Bistro IPA Festival Winners 2014

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For the fourth straight year I missed the Bistro IPA Festival, as I was in Yosemite National Park with my family. Happily, owner Vic Kralj was again kind enough to send me the list of the winners. Citra Extra Pale Ale, from Knee Deep Brewing in Lincoln (and a new brewery and tap room in Auburn), was chosen best in show, out of 75 IPA offerings, at the 17th annual IPA Festival yesterday at the Bistro in Hayward, California. The full list of winners is below.

Beer Birthday: Bill Brand

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Today would have been Bill Brand’s 76th birthday, if not for the tragic events of February 8, 2009. Bill, of course, was hit by a Muni Train that evening and passed away twelve days later, on February 20. He was a bastion of support for the local beer community for decades, and one of it’s most visible media faces. He did a staggering amount of good to help brewers throughout the Bay Area, and wrote about the beer he loved so much with an unmatched passion and zeal. His Bottoms Up blog was read by millions, the newest form of his What’s On Tap newsletter that stretched back into the early 1990s. It was my great honor to take over his column and try to continue his legacy of support for craft brewers in the Bay Area and beyond. Drink a toast to the memory and legacy of William “Bill” Brand today. Happy birthday Bill, you are most certainly missed.

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Dueling laptops; Bill and me at Magnolia on February 6 for the tapping of Napa Smith Original Albion Ale by Don Barkley. Photo by Shaun O’Sullivan.

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Bill toasting with a pitcher of Oakland’s new Linden Street Brewery. Photo by RRifkin.

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Bill taking notes at the Monk’s Blood Dinner at 21st Amendment, February 8, 2009. Photo by Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh.

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Drink a toast to Bill today, it’s how he would have wanted to be remembered.

Beer Birthday: Jason Chavez

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Today is the 46th birthday of Jason Chavez, who’s the brewmaster at Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz. Chavez started homebrewing while still in high school on his family’s kitchen stove. He’s a graduate of the American Brewers Guild, and has been brewing at Seabright since 1999. I believe I first met Jason many years ago at the Rock Bottom in Denver during a GABF week, but run into occasionally at events. Seabright celebrated their 25th anniversary last year, when I spent the day at the brewery to do a story on their silver anniversary. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.

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Here’s a great shot by Dan Coyro, from an article in Santa Cruz Sentinnel.

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Jason, in the center, surrounded by Seabright folks at the 10th annual Stumptown Russian River Revival and BBQ Cook-Off.

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Jason, again in the center, at GABF (Note: last two photos purloined from Seabright’s website).

Beer Birthday: Joe Tucker

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Today is the birthday of Joe Tucker, the “Boss” — a.k.a. Executive Director — at Rate Beer. He runs the website from his Vineyard bunker in Sonoma, California. Because I’m in the Bay Area, I run into Joe from time to time, and usually at the annual hop picking day at Moonlight Brewing, though we flew to San Diego together two Decembers ago to visit Stone Brewing, too. Join me in wishing Joe a very happy birthday.

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Vinnie Cilurzo, me and Joe at the Pliny the Elder release earlier last year at Russian River Brewing.

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Joe with some of the Hop Press staff — Ken, Ashley, Mario and Mark — at Triple Rock’s Sour Fest 2010.

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At Fred Abercrombie’s Craft Beerd’s book launch party at Taps. Left to right; Fred Abercrombie, Ken Weaver, Anneliese Schmidt, Joe and Ron Lindenbusch, from Lagunitas.

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

Beer Birthday: Dylan Schatz

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Today is the 42nd birthday of Dylan Schatz, brewmaster at Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake, which is where he’s originally from. Dylan started in 1999 in the brewery’s packaging department, on the bottling line, and immediately fell in love with the beer industry. He took classes at UC Davis and became a brewer, and in 2005 was named head brewer. He’s a terrific person, one who often doesn’t get all the credit he deserves, especially since he’s been making some amazing beers. Please join me in wishing Dylan a very happy birthday.

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Dylan with some of the crew from Mad River after winning Small Brewery and Brewer of the Year at GABF in 2010.

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Behind the bar at Mad River’s tasting room during a visit there last summer, when I was in the research phase for my latest book, California Breweries North.

Beer Birthday: Brian Ford

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Today is the 50th birthday of Brian Ford, owner/brewer at the Auburn Alehouse near Sacramento, California. Brian previously brewed at Beermann’s Beerworks, but left before they closed a number of years ago. His new place is in an old historic building, a really cool space, where he’s making some more great beer. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

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Brian pouring his beer at the Raley Field Beerfest in 2007.

