Beer Birthday: Travis Smith

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Today is also the 35th birthday of Travis Smith, who’s the founder of Societe Brewing Co. in San Diego. Before that, Travis brewed at Russian River Brewing for a number of years, before moving south, where he brewed at both The Bruery and the La Jolla Brewhouse. His brewery has quickly become one of the destination spots in San Diego, and his beers are especially tasty, standing out in the area surrounded by great breweries. Join me in wishing Travis a very happy birthday.

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Travis “MacGyver” Smith showing off the cork gun he made with spare brewing parts lying around the Russian River brewpub. It shot a beer cork a pretty fair distance and would pierce cardboard at 100 feet.

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Travis with Patrick Rue, from The Bruery, at GABF in 2009.

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Agostino Arioli, from Birrificio Italiano in northern Italy, with Vinnie Cilurzo and Travis, at Russian River Brewing in 2008 working on a fun collaboration beer, La Fleuette.

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Travis behind the handmade redwood bar at Societe a few days before they opened.

Beer Birthday: Steve Grossman

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Today is the 62nd birthday of Steve Grossman, the Beer Ambassador at Sierra Nevada, and co-founder Ken Grossman’s older brother. “Steve grew up in Southern California, where he and his younger brother Ken learned about the art of home brewing. Steve continued to homebrew throughout college, and when Ken founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, Steve’s passion for craft beer was immediately put to good use. In the early years of the brewery, he helped establish the Southern California distribution network, and was involved in direct sales. Today, Steve works with Sierra Nevada’s international export program, and serves as an ambassador and spokesperson for the brewery both domestically and abroad. Steve also serves as a director of the brewery’s wildly popular Beer Camp, which brings people to Sierra Nevada for a unique and intensive hands-on beer education.” Steve is a terrific ambassador not just for Sierra Nevada but for craft beer more generally. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Sierra Nevada head brewer Steve Dressler with Steve at GABF in 2006.

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Steve manning the Sierra Nevada bike bar at GABF in 2010.

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Steve checking out some hops at Beer Camp #93.

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Steve at an event at Four Point Sheraton in L.A. (purloined from Facebook)

Beer Birthday: Alec Moss

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Today is Alec Moss’ 70th birthday — The Big 7-0 — 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.

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Alec and me yesterday at his 70th birthday party at the Tornado.

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Alec in the brewhouse at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.

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At the Toronado for He’Brew’s release party. From left: Alec, Pete Slosberg, formerly of Pete’s Wicked Ales, Jeremy Cowan of Shmaltz Brewing and Rodger Davis, now with Triple Rock Brewing.

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Alec with Tom Dalldorf at the 2011 Anchor Christmas party.

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Last year at the Breastfest in San Francisco, from left: Alec, Jeff Botz, Arne Johnson, Betsey Hensley, Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo and Abalone Rob Mika.

Beer Birthday: Arne Johnson

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Today is my friend Arne Johnson’s 49th 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.

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Arne and me earlier today at a birthday party for a mutual friend at the Toronado.

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Arne and me at the Brewer’s Dinner at GABF in 2006.

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Arne relaxing with a few barleywines at the Toronado Barleywine Festival.

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Rodger Davis of Triple Rock and Arne enjoy a beer out front in the warm sunshine at the Bistro’s Double IPA Festival.

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Arne Johnson and Melissa Myers, formerly with Drake’s Brewing, at the Boonville Beer Festival.

Hops & History 2

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Last year, the San Francisco Brewers Guild put together a fun event at the Old Mint with Flipside and the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society called Hops & History, in which I was the moderator of a panel discussion about opening and running a brewery in the city of San Francisco, and also helped with a breweriana display of brewery artifacts from San Francisco and California. I thought it was a great event, and it looks like I wasn’t the only one. Apparently, it was “one of the most popular events hosted by FlipSide for the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society last year.” That’s according to an Op-Ed on the Digital Journal, Hops History event displays that San Francisco is a beer town.

As a result of last year’s success, they’ve decided to another beer event at the Mint this year. The Hops & History 2 event takes place next Thursday, July 24, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Old Mint, located at 88 Fifth Street at Mission in San Francisco. Tickets to the event are $30.

Here’s more information about the event, from the San Francisco Brewers Guild website:

Its time to order another round. This 2nd annual event will feature Bay Area craft beer tasting, historical talks, a panel discussion, home brewing demos, local food vendors, and an expanded exhibit of rarely seen historical West Coast brewing memorabilia. Held in the historic 1874 San Francisco Mint, Hops and History Round 2 continues last year’s sold-out celebration of the unique history of brewing in the Bay Area while looking forward to the future of craft brewing in the City by the Bay and beyond.

