Beer Birthday: Jeff Bell

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Today is the 38th birthday of Jeff Bell, whose alter ego was, until a few years ago, Stonch, one of England’s best bloggers. He had retired from blogging to concentrate on his new job as landlord of a London pub, The Gunmakers, in Clerkenwell, a village in the heart of London. I stopped by to meet Jeff on my way back from a trip to Burton-on-Trent a few years ago. And several years back, I saw Jeff several times during GBBF week. But later, the blogging started up again, and he moved on from that pub, and for a time he was the landlord of the Finborough Arms in Earl’s Court, next to the Finborough Theatre, but he’s moved on from there, as well. Now he describes himself as an “Englishman living in Tuscany.” Nice work, if you can get it. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

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Jeff Bell, a.k.a. Stonch, at The Gunmakers Pub in central London.

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With a Gunmaker’s bartender at the British Beer Writers Guild event before the start of the Great British Beer Festival in 2009.

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In front of Gunmaker’s in the summer of 2009.

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Ron Pattinson, talking with Jeff and Mark Dredge at the Carlsberg Laboratories in Copenhagen last year.

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Leaving Copenhagen; Pete Brown, Ron Pattinson, Jeff, Stephen Beaumont and Stan Hieronymus.

Historic Beer Birthday: Robert Neame

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Today is the birthday of Robert Harry Beale Neame, though he was generally known as Bobby (February 25, 1934- ). He joined his family’s company, Shephard Neame in 1956, and in 1971 became the chairman of the company, a position he held until retiring in 2005, when he was named president.

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Shepherd Neame is an English independent regional brewery founded in 1698 in Faversham, Kent. Evidence has been uncovered showing brewing has taken place continuously on the current site since at least 1573. It is the oldest brewer in Great Britain and has been family-owned since 1864. The brewery produces a range of cask ales and filtered beers. Production is around 281,000 brewers’ barrels a year. It owns 338 pubs & hotels predominantly in Kent, London and South East England.

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From the Neame Family Research:

The next generation faced the same difficulties in the 1960s. Bobby Neame came to work at the Brewery in 1956. In September 1957 he became a director when Madeleine Finn, due to retire, decided to step down. Jasper, his father was ill at the time, but Bobby was back at work in the following January. By the September 1969 AGM he had widened his range considerably and it was said that he was helping in the Brewery, and was in charge of the free trade, advertising etc.

Laurie’s son, Colin Roger Beale Neame joined the company in October 1959, to help his father in the bottled beer department, a month after Rex Neame had joined in Managing ‘Queen Court’. At the September 1961 AGM after serving a probationary period on the Board, they both became full members. As the production director, he was in charge of the more technical side of the brewing business, making improvements in the bottling plant and keg beer, by utilizing many labour saving techniques. He also introduced a small biochemical laboratory employing a laboratory technician.

Jasper died on 18 Jan 1961 at the early age of 56, Laurie then becoming sole managing director. He survived his brother for another nine years and continued his interest in production.

Following is his father’s footsteps, Bobby took particular interest in the sales side of the business. This became especially important once the larger brewers started investing heavily in advertising, especially on commercial television. Bobby then became marketing manager in charge of “improving the image of the Company in the eyes of the public”, showing greater attention to publicity, with advertising on Southern Television in 1970.

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In 1968 the Cobb brewing company in Margate (with its family connection) again came on the market, together with 38 licensed premises. The Cobbs found it increasingly difficult to survive independently after the increasing success of the Butlins hotels group took over much of its trade. It was taken over by the Whitbreads in Januray 1968 and ceased to brew in the following October. This now left Shepherd Neame as ‘the last independent brewery in Kent.’

On 19 Dec 1970, Laurie died suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of the day, after all the excitement when his second son, Stuart, was married. In March 1971 Bobby became chairman and Colin managing director.

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I love the stained glass windows showing the brewery’s history.

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Martyn Cornell has a nice photo tour of the Shepherd Neame Brewery. And on YouTube there’s an interesting tour of the brewery.

