Beer Birthday: Sean Paxton

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Today is the 44th 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. He’s spent the last year redoing his website with great new recipes and an amazing interface that allows you to search, scale the recipes, convert measurements and much more. For just $5 per month, you’ll get a steady stream of newly created and tested recipes, along with videos and articles to teach you how to cook like Sean and answer your questions. Check it out. 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.

Beer Birthday: John Tucci

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Today is also the 49th birthday of John Tucci, who until it closed a few years ago, was the brewmaster for the San Francisco Gordon Biersch brewpub. John was one of Gordon Biersch’s best and most senior brewers, and especially with his one-offs that he brewed at that location. He’s also a great champion for beer in San Francisco and was very active with the local brewers guild and SF Beer Week. When the San Francisco location closed, he brewed at their Palo Alto brewpub, but after 16 years, left as he’s getting closer to opening his own new brewery, 47 Hills Brewing, which will be located at 137 South Linden Avenue in South San Francisco. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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John behind the bar pouring some of his beer. (Note: this photo by Winnie Hsu and purloined from Facebook.)

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At the Slow Beer Festival 2008, Ian Marks (from Hog Island Oyster Co.), Taylor Boetticher (from the Fatted Calf), Dave, John and Shaun O’Sullivan (from 21st Amendment).

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John when I visited him last year at the Palo Alto Gordon Biersch.

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Taking delivery of new brewing equipment at 47 Hills.

Beer Birthday: Kushal Hall

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Today is the 33rd birthday of Kushal Hall, former Director of Brewing Operations for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Kushal had been brewing at Speakeasy since 2007, but left in May of this year, and I’m not sure what he’s doing right now. While Kushal studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, I think we can all agree the world is a better place since he became a brewer. A terrific brewer and person, please join me in wishing Kushal a very happy birthday.

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Kushal, second from the left, and the gang from Speakeasy at the opening gala for SF Beer Week in 2013.

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Kush serving his beer at Speakeasy 13th anniversary bash in 2010.

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Kushal as mad scientist (photo by, I believe, Brian Stechschulte).

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Kushal with Betsey and Jesse Friedman at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2012.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Barbara Groom

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Today is the birthday of Barbara Groom, co-founder of Lost Coast Brewing in Eureka, California. I first met Barbara when I was the beer buyer at BevMo in the mid-1990s and our paths have crossed on occasion ever since. She makes terrific beers and her brewery recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Join me in wishing Barbara a very happy birthday.

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Barbara in the brewery.

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This is what Barbara was wearing when I first met her, back when she called on me at BevMo.

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Thumbs up.

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In the beginning.

Note: All photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Tomme Arthur

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Today is Tomme Arthur’s 43rd birthday. Tomme is Director of Brewery Operations for Port Brewing and the Lost Abbey. One of the established stars of the San Diego brewing scene, Tomme is justly famous for his terrific beers, like his Cuvee de Tomme, the Red Poppy, the Angel’s Share and the Track series. Plus, he introduced washoes to the brewing community. Join me in wishing Tomme a very happy birthday.

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At GABF in 2005. Jeff Bagby, brewer at Pizza Port, Tomme, and Eric Rose, brewer at Hollister Brewing Co..

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After the Five Guys and a Barrel Beer Dinner, a toast was offered with Isabelle Proximus, the Collaborative Sour Ale made by blending beer and done by the five of them. Top row: Adam Avery, Rob Tod, Bruce Paton and Sam Calagione. Bottom row: Tomme and Vinnie Cilurzo.

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Tomme and me after another beer dinner, relaxing in the Cathedral Hill bar with Blind Pig IPA.

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Tomme Arthur and his oldest daughter Sydney in front of aging beer barrels, when she was very young.

Historic Beer Birthday: Karl Strauss

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Today is the birthday of Karl Strauss (October 5, 1912-December 21, 2006). He “was a German-American brewer. He fled Nazi Germany in 1939, and went on to become a brewer, executive, and consultant in the American brewing industry. He received numerous awards during his career, which spanned both the large national brewery and the microbrew segments of the industry. Karl Strauss Brewing Company, which he helped found in 1989, continues to bear his name.”

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I only met Karl one time (I think) in the latter half of the 1990s during my BevMo days. In 2006, my Karl Strauss rep. from that time sent me an e-mail letting me know that Karl has passed, and I wrote the following in the blog ten years ago. “Yesterday, Karl Strauss passed away in Milwaukee at age 94. Born in Germany, and a graduate of Weihenstephan, Strauss worked for Pabst for decades before retiring as a vice-president. In 1989, along with cousin Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner, Strauss founded the San Diego microbrewery that bears his name. It was San Diego’s first one and today the company operates a brewery and six brewpubs.”