Don’t get left out in the cold! Get your tickets early to join us to taste the past and enjoy the present of Bay Area craft brewing.

Event Info

Tastings from all breweries included

  • Presentations on brewing history
  • Home brewing demos by San Francisco Brewcraft
  • Exhibit of historic “breweriana” from the private Collection of Ken Harootunian
  • Bavarian pretzels from Bavarian Brez’n, and other local food for purchase
  • Docent led tours of the historic 1874 Old Mint
  • Souvenir sampling mug included
  • Music by DJ Timestretch

Program Info

  • Dave Burkhart and Jim Stitt: Handmade Labels for Handmade Beers
  • John Freeman: Shock Waves of the San Francisco Beer-Quake
  • Taryn Edwards: Lager, Ale, Porter, and Steam: “Healthful fermented liquors” at the Mechanics’ Institute’s Industrial Expostions 1857–1899
  • Panel discussion with SF Brewers Guild brewers from Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room, and Cellarmaker Brewing Co.: moderated by Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin

Apparently tickets are selling briskly, so order your tickets quickly if you’re hoping to join us for another great evening of brewing history. There’s also more info at Flipside’s Facebook page. See you there.

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Good Hop Grand Opening This Saturday

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I’m thrilled to announce that Melissa Myers’ new beer bar in Oakland, The Good Hop, will have its grand opening this Saturday, July 12, with the doors opening at the mercifully not-to-early time of 3:00 PM. The Good Hop is located at 2421 Telegraph Avenue in West Oakland, near the intersection of 24th Street, just around the corner from the New Parkway Theater. I won’t even try to be impartial here, Melissa Myers is a longtime friend of mine, and I’m excited for her to finally realize a dream of opening her own place. She’s been a brewer for many years, from Denver to Philadelphia and in the Bay Area brewed at Magnolia, Pyramid and the old Ross Brewery (which is now Iron Springs) but now turns her attention to choosing and serving great beer. Eventually, The Good Hop may serve Melissa’s own beer (fingers crossed), but for now they’ll be featuring a nicely curated tap list of 16 taps, with 2 dedicated sour beer lines, plus 450+ bottled beers. At the grand opening, they plan to have a number of rare and hard-to-find beers available, as well as some special surprises.

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Here’s more information, from the press release:

The Good Hop Bottle Shop and Tasting Room (TGH) is pleased to announce it is opening its doors to the public on July 12, 2014. The 1,900-square-foot shop, at 2421 Telegraph Avenue Suite 102, is a specialty beer bottle shop and tasting room offering 450+ bottled and canned beers that can be purchased for take-away or can be opened and consumed on site in the spacious and comfortable bar. Their ever-rotating 16 taps will serve up California and West Coast craft beers with 2 designated sour beer lines at all times.

TGH will have an enormous beer selection in bottles, cans, and on tap that would please any aficionado; though, Melissa Myers, The Good Hop’s owner and proprietor, wants to draw in the less familiar to beer client as well. “I love beer and I love making people fall in love with beer. Part of my mission in opening this shop is to serve the customer who walks in and says ‘Well, I don’t know that much about beer, so I’m not sure what I should order…’ That’s where it gets fun for us. I love asking them questions and, based on their answers, figuring what they’ll fall in love with!”

TGH will host a number of events for both beginners and experts alike. The shop will host beer style tastings, vertical brewery tastings, meet-the-brewer nights, cheese-and-beer pairing events, chocolate-and-beer pairing events, and a number of other activities that feature beer as the centerpiece. The TGH website, www.thegoodhop.com, will have a calendar of events posted. Its twitter feed will have daily listings of what 16 beers are on tap for the day. TGH’s Facebook page contains additional information.

Myers is excited about the neighborhood: “We chose this spot because it’s right in the heart of what’s happening in Oakland right now,” says Myers. “We love the KONO [Koreatown-Northgate] neighborhood and we’re thrilled to be part of Art Murmur, First Fridays, and the vibrancy of this area. So much is happening here right now, and we’re really excited to be in the middle of it.”

The regular hours of the Good Hop will be from 3-10 PM Wednesday through Monday of each week, closed only on Tuesdays. Bar snacks are currently available while the local menu is being finalized, and then they’ll be serving heartier fare along with the snacks. They’ll be working with “Off the Grid and other pop-up food vendors to offer a variety of beer-friendly food. Food trucks are also being lined up to serve up beer-friendly bites.”

