Beer Birthday: Charlie Bamforth

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Today is the 63rd birthday of Charlie Bamforth, who is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at U.C. Davis (and was my teacher when I took the brewing short course there). His two most recent books should be on your must read list: Beer Is Proof That God Loves Us and Grape vs. Grain. He’s a terrific advocate for beer and a great person. He was also kind enough to speak to beer appreciation class that I recently taught at Sonoma State University. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

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Charlie with John Dannerbeck from Anchor Brewing, at a reception held there for the launch of Charlie’s new book.

Speakers at the Symposium: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie Bamforth
Charlie with fellow speakers at the Herbst Museum Symposium a few years ago, from left: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie.

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Charlie being courted by both wine and beer on his publisher’s blog, Cambridge University Press.

Beer Birthday: Todd Ashman

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Today is also the birthday of Todd Ashman, who turns 55. Todd is originally from Santa Rosa, but spent a number of years brewing at Flossmoor Station near Chicago, and then short stints at Titletown Brewing in Green Bay, Wisconsin and with Brewers Supply Group. Several years ago, Todd moved back to California to take a position brewing with a then-new brewery in Truckee, Fifty Fifty Brewing, which he’s made into an amazing brewing powerhouse. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

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Peter Hoey, at left, from Sacramento Brewing, with Todd at the 2009 Northern California Homebrew Festival.

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Todd at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

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Todd at Hair of the Dog during OBF in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Tony Magee

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Today is the 55th birthday of Tony Magee. Tony is the founder and owner of Lagunitas Brewing. We first met in the mid-1990s when I visited the old brewery, before they moved to their present location, and have been good friends ever since. I recently wrote a profile of Tony for Beer Connoisseur magazine. With his beautifully twisted, iconoclastic vision, Tony’s built an amazing empire by never compromising his ideals. His unique beers, and especially their quirky label designs and text, are always a treat. And now that they’ve installed a new 250-barrel brewhouse in both Petaluma and Chicago, are talking about a third in the not-to-distant future, I’d say he’s poised to take over the world. Local newspaper articles keep referring to him as a “beer baron,” which cracks me up. Bwa, ha,ha,ha. Join me in wishing Tony a very happy birthday.

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Tony as Ringmaster of the Lagunitas Beer Circus in 2009, with Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River Brewing.

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Tony and me at the Bistro’s IPA Festival in 2006.

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Tony warming up for a set at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol in 2008.


Performing the Big Bill Broonzy song, Key to the Highway, at the Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Festival in January of 2010.

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 55th 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 70th 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 few 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 he graciously showed us the original site of his New Albion Brewery. I’ve since been fortunate to spend time 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 58th 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 49th birthday of Michael Demers, 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 44th 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 77th 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.