Historic Beer Birthday: Alonzo Gilford Van Nostrand

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Today is the birthday of Alonzo Gilford Van Nostrand (July 4, 1854-November 5, 1923). He was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, William Tredwell Van Nostrand bought the Bunker Hill Breweries, which had been founded in 1821, and in 1878, Alonzo Gilford became a partner and took over the brewery from his father. It was originally known as the John Cooper & Thomas Gould Brewery, and Crystal Lake Brewery, but Alozno’s father renamed it the Wm. T. Van Nostrand & Co. Brewery in 1877, though they used the trade name Bunker Hill Breweries Brewery from 1890 on. It remained open until prohibition, but reopened briefly after repeal as the Van Nostrand Brewing Co., but lasted less than a year, closing in 1934.

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Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:

Some records say he was born on Jul 3rd 1854, but on a passport application Alonzo himself says he was born on July 4th 1854 in New York. He graduated from the English High School of Boston, Mass. From 1872 to 1875 he was employed in his father’s brewery and was admitted as a partner in 1878. Following his father, he was the proprietor of the very famous Bunker Hill Breweries of Charlestown (Boston), Massachusetts, which was in business in Massachusetts from 1821 until prohibition. The plural “Breweries” does not indicate locations in different towns, but rather was used because there were two facilities in Charlestown which made beer (using bottom fermenting yeast) and ale (using top fermenting yeast). in 1879 Alonzo originated the “P & B” (Purest & Best) Trademark for his ale. He started bottling ale in the English fashion to compete with Bass. At the time, “P&B ale had a reputation second to none and was the only malt liquor used in the Massachusetts General and City Hospitals and others for the sick and convalescent.” Before closing, Bunker Hill was undoubtedly the most prolific advertiser among the Boston area breweries. Brands included Boston Club Lager, Bunker Hill Lager, Old Musty Ale, Owl Musty, Van Nostrand’s Porter, and P.B. (Purest Best) Ale, Bock, Lager, Porter, Stock Ale, and Stout. PB Ale reappeared briefly after prohibition circa 1933 or 1934, as shown on post prohibition items including a tin over cardboard sign and 2 different labels from the Feigenspan Brewery of Newark New Jersey and a label from the Dobler Brewery of Albany New York. Alonzo died in the Vanderbilt Hotel, Park Avenue and 34th Street, Manhattan, New York. He was a member of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company and the Bostonian Society. He traveled extensively, and in 1907 made a trip around the world. He was a member of the Merchants Club, the Boston City Club, the Eastern Yacht Club, the City Club of New York, the Beverly Yacht Club, the Sphinx Club and various other clubs and societies.

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And this is from “Who’s Who in New England,” published in 1909:

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This account of Van Nostrand is from “Herringshaw’s American Blue-book of Biography: Prominent Americans of 1919:”

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And this is a history of the Bunker Hills Breweries from “100 Years of Brewing History:”

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The Bunker Hill brewery in 1987.

This biography is from the breweriana website, Rick’s Bottle Room:

ALONZO G. VAN NOSTRAMO

Dutch forbears, can turn to the maternal line and trace his ancestry from those who settled in New England, who suffered the deprivations of the early colonists, who participated in the wars with the Indians and French and finally in the Revolution, and who helped to make this part of the United States what it is to-day. Mr. Van Nostrand’s mother’s maiden name was Mehetabel Bradlee. She is the daughter of Thomas and Ann (Howard) Bradlee, and was born in the old house at the corner of Tremont and Hollis Streets in Boston, from which her grandfather and other patriots disguised as Indians sallied forth as members of the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Her ancestor in direct line was Daniel Bradley, who came from London in 1635 in the ship Elizabeth, settling in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he was killed in the Indian Massacre of August 13, 1689.

Alonzo G. Van Nostrand was born July 4, 1854. He was not quite eighteen years of age when, graduating from the English High School, he was given a clerkship in the small brewery on Alford Street. During the three years following he worked his way through every department, gaining a comprehensive and practical knowledge of the business and its possibilities. In 1875 he was taken into partnership by his father. Thereafter the development of the plant and the business was steady and significant. It was in 1875 that the P. B. trademark was originated and adopted. A bottling building was erected, with a storage capacity of 240,000 bottles. In 1891 the brewing of Bunker Hill Lager was begun in a new brewery. Later another brew house was completed at a cost of $100,000 to meet the increasing demand. At the present time the breweries cover an entire block of four acres and there is no room for further expansion, except by increasing the height of buildings. Mr. Van Nostrand made a trip around the world in 1907. He is married and has one son now in Harvard College. Mrs. Van Nostrand’s maiden name was Jane Bradford Eldridge. She is a daughter of Captain Eldridge, of Fairhaven, and is a lineal descendant of Governor Bradford, of the Plymouth Colony, who landed from the Mayflower in 1620. Mr. and Mrs. Van Nostrand occupy the Van Nostrand residence at 482 Beacon Street. Mr. Van Nostrand holds membership in a score or more of clubs and associations, including art and historical societies in Boston and New York, and is a member of the leading yacht clubs.

