Beer Birthday: Sean Paxton

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Today is the 42nd birthday of Sean Paxton, a.k.a. The Homebrew Chef. Sean is a mad alchemist in the kitchen and puts on some wonderful food and beer spectacles. Plus he’s a terrific homebrewer, an even better human being and a great friend. Join me in wishing Sean a very happy birthday.

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At this year’s Great American Beer Festival in 2008. Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef, Sean and Dave Keene, from the Toronado, in the convention center.

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Sean with his daughter Olivia at the Pliny the Elder release earlier this year.

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Working with nitrogen at the 11-course Belgian Brunch, or Blunch, held at the Toronado.

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My wife, Sarah, with Sean after the 10th annual beer dinner at the Northern California Homebrewers Festival held at Lake Francis Resort in Dobbins, California.

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Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers at the Bistro for the Double IPA Festival this year.

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With Randy Mosher at the world’s biggest beer dinner at CBC in Chicago.

All Hopped Up For The Cure 2014

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Last night, Russian River Brewing kicked off their annual month-long All Hopped Up For the Cure charity event, raising money for the local Sutter Medical Services in Santa Rosa and specifically their Breast Care Center. They do it every October, in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a cause owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo feel quite deeply about. It’s a big one for me, too. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was only 21, when she was just 42. More than two dozen Summit doctors and breast cancer survivors were on hand to show their support. While this year’s efforts just began, there’s plenty of time to stop by the brewpub and help this very important cause in a variety of ways. As they do each year, there are three big items that are being auctioned, and raffle tickets are available until the drawing takes place, on October 30th, 2014 during their annual Halloween Bash. You need not be present to win, but you do have to answer your phone when Natalie calls from the stage. Here’s what you can win:

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Raffle tickets can be bought at the pub and placed in lucite boxes at the front of the brewpub. You can also purchase raffle tickets without visiting the pub by contacting Aura Helwick at info@russianriverbrewing.com.

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The big prize is a brand new White Vespa Primavera 150cc with “All Hopped Up for the Cure” decals. The winner is responsible for claiming their prize in person at Revolution Moto in Santa Rosa! Must be 18 to win. Must answer the phone if/when I call at around 10pm on Oct. 30 to be eligible to win! Raffle tickets are $10 each or 3 for $25.

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There’s also a Pink Electra Amersterdam Joyride bicycle, graciously donated by The Bike Peddler in Santa Rosa! Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20.

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And lastly for the big raffle items, a very cool Custom Built Guitar, a pink accoustic guitar hand-made by Timmy Lovold and friends! Raffle tickets are $10 each or 3 for $25.

Brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo also created a special beer for the events, Framboise For A Cure, which will be available on draft and in 375ml bottles available, but only at the brewpub. FFAC is a sour barrel-aged blonde ale with 31 pounds per barrel of fresh raspberries, giving it a beautiful reddish/pink hue. Each year, it’s only around until it runs out, though they’re setting aside a set number of bottles to sell each day so it’s not gone too soon, and 100% of proceeds from sales of this beer will be donated to Sutter. I had some last night, and it’s really tasty, with big fruit flavors, not too sour but just enough jammy, puckering goodness to keep sipping.

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And finally, Russian River creates a new graphic each year for the event, and this year’s logo is really cool, as far as I’m concerned.

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The logo is available on Men’s T-Shirts, a Men’s Workshirt and a Ladies T-Shirts. All three are available online or at the pub, with 100% of proceeds donated to Summit, as well.

Give generously this year to help make breast cancer a thing of the past, or at least increase the odds that more children don’t lose their mothers, husbands their wives or friends their friends to breast cancer.

Beer Birthday: Barbara Groom

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Today is the birthday of Barbara Groom, co-founder of Lost Coast Brewing in Eureka, California. I first met Barbara when I was the beer buyer at BevMo in the mid-1990s and our paths have crossed on occasion ever since. She makes terrific beers and her brewery recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Join me in wishing Barbara a very happy birthday.

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Barbara in the brewery.

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This is what Barbara was wearing when I first met her, back when she called on me at BevMo.

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Thumbs up.

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In the beginning.

Note: All photos purloined from Facebook.

Russian River Brewing To Get New Brewhouse

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Well this is great news for Russian River beer lovers. I got the news last night that the Santa Rosa brewery will be getting some key new brewing equipment, installing a new brewhouse to replace the current one. The last brewhouse was installed in 2008, when they built their production brewery, increasing annual production from 3,000 barrels to 14,000 barrels, a 466% increase. In February of next year, they’ll be swapping out the old one to install a 4 vessel 50-barrel brew house from AAA Metal Fabrication in Oregon. So how to make beer while the new kettles are being installed? Here’s how, from the press release:

Since this is an equipment swap, there will be no way to brew at their production brewery for about a month. This will not only affect beer sales at their pub, but wholesale distribution since all packaged beer is brewed at this facility (Pliny fans should be gasping right about now). Alas, have no fear! Vinnie and Natalie’s good friends at Firestone Walker Brewing Company have graciously offered to brew several batches of Pliny the Elder to keep the beer flowing during this downtime at Russian River! Firestone Walker will brew Pliny the Elder for draft distribution only, and bottled Pliny will continue to come from Russian River through existing inventory in their fermenters. Vinnie will be working closely with Brewmaster Matt Brynildson to dial in the Pliny recipe in an effort to maintain flavor consistency. If you are at all familiar with the Firestone beers, you know their brewing practices and quality are already first class!

