Beer Birthday: Chris Swersey

Today is the 52nd birthday of Chris Swersey, who’s on the staff of the Brewers Association as the Competition Manager for both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. He coordinates all the judges, volunteers and the thousands of beers needed for each festival. It’s a big job and Chris seems to do it effortlessly. Plus, the last two years, Chris and I both judged in Belgium at the Brussels Beer Challenge, which has been great fun. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.

Chris reading the list of World Beer Cup winners in 2008.

Nancy Johnson, Justin Crossley & Chris Swersey Before the GABF Awards Ceremony
Nancy Johnson, Justin Crossley & Chris right before the GABF Awards Ceremony in 2009.

Eric and Lauren Salazar, both from New Belgium Brewing, sandwiched by Jim Crooks, from Firestone Walker, and Chris Swersey, Competition Manager for GABF judging.

Me, Chris and another BA staff member freshly arriving at CBC in Austin in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Kim Jordan

Today is the birthday of Kim Jordan, co-founder of New Belgium Brewing. Kim went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, then stayed in town to start New Belgium in 1991. She recently stepped down as CEO of the company and is currently Executive Chair of the Brewery’s Board of Directors. While not exactly retired, just slowed down a bit for the day-to-day, she’s still very active in both the company’s affairs and the brewing industry more generally through the Brewer’s Association. Join me in wishing Kim a very happy birthday.

Greg Koch & Kim Jordan, from New Belgium
Greg Koch and Kim, at GABF in 2009.

Steve Hindy, Kim, Dave Keene, Eddie Friedland (former owner of Philadelphia’s Friedland Distributing) and Vinnie Cilurzo in Austin, Texas for the 2007 Craft Brewers Conference.

At the 2008 NBWA welcome reception in San Francisco. From left, Jamie Jurado (then with Gambrinus), Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).


Kim in costume with Dick Cantwell at Elysian’s annual pumpkin festival in 2013. [Note: This photo purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Jason Alström

Today is the 45th birthday of Jason Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, but found worldwide over that series of tubes known as the interwebs. Though Started as a hobby, Beer Advocate has gone on to be one of the internet’s killer apps of beer, which has successfully branched out into publishing and putting on beer festivals. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.

Jason with Jaime Jurado, then-Director of Brewing Operations for the Gambrinus Company, and his brother Todd at GABF in 2008.

After judging the finals for the 2009 Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston. From left: Jason, Tony Forder (from Ale Street News), Bob Townsend, Jim Koch (founder of the Boston Beer Co.), yours truly, Julie Johnson (from All About Beer magazine), and Jason’s brother Todd Alström.

Jason, standing far left, toasting at Munich’s Hofbrauhaus.

During a trip to Bavaria in 2007, the gang of twelve plus three at the Faust Brauerei in Miltenberg, Germany. From left: Cornelius Faust, me, Lisa Morrison, Johannes Faust, Julie Bradford, Andy Crouch, Peter Reid, Horst Dornbusch, Jeannine Marois, Harry Schumacher, Tony Forder, Candice Alström, Don Russell, Jason and Todd Alström.

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

At last year’s Longshot judging in Boston, Don Russell, Jim Koch, Tony Forder, John Holl, Bob Townsend, Lisa Morrison, Jason and me.

Beer Birthday: Pete Coors

Today is the 70th birthday of Peter Hanson Coors (September 20, 1946- ). Pete Coors is the great-grandson of Adolph Coors, who founded Coors Brewing Co. in 1873. He has worked for his family’s brewery since 1971. After their merger with Molson in 2005, and then a joint venture with SABMiller in 2008, Pete is currently the chairman of MillerCoors and the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors.


Here’s his short bio from the MillerCoors website:

Pete joined Adolph Coors Company in 1971 where he held a number of executive and management positions. He previously served as chairman of the board of Adolph Coors Company from 2002 to 2005, and was chief executive officer from May 2000 to July 2002. He served as a director of Coors Brewing Company, the company’s US-based subsidiary, beginning in 1973. In 2002, he was named executive chairman, and was chief executive officer from 1992 to 2000. He has been a director of both US Bancorp and of Energy Corp. of America since 1996. Peter received his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and a Master degree in Business Administration from the University of Denver.