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He considers that the best advice that he can offer to young men just starting in life can be tersely stated as follows:

“Be honest, and particularly with yourself. Concentrate your efforts on one thing at a time. Undertake only what you believe you can accomplish, but when once started, never give up.”

Mr. Van Nostrand has developed a group of splendid, modern brewery buildings, each equipped for a special purpose, but those buildings would be useless, that equipment would rust in idleness, were it not for the fact that, in the midst of intense competition and in resistance of the constant temptation to consolidate forces and reduce standards, he has chosen his own path, has sought to produce, without regard to cost, malt beverages that will surpass any of domestic brewing and will compare with the best of Europe, and has made the P. B. Brewery the standard by which all others in New England are gaged, or seek to be gaged, in public estimate. And that takes us back to the original point that pride of ancestry is a good thing and that business ability is better; but that, when pride of ancestry and superlative business ability are blended and aged in the vat of commercial experience, the output is inevitably as good as can be asked for, the best that can be obtained.

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Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite old beer names: “Owl-Musty Good Old Ale.” What a crazy name. Who would want something “owl-musty?” But it was obviously popular, so who knows?

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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 68th 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 four years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Sampson Salter

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Today is the birthday of Sampson Salter (March 21, 1692-April 6, 1778) who in the early 18th century operated one of the most popular breweries in Boston. Considering it was apparently so popular, there’s very little specific information about either Salter or his brewery. Most histories seem to only mention him in passing. For example, “Historic Taverns of Boston” by Gavin Nathan, says only this:

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Boston in 1722.

Beer Birthday: Tom Acitelli

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Today is the 40th — the Big 4-0 — 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 two years ago, with Joe Tucker, Jeremy Marshall, me, Tom and Ken Weaver.

Beer Birthday: Todd Alström

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Today is the 48th 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 a couple of years ago, and more recently became a father. 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 four Decembers ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: James W. Kenney

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Today is the birthday of James W. Kenney (January 2, 1845-). He was born in Ireland, but followed his older brother to Boston when he was eighteen, in 1863. He was involved in starting and running several different breweries in Boston over the span of his life, starting with the Armory Brewery in 1877. Then he opened the Park Brewery, the Union Brewing Co. and finally was involved in the American Brewing Co., plus he bought the Rockland Brewery at one point. It also seems like he was involved in the Kenney & Ballou Brewery, but I wasn’t able to confirm that one. Suffice it to say, he was an busy, industrious person, involved in a lot of Boston breweries.

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Here’s a short biography from “Important Men of 1913″

Kenney, James W., born near Derry, Ireland, Jan. 2, 1845, and educated in the national schools of his native land. Came to Boston, 1863, and was placed in charge of a large grocery conducted by his brother. Became master brewer in a large brewery. In 1877 started Amory Brewery; 1881 Park Brewery; 1893 organized Union Brewing Co. Was mainly instrumental in organizing the American Brewing Co.; member of directors’ board two years. Large owner and operator in real estate, with interests in railroads, gas companies, banks, newspapers, etc. President, director and vice-president of Federal Trust Co.; director Mass. Bonding and Insurance Co. and Fauntleroy Hall Association of Roxbury; member of American Irish Historical Society and of numerous social and benevolent organizations. Married, April 24, 1876, Ellen Frances Rorke, of Roxbury. Residence: 234 Seaver St., Roxbury, Mass.

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Norman Miller’s “Boston Beer: A History of Brewing in the Hub,” has a few paragraphs on several of Kenney’s businesses.

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Here’s a rundown of his breweries:

Armory Brewing Co., 71 Amory Street: 1877-1902

This was his first brewery, but it was only known by that name until 1880, and I think he may have then sold it to a Mr. Robinson, who called it the Robinson Brewing Co., although some accounts indicate it was called the Rockland Brewery, which was his nickname. Their flagship was Elmo Ale, named for Robinson’s son, and not for the beloved Sesame Street Muppet. Other sources seem to suggest it was then bought back by Kenney at some point.

Park Brewery, 94 Terrace Street: 1881-1918

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Four years later he opened the Park Brewery, which apparently produced only Irish Ales.

American Brewing Co., 249-249A Heath Street: 1891-1918

This was a larger brewery than his other ventures, and he was merely one of the investors in the business, and was on the Board of Directors, though he did hired all Jamaica Plain brewmasters. Apparently it survived the dry years by operating a “laundry” (wink, wink). After repeal, the Haffenreffer family bought it and used it briefly as a second brewery, before closing for good in 1934.

