Beer Birthday: James Costa

oakland-brewing half-moon-bay
Today is the 45th birthday of James Costa. James is a brewer and co-founder of Oakland Brewing, and is also currently brewing at Half Moon Bay Brewing. But James has certainly made the rounds, and has also brewed for Moylan’s, Santa Cruz Aleworks, E.J. Phair and others. James is justly famous for his big, hoppy beers like the wonderful Sticky Zipper. Join me in wishing James a very happy birthday.

bistro-dipa09-03
James with Vic at the Bistro Double IPA Festival in 2009.

bravo-fest-06
James with Shaun O’Sullivan (left) and Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River) at the 2nd annual Single Hop Festival & Washoe Tournament in 2007.

toronado20th-19
James with his wife Caroline (left), with Iron Springs brewer Christian Kazakoff and his then-girlfriend, Jodi, at the Toronado 20th Anniversary Party in 2007.

tion-din-14
At the Beer Chef’s “Tion” beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in September of 2006, James with Arne Johnson (Marin Brewing) and Vinnie Cilurzo.

allagash-bdin-04
At another Beer Chef dinner, this one with Allagash, James offers some “Shrimp flavored Chips” to his wife Caroline, who wisely declined.

Beer Birthday: Charlie Bamforth

uc-davis-horse
Today is the 65th birthday of Charlie Bamforth, who is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at U.C. Davis (and was my teacher when I took the brewing short course there). His two most recent books should be on your must read list: Beer Is Proof That God Loves Us and Grape vs. Grain. He’s a terrific advocate for beer and a great person. He was also kind enough to speak to beer appreciation class that I recently taught at Sonoma State University. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

bamforth-anchor
Charlie with John Dannerbeck from Anchor Brewing, at a reception held there for the launch of Charlie’s new book.

Speakers at the Symposium: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie Bamforth
Charlie with fellow speakers at the Herbst Museum Symposium a few years ago, from left: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie.

IMG_3035
Charlie speaking at the first North American Guild of Beer Writers Symposium in Philadelphia in May of 2016.

charlie-kissed
Charlie being courted by both wine and beer on his publisher’s blog, Cambridge University Press.

Beer Birthday: Todd Ashman

fifty-fifty
Today is also the birthday of Todd Ashman, who turns 57. Todd is originally from Santa Rosa, but spent a number of years brewing at Flossmoor Station near Chicago, and then short stints at Titletown Brewing in Green Bay, Wisconsin and with Brewers Supply Group. Several years ago, Todd moved back to California to take a position brewing with a then-new brewery in Truckee, Fifty Fifty Brewing, which he’s made into an amazing brewing powerhouse. Some health issues sidelined Todd for a time, and he’s moved back to Santa Rosa, but I did see him in Philly for World Beer Cup judging. He’s currently consulting remotely as the operations manager for FiftyFifty, and is hopeful he can be back in Truckee after too long. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

nchf-bd05
Peter Hoey, at left, from Sacramento Brewing, with Todd at the 2009 Northern California Homebrew Festival.

Todd Ashman, from Fifty Fifty Brewing
Todd at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

obf07-32
Todd at Hair of the Dog during OBF in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Melissa Myers

good-hop
Today is my good friend Melissa Myers’ birthday. Though now several years ago, her most recent brewing gig was at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro, California. She’s also brewed at Pyramid, Ross Brewing and Magnolia, among others, but now she owns and operates her own beer bar in Oakland, The Good Hop. There’s a stool there with my name on it, and after several years I finally took it out for a spin earlier this year. Join me in wishing Melissa a very happy birthday.

mel-and-me

boontfest06-08
Arne Johnson, of Marin Brewing, and Melissa at the Boonville Beer Festival several years ago.

anchorx05-3
Former roommates Jen Garris and Melissa at the Anchor Christmas Party a few years back.

fr-thurs-1
Melissa and former Drake’s brewer Rodger Davis at GABF several years ago.

mm-jb
Melissa and me at GABF once upon a time.

myers-keene
Melissa with her adopted Daddy, “Big Daddy” Dave Keene.

melmye-1
Melissa in high school, believe it or not. At a Super Bowl party she threw, Melissa made the mistake of showing me this photo while I had my camera in my hand. I snapped a quick picture of it in the photo album, which is why is looks out of proportion and a little fuzzy. I had to seriously crop it and straighten it out and generally fix it up. But I think the effort was worth it, don’t you?

