Historic Beer Birthday: Anthony Durkin

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Today is not the birthday of Anthony Durkin (1831-January 15, 1868), but instead the day he died in 1868. Before the mid-1800s, record-keeping was spotty at best and only the well-heeled and royal consistently kept birth records. Durkin was born in Ireland, in County Mayo. He made his way to San Francisco, California as a young man, in the 1850s.

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Durbin at 25, in 1857.

There’s not too much I could find about him, apart from this overview, from Brewery Gems.

In 1860, he established A. Durkin & Company, at 608-610 Mission St., for the purposes of brewing ale and porter. His two partners in the company were Charles M. Armstrong, a 35 year old Irish immigrant, and a German immigrant, Louis Luhden. In naming the brewery Anthony simply referenced its location, thus the Mission Street Brewery.

In their history of the Hibernia Brewery, there’s also this:

The first serious incident occurred on June 16th, 1861. The following account was reported by the Daily Alta California:

“A beautiful child, aged seven years, daughter of George Coffee, Boiler Inspector, fell into a vat of boiling beer in the Mission Street Brewery, last evening. A young man named Thomas Kennedy attempted to rescue the child and he also fell in. John McCabe, the cooper of the establishment, was severely scalded in his efforts to get them out. The child died almost immediately. Kennedy was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. He will probably die.”

In spite of this tragic accident the business experienced steady growth and in 1863, in addition to its ale and porter, the brewery began producing lager beer. This wasn’t lager in the traditional sense, but a lager peculiar to the San Francisco area called steam beer. It was made without refrigeration but with a bottom fermenting yeast. Another steam beer producer, and major competitor, was a company that also took their name from their location, the Broadway Brewery.

In 1864, Anthony severely injured his left arm, leaving him partially disabled, but he didn’t quit brewing. Then in July of 1865, all that changed. The following is a newspaper account from the July 4th edition of the Daily Alta California:

“Anthony Durkin, the brewer who was disabled about a year since, by falling under a street car which fractured his left arm so that it was found necessary to perform the operation of excision of the elbow joint, met with another unfortunate accident while running to the fire with Engine Company No. 2, on Sunday morning. He tripped and fell while holding by the rope, and his arm, which had become in a measure useful again, went under the wheel of the engine, which crushed it into a shapeless mass, making what is termed by surgeons a ‘compound comminuted fracture’ of the worse description. Dr. Murphy, who is attending upon Mr. Durkin, has little hope of being able to avoid a full amputation this time.”

As a consequence of the accident, Anthony sold his interest in the brewery to his partner, the month after the incident.

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10 Years Ago: Hunt’s Hop Tea

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It’s hard to believe the Bulletin has been going for over ten years, just over eleven to be exact (not including on the family blog from a couple of years before that). But this post is from exactly ten years ago, in 2007, and I was reminded of it yesterday when a homebrew blogger linked to it in a discussion of hop utilization. Anyway, it was interesting to see again, and since it was exactly a decade, I thought I’d post Hunt’s Hop Tea again. It is, coincidentally, National Hot Tea Day today. Enjoy.


A few weeks ago while helping Moonlight with their hop harvest, owner/brewer Brian Hunt broke out something I’d never seen before: hop tea. Now I’ve seen regular hop tea before, I’ve even bought some at the health food store and tried it, but this was something totally different. Brian told me the idea grew out of an experiment he was doing to see how hops reacted at different temperatures, which he presented at “Hop School” a few years ago. He discovered in the process that he could make a delicious hop tea and that it varied widely depending on the temperature of the water. Here’s how it works:

  1. Put approximately two-dozen fresh hop cones in a 16 oz. mason jar.
  2. Heat water to __X__ temperature.
  3. Fill jar with heated water and seal cap.
  4. Let the water come down to ambient room temperature.
  5. Refrigerate.
  6. Drink.

There appears to be four main factors that change depending on the temperature of the water. These are:

  1. Color
  2. Float
  3. Bitterness
  4. Tannins

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Intrigued by all of this and quite curious, Brian brought out seven examples of his hop tea made with water of different temperatures: 60°, 120°, 130°, 140°, 160°, 180° and 185°. They’re shown above from lower to higher temperature, left to right.

