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: Steve McDaniels

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Today is the 48th 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.

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Steve with OBC partner Bruce Paton and Arne Johnson, brewmaster at Marin Brewing.

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Steve with Drake’s brewer Josh Miner.

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Steve and his lovely wife Justine.

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Claudia Davis, Steve, Justine Nguyen, Gabrielle Chan, Adrienne McMullen, Shaun O’Sullivan and Roger Davis.

Beer Birthday: Dan Gordon

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Today is the 56th 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.

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At the Celebrator tasting us his newest beer, an unfiltered Dunkelweizen.

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During a recent visit to the brewery.

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Dan at yet another private Dunelweizen tasting.

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I love this early promotional shot they use on Gordon Biersch’s website.

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Dan Talking to my SSU class last spring.

Beer Birthday: Porter

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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 15th 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 three 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!

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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.

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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.

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Nine years ago, showing off a 5th-birthday present from Grandpa, a Union Pacific Challenger steam engine.

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Porter three years ago, when he came with me to visit Southern Pacific Brewing in San Francisco. He wass trying to emulate his then-hero Tim Lincecum, at least hair-wise, pitching-wise he was more of a closer.

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Me, Porter and Vinnie Cilurzo, after Porter’s Porter Day three years ago.

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Also three years ago, Porter’s second batch, a version of Hair of the Dog’s Doggie Claws, made with the Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton, but mostly Alan Sprints, whose own birthday was just a few days ago.

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And this is Porter’s freshman portrait, taken just a couple of weeks ago as he began high school.

Beer Birthday: Terence Sullivan

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Today is the 49th birthday 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.

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Brian Grossman, Tom Peters and Terence outside Monk’s Cafe during Philly Beer Week 2010.

Me and Terence Sullivan, Beer Camp coordinator, assistant brewer & field educator
Terence and me at a Sierra Nevada beer dinner a few years ago.

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Giving a tour of the brewery during our SF Beer Week beer camp in December 2010.

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Pi Bar’s Rich Rosen with Terence Sullivan at Sierra Night at Pi Bar during SF Beer Week 2011 (photo purloined from Beer by BART’s Steve & Gail, from their Flickr Photostream).

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Me and Terence on stage at the Chico Beer Camps Across American festival two years ago, raising a toast to Fraggle.

Beer Birthday: Ken Weaver

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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 32nd birthday. Ken used to work for Rate Beer, but more recently joined the staff of All About Beer magazine, and 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.

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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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Ken and Sean Paxton at the Boonville Beer Festival in 2010 (purloined from Facebook).

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At a North American Guild of Beer Writers meet-up at Breckenridge Brewing during GABF 2012, with Ken and me, dead center.

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At Lagunitas for Tom Acitelli’s book release party a few years ago, with Joe Tucker, Jeremy Marshall, me, Tom and Ken.

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My new favorite photo of Ken, at the Firestone Walker Invitational earlier this year.

Beer Birthday: Rod DeWitt

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Today is my friend Rod DeWitt’s 59th birthday. 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.

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Rod and me at the Boonville Beer Festival in 2006.

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At the Mammoth Lakes Bluesapalooza in 2007. From left: Marc Cohen, Rod, Tom Dalldorf, Bruce Joseph and Ken Hickmott.

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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.

Beer Birthday: Steve Donohue

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Today is the 45th 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.

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Steve at last year’s 22nd Celebrator anniversary party at the end of SF Beer Week.

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Steve with Peter Cogan from the Tied House, during the 2009 Celebrator party.

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Hermitage assistant brewer, Steve, Peter Licht and me during a visit to the Hermitage Brewery in San Jose a few years ago.

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Pete Slosberg with Steve.

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Steve Altimari, brewer at High Water Brewing, Steve and Steve Shapiro, from Beer by Bart.

Note: Last two photos purloined from Facebook, taken by Arie Litman.

Beer Birthday: Mark Ruedrich

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Today is the 65th birthday of Mark Ruedrich, co-owner, and original brewer, of North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg. Mark was a marine biologist who discovered good beer while living in England. Looking for a spot to build a brewery in Northern California, he was drawn to the tidal pools around Fort Bragg, and built a mini-beer empire there beginning in 1988. His Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout was one of the first truly great world-class beers made by early American microbreweries and helped put the nascent industry on the map. Plus he’s great fun to share a pint with. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

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Mark with North Coast co-owner Tom Allen at GABF in 2006.

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North Coast brewer Ken Kelley with Mark at the brewery last year.

Beer Birthday: Steve Grossman

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Today is the 64th birthday of Steve Grossman, the Beer Ambassador at Sierra Nevada, and co-founder Ken Grossman’s older brother. “Steve grew up in Southern California, where he and his younger brother Ken learned about the art of home brewing. Steve continued to homebrew throughout college, and when Ken founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, Steve’s passion for craft beer was immediately put to good use. In the early years of the brewery, he helped establish the Southern California distribution network, and was involved in direct sales. Today, Steve works with Sierra Nevada’s international export program, and serves as an ambassador and spokesperson for the brewery both domestically and abroad. Steve also serves as a director of the brewery’s wildly popular Beer Camp, which brings people to Sierra Nevada for a unique and intensive hands-on beer education.” Steve is a terrific ambassador not just for Sierra Nevada but for craft beer more generally. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Sierra Nevada head brewer Steve Dressler with Steve at GABF in 2006.

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Steve manning the Sierra Nevada bike bar at GABF in 2010.

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Steve checking out some hops at Beer Camp #93.

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Steve at an event at Four Point Sheraton in L.A. (purloined from Facebook)