Historic Beer Birthday: Samuel C. Whitbread

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Today is the birthday of Samuel Charles Whitbread (February 16, 1796-May 22, 1879). “He was the grandson of Samuel Whitbread,” who founded the brewery Whitbread & Co. Samuel C. “represented the constituency of Middlesex (1820–1830) and was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1831. His interests were astronomy and meteorology. He served as president of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1850 to 1853. In June 1854 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.”

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Here is a portion of his biography from the History of Parliament:

b. 16 Feb. 1796, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Samuel Whitbread† (d. 1815) of Cardington and Southill, Beds. and Elizabeth, da. of Lt.-Gen. Sir Charles Grey of Falloden, Northumb.; bro. of William Henry Whitbread*. educ. by private tutor Richard Salmon 1802-7; Sunninghill, Berks. (Rev. Frederick Neve) 1807; Eton 1808; St. John’s, Camb. 1814. m. (1) 28 June 1824, Juliana (d. 13 Oct. 1858), da. of Maj.-Gen. Henry Otway Trevor (afterwards Brand), 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 18 Feb. 1868, Lady Mary Stephenson Keppel, da. of William Charles, 4th earl of Albemarle, wid. of Henry Frederick Stephenson*, s.p. suc. bro. to family estates 1867. d. 27 May 1879. Offices Held Sheriff, Beds. 1831-2.

Biography

Whitbread, a member of the brewing dynasty, was raised in London and Bedfordshire, where his father, a leading Foxite Whig, inherited the family’s recently purchased estate of Southill in 1796. His parents’ favourite, he was educated with his elder brother William and sent to Cambridge to prepare him for a career in the church or politics. Little is known of his reaction to his father’s suicide in July 1815. His uncle Edward Ellice*, who now oversaw the Whitbreads’ troubled finances, dismissed the brothers’ private tutor Sam Reynolds, who ‘goes about as an idle companion to the boys’, and pressed their continued attendance at Cambridge. Whitbread joined Brooks’s, 22 May 1818, and became a trustee the following month of his father’s will, by which he received £5,000 and £500 a year from the age of 21, £5,000 in lieu of the church livings of Southill and Purfleet (Essex) reserved for him, and was granted the right to reside at Cardington when the house fell vacant. William came in for Bedford at the general election of 1818 and Samuel was now suggested for Westminster and Middlesex, where he nominated the Whig veteran George Byng* in a speech proclaiming his own credentials as a candidate-in-waiting. Encouraged by his mother, who took a house in Kensington Gore after William came of age, he fostered his connections with the Westminster reformers, purchased a £10,000 stake in the brewery and in 1819 joined their controlling partnership, which was then worth £490,000 ‘on paper’ and dominated by his father’s partners Sir Benjamin Hobhouse†, William Wilshere of Hitchin and the Martineau and Yallowley families. Maria Edgeworth, who now met Whitbread for the first time, described him as a ‘good, but too meek looking … youth’.

Whitbread grasped the opportunity to contest Middlesex at the general election of 1820, when, backed by his relations, brewing partners, the Nonconformists and the Whig-radical coalition campaigning in Westminster (which he denied), he defeated the sitting Tory William Mellish in a 12-day poll to come in with Byng. His lacklustre brother had shown none of their father’s talent and energy, but Samuel impressed with his enthusiasm and appealed throughout to his father’s reputation as a reformer and advocate of civil and religious liberty. Ellice praised his common sense and popularity and surmised that Parliament ‘may save him by throwing him into society and engaging him in politics, although possibly the situation he will occupy will be rather too prominent for either his abilities or experience’. He later informed Lord Grey:

Sam has exceeded all our expectations … He has on every occasion conducted himself with skill and feeling, and shown a quickness and talent, which I did not give him credit for, and if he will only apply himself with activity and industry to the business of the county, he may retain the seat as long as he pleases.

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Samuel C. later in life.

