Beer Birthday: Jeremy Cowan

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Today is Jeremy Cowan’s 48th birthday. Jeremy owns Shmaltz Brewing, makers of He’Brew. Jeremy is a good friend and we’ve known one another since he first pitched He’Brew to me at BevMo many years ago (which is detailed in Jeremy’s memoir Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah). Jeremy used to split his time between San Francisco and New York, and so I would often see him at beer events somewhat frequently, but less so now that he’s built a brick and mortar brewery in upstate New York. Join me in wishing Jeremy a very happy birthday.

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Jeremy, with City Beer Store owner Craig Wathen.

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A few years ago at the Toronado for a He’Brew release party. From left: Alec Moss, recently retired from Half Moon Bay Brewing, Pete Slosberg, Jeremy, and Rodger Davis, when he was still with Drake’s Brewing.

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Jeremy with Rich Norgrove, with Bear Republic, at GABF in 2006.

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Me and Jeremy at the Bistro Double IPA Fest in 2009.

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Jeremy shortly after he launched the Shmaltz beers, before all the grey hairs set in. (Thanks to the anonymous source that sent me this photo.)

Beer Birthday: Christian Kazakoff

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Today is Christian Kazakoff’s 46th birthday. Christian is the head brewer at Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax, California. I’ve gotten to know Christian much better since we shared a room for a week in London several years ago to attend the Old Ale Festival at the White Horse on Parson’s Green. Besides being a terrific person, he is also a stellar brewer. Join me in wishing Christian a very happy birthday.

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Christian after a sleepless night setting up before the Bay Area Firkin Fest at Triple Rock several years ago.

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Christian at Fuller’s in London, along with Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment Brewery and our tour guide Derek Prentice, during a trip to London a few years back.

Mild-mannered Christian Kazakoff becoming Super Brewer
Flying the flag in 2010 at the Celebrator Party at the end of the 2nd SF Beer Week.

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In March, at the Fairfax Beerfest a few years ago.

Beer Birthday: Drew Beechum

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Today is the 43rd birthday of Drew Beechum, who’s a past president of the Maltose Falcons homebrewing club and its current webmeister. He’s also the author of The Everything Homebrewing Book: All you need to brew the best beer at home! and writes a regular column for Beer Advocate magazine. Join me in wishing Drew a very happy birthday.

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Drew’s Facebook Profile picture.

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Drew at 21st Amendment.

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Drew in a Jayne hat — from Firefly — with his wife, Aymee. (NOTE: All photos purloined from Facebook.)

Beer Birthday: Brenden Dobel

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Today is the 47th birthday of Brenden Dobel, head brewer at Thirsty Bear in San Francisco. Brenden grew up in the Bay Area, but learned brewing in Bavaria, at Doemans. He also brewed at Reccow and Broken Drum, before coming to Thirsty Bear over ten years ago. Brenden’s a terrific guy to share a pint with and discuss arcane subjects like history or English literature. If he hadn’t found brewing, he most likely would have ended up a teacher, or perhaps a sailor. Please join me in wishing Brenden a very happy birthday.

Shaun O'Sullivan, from 21st Amendment, and Brendan Dobel, Thirsty Bear
With Shaun O’Sullivan at the SF Brewers Guild festival in 2010.

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Brenden at some old unknown event.

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With Trumer brewmaster Lars Larson at the Celebrator’s 22nd anniversary party in 2010.

Clockwise from Left: Rich Higgins, John Tucci, Brenden Dobbel & Aron Deorsey with the 4 bottles of dessert
Clockwise from Left: Rich Higgins, John Tucci, Brenden & Aron Deorsey with our 4 bottles of dessert at a Sierra Nevada beer dinner after beer camp a few years ago where we made a beer for SF Beer Week.

