Today is the 45th birthday of Steve McDaniels, a former brewer with 21st Amendment. These days McDaniels is hard at work building what will become the Oakland Brewing Co. on 22nd Avenue in Oakland, and brewing their beer at other locations until it’s finished. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.
This is a fun one. I just heard from Shaun O’Sullivan at 21st Amendment Brewery that they’re sponsoring a team in the Rickshaw Run, which is a two-week, 2,000 mile journey across Northern India in what can best be described as a glorified lawnmower. O’Sullivan believes that “the sponsorship seed was planted last summer at Boneyard Beer in Bend, Oregon,” when this photo of him was taken.
Several months back, a friend of the 21-A (and beer PR consultant) Renée, told Shaun that she was driving a motorized rickshaw across India, and he tells me “I couldn’t stop thinking how cool it would be to have the 21A logo on an Indian rickshaw.” So they decided to sponsor her team in the Rickshaw Run, which they affectionately refer to as the “Gangetic Blunder.” All the money they’re raising — as in 100% of it — goes directly to Room to Read, a San Francisco-based charity that promotes children’s literacy in India. Their team, the Reading Rickshaw, consists of four team members and you can follow their progress on a map, and also on the adventurists, which also has a live map along with a list of all the teams, including Reading Rickshaw (2) — which is Renée and Gabriel — and also Reading Rickshaw (1) — which is Thuy and Vatsal.
21st Amendment will be sharing the Reading Rickshaws’ travel updates on twitter and the 21A blog, as these Bay Area adventurers make their way, slowly, through the land of Kingfisher beer. You can follow along using the links above, or better still, donate to the Room to Read.
Today is the 52nd birthday of Geno Acevedo, head brewer and co-owner of El Toro Brewing in Morgan Hill, California. Geno makes one of my favorite Oatmeal Stouts, along with many other fine beers. Join me in wishing Geno a very happy birthday.
Alright, you caught me again. It’s not the birthday of the beer style, Porter. Strictly speaking, this isn’t really a beer post but it’s my son’s 12th birthday today, but since his name is Porter I figured people wouldn’t feel too duped by the title. It is accurate, after all. In previous years, I’d written that “one day soon, we’ll brew a porter together.” Well that day finally came, and this past Saturday was Porter’s Porter Day, when he made his first batch of homebrew, with a little help from our friends. Anyway, please join me in wishing Porter a very happy birthday!
At Porter’s birthday party when he turned one, trying to get at a keg of Russian River. That’s my boy! NOTE: To those of you reaching for the phone to call child protective services, put down the receiver. He did NOT drink any beer. His mother got to him before he figured out how the tap worked.
A beautiful memory at the Rogue Alehouse in San Francisco when Porter couldn’t have been more than two, if that. Much to my surprise, Porter utterly charmed Don Younger with his ability to swiftly climb a bar stool. Don was very impressed, as was I.
Me, Porter and Vinnie Cilurzo, after Porter’s Porter Day on Saturday.
My son Porter turns 12 this coming Tuesday. In his dozen years, he’s visited more breweries than the average adult. He’s listened to countless tour guides, brewers, Daddy’s beer friends, and me ramble on about beer and brewing for his entire life. Apparently it started to sink in. A few years ago, he began asking me if we could homebrew together. A casual question initially, but his desire intensified over time and earlier this year I promised him we could start homebrewing when he turned twelve.
Regular readers will no doubt know at least a little about Porter. By age three, he barely spoke. We visited numerous specialists and eventually he was diagnosed as being autistic. I quit my job as the General Manager of the Celebrator Beer News to stay home and do whatever we could to help our son. We found a special pre-school, hired tutors, took him to physical therapy, worked with endless flashcards, and basically did anything we could in the hopes of changing Porter’s fate; we read so many horror stories about worst case scenarios that we were committed to preparing him for a best possible future, at least. Happily, he responded magnificently, and by the end of the first year he was doing well-enough that I started freelancing. That’s also when I started the Brookston Beer Bulletin. Porter’s progress continued, but we decided to hold him back from starting kindergarten for a year (primarily because we’d been convinced that all boys tended to do better in school the later they started). Whatever it was we did, at least some of it worked. Academically, Porter flourished. His math and science (scores and grades) were off the chart. And perhaps more importantly, he caught up in language. When people meet him now, they’re astonished to learn he once didn’t talk. He’s certainly made up for lost time. In his last round of state-mandated testing, he scored perfects on four out of the five math sections, and even managed three perfects in language skills.
His autism mostly manifests itself these days in social awkwardness — but then he has me (and Sarah) for parents, so that’s not too surprising. We notice little things because we’re hyper-attuned to him from years of closely monitoring his behavior and progress. But most people don’t, and he appears more and more like a typical middle-schooler each year. He plays in band, loves Minecraft and was an all-star in little league baseball, where his team won the league championship this year. He even has a girlfriend and several good friends, something we thought impossible as recently as five years ago. The other way that his autism manifests itself is that he’s incredibly detail oriented. Some might say anal retentive. He often takes things literally, missing the nuance of humor or sarcasm. But I’m working on him. But that attention to detail I also thought would serve him well in homebrewing. A lot of brewing is precision and consistency.
I’d been eyeing Russian River Brewing’s pilot brewery — a 20-gallon brew sculpture from MoreBeer — and over time had asked brewer Vinnie Cilurzo how he liked it. I wanted to recreate commercial brewing at home, as best we could, for Porter to learn the brewing process along with the chemistry and science behind it. I spoke to Chris Graham, COO at MoreBeer, about getting a slightly smaller 10-gallon system for Porter and me to brew on. In anticipation of homebrewing, Chris recommended that Porter read John Palmer’s How to Brew. He made it through 18 chapters before he decided it was getting too complicated and felt overwhelmed. Chris and I lamented the fact that there were no books on “homebrewing for kids,” and suggested I work on the problem.
