Beer Birthday: Craig Cauwels

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Today is the 48th birthday of Craig Cauwels, who started brewing at Schooner’s in 2003, when his longtime friend Shawn Burns needed his help, and he continuing brewing there until after Burns sold the brewpub to a new owner. He’s currently brewing at E.J. Phair brewing, and recently went back to brewing at Schooner’s part-time, splitting his time between the two East Bay breweries. Originally a molecular biologist, Craig was running the core lab facility at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University when he gave it all up to become a professional brewer. And that’s certainly been good news for people who love great beer, because he’s a very talented brewer. Join me in wishing Craig a very happy birthday.

Craig Cauwels, from Schooner's, with Vic Krajl
Craig with Vic Krajl at the 2009 Bistro Barrel Aged Fest.

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Craig with Sam Calagione (from Dogfish Head) and Dave McLean (from Magnolia’s) at the Double IPA Festival at the Bistro a couple of years ago.

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Craig with Steve Altimari, from High Water Brewing at the Celebrator’s 18th anniversary party in 2007.

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Craig with Brian Yaeger, the Beer Chef Bruce Paton and me at a Schooner’s beer dinner at Cathedral Hotel in 2008.

Beer Birthday: Peter Hoey

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Today is the 35th birthday of Peter Hoey, who used to be the brewmaster at Sacramento Brewing, then left to launch a new brewery, Odonata Beer Co., with Rick Sellers, which sadly ran into some hurdles that had nothing to do with how good the beer was that Peter was making. He’s also brewed at Sierra Nevada and Bison Brewing, too. These days Peter is working happily at Brewers Supply Group, having taken over Mark Worona’s old job (since he’s been promoted). Peter’s a great brewer and has become a good friend over the years. Join me in wishing Peter a very happy birthday.

Rick Sellers & Peter Hoey of California's Newest Brewery, Odonata Brewing
Former Odonata partner Rick Sellers with Peter at GABF in 2010.

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Peter with his wife Britany, as they take their new baby daughter Lorelai home from the hospital a couple of years ago.

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Peter at the GABF Brewers Reception in 2007, along with Rich Norgrove from Bear Republic and Arne Johnson of Marin Brewing.

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Peter, looking about twelve, and Steve Altimari, from High Water Brewing, at the first Raley Field Beer Festival in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Ken Grossman

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Today is the 60th birthday of Ken Grossman, who founded Sierra Nevada Brewing in 1980. I can’t say too much about how much Ken has done and continues to do for the craft beer industry, while at the same time being wildly successful. Join me in wishing Ken a very happy birthday.

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Ken with two of his children, Brian and Sierra, both of whom work for the company. I took this in 2007 for an article I did for American Brewer on passing breweries from one generation to the next.

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At the Craft Brewers Conference in 2007, John Harris, from Full Sail, Ken’s daughter Sierra, Ken, and Garret Oliver, from Brooklyn Brewery.

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“Inside the Brewers Studio” at the 2006 GABF with Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co., Ken, Charlie Papazian, founder of what is now the Brewers Association, and moderator Tom Dalldorf of the Celebrator.

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Ken and Sam Calagione at the Life & Limb beer dinner in 2009.

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Ken and Jeremy Cowan, from Shmaltz Brewing, at GABF a couple of years ago.

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Ken and Pete Slosberg, signing books at GABF last year.

Green Flash Buys Alpine Beer

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I don’t know many details at this point, but Craft Business Daily is reporting that “San Diego’s Green Flash has just announced their acquisition of small, local 3,000 barrel Alpine Beer Company. Financial terms were not disclosed,” adding — quite correctly, I think — “the age of craft buyers acquiring craft brewers is upon us.” I know that Green Flash had been brewing kegs for Alpine recently, while founder Pat McIllhenney was working on expansion plans for his brewery. As more details come to light, I’ll update them here.

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Alpine founder/brewmaster Pat McIllhenney with Tomme Arthur at the inaugural Firestone Walker Invitational a few years ago.