Historic Beer Birthday: William H. Biner

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Today is the birthday of William H. “Billy” Biner (April 16, 1889-January 5, 1953). Biner was a journeyman brewer who worked for numerous breweries over his

He was born in the Montana territory to Swiss immigrant parents. His father, Theophil Biner, knoew Leopold Schmidt and even worked at his Olympia Brewery. Biner sent two of his sons, including Billy once he’s finished with a career as a boxer, to brewing school in Milwaukee. Biner’s first brewing job was at the Phoenix Brewery in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1912. He then worked as brewmaster at at least eight more breweries, from Los Angeles to Canada. The breweries he worked at included the Mexicali Brewery; the Orange Crush Bottling Company in L.A.; the Mexicali Brewing Company again after it was rebuilt following an earthquake; then the Kootenay Breweries, Ltd. in both Nelson and Trail, in BC, Canada; followed by the Ellensburg Brewing Co. in Washington, and then in 1937 he founded his own brewery, the Mutual Brewing Company. But it didn’t last thanks to World War II and supply issues, and it folded. Afterwards, he moved on to both Sicks’ Century Brewery in Seattle and the Silver Springs Brewery in Port Orchard, Washington. Finally, he ran the East Idaho Brewing Co. in Pocatello, Idaho until 1946, when he retired from brewing and bought his own bar, the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon. He stayed there until a year before he died, which was in 1953.

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Here’s his biography from Find a Grave:

William Henry “Billy” Biner was born in Boulder, Montana Territory, on April 16, 1889. He was the fifth of nine children for Theophil Biner and Juliana Truffer, immigrants from Randa, Switzerland.

Theophil Biner was a builder and an acquaintance of Leopold Schmidt, founder of Olympia Brewery. He worked briefly for Schmidt in Tumwater, Washington from 1903-1905. Later in 1905 he purchased the Phoenix Brewery in the copper boomtown of Phoenix, British Columbia. Theophil became president of the company and his sons Albert and Dan ran it.

Younger son Billy became a boxer, eventually earning the title of welterweight champion of British Columbia. In 1911 Theo Biner sent his sons Billy and Gustave to the Hantke Brewery School in Milwaukie, Wisconsin where they graduated in 1912. Billy then became the brewmaster for the Phoenix Brewery and as an aspiring artist he also designed all of the beer labels. During this time he gave up boxing for curling where he found similar success.

Billy Biner married Harriet Lynch, the daughter of diamond drilling supervisor Dan Lynch in 1914. As prohibition approached Billy wrote articles for the local paper espousing the benefits of beer. But business declined in Phoenix and he moved south to Los Angeles in 1919 to work for the Canadian Club Bottling-Orange Crush Bottling Co.

From 1924 through 1929 he served as the brewmaster for the Mexicali Brewing Company in Mexicali, Mexico. In 1929 he returned to Canada and was a brewer in the towns of Merritt and Princeton, BC. From 1929 through 1936 he served as brewmaster for the Kootenay Brewing Company in both Nelson and Trail, BC.

In 1936 Biner moved to Ellensburg, Washington where he became brewmaster at the Ellensburg Brewery through 1942. After the Ellensburg Brewery closed Biner worked as a brewer at both Sick”s Select Brewery in Seattle and Silver Spring’s Brewery in Port Orchard, WA before moving on to Pocatello, where he ran the Aero Club Brewery until 1946.

He purchased the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon in 1946 and operated it until 1952 when he moved to Los Angeles to work for the North American Aircraft Company. He died of a heart attack on January 5, 1953.

Billy and Harriet Biner had four children; Betty, Bill, Bob and Fredericka (Fritzi). Bill and Bob Biner both worked for their father in Ellensburg before becoming members of the US Air Corps during WW II. Together they flew over 100 missions and are the subjects of the book The Brewmaster’s Bombardier and Belly Gunner.

Although none of Billy’s children or grandchildren became professional brewers, his great-grandson, Charlton Fulton, is the brewer at McMenamins Mill Creek Brewery near Seattle, Washington.

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Biner with his sisters Julia and Mary Cecelia and his children Betty and Billy, c. 1925.

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A label from his first brewery job, which he may also have designed.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Otto Schinkel Jr.