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The Jamaica Plain Gazette described their neighborhood American Brewing Co.:

The most “handsome” of all the remaining Boston breweries, the American Brewing Company was active from 1891 to 1918, and then again from 1933-34. Owned by James W. Kenney, who also owned the nearby Park and Union breweries, the Queen Anne style building stands out architecturally with beautiful granite arches and a distinctive rounded corner, topped by a turret.

Historically, one of the most unique features of this brewery was the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes.

The Jamaica Plain Historical Society has even more information on it in their piece about Boston’s Lost Breweries:

The brewmasters were Gottlieb, Gustav and Gottlieb F. Rothfuss, all of Jamaica Plain.

This is undoubtedly the most handsome of all the remaining breweries in Boston and once can see at a glance the pride the owners had in the place, the process and the product. The architect was Frederick Footman of Cambridge. It was built in three phases, with the oldest part on the left, the second one with the American Brewing Company name came next and then the third wing with the beautiful granite arches and terra cotta heads which was the office complex emblazoned with the initials ABC. The granite was probably either Chelmsford or the slightly grayer Quincy.

Still visible in the main, or brewing, building is the large overhead access shaft where the malted barley and water were lifted to the top floor with hoists and pumps. The barley was stored in cedar-lined rooms in the top two stories of the main building to prevent insect infestation. The brewing process was started there as the grain was cooked. The cooked mash then flowed to the floor below where the grain was removed as waste and hops and other ingredients were added to the residual brew, along with the yeast that triggered the fermentation that produced the alcohol. The final product was then stored in temperature-controlled areas at the lowest level. Also still visible in the lower level is the capped wellhead that had delivered countless thousands of gallons of pure Mission Hill spring water to the process.

A wonderful touch of the spirit of the times is the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes. The offices had beautiful arched, semi-circular windows with stained glass. The tower is rounded and has a clock fixed at seven and five, the workers’ starting and quitting times. It also has granite carriage blocks to protect carriage wheels from breaking if too tight a turn were attempted when entering or exiting.

During Prohibition it was used as a laundry. After 1934, Mr. Haffenreffer used it for a time as a second brewery. Most recently it was used by a fine arts crating and shipping company, the Fine Arts Express Co. It is presently being converted to housing units.

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The American Brewing Co.

Union Brewery, 103 Terrace Street: 1893-1911

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Next was the Union Brewery, this time to brew German Lager beer exclusively. Here’s a brief description of the Union Brewery from the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, detailing it in Boston’s Lost Breweries:

The Stony Brook culvert sits very close to the surface of Terrace Street, the home of two very productive breweries. The Union Brewery, active from 1893 to 1911, was located at 103 Terrace Street. It produced only German Lager beer. It had a large six story, arched, main building and two smaller buildings housing a stable and a powerhouse. The two smaller buildings and the mural-decorated smokestack, which now also does duty as a cell phone tower remain. The former stable is now Mississippi’s Restaurant.

While for those breweries, it’s certain they were owned by James Kenney, I’m less sure about a couple of others. From either 1878-1880 or 1898-1903 (sources differ) there was a Kenney & Ballou Brewery. It’s seems at least like that James Kenney may have been the Kenney in the name, although it could have been his older brother Neil Kenney, who James worked for when he first arrive in America. That seems even more plausible when you look another brewery founded in 1874, the Shawmont Brewery. In 1877, it became known as the Neil Kenney Brewery, but in 1884 it changed names again, this time to the James W. Kenney Brewery. It apparently closed in 1888, but it appears pretty clear that he and his brother worked together on one, if not both of these breweries. Unfortunately, except for listings in Breweriana databases, I couldn’t find any information whatsoever about either brewery, and they’re not mentioned in any accounts I found of Kenney, either.

Historic Beer Birthday: Henry H. Rueter

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Today is the birthday of Henry Hermann Rueter (December 9, 1832-November 27, 1899). He was born in Westphalia, Germany, but moved to Boston, Massachusetts. In 1867, along with Irishman John R. Alley, founded the Highland Spring Brewery. By 1885, they had moved to Heath & 165 Terrace Streets, but was known after that as Rueter & Co., Inc., although their trade name continued to be the Highland Spring Brewery. After prohibition ended, they were known as the The Croft Brewing Co., but in 1952 were bought by the Narragansett Brewing Co., who closed them for good the following year.

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Here is a biography from the Boston Landmarks Commission when the property where the brewery was located applied for historic status, researched by Angelica Coleman and Marcia Butman:

Henry Rueter was born in 1832 I the province of Westphalia, Germany. He immigrated to the US in 1851 and after a short stay in New York came to Boston and worked for the Roxbury brewer G. F Burkhardt. With John D. Alley he established Highland Springs Brewery. After Alley withdrew to form his own company, the firm reorganized as Rueter and Co. After Rueter’s death (1899) his sons retained control of the company.

