Beer Birthday: Mark Carpenter

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Today is Mark Carpenter’s 71st birthday. Mark has been the head brewer at Anchor since 1971 and is responsible for much of their success over the years. Recently, he celebrated his 40th anniversary at Anchor, and he’s also started stepping back from his day-to-day duties, not exactly retiring, but sort of, although still involved in the big brewing decisions and as official “brewmaster.” He’s a terrific person and one of the nicest people I know. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

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Dave Suurballe with Mark at Anchor a few years ago.

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Matt Salie, with Big Sky Brewing, and Mark at a recent Anchor Christmas party.

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Me and Mark at the Anchor Christmas party a few years ago.

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Mark showing off their recent new release, Brekle’s Brown.

Beer Birthday: Dave Keene

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Today is the 59th birthday of Dave Keene. Dave, of course, owns the best beer bar in San Francisco, the Toronado, which this year has been around for 27 years. Dave is one of the great figures in the San Francisco beer scene and also one of my favorite Washoe partners, and we’ve had some monumental games and vanquished many fine players — you know who you are! Join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.

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Peter Bouchaert, brewmaster at New Belgium Brewing, with Dave at one of Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s beer dinners.

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Outside the Toronado for their 20th anniversary, Dave bookended by fellow publicans Don Younger (from the Horse Brass in Portland) and Chris Black (from the Falling Rock in Denver).

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At a beer release party for Brother Dave’s Triple. From left: Fal Allen, Mark Cabrera, Dave Gatlin (head brewer at AVBC) , Me and Dave.

Dave Keene & Tomme Arthur after a night of Washoes
Dave and Tomme Arthur, from the Lost Abbey, after a night of Washoes during SF Beer Week a few years ago.

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Dave Keene and me at the Summit Hop Festival held at Drake’s Brewing several years ago.

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Dave with Vinnie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, last year at the “Toronado 25th Anniversary Dinner and Blending Session.”

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In the back room at the Toronado, Dave, Alec Moss and me, at Alec’s 70th birthday party earlier this year.

Anchor Releases Zymaster #6: Saaremaa Island Ale

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Anchor Brewing has released the sixth beer in their Zymaster® series, Saaremaa Island Ale.

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Anchor’s newest beer was apparently inspired by a trip taken recently by their longtime brewmaster, Mark Carpenter. He and his family vacationed on Saaremaa Island, a part of Estonia, and located in the Baltic Sea. According to Anchor’s press release, this “ancient island has been inhabited more than 8,000 years, and has been occupied by Germany, Denmark, Sweden, czarist Russia, and the Soviet Union. Its culture is a rich and fascinating melting pot. Yet few outside of Estonia have ever experienced its uniquely native beers. Mark enjoyed them so much that he not only brought back his memories of Saaremaa but some brewer’s yeast, as well. Inspired by Mark’s Estonian beer journey, Anchor’s Zymaster No. 6 takes you on a journey to Saaremaa by way of San Francisco.”

Beer is a journey. Wine is defined by time – on the vine and in the bottle – and place, known as terroir. But beer, thanks to the miracles of modern science, can now be made virtually anywhere in any style, transporting the beer-lover to whatever time, place, and flavors he or she desires.

“My wife and I were traveling through the Saaremaa Island countryside and we stopped at a bar,” said the Anchor Brewmaster. “I asked for a local draught beer and the unfiltered brew I was served was completely unique. It was the native yeast that intrigued me and ultimately become the inspiration for Zymaster No. 6. After returning to San Francisco, the Estonian yeast was isolated and cultured becoming the cornerstone of our pale ale which is complimented by the medium bitterness from Northern Brewer, a favorite hop here at Anchor. The result is a one-of-a-kind brew that transports me back to that countryside bar. We hope you’ll enjoy this beer journey, as well.”

Zymaster No. 6 (6% ABV) is a medium-bitter pale ale with Old World hop flavor and aroma. Made with pale barley malt, it has a light body and clean finish. But what makes Saaremaa Island Ale exceptional is the native yeast that Brewmaster Mark Carpenter clandestinely brought back from his Estonian beer journey. It took months for Anchor to isolate and culture this special strain, so essential to the unique character of Saaremaa Island’s indigenous beers. Anchor’s trial brews confirmed that this yeast, reminiscent of some Belgian varieties, contributes a richly complex piquancy to this deliciously distinctive ale with overtones of freshly ground clove and allspice.

