Beer Birthday: Anat Baron

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Today is the birthday of filmmaker Anat Baron, whose Beer Wars movie started people writing and talking about the beer business, from all sorts of angles, four years ago, and while it’s slowed down, the discussion has yet to have completely gone away. Or as Alan from A Good Beer Blog puts it, “joined to the long standing discussion about the beer business and added an interesting interpretation.” Love it or loathe it, it has certainly managed to capture people’s attention, and if that’s all it’s done, that’s still a huge positive to my way of thinking. But it’s also opened quite a few minds to what those of us who’ve been embedded in the beer business have known forever, which is how the business operates, where it’s fair and unfair, and what you can do as a consumer to support the beers and breweries you love. Join me in wishing Anat a very happy birthday.

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Anat behind the bar.

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Publicity photo for Beer Wars.

Beer Birthday: Lee Chase

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Today is the 41st birthday of Lee Chase, co-owner of Blind Lady Ale House in San Diego, brewer at Automatic Brewing, located in the Blind Lady’s back room, and brewery consultant to the stars. Chase was also the head brewer at Stone Brewing for nearly a decade and oversaw the building and installation of the new brewery in Escondido. Lee’s a terrific brewer and a great beer ambassador, and also great fun to hang out with a share a pint, which I was able to do two Decembers ago at the Stone Vertical Epic Tasting. Please join me in wishing Lee a very happy birthday.

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Lee at Beer School for CitySearch San Diego in 2008.

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Lee, with Meg Gill, Garrett Marrero and Matthew Brynildson at CBC in San Diego two years ago.

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Greg Koch and Lee at the Stone 5th Anniversary Open House Celebration, which later became the “Stone Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival.”

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Lee with Stone co-founder Steve Wagner on April 14, 1999 celebrating their first bottling run on their then new Maheen bottler. [Note: photos purloined from Facebook & Stone Brewing.]

Beer Birthday: Alexandra Nowell

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Today is also the birthday of Alexandra Nowell, brewmaster of the soon-to-be open Three Weavers Brewing in Inglewood, southwest of L.A. She’s brewed previously at a variety of Bay Area breweries, including Moylan’s and Drakes, before moving south to Kinetic Brewing last year. Just recently, she joined Three Weavers, who is looking for a little help on Kickstarter with their tasting room. Join me in wishing Alexandra a very happy birthday.

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The Drake’s/Stone Quarter Century of Issues Celebrator 25th Anniversary Pale Ale brew crew (from left to right): Drake’s owner John Martin, Stone Northern California regional brewery rep. Dave Hopwood, Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele, Stone San Francisco regional brewery rep Michael “Zippo” Parzick and, obviously the only one doing any real work, then-Drake’s brewmaster Alexandra (on the brew deck).

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Alexandra scooping out spent grain at Drake’s.

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With Jesse Houck, who also worked at Drake’s, but is now brewing at Golden Road. in L.A.

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Alexandra with Mike “Tasty” McDole (purloined, er … borrowed from the Weekly Pint)

Beer Birthday: Jason Chavez

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Today is the 46th birthday of Jason Chavez, who’s the brewmaster at Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz. Chavez started homebrewing while still in high school on his family’s kitchen stove. He’s a graduate of the American Brewers Guild, and has been brewing at Seabright since 1999. I believe I first met Jason many years ago at the Rock Bottom in Denver during a GABF week, but run into occasionally at events. Seabright celebrated their 25th anniversary last year, when I spent the day at the brewery to do a story on their silver anniversary. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.

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Here’s a great shot by Dan Coyro, from an article in Santa Cruz Sentinnel.

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Jason, in the center, surrounded by Seabright folks at the 10th annual Stumptown Russian River Revival and BBQ Cook-Off.

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Jason, again in the center, at GABF (Note: last two photos purloined from Seabright’s website).

Beer Birthday: Joe Tucker

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Today is the birthday of Joe Tucker, the “Boss” — a.k.a. Executive Director — at Rate Beer. He runs the website from his Vineyard bunker in Sonoma, California. Because I’m in the Bay Area, I run into Joe from time to time, and usually at the annual hop picking day at Moonlight Brewing, though we flew to San Diego together two Decembers ago to visit Stone Brewing, too. Join me in wishing Joe a very happy birthday.

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Vinnie Cilurzo, me and Joe at the Pliny the Elder release earlier last year at Russian River Brewing.

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Joe with some of the Hop Press staff — Ken, Ashley, Mario and Mark — at Triple Rock’s Sour Fest 2010.

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At Fred Abercrombie’s Craft Beerd’s book launch party at Taps. Left to right; Fred Abercrombie, Ken Weaver, Anneliese Schmidt, Joe and Ron Lindenbusch, from Lagunitas.

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

Anchor Announces New Spring Saison

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Anchor Brewing just released a teaser video announcing a new spring seasonal: Anchor Saison. Here’s what the press release has to say:

Anchor Saison™ Spring Ale (7.2% ABV) is a traditional Belgian-style saison with a California twist. The distinctiveness of roasted Belgian wheat malt is enhanced by the peppery, clove-like flavors of a locally cultured saison-style yeast. And, for this release, Anchor chose three California ingredients — lemongrass, lemon peel, and ginger — whose synergy adds a tangy crispness and herbal spiciness to this sharply refreshing, uniquely Californian saison.