And this is his Wikipedia entry:

Coors was born in Golden, Colorado. He is the great-grandson of Adolph Coors, the brewing entrepreneur, and the son of Holly Coors (née Edith Holland Hanson) and Joseph Coors. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and then from Cornell University with a degree in engineering. A member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, Coors was elected to the Sphinx Head Society during his final year at Cornell. He also received his MBA from the University of Denver in 1970.

Coors has worked all of his life in various positions at his family’s Coors Brewing Company.

In 1993 Coors became vice chairman and CEO of the company, and in 2002 he was named Chairman of Coors Brewing Company and Adolph Coors Company. In 2004, Pete Coors “made $332,402 in salary and a $296,917 bonus as chairman of Adolph Coors. He also received 125,000 stock options with a potential value of $13 million,” according to the Rocky Mountain News. However, he stepped down temporarily from these positions in 2004 to run for the US Senate. After the 2005 merger with Molson, Coors became a Class A Director in the newly formed Molson Coors Brewing Company. In October 2006, he was appointed by the University of Colorado Hospital Board of Directors as chairman of the board for the new University of Colorado Hospital Foundation.

He has served on the boards of U.S. Bancorp, H. J. Heinz Company, HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) Colorado, and Energy Corp. of America. He is also involved in civic organizations such as the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the National Western Stock Show Association. He is also part of the ownership group of the Colorado Rockies. He is a member at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. In 1997, Coors was granted an Honorary Doctorate from Johnson & Wales University, where he is a trustee. He sits on the Board of Trustees of the American Enterprise Institute.


Beer Birthday: Jeff Lebesch

Today is the 59th birthday of Jeff Lebesch. Although now retired, Jeff was co-founder, and original brewer, at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado. Here’s how New Belgium explains their founding:

Our historic roots started with a bicycling trip through Belgium in 1986, when our co-founder Jeff Lebesch discovered the magic of Belgian beers spending an afternoon in a little bar called Bruges Beertje. By the end of the session sampling beers and chatting with the proprietors, Jeff had committed his brewing efforts to the playful experimentation for which Belgian brewers are famous.

Upon returning home to Fort Collins, CO, Jeff and New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan, developed two beers in their basement: Abbey, a Belgian dubbel, and Fat Tire, a Belgian ale. Belgian-style beers in the U.S. were non-existent at the time and the beers did so well in home brew competitions that they gave it a go as commercial brewers.

To read more about New Belgium’s beginnings, check out Tom Acitelli’s piece written earlier this year for their 25th anniversary in All About Beer. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

Our Table
At a Russian River Beer Dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in 2009, clockwise from bottom left: Jeff Lebesch, New Belgium founder, his girlfriend Zia, an early employee, Peter Bouckaert, New Belgium’s current head brewer, Dave Keene and Jen Smith, and Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo.

P1000278On stage accepting an award at GABF in 2006, with, from left: Charlie Papazian, Jeff, Peter Bouckert and Lauren Salazar Woods.

Jeff in his original basement brewery in 1991.

Jeff more recently, spending his time sailing.

And here you can listen to Jeff explain how the New Belgium brewery was started, in 2008, the 20 year anniversary of his bicycle trip through Belgium that inspired starting the business.

Historic Beer Birthday: William K. “Bill” Coors

Today is the birthday of William Kistler “Bill” Coors (August 11, 1916- ). Bill Coors was born in Golden, Colorado, and is the grandson of Adolph Coors, who founded the Coors Brewing Company in 1873. He worked for the family business all his life, and ran the brewery from 1961–2003.

William K. Coors in 1982.

Here’s a short description of Coors from the Leadership Initiative of the Harvard Business School:

Under Coors’ leadership, the brewery underwent a period of massive growth. Though it was a regional brewery, it held the top market share in 10 of the 11 western states in which its product was distributed, becoming the 4th largest brewer in the United States in the mid-1970s. Despite several union confrontations and product boycotts as a result of Coors’ political opinions, Coors took the firm public and established a national presence for its products.


