Beer Birthday: Dann Paquette

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Today is the 46th birthday of Dann Paquette, who along with his wife Martha Holley-Paquette, founded the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. It’s a fairly unique idea. They don’t own a brewery but they don’t contract brew either. They rent the brewery and Dann does all the work brewing the beer. Certainly other contract beers are similar, but I like that Pretty Things makes such a point of the distinction that it’s essentially beyond reproach. Oh, and did I mention he makes some of the best beers I’ve tasted? He does. From the several philosophical discussions I’ve had with Dann, I consider him a kindred spirit. Join me in wishing Dann a very happy birthday.

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Dann with Andy Couch and Todd Alström showing off Pretty Things’ Baby Tree at the Hungry Mother, in Boston.

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Dann doing his Snidely Whiplash impersonation.

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Tomme Arthur, Will Meyers, Dann, Patrick Rue and Rob Tod.

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Dann with his business partner and wife Martha at (I think) Beer Advocate’s Craft Beer Festival.

Note: Last three photos purloined from both Dann and Martha’s Facebook pages.

Beer Birthday: Aaron Mateychuk

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Today is the birthday of Aaron Mateychuk, apparently former brewmaster of Watch City Brewing in Waltham, Massachusetts. Last month, the brewing equipment was sold at auction and the brewery closed, though there are rumors another brewery may be moving into the same space. I met Aaron during CBC week when the Craft Brewers Conference was in Boston in 2009, and we almost got together when he was in San Francisco a couple of years ago, but kept crossing paths instead. Hopefully, Aaron will land on his feet and find another brewing gig. Join me in wishing Aaron a very happy birthday.

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Giving a tour in 2009 during the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston.

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Aaron with his wife Jennifer, in a Toronado t-shirt.

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And at the Toronado.

Note: The last two photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Jim Koch

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Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Co., known primarily for their Samuel Adams beers, is celebrating his 65th birthday today. Jim was instrumental, of course, in spreading the word about craft beer, especially in the early days when Samuel Adams was often the first one to be available in many pockets of the country. Join me in wishing Jim a very happy birthday.

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Daniel Bradford and Amy Dalton, both with All About Beer, sandwiching Jim Koch, and flanked by drinks writer Rick Lyke, who writes online at Lyke 2 Drink.

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Jim and me at the annual media brunch and Longshot winner announcement at GABF in 2009.

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After judging the finals for the Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston. From left: Jason Alstrom (from Beer Advocate), Tony Forder (from Ale Street News), Bob Townsend (a food & drinks columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Jim Koch (founder of the Boston Beer Co.), yours truly (on assignment for Celebrator Beer News), Julie Johnson (from All About Beer magazine), and Todd Alstrom (also from Beer Advocate).

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Jack McAuliffe and Jim at Boston Beer’s annual media brunch during GABF week two years ago.

Beer Birthday: Tom Acitelli

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Today is the 37th birthday of Tom Acitelli, author of the wonderful history of craft beer, The Audacity of Hops. Tom reached out to me while he was working on his book, and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s a great new addition to the cadre of writers chronicling the beer industry these days. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

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Tom reading selections from his book at Anchor Brewery.

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Tom and Vinnie Cilurzo during a visit to the Russian River production brewery.

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At Lagunitas for Tom’s book release party last year, with Joe Tucker, Jeremy Marshall, me, Tom and Ken Weaver.

Beer Birthday: Todd Alstrom

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Today is the 45th birthday of Todd Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate. With his brother Jason, Todd has created one of the killer apps of the beer world online and the only monthly beer magazine. Though we only run into one another from time to time, we always have a good time. We also shared a week in Bavaria on a press junket in 2007, and had a terrific fry crawl in Boston a number of years ago, before he relocated to Denver last year. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

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Todd (at right), with brother Jason and Jaime Jurado, head brewer from Gambrinus, at the 2008 GABF.

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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 Alström and Todd Alström.

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Todd with Rhonda Kallman at the Blue Palm in L.A., after the premiere of Beer Wars.

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Me, Todd, Jason Alström, Joe Tucker and Greg Koch showing off our sample bottles of Enjoy By 12.21.12 in San Diego two Decembers ago.

First American Trappist Brewery

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While it’s been a rumor for a number of years — I first learned about it at least four years back, but like a monk was sworn to silence — finally it’s out in the public. America is getting its first officially sanctioned Trappist brewery. St. Joseph’s Abbey of Spencer, Massachusetts will be adding brewing to its daily routine, and selling under the name Spencer Brewing Co.

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The abbey was established in upstate New York in 1950, and is part of the Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.), better known as “Trappists.” Many reports have indicated there’s 180 of them worldwide, but I count 175 at the list on the order’s official website.

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The abbey already sells preserves, and has done so for a long time, since around 1954. They also sell “liturgical vestments, and run a farm” to fund the abbey. Apparently the Scourmont Abbey, which makes Chimay, is helping the monks of St. Joseph’s in some capacity, whether through education, logistical support or just consultation I’m not sure. I also know that Dann Paquette from Pretty Things had been helping out, at least in the early stages, as he’d befriended a couple of the monks there as they gathered information and were considering the project of opening a brewery. Records indicate the building for brewing will be 50,000 square feet and their goal to brew 10,000 bbl per year. The first beer will be a Pater, a type of beer made by several Belgian breweries. Here’s how the back label describes the beer:

“Inspired by traditional refectory ales brewed by monks for the monks’ table, Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued Trappist ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness.”

The brewery website is still empty, with just a Go Daddy holding page, and there’s no word on when the beer might be available. With the now Belgian-owned Anheuser-Busch InBev, Sierra Nevada working with Ovila, Moortgat buying Boulevard Brewing, and now this, there’s going to be a lot more Belgian-inspired, and Belgian-made, beer in the U.S. in coming years. But it’s hard not to be excited about this development.

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And the hexagonal Trappist logo is on the back label.

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Beer Birthday: Jason Alstrom

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Today is the 42nd 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. Started as a hobby, Beer Advocate has gone on to be one of the internet’s kipper apps of beer, which has successfully branched out into publishing and putting on beer festivals. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.

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

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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.

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

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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.

Beer Birthday: Will Meyers

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Today is the birthday of Will Meyers, brewmaster of Cambridge Brewing near Boston, Massachusetts. Will’s a great brewer and an even better human being, one of the nicest in the industry. Join me in wishing Will a very happy birthday.

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Will, with Kevin and Megan, also from Cambridge Brewing, at GABF in 2009.

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Accepting the award as Grand U.S. Champion from the Great British Beer Festival at GABF.

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Showing off his barrel room under the brewpub during CBC last year when it was in Boston.

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Will with his lovely bride Cindy Lou.

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Will shortly before he began his career as a brewer.