Beer Birthday: Mark Ruedrich

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Today is the 63rd birthday of Mark Ruedrich, co-owner, and original brewer, of North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg. Mark was a marine biologist who discovered good beer while living in England. Looking for a spot to build a brewery in Northern California, he was drawn to the tidal pools around Fort Bragg, and built a mini-beer empire there beginning in 1988. His Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout was one of the first truly great world-class beers made by early American microbreweries and helped the nascent industry on the map. Plus he’s great fun to share a pint with. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

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Mark with North Coast co-owner Tom Allen at GABF in 2006.

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North Coast brewer Ken Kelley with Mark at the brewery last year.

Beer Birthday: Steve Grossman

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Today is the 62nd birthday of Steve Grossman, the Beer Ambassador at Sierra Nevada, and co-founder Ken Grossman’s older brother. “Steve grew up in Southern California, where he and his younger brother Ken learned about the art of home brewing. Steve continued to homebrew throughout college, and when Ken founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, Steve’s passion for craft beer was immediately put to good use. In the early years of the brewery, he helped establish the Southern California distribution network, and was involved in direct sales. Today, Steve works with Sierra Nevada’s international export program, and serves as an ambassador and spokesperson for the brewery both domestically and abroad. Steve also serves as a director of the brewery’s wildly popular Beer Camp, which brings people to Sierra Nevada for a unique and intensive hands-on beer education.” Steve is a terrific ambassador not just for Sierra Nevada but for craft beer more generally. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Sierra Nevada head brewer Steve Dressler with Steve at GABF in 2006.

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Steve manning the Sierra Nevada bike bar at GABF in 2010.

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Steve checking out some hops at Beer Camp #93.

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Steve at an event at Four Point Sheraton in L.A. (purloined from Facebook)

Beer Birthday: Jamil Zainasheff

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Today is the birthday of former homebrewer extraordinaire Jamil Zainasheff, who over the last ten plus years had become something of a rock star in the homebrewing community, and especially the Bay Area. He’s also the co-author two books on beer and homebrewing: “Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew” (with John Palmer) and “Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation” (with Chris White). In addition, he hosts the Jamil Show on The Brewing Network and has a website online entitled Mr. Malty. Jamil also turned pro a few years ago, starting his own commercial brewery, Heretic Brewing, which is now located in Fairfield, California. Join me in wishing Jamil a very happy birthday.

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Jamil and me judging the finals at the Toronado Barleywine festival in 2007.

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Jamil and me at Anchor Brewery a couple of years ago.

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Jamil with Rodger Davis at Faction Brewing in May of this year. (Photo by Nathan Smith, purloined from Facebook.)

Beer Birthday: Steve Harrison

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Today would have been longtime Sierra Nevada employee Steve Harrison’s 63rd birthday. Unfortunately, Steve passed away in August of 2007. He was Sierra Nevada employee number one, and was responsible for a lot of their early success. I first got to know Steve in the mid-1990s when I was the chain beer buyer at BevMo. He was a terrific person and universally respected and beloved in the industry. Sierra Nevada had to hire two or three people to take over his responsibilities. Join me in raising a glass of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to Steve’s memory today. Here’s to you, Steve.

The last time I saw Steve was at a CSBA meeting in San Diego in 2007, though we talked on the phone a few more times after that because he’d asked me to do some freelance work for him shortly after that CSBA meeting. You can almost make him out in the photo below. He’s in the middle, toward the back, in a blue shirt. He’s in between Tom McCormick (in a green shirt) and a man in a black shirt raising his glass below the giant boulder in the background.

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A very young Steve, at right, with Michael Jackson and Lou. (Photo by Tom Dalldorf, from the Celebrator Beer News.)

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The Steve Harrison Memorial Arch, which is at the northern entrance to the Steve Harrison Bike Path, which is located not very far from the brewery in Chico. (The photo was taken in 2010 by Jack Peters, and sent to me by Miles Jordan. Thank you, gentlemen.)

Beer Birthday: Colin Kaminski

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Today is the 49th birthday of Colin Kaminski, who for over a decade has been the brewmaster of Downtown Joe’s in Napa, California. He started brewing there around 1998, and after four years learning from Brian Hunt and others, he became the head brewer in 2003. He’s gone on to give many presentation on brewing and write technical articles on brewing and he’s also the co-author of Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers, along with John Palmer, which was published last year. Join me in wishing Colin a very happy birthday.

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Colin behind the bar at Downtown Joe’s.

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Colin, at right, with Kimbeerly Wood and the Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton at GABF in 2009.

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Colin, front and center, with the Downtown Joe’s crew visiting Anchor Brewing.
[Note: first three photos purloined from Colin's Facebook page.]

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Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers

Beer Birthday: Ron Lindenbusch

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Today is the 53rd birthday of Ron Lindenbusch, who’s been with the Lagunitas Brewery since the very beginning. I first met Ron and founder Tony Magee when I visited the brewery in its original location in the mid-1990s. Ron has been a huge part of bringing the brewery along to where it is today, and is a terrific person and a good friend. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.

Tweetup organizer Ashley, a.k.a. The Beer Wench, with Ron Lindenbusch, from Lagunitas
The Beer Wench, Ashley Routson, with Ron at a Tweet-Up at Lagunitas a couple of years ago.

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At a beer dinner at Horizons in Marin County, with Dean Biersch and Lynn, the chef at Hopmonk Tavern, Dean’s then-new venture in Sebastopol.

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Ron with Lagunitas owner Tony Magee’s sister Karen, who rep’s Lagunitas in the Chicago area, at SAVOR several years ago in Washington, D.C.

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Ron, with Shaun O’Sullivan, Zambo, Rich Rosen, me, Sarah, Lloyd Knight, Dave Suurballe and James Renfrew at Anchor’s annual Christmas Party a few years ago.

Beer Birthday: Ashley Routson

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Today is also the 31st birthday of Ashley Routson, a.k.a. The Beer Wench. In addition to writing her own blog, Drink With the Wench, she also workis for Bison Brewing. She’s a social media diva and girl about town, beer town that is. She certainly seems to be everywhere at once and if everyone had her energy for promoting good beer we’d be winning the war against bland, tasteless drinks. Join me in wishing Ashley a very happy birthday.

Tweetup organizer Ashley, a.k.a. The Beer Wench, with Ron Lindenbusch, from Lagunitas
Ashley with Ron Lindenbusch at a Tweet-Up at Lagunitas a couple of years back.

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Me and Ashley at the same Tweet-Up.

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Stephen Beaumont and Ashley at Triple Rock in Berkeley.

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With Justin Crossley from the Brewing Network at the Celebrator Anniversary Party at Trumer at the end of SF Beer Week two years ago.

Beer Birthday: Charlie Bamforth

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Today is the 62nd 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. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

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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.

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

Beer Birthday: Todd Ashman

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Today is also the birthday of Todd Ashman, who turns 54. 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. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

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

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Todd at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

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Todd at Hair of the Dog during OBF in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Tony Magee

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Today is the 54th 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 by never compromising his ideals. His unique beers, and especially their quirky label designs and text, are always a treat. And now that they’ve installed a new 250-barrel brewhouse in both Petaluma and Chicago, are talking about a third in the not-to-distant future, I’d say he’s poised to take over the world. Local newspaper articles keep referring to him as a “beer baron,” which cracks me up. Bwa, ha,ha,ha. Join me in wishing Tony a very happy birthday.

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

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

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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.