Historic Beer Birthday: Lawrence Steese

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Today is the birthday of Lawrence Steese (April 20, 1912-April 19, 1991). Steese is part of the more recent lore of Anchor Brewing. Originally from Mill Valley, in Marin County, he bought Anchor in 1960 when Joe Allen was retiring, though Allen stayed around to teach him how to make Steam Beer. Fifty-one percent of the brewery was then bought by Fritz Maytag, who eventually bought out Steese and assumed full control.

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Steese was from Mill Valley, and in the July 14, 1962 edition of the Daily Independent Journal, an article used the headline How a Marinite Rescued Steam Beer, which included the following in its coverage.

SOME THREE years ago the requiem for steam beer was being played, and the sad demise of a California tradition was being mourned. At that time Joe Allen, owner of Anchor Brewery, announced his retirement. There was no one skilled in the exacting art of steam beer brewing to take his place, and no one, it seemed, who cared to take the time and trouble to learn from the old master. No one, that is, until Lawrence Steese decided he’d like to try. Joe Allen was more than willing to teach. And since his official “retirement” these three years past, Allen has spent his days at the brewery as professor of steam beer brewing. The making of steam beer is not like the brewing of other beers. Steam beer is naturally carbonated; neither additives nor preservatives become it. “The Sincere Beer,” it is called by some. IT IS TRULY a “health food,” its devotees assert, containing more malt and hops than other beers, and without corn or rice to lighten it.

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And this is Steese’s story, distilled to its essence on Anchor Brewery’s website today.

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Beer Birthday: Pat McIllhenney

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Today is the 62nd birthday of Pat McIllhenney, brewmaster and founder of Alpine Beer Co. near San Diego. Pat makes some amazing hoppy beers. Unfortunately, his beers are hard to find up our way, but that hopefully will be improving since last year Alpine was acquired by Green Flash Brewing. Join me in wishing Pat a very happy birthday.

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Pat manning his booth at the Firestone Walker Invitational.

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Pat at GABF in 2008.

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Pat at the Boonville Beer Festival, also in 2008.

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Pat with Tomme Arthur at the inaugural Firestone Walker Invitational four years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Ernst F. Baruth

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Today is the birthday of Ernst F. Baruth (April 28, 1842-February 1906). While what would become Anchor Brewing began during the California Gold Rush when Gottlieb Brekle arrived from Germany and began brewing in San Francisco at what he called the Golden City Brewery, 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, shortly before it.

According to Anchor Brewery’s website:

[In 1896] German brewer Ernst Frederick Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the old brewery on Pacific (the first of six Anchor locations around the City over the years) and named it Anchor. No one knows why Baruth and Schinkel chose the name Anchor, except, perhaps, for its indirect but powerful allusion to the booming Port of San Francisco.

Surprisingly, there isn’t much biographical information about Baruth. He was born somewhere in Germany, and arrived in New York City on August 13, 1875, on a ship named the “SS Neckar” that departed from Bremen, Germany and then sailed to Southampton, England, before heading west to America.

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The Anchor Brewery in the early 1900s.

Beer Birthday: Michael Demers

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Today is the 50th birthday of Michael Demers, the Big 5-0, brewmaster of Discretion Brewing in Soquel, which is near Santa Cruz. Michael’s been brewing most of his adult life, and originally started at some Colorado brewpubs before working at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fort Collins. More recently, he moved closer to home to brew at Boulder Creek Brewing, and in 2012 made it back to his home town of Soquel to help open Discretion. He’s making some great beers at Discretion, and winning awards for his efforts. Join me in wishing Michael a very happy birthday.

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Michael goofing around in the brewery.

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All dressed up with someplace to go, Michel and his wife Eileen on their way to sing at a concert performance at Mission Carmel last December.

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Showing off his medal at last year’s GABF in Denver.

Beer Birthday: Jeremy Cowan

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Today is Jeremy Cowan’s 47th 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). Though Jeremy splits his time between San Francisco and New York, I still manage to see him at beer events pretty 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 45th 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 42nd 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 46th 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.

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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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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.]