As you can see, the lower the temperature, the more green the hops are and the water remains less cloudy. At the higher temperatures, the hops are stripped of their green, becoming brown, and the water also becomes more brown. Also, as the temperature increases, the hops lose their buoyancy and begin to sink in the water. Although you can’t see it in the photo, the hotter the water, the more hop bitterness and at the upper range, tannins begin to emerge. Here’s what I found:

  • 60°: Fresh, herbal aromas with some hop flavors, but it’s light.
  • 120°: Bigger aromas, less green more vegetal flavors.
  • 130°: Also big aromas emerging, flavors beginning to become stronger, too, but still refreshingly light.
  • 140°: More pickled, vinegary aroma, no longer subtle with biting hop character and strong flavors.
  • 160°: Very big hop aromas with strong hop flavors, too, with a touch of sweetness. Tannins are becoming evident but are still restrained.
  • 180°: Big hop and vinegary aromas, with flavors becoming too astringent and tannins becoming overpowering.
  • 185°: Vinegary aromas, way too bitter and tannins still overpowering.

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Trying each of the tea samples with Tim Clifford, now owner of Sante Adairius.

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Brian was kind enough to let me take a small bag of fresh hops with me so I could recreate his experiment at home. I had enough for four samples and made tea at 100°, 140° and 160°. Using two dozen hop cones made the jars look light so I used three-dozen in the last jar, also using 160° water. I tasted them with my wife, hoping to get a civilian opinion, too. Here’s what we found:

  • 100°: Hops still green and floating. The nose was very vegetal and reminded my wife of the water leftover in the pot after you’ve steamed vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. The mouthfeel is somewhat gritty with light, refreshing flavors and only a little bitterness, which dissipates quickly.
  • 140°: Hops turned brown, but still floating. Light hop aromas with some smokey, roasted aromas and even a hint of caramel. Fresh hop flavors with a clean finish. My wife, however, made that puckering bitter face signaling she found it repugnant.
  • 160°: Hops turned brown, but most has sunk to the bottom of the jar. Strong hop aromas and few negatives, at least from my point of view. My wife was still making that face, cursing me for dragging her into this. Hop bitterness had become more pronounced and tannins were now evident, with a lingering finish.
  • 160° Plus: This sample had 50% more hops. The hops had also turned brown but, curiously, they were still floating. The nose was vegetal with string hop aromas. With a gritty mouthfeel, the flavors were even more bitter covering the tannins just slightly, but they were still apparent, and the finish lingered bitterly.

It seems like either 140° or 160° is the right temperature. Lower than that and you don’t get enough hop character (I’m sure that’s why the hops remain green) but above that the tannins become too pronounced. It appears you have to already like big hop flavor or you’ll hate hop tea. I found it pretty enjoyable and even refreshing though it’s still probably best in small amounts. You do seem to catch a little buzz off of it, which doesn’t hurt. I’m sure the amount of hops is important and more research may be needed on that front. Brian tells me that hop pellets can also be used though I doubt the jar of tea looks as attractive using them. They have the advantage of being available year-round, of course. If you use pellets, you need only about a half-ounce for each pint jar.

If you try to make Hunt’s Hop Tea on your own, please let me know your results. And please do raise a toast to Brian Hunt’s ingenuity.

Beer Birthday: Rich Norgrove

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Today is the 48th birthday of Rich Norgrove, the owner and brewer at Bear Republic Brewing Co. in Healdsburg, California. Rich won big several years ago at GABF, winning the award for Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year, amounting to validation that he’s been making some great beer for many years. Red Rocket and Racer 5 were some of my first favorite hoppy beers back in the 1990s, when few brewers were making the big, hoppy beers that are nearly ubiquitous nowadays. Did I mention that Rich is also one of the coolest, nicest people in the beer business? Join me in wishing Rich a very happy birthday.

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At an unknown beer festival with his daughter several years ago.

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Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River and Rich at Drake’s Summit Hop Festival several summers ago.