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Beer Birthday: Chris White

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Today is the 46th birthday of Chris White. Chris founded the yeast company White Labs in 1995 and he’s also on the faculty of the Siebel Institute. He’s also a fixture at virtually every brewing industry and homebrewing conference. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.

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Chris and his brother Mike bookending Chuck, from Green Fash Brewing, Natalie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, John Harris, from Full Sail Brewing, and Vinnie Cilurzo, also from Russian River, at CBC in Austin, Texas in 2007.

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Chris at the new White Labs taproom during the Craft Brewers Conference a couple of years ago in San Diego.

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Surly brewer Todd Haug with Chris.

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Chris with Technical Sales and Marketing Coordinator Ashley Paulsworth at the NHC.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Ben Spencer

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Today is Ben Spencer’s 40th birthday. Ben is the head brewer at Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. Ben grew up in Virginia, and spent some time brewing in Colorado, and even worked for Greenpeace, before coming to the Bay Area in 2004. That’s when he left Boulder for San Francisco to make beer at Magnolia. Ben’s a terrific brewer and a great person, too. Join me in wishing Ben a very happy birthday.

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Ben with Jesse Houck, when he was still brewing with 21st Amendment (he’s now at Golden Road) during Brews By the Bay 2008.

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A sextet from San Francisco at GABF in 2008. From left: Adrienne McMullem, with 21st Amendment, Ben, Sean Paxton, the homebrew chef, Ben’s wife Kelly, Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment, and Dave.

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A satisfied Ben with Dave McClean after a vertical tasting of Old Thunderpussy in 2009.

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Ben with Dave Hopwood (Stone) and Dave McClean (Magnolia) at the 22nd Celebrator Anniversary Party in 2010.

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After Bruce Paton’s cheese and beer dinner in 2008. From left, Arne Johnson (Marin Brewing), Aron Derosey (Beach Chalet), Bruce Paton, Sheana Davis, Ben, Ron from 21A, Brenden Dobbel (Thirsty Bear) and Rich Higgins (Gordon Biersch).

The Best Beers In California: 2014 California State Fair Winners

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Last week, the judging took place for the 19th annual California State Fair Craft Beer Competition in West Sacramento. This year, there were 859 beers entered in 25 categories of beer plus one for hard cider were entered. I judged two of the four days for this year’s competition, but family obligations kept me from being there for the final two days of judging.

This year’s California State Fair will also include a Brewer’s Festival, which will take place on July 19 from 3-6 PM at the Miller Lite Grandstands at Cal Expo in Sacramento, where you’ll have an opportunity to try many of the winning beers. Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 the day of the event. Check out the Cal State Expo website for details.

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Below are all of the award winners. 1 is a Gold medal, 2 is Silver, 3 is Bronze, and 4 is an Honorable Mention.

Category 1: Light Lager (16 entries)

  1. Blue Eyed Blonde, Solvang Brewing (1D: Munich Helles)
  2. Helles Lager, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery (1D: Munich Helles)
  3. Buxom Blonde Pilsner, Loomis Basin Brewing (1C: Premium American Lager)

Category 2: Pilsner (22 entries)

  1. Czech Pilsner, Rubicon Brewing (2B: Bohemian Pilsener)
  2. Northern Pilsner, Sudwerk Brewing (2A: German Pilsner (Pils))
  3. Elemental Pilsner, Lightning Brewery (2A: German Pilsner (Pils))

Category 3: European Amber Lager (5 entries)

  1. Zen Amber Lager, Sudwerk Brewing (3B: Oktoberfest/Marzen)
  2. Ballast Point Oktoberfest, Ballast Point Brewing (3B: Oktoberfest/Marzen)
  3. Una Mas, Left Coast Brewing (3A: Vienna Lager)

Category 4: Dark Lager (5 entries)

  1. Terminal Island Black Lager, San Pedro Brewing (4C: Schwarzbier)
  2. Black Lager, Ol’ Republic Brewery (4C: Schwarzbier)
  3. Dunkel Bock, Ol’ Republic Brewery (4B: Munich Dunkel)

Category 5: Bock (13 entries)

  1. Doppel Down Doppelbock, Feather Falls Casino Brewing (5C: Doppelbock)
  2. Wild Bill Winter Bock, Feather Falls Casino Brewing (5B: Traditional Bock)
  3. Ultimator Dopplebock, Sudwerk Brewing (5C: Doppelbock)

Category 6: Light Hybrid Beer (69 entries)

