Today is the 40th birthday — the Big 4-O — of Justin Crossley, the man behind the mic at The Brewing Network, one of the industry’s best voices. He’s an avid homebrewer and talker, a deadly combination, especially on radio. He also filmed Porter’s Porter Day a couple of years ago and it will fun to see the result of that project. Of course, he’s also opened the Hop Grenade, the next piece of the growing Brewing Network empire. Join me in wishing Justin a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of legendary brewer Don Barkley. Barkley’s first brewing job was as assistant brewer at New Albion Brewing in Sonoma, California, America’s first modern microbrewery back in the late 1970s. He went on to help found Mendocino Brewing, and created most of their iconic brands, like Red Tail Ale and Eye of the Hawk. In 2008, Don became the brewmaster for Napa Smith Brewery in — you guessed it — Napa, and he’s been making great beer there, too, ever since. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.
Don at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala in 2010.
Don, me and Ed Davis each with a 1979 bottle of New Albion beer, that Ed was kind enough to donate, when we did a vintage tasting of beer that Don helped brew over thirty years ago.
Today is the 49th birthday of Steve McDaniels, a former brewer with 21st Amendment. These days McDaniels is hard at work building what might have become the Oakland Brewing Co. on 22nd Avenue in Oakland, and brewing their beer at other locations until it’s finished, at least he was the last time I talked to him. Admittedly, it’s been a little while so hopefully it’s still in the works. He’s also brewing beer for his other venture, Independent Brewing. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.
Today is the 57th birthday of Dan Gordon, co-founder of Gordon Biersch Brewing, which began in San Jose, California. Dan studied brewing in Germany and was the first American to graduate from Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan with a brewing degree. His brewpub chain was one of the first to really focus on lagers, and especially German-style beers. Dan has gotten to be a good friend over the years and he’s also a terrific jazz trombonist! Join me in wishing Dan a very happy birthday.
At the Celebrator tasting us his newest beer, an unfiltered Dunkelweizen.
Alright, you caught me again. It’s not the birthday of the beer style, Porter. Strictly speaking, this isn’t really a beer post but it’s my son’s 16th birthday today, but since his name is Porter I figured people wouldn’t feel too duped by the title. It is accurate, after all. In previous years, I’d written that “one day soon, we’ll brew a porter together.” Well that day finally came, and four years ago on his birthday weekend it was Porter’s Porter Day, when he made his first batch of homebrew, with a little help from our friends. Anyway, please join me in wishing Porter a very happy birthday!
At Porter’s birthday party when he turned one, trying to get at a keg of Russian River. That’s my boy! NOTE: To those of you reaching for the phone to call child protective services, put down the receiver. He did NOT drink any beer. His mother got to him before he figured out how the tap worked.
A beautiful memory at the Rogue Alehouse in San Francisco when Porter couldn’t have been more than two, if that. Much to my surprise, Porter utterly charmed Don Younger with his ability to swiftly climb a bar stool. Don was very impressed, and so was I.
Porter three years ago, when he came with me to visit Southern Pacific Brewing in San Francisco. He was trying to emulate his then-hero Tim Lincecum, at least hair-wise, pitching-wise he was more of a closer. Timmy may be gone, but the hair remains.
Me, Porter and Vinnie Cilurzo, after Porter’s Porter Day three years ago.
Today is the 50th birthday — the Big 5-O — of Terence Sullivan, the former Field Educator and assistant brewmaster at Sierra Nevada Brewing, though he recently had a new title bestowed on him: Product Manager. He’s been with the brewery nearly forever, and in recent years has become one of their ambassadors, traveling the country representing the brewery at numerous events, as well as coordinating Beer Camp. He’s also a terrific person and a great guy to have a pint (or six) with. Join me in wishing Terence a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of fellow Bay Area beer writer Ken Weaver, who’s a neighbor in the next town over. If I’ve done my math correctly, today is his 33rd birthday. Ken used to work for Rate Beer, and until recently was also on the staff of All About Beer magazine. He also wrote The Northern California Craft Beer Guide, with photographs by his lovely wife Anneliese Schmidt. Believe it or not, Ken has a degree in physics from Cornell but chucked it all to follow his heart and preference for writing and good beer. Physics’ loss is beer’s gain. Join me in wishing Ken a very happy birthday.
Today is the 61st birthday of Mario Celotto, who founded Humboldt Brewing Co., along with his brother Vince, after his career as a professional football player with four teams, including the Oakland Raiders the season they won the super bowl in 1981. While I normally communicated with Vince, who was at the brewer day-to-day, I met Mario on a couple of occasions, including a memorable lunch in Oakland in the late 1990s. He always seemed like a great guy to me, and he did hire Steve Parkes, who created their wonderful Red Nectar Ale, one of best amber ales I’ve ever tasted. Anyway, join me in wishing Mario a very happy birthday.
Mario, when he was a linebacker for USC.
This is the biography listed on the brewery’s website back in the 1990s:
Mario is the company’s founder and serves as its President. Prior to founding the company, he played professional football and was a member of the 1980 Oakland Raider Super Bowl championship team. Mario studied public relations at the University of Southern California, where he also played on the USC National Championship football sqad. After college he worked in mortgage banking and public relations. In 1987, Mario opened the Humboldt Brewing Company brew pub and restaurant.
This is the description of Red Nectar from Humboldt Brewing’s website in 1999:
Red Nectar is an American Ale with a deep reddish copper color and sweet malty notes from English crystal malt. The crystal malt comprises nearly 15% of the grist and gives our Red a toasted caramel flavor and a residual sweetness and malty aroma which melds with the strawberry esters of our own strain of ale yeast. We use two-row Harrington-Klages pale malt, a superior blend of ale malt, and in all our beers we add a small proportion of Pacific Northwest Malted white wheat. This aids in head retention and lacing in the glass. Red Nectar is brewed with Chinook hops for bittering, Willamette in the middle for a rounded hop flavor and Mt. Hood and Cascade in the finish for a delicate floral/spicy aroma and flavor.
Today is my friend Rod DeWitt’s 60th birthday — the Big 6-O. Rod is the Director of Plant Engineering & Process Control at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville. Rod also plays drums in the Rolling Boil Blues Band. Join me is wishing Rod a very happy birthday.
Rod DeWitt, on the roof showing me the view depicted on every bottle of Anderson Valley Brewing during a private tour in May of 2006.
Today is the 46th birthday of Steve Donohue, former brewmaster at Firehouse Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale, California. Steve is an unsung brewer who deserves more accolades and fame. After Firehouse, He spent some time brewing at Hermitage Brewing while working on opening his own place. Steve’s brewery, Santa Clara Valley Brewing is now open and, not surprisingly, going gangbusters. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.
Note: Last two photos purloined from Facebook, taken by Arie Litman.