And this is from the Academy of Achievement in Washington, D.C.:

From 1961 to 2003, William K. Coors served as Chairman of the Adolph Coors Company of Golden, Colorado. The grandson of brewery founder Adolph Coors, he joined the family firm in 1939, where he pioneered the development of the recyclable aluminum can. He assumed the chairmanship and presidency of the Coors Company in 1961, shortly after his older brother, Adolph Coors III, was murdered in a bungled kidnapping attempt. Rising above this senseless tragedy, William Coors led the company through an unprecedented period of expansion, one that ultimately transformed a little known local brewery into the nation’s third largest, a massive, vertically integrated business that included Coors Transportation, Coors Container (the largest single can plant in the world) and the Coors Food Products Company. He led the way in making the Coors Company energy self-sufficient, and expanded the company’s program of aluminum recycling, at one point recovering and recycling as much as 85 percent of its cans, while handling a third of the nation’s recycled aluminum. Even after retiring from the Board of Directors in 2003, he remained active in the company, working well into his 90s as a senior technical adviser.

William Coors on March 12, 1976, by photographer Bill Johnson.


The Adolph Coors Company Board of Directors posing together at the dedication of the new headhouse at the brewery in Golden, Col., on April 16, 1952. Three men are standing and three men are seated on top of the headhouse. Standing in back left to right are brothers, William K. Coors, Joseph Coors, and Adolph Coors III. Seated in front left to right are brothers Grover Coors, Herman Coors, and Adolph Coors II (from the Golden History Museum).

And here’s a short video about Bill Coors, from his induction into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 1996.

Beer Birthday: Paul Gatza

Today is also Paul Gatza’s 52nd birthday. Paul is the Director of the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado. He’s held numerous executive positions with the BA and its previous incarnation, the Association of Brewers. An avid homebrewer, Paul is great face for the BA and a terrific person. Join me in wishing Paul a very happy birthday.

Toasting in New Orleans for CBC.

Working the AHA booth at GABF.

At the podium during the opening of CBC in 2008.

Paul giving his annual state of the industry talk at CBC in 2012.

Historic Beer Birthday: Charles von Buddenbrock

Today is the birthday of Charles von Buddenbrock (June 27, 1878-1948). He was born in Marianwewrder, Germany and served in the Germany army during World War I. He was taken prisoner and brought to an interment camp in Colorado. After his release when the war ended, he decided to stay in Colorado and worked for the Schneider Brewery in Trinidad, Colorado for over 35 years. In 1920 he was listed as the Chief Engineer, but that would have been only shortly after he started working there. I’m not sure about the math, since he died in 1948 and the war ended in 1918. Also known as the Ph. Schneider Brewing Co., it survived prohibition by obtaining a license to brew non-alcoholic beverages, and later received brewery permit COL-U-1001 in 1933, the first in the state to get back to making beer. After prohibition ended, it went through a few owners, and name changes, before closing for good in 1957 as the Bohemian Brewery of Colorado.




Beer Birthday: John Bryant

Today is my good friend John Bryant’s 50th birthday. I first met John when he was with Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. Several years ago he migrated to Odell Brewing in Fort Collins to work his magic on them, and then a few years ago he joined Dale at Oskar Blues. He then left Oskar Blues and disappeared for a time, finally re-emerging in Spokane, Washington with the newly rebranded No-Li Brewing. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

At the Brewer’s Reception before GABF in 2006. From left: Bob Pease (Brewers Association), Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River Brewing), John and his wife Cindy, Banjo (Real Beer) and Tom McCormick (California Craft Brewers Association).

John, with Ray Daniels of the Brewers Association, who celebrated his own birthday last week.

John and me during a visit to the brewery a few summers ago, when we were in Colorado for my cousin’s wedding.

Beer Birthday: Julia Herz

Today is the 48th birthday of Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association. She worked for big media like CNN before turning her attention to craft beer in 2007, when she joined the organization. Julia was an awesome addition to the BA and was an integral part of its growth and the positive attention that beer is starting to get from the media at large, plus she’s a pleasure to work with. Join me in wishing Julia a very happy birthday.

Hawking the media at GABF in 2008.

Peace, Julia, peace.

Julia with Erin Fay Glass at CBC in San Francisco in 2011.

The BA Staff
The BA staff photo from the World Beer Cup dinner in Chicago in 2010. Julia’s near the center in the front row, just to the right of Charlie Papazian (in the tuxedo).