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Jeremy Cowan (He’Brew) and Rich at Falling Rock in Denver.

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Rich and the Team from Healdsburg, California won four awards and the big award for Small Brewery Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year in 2006.

Rich Norgrove, from Bear Republic, and Vic Krajl, co-owner of the Bistro
Rich and Vic Krajl at the Bistro IPA Festival in 2010.

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At a Giants game a few years back, Porter and I joined Rich and his son for a game, where we ran into Steve and Gail, from Beer By Bart, before the game began.

Historic Beer Birthday: Matthew Nunan

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Today is actually the day that Matthew Nunan passed away, January 7, 1916, and was born in 1834, or possibly 1836, or maybe even 1828, but the exact date or even month is unknown. There are even some sources that give his date of death as January 13. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, and emigrated to the U.S. when he was fourteen, settling in California in 1855. Lured there by dreams of striking it rich in the goldmines, he soon tried of mining, and first opened a grocery store in San Francisco, but eventually bought the Mission Street Brewery. When they moved the brewery and built a larger one, they renamed it the Hibernia Brewery. Matthew Nunan also served two terms as Sheriff of San Francisco, 1876-1877 and 1878-1879.

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Gary Flynn has a more thorough Biography of Matthew J. Numan at her terrific Brewery Gems website. He also has a lengthy history of the Mission Street Brewery (1860-1867) and [its] successor The Hibernia Brewery (1867-1920).

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Beer Birthday: Rodger Davis

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Today is Rodger Davis’ 47th birthday, who’s the former head brewer at Triple Rock in Berkeley, California, and a few years ago opened his own brewery in Alameda, Faction Brewing, along with his wife Claudia. Rodger is a terrific brewer and has been very active in the local beer community and it’s great to see him at the helm of his own place. He’s one of those people always giving the craft beer world a good name, helping colleagues, organizing festivals and being a good friend to all. If only he could his tongue in his mouth. Join me in wishing Rodger a very happy birthday.

Rodger David, from Triple Rock, at the Beer Fair
Rodger at a Berkeley Museum event a few years ago, pouring Triple Rock beer.

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Rodger with his wife Claudia at a Beer Chef beer dinner.

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Up in the balcony at Triple Rock at the Sour Beer Festival.

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Rodger and Claudia at their new brewery, with Rodger doing his best not to make a goofy face.

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Rodger & me at his surprise birthday party at The Trappist five years ago for his 40th. (photo by Mike Condie.)

Beer Birthday: Erika Bolden

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Today is the 31st birthday of Erika Bolden, who among much other beer writing in the Los Angeles area, is the Executive Director of the North American Guild of Beer Writers. She has the Herculean task of keeping the rest of us miscreants in line and on task, and she does it with such grace and style that we hardly notice. She’s also run the awards for the last few years, and has grown the event severalfold. Plus she’s an awesome tent neighbor, as we camped next to Sarah and me at last year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival. Join me in wishing Erika a very happy birthday.

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Erika on the streets of London.

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Stan Hieronymus and Erika.

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Channeling Dana Scully with fiancé Brandon Buck as Fox Mulder.

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Erika, front and center (in the white blouse and black jacket) at our NAGBW awards ceremony in Denver last year.

Beer Birthday: Mitch Steele

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Today is the 55th birthday of Mitch Steele, former production manager/head brewer at Stone Brewing. Mitch started out at the tiny San Andreas Brewery in Hollister, California but spent a number of years at one of the much larger Budweiser breweries when he brewed for Anheuser-Busch, before finding a home at Stone. More recently, he’s left that job to create something of his own, this time a yet-to-be-named brewery to be located in Atlanta, Georgia. My wild ass guess that he’s been punking us all along and will actually be tbd, something like Tuxedo Brewing & Distilling, or maybe Tech Brewing & Distilling. He’s obviously a terrific brewer but is also a great person and close friend, too. He has also been my roomie for GABF judging a couple of years and is also the author of IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale. He’s a big advocate for craft beer and always willing to help out a fellow brewer or homebrewer. Join me in wishing Mitch a very happy birthday.