Vinnie and Natalie are grateful to their friends at Firestone Walker for helping them out during installation of the new brew house in February. It’s not exactly like borrowing a bag of malt! The ability to have an uninterrupted supply of draft Pliny the Elder for their wholesale partners and, especially, consumers is invaluable to them and the brewery. This is a true testament to the continued collaborative spirit and friendly nature of the Craft Beer Industry.

No word on when the swap is expected to be completed but the new shiny brewhouse will allow them to keep making great beer.

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Here’s the Russian River crew in front of the old system, shortly after it was installed in 2008. As noted in the press release, Vinnie and Natalie bought it from Dogfish Head, but Sam Calagione in turn got it from Henry Ortlieb, a fourth generation brewer in the Ortlieb family, who as you can see, had it built in 1997 when he opened Poor Henry’s Brewery and Pub.

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Beer Birthday: Dave McLean

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Today is Dave McLean’s 45th birthday. Dave is the soul behind Magnolia Pub & Brewery, the gastropub on Haight Street in San Francisco. He also owns Alembic and is a tireless champion of craft beer in the Bay Area, having worked on Slow Food Nation, The Eat Real Festival and SF Beer Week, among much else. He recently opened his new production brewery and smokehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood of the city, and is renovating the Alembic on upper Haight. Join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.

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Craig Cauwels (from Schooner’s) and Sam Calagione (from Dogfish Head) stopping by to see Dave at the Double IPA Festival at the Bistro a couple of years ago.

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A sextet from San Francisco at GABF 2008. From left: Adrienne McMullem, with 21st Amendment, Ben Spencer, from Magnolia, Sean Paxton, the homebrew chef, Ben’s wife, Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment, and Dave.

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Dave and me at the end of a very long, but satisfying, day at the first Slow Food Nation event four years ago in San Francisco.

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Food and beer mixed happily and deliciously at the Slow Beer Festival 2008, as evidenced here by Ian Marks (from Hog Island Oyster Co.), Taylor Boetticher (from the Fatted Calf), Dave, John Tucci (from Gordon Biersch San Francisco) and Shaun O’Sullivan (from 21st Amendment).

Beer Birthday: Ken Kelley

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Today is the 54th birthday of Ken Kelley, brewer at North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg. Ken is the guy you see at the majority of beer festivals that North Coast participates in, as well as even some of the ones that they don’t. He’s a terrific ambassador for the brewery, and for craft beer more generally, as well as a great person to hang out with. Join me in wishing Ken a very happy birthday.

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Then-Triple Rock GM Rachaal with Ken at the Firkin Fest in 2008.

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Ken and a colleague, both sporting pink hair, at the Breastfest in 2007.

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Ken, who was responsible for the Old Rasputin X Imperial Stout, which was aged in old bourbon barrels for at least nine months, showing off a bottle along with Ruby and Tom Dalldorf at the Boonville Beer Festival 2007.

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Visiting the brewery a couple of years ago, Ken with North Coast founder Mark Ruedrich.

Beer Birthday: Justin Crossley

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Today is the 32nd birthday 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 last year and it will fun to see the result of that project. Of course, he’s been busy opening the Hop Grenade, the next piece of the growing Brewing Network empire. Join me in wishing Justin a very happy birthday.

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Justin and me showing off our injured fingers at the last Marin Breastfest held at Marin Brewing.

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Justin all thumbs at Stone Brewing during the CBC Reception in 2008.

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With Michael Ferguson, from BJ’s, at Oakland’s Linden Street Brewery during the AHA convention a couple of years ago.

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Okay, what’s with the thumbs? About to do a broadcast from GABF in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Don Barkley

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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.

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Don at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala in 2010.

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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.

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Albion Don at the Toronado during the launch of the first SF Beer Week in 2009.

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Don at the Celebrator Best of the West Fest in 2009, pouring the official beer of SF Beer Week, which he created for us using the original recipe for New Albion Pale Ale.

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Me and Don at the Breastfest at Fort Mason a couple of years ago (photo by Mario Rubio).

Beer Birthday: Paddy Giffen

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Today is Paddy Giffen’s 64th birthday. Paddy was the original brewer at Moylan’s Brewing, did some distilling and was briefly with Bear Republic. I ran into him a few years ago at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol, and these days, as far as I know, he’s brewing at Lagunitas. Join me in wishing Paddy a very happy birthday.


Paddy and Britt Antrim, himself formerly with Anderson Valley, Kona and Great Divide, at the Craft Brewers Conference in Austin, Texas.

Lagunitas Couch Trippin’ Winner Announced

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A few weeks ago Lagunitas Brewing, my local down the street, announced a contest to win a a party in your home, Couch Trippin’ party to your home. The Couch Trippin’ Contest ended on the last day of August, and they’ve just announced the winner in a new Lagunitas video showing some of the best entries and ending with the winner’s submission.

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Congratulations to Mel Gryllz (@Gryllzlee) for emerging victorious with this wonderful shot:

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