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Here’s the more thorough story from the brewery website:

Karl Strauss was destined to brew beer. Born in 1912 on the premises of his father’s brewery in Minden, Germany, he spent his childhood playing amid beer barrels and sacks of fresh hops and barley. At age 19, he left home for Bavaria, the brewing capital of Germany, to attend the Technical University of Munich-Weihenstephan. There he earned a degree in the science and practice of malting and brewing, as well as a Master Brewer certification. Given the political situation in 1930s Germany, Karl had to look abroad for work. In February of 1939, he boarded the SS Manhatten and set sail for America, in pursuit of opportunity. His job search led him to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home to one of the most famous breweries in the United States.

Karl began his career at Pabst Brewing Company on the bottling line in May, 1939. But with his strong work ethic and educational background, he quickly worked his way up the brewing ranks. In the 1950s, he was part of the team that reformulated the recipe for Pabst’s Blue Ribbon beer. The improved version catapulted sales for the company, and PBR remains an American brewing icon to this day. In 1960, Karl became Vice President of Production, overseeing all brewing operations across the country. He held the position until he retired in 1983, after 44 years with the company.

Not content to rest after his retirement, Karl launched a new career as a brewery consultant, providing expert advice to breweries all over the world. In 1986, he was approached by his cousin Chris in San Diego about starting a microbrewery. Karl thought it was a great idea. He helped design the brewery, train the brewers, and create recipes for the first beers. He was so passionate about the project that he even lent his name, face and voice to the enterprise. Karl served as Master Brewer from 1989 to 2006, remaining involved in brewery operations until his passing.

Karl was very active in the brewing community throughout his life. He was president of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (1961-1963) and founder and director of the Museum of Beer and Brewing in Milwaukee. He is the only person to have received the MBAA Award of Merit (1981), Award of Honor (1992), and the Distinguished Life Service Award (2003). Karl also believed it was important to pass on the techniques and traditions of his craft to young brewers. We created the Karl M. Strauss Brewers Education Fund in honor of his work.

Karl had a contagious enthusiasm that inspired everyone around him. He was driven by a belief that everyone should enjoy life, preferably with good friends and good beer. Over the course of his 70 plus years as a brewer, he brewed more than seven billion servings of beer, enough for everyone on the planet to have a Karl Strauss Beer.

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Here’s much more, from Wikipedia:

Early Life

He was born October 5, 1912, on the second floor of the administration building of the Feldschlösschen Bräu, a brewery in Minden, Germany, of which his father was president. The second born of two boys and a girl to Albrecht and Mathilde Strauss, he attended the Oberrealschule in Minden where he received his Abitur. During his young life he assisted his father as a brewer and intern while living in the family quarters at the brewery. At age 19, he went to the Technical University of Munich at Weihenstephan, where he received a degree in the science and practice of malting and brewing. In addition, he received Master Brewer certification, allowing him to teach apprentice brewers. With his diploma in hand, he began working at breweries including the Falkenkreuz Brauerei Lippert in Detmold, Westphalia; the Bauer Brauerei in Lübeck, Holstein; and the Altstädter Malzfabrik in Altstadt, Thuringia.

With the rise of the Nazis, Germany was not a safe place for the Jewish Strauss family, and work became scarce. “I graduated from college while Hitler was in power and as a Jew could not find employment in the brewing industry,” he wrote in 1943. Thanks to family living in the United States, he was able to secure sponsorship to emigrate. But other members of his family were not so lucky. The last time he saw his mother was the night he left Germany. She later was killed in a concentration camp. His brother was killed in a Nazi raid on the Polish underground.

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Career in America

In 1939, Strauss left Germany for the United States, followed soon by his first wife, Irene Vollweiler. He had planned to join family members in San Francisco, California, but stopped in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the urging of an uncle to visit family friends. While there he applied for a job with the Pabst Brewing Company, which he intended to be temporary. “I arrived in Milwaukee on St. Patrick’s Day, 1939,” he later recalled. “I started to work at Pabst on May 11, 1939, and I worked for Pabst for 44 years.”

He began his work at Pabst feeding bottles to the bottle soaker. However, “once Pabst realized that it had a Bavarian brew master in its employ, Strauss quickly advanced.” Within a few months he was promoted to foreman of filtration. He continued to quickly move up the corporate ladder, becoming an assistant superintendent and later malt house superintendent. In 1942, he was transferred to Pabst’s brewery in Peoria, Illinois, as the plant production manager. Within a few years he was made head maltster in Milwaukee and was assistant superintendent of the malt house and brewhouse. In 1948, he was promoted to superintendent of Pabst’s newly purchased plant in Los Angeles, and remained there until 1956. He was named technical director of Pabst in 1958, and promoted to vice-president of production in 1960. He helped Pabst reformulate its beer, as well as create a new Pabst Blue Ribbon. He continued as vice-president until retiring from Pabst in 1983.

His first wife died in 1978. He married his second wife, Marjean Schaefer, in 1980.

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Post-retirement

In the 1980s, Strauss began a new career as a brewery consultant, providing services for both large breweries and microbreweries throughout the world. He had clients in Europe, Asia, and North America, including Molson, Tsingtao, The Boston Beer Company, and Goose Island Beer Company. He helped design more than 50 brewpubs and microbreweries.

