Beer Birthday: John Tucci

Today is also the 49th birthday of John Tucci, who until it closed a few years ago, was the brewmaster for the San Francisco Gordon Biersch brewpub. John was one of Gordon Biersch’s best and most senior brewers, and especially with his one-offs that he brewed at that location. He’s also a great champion for beer in San Francisco and was very active with the local brewers guild and SF Beer Week. When the San Francisco location closed, he brewed at their Palo Alto brewpub, but after 16 years, left as he’s getting closer to opening his own new brewery, 47 Hills Brewing, which will be located at 137 South Linden Avenue in South San Francisco. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

John behind the bar pouring some of his beer. (Note: this photo by Winnie Hsu and purloined from Facebook.)

At the Slow Beer Festival 2008, Ian Marks (from Hog Island Oyster Co.), Taylor Boetticher (from the Fatted Calf), Dave, John and Shaun O’Sullivan (from 21st Amendment).

John when I visited him last year at the Palo Alto Gordon Biersch.

Taking delivery of new brewing equipment at 47 Hills.

Beer Birthday: Kushal Hall

Today is the 33rd birthday of Kushal Hall, former Director of Brewing Operations for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Kushal had been brewing at Speakeasy since 2007, but left in May of this year, and I’m not sure what he’s doing right now. While Kushal studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, I think we can all agree the world is a better place since he became a brewer. A terrific brewer and person, please join me in wishing Kushal a very happy birthday.

Kushal, second from the left, and the gang from Speakeasy at the opening gala for SF Beer Week in 2013.

Kush serving his beer
Kush serving his beer at Speakeasy 13th anniversary bash in 2010.

Kushal as mad scientist (photo by, I believe, Brian Stechschulte).

Kushal with Betsey and Jesse Friedman at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2012.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Morgan Cox

Today is the 39th birthday of Morgan Cox, founder and brewmaster of Ale Industries in Concord, California. Morgan started homebrewing at an early age, and washed kegs for Dave Heist at HopTown, before brewing at E.J. Phair. AFter eight years there, he left to open his own brewery, Ale Industries, where he’s been making inventive, tasty beers very since. Join me in wishing Morgan a very happy birthday.

Morgan at the rainy Boonville Beer Festival in 2009.

Morgan with Annie, or Annie N Crew, at the opening gala for SF Beer Week earlier this year.

Morgan pouring at the Breastfest in 2012.

Note: the last two photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Don Gortemiller

Today is the 64th birthday of Don Gortemiller, former brewmaster for Pacific Coast Brewing in Oakland, California. Don was making beer there since the very beginning, back in 1988, helping to put Oakland and the Bay Area on the beer map, but left under an odd set of circumstances, and has subsequently retired; lucky him. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

Steve Wolfe & Don Gortemiller, a bit lighter
Pacific Coast founder Steve Wolfe with Don at their 2009 annual Holiday Beer Tasting.

Don toasting with his beer.

Bruce Joseph with Don at Anchor Brewing.

Don rockin’ out as a young man.

Note: the last three photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Alan Atha

Today is the 65th birthday of Alan Atha, former co-founder and brewmaster of Baeltane Brewing in the two I most recently loved in, Novato, California. I first met Alan when he was a nanobrewery in planning, and he’s taken the experimental spirit of homebrewing and transitioned beautifully to commercial brewing, while retaining the playful nature that makes so many of his beer’s interesting, and delicious, with names like The Frog That Ate the World Double IPA and Rumplestiltskin. Unfortunately, Baeltane recently closed, and I’m not sure what Alan’s next move will be, beer-wise, but hoping we’ll learn something soon. Join me in wishing Alan a very happy birthday.

Alan, in a great photo by Mario Rubio.

Serving bread and beer. [Photo by Riggy.]

Joe Tucker, me and Alan at the Craft Beerd book release party in Petaluma.

[Note: first two photos purloined from Facebook]

Beer Birthday: Jesse Friedman

Today is the birthday of Jesse Friedman, co-founder of Almanac Beer Co.. I first got to know Jesse when he was writing his beer and food blog, Beer & Nosh, but he’s since gone on to partner with Damian Fagan to create “Farm-to-Barrel” beers in 2010. They currently make three year-round beers and a plethora of individual seasonals under the “Farm to Barrel Series” umbrella, usually with local ingredients, often fruit or field. Join me in wishing Jesse a very happy birthday.

Jesse with Tim Clifford at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala earlier this year.