Brewmaster Mark Carpenter suggests pairing the Saison Spring Ale with sushi or Vietnamese cuisine, which perfectly compliments the tangy, citrus notes of the beer.

Released in California this March thru May, Anchor Saison™ Spring Ale will be available in 6-packs and draught at select retailers and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

The fourth Zymaster series beer was Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale, so I suspect it was popular enough to launch as their new spring seasonal, perhaps exactly the same or slightly tweaked; perhaps at some point we’ll learn the exact details. The Zymaster farmhouse beer was also 7.2% a.b.v., although the spices seem slightly different. For now, enjoy this old newsreel, a “Special Report” from Anchor Brewing Worldwide News.”

And below is the new label, created to resemble old fruit crate art.

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The California Drought & Brewing

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Climate Progress, the section of the website Think Progress devoted to the issue of climate change and related topics, had an interesting piece about the recent California drought and how it will effect the water needs of breweries. Entitled California’s Water Crisis Is Becoming A Beer Crisis, if you care about whether California’s breweries will make it through the coming drought, give it a read.

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Beer Birthday: Meg Gill

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Today is the birthday of Meg Gill, founder and owner, along with Tony Yanow, of Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles. Things at the brewery appear to be going swimmingly and by all accounts the brewery’s cans are selling like hotcakes. Meg is also the former national sales manager for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers in San Francisco. When I first met Meg she was working for Oskar Blues, and later she organized the Opening Gala for SF Beer Week in years two and three, a Herculean undertaking. Meg is one of the best beer ambassadors for the industry I’ve ever met, so her continued success is understandable and well-deserved. Join me in wishing Meg a very happy birthday.

The Brewing Network's Justin Crossley interviewing Meg Gill from Speakeasy
Justin Crossley, from the Brewing Network, with Meg at the 22nd Celebrator Anniversary Party in 2010.

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Speakeasy owner Forest Gray, Brian Lenzo, from Blue Palms in L.A., and Meg at a Speakeasy Anniversary event several years ago.

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Faction’s (then Triple Rock’s) Rodger Davis, struggling to keep the sun out of his eyes, with Meg at the Sour Fest.

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Meg and me at SF Beer Week’s Opening Gala a few years ago. (Photo by Mike Condie.)

California BrewMasters Coffee Table Book

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This looks like a fun project. Photographer Nick Gingold is creating a portrait of California brewers, a coffee table book, that’s entitled California BrewMasters. He’s photographed at least 45 California brewers and each profile will include an interview.
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The book is expected to be published in June of this year, and the brewers featured are a veritable who’s who of California’s beer scene.

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I first met Nick at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival last summer, when he was showing off some of the great photographs that will be in the finished book. He’s been working on the book for over two years. To complete the book, he’s turned to Kickstarter to raise the remaining funds to get it printed. Pre-order it through Kickstarter, and you’ll both get it for less than retail plus be one of the first to have it shipped directly to your home. There’s also additional levels at Kickstarter, with more schwag including bottle openers, growlers, t-shirts, a poster and even signed copies of the book.

Here’s how the book is described at the Kickstarter page:

California BrewMasters is a collection of interviews and photographic portraits of some of California’s best brewers. I’ve traveled to over 45 breweries around every corner of the state talking to the men and women responsible for the golden state’s most delicious brews. I’m launching this Kickstarter to create a beautiful, 200 page, 10″x10″ hard cover coffee table book to share this project with the world. We plan to have it ready for distribution by June.

As a photographer and craft beer fan, I wanted to create a project that hadn’t been done before. I noticed that while a lot of books were written about the beer itself, or as a guide book to which breweries to visit, no one had really been paying attention to the men and women responsible for all this delicious beer we have. What’s going on in the mind of Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman’s? How does Mitch Steele from Stone brew such delicious IPAs? Why not talk to them and find out, and better yet bring their faces out of the brewery and onto the page in, so you can really get a connection to the guy spending countless hours bringing you a fresh, delicious, well crafted product to sip on?

So a little over two years ago I set out to do just that, and today we have the project you see before you. I photographed these brewers in their natural environments, in the brewery and in the communities in which they work and live. We would then interviewed them, having an open conversation about their history, their philosophy to brewing, what they look for in a good beer, their thoughts on the current state of the craft beer industry, you name it – we tried to ask it. These interviews will be transcribed and edited to go hand in hand with each portrait.

And finally, here’s a few examples from the book, to give you a flavor of the portraits:

Brian Hunt of Moonlight Brewing.
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Ben Cook of Hangar 24 Brewing
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Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River Brewing
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Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes from Pizza Port Carlsbad
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Firestone Walker To Open L.A. Space

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Firestone Walker Brewing announced plans to open a new location in Venice, California. According to their website, they say that in late 2014 they will “open a Taproom restaurant, pilot brewhouse and craft beer hub on Washington Boulevard in Venice.”

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They’re still working out the details, but it’s looks like the new space will include the following.

  • A small-scale complete pilot brewhouse for brewing R&D beers and special one-off brews.
  • A Taproom restaurant that showcases our approach to beermaking while offering a menu and ambiance unique to the Venice property.
  • A discovery center featuring a retail space and training room for educational experiences such as hop seminars and blending sessions. The goal is to develop a connective channel with craft beer enthusiasts and the local brewing community, from home brewers to professionals.

You can read more about the plans at Firestone Walker.

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