Historic Beer Birthday: Gottlieb Brekle

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Today is the birthday of Gottlieb Brekle (February 23, 1821-1888). He was born somewhere in Germany, most likely Württemberg, though possibly Ludwigsburg or Hamburg, arriving in America on July 31, 1852, along with his wife Marie and young son Frederick. In 1871, according to Anchor, “Brekle bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon on Pacific Street near Russian Hill for $3,500, transforming it into the American brewery that, twenty-five years later, would be renamed Anchor” when it it was bought by “German brewer Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr.” Given how long ago Brekle was born, not to mention all of the records lost due to the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, little is known about Brekle’s life, and I don’t know of any pictures of him. Even the spelling of his name seems uncertain, with records existing where it’s spelled Breckle, Breckel, and Breckels, too, making trying to find information a lot harder.

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After Gottlieb, or George, as he took calling himself later, died, his son Frederick took over the business. Since we know the brewery was sold in 1896, we can be pretty sure Gottlieb died before then, but it could have been in 1888, or some other year, nobody seems sure. Anchor wrote on their blog, in a piece entitled Under the Crown: A Brewery is Born, which I assume was written by Anchor’s historian Dave Burkhart (who I consider a friend) that Gottlieb Brekle’s naturalization papers indicate he became a citizen in 1854, and they display a small image of those papers.

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But as much as it pains me, I’m not sure that’s right. Look at the paper blown up a bit, so it’s a little easier to read.

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From what I can make out, he was a subject of the King of Württemberg on September 21, 1861, but became a U.S. citizen August 5, 1854, which I don’t quite understand, but then some of language is hard to read. But the name on that document appears to be “Carl Gottlieb Breckles,” so I’m wondering if it may be a different person?

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I found this document on Ancestory.com, which is a voter “Register 7th Precinct, 4th Ward, San Francisco County, 1880.” Line 34, the third from the bottom, lists a Gottlieb Brekle, age 59 (which would make his birth year 1821 if he was 59 in 1880). It also lists his occupation as “Brewer” and his address as “1431 Pacific,” in San Francisco. But more telling is that last column, which lists the date he was naturalized. And for Gottlieb, what’s listed is August 4, 1879. And more confirmation is in the line below, where it lists a Frederick Brekle, also listed as a “Brewer” and living at the same address. Since we know that was his son’s name, it seems pretty clear that this document is referring to our Gottlieb Brekle.

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The Anchor Brewery in the early 1900s.

Sadly, there isn’t much more known, though Anchor also has some more information they found in researching newspapers at the time.

Fortunately for researchers of San Francisco history, most of its early newspapers survived. In early 1874, San Francisco’s largest brewery—the Philadelphia Brewery—took out an ad in an SF paper to brag that it had sold more beer than any of SF’s other 33 breweries the previous year. Anchor, then called the Golden City Brewery, ranked 29th out of 34, with sales of just 585 barrels, the equivalent of about 8,000 cases of beer. If that seems like a lot of beer, our brewery’s sales in 1873 were just .33% (not 33%, not 3.3%, but .33% or 33/100 of 1%!) of total sales in barrels by all SF breweries!

In 2011, Anchor Brewing released a beer named after their first brewmaster, Brekle’s Brown.

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And here’s a short video Anchor released at the time.

Beer Birthday: J.J. Phair

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Today is the birthday of J.J. Phair, co-founder of E.J. Phair Brewing. J.J. started homebrewing in 1990, and ten years later opened his brewery, which is named for his grandfather Ewart John Phair, who was an amateur winemaker and beer lover, as a way to honor E.J. The brewery’s grown since then, and today there’s a Concord Alehouse, a production brewery and taproom in Pittsburg. Join me in wishing J.J. a very happy birthday.

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J.J. and Craig Cauwels at the E.J. Phair brewery taproom in 2012.

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J.J. at the Bay Area Beer Festival in 2006.

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. 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. Golden Road made some waves two Septembers ago when they were acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, and haven’t seen her since she went over to the “winning team,” and alienated us losers. Still, 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.)

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An older photo of Meg and Dave Hopwood, from Stone Brewing. (Photo purloined from Facebook.)

Beer Birthday: Grant Johnston

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Today is the 63rd birthday of Grant Johnston. Grant was the original brewer at Marin Brewing when it opened in 1989, and spent a number of years at Black Diamond Brewing in Concord, California. Grant was very influential in the early days of Bay Area brewing, and he’s an incredibly talented brewer. A few years ago he moved to the midwest, and these days can be found working a few days a week at the Argus Brewery in Chicago. A couple of years back, I was in Belgium at the Cantillon Brewery when in walked Grant, quite by chance, so you never know when you’re going to run into him. Join me in wishing Grant a very happy birthday.

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Grant and me at GABF in 2006.

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Grant (on the right) judging the 2006 Double IPA Festival in the cellar of The Bistro, with Tom Dalldorf, Vicky, our hard-working beer steward in the middle, and the Toronado’s Dave Keene in profile on the left.

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Brendan Moylan and Grant shortly before Marin Brewing opened in 1989.

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Grant and Arne Johnston brewing his Wild Rice Ale for Marin’s 25th Anniversary.