Because the last time I homebrewed was over twenty years ago (when I was a messy carboy homebrewer at best), I thought I’d ask a few friends if they would be willing to help. To my delight, everybody I asked enthusiastically agreed and we set a date, September 7. Vinnie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, agreed to come and brew with Porter for his first time, and we concluded that his first beer most certainly had to be a porter. I thought we’d use one of Vinnie’s old porter recipes, but he surprised us by creating a brand new porter recipe, which he named “Porter’s Porter.” We also got some help from Rich Norgrove, from Bear Republic, Sean Paxton — the Homebrew Chef — and Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado.
Since we were going to do all-malt brewing, our first job was milling the barley, which Porter’s sister Alice seemed to love doing. Along with some friends, she ran the mill and got ready about twice as much of the base malt as we needed, just because she was enjoying herself so much. She’s now talking about becoming a maltster when she grows up.
Then Vinnie and Porter started the homebrew and got things really going. If you noticed that camera in the corner, my friend Justin Crossley, from the Brewing Network, brought a film crew to record Porter’s brew day. He interviewed father and son, along with all of the helpers, and is planning on creating a short film about families brewing. After the beer is finished, we’ll take some to the Brewing Network studio, and everyone except Porter will try the beer for the first time on the Sunday show. Should be fun.
After a six-hour brew day, the wort was in the fermenter and we had to wait for the temperature to drop so we could pitch the yeast. In between, we drank some great beer, ate some tasty food, and enjoyed a beautiful day in Sonoma County. We can’t thank Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo enough for making Porter’s first brew day such a special one. He was thrilled and excited the entire day. In addition to Vinnie and Natalie, it was great seeing (and having the help of) Rich, Tami and Sam Norgrove, Dave and Jennifer Keene, and Sean, Arlene and Olivia Paxton. Five families getting together to eat, drink and brew. And thanks to Justin Crossley for recording it all for posterity. What a day!
Today is my friend Pete Slosberg’s 63rd 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 couple of 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. More recently, he’s doing a lot of traveling and is working on Mavericks, a new line of canned session beers, along with Half Moon Bay Brewing. Join me wishing Pete a very happy birthday!
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 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.
Martin Boan, who organized and ran the South Beer Cup, with Pete in Buenos Aires.
Today is the 43rd 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. 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 Vinnie is one of the nicest people in the industry you’ll ever meet. Join me in wishing Vinnie a happy birthday.
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.
Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado, Natalie Cilurzo, Dave’s girlfriend Jennifer and Vinnie at CBC in Seattle.
Garrett Oliver, brewer at Brooklyn Brewing Co., and Vinnie at the Brewer’s Dinner the night before GABF begins.
Today is Alec Moss’ 69th 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 couple of years ago. Every time I see him now he seems to be enjoying his retirement enormously. Join me in wishing Alec a very happy birthday.
Today is my friend Arne Johnson’s 48th 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 and me at the Brewer’s Dinner at GABF in 2006.
Rodger Davis of Triple Rock and Arne enjoy a beer out front in the warm sunshine at the Bistro’s Double IPA Festival.
Arne Johnson and Melissa Myers, formerly with Drake’s Brewing, at the Boonville Beer Festival.
Got the news last week, but it slipped my mind. You may not have heard, but Denise Jones gave her notice last month that she was leaving Moylan’s, apparently to pursue an interesting enterprise brewing custom beer for celebrities. The company is somewhere in Napa, which is closer to home for Denise, though I haven’t yet had a chance to ask her about the details yet. In the meantime, Moylan’s has announced her replacement, Derek Smith, who used to brew at Black Diamond
From the press release:
Moylan’s Brewery is pleased to announce the addition of new Brewmaster Derek Smith. Smith joins Moylan’s from Black Diamond Brewing Company in Concord, California, where he served as Brewmaster for the past 6 years and was instrumental in leading the brewery to a number of award-winning beers. Derek has a seasoned history of California brewing and has been a longtime friend and fan of Moylan’s Brewery.
Smith graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in architecture. Upon graduating, Smith traveled abroad and took a job at the White Horse in London as a cellarman. The White Horse instilled in Smith a deep appreciation for great cask ales and Belgian beers. Six months abroad turned into a four-year odyssey of travel, scuba diving, and beer tasting. Smith bolstered his newly discovered passion for brewing by apprenticing at Two Rows Brewery followed by The Master Brewers Program at UC Davis. Since then, Smith has served as Brewmaster for Black Diamond Brewing Company, where he was well known for his creative and bold hop-centric IPAs, Belgian ales, and barrel-aged beers.
Founder Brendan Moylan is excited to have Smith onboard, commenting, “Derek is the perfect choice to take over the reigns here at Moylan’s Brewery. He is known in West Coast brewing circles for his passion and dedication to making great craft beer. We are excited to bring his expertise to Moylan’s and we believe Derek will play a vital role in shaping our brewery’s future.”
Smith is eager to bring his unique style and talents to the popular Novato brewery. “I am looking forward to sharing in Brendan’s vision of crafting quality beers at Moylan’s…” commented Smith, “and I am excited to be joining one of the strongest teams of innovative beer makers in the Bay Area.”
Great news for both Derek and Moylan’s.