Beer Birthday: Bill Owens

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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.

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

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Bill at Buffalo Bill’s in 1985.

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A press shot from the 1980s.

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

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

Beer Birthday: Don Barkley

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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.

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Don at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala in 2010.

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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.

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

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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.

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

Beer Birthday: Lars Larson

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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

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Steve with Drake’s brewer Josh Miner.

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Steve and his lovely wife Justine.

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

Beer Birthday: Geno Acevedo

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Today is the 55th 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.

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Geno Acevedo, with his wife Cindy, at the Boonville Beer Festival several years ago.

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Geno at the beginning of GABF’s Saturday evening session in 2007.

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Geno and Cindy Acevedo at GABF in 2006.

Beer Birthday: Collin McDonnell

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Today is the 31st birthday of Collin McDonnell, co-founder and brewmaster for HenHouse Brewing. Collin used to brew for Drake’s, and in 2011 began moonlighting with his own brewery, HenHouse, before cutting the cord and concentrating on only his own venture, along with partners Scott Goyne and Shane Goepel. After starting in part-time space they could only use on the weekends, they moved into an Alternating Proprietorship with Petaluma Hills Brewing, but more recently announced their own space, and have just “completed a deal to build [their] own brewery in southern Santa Rosa.” Collin, and HenHouse, makes terrific beer, and I love Collin’s opinionated twitter presence. Please join me in wishing Collin a very happy birthday.

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Collin showing me around HenHouse’s original brewery in downtown Petaluma in early March 2013.

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Collin with the HenHouse gang at the SF Beer Week opening gala in 2014.

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Collin doing his “I’m the king of the world” impression. (Purloined from Facebook.)

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The Henhouse Three, with Collin at the right, from a recent press photo.

Beer Birthday: Porter

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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 15th 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 three years ago on his birthday weekend it 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!

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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.

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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, and so was I.

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Nine years ago, showing off a 5th-birthday present from Grandpa, a Union Pacific Challenger steam engine.

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Porter three years ago, when he came with me to visit Southern Pacific Brewing in San Francisco. He wass trying to emulate his then-hero Tim Lincecum, at least hair-wise, pitching-wise he was more of a closer.

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Me, Porter and Vinnie Cilurzo, after Porter’s Porter Day three years ago.

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Also three years ago, Porter’s second batch, a version of Hair of the Dog’s Doggie Claws, made with the Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton, but mostly Alan Sprints, whose own birthday was just a few days ago.

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And this is Porter’s freshman portrait, taken just a couple of weeks ago as he began high school.

Beer Birthday: Mike “Tasty” McDole

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Today is 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.

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

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

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Vic Krajl, from The Bistro, Mike & Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment at GABF in 2009.

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Tasty at GABF in Denver in 2014.

Beer Birthday: Pete Slosberg

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Today is my good friend Pete Slosberg’s 66th 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, 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!

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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.

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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.

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Working the bottling line at Russian River Brewing, with a bottle of Consecration.

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

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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.

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

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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

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Today is the 46th 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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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And again last month at the Firestone Walker Invitational, sharing some frites.