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Grant, bottom left, among the GABF judges for the 10th anniversary of the festival in 1992.

Beer Birthday: Brendan Moylan

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Today is Brendan Moylan’s 56th birthday. Brendan owns both his eponymous Moylan’s Brewing as well as Marin Brewing. He’s a very active part of both the local and beer community, and each year puts on the Breasfest to benefit breast cancer awareness. Join me in wishing Brendan a very happy birthday.

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Arne Johnson sporting his four gold medals won at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival with Brendan at a recent beer dinner.

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Shane Aldrich and Arne Johnson, from Marin Brewing, Brendan Moylan, who owns both, and Denise Jones and Jim Grbac, from Molyan’s Brewing after the award ceremonies at GABF three years ago.

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Brendan and in me in front of Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia during Philly Beer Week in 2010.

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Brendan and his wife at the Breastfest that Marin Brewing sponsors in 2010.

Beer Birthday: Daniel Satterthwaite

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Today is the 42nd birthday of Daniel Satterthwaite, who’s been brewing in the Bay Area since the 1990s. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, he learned brewing at the Siebel Institute in Chicago and worked for a time in the Black Forest of Germany at a small, family-owned brewery that’s over one hundred years old. Returning home, he worked for years at Gordon Biersch and Trumer Brauerei, and he also helped co-found the Seven Bridges Cooperative home brew supply store in Santa Cruz, was Executive Director of the South Bay Brewer’s Guild. More recently, he co-founded his own place, New Bohemia Brewing in Santa Cruz, and is making great beer there. Join me in wishing Daniel a very happy birthday.

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Dan, in the middle, picking up his first medal for New Bohemia at GABF in 2015.

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And waiting in line to go up on stage to pick up his medal.

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On the new brewhouse.

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Note: Last two photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Chuck Silva

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Today is also the birthday of Chuck Silva, former brewmaster at Green Flash Brewing in San Diego. His West Coast IPA has taken the world by storm, and personally, I loved his Tripel and Le Freak. The big, shiny new brewery they recently built is also pretty amazing. But eventually Chuck wanted to something of his own, and he recently opened Silva Brewing Company in the Central Coast of California, around his native San Luis Obispo area in Paso Robles. Join me in wishing Chuck a very happy birthday.

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Chuck at GABF two years ago.

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The beer chef, Bruce Paton, with Chuck at one his beer dinners.

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Chuck at Mammoth Lakes Bluesapalooza in 2007.

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Chuck serving the symposium beer at Stone Brewing during Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego in 2008.

Beer Birthday: Bruce Joseph

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Bruce Joseph, who’s been at Anchor Brewery for many, many years turns 61 today. There’s a big picture of him when he was very young in the stairwell at the brewery that I see every time I’m there. He’s been doing the distilling for Anchor’s whiskey and gin for a long while now and plays bass with the Hysters (Anchor’s big band) along with the Rolling Boil Blues Band (the Celebrator beer band that’s all industry musicians). If there’s a nicer person in the beer industry, I’ve yet to meet him. Join me in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.

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On stage at the Northern California Rhythm & Blues Festival several years ago.

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A self-portrait of Bruce and me at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2006.

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With Melissa Myers at the Falling Rock during GABF 2007.

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With Garrett Oliver at an industry event during GABF years ago.

Beer Birthday: Jennifer Talley

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Today is the 48th birthday of Jennifer Talley, former brewer at Squatter’s Pub & Brewery, an oasis of good beer in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jen left Utah a few years ago to become the Brewing Operations Manager for RedHook in Woodinville, Washington, and more recently joined Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California. Unfortunately, Jen’s left Russian River to care for her ailing mother in Grass Valley and has more recently joined Brian Ford brewing at Auburn Alehouse. Jennifer’s a terrific brewer and one of the coolest people in the industry. Join me in wishing Jennifer a very happy birthday.


In town to shoot a television pilot in 2007, Shaun O’Sullivan (21st Amendment), Dave McLean (Magnolia) and Jennifer outside Magnolia.


After a panel discussion at GABF on women in brewing. From left: Carol Stoudt (from Stoudts Brewing), Jennifer Talley (from Squatter’s Pub Brewery), Natalie Cilurzo (from Russian River) and Teri Fahrendorf.


At a beer dinner put on by The Lost Abbey near San Diego, Jennifer and Matt Brynildson stopped by our table for a visit with Adam Avery and Vinnie Cilurzo.


At CBC in San Diego, 2008. From left, Fal Allen (Asia Pacific Breweries), Jennifer and Geoff Larson (Alaskan Brewing).

Bistro Double IPA Winners 2017

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Today the 17th annual Double IPA Festival was held at the Bistro in Hayward, California. I missed judging last year, but happily was able to be there again this year. We judged 68 Double IPAs and 37 Triple IPAs, and awarded three medals in each category, plus an honorable mention for each, as well.

Double IPAs

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Our judging table in the basement of the Bistro.

Triple IPAs

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The second judging table.

Peoples Choice Awards

Congratulations to all the winners.

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It was a beautiful day at the Bistro for tasting 105 Double and Triple IPAs.