  1. Bruin Blonde, San Pedro Brewing (6B: Blonde Ale)
  2. Castle Beach Kolsch, Santa Cruz Ale Works (6C: Kolsch)
  3. American, Schooner’s Grille & Brewery (6A: Cream Ale)

Category 7: Amber Hybrid Beer (10 entries)

  1. California Common, Ol’ Republic Brewery (7B: California Common Beer)
  2. Anaheim 1888, Anaheim Brewery (7B: California Common Beer)
  3. Sticke Alt, Dust Bowl Brewing (7C: Dusseldorf Altbier)

Category 8: English Pale Ale (19 entries)

  1. DBA, Firestone Walker Brewing (8A: Standard/Ordinary Bitter)
  2. E.S.B., Ol’ Republic Brewery (8C: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale))
  3. What The Fuggle ESB, Anacapa Brewing (8C: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale))

Category 9: Scottish/Irish Ale (22 entries)

  1. Marauder, Schooner’s Grille & Brewery (9E: Strong Scotch Ale)
  2. Maltopia, Hermitage Brewing (9B: Scottish Heavy 70/-)
  3. Clan Ross Scotch Ale, Legacy Brewing (9E: Strong Scotch Ale)

Category 10: American Ale (101 entries)

  1. Woodenhead Amber Ale, River City Brewing (10B: American Amber Ale)
  2. Hoppy Palm Pale Ale, Track 7 Brewing (10A: American Pale Ale)
  3. 1500, Drake’s Brewery (10A: American Pale Ale)

Category 11: English Brown Ale (14 entries)

  1. Ironwood Dark, Tied House Brewing (11C: Northern English Brown Ale)
  2. Barrel Harbor Brown Ale, Barrel Harbor Brewing (11C: Northern English Brown Ale)
  3. Downtown Brown, Lost Coast Brewery (11C: Northern English Brown Ale)

Category 12: Porter (32 entries)

  1. Brown Bear Porter, Feather Falls Casino Brewing (12A: Brown Porter)
  2. Black Robusto Porter, Drake’s Brewery (12B: Robust Porter)
  3. Party Foul Porter, Lazy Daze Brewery at Mary’s Pizza Shack (12B: Robust Porter)

Category 13: Stout (58 entries)

  1. Ale Of The 2 Tun, Hermitage Brewing (13D: Foreign Extra Stout)
  2. Imperial Stout, Mendocino Brewing (13F: Imperial Stout)
  3. Big Bear Black Stout, Bear Republic Brewing (13E: American Stout)

Category 14: India Pale Ale (178 entries)

  1. Panic IPA, Track 7 Brewing (14B: American IPA)
  2. Evil Twin, Heretic Brewing (14D: Other IPA)
  3. Kermit The Hop, Bison Organic Beer (14B: American IPA)
  4. Honorable Mention: Hop Rod Rye, Bear Republic Brewing (14D: Other IPA)

Category 15: German Wheat/Rye Beer (27 entries)

  1. Hefeweizen, Faultline Brewing (15A: Weizen/Weissbier)
  2. Riverbend Hefeweizen, American River Brewing (15A: Weizen/Weissbier)
  3. Windansea Wheat, Karl Strauss Brewing (15A: Weizen/Weissbier)

Category 16: Belgian and French Ale (46 entries)

  1. Rhinoceros, Telegraph Brewing (16E: Belgian Specialty Ale)
  2. Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale, Karl Strauss Brewing (16E: Belgian Specialty Ale)
  3. Silent Partner Saison, Telegraph Brewing (16C: Saison)

Category 17: Sour Ale (9 entries)

  1. Flander Red, Mraz Brewing (17B: Flanders Red Ale)
  2. Sour Farmhouse, Woodfour Brewing (17E: Gueuze)
  3. Cuvee, Boulder Creek Brewery (17B: Flanders Red Ale)

Category 18: Belgian Strong Ale (30 entries)

  1. Window Of Opportunity, Mraz Brewing (18C: Belgian Tripel)
  2. Axiom, Valiant Brewing (18E: Belgian Dark Strong Ale)
  3. Brother Thelonious, North Coast Brewing (18B: Belgian Dubbel)

Category 19: Strong Ale (30 entries)

  1. Old Diablo, Schooner’s Grille & Brewery (19B: English Barleywine)
  2. Stentorian, Valiant Brewing (19B: English Barleywine)
  3. Old Stock, North Coast Brewing (19A: Old Ale)

Category 20: Fruit Beer (22 entries)