While most of the rest of his biography concerns political machinations, toward the end, there’s some more about his life outside politics:

Out of Parliament, Whitbread acted to combat the ‘Swing’ riots in Bedfordshire in December 1830, attended the Bedford reform meeting in January 1831, and addressed the Middlesex meeting at the Mermaid with Charles Shaw Lefevre, 21 Mar. He declared for the Grey ministry’s reform bill, notwithstanding the omission from it of the ballot. As sheriff, he assisted his brother and the Bedford reformers in the county and borough at the May 1831 general election, when both constituencies were contested. He continued to promote reform and the ministerial bill at district meetings in Middlesex, where he turned down a requisition to contest the new Tower Hamlets constituency at the 1832 general election. A lifelong Liberal, Whitbread did not stand for Parliament again, but from 1852 took a keen interest in his son Samuel’s political career as Member for Bedford. His health remained erratic, and he increasingly devoted his time to business and scientific pursuits. As a fellow since 1849 of the Royal Astronomical Society, and treasurer, 1857-78, he built the Howard observatory at Cardington (1850), and became a founder member that year of the British Meteorological Society and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1854. In 1867 he succeeded his childless brother William to the family estates and as head of the brewery and trusts, and in 1868, almost ten years after Juliana’s death, he married into the Albermarle family, making Cardington available for Samuel, who had inherited his uncle’s shares in Whitbreads’. He died in May 1879 at his town house in St. George’s Square, survived by his second wife (d. 20 Sept. 1884) and four of his six children. According to his obituary in the Bedford Mercury:

in the world at large, Mr. Whitbread did not figure greatly. He was fond of sport, but not to a base degree; his caution prevented him making rash ventures, which often end unhappily. As a walker he was rather famous; it was a matter of amusement to his friends to see how in the vigour of his manhood and even of late years he used to walk down interviewers who bored him … The anecdotes of this species of pedestrianism are neither few nor far between, and the richest of them are those in which the bores were portly and ponderous to a degree. It may be imagined therefore that he was humorous; and so he was. He was good company everywhere. Political economists might have praised his habits of economy, for his chief fault was his desire never to waste anything.

His will, dated 30 Nov. 1875, was proved in London, 24 July 1879. By it he confirmed Samuel’s succession to the entailed estates and several family settlements, ensured that the non-entailed estates, including the brewery’s Chiswell Street premises, passed to his younger son William, and provided generously for other family members.

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The Whitbread Brewery in Chiswell Street, 1792, painted by George Garrard.

Beer Birthday: Mark Dredge

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Today is the 32nd birthday of Mark Dredge, who writes the beer blog Pencil and Spoon from his home in Kent, England. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking with Mark on his last few trips across the pond. The first time, at the opening gala for SF Beer Week, four years ago at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Colorado, and more recently judging at GABF. By day, he works in digital marketing and social media, most recently for Pilsner Urquell, and by night, he’s “a beer writer and blogger.” The last two times I saw him, a few months ago in Belgium, and last week in San Francisco, it was working for Pilsner Urquell. In December 2009, he won the British Guild of Beer Writers New Media Writer of the Year for Pencil and Spoon. If you don’t read his stuff, you should. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

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With Mark at Central Kitchen in San Francisco on the anniversary of the 1st tapping of Pilsner Urquell, November 9, 1842.

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Mark, at left, having lunch at Mountain Sun in Boulder, Colorado during the Beer Bloggers Conference a few years ago.

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Raising a toast. (Note: This last photo was purloined from Facebook.)

Beer Birthday: Melissa Cole

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Today is the 41st birthday of Melissa Cole, UK beer writer extraordinaire. I’d met Melissa first online and then in person at the Rake in London a few years ago. She’s also been coming over to our side of the pond to judge at both GABF and the World Beer Cup. She’s a great advocate for beer generally, but especially for women, and is great fun to hang out and drink with. She also writes online at Taking the Beard Out of Beer! which is subtitled “A Girl’s Guide To Beer.” Her first book, Let Me Tell You About Beer, was published a couple of years ago. Join me in wishing Melissa a very happy birthday.

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At the Great British Beer Festival three years ago, with Roger Protz.