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Today is the birthday of Otto Schinkel Jr. (April 9, 1869-January 26, 1907). While Anchor Brewing began during the California Gold Rush when Gottlieb Brekle arrived from Germany and began brewing in San Francisco, it didn’t become known as Anchor Brewing until 1896, when “Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the old brewery on Pacific Avenue and named it Anchor. The brewery burned down in the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake, but was rebuilt at a different location in 1907.” Baruth had passed away the same year as the earthquake, and Schinkel died in an accident in early 1907 when struck by a streetcar in San Francisco.

Surprisingly, there isn’t much biographical information about Schinkel. He was born somewhere in Germany, and married Ida Caroline Baruth on November 26, 1890. She was born in California, sometime in July of 1873. They had three children together, all daughters: Elsie, Alice and Doris.

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I did discover that he was a president of the Norddeutscher Verein (or North German Association) four times as noted in this portrait from a book celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary, or Silver Anniversary 1874-1899.

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The Anchor Brewery in the early 1900s.

Here’s what’s written about him at Find a Grave:

Anchor Beer began during the Gold Rush when Gottlieb Brekle arrived from Germany and began brewing in San Francisco. In 1896, Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the brewery and named it Anchor. The brewery burned down in the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake, but was rebuilt at a different location in 1907.

“Killed by a Bryant street car just below Twentieth street shortly after noon yesterday as he was attempting to take a seat on the open side of the vehicle. The sudden starting of the car is alleged to have caused him to fall directly in front of the moving vehicle.

“The first wheel crossed his chest and the heavy trucks crushed his skull before Motorman J. N. Swope could stop the car. Motorman, conductor and passengers jumped to the man’s aid. By main strenght they lifted the car. He was already dead, however, and terribly mangled.

“A brother J. H. Schinkel, was standing on the corner, less than fifty feet away, and saw the accident. He ran frantically to the scene and with his own hands dragged the form of his brother from under the car. J. N. Swope, the motorman, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. He was later released on $50 cash bail furnished by the railroad company.

“Otto Schinkel was a prominent German brewer of the city. He was the owner of the Anchor Brewery, located at North Beach before the fire and now being rebuilt at Eighteenth and Hampshire streets. He was a member of the Norddeustcher Verein, Norddeutsche Schutzen Verein, Schleswig-Holstein Society, Golden Gate Aerie of Eagles, Red Men and the Brewers Association. He was thirty-nine years old and had been very prominent in German-American circles for many years. He leaves a widow and two children. A checkbook found in his pocket showed that he had $40,000 on deposit in the Citizens National Bank.”

[Note: Find a Grave lists his birth year as 1849, while every other source I found says 1869.]

Beer Birthday: Alex Puchner

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Today is the 56th birthday of Alex Puchner, who’s the Senior Vice President of Brewing Operations, and its first brewmaster, for the BJ’s Restaurant Brewhouse chain. He started with the chain in 1996, a co-founder, when they built their first brewpub. Alex had been homebrewing for a decade before that first brewery. There now have 174 locations in 23 states, although they backed away from their brewpub model and contract most of their beer, but have added lost of guest taps and good bottled imports, including a great selection from Belgium. Alex has been very active over the years in the beer community and the CCBA, and has been great for beer in California, providing many people’s first introduction to craft beer with BJ’s. Join me in wishing Alex a very happy birthday.

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Alex with Greg Hall, formerly with Goose Island, during a visit to San Francisco a few years ago.

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Alex in the brewhouse (Note: purloined from Facebook).

Beer Birthday: Steve Wagner

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Today is Steve Wagner’s 59th birthday. Steve is a co-founder of Stone Brewing and the president of the California Craft Brewers Association. In the late 1980s, Steve was a member of the band “The Balancing Act,” who put out several albums on I.R.S. Records. Now he just presides over one of the most successful microbreweries in the U.S. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Mitch Steele, Stone Brewing’s brewmaster, with Steve, at CBC when it was in Austin, Texas.

