Anchor Releases Zymaster #6: Saaremaa Island Ale

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Anchor Brewing has released the sixth beer in their Zymaster® series, Saaremaa Island Ale.

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Anchor’s newest beer was apparently inspired by a trip taken recently by their longtime brewmaster, Mark Carpenter. He and his family vacationed on Saaremaa Island, a part of Estonia, and located in the Baltic Sea. According to Anchor’s press release, this “ancient island has been inhabited more than 8,000 years, and has been occupied by Germany, Denmark, Sweden, czarist Russia, and the Soviet Union. Its culture is a rich and fascinating melting pot. Yet few outside of Estonia have ever experienced its uniquely native beers. Mark enjoyed them so much that he not only brought back his memories of Saaremaa but some brewer’s yeast, as well. Inspired by Mark’s Estonian beer journey, Anchor’s Zymaster No. 6 takes you on a journey to Saaremaa by way of San Francisco.”

Beer is a journey. Wine is defined by time – on the vine and in the bottle – and place, known as terroir. But beer, thanks to the miracles of modern science, can now be made virtually anywhere in any style, transporting the beer-lover to whatever time, place, and flavors he or she desires.

“My wife and I were traveling through the Saaremaa Island countryside and we stopped at a bar,” said the Anchor Brewmaster. “I asked for a local draught beer and the unfiltered brew I was served was completely unique. It was the native yeast that intrigued me and ultimately become the inspiration for Zymaster No. 6. After returning to San Francisco, the Estonian yeast was isolated and cultured becoming the cornerstone of our pale ale which is complimented by the medium bitterness from Northern Brewer, a favorite hop here at Anchor. The result is a one-of-a-kind brew that transports me back to that countryside bar. We hope you’ll enjoy this beer journey, as well.”

Zymaster No. 6 (6% ABV) is a medium-bitter pale ale with Old World hop flavor and aroma. Made with pale barley malt, it has a light body and clean finish. But what makes Saaremaa Island Ale exceptional is the native yeast that Brewmaster Mark Carpenter clandestinely brought back from his Estonian beer journey. It took months for Anchor to isolate and culture this special strain, so essential to the unique character of Saaremaa Island’s indigenous beers. Anchor’s trial brews confirmed that this yeast, reminiscent of some Belgian varieties, contributes a richly complex piquancy to this deliciously distinctive ale with overtones of freshly ground clove and allspice.

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Anchor Zymaster No. 6: Saaremaa Island Ale will be available in limited release in 22 oz. bottles and on draught in select restaurants, bars, and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

Beer Birthday: Jeff Barkley

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Today is the 30th birthday of Jeff Barkley. Jeff has been brewing and helping out at Moonlight Brewing off and on for the last eight years, and also is the son of legendary brewer Don Barkley, who’s currently at Napa Smith Brewing. I love running into Jeff at various events, podcasts and the brewery, as he’s great fun to hang out with and share a pint. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

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Jeff, just after he was promoted to VP of International Operations at the first Lagunitas Beer Circus in 2009.

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Brian Hunt and Jeff in front of Moonlight Brewery’s new foeders.

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Jeff and Brian Hunt at the Marin Breastfest when it was still held in Marin, in 2008.

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Brian Hunt, Aron Derosey from Beach Chalet, Jeff and Melissa Myers, when she was brewing at Drake’s.

Beer Birthday: Patrick Rue

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Today is the 34th birthday of Patrick Rue, founder of The Bruery in Orange County, California. I first became aware of Patrick when he started writing his blog about the travails of opening a brewery. We began corresponding, becoming friends and eventually meeting in person. I’ve since written several articles about Patrick and the Bruery as he’s become very successful in a very short period of time. Join me in wishing Patrick a very happy birthday.

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Patrick with then assistant brewer Travis Smith (who recently opened his own place, Societe Brewing) at GABF in 2009.

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

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Rick Sellers, Peter Hoey, Patrick and Shaun O’Sullivan.

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Patrick at the first Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival a couple of years ago.