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Anchor Zymaster No. 6: Saaremaa Island Ale will be available in limited release in 22 oz. bottles and on draught in select restaurants, bars, and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

Beer Birthday: Dave Suurballe

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Today is the 65th birthday of Dave Suurballe. Dave is a fixture in the San Francisco homebrewing and brewing community, being the president of his homebrew club and the former GM of the Toronado. Recently he was working at the Pi Bar, but he’s now back once more at the Toronado. Dave is one of my favorite people — and a kindred curmudgeon — and the fact that I think he’ll be annoyed yet again at having me point out his birthday is reason enough for me to keep it up. That’s just the kind of friend I am. So make sure you join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.

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Dave with Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado, at GABF.

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Dave with Mark Carpenter, head brewer at Anchor Brewing at a party Anchor through to celebrate the Toronado’s 20th anniversary.

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Dave with his wife Honoria and Jen Garris and Rich Rosen, co-owners of the Pi Bar, at the Toronado’s Belgian Beer Lunch in 2008.

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Nice photo by Mike Condie taken a few years ago at the Boonville Beer Festival, with Terence Sullivan, W. Dan Houck, Dave and me. Good times.

Hops & History 2

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Last year, the San Francisco Brewers Guild put together a fun event at the Old Mint with Flipside and the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society called Hops & History, in which I was the moderator of a panel discussion about opening and running a brewery in the city of San Francisco, and also helped with a breweriana display of brewery artifacts from San Francisco and California. I thought it was a great event, and it looks like I wasn’t the only one. Apparently, it was “one of the most popular events hosted by FlipSide for the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society last year.” That’s according to an Op-Ed on the Digital Journal, Hops History event displays that San Francisco is a beer town.

As a result of last year’s success, they’ve decided to another beer event at the Mint this year. The Hops & History 2 event takes place next Thursday, July 24, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Old Mint, located at 88 Fifth Street at Mission in San Francisco. Tickets to the event are $30.

Here’s more information about the event, from the San Francisco Brewers Guild website:

Its time to order another round. This 2nd annual event will feature Bay Area craft beer tasting, historical talks, a panel discussion, home brewing demos, local food vendors, and an expanded exhibit of rarely seen historical West Coast brewing memorabilia. Held in the historic 1874 San Francisco Mint, Hops and History Round 2 continues last year’s sold-out celebration of the unique history of brewing in the Bay Area while looking forward to the future of craft brewing in the City by the Bay and beyond.

Don’t get left out in the cold! Get your tickets early to join us to taste the past and enjoy the present of Bay Area craft brewing.

Event Info

Tastings from all breweries included

  • Presentations on brewing history
  • Home brewing demos by San Francisco Brewcraft
  • Exhibit of historic “breweriana” from the private Collection of Ken Harootunian
  • Bavarian pretzels from Bavarian Brez’n, and other local food for purchase
  • Docent led tours of the historic 1874 Old Mint
  • Souvenir sampling mug included
  • Music by DJ Timestretch

Program Info

  • Dave Burkhart and Jim Stitt: Handmade Labels for Handmade Beers
  • John Freeman: Shock Waves of the San Francisco Beer-Quake
  • Taryn Edwards: Lager, Ale, Porter, and Steam: “Healthful fermented liquors” at the Mechanics’ Institute’s Industrial Expostions 1857–1899
  • Panel discussion with SF Brewers Guild brewers from Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room, and Cellarmaker Brewing Co.: moderated by Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin

Apparently tickets are selling briskly, so order your tickets quickly if you’re hoping to join us for another great evening of brewing history. There’s also more info at Flipside’s Facebook page. See you there.

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Beer Birthday: Ben Spencer

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Today is Ben Spencer’s 40th birthday. Ben is the head brewer at Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. Ben grew up in Virginia, and spent some time brewing in Colorado, and even worked for Greenpeace, before coming to the Bay Area in 2004. That’s when he left Boulder for San Francisco to make beer at Magnolia. Ben’s a terrific brewer and a great person, too. Join me in wishing Ben a very happy birthday.