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Melissa with Greg Koch, from Stone Brewing, at GABF in 2009.

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The Lost Abbey’s Tomme Arthur with a blushing Melissa at the World Beer Cup dinner in Chicago a few years ago.

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A couple of years ago at the Rake in London, Melissa and Matt Brynildson, from Firestone Walker.

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With friends at University sometime between 1993-97 (photo purloined from Facebook).

Beer Birthday: Ron Pattinson

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Today is the 60th birthday of Ron Pattinson — the Big 6-0 — a brewing historian who writes online at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Ron lives in Amsterdam but is obsessed with the British brewery Barclay Perkins, which is what the title of his blog refers to. I have finally had the pleasure of meeting Ron in person, when we were both guests of Carlsberg for a press trip to Copenhagen earlier this year. A few years ago, Lew Bryson had a chance to go drinking with Ron, too. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.

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Me and Ron at a bar in Copenhagen.

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In that same bar, with (clockwise from lower left) Martyn Cornell, Jeff Alworth, Evan Rail, me, Stephen Beaumont, Pete Brown, Stan Hieronymus and Ron.

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Ron, talking with Jeff Bell and Mark Dredge.

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Leaving Copenhagen; Pete Brown, Ron, Jeff Bell, Stephen Beaumont and Stan Hieronymus.

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Ron while drinking with Lew Bryson.

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At Pretty Things 1901: Jim Barnes, Dann Paquette (Pretty Things), Jay Sullivan (Cambridge Brewing) and Ron Pattinson.

Historic Beer Birthday: Thomas William Everard

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Today is the birthday of Thomas William Everard (September 8, 1851-January 1, 1925). Thomas William Everard was the son of William Everard, co-founder of what would become known as the Everards Brewery, which is still a going concern today, and is still run by an Everard, who is fifth generation from William, and fourth from Thomas William.

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Here is Thomas William Everard’s short biography from the brewery website:

Thomas William Everard was born on the 8th of September 1851, the year the Great Exhibition was staged by Prince Albert in Crystal Palace in London. He was the youngest of three children and joined his father’s firm at an early age. Thomas became very involved in his work at the brewery. He was so fond of his work he did not like to take holidays.

In 1890 a new partnership was formed to run the company- Everards, Son and Welldo. The partners were Thomas, his 69 year old father William, and a local wine and spirits merchant. Charles Leeds William Welldon.

Thomas took over the running of the brewery after the death of his father William, in 1892. He married Florence Muriel Nickisson of London on the 28th of September 1888. They had two children-William Lindsay, born in 1891, and his sister Phyllis Muriel, born three years later. William Lindsay would later go onto run the brewery.

Thomas enjoyed both country and urban life and was an active member of the Leicestershire Agricultural Society, as was his father. He continued the Everards tradition of public service and, like his father; he became a J.P. before being made a deputy Lieutenant of the County, and, in 1905, High Sheriff.

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The brewery, around 1875.

And here’s the basic brewery history from Wikipedia:

The company began as Hull and Everard in 1849 when William Everard, a farmer from Narborough Wood House and brewer Thomas Hull leased the Southgate Street Brewery of Wilmot and Co from the retiring proprietors. Although Hull continued as a maltster, Everard was the driving force behind the business which he managed until his death in 1892.

The business expanded as the company progressively acquired outlets, with over 100 pubs by the late 1880s. In 1875 the company moved to a new state of the art tower brewery designed by William’s nephew architect John Breedon Everard. The brewery, on the corner of Southgate St and Castle St extracted very pure water from wells 300 feet deep beneath the premises and steam engines played a significant part in the mechanisation.

After the death of William, control passed to his son Thomas. The historic centre of the UK brewing industry remained some 40 miles away at Burton-upon-Trent, which by the 1890s produced one tenth of Britain’s beer. Everard’s leased the Bridge Brewery on Umplett Green island in 1895 but its 10,000 barrels per year capacity proved insufficient. It was replaced with the newer Trent brewery in Dale St which became available after going into liquidation in 1898. The Southgate brewery remained the distribution centre to the Leicestershire pubs with beer arriving by rail from Burton. The Trent brewery was purchased outright in 1901. It was renamed the Tiger Brewery around 1970.