Jesse, with Fraggle and Ron Silberstein, from Thirsty Bear, at the Anchor Holiday Party in 2012.

Helping Sean Paxton with the Toronado Belgian Beer Lunch in 2009.

Steve Altamari, Zak Davis, Jesse and Pete Slosberg at Jesse’s Pre-Wedding BBQ in 2010.
[Note: Pictures 1, 2, and 4 purloined from Facebook]

Beer Birthday: Bill Owens

Today is the 78th birthday of Bill Owens, who founded one of California (and America’s) earliest brewpubs, Buffalo Bill’s, in Hayward, California. The brewpub opened in 1983, but in 1994 he sold it to his then-brewer, Geoff Harries, who still owns and operates it today. Bill also founded American Brewer magazine, which today is owned by Jim Dorsch, Jamie Magee and Bill Metzger. Bill’s also an accomplished photographer, and has published several volumes of his photos, the most famous of which is Suburbia. More recently, he’s been involved in micro-distilling, in 2003 founding the American Distilling Institute. Please join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.

Bill and Fritz Maytag at an event for Maureen Ogle’s book “Ambitious Brew” in 2006.

Bill at Buffalo Bill’s in 1985.

A press shot from the 1980s.

Manning the mash paddile around 1985, the year he made his first batch of Pumpkin Ale, probably the first pumpkin beer in modern times.

Bill Owens’ early book — more of a pamphlet really — on How to Build a Small Brewery.

Beer Birthday: Don Barkley

Today is the birthday of legendary brewer Don Barkley. Barkley’s first brewing job was as assistant brewer at New Albion Brewing in Sonoma, California, America’s first modern microbrewery back in the late 1970s. He went on to help found Mendocino Brewing, and created most of their iconic brands, like Red Tail Ale and Eye of the Hawk. In 2008, Don became the brewmaster for Napa Smith Brewery in — you guessed it — Napa, and he’s been making great beer there, too, ever since. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

Don Barkley
Don at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala in 2010.

Don, me and Ed Davis each with a 1979 bottle of New Albion beer, that Ed was kind enough to donate, when we did a vintage tasting of beer that Don helped brew over thirty years ago.

Albion Don at the Toronado during the launch of the first SF Beer Week in 2009.

Don at the Celebrator Best of the West Fest in 2009, pouring the official beer of SF Beer Week, which he created for us using the original recipe for New Albion Pale Ale.

Me and Don at the Breastfest at Fort Mason a couple of years ago (photo by Mario Rubio).

Beer Birthday: Lars Larson

Today is the 50th birthday of Lars Larson, brewmaster of Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California. Larsen studied brewing in Germany and was the prefect person to recreate Trumer Pils in the United States, one of the best pilsners made in California, or indeed anywhere, foreign or domestic. I got to know Lars much better several years ago, when we were both invited to judge a beer competition in Santiago, Chile, and he’s a very thoughtful brewer, and great fun to hang out with. Join me in wishing Lars a very happy birthday.

Lars Larson (Trumer), Homer Smith (Oak Barrel) & Shaun O'Sullivan (21st Amendment)
Lars, with Homer Smith of the Oak Barrel & Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, at the Celebrator’s 22nd anniversary party in 2010.

Lars in Chile with two of the brewers from Cerveceria Berlina in Argentina.

Lars Larson (Trumer) & Brenden Dobel (Thirsty Bear)
Lars, again at the Celebrator’s 22nd anniversary party in 2010, with Brenden Dobel, from Thirsty Bear.

Lars’ former brewing school classmate Asbjorn Gerlach, Matt Brynildson and Lars at Kross Cerveza Independiente in Chile, which Gerlach co-founded.

Beer Birthday: Steve McDaniels

oakland-brewing independent
Today is the 48th birthday of Steve McDaniels, a former brewer with 21st Amendment. These days McDaniels is hard at work building what might have become the Oakland Brewing Co. on 22nd Avenue in Oakland, and brewing their beer at other locations until it’s finished, at least he was the last time I talked to him. Admittedly, it’s been a little while so hopefully it’s still in the works. He’s also brewing beer for his other venture, Independent Brewing. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

Steve McDaniels, Bruce Paton and Arne Johnson
Steve with OBC partner Bruce Paton and Arne Johnson, brewmaster at Marin Brewing.

Steve with Drake’s brewer Josh Miner.

Steve and his lovely wife Justine.

Claudia Davis, Steve, Justine Nguyen, Gabrielle Chan, Adrienne McMullen, Shaun O’Sullivan and Roger Davis.