Historic Beer Birthday: Anthony Durkin

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Today is not the birthday of Anthony Durkin (1831-January 15, 1868), but instead the day he died in 1868. Before the mid-1800s, record-keeping was spotty at best and only the well-heeled and royal consistently kept birth records. Durkin was born in Ireland, in County Mayo. He made his way to San Francisco, California as a young man, in the 1850s.

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Durbin at 25, in 1857.

There’s not too much I could find about him, apart from this overview, from Brewery Gems.

In 1860, he established A. Durkin & Company, at 608-610 Mission St., for the purposes of brewing ale and porter. His two partners in the company were Charles M. Armstrong, a 35 year old Irish immigrant, and a German immigrant, Louis Luhden. In naming the brewery Anthony simply referenced its location, thus the Mission Street Brewery.

In their history of the Hibernia Brewery, there’s also this:

The first serious incident occurred on June 16th, 1861. The following account was reported by the Daily Alta California:

“A beautiful child, aged seven years, daughter of George Coffee, Boiler Inspector, fell into a vat of boiling beer in the Mission Street Brewery, last evening. A young man named Thomas Kennedy attempted to rescue the child and he also fell in. John McCabe, the cooper of the establishment, was severely scalded in his efforts to get them out. The child died almost immediately. Kennedy was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. He will probably die.”

In spite of this tragic accident the business experienced steady growth and in 1863, in addition to its ale and porter, the brewery began producing lager beer. This wasn’t lager in the traditional sense, but a lager peculiar to the San Francisco area called steam beer. It was made without refrigeration but with a bottom fermenting yeast. Another steam beer producer, and major competitor, was a company that also took their name from their location, the Broadway Brewery.

In 1864, Anthony severely injured his left arm, leaving him partially disabled, but he didn’t quit brewing. Then in July of 1865, all that changed. The following is a newspaper account from the July 4th edition of the Daily Alta California:

“Anthony Durkin, the brewer who was disabled about a year since, by falling under a street car which fractured his left arm so that it was found necessary to perform the operation of excision of the elbow joint, met with another unfortunate accident while running to the fire with Engine Company No. 2, on Sunday morning. He tripped and fell while holding by the rope, and his arm, which had become in a measure useful again, went under the wheel of the engine, which crushed it into a shapeless mass, making what is termed by surgeons a ‘compound comminuted fracture’ of the worse description. Dr. Murphy, who is attending upon Mr. Durkin, has little hope of being able to avoid a full amputation this time.”

As a consequence of the accident, Anthony sold his interest in the brewery to his partner, the month after the incident.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Matthew Nunan

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Today is actually the day that Matthew Nunan passed away, January 7, 1916, and was born in 1834, or possibly 1836, or maybe even 1828, but the exact date or even month is unknown. There are even some sources that give his date of death as January 13. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, and emigrated to the U.S. when he was fourteen, settling in California in 1855. Lured there by dreams of striking it rich in the goldmines, he soon tried of mining, and first opened a grocery store in San Francisco, but eventually bought the Mission Street Brewery. When they moved the brewery and built a larger one, they renamed it the Hibernia Brewery. Matthew Nunan also served two terms as Sheriff of San Francisco, 1876-1877 and 1878-1879.

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Gary Flynn has a more thorough Biography of Matthew J. Numan at her terrific Brewery Gems website. He also has a lengthy history of the Mission Street Brewery (1860-1867) and [its] successor The Hibernia Brewery (1867-1920).

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Beer Birthday: Aron Deorsey

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Today is the birthday of Aron Deorsey, brewmaster at the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant in San Francisco, along with the Park Chalet and the Lake Chalet in Oakland. I got to know Aron much better a few years back when we roomed together attending Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp for SF Beer Week. He’s been making great beer at the beachside brewpub for a number of years now, and is great fun to hang out with. Join me in wishing Aron a very happy birthday.

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Brendan Dobbel, from Thirsty Bear, Rich Higgins, from Social Kitchen, Aron and Zambo, from 21st Amendment at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp a few years ago.

Aron Derosey, from Beach Chalet, and his friend Maggie
Aron and his friend Maggie at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2009.

Clockwise from Left: Rich Higgins, John Tucci, Brenden Dobbel & Aron Deorsey with the 4 bottles of dessert
At a Sierra Nevada beer dinner at the Chico brewery in 2010. Clockwise from Left: Rich Higgins, John Tucci, Brenden Dobbel & Aron with the 4 bottles of dessert.

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Aron (in the center) at the Thirsty Bear Oktoberfest in 2002.

Beer Birthday: Ron Silberstein

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Today is the 56th birthday of Ron Silberstein, the founder, and original brewer, of Thirsty Bear Brewing in San Francisco. I’ve known Ron for a number of years but got to know him better working on SF Beer Week the first few years when we working to get it going. We also spent a weekend together at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp, which was an awesome experience for everybody who attended. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.

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Ron and me at Brews by the Bay a few years back, the San Francisco Brewers Guild’s annual beer festival. (photo by Steve Shapiro)

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Ron and Beer Camp head brewer Scott Jennings.

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Ron and his twin sons. (photo purloined from Facebook)

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Jesse Friedman and Fraggle with Ron at the Anchor Holiday Party in 2012.