UPDATE: I have now received a press release from Green Flash with additional details on the deal:

At Alpine Beer Company this morning, Green Flash founders, Mike and Lisa Hinkley and Alpine Beer Company founders, Pat and Val McIlhenney announced that their breweries will join forces, teaming up to share resources, knowledge and experience. Both the McIlhenneys and the Hinkleys view the affiliation as mutually beneficial, and are committed to supporting each other for the success of both breweries. Each company will remain independently operated and maintain its distinct brand and culture. Pat will remain Alpine’s President and Brewmaster to oversee all operations of Alpine Beer Company while also ensuring Alpine beers continue to meet his unwavering standard of quality, whether brewed at the Alpine or Green Flash facilities. The most notable change will transpire over the next several years, as Alpine beer will become available to their legions of fans from across the country who have only experienced the greatness of Alpine beers while visiting California.

In a “handshake agreement,” Green Flash began brewing Alpine beer in November 2013 at their San Diego facility with the goal of helping longtime friends at Alpine raise capital to expand their production capacity. Green Flash has been producing three of Alpine’s brews (Nelson, Hoppy Birthday and Duet), increasing Alpine annual production from 1500 to 3000 BBLs.

The experience of brewing together has been a successful learning experience for both breweries. Green Flash Brewmaster, Chuck Silva divulged, “It was both intriguing and challenging to meld our philosophies while we worked together to scale up Pat’s recipes to be brewed in larger quantities. We worked together to stay true to the original beer and were very happy with the ultimate results. Working with a close friend is a real treat, but for me, brewing with Pat and making Alpine beers, is yet another highlight of my brewing career in San Diego.”

The successful arrangement they have shared over the past year was the impetus that prompted the breweries to take their relationship to the next level. Each views the partnership as an organic evolution that will benefit both of their operations in many ways. “Our team was thrilled to be able to brew the awesome beer from Alpine when we began teaming up,” says Mike Hinkley of Green Flash. “The excitement of our brewers is what prompted me to think about additional ways we could work together and help each other. We perceive this solid new partnership as an incredible opportunity to continue to explore our craft while benefiting from the passion and experience of Pat McIlhenney.”

“After working with Green Flash for the past year, I have come to truly trust and deeply respect the entire Green Flash operation – Chuck and all of their brewers are meticulous, yet easygoing, and I am comfortable working with the team,” says Pat McIlhenney of Alpine Beer Co. “There are many benefits in teaming up with Green Flash as a partner. Not only are they committed to producing high-quality beer, the company culture and mom and pop roots of Green Flash are very similar to our own.”

Alpine employees 20 people, is distributed exclusively in California with the ability to produce a maximum of 1500 BBLs from their San Diego County brew-house, with most of their beer sold directly from their on-site pub. Brewing capacity limitations have made it impossible for Pat and his team to support the overwhelming demand for their exceptional products. As partners, Alpine will be able to tap into the growing Green Flash team of talented brewers, their production capacity, access to capital, and human resources in operations and administration. Mike added that “I am hopeful that the culmination of the next few years will be that, together, we build a new production facility in Alpine. Maybe we will even brew some Green Flash ale in Alpine.”

“I know there is strength in unity, which will allow both of our breweries to secure even higher quality ingredients – we will be a great force as a team,” exclaims Pat. “However, the most important advantage is how this partnership will help improve the quality of life for my employees. For the first time, Alpine will be able to offer our team an excellent company benefits package including affordable health care, 401K plans and other perks made possible by this exciting partnership.”

In 2015, Green Flash will begin bottling select Alpine brews in 22oz bottles adding to the three current draft offerings. Collaborative brews are already in Chuck and Pat’s top-secret conversations, so consumers can expect these to appear in their tasting rooms and at the best craft beer bars in Southern California. The two Brewmasters are already talking about how they can work together at Green Flash’s Cellar 3, a special barrel-aged beer packaging facility that is currently under construction in Poway, and will include a cork-finish bottling line.

Chuck said, “I consulted Pat and borrowed some of his ideas when I made our tenth anniversary Flanders-style ale, which was a great success and will be recreated at Cellar 3. I am always on the look-out for ideas. With Pat and me on the same team, you can count on us to push the envelope even further.”

