Beer Birthday: Christian DeBenedetti

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Today is the 43rd birthday of fellow beer writer and aspiring brewery owner Christian DeBenedetti. In 2011, he wrote The Great American Ale Trail and you can check out a lot of his other work online. His latest project is building a brewery on his family’s property, Springbrook Farm, and it’s called the Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery. It’s now been open a short time, and just added food, too. Join me in wishing Christian a very happy birthday.

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Christian with Stephen Beaumont at the Denver Rare Beer Tasting in 2013.

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With Vinnie Cilurzo in the barrel room during a visit to Russian River Brewing.

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With Charlie Papazian at GABF.

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With Jim Koch at Ale House at Amato’s for the book release party for the Great American Ale Trail, during GABF in 2011.

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In front of the brewhouse at Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery, his brewery under construction.

Beer Birthday: Darron Welch

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Today is the 49th birthday of Darron Welch, brewmaster at Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon. Darron has something like a gazillion awards for his beers, including “Brewer of the Year” seven times (at GABF in 2000 and 2005 for small brewpub and in 2006 and 2014 for large brewpub; and at the World Beer Cup in 2008, 2012 and 2014 for large brewpub or small brewery). In addition to being a great brewer, Darron is also a terrific person, as well. Join me in wishing him a very happy birthday.

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At a beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco several Januarys back, Pelican Pub brewmaster Darron Welch with the Beer Chef Bruce Paton.

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Darron and the gang (including Ben Love at far left) from Pelican Pub & Brewery winning Gold for their Kiwanda Cream Ale at GABF in 2006.

Darron Welch (2nd from Left) with the Pelican Brewpub Team
Darron, again with the Pelican Crew, this time at GABF in 2009.

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On stage accepting one of his awards at the World Beer Cup in 2014.

Beer Birthday: Brett Joyce

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Today is the 44th birthday of Brett Joyce, President of Rogue. Joyce grew up in the brewery, which his father Jack founded when Brett was sixteen. Having gone off to college and made a name for himself working with Adidas, building their international golf shoe business from the ground up, he returned to work for the brewery a number of years ago, and has been Rogue’s president since 2006. I’ve gotten to know Brett much better since his return, beginning with when I interviewed him a number of years ago for a Beer Advocate magazine article profiling him. Join me in wishing Brett a very happy birthday.

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Brett at the Full Sail Smoker during OBF, after a quick interview I did with him for Beer Advocate magazine.

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At Dave & Jen’s wedding during GABF a few years ago: Vinnie, Dave, Jennifer, Natalie, minister Brett Joyce and me.

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Brett, me and Brian Dunn, from Great Divide, at SAVOR a few years ago in Washington, DC.

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Me, Brett and Rogue’s maltster at their floor malting facility in Portland.

Beer Birthday: Karl Ockert

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Today is the 57th birthday of Karl Ockert, who is the Director of Brewery Operations at Deschutes Brewing. But Karl spent many years as the BridgePort Brewing Co. in Portland, Oregon, nearly thirty years, from 1983 to late 2010. That’s when I first met Karl, who was responsible for one of the first IPAs in the modern era, BridgePort IPA. For the last few years he was the Technical Director of the MBAA and also did some brewery consulting, before joining Deschutes last summer. Join me wishing Karl a very happy birthday.

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Karl when he was with the MBAA.

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Debuting Stumptown Tart.

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“Co-founders Dick and Nancy Ponzi, pose with BridgePort’s first brewmaster, Karl Ockert, at the brewery’s grand opening in 1984 when it was known by its original name “Columbia River Brewery.” At the time, patrons could taste beer at the brewery, but not legally purchase it onsite. The Ponzis, along with other local brewers, successfully lobbied on behalf of the Brewpub Bill, which made it possible for local brewers to sell their products directly to the public.” [From the Multnomah County Library.]

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“BridgePort’s crew in 1986 included Karl Ockert (at left), the brewery’s first brewmaster, and Ron Gansberg (center), who later became brewmaster at Cascade Brewing. Ockert was just 23 years old and a recent graduate of the brewing program at the University of California at Davis when Richard and Nancy Ponzi hired him.” [From the Multnomah County Library.]

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“Karl Ockert, BridgePort’s original brewmaster, is seen in the center of this photograph from 1985 when BridgePort was still known as Columbia River Brewery. Flanking him are other figures from Portland’s craft brewery vanguard. From left, Steve Harrison, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Fred Eckhardt, beer columnist; Fred Bowman, Portland Brewing Co.; Paul Shipman, Independent Brewing Co.; Karl Ockert, Columbia River Brewery; Tom Baune, Hart Brewing Co.; Jim Temple, General Brewing Co.; Mike McMenamin, McMenamins; and Kurt Widmer, Widmer Brewing Co.” [From the Multnomah County Library.]

Beer Birthday: Gary Fish

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Today is the 60th birthday of Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewing in Bend, Oregon. Gary grew up in Northern California wine country, but relocated to Bend to start the brewery in 1987, opening the original brewpub the following year. Since then, they built a production brewery and have gone on to open two additional brewpub locations, one in Bend and one in Portland. As of last year, they were the 5th largest craft brewery and the 11th largest brewery in America. Not bad for a brewery with a Porter as its flagship. Plus, Gary is a great person to discuss politics with, preferably over a beer. Join me in wishing Gary a very happy birthday.