In 1987, a cousin, Chris Cramer, and Cramer’s college roommate, Matt Rattner, asked Strauss to help them develop a brewpub in San Diego, California. Strauss not only designed the brewery and trained the brewers; he also formulated the original beer recipes and lent his name to the endeavor. Opening on February 2, 1989, Karl Strauss Brewing Company became the first brewery in San Diego in more than fifty years and is credited with having launched the craft brewing industry in San Diego. Strauss served as the brewmaster and corporate image of Karl Strauss Brewing Company. As corporate spokesman he made radio commercials in his thick German accent, always concluding “…or my name isn’t Karrrrl Strrrrrauss!”; on the technical side he was heavily involved in the design of the company’s new properties and brewing of new beers. He remained actively involved with the company until his death in Milwaukee on December 21, 2006, at the age of 94. He is buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Strauss co-authored a book, The Practical Brewer, published by the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

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Legacy

Strauss was president of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas from 1961–63. He is the only person to receive all three of the highest awards given by the association: the Award of Merit (1981), given to an individual or individuals who made an outstanding contribution to the brewing industry; the Award of Honor (1992), given to a member who has rendered outstanding service to the association; and the Distinguished Life Service Award (2003), which recognizes MBAA members who have given exceptional service to the association.

Karl was a founder and director of the Museum of Beer and Brewing in Milwaukee. The museum now presents an annual Karl Strauss Award to individuals for lifetime contributions to the industry.

In 2006, Karl Strauss Brewing Company set up the Karl Strauss Brewers Education Fund with the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. The fund provides financial educational support to aspiring southern California brewers pursuing a career in the field of brewing.

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And finally, here’s a video celebrating what would have been Karl’s 100th birthday in 2012.

Beer Birthday: Morgan Cox

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Today is the 39th birthday of Morgan Cox, founder and brewmaster of Ale Industries in Concord, California. Morgan started homebrewing at an early age, and washed kegs for Dave Heist at HopTown, before brewing at E.J. Phair. AFter eight years there, he left to open his own brewery, Ale Industries, where he’s been making inventive, tasty beers very since. Join me in wishing Morgan a very happy birthday.

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Morgan at the rainy Boonville Beer Festival in 2009.

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Morgan with Annie, or Annie N Crew, at the opening gala for SF Beer Week earlier this year.

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Morgan pouring at the Breastfest in 2012.

Note: the last two photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Don Gortemiller

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Today is the 64th birthday of Don Gortemiller, former brewmaster for Pacific Coast Brewing in Oakland, California. Don was making beer there since the very beginning, back in 1988, helping to put Oakland and the Bay Area on the beer map, but left under an odd set of circumstances, and has subsequently retired; lucky him. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

Steve Wolfe & Don Gortemiller, a bit lighter
Pacific Coast founder Steve Wolfe with Don at their 2009 annual Holiday Beer Tasting.

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Don toasting with his beer.

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Bruce Joseph with Don at Anchor Brewing.

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Don rockin’ out as a young man.

Note: the last three photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Alan Atha

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Today is the 65th birthday of Alan Atha, former co-founder and brewmaster of Baeltane Brewing in the two I most recently loved in, Novato, California. I first met Alan when he was a nanobrewery in planning, and he’s taken the experimental spirit of homebrewing and transitioned beautifully to commercial brewing, while retaining the playful nature that makes so many of his beer’s interesting, and delicious, with names like The Frog That Ate the World Double IPA and Rumplestiltskin. Unfortunately, Baeltane recently closed, and I’m not sure what Alan’s next move will be, beer-wise, but hoping we’ll learn something soon. Join me in wishing Alan a very happy birthday.

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Alan, in a great photo by Mario Rubio.

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Serving bread and beer. [Photo by Riggy.]

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Joe Tucker, me and Alan at the Craft Beerd book release party in Petaluma.

[Note: first two photos purloined from Facebook]

Beer Birthday: Jesse Friedman

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Today is the birthday of Jesse Friedman, co-founder of Almanac Beer Co.. I first got to know Jesse when he was writing his beer and food blog, Beer & Nosh, but he’s since gone on to partner with Damian Fagan to create “Farm-to-Barrel” beers in 2010. They currently make three year-round beers and a plethora of individual seasonals under the “Farm to Barrel Series” umbrella, usually with local ingredients, often fruit or field. Join me in wishing Jesse a very happy birthday.

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Jesse with Tim Clifford at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala earlier this year.

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Jesse, with Fraggle and Ron Silberstein, from Thirsty Bear, at the Anchor Holiday Party in 2012.

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Helping Sean Paxton with the Toronado Belgian Beer Lunch in 2009.

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Steve Altamari, Zak Davis, Jesse and Pete Slosberg at Jesse’s Pre-Wedding BBQ in 2010.
[Note: Pictures 1, 2, and 4 purloined from Facebook]