Beer Birthday: Julian Shrago

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Today is the 38th birthday of Julian Shrago, brewmaster at the Beachwood BBQ & Brewery in Long Beach, California. I can’t remember when I first ran into Julian, probably either one of the early Firestone Walker Invitational Festivals or possibly out at GABF, where in 2013, he won Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year and the following year, won big again as Large Brewpub of the Year. Julian is a great brewer and made his mark very quickly after turning pro in 2011. Join me in wishing Julian a very happy birthday.

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My wife Sarah, Matt Brynildson and Julian at the Firestone Walker Invitational earlier this year.

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Jamil Zainasheff, Julian and Mitch Steele in San Diego for the Stone/Heretic/Beachwood collaboration in 2014.

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With Tom Nickel from O’Brien’s in San Diego.

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Beachwood BBQ chef Gabe Gordon, Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo, and Julian at a beer dinner at Beachwood shortly after they added the brewery in 2011.

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Julian with Charlie Papazian at GABF in 2006.

[Note: Last four photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Patrick Rue

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Today is the 35th birthday of Patrick Rue, founder of The Bruery in Orange County, California. I first became aware of Patrick when he started writing his blog about the travails of opening a brewery. We began corresponding, becoming friends and eventually meeting in person. I’ve since written several articles about Patrick and the Bruery as he’s become very successful in a very short period of time. Join me in wishing Patrick a very happy birthday.

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Patrick with then assistant brewer Travis Smith (who recently opened his own place, Societe Brewing) at GABF in 2009.

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Tyler King, Rachel and Patrick Rue, shortly after they opened The Bruery at the Boonville Beer Festival in 2008.

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Rick Sellers, Peter Hoey, Patrick and Shaun O’Sullivan.

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Patrick at the first Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival a couple of years ago.

Beer Birthday: Dr. Bill

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Today is also the 53rd birthday of William Sysak, better known to the beer community as Dr. Bill. Dr. Bill’s massive tastings are the stuff of legends, and he’s now transported them — albeit on a smaller scale — to working at Stone Brewing’s World Bistro & Gardens. He has impeccable taste, be it in beer, wine, whisky, cigars, what have you, and is one of the most fun people to taste with. Join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.

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Dr. Bill and me sharing a plate of frites before the final judging at the Hard Liver Barleywine Festival in 2008.

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Dr. Bill with Matt Bonney, from Brouwer’s/Bottleworks in Seattle at Slow Food Nation 2008 at Fort Mason.

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Dr. Bill at Falling Rock, hosting one of his legendary tastings, during GABF in 2006.

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Dr. Bill’s player’s card when he joined Stone Brewing.

Beer Birthday: Chris White

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Today is the 47th birthday of Chris White. Chris founded the yeast company White Labs in 1995 and he’s also on the faculty of the Siebel Institute. He’s also a fixture at virtually every brewing industry and homebrewing conference, and was kind enough to talk to my SSU beer appreciation class about. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.

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Chris and his brother Mike bookending Chuck, from Green Fash Brewing, Natalie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, John Harris, from Full Sail Brewing, and Vinnie Cilurzo, also from Russian River, at CBC in Austin, Texas in 2007.

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Chris at the new White Labs taproom during the Craft Brewers Conference a couple of years ago in San Diego.

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Surly brewer Todd Haug with Chris.

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Chris with Technical Sales and Marketing Coordinator Ashley Paulsworth at the NHC.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Jeff Bagby

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Today is the 41st birthday of Jeff Bagby, who until a few years ago was the head brewer extraordinaire at Pizza Port in Carlsbad. There, you can read the entire biography of Jeff “Extra Spicy” Bagby. I’m not sure when it was written, but it definitely needs to be updated, as it ends with the following sentence. “Jeff has his sights set on winning a GABF Brewpub of the Year award and we most definitely believe it is in his future as well.” Five years ago at GABF, Jeff won an amazing seven medals and Pizza Port Carlsbad was awarded the Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year. That means his plaid pants got to go up on stage a record eight times! You can see a retrospective of Jeff’s plaid choices over the years, too, at Jeff “Lucky Pants” Babgy Wins Big. Once he started working on opening his own brewery, I suggested he should consider “Plaid Brewing” or some variation of that idea, like “Plaid Pants Brewing” or “Lucky Plaid Brewing.” Unfortunately, he went with a more sensible Bagby Beer Co., which opened last year. All, well some, kidding aside, Jeff is a terrific brewer and a hell of a washoes player, though I still think Dave Keene and I could beat him and Tomme again. Join me at wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

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Jeff with his then-girlfriend, now wife, Dande at GABF a few years ago. And yes, those are his lucky pants.