Beer Birthday: Tony Magee

lagunitas-circle
Today is the 57th birthday of Tony Magee. Tony is the founder and owner of Lagunitas Brewing. We first met in the mid-1990s when I visited the old brewery, before they moved to their present location, and have been good friends ever since. I recently wrote a profile of Tony for Beer Connoisseur magazine. With his beautifully twisted, iconoclastic vision, Tony’s built an amazing empire. His unique beers, and especially their quirky label designs and text, are always a treat. I know some people are down on the brewery since their sale to Heineken, but as far as I’m concerned, Tony is still Tony. Join me in wishing Tony a very happy birthday.

lagucircus-20
Tony as Ringmaster of the Lagunitas Beer Circus in 2009, with Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River Brewing.

bistroipa06-08
Tony and me at the Bistro’s IPA Festival in 2006.

hopmonkt-6
Tony warming up for a set at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol in 2008.


Performing the Big Bill Broonzy song, Key to the Highway, at the Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Festival in January of 2010.

SAM_3102
At the CCBA’s California Beer Summit two years ago.

Beer Birthday: Judy Ashworth

publican
Today is Judy Ashworth’s birthday. She’s the Grand Dame of Publicans, having once owned the Lyons Brewery Depot in the East Bay, one of the earliest bars to really embrace, support and promote craft beer. Judy sold the pub in 1998 after some health troubles sidelined her, but she’s still a fixture in the Bay Area beer scene. I’ve judged with her many times and these days she’s very supportive of the homebrewing movement and she can be seen at most of the major beer events throughout the year. Join me in wishing Judy a very happy birthday.

gabf06-wed-07
Judy with Shaun O’Sullivan (21st Amendment) and Chris Black at his Falling Rock Taphouse during GABF week in 2007.

bistro-wood08-8
Out in front of The Bistro in Hayward at the Wood-Aged Beer Festival in August of 2008. From left: Jeremy Cowan, owner of He’Brew, Judy, Dave Heist, and Zak, also from He’Brew.

tbwfest07-08
At the Toronado Barleywine Festival in 2008, Judy Ashworth, Matt Salie (with Big Sky Brewing) and Judy’s daughter Laurel.

Judy Ashworth, Stephen Beaumont, me & Peter Hoey at the Pliny the Younger release
Judy with Stephen Beaumont, me and Peter Hoey at the 2010 Pliny the Younger release.

DSCN0280
Dave Suurballe, Judy, Julie Nickels and Bruce Paton at Anchor Brewing for the book release party for Tom Acitelli’s “Audacity of Hops” a couple of years ago.

Beer Birthday: Jeff Bagby

bagby-beer
Today is the 43rd birthday of Jeff Bagby, who until a few years ago was the head brewer extraordinaire at Pizza Port in Carlsbad. There, you used to be able to read the entire biography of Jeff “Extra Spicy” Bagby. I’m not sure when it was written, but it’s no longer there, but it ended with the following sentence. “Jeff has his sights set on winning a GABF Brewpub of the Year award and we most definitely believe it is in his future as well.” Seven years ago at GABF, Jeff won an amazing seven medals and Pizza Port Carlsbad was awarded the Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year. That means his plaid pants got to go up on stage a record eight times! You can see a retrospective of Jeff’s plaid choices over the years, too, at Jeff “Lucky Pants” Babgy Wins Big. Once he started working on opening his own brewery, I suggested he should consider “Plaid Brewing” or some variation of that idea, like “Plaid Pants Brewing” or “Lucky Plaid Brewing.” Unfortunately, he went with a more sensible Bagby Beer Co., which opened two years ago. All, well some, kidding aside, Jeff is a terrific brewer and a hell of a washoes player, though I still think Dave Keene and I could beat him and Tomme again. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

Jeff Bagby & His Girlfriend, from Pizza Port - Carlsbad
Jeff with his then-girlfriend, now wife, Dande at GABF a few years ago. And yes, those are his lucky pants.