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At some point their Tiger Best Bitter became their flagship beer, and I remember really enjoying during my first CAMRA festival in the early 1990s. It was a regional festival in Peterborough, which happened to be going on in later summer at the end of my wife’s summer semester at the University of Durham. So we took the train up to Peterborough from London to attend the festival, and it was great fun. I had many fine beer that night, but for whatever reason I clearly recall liking this one.

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Inside Guinness August 22, 1953

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In England, the Picture Post was the equivalent of Life magazine here in the U.S. It “was a photojournalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. It is considered a pioneering example of photojournalism and was an immediate success, selling 1,700,000 copies a week after only two months.”

On August 22, 1953, one of the photographers for the Picture Post — Bert Hardy — visited Dublin, Ireland, and was permitted inside the Guinness brewery at St. James Gate. I’m not sure how many photos he took, but recently Mashable featured twenty-two of them. Here are a few of them below, it’s a great glimpse into the past, and to see all of them, follow the instructions below.

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Workers drain beer from a mash tun.

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Workers watch as yeast is skimmed off the top of the beer before it is passed to vats for maturing.

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A worker fills casks in the racking shed.

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Workers at the Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.

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Workers hose down casks.

You can see all 22 of them below, or visit Mashable.

Guinness 1953

Historic Beer Birthday: John Allen Young

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Today is the birthday of John Allen Young (August 7, 1921-September 17, 2006). Young was the great-great-grandson of Charles Young, who co-founded Young’s brewery in 1831. “He joined the family firm in 1954 after serving as a fighter pilot and a merchant seaman. He became chairman and chief executive in 1962 when his father retired and reverted to executive chairman in 1999.”

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Here’s his obituary, written by Roger Protz, from the Guardian in 2006.

John Young, who has died aged 85, will have a prominent place in the Brewers’ Hall of Fame, revered as the father of the “real ale revolution”, an iconoclast who believed in good traditional beer drunk in good traditional pubs. Young, chairman of Young’s of Wandsworth in south London for 44 years, steered the family brewery on a different course from the rest of the industry in the 1970s. It was a course that was derided at the time: however, it proved not only successful for Young’s but also encouraged other regional brewers to follow suit.

A spate of mergers in the 1960s had created six national brewers who attempted to transform the way beer was made by switching from cask ale to keg beer – filtered, pasteurised and artificially carbonated. Panic ensued as such brands as Watney’s Red Barrel, Worthington E and Whitbread Tankard rapidly dominated the market. Smaller regional brewers rushed to emulate the “Big Six”, as they were known.

In Wandsworth, John Young raised his standard above the Ram Brewery, on the oldest brewing site in Britain, and declared he would remain faithful to beer that matured naturally in its cask. He was laughed to scorn by directors of other breweries. Among the legion of stories about him, one is told of a meeting of the Brewers’ Society in London where, during a break for coffee, one member saw a funeral hearse passing by outside. “There goes another of your customers, John,” he told Young, to roars of laughter from his colleagues. John Young had the last laugh.

He was born in Winchester, the eldest of four sons of William Allen Young. The family was steeped in brewing. John was the great-great-grandson of Charles Allen Young, one of two businessmen who took over the 16th-century Ram Brewery in 1831. John’s mother was Joan Barrow Simonds, a member of the family that owned Simonds Brewery in Reading.

But John’s first love was sailing: he was educated at the Nautical College in Pangbourne. Sailing holidays in the late 1930s on the river Orwell in Suffolk brought John and his brothers into contact with Arthur Ransome at Pin Mill, the setting for We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. Ransome claimed that he, rather than the brothers’ father, introduced the boys to the pleasures of beer and darts.