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And here’s Brian with Glynn Phillips, from Rubicon, at the same event.

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Rich Norgrove, from Bear Republic and Brian, bookending a friend whose name I can’t remember, another brain cell casualty of getting old, at the Celebrator’s 25th Anniversary Party in 2013.

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A publicity shot at the Auburn Alehouse.

Building The Good Hop

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I won’t even try to be unbiased on this one. Melissa Myers is a dear friend of mine. She’s one of my favorite people in the beer world, and I’m thrilled that she’s finally striking out on her own. Melissa’s also a talented brewer who’s made beer at Magnolia, Pyramid, Drake’s and many other breweries from Philadelphia to Denver to the Bay Area. Melissa knows her beer. She’s about ready to open her own bottle shop and tasting room in Oakland called The Good Hop, which is located at 2421 Telegraph Avenue. The Good Hop Bottle Shop & Tasting Room will be carrying around 600 different bottled and canned craft beers along with 16 rotating California craft beers on tap.

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But now that she’s in the final stages, she needs a little help, and has launched an Indigogo campaign to raise the remaining funds to open The Good Hop with a bang. Melissa describes what she’s trying to accomplish with The Good Hop as “your favorite watering hole meets the most well-stocked convenience store you’ll ever set foot in!” Here’s what she needs.

I love beer, y’all! But I need your help to finish construction. All those alcohol permits and red-tape stuff cost a ton of cash, and now we need funding for the fun stuff — the bartop itself, cool lighting, comfy tables and chairs, and most importantly, your beer mugs and the coolers that will hold all that beer. We estimate we need $20,000 for all the finishing touches and flourishes that will make it a chill bar where you can relax with your friends after work, before the big game, or on a lazy weekend.

I am thrilled that I’m *this* close to realizing my dream! I’ve gotten this far through the generosity of friends, family, and the community around me. Now I’m asking for help from my bigger community — YOU. You can help me complete my dream and open the doors to a great bar that you’ll want to spend time in. Please contribute in whatever way you can, even if it’s only five dollars, so that I can help the world get in touch with its inner beer geek. It’s a surefire way to bring some good karma into your life. And if you can’t contribute monetarily, but you like what I’m doing, please help me by getting the word out and sending this link to your peeps. We understand times are hard and money is tight. We’d love some financial assistance, but if how you can help is by spreading the word, we’ll take that gift too!

I can personally vouch for Melissa, she’ll create one hell of a beer destination. I’ve reserved my own bar stool at The Good Hop, and now I’m asking you to help out, too. Check out the video below and listen to what she has to say. If you agree with me that The Good Hop deserves your support, please join me in pitching in — or would that be mashing in? — to make it happen. You can help a little or a lot. There are a variety of levels you can weigh in with, from the very modest to the ostentatiously grand Ultimate Beer Lover.

Beer In Film #30: All Beer TV Visits Anderson Valley

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Today’s beer video is from All Beer TV, a production of SaboresTv in Argentina. As such, most of it’s in Spanish. The show features a visit to Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville. But even though it’s in Spanish, don’t worry. Stick with it, at around the 1:30 mark, brewmaster Fal Allen starts speaking, in English, so you’ll be able to figure it out. You may get more out of it if you’re bilingual, but either way he’s the one talking for most of the 24-minute video.

ALL BEER TV 10 MP4 1024 PAL Download from Saborestv on Vimeo.

Beer Birthday: Peter Kruger

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Today is the 44th birthday of Peter Kruger, head brewer at Bear Republic Brewing. Peter was an early brewer at Full Sail in Hood River, Oregon. He came to California to become the original brewer at Stumptown Brewery when they opened in 2001, but left in 2005 to join Bear Republic. Peter has become an integral part of Bear Republic’s success since joining the team, and is a terrific person to share a pint with. Please join me in wishing Peter a very happy birthday.

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Rich Norgrove and Peter at the New Albion re-launch at Russian River Brewing earlier this year.

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Bear Republic brewers Rich Norgrove, Jode Yaksic, Peter and Ray Lindecker during a visit in 2008.

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Peter explaining one Bear Republic’s beers at their annual GABF Tasting at the brewpub in 2009.

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Peter (2nd from the left) with the Bear Republic gang accepting another award at GABF in 2007.