Greg Koch & Jeff Bagby
Greg Koch and Jeff at the Falling Rock.

anchor-toro-3
Former Drake’s brewer Melissa Myers with Jeff at an event at Anchor celebrating the Toronado’s 20th anniversary.

labbeydin-16
Sam Calagione, Bruce Paton and Jeff at the Lost Abbey for a beer dinner during CBC.

P1030583
Jeff at the Toronado for the annual Belgian Beer Dinner in 2012, with owner Dave Keene wearing his “Who the F@#k is Jeff Bagby?” T-shirt.

DSCN1206
Dandelian and Jeff Bagby in the upstairs loft dining area of their new brewery. The plaid back of the bench seating was inspired by Jeff’s winning plaid pants that he used to wear for GABF award ceremonies, as I detailed several years ago in Jeff “Lucky Pants” Bagby Wins Big.

Beer Birthday: Shaun O’Sullivan

21A-circle
Today is 21st Amendment brewer and co-owner Shaun O’Sullivan’s 53rd birthday. Shaun is one my favorite people in the industry. He’s a tireless champion for craft beer and very supportive of other brewers, such as with his fun collaboration projects. He’s one of the founders and organizers of SF Beer Week and through his brewpub puts on many special and educational events all year, not to mention his extensive travel schedule. His new production brewery in San Leandro recently opened, and it appears to be going great. Plus, he’s one of the few people brave enough to read the rough draft of my book, Under the Table, and even claim to like it. Now that’s a friend. I just can’t say enough good things about Sully, so I’ll stop here. Join me in wishing Shaun a very Happy Birthday.

21A
Shaun O’Sullivan and business partner Nico Freccia in the front of their brewpub.

bistro-judge
Shaun and me outside the Bistro after judging the Double IPA Festival.

albion-don-08
Shaun O’Sullivan with Don Barkley of Napa Smith Brewing on the first day of SF Beer Week.

21a-canparty-4
Nico with Dave Keene and Shaun at a can party at the Toronado.

21a-busschool-23
Nico and Shaun in lederhosen during 21st Amendment’s Beer Bus School.

Sully-paralegal
But this by far my favorite, it’s hard to understand how he could have given up all that to start a brewery.

Beer Birthday: Brian Stechschulte

speakeasy
Today is also the birthday of Brian Stechschulte, former executive director of the San Francisco Brewers Guild, who is now working for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers as their Public Relations & Media Director, at least I hope he still is. The last time I spoke to him was just after the announcement that Speakeasy was shutting down. I know he was one of the few staying on as a transition team, and hopefully with the new buyer he’ll be kept on. I’m just guessing at Brian’s age, but by my reckoning he’s got to be about 39 this year. In addition to his regular work, he also writes online at All Over Beer and Bygone Beer. Brian’s a terrific ambassador for beer and a great addition to the industry now that’s a working stiff. I think of him as a kindred spirit. Please join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

Brian-Stechschulte-Portrait
Brian’s profile picture, used without permission but begged for here in the hopes that in the spirit of its use will be granted magnanimously.

DSC_3203
Brian and me with San Francisco mayor Ed Lee at the SF Beer Week opening gala two years ago.

Brian-S-03
Bob Brewer, from Anchor Brewing, with Brian at GABF a couple of years ago.

Brian-S-02
Brian after grad school graduation in 2003. Notice the can of beer he’s drinking.
[Note: The last two photos purloined from Brian’s Facebook friends, blame them.]

Beer Birthday: John Martin

triple-rock-check drakes-new
Today is the 57th birthday of John Martin, one of the founders of Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse in Berkeley. John, with his brother Reid, started on of the first five brewpubs in the U.S., and the only one that’s still owned by the same family that founded it. John also owns Drake’s Brewing and the Jupiter Taproom, too. He’s active in the local beer community and also with the CCBA, plus he’s a great guy with a very distinctive laugh. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

me-and-john-martin
Me and John earlier this year at Sour Sunday.

firkinfest08-05
Christian Kazakoff, former brewer at Triple Rock (now at Iron Springs) with John during the 2008 Firkin Fest.

P1030343
John, with his brother Reid, and Triple Rock brewmaster Rodger Davs at the brewpub’s 25th anniversary.

P1010474
John, me and Peter Hoey at last year’s opening gala for SF Beer Week.

Triple-Rock-Opening-Day-4
John in the brewhouse with his brother 26 years ago, on opening day.