Beer Birthday: Judy Ashworth

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Today is Judy Ashworth’s birthday. She’s the Grand Dame of Publicans, having once owned the Lyons Brewery Depot in the East Bay, one of the earliest bars to really embrace, support and promote craft beer. Judy sold the pub in 1998 after some health troubles sidelined her, but she’s still a fixture in the Bay Area beer scene. I’ve judged with her many times and these days she’s very supportive of the homebrewing movement and she can be seen at most of the major beer events throughout the year. Join me in wishing Judy a very happy birthday.

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Judy with Shaun O’Sullivan (21st Amendment) and Chris Black at his Falling Rock Taphouse during GABF week in 2007.

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Out in front of The Bistro in Hayward at the Wood-Aged Beer Festival in August of 2008. From left: Jeremy Cowan, owner of He’Brew, Judy, Dave Heist, and Zak, also from He’Brew.

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At the Toronado Barleywine Festival in 2008, Judy Ashworth, Matt Salie (with Big Sky Brewing) and Judy’s daughter Laurel.

Judy Ashworth, Stephen Beaumont, me & Peter Hoey at the Pliny the Younger release
Judy with Stephen Beaumont, me and Peter Hoey at the 2010 Pliny the Younger release.

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Dave Suurballe, Judy, Julie Nickels and Bruce Paton at Anchor Brewing for the book release party for Tom Acitelli’s “Audacity of Hops” earlier this month.

Beer Birthday: John Martin

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Today is the 54th birthday of John Martin, one of the founders of Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse in Berkeley. John, with his brother Reid, started on of the first five brewpubs in the U.S., and the only one that’s still owned by the same family that founded it. John also owns Drake’s Brewing and the Jupiter Taproom, too. He’s active in the local beer community and also with the CCBA, plus he’s a great guy with a very distinctive laugh. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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Christian Kazakoff, former brewer at Triple Rock (now at Iron Springs) with John during the 2008 Firkin Fest.

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John, with his brother Reid, and Triple Rock brewmaster Rodger Davs at the brewpub’s 25th anniversary.

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John, me and Peter Hoey at last year’s opening gala for SF Beer Week.

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John in the brewhouse with his brother 26 years ago, on opening day.

Beer Birthday: Jack McAuliffe

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Today is the 69th birthday of Jack McAuliffe, the father of the modern microbrewery. Jack incorporated his New Albion Brewery in October of 1976, and began producing beer the following year from his tiny brewery in Sonoma, California. His 1-barrel system suggests he may also have been the first nanobrewery, as well. I finally got a chance to meet Jack when he was San Francisco for CBC a couple of years ago, and was privileged to spend some time with him the week after CBC when Jack visited Russian River Brewery and then the next day graciously showed us the original site of his New Albion Brewery. I’ve since been fortunate to talk with Jack on several more occasions, and it’s always a treat. Join me in wishing Jack a very happy birthday.

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Me and Jack at Russian River Brewery earlier this year when they launched the new New Albion beer in bottles.

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Maureen Ogle, Jack and Julie Johnson, from All About Beer magazine, during the Craft Brewers Conference in San Francisco last year.

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Vinnie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, with Jack, showing us around the original site of the New Albion Brewery.

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Jack and Boston Beer’s Jim Koch at their annual media brunch during GABF week two years ago.

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Jack and me at Russian River Brewery.

Beer Birthday: Brian Hunt

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Today is iconoclastic brewer Brian Hunt’s 57th 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. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

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

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Brian in his hopyard, with Russian River’s old assistant brewer Travis (who recently 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: Christian Kazakoff

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Today is Christian Kazakoff’s 43rd 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.

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.