Beer Birthday: Forest Gray

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Today is the 48th 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 52nd 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. His new production brewery in San Leandro is just about to open, and they recently did the first brews in the new facility. 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.

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But this by far my favorite, it’s hard to understand how he could have given up all that to start a brewery.

Beer Birthday: Brian Stechschulte

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Today is also the birthday of Brian Stechschulte, former executive director of the San Francisco Brewers Guild, who’s recently started working for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers as their Public Relations & Media Director. I’m just guessing at Brian’s age, but by my reckoning he’s got to be about 38 this year. In addition to his paying work with the guild and SF Beer Week, he also writes online at All Over Beer and Bygone Beer. Brian’s a terrific ambassador for beer and a great addition to the industry now that’s a working stiff. I think of him as a kindred spirit. Please join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

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Brian’s profile picture, used without permission but begged for here in the hopes that in the spirit of its use will be granted magnanimously.

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Brian and me with San Francisco mayor Ed Lee at this year;s SF Beer Week opening gala.

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Bob Brewer, from Anchor Brewing, with Brian at GABF a couple of years ago.

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Brian after grad school graduation in 2003. Notice the can of beer he’s drinking.
[Note: The last two photos purloined from Brian’s Facebook friends, blame them.]

Anchor To Release Liberty Ale In Cans

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Anchor Brewery announced today that they will be releasing Liberty Ale in 12 oz. cans, at least for a limited time. The cans are “a commemorative offering celebrating the 40th anniversary of the historic beer that started a revolution.” From the press release:

“I remember brewing the first batch of Liberty Ale with Fritz Maytag 40 years ago. We were both young and eager beer lovers and knew we wanted to create a beer unlike anything else at that time,” said Anchor Brewing Brewmaster Mark Carpenter. “We had come across a new hop variety called Cascade that had a distinct piney bitterness that we used in the brew. Through Fritz’s interest in history and travel he’d learned of a process European brewers used called dry-hopping; adding dry hops to beer fermenting in the cellar to boost its hoppy aroma. So we dry-hopped the ale with whole-cone Cascade hops, as well. During an era when light lagers were prevalent, Liberty Ale was a very hoppy ale for most people. Their palates were shocked and delighted by such a unique beer.”

The beer was originally sold to the public beginning in 1975, when the country was seized by bicentennial fever. Liberty Ale commemorated the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride. Considered the first American IPA brewed after prohibition,” it was also “the first modern dry-hopped ale in the US and was the beer that popularized the now-iconic Cascade hop.” Beginning this month, Liberty Ale 6-pack cans, as well as bottles and kegs, will be available throughout the U.S.

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Beer Birthday: Bruce Paton

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Today is the Beer Chef, Bruce Paton’s 60th birthday. Bruce has been doing fantastic dinners pairing greatvbeer and gourmet food for almost twenty years in the Bay Area starting at Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub in Oakland and continuing at the Clift and Cathedral Hill Hotels in San Francisco. He’s has been doing events and consulting at various food and beverage operations since the hotel closed in 2009, so look for more of his beer dinners in the coming months. I’ve been to many, many of Bruce’s food events and they’re allvspectacularly top notch. He did around eight each year. Raise a toast and stuff your face in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.

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My hands down favorite photo of Bruce, which I took for the Chef’s Association of the Pacific Coast newsletter. I don’t think this is the one they used, but, by far, as I think it captures Bruce’s spirit and his great love and passion for what he does with his cooking and beer.

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Giving a cooking demonstration with Garret Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table at the 2005 GABF.

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Bruce with Russian River co-owner Natalle Cilurzo.

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Me and Bruce New Year’s Day a few years ago at Barclay’s.

Beer Birthday: Jeremy Cowan

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Today is Jeremy Cowan’s 46th birthday. Jeremy owns Shmaltz Brewing, makers of He’Brew. Jeremy is a good friend and we’ve known one another since he first pitched He’Brew to me at BevMo many years ago (which is detailed in Jeremy’s memoir Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah). Though Jeremy splits his time between San Francisco and New York, I still manage to see him at beer events pretty frequently, but less so now that he’s built a brick and mortar brewery in upstate New York. Join me in wishing Jeremy a very happy birthday.

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Jeremy, with City Beer Store owner Craig Wathen.

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A few years ago at the Toronado for a He’Brew release party. From left: Alec Moss, recently retired from Half Moon Bay Brewing, Pete Slosberg, Jeremy, and Rodger Davis, when he was still with Drake’s Brewing.

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Jeremy with Rich Norgrove, with Bear Republic, at GABF in 2006.