Mike summarizes, “This partnership is win-win-win. Green Flash wins because we are teaming up with a truly iconic brewery. Alpine wins because they get to see their beers enjoyed by so many more of their adoring fans. But most of all, beer geeks everywhere win, because Chuck and Pat will be working together to create beers that will blow their minds.”

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Green Flash Brewmaster Chuck Silva, Alpine Beer Company President and Brewmaster Pat McIlhenney and Green Flash Co-Founder and CEO Mike Hinkley.

Dust Bowl Brewing To Build New Brewery

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Today Dust Bowl Brewing of Turlock announced plans to build a new $10 million, 30,000 sq. ft. brewery in their hometown. The new facility is expected to be completed in November 2015, and will be located west of Highway 99, on the corner of Fulkerth Road and Dianne Drive, across from the Turlock Auto Plaza. According to the press release, “the new facility will have initial capacity of 17,000 barrels per year. Dust Bowl Brewing Co. projects sales of 10,000 barrels in the first 12 months, more than doubling current annual sales. The master plan allows room for expansion up to 100,000 barrels per year.”

“We bought the open land in 2013 and have been in the planning stages ever since,” shares Brett Tate, founder of Dust Bowl Brewing Company. “We’ve outgrown our current facility and are poised for expanded production and distribution. The craft industry is on the rise and we’re excited to be part of the upward movement.”

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Founders Brett Honore and Brett Tate, with brewmaster Don Oliver in the middle.

“We bought the open land in 2013 and have been in the planning stages ever since,” shares Brett Tate, founder of Dust Bowl Brewing Company. “We’ve outgrown our current facility and are poised for expanded production and distribution. The craft industry is on the rise and we’re excited to be part of the upward movement.”

The new brewery brings significant growth to the young company. Brewmaster Don Oliver notes, “The nearly fully automated brewhouse will allow us to brew 64 barrel brews on our smaller beers in the 5% ABV range and 50 barrel batches on our bigger beers.” CFT Packaging, based in Parma, Italy, will be providing the majority of the brewery equipment, including the malt silos and handling, brewhouse, fermentation, brite tanks and a 125 bottle-per-minute bottling line. “The level of automation will allow us to improve our consistency on all products,” Oliver continues. “The new facility will also have a Quality Assurance lab, which will allow us greater control of the quality of the increased volume of beer.”

The initial product mix will focus on producing more of the company’s established styles. “Our flagship “Hops of Wrath” IPA will drive sales into new markets, so it’s essential to increase production. This particular beer showcases the Dust Bowl Brewing Co. branding and experience…a great IPA inspired by the Dust Bowl era,” comments Tate. “Differentiating and building a craft brand goes beyond quality; you have to provide an overall lasting experience with the consumer.” The company will expand its overall portfolio to include several year-round styles in bottles as well as increase its seasonal and specialty offerings. “The expanded capacity gives us room to be creative, and keep our Tap Room and other draft accounts well stocked with a nice variety of beers,” adds Tate.

The new facility is located off of Highway 99, where over 100,000 cars travel daily. The close proximity will offer easy freight access, provide excellent brand exposure as well as attract visitors. Owner Brett Honoré sheds some light on the brewery’s future plans. “We envision the new facility to evolve into a local destination and full-service venue. It’s going to be a very cool place for day-trippers and locals alike. Plans include a tasting room with a clear view of the brewing operation and packaging, outdoor patio and lounge seating, tours, and retail space to sell our beers and logo items. We eventually want to create an outdoor venue for special events.

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An architect’s drawing of the what the new brewery will look like.

Beer Birthday: Steve Altimari

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Today is the 56th birthday of Steve Altimari, founder and brewmaster of High Water Brewing. I first met Steve when he was still brewing for Valley in Stockton, before that went spectacularly south, and we’ve been good friends ever since. When Steve was working on the new brewing company, I even suggested the name and he graciously gave me a few shares in the company as a thank you. Of course, he’s also smart enough to never ask my business advice so I’m hardly involved and can remain in impartial. Though to be fair, the fact that he makes uniformly great beers helps. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Stephen Beaumont, Steve and me at Barclay’s during SF Beer Week 2010.

