Beer Birthday: Brian Hunt

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Today is iconoclastic brewer Brian Hunt’s 59th birthday. Brian owns and operates Moonlight Brewing in in Sonoma County, California, as almost a one-man show. If you’ve never had his “Death and Taxes,” “Twist of Fate Bitter,” “Bombay by Boat,” or his fresh hop ale, alternately called “Homegrown” or “Greenbud Ale,” then you’re really missing out on some of the most unique and wonderful beers around. Plus, Brian is one of the nicest curmudgeons you’ll ever meet, and one of my favorite people anywhere. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

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Hildegard van Ostaden, Urthel’s brewster, one of only a vert few female brewers working in Belgium, and Brian.

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Brian in his hopyard, with Russian River’s old assistant brewer Travis (who opened his own place, Societe Brewing), and Vinnie Cilurzo.

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Shaun O’Sullivan and Vinnie Cilurzo with Brian at the Bistro in Hayward, California.

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Brian at the Opening Gala for SF Beer Week a couple of years back.

Beer Birthday: Michael Demers

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Today is the 50th birthday of Michael Demers, the Big 5-0, brewmaster of Discretion Brewing in Soquel, which is near Santa Cruz. Michael’s been brewing most of his adult life, and originally started at some Colorado brewpubs before working at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fort Collins. More recently, he moved closer to home to brew at Boulder Creek Brewing, and in 2012 made it back to his home town of Soquel to help open Discretion. He’s making some great beers at Discretion, and winning awards for his efforts. Join me in wishing Michael a very happy birthday.

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Michael goofing around in the brewery.

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All dressed up with someplace to go, Michel and his wife Eileen on their way to sing at a concert performance at Mission Carmel last December.

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Showing off his medal at last year’s GABF in Denver.

Beer Birthday: Christian Kazakoff

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Today is Christian Kazakoff’s 45th birthday. Christian is the head brewer at Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax, California. I’ve gotten to know Christian much better since we shared a room for a week in London several years ago to attend the Old Ale Festival at the White Horse on Parson’s Green. Besides being a terrific person, he is also a stellar brewer. Join me in wishing Christian a very happy birthday.

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Christian after a sleepless night setting up before the Bay Area Firkin Fest at Triple Rock several years ago.

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Christian at Fuller’s in London, along with Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment Brewery and our tour guide Derek Prentice, during a trip to London a few years back.

Mild-mannered Christian Kazakoff becoming Super Brewer
Flying the flag in 2010 at the Celebrator Party at the end of the 2nd SF Beer Week.

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In March, at the Fairfax Beerfest a few years ago.

Beer Birthday: Bill Brand

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Today would have been Bill Brand’s 78th 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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At the Falling Rock during GABF week in 2004. Clockwise from left, Bill, Lisa Morrison, me, Tom Dalldorf, Stephen Beaumont and my cousin Mike, who lived in Denver at the time.

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Bill toasting with a pitcher of Oakland’s new Linden Street Brewery, with Fraggle at the far right, whose birthday would also have been today. 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 48th 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 I still run into him occasionally at events. Seabright celebrated their 25th anniversary two years ago, 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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Jason with Dave Heist, from HopTown Brewing, and Gene and Cindy Acevedo, from El Toro Brewing, during the Brewer’s Reception at GABF in 2002.

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Jason at the helm of the brewery when I visited him in early 2013 to wrote about Seabright’s 25th anniversary.

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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 also 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 three Decembers ago to visit Stone Brewing, too. More recently, he asked me to be the Emcee for the Rate Beer Best awards held in late January in Santa Rosa, which was great fun, and I look forward to doing it again next year. 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.

Bear Republic To Open 2nd Brewpub

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One of my favorite breweries, and the 2nd largest in Sonoma County, announced that they will be opening a second brewpub in the town right next door to me, in Rohnert Park, California. Bear Republic Brewing, whose original brewpub in is Healdsburg, and also operates a production facility in Cloverdale, has taken over the former Latitude Island Grill space in Rohnert Park, just off the Gold Course Drive exit.

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Here’s the press release:

In keeping with the tradition of honest ales and family values, Bear Republic Brewing Company®, its employees and the Norgrove Family are excited to announce that after twenty years, Bear Republic will be opening the company’s third brewery operation in the City of Rohnert Park, California.

“Bear Republic looks forward to developing a positive relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, the City Fathers, the local business community and the citizens of Rohnert Park,” said Bear Republic Brewing Company® President & CEO Richard Norgrove.

The former Latitude Restaurant will be the new site of Bear Republic’s Rohnert Park brewpub.
The brewery and brewpub operation is currently in the planning stages and will commence with the construction phase at 5000 Roberts Rd, formerly the site of Latitude Restaurant. No opening date is available as of this writing.

“Rohnert Park is thrilled to have Bear Republic coming to town,” said Rohnert Park City Council Member Amy Ahanotu. He added, “A brewery of their quality is exactly what we’ve been looking for to expand the dining and entertainment choices for our residents and visitors.”

That’s going to be awesome, with Bear Republic so much closer to my house, but also in building their business with this third location. For more information about the space, here’s the original designs from Latitudes.

Red Sox’ Kevin Youkilis To Open Brewery In Los Gatos

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This apparently leaked out last month, but I hadn’t heard about it until a friend mentioned they’d heard a rumor about it, so I started checking it out. Apparently it’s true, and former Boston Red Sox first/third baseman Kevin Youkilis is planning to open a brewpub in the Bay Area. He lives in Monte Sereno and his brother, Scott Youkilis, is a local chef who owns the San Francisco restaurant Hog & Rocks. The two are teaming up and have purchased the Los Gatos Brewery, which has now closed, with the intention of re-opening this summer as the Foglight Alehouse.

According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal:

The 150-seat brewpub will be called Foglight Alehouse — a name chosen for its connotations of the California coast and the fog that rolls over the nearby Santa Cruz mountains. An exact opening date hasn’t been set, but Youkilis is targeting this summer.

The space will be much larger than any of Youkilis’ previous endeavors, and the first time he has taken on brewing. But the owners are tapping into the collaborative brewing community, working with craft beer comrades at Russian River Brewing Co. and Almanac Brewing Co. and the noted brewer and industry consultant Rich Higgins on the venture.

Scott Youkilis describes the food to be served as “simple California comfort food with a twist.” They’re currently looking for a brewer, and posted a listing on ProBrewer in late January. It looks like they may be looking to create some hoppy beers, as one of the requirements listed for the job is “Enjoys Hops.”

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Beer Birthday: Dylan Schatz

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Today is the 44th 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.

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Dylan and Vic at the Double IPA Fest

Beer Birthday: Brian Ford

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Today is the 52nd 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 Dave Morrow from DBI, at the Celebrator’s 25th Anniversary Party in 2013.

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A publicity shot at the Auburn Alehouse.