Beer Birthday: Dave Suurballe

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Today is the 65th birthday of Dave Suurballe. Dave is a fixture in the San Francisco homebrewing and brewing community, being the president of his homebrew club and the former GM of the Toronado. Recently he was working at the Pi Bar, but he’s now back once more at the Toronado. Dave is one of my favorite people — and a kindred curmudgeon — and the fact that I think he’ll be annoyed yet again at having me point out his birthday is reason enough for me to keep it up. That’s just the kind of friend I am. So make sure you join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.

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Dave with Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado, at GABF.

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Dave with Mark Carpenter, head brewer at Anchor Brewing at a party Anchor through to celebrate the Toronado’s 20th anniversary.

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Dave with his wife Honoria and Jen Garris and Rich Rosen, co-owners of the Pi Bar, at the Toronado’s Belgian Beer Lunch in 2008.

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Nice photo by Mike Condie taken a few years ago at the Boonville Beer Festival, with Terence Sullivan, W. Dan Houck, Dave and me. Good times.

Beer Birthday: Rod DeWitt

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Today is my friend Rod DeWitt’s 57th birthday. Rod is the Director of Plant Engineering & Process Control at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville. Rod also plays drums in the Rolling Boil Blues Band. Join me is wishing Rod a very happy birthday.

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Rod and me at the Boonville Beer Festival in 2006.

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At the Mammoth Lakes Bluesapalooza in 2007. From left: Marc Cohen, Rod, Tom Dalldorf, Bruce Joseph and Ken Hickmott.

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Rod DeWitt, on the roof showing me the view depicted on every bottle of Anderson Valley Brewing during a private tour in May of 2006.

Beer Birthday: Steve Donohue

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Today is the 43rd birthday of Steve Donohue, former brewmaster at Firehouse Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale, California. Steve is an unsung brewer who deserves more accolades and fame. He’s currently still doing some work at Hermitage Brewing but spending most of his time on his own brewery, Santa Clara Valley Brewing. He’s been brewing his own beers and has a location where the new brewery will be built, so his journey is just beginning. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Steve at last year’s 22nd Celebrator anniversary party at the end of SF Beer Week.

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Steve with Peter Cogan from the Tied House, during the 2009 Celebrator party.

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Hermitage assistant brewer, Steve, Peter Licht and me during a visit to the Hermitage Brewery in San Jose a few weeks ago.

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Pete Slosberg with Steve.

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Steve Altimari, brewer at High Water Brewing, Steve and Steve Shapiro, from Beer by Bart.

Note: Last two photos purloined from Facebook, and I believe they were taken by Arie Litman.

Beer Birthday: Dr. Bill

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Today is also the 52nd birthday of William Sysak, better known to the beer community as Dr. Bill. Dr. Bill’s massive tastings are the stuff of legends, and he’s now transported them — albeit on a smaller scale — to working at Stone Brewing’s World Bistro & Gardens. He has impeccable taste, be it in beer, wine, whisky, cigars, what have you, and is one of the most fun people to taste with. Join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.

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Dr. Bill and me sharing a plate of frites before the final judging at the Hard Liver Barleywine Festival in 2008.

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Dr. Bill with Matt Bonney, from Brouwer’s/Bottleworks in Seattle at Slow Food Nation 2008 at Fort Mason.

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Dr. Bill at Falling Rock, hosting one of his legendary tastings, during GABF in 2006.

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Dr. Bill’s player’s card when he joined Stone Brewing.

Beer Birthday: Mark Ruedrich

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Today is the 63rd birthday of Mark Ruedrich, co-owner, and original brewer, of North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg. Mark was a marine biologist who discovered good beer while living in England. Looking for a spot to build a brewery in Northern California, he was drawn to the tidal pools around Fort Bragg, and built a mini-beer empire there beginning in 1988. His Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout was one of the first truly great world-class beers made by early American microbreweries and helped the nascent industry on the map. Plus he’s great fun to share a pint with. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

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Mark with North Coast co-owner Tom Allen at GABF in 2006.

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North Coast brewer Ken Kelley with Mark at the brewery last year.

Beer Birthday: Vinnie Cilurzo

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Today is the 44th 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. 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 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.

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.