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Me and Jeremy at the Bistro Double IPA Fest in 2009.

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Jeremy shortly after he launched the Shmaltz beers, before all the grey hairs set in. (Thanks to the anonymous source that sent me this photo.)

Beer Birthday: Brenden Dobel

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Today is the 45th birthday of Brenden Dobel, head brewer at Thirsty Bear in San Francisco. Brenden grew up in the Bay Area, but learned brewing in Bavaria, at Doemans. He also brewed at Reccow and Broken Drum, before coming to Thirsty Bear over ten years ago. Brenden’s a terrific guy to share a pint with and discuss arcane subjects like history or English literature. If he hadn’t found brewing, he most likely would have ended up a teacher, or perhaps a sailor. Please join me in wishing Brenden a very happy birthday.

Shaun O'Sullivan, from 21st Amendment, and Brendan Dobel, Thirsty Bear
With Shaun O’Sullivan at the SF Brewers Guild festival in 2010.

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Brenden at some old unknown event.

Lars Larson (Trumer) & Brendan Dobbel (Thirsty Bear)
With Trumer brewmaster Lars Larson at the Celebrator’s 22nd anniversary party in 2010.

Clockwise from Left: Rich Higgins, John Tucci, Brenden Dobbel & Aron Deorsey with the 4 bottles of dessert
Clockwise from Left: Rich Higgins, John Tucci, Brenden & Aron Deorsey with our 4 bottles of dessert at a Sierra Nevada beer dinner after beer camp a few years ago where we made a beer for SF Beer Week.

Beer Birthday: Rich Higgins

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Today is the 37th birthday of Rich Higgins, who wears many hats in the San Francisco beer scene. He left his job as the brewmaster at San Francisco’s Social Kitchen & Brewery a few years ago, and was also the President of the San Francisco Brewers Guild and Director of SF Beer Week for a time. He’s currently focusing his attention on his consulting, Rich Higgins Consultant à la Bière, and Rich is one of only six people to have earned the title “Master Cicerone.” I’ve gotten to know Rich working on SF Beer Week over the last few years, and he’s a great person, as well as a terrific brewer. Join me in wishing Rich a very happy birthday.

Rich Higgins at the Social Kitchen Brewery
Rich at the Social Kitchen Brewery.

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Dave McLean owner of Magnolia, and Rich, at the brewpub during SF Beer Week two years ago.

Rich Higgins, me and Hop-Meisters hop farmer Marty Kuchinski
Rich, me and Hop-Meisters hop farmer Marty Kuchinski.

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

Beer Birthday: Meg Gill

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Today is the birthday of Meg Gill, founder and owner, along with Tony Yanow, of Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles. Things at the brewery appear to be going swimmingly and by all accounts the brewery’s cans are selling like hotcakes. Meg is also the former national sales manager for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers in San Francisco. When I first met Meg she was working for Oskar Blues, and later she organized the Opening Gala for SF Beer Week in years two and three, a Herculean undertaking. Meg is one of the best beer ambassadors for the industry I’ve ever met, so her continued success is understandable and well-deserved. Join me in wishing Meg a very happy birthday.

The Brewing Network's Justin Crossley interviewing Meg Gill from Speakeasy
Justin Crossley, from the Brewing Network, with Meg at the 22nd Celebrator Anniversary Party in 2010.

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Speakeasy owner Forest Gray, Brian Lenzo, from Blue Palms in L.A., and Meg at a Speakeasy Anniversary event several years ago.

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Faction’s (then Triple Rock’s) Rodger Davis, struggling to keep the sun out of his eyes, with Meg at the Sour Fest.

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Meg and me at SF Beer Week’s Opening Gala a few years ago. (Photo by Mike Condie.)

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An older photo of Meg and Dave Hopwood, from Stone Brewing. (Photo purloined from Facebook.)

Beer Birthday: Bruce Joseph

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Bruce Joseph, who’s been at Anchor Brewery for many, many years turns 59 today. There’s a big picture of him when he was very young in the stairwell at the brewery that I see every time I’m there. He’s been doing the distilling for Anchor’s whiskey and gin for a long while now and plays bass with the Hysters (Anchor’s big band) along with the Rolling Boil Blues Band (the Celebrator beer band that’s all industry musicians). If there’s a nicer person in the beer industry, I’ve yet to meet him. Join me in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.

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On stage at the Northern California Rhythm & Blues Festival several years ago.

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A self-portrait of Bruce and me at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2006.

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With Melissa Myers at the Falling Rock during GABF 2007.

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With Garrett Oliver at an industry event during GABF years ago.