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Mitch with Stone co-founder Steve Wagner at the Craft Brewers Conference in 2007.

Mitch Steele, from Stone Brewing, took 3rd for Levitation Ale
Mitch picking up his 3rd Place award on the floor of GABF 2009 for Stone’s Levitation Ale on cask at a special judging at the Great British Beer Festival in 2009 (and which I had the pleasure to judge).

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Betsy Hensley, Judy Ashworth, Mitch, Brendan Moylan & Bruce Paton at the Celebrator’s 22nd Anniversary Party.

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Mitch and 21st Amendment brewer Shaun O’Sullivan practicing their pointing during a collaboration brew in 2008 in San Francisco.

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Outside the Bistro IPA Festival in 2007 with Publican Judy Ashworth, Former San Andreas Brewing owner Bill Millar, Mitch and Bistro owner Vic Krajl.

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And no birthday post is complete without a blast from the past. Here’s Mitch’s high school prom photo in all it’s living color glory. It’s from Northgate High School Class of 1980 in Walnut Creek, CA (special thanks to Mitch for updating the old black & white photo with the glorious color one!). Love the powder blue tux.

Beer Birthday: Michael Lewis

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Today is 80th birthday of Dr. Michael Lewis, who ran the brewing sciences department at U.C. Davis beginning in 1962, and became the Professor Emeritus in 1995, when Charlie Bamforth succeeded him, although Dr. Lewis remains active in teaching and in brewing. He was my instructor, along with Charlie, when I took the brewing short course at Davis a decade or so ago. He’s taught countless working brewers over the years and has greatly influenced the industry as a whole. Join me in wishing Dr. Lewis a very happy birthday.

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Michael receiving an award for a lifetime of achievement at the 2008 CBC in San Diego.

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Michael with Ruhstaller founder J.D. Paino at Sudwerk (photo from the Davis Enterprise).

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Michael (at far left) with the gang at Sudwerk Privatbrauerei in Davis (photo from the Davis Enterprise).

Beer Birthday: Marc Worona

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Today is also the 49th birthday of fellow Pennsylvania transplant Marc Worona. Marc used to be the brewer at Stoudt’s Brewing in Adamstown, Pennsylvania but a number of years ago moved to California and currently works with Brewers Supply Group, and is their VP of Sales and Marketing. Join me in wishing Marc a very happy birthday.

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Marc goofing around at the CBC beer and chocolate event at TCHO chocolate that he co-sponsored.

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Marc with Marin brewer Arne Johnson at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2007.

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Marc (center) with Brendan Moylan and Denise Jones getting the top prize in the Chocolate Beer competition sponsored by Brewers Supply Group and TCHO chocolate company during CBC in San Francisco a few years ago.

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Out in front of the Bistro at the Double IPA Festival in 2008. Rodger Davis’ wife Claudia (who nworks at 21st Amendment), brewster Melissa Myers (working on opening her own brewpub), Shane Aldridge (brewer at Marin & Moylan’s) and Marc.

Beer Birthday: Tyler King

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Today is also the birthday of Tyler King, who was the senior director of brewing operations, and employee #1, at The Bruery in Southern California. I first met Tyler at the Boonville Beer Festival several years ago although Patrick must have kept him locked up in the Bruery making great beer, because I didn’t run into him very often after that. At the beginning of last year, he left to open his own brewery, and spent some time consulting and brewing for the Congregation Ale House and also Iron Triangle Brewing. But I haven’t heard much recently about his new place, Brewery Rex, and the website just says simply “coming 2017.” Hopefully, we’ll see it open soon. Join me in wishing Tyler a very happy birthday.

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Tyler, with Rachel and Patrick Rue, shortly after they opened The Bruery at the Boonville Beer Festival in 2008.

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Tyler with Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery along with Bruery founder Patrick Rue, after they did a collaboration beer together.

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Apparently Tyler has a thing for unicorns. I wonder if he ever visited the Mystic Brewpub in Pennsylvania before they went out of business? That places was a unicorn lover’s dream.