Beer Birthday: Fritz Maytag

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Fritz Maytag, who bought the failing Anchor Brewery in 1965 and turned it into a model for the microbrewery revolution, celebrates his 79th birthday today. It’s no stretch to call Fritz the father of craft beer, he introduced so many innovations that are common today and influenced countless brewers working today. A few years ago, Maytag sold Anchor Brewery and Distillery to Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio of the Griffin Group, but continues to make his York Creek wine and consult with Anchor as Chairman Emeritus. I was happy to see him again earlier this year when I was invited to introduce him to receive an award from the Northern California Brewers Guild in Sacramento. Join me in wishing Fritz a very happy birthday.

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Fritz Maytag at the Anchor Christmas party in 2006 with fellow Anchor-ites John Dannerbeck and Mark Carpenter.

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Fritz with the organizers of SF Beer Week at our inaugural opening event at Anchor in 2009.

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

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Ken Grossman, me and Fritz at a beer dinner at Anchor celebrating Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary.

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Me and Fritz at the Anchor Christmas Party a few years ago.

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Me and Fritz at the California Beer Summit this September.

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Jack McAuliffe and Fritz in Sacramento earlier this year to accept an award from the Northern California Brewers Guild.

Beer Birthday: Bob Brewer

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Today is the 68th birthday of Bob Brewer, longtime brewery rep. for Anchor Brewing. For many years, he worked from southern California, circling the country with the entire nation his territory (the only exception being the Bay Area) representing Anchor beers. More recently, he moved back to the Bay Area, but you could find him at every nook and cranny of the beer world. Last year, Bob retired from Anchor, although he still occasionally works a festival or does other work, like giving a great talk at my class last spring and more recently he was working the taps for Anchor at the Lagunitas Circus. Join me in wishing Bob a very happy birthday.

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Bob serving a festival-goer at the Mammoth Lakes Bluesapalooza in 2007.

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Bob giving a tour at Anchor.

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Bob serves up the then-new Anchor Bock to Portland beer sage Fred Eckhardt.

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Me, brewer Mike Lee and Bob at the 2011 Anchor Christmas party.

Beer Birthday: John Tucci

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Today is also the 49th birthday of John Tucci, who until it closed a few years ago, was the brewmaster for the San Francisco Gordon Biersch brewpub. John was one of Gordon Biersch’s best and most senior brewers, and especially with his one-offs that he brewed at that location. He’s also a great champion for beer in San Francisco and was very active with the local brewers guild and SF Beer Week. When the San Francisco location closed, he brewed at their Palo Alto brewpub, but after 16 years, left as he’s getting closer to opening his own new brewery, 47 Hills Brewing, which will be located at 137 South Linden Avenue in South San Francisco. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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John behind the bar pouring some of his beer. (Note: this photo by Winnie Hsu and purloined from Facebook.)

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At the Slow Beer Festival 2008, Ian Marks (from Hog Island Oyster Co.), Taylor Boetticher (from the Fatted Calf), Dave, John and Shaun O’Sullivan (from 21st Amendment).

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John when I visited him last year at the Palo Alto Gordon Biersch.

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Taking delivery of new brewing equipment at 47 Hills.

Beer Birthday: Kushal Hall

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Today is the 33rd birthday of Kushal Hall, former Director of Brewing Operations for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Kushal had been brewing at Speakeasy since 2007, but left in May of this year, and I’m not sure what he’s doing right now. While Kushal studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, I think we can all agree the world is a better place since he became a brewer. A terrific brewer and person, please join me in wishing Kushal a very happy birthday.

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Kushal, second from the left, and the gang from Speakeasy at the opening gala for SF Beer Week in 2013.

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Kush serving his beer at Speakeasy 13th anniversary bash in 2010.

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Kushal as mad scientist (photo by, I believe, Brian Stechschulte).

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Kushal with Betsey and Jesse Friedman at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2012.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Jesse Friedman

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Today is the birthday of Jesse Friedman, co-founder of Almanac Beer Co.. I first got to know Jesse when he was writing his beer and food blog, Beer & Nosh, but he’s since gone on to partner with Damian Fagan to create “Farm-to-Barrel” beers in 2010. They currently make three year-round beers and a plethora of individual seasonals under the “Farm to Barrel Series” umbrella, usually with local ingredients, often fruit or field. Join me in wishing Jesse a very happy birthday.

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Jesse with Tim Clifford at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala earlier this year.

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Jesse, with Fraggle and Ron Silberstein, from Thirsty Bear, at the Anchor Holiday Party in 2012.

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Helping Sean Paxton with the Toronado Belgian Beer Lunch in 2009.

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Steve Altamari, Zak Davis, Jesse and Pete Slosberg at Jesse’s Pre-Wedding BBQ in 2010.
[Note: Pictures 1, 2, and 4 purloined from Facebook]

Beer Birthday: Dave McLean

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Today is Dave McLean’s 47th birthday. Dave is the soul behind Magnolia Pub & Brewery, the gastropub on Haight Street in San Francisco. He also owns the Alembic bar 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 more recently opened a new production brewery known as the Smokestack in the Dogpatch neighborhood of the city. 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).