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Greg Koch and Jeff at the Falling Rock.

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Former Drake’s brewer Melissa Myers with Jeff at an event at Anchor celebrating the Toronado’s 20th anniversary.

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Sam Calagione, Bruce Paton and Jeff at the Lost Abbey for a beer dinner during CBC.

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Jeff at the Toronado for the annual Belgian Beer Dinner in 2012, with owner Dave Keene wearing his “Who the F@#k is Jeff Bagby?” T-shirt.

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Dandelian and Jeff Bagby in the upstairs loft dining area of their new brewery. The plaid back of the bench seating was inspired by Jeff’s winning plaid pants that he used to wear for GABF award ceremonies, as I detailed several years ago in Jeff “Lucky Pants” Bagby Wins Big.

Beer Birthday: Pat McIllhenney

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Today is the 61st birthday of Pat McIllhenney, brewmaster and owner Alpine Beer Co. near San Diego. Pat makes some amazing hoppy beers. Unfortunately, his beers are hard to find up our way, but that hopefully will be improving as earlier this year Alpine was acquired by Green Flash Brewing. Join me in wishing Pat a very happy birthday.

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Pat manning his booth at the Firestone Walker Invitational.

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Pat at GABF in 2008.

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Pat at the Boonville Beer Festival, also in 2008.

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Pat with Tomme Arthur at the inaugural Firestone Walker Invitational three years ago.

Beer Birthday: Drew Beechum

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Today is the 41st birthday of Drew Beechum, who’s a past president of the Maltose Falcons homebrewing club and its current webmeister. He’s also the author of The Everything Homebrewing Book: All you need to brew the best beer at home! and writes a regular column for Beer Advocate magazine. Join me in wishing Drew a very happy birthday.

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Drew’s Facebook Profile picture.

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Drew at 21st Amendment.

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Drew in a Jayne hat — from Firefly — with his wife, Aymee. (NOTE: All photos purloined from Facebook.)

Beer Birthday: Alex Puchner

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Today is the 54th birthday of Alex Puchner, who’s the Senior Vice President of Brewing Operations, and its first brewmaster, for the BJ’s Restaurant Brewhouse chain. He started with the chain in 1996, a co-founder, when they built their first brewpub. Alex had been homebrewing for a decade before that first brewery. There now have 159 locations in 18 states, although they backed away from their brewpub model and contract most of their beer, but have added lost of guest taps and good bottled imports, including a great selection from Belgium. Alex has been very active over the years in the beer community and the CCBA, and has been great for beer in California, providing many people’s first introduction to craft beer with BJ’s. Join me in wishing Alex a very happy birthday.

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Alex with Greg Hall, formerly with Goose Island, during a visit to San Francisco a few years ago.

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Alex in the brewhouse (Note: purloined from Facebook).

Beer Birthday: Steve Wagner

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Today is Steve Wagner’s 57th birthday. Steve is a co-founder of Stone Brewing and the president of the California Craft Brewers Association. In the late 1980s, Steve was a member of the band “The Balancing Act,” who put out several albums on I.R.S. Records. Now he just presides over one of the most successful microbreweries in the U.S. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Mitch Steele, Stone Brewing’s brewmaster, with Steve, at CBC when it was in Austin, Texas.

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The Stone crew: Arlan Arnsten, Steve and Greg Koch at CBC in San Diego 2008.

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With Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch in a publicity shot (by John Schulz Photography).

Beer Birthday: Anat Baron

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Today is the birthday of filmmaker Anat Baron, whose Beer Wars movie started people writing and talking about the beer business, from all sorts of angles, four years ago, and while it’s slowed down, the discussion has yet to have completely gone away. Or as Alan from A Good Beer Blog puts it, “joined to the long standing discussion about the beer business and added an interesting interpretation.” Love it or loathe it, it has certainly managed to capture people’s attention, and if that’s all it’s done, that’s still a huge positive to my way of thinking. But it’s also opened quite a few minds to what those of us who’ve been embedded in the beer business have known forever, which is how the business operates, where it’s fair and unfair, and what you can do as a consumer to support the beers and breweries you love. Join me in wishing Anat a very happy birthday.

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Anat behind the bar.

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Publicity photo for Beer Wars.