inspires me and our recipes,” says Aldrich. “We love this town – and we’re excited about growing an Oakland community of beer drinkers and beer makers.”

Aldrich brews Oakland United’s beer in small batches, and is currently offering four core beers, and will also offer seasonal ales in the coming months. The inaugural line-up of core beers includes:

  • Black Lager: A flavorful and surprisingly light tribute to the classic German Schwarzbier with notes of coffee and toast.
  • Pilsner: The best floor-malted German Bohemian Pilsner malt creates a crisp, well-balanced lager that pairs with everything from pizza to pate.
  • Common Lager: The original Bay Area Beer, California Common Lagers were invented following the Gold Rush by homesick Germans looking to replicate the lagers of Germany and the East Coast. This robust, amber beer adapts well to its surroundings – perfect for any time and place.
  • IPA: The signature Oakland version of the West Coast IPA mixes five different hops into a flavorful, year-round beer that gives off hints of citrus and tropical fruit. A great beer to pair with a savory menu.

Oakland United Beerworks is currently brewing on Alameda while it builds a brewery and tasting room on 2nd Street, near Jack London Square, with plans to open the doors by late summer. A new tap room will play host to the Oakland Beer Drinkers Association, launched by the brewery to introduce beer lovers to Oakland’s best breweries. Aldrich will collaborate with fellow Oakland and East Bay brewmasters to create and test new brews.

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Brewmaster Shane Aldrich

Beer Birthday: Bill Brand

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Today would have been Bill Brand’s 79th 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.

Beer Bornday: Fraggle

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Today would have been the 50th 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 three years ago 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 ago. 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.

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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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Pouring beer for Linden Street at the Winter Brews Festival in 2010.

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

Beer Birthday: Jason Chavez

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Today is the 49th birthday of Jason Chavez, who was the brewmaster at Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz for a number of years. Chavez started homebrewing while still in high school on his family’s kitchen stove. He’s a graduate of the American Brewers Guild, and had been brewing at Seabright since 1999. I believe I first met Jason many years ago at the Rock Bottom in Denver during a GABF week, but I still run into him occasionally at events. Seabright celebrated their 25th anniversary two years ago, when I spent the day at the brewery to do a story on their silver anniversary. But last year, he made a big change, moving closer to home to take over the Kelsey Creek Brewing Co. in Kelseyville. I still haven’t made up to see the brewery since he took over the reigns, but hopefully one day soon. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.

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Jason with Dave Heist, from HopTown Brewing, and Gene and Cindy Acevedo, from El Toro Brewing, during the Brewer’s Reception at GABF in 2002.

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Jason at the helm of the brewery when I visited him in early 2013 to wrote about Seabright’s 25th anniversary.

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Here’s a great shot by Dan Coyro, from an article in Santa Cruz Sentinnel.

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Jason, in the center, surrounded by Seabright folks at the 10th annual Stumptown Russian River Revival and BBQ Cook-Off.

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Jason, again in the center, at GABF (Note: last two photos purloined from Seabright’s website).