Either side of the second world war, John went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he graduated with an honours degree in economics. During the war he served with distinction as a fighter pilot on aircraft carriers. He left the Fleet Air Arm as a lieutenant commander in 1947 and launched a career in shipping. For a while he was based in Antwerp, where he met his Belgian wife Yvonne. They married in 1951 and settled in West Sussex, from where John, with his brothers, was summoned to work at the Ram Brewery in 1954.

He succeeded his father as chairman in 1962 and set about refashioning the company to meet the challenges of the time. Improving the pub estate and offering children’s rooms – a daring move at the time – did not mean a move away from traditional values. The brewery retained a fierce commitment to cask beer and delivered it to local pubs by horse-drawn drays, while a live ram mascot, along with ducks and geese, were familiar if bizarre sights at Wandsworth.

The energetic new chairman visited every pub in his estate. He was on first name terms with his landlords and became friendly with regular customers. Company annual general meetings became lavish affairs where a white-suited John Young would proclaim his belief in traditional brewing values. He was so horrified by the way some London pubs were being remodeled in the 1970s – as wild west saloons or sputniks – that he once threatened to enter one pub armed with a packet of soap flakes to throw into a large fountain that had been installed there.

The commitment to cask beer paid off. Sales of Young’s ales rocketed and their success was instrumental in helping the Campaign for Real Ale to make its mark in the early 1970s. In 1975 John Young was made a CBE to mark his work in brewing and for charity: he was chairman of the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in Bloomsbury and raised millions of pounds to build new wards and install modern equipment.

His passion for brewing remained unabated, and John continued to work and chair company AGMs up to this year, though he was visibly ill with cancer. His last few months in office were dogged by controversy: a redevelopment scheme in Wandsworth meant the brewery had to close. When a suitable alternative site could not be found in London, Young’s agreed to merge its brewing operations with Charles Wells of Bedford, a move that has not pleased all lovers of Young’s distinctive beers.

But 200 Young’s pubs will remain in London and the south-east, bricks and mortar reminders of the man who guided their fortunes with undiminished fervour for more than 40 years.

He is survived by a son, James, who is deputy chairman of Young’s, and a daughter, Ilse.

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A portrait of John Young that used to be in the brewery tasting room.

And here’s another obit, this one from the Telegraph:

The brewing industry is mourning the loss of one of its most passionate and colourful characters, Young & Co’s chairman, John Young. He died at the age of 85 after a long battle against cancer. The timing is particularly poignant as Young’s will this week cease production at the historic Ram Brewery in Wandsworth, south London, where ales were first brewed in 1581.

Mr Young – known affectionately as Mr John by staff – was a staunch opponent of red tape. Last year, he complained in the annual report: “At the brewery, we can no longer walk down the yard to the offices because of health and safety regulations. Our horses need passports. Since they cannot fit into a photo-booth, a vet must be employed to sketch the animal.”

Mr Young will also be remembered for his eccentric annual shareholder meetings. In what became a tradition as he fended off attempts at reform by activist shareholder Guinness Peat Group, he started bringing props to the event.

One year, he wore a bee-keeper’s hat to show his resolve to keep the group’s preferential B shares for family members. On other occasions, he brandished a megaphone to make sure “certain people, who seemed to be ignoring what I have to say” could hear him, and sported oversized boxing gloves.

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Beer Birthday: Ben McFarland

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Today is UK beer writer Ben McFarland’s birthday. I first met Ben when he was over here working on the CAMRA beer guide to the west coast with Tom Sandham and Glenn Payne. We invited Ben to join us judging Double IPA’s at the Bistro’s Double IPA Festival, which I believe was something of a shock to the system for both Ben and Tom. These days he and Tom are The Thinking Drinkers, performing their “‘The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol,’ a unique comedic drinking show that debuted at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe.'” Join me in wishing Ben a very happy birthday.

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Ben judging at the Double IPA Festival at the Bistro in Hayward while he was working on the CAMRA guide to the west coast of the U.S. in 2007.

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Taken at the CLASS Awards, by CLASS Magazine.

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Taken somewhere in the U.S. of A.

Note: The last two photos were purloined from Facebook.