Peace Or 2 Medals: Steve Altimari, from Valley Brewing
A very happy Steve at the Falling Rock Taphouse in Denver, after winning two medals at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

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The Three Steves: Steve Altimari, Steve Donohue and Steve Shapiro, from Beer by Bart, at the Breastfest. (Photo by Arie Litman.)

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Craig Cauwels, from Schooner’s, with Steve at the Celebrator’s 18th anniversary party in 2007.

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Peter Hoey, looking about twelve, with Steve, at the first Raley Field Beer Festival in 2007.

CCBA Celebrates 25 Years

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This year the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) celebrates its 25th anniversary, and they just concluded a two-day conference in Santa Rosa. I missed the first day (traveling home from Belgium) but gave a talk yesterday morning on the history of craft beer in California. But the highlight of day two was a panel discussion with three craft beer pioneers, John Martin (Triple Rock), Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada) and Fritz Maytag (Anchor), moderated by Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River).

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The trio spoke for around an hour, then the audience asked a few questions. I captured the main part of the talk (not the Q&A) in two parts (due to limitations of my camera) which you can watch below. There’s a short gap in between the two videos, only a few seconds. It’s a fun and fascinating talk. Enjoy.

And here’s Pt. 2.

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After the talk, John Martin, CCBA executive director Tom McCormick, Vinnie Cilurzo, Fritz Maytag and Ken Grossman.

Beer Birthday: Richard Brewer-Hay

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Today is the 39th birthday of Richard Brewer-Hay, co-founder (with his wife Allie) and brewer of San Francisco’s smallest almost brewery: the Elizabeth Street Brewery. Despite its size (it’s really more of a nanobrewery or even a picobrewery) and intermittent schedule, it was named two years ago by SF Weekly as San Francisco’s Best Microbrewery 2010. I thought I had a photo of Richard and Allie from when I ran into them at the Map Room in Chicago during CBC this year, but I can’t find it. Instead, I purloined the photos below from Facebook. Join me in wishing Richard a very happy birthday.

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Given it was Richard’s tweet from the World Series that reminded me it was his birthday, here’s him at the first game of the World Series two years ago.

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A self-portrait with his wife, Allie, in the Cascades in Washington a few years ago.

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With Jabber the Parrot at eBay On Location in San Jose.

Below is a very, very short video I captured of Richard and Nico Freccia, from 21st Amendment, accepting their World Beer Cup award for the beer Richard and Shaun O’Sullivan made at 21A in Chicago.

Beer Birthday: Glynn Phillips

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Today is also the birthday of Glynn Phillips, owner of Rubicon Brewing in Sacramento, which just recently opened a production brewery not too far from the original brewpub. Glynn’s a great champion for craft beer and has done quite a lot for the cause. Glynn is also very active in both the California Small Brewers Association and the Northern California Brewers Guild. Join me in wishing Glynn a very happy birthday.

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Brian Ford, from Auburn Alehouse, with Glynn at the Raley Field Brewfest in 2007.

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Glynn Phillips (Rubicon), Brendan Moylan (Marin/Moylan’s), Alec Moss (Half Moon Bay), Brian Hunt (Moonlight), Rodger Davis (Triple Rock) and Josh Minor (Drake’s) at the Breastfest in 2008.

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Glynn in his brewery last year when I visited him in Sacramento.

Beer Birthday: Sean Paxton

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Today is the 42nd birthday of Sean Paxton, a.k.a. The Homebrew Chef. Sean is a mad alchemist in the kitchen and puts on some wonderful food and beer spectacles. Plus he’s a terrific homebrewer, an even better human being and a great friend. Join me in wishing Sean a very happy birthday.

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At this year’s Great American Beer Festival in 2008. Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef, Sean and Dave Keene, from the Toronado, in the convention center.

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Sean with his daughter Olivia at the Pliny the Elder release earlier this year.

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Working with nitrogen at the 11-course Belgian Brunch, or Blunch, held at the Toronado.

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My wife, Sarah, with Sean after the 10th annual beer dinner at the Northern California Homebrewers Festival held at Lake Francis Resort in Dobbins, California.

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Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers at the Bistro for the Double IPA Festival this year.

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With Randy Mosher at the world’s biggest beer dinner at CBC in Chicago.