  1. Rosie”s Strawberry Wheat, Six Rivers Brewery (20A: Fruit Beer)
  2. Flatbed Blueberry Cream, Garage Brewing (20A: Fruit Beer)
  3. Tangerine Wheat, Lost Coast Brewery (20A: Fruit Beer)

Category 21: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer (16 entries)

  1. Gourdgeous, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery (21A: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer)
  2. Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, Karl Strauss Brewing (21A: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer)
  3. Mo’ Tcho Risin’, 21st Amendment Brewery (21A: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer)

Category 22: Smoke-Flavored/Wood-Aged Beer (30 entries)

  1. Barrel Aged Great Impression, Dust Bowl Brewing (22C: Wood-Aged Beer)
  2. Barrel-Aged Good Faith, Discretion Brewing (22C: Wood-Aged Beer)
  3. Jacked Again, Loomis Basin Brewing (22C: Wood-Aged Beer)
  4. Honorable Mention: Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, Karl Strauss Brewing (22C: Wood-Aged Beer)

Category 23: Specialty Beer (30 entries)

  1. Campfire Stout, High Water Brewing (23A: Specialty Beer)
  2. NightTime Ale, Lagunitas Brewing (23A: Specialty Beer)
  3. 3 Best Friends, Sudwerk Brewing (23A: Specialty Beer)
  4. Honorable Mention: Great Ape Nectar, Monkey Paw Brewing (23A: Specialty Beer)

Category 27: Standard Cider and Perry (8 entries)

  1. None awarded
  2. Pacific Coast Ciders, Hard Apple Cider, Cider Brothers (27A: Common Cider)
  3. None awarded

Category 28: Specialty Cider and Perry (4 entries)

  1. Blood Orange Tangerine, Common Cider Co. (28B: Fruit Cider)
  2. None awarded
  3. Hibiscus Saison, Common Cider Co. (28D: Other Specialty Cider or Perry)

Category 32: Chili Beer (12 entries)

  1. French Mexican War, Highway 1 Brewing (32A: Chili Beer)
  2. Imperial Dragon Kiss, Stumblefoot Brewing (32A: Chili Beer)
  3. Where There’s Smoke, Twisted Manzanita Ales (32A: Chili Beer)

Category 33: Session Beer (31 entries)

  1. Mosaic Session Ale, Karl Strauss Brewing (33A: Session Beer)
  2. MCA Stout, 21st Amendment Brewery (33A: Session Beer)
  3. Easy Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing (33A: Session Beer)

CraftBeerComp

A few statistics: Karl Strauss, Ol’ Republic Brewery and Sudwerk Brewing won the most medals, four apiece. Feather Falls Casino Brewing won three, and 21st Amendment, Drake’s Brewery, Dust Bowl Brewing, Firestone Walker Brewing, Hangar 24 Brewing, Loomis Basin Brewing, Lost Coast Brewery, Mraz Brewing, San Pedro Brewing, Schooner’s Grille & Brewery, Telegraph Brewing and Track 7 Brewing all won two medals apiece.

BEST OF SHOW

  1. Panic IPA, Track 7 Brewing (14B: American IPA)
  2. California Common, Ol’ Republic Brewery (7B: California Common Beer)
  3. Bruin Blonde, San Pedro Brewing (6B: Blonde Ale)

Each brewery chose 6 of their entered beers which they felt were their best. After all judging was completed, the brewery whose six beers scored best was awarded the title “Brewery of the Year.” This year, that honor went to the Antioch brewpub Schooner’s Grille & Brewery, and their brewmaster Craig Cauwels. In addition, a panel of media chose their favorite from among the “best of show” beers to receive the “Best of Show — Media Choice,” which was awarded to Ol’ Republic Brewery’s E.S.B.

Congratulations to all the winners.

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Beer Birthday: Jamil Zainasheff

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Today is the birthday of former homebrewer extraordinaire Jamil Zainasheff, who over the last ten plus years had become something of a rock star in the homebrewing community, and especially the Bay Area. He’s also the co-author two books on beer and homebrewing: “Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew” (with John Palmer) and “Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation” (with Chris White). In addition, he hosts the Jamil Show on The Brewing Network and has a website online entitled Mr. Malty. Jamil also turned pro a few years ago, starting his own commercial brewery, Heretic Brewing, which is now located in Fairfield, California. Join me in wishing Jamil a very happy birthday.

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Jamil and me judging the finals at the Toronado Barleywine festival in 2007.

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Jamil and me at Anchor Brewery a couple of years ago.

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Jamil with Rodger Davis at Faction Brewing in May of this year. (Photo by Nathan Smith, purloined from Facebook.)