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).

Beer Birthday: J.J. Phair

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Today is the birthday of J.J. Phair, co-founder of E.J. Phair Brewing. J.J. started homebrewing in 1990, and ten years later opened his brewery, which is named for his grandfather Ewart John Phair, who was an amateur winemaker and beer lover, as a way to honor E.J. The brewery’s grown since then, and today there’s a Concord Alehouse, a production brewery and taproom in Pittsburg. Join me in wishing J.J. a very happy birthday.

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J.J. and Craig Cauwels at the E.J. Phair brewery taproom in 2012.

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J.J. at the Bay Area Beer Festival in 2006.

Beer Birthday: Grant Johnston

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Today is the 63rd birthday of Grant Johnston. Grant was the original brewer at Marin Brewing when it opened in 1989, and spent a number of years at Black Diamond Brewing in Concord, California. Grant was very influential in the early days of Bay Area brewing, and he’s an incredibly talented brewer. A few years ago he moved to the midwest, and these days can be found working a few days a week at the Argus Brewery in Chicago. A couple of years back, I was in Belgium at the Cantillon Brewery when in walked Grant, quite by chance, so you never know when you’re going to run into him. Join me in wishing Grant a very happy birthday.

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Grant and me at GABF in 2006.

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Grant (on the right) judging the 2006 Double IPA Festival in the cellar of The Bistro, with Tom Dalldorf, Vicky, our hard-working beer steward in the middle, and the Toronado’s Dave Keene in profile on the left.

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Brendan Moylan and Grant shortly before Marin Brewing opened in 1989.

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Grant and Arne Johnston brewing his Wild Rice Ale for Marin’s 25th Anniversary.

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Grant, bottom left, among the GABF judges for the 10th anniversary of the festival in 1992.

Beer Birthday: Brendan Moylan

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Today is Brendan Moylan’s 56th birthday. Brendan owns both his eponymous Moylan’s Brewing as well as Marin Brewing. He’s a very active part of both the local and beer community, and each year puts on the Breasfest to benefit breast cancer awareness. Join me in wishing Brendan a very happy birthday.

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Arne Johnson sporting his four gold medals won at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival with Brendan at a recent beer dinner.

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Shane Aldrich and Arne Johnson, from Marin Brewing, Brendan Moylan, who owns both, and Denise Jones and Jim Grbac, from Molyan’s Brewing after the award ceremonies at GABF three years ago.

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Brendan and in me in front of Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia during Philly Beer Week in 2010.

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Brendan and his wife at the Breastfest that Marin Brewing sponsors in 2010.

Beer Birthday: Bruce Joseph

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Bruce Joseph, who’s been at Anchor Brewery for many, many years turns 61 today. There’s a big picture of him when he was very young in the stairwell at the brewery that I see every time I’m there. He’s been doing the distilling for Anchor’s whiskey and gin for a long while now and plays bass with the Hysters (Anchor’s big band) along with the Rolling Boil Blues Band (the Celebrator beer band that’s all industry musicians). If there’s a nicer person in the beer industry, I’ve yet to meet him. Join me in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.

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On stage at the Northern California Rhythm & Blues Festival several years ago.

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A self-portrait of Bruce and me at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2006.

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With Melissa Myers at the Falling Rock during GABF 2007.

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With Garrett Oliver at an industry event during GABF years ago.

Bistro Double IPA Winners 2017

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Today the 17th annual Double IPA Festival was held at the Bistro in Hayward, California. I missed judging last year, but happily was able to be there again this year. We judged 68 Double IPAs and 37 Triple IPAs, and awarded three medals in each category, plus an honorable mention for each, as well.

Double IPAs

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Our judging table in the basement of the Bistro.

Triple IPAs

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The second judging table.

Peoples Choice Awards

Congratulations to all the winners.

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It was a beautiful day at the Bistro for tasting 105 Double and Triple IPAs.