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The Stone crew: Arlan Arnsten, Steve and Greg Koch at CBC in San Diego 2008.

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With Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch in a publicity shot (by John Schulz Photography).

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The day after we tried all of Stone’s Vertical Epic’s in San Diego; with Steve, me, Joe Tucker, Jason and Todd Alstrom and Greg Koch.

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Lee Chase with Steve on April 14, 1999 celebrating their first bottling run on their then new Maheen bottler. [Note: photos purloined from Stone Brewing’s website.]

Beer Birthday: Tom McCormick

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Today is the 60th birthday — The Big 6-0 — of Tom McCormick, Executive Director of the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA). Tom’s also owned and ran a distributorship and the Pro Brewer website, worked with Wolaver’s for a time, but has found his true calling promoting and defending small brewers in California. Tom is the most unflappable person I’ve ever met, and hands down one of my favorite people in the industry. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

Tom McCormick, Nancy Johnson & Dave Buehler @ Wynkoop
Tom, with Nancy Johnson and Dave Buehler at Wynkoop for GABF a couple of years ago.

Stan Hieronymus & Tom McCormick @ Great Divide
With Stan Hieronymus Great Divide’s annual media reception.

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Tom with Amy Dalton, from All About Beer magazine at the World Beer Cup dinner in San Diego.

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Tom and Nancy Johnson at a BA dinner.

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Tom and me at the 2012 Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza.

Historic Beer Birthday: Karl Frederick Schuster

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Today is the birthday of Karl Frederick Schuster (April 2, 1890-November 4, 1976). He was born into a brewing family, and worked in several Bay Area breweries until prohibition, during which time he continued working with beer people though making cereal products. When prohibition ended, he was named president of Acme Breweries.

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The great Brewery Gems has the only biography of Schuster I could find, written by Gary Flynn:

Our subject’s grand-father, Frederick Schuster emigrated from the Alsace upon hearing of the California gold rush and made his way to the placer mines in Plumas County.

In the early 1850s he started a family and failing to strike it rich, he established a small steam beer plant, one of the first in California. The Pacific Coast Directory for 1867 lists the La Porte Brewery, F. Schuster, proprietor. When the placer mines played out Frederick relocated to San Francisco, and in 1870 he purchased the American Railroad Brewery. When Frederick died, his son Frederick Paul Schuster took control of the Brewery, and in 1902 he merged it with the Union Brewing & Malting Company. The American Railroad branch of the new company operated for two more years, and was then closed. Frederick became the vice president of the Union Brewery.

Frederick Paul’s son, Karl F. Schuster, continued the family tradition in brewing. In 1908 he started as an apprentice, drawing his first pay check from the Union Brewery, which had abandoned the manufacture of steam beer and entered the lager beer field in 1903. While Karl was learning all aspects of the trade, the brewing industry in San Francisco was undergoing many changes – in part from the effects of the ’06 earthquake, but also from the influx of brewers escaping early Prohibition in their home states.

In 1909 Union Brewing & Malting annexed the Wunder Brewing Co. by purchase, paving the way to a merger that would solidify its position. In Jan. 1917 the Union Brewery joined five other breweries in the formation of the California Brewing Assn., with Frederick P. Schuster subsequently named one of the Association’s directors.

Frederick’s son Karl, returning from WWI and facing the demise of his industry from Prohibition, took a position as assistant to Master Brewer Anton Dolenz at the Association’s Fulton plant. During this period with the Cereal Products Refining Corporation he worked with William Adams and Jacob P. Rettenmayer, and later assumed the position of plant superintendent.

By Repeal in 1933 Karl had moved up high enough in the company that in 1934, with the death of Samuel Clarke, the Board of Directors elected Karl F. Schuster president and general manager of Cereal Products refining Corp., aka the Acme Brewery.

On April 1, 1936 the company changed its operating name to Acme Breweries to reflect the addition of the Los Angeles plant.

Karl Schuster remained president of Acme Breweries until it was sold in January 1954. He died in November 4, 1976.

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