Another source discusses the family background. “The family was founded in this country by the late Henry H. Rueter, who came to Boston in 1831, at 18, from Gutersloh, Westphalia, his birthplace. He was of honorable ancestry, uniting the blood of the Rueters and the Von Eickens.”

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From “The Men of Boston and New England, The Boston American,” 1913

Henry H. Rueter founded the Highland Spring Brewery in 1869, and in three years had made it the largest brewery in the United States and today it still maintains its place as the greatest ale brewery of America.

The present head of the family is Henry A. Rueter, born in Boston, educated in Germany, and now in his fifty-fourth year. He is president of Rueter & Company; and of its affiliated lager beer interest the A J. Houghton Companv; and is a director in the National Rockland Bank, the American Trust Co., the Roxbury Institution for Savings, and the Mass. Bonding and Ins. Co. He was one of the incorporators ot the Mass. Automobile Club, and has served it in various capacities. The Country Club and the Algonquin Club count him among their members as does the Boston Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Rueter was Miss Bertha Glover, only daughter of the late William H. Glover of Rockland, Me. They have two children,-William G. Rueter, now in his final year at Harvard, and Miss Martha Von Eicken Rueter.

A graduate of Harvard, and later a student at Boston Univ. Law School and Bonn University, Germany, Conrad J. Rueter is a recognized authority on the technical and practical application of the liquor law. He has served his city for upwards of seventeen years as trustee of the Boston City Hospital having been reappointed in 1913 for another five vear term. He belongs to the Boston Art Club, the Puritan Club, and the Harvard Club; and is a member of the Liederkrantz Club of New York. In his fiftieth year, his pleasure in outdoor sport is evidenced bv his membership in the Mass. Automobile Club, the Brae Burn Country Club and the Wollaston Golf Club Mrs. Conrad J. Rueter was Miss Ramseyer. There is one son.-John Conrad Rueter.

At the head of the sales staff is Frederick T. Rueter. and the brewing department itself is in direct charge of Ernest L Rueter. youngest of the four brothers, as general manager and master-brewer. Both names appear on the rolls of the Boston Athletic Assn. Ernest L. Rueter is also a member of the Country Club. Frederick T. Rueter is unmarried. Mrs. Ernest L. Rueter was Miss Myra Chevalier, and there is one daughter-Miss Jeanette.

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And here’s another short history of the brewery from the Wikipedia page about the Highland Spring Brewery Bottling and Storage Buildings:

The Highland Spring Brewery was founded in 1867 by a pair of immigrants, one Irish and the other German. The enterprise was a significant success, producing lagers, ales, and porters, and eventually gaining a nationwide reputation. In part for legal reasons, the two buildings built by the company (one for production, the other for storage and bottling) were connected by a tunnel and piping. The brewer ceased operations when Prohibition began in 1920. One of the company’s brewmasters opened the Croft Brewery in the 1892 building in 1933 after Prohibition ended, the storage building having been sold to the Ditson Company and significantly altered for its use. Croft was acquired by Narragansett Brewing Company in the 1952, and operated on the premises for just one year before closing the plant and moving production to their Rhode Island Brewery until 1981 when it too closed.

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The Highland Spring Brewery around 1920.

Beer Birthday: Jason Alström

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: Megan Parisi

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Today is the birthday of Megan Parisi, who’s currently a brewery for the Boston Beer Company. Before that she brewed at Wormtown Brewery, Bluejacket and Cambridge Brewing. And coincidentally, we both once played clarinet in a military band, Megan for the US Navy, whereas I was in an Army band. Megan’s a terrific brewer and a great addition to the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston. Join me in wishing Megan a very happy birthday.

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John Harris, from Ecliptic Brewing, Megan, and John Holl, from All About Beer magazine at the GABF judges’ reception at Epic Brewing in 2015.

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Megan at her new job at the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston a few Julys ago when I was there judging the finals for the Longshot Homebrew Competition.

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Will Meyers (whose birthday is also today) and Kevin both from Cambridge Brewing with Megan, then also with Cambridge, at GABF in 2009.

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During CBC in Washington, D.C. in 2013. Bobby Bump: assistant brewer, at Bluejacket, Megan, when she was lead brewer at Bluejacket and John Wampler, brewmaster at Legend Brewing in Richmond, Virginia. [Photo by Thomas Cizauskas.]

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. We judged together again just last week, in an incredibly difficult medal round, that might have killed or injured a lesser person. But we made it through intact. Join me in wishing Will a very happy birthday.

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Will, with Kevin and Megan Parisi (whose birthday is also today), then 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 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.