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Ben with Jesse Houck, when he was still brewing with 21st Amendment (he’s now at Golden Road) during Brews By the Bay 2008.

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A sextet from San Francisco at GABF in 2008. From left: Adrienne McMullem, with 21st Amendment, Ben, Sean Paxton, the homebrew chef, Ben’s wife Kelly, Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment, and Dave.

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A satisfied Ben with Dave McClean after a vertical tasting of Old Thunderpussy in 2009.

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Ben with Dave Hopwood (Stone) and Dave McClean (Magnolia) at the 22nd Celebrator Anniversary Party in 2010.

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After Bruce Paton’s cheese and beer dinner in 2008. From left, Arne Johnson (Marin Brewing), Aron Derosey (Beach Chalet), Bruce Paton, Sheana Davis, Ben, Ron from 21A, Brenden Dobbel (Thirsty Bear) and Rich Higgins (Gordon Biersch).

Beer Birthday: Andy French

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Today is the 46th birthday of Andy French, brewmaster at Southern Pacific Brewing in San Francisco, one of the new wave of breweries that opened in the city in recent years. I first met Andy when he brewed at Speakeasy, and after that would see him from time to time at Zeitgeist, though he first started brewing back East in the DC area. When his roommate Chris Lawrence, who also worked for Speakeasy once upon a time, decided to open his own brewery, he tapped Andy to work the mash paddles, and things have been going great since they opened a few years ago. Join me in wishing Andy a very happy birthday.

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Andy at his brewhouse in 2012.

Beer Birthday: Brian Yaeger

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Today is the birthday of fellow beer writer Brian Yaeger, author of Red, White & Brew. Brian also writes online at his Red, White & Brew Beer Odyssey blog. Until recently, Brian and his lovely bride Kimberly lived in Portland, Oregon (having moved from San Francisco), but they’ve moved to Amsterdam. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

Brian Yaeger, Brian Lenzo, owner of Blue Palms Brewhouse, and Meg Gill
Brian with Brian Lenzo, owner of Blue Palms Brewhouse, me and Meg Gill at the Speakeasy Brewery during SF Beer Week in 2010.

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Craig Cauwels with Brian, the Beer Chef Bruce Paton and me at a Schooner’s beer dinner at Cathedral Hotel in 2008.

Beer Birthday: Forest Gray

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Today is the 47th birthday of Forest Gray, co-founder and president of Speakeasy Ales and Lagers in San Francisco. I first met Forest when Speakeasy first bottled their beer when I was the beer buyer at BevMo. For the last severnteen years, his brewery has made some terrific beers, especially their Big Daddy I.P.A. Join me in wishing Forest a very happy birthday.

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Forest with Brian Lenzo, from Blue Palms in L.A., and Meg Gill, now with Golden Road, at a Speakeasy Anniversary event several years ago.

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The Speakeasy crew at the start of SF Beer Week in 2013. That’s Forest with the glowing hat. [Photo purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Shaun O’Sullivan

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Today is 21st Amendment brewer and co-owner Shaun O’Sullivan’s 51st birthday. Shaun is one my favorite people in the industry. He’s a tireless champion for craft beer and very supportive of other brewers, such as with his fun collaboration projects. He’s one of the founders and organizers of SF Beer Week and through his brewpub puts on many special and educational events all year, not to mention his extensive travel schedule. Plus, he’s one of the few people brave enough to read the rough draft of my book, Under the Table, and even claim to like it. Now that’s a friend. I just can’t say enough good things about Sully, so I’ll stop here. Join me in wishing Shaun a very Happy Birthday.

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Shaun O’Sullivan and business partner Nico Freccia in the front of their brewpub.

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Shaun and me outside the Bistro after judging the Double IPA Festival.

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Shaun O’Sullivan with Don Barkley of Napa Smith Brewing on the first day of SF Beer Week.

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Nico with Dave Keene and Shaun at a can party at the Toronado.

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Nico and Shaun in lederhosen during 21st Amendment’s Beer Bus School.