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Larry Sidor, former brewmaster at Deschutes (and now at his Crux Fermentation Project), with Alan Sprints (from Hair of the Dog) and Gary at their downtown Bend brewpub when we visited there last summer on a family vacation.

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Gary Fish, Kurt Widmer (from Widmer Brothers) and beer writer Fred Eckhardt at Don Younger’s memorial (photo by Tom Dalldorf).

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Gary accepting the OBF hammer after the parade in 2009.

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Presenting a World Beer Award for “World’s Best Stout” last week in Bend to Gary and his crew at Deschutes.

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U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, Gary, and Representative Greg Walden — all from Oregon — enjoying craft beer at a Capitol Hill reception when the Small Brewers Conference held their first meeting.

Beer Birthday: Rob Widmer

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Today is Rob Widmer’s 60th birthday. Rob is, of course, one of the bros in Widmer Brothers. He and his brother Kurt helped found the Oregon Brewers Festival, created the style American Hefeweizen and are one of the few small brewers that have managed to retain their spirit and reputation as they’ve grown much larger. Join me in wishing Rob a very happy birthday.

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Kurt and Rob Widmer with ther wives at the Oregon Brewers Festival several years ago.

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Kurt and Rob after their win for Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year at GABF in 2002.


Rob with the Ralph’s (Olson and Woodall) from HopUnion at the 15th Anniversary Party for the Celebrator Beer News.

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Rob with the late, great Don Younger at Wynkoop during GABF in 2009.

Beer Birthday: Tyler Brown

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Today is the 49th birthday of Tyler Brown, founder of Barley Brown’s Brew in Baker City, Oregon. I first met Tyler somewhere in Portland, some years ago, and his beers are amazing. Most recently, other GABF, I saw him at Belmont Station, and I thought I had a picture of him wearing the Belmont Crown. Alas, I could not find it. Join me in wishing Tyler a very happy birthday.

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Tyler at me at GABF this year.

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Tyler in the UK doing a collaboration beer with Banks’s Brewery in Wolverhampton.

Beer Birthday: Alan Sprints

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Today is the 57th birthday of Alan Sprints. Alan is the founder of Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, Oregon. Alan makes some of the most unique and wonderful beers, not just in Portland, but anywhere, all the more impressive because he brews out of an old Campbell’s soup kettle. He recently relocated the brewery, now with a tasting room, to a new location on S.E. Yamhill in Portland. And a couple of years back, he came over to our home and brewed a version of his wonderful Doggie Claws with my son Porter on his brew sculpture. Alan is simply one of the best brewers anywhere. Join me in wishing Alan a very happy birthday.

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Alan pouring his beer at the Sasquatch Pro-Am Golf Tournament in 2006.

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Alan standing in front of some of his aging beers, in 2007.

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Alan, with Portland beer writer Fred Eckhardt, at his annual open house during OBF in 2008.

Alan Sprints from Hair of the Dog with his two Washington Cask Festival ribbons
Alan with his two Washington Cask Festival ribbons at Brouwer’s in Seattle a couple of years ago for the Keene Tasting.

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Sean Paxton, the homebrew chef, my son Porter, and Alan, when he brewed a version of Doggie Claws with Porter at my house two years ago.

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Toasting Fred Eckhardt earlier this year, Alan with the other founders of FredFest.

Beer Birthday: Fred Bowman

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Today is Fred Bowman’s 72nd birthday. Fred co-founded the Portland Brewing Co., which was bought a few years ago byPyramid Breweries, which in turn was bought by Magic Hat and then again by North American Breweries. Fred continues to be very active in the craft beer community, and has been supportive of the movement since the beginning. A couple of years ago, he dropped by and stayed with us during his drive ’round the country in a van, visiting old friends and family. Join me in wishing Fred a happy birthday.

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By the Celebrator booth at OBF, from left, John Harris (head brewer at Full Sail Brewing), Tom Dalldorf, and Fred.

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Dick Cantwell, co-owner of Elysian Brewing Co. in Seattle, with Fred at an after party at the Falling Rock during GABF.

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With Lisa Morrison earlier this year in Portland for FredFest.

Beer Birthday: Matt Van Wyk

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Today is Matt Van Wyk’s 44th birthday. Matt was the brewmaster at Flossmoor Station but a number of years ago moved to Eugene, Oregon, where for a number of years he brewed at Oakshire Brewing. He also used to co-write one of the best brewer’s blogs, the Flossmoor Station Blog and again for Oakshire. Last fall, he announced his departure from Oakshire to start his own venture, Alesong Brewing & Blending, which should release its first beer later this month. Join me in wishing Matt a very happy birthday.

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On the floor at GABF in 2007 with Andrew Mason (on left), Matt’s assistant at Flossmoor Station, and Wil Turner (on right) from Goose Island.

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Jamie Floyd, from Ninkasi Brewing, with Matt at GABF in 2009.

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A self-portrait with Matt, from Oakshire Brewing, Jonathan Surrat, and me at the Goose Island cask event during CBC in Chicago.

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Matt at the Boonville Beer Festival a few years ago.

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Two years ago during a trip to Eugene at the Oakshire tasting room in Eugene, Matt and me.