Beer Birthday: Sam Calagione

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Today is Sam Calagione’s 48th birthday. Sam is the owner and marketing genius behind Delaware’s successful Dogfish Head Brewing. Sam’s also a great guy, and a (former?) rap singer of sorts, with his duo (along with his former head brewer Bryan Selders) the Pain Relievaz. See the bottom of this post for a couple videos of him singing after hours at Pike Brewery during the Craft Brewers Conference when it was held in Seattle. Join me in wishing Sam a very happy birthday.

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Sam gives the thumbs up behind his booth at the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago.

Hosts Ken Grossman & Sam Calagione
With Ken Grossman at a Life & Limb collaboration beer dinner.

Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch
Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch.

Sam Calagione @ Rare Beer Tasting
Sam at the Rare Beer Tasting at Wynkoop during GABF 2009.

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Rapping at Pike Place in Seattle in 2006.

This first video is “I Got Busy with an A-B Salesgirl,” the Pain Relievaz’ first hit single.

The second video is “West Coast Poseurs,” a smackdown to the hoppy West Coast beer and brewers.

Historic Beer Birthday: August Anheuser Busch, Jr. a.k.a. Gussie Busch

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Today is the birthday of August Anheuser Busch, Jr., better known as Gussie Busch (March 28, 1899–September 29, 1989). He was the grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch. His parents were August Anheuser Busch, Sr. “Starting at lower levels to learn the family business of Anheuser-Busch Company, Busch became superintendent of brewing operations in 1924 and head of the brewing division after his father’s death in 1934. After his older brother Adolphus Busch III’s death in 1946, August A. Jr. succeeded him as President and CEO.”

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Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he was the President and CEO head of the Anheuser Busch Brewery the largest brewery in the world, (1946-75). He succeeded his older brother Adolphus bush III as President and CEO and began using the Bud Clydesdale Horse Team as a company logo. He was an avid sportsman and became owner of the National League St. Louis Cardinals Major League franchise in 1953, until his death. He died at age 90 in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1984, the Cardinals retired the number 85 in his honor, which was his age at the time and he was posthumously inducted into the Cardinals team Hall of Fame in 2014.

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Gussie at his desk at Grant’s Farm.

This is August Anheuser Busch Jr.’s obituary from the New York Times:

August Anheuser Busch Jr., the master showman and irrepressible salesman who turned a small family operation into the world’s largest brewing company, died yesterday at his home in suburban St. Louis County, Mo. He was 90 years old and had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

August Anheuser Busch Jr., the master showman and irrepressible salesman who turned a small family operation into the world’s largest brewing company, died yesterday at his home in suburban St. Louis County, Mo. He was 90 years old and had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

He had been honorary chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Companies since his retirement in 1975. But he had remained active as the president of the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League baseball club he persuaded the company’s board to buy in 1953.

Mr. Busch, known as Gussie to virtually everybody who did not know him and as Gus to those who knew him well enough not to call him Mr. Busch, was the grandson and great-grandson of the founders of the company that bore two of his names.

The company, founded in 1876, survived Prohibition by moving into widely diverse products like soft drinks and automobile bodies.

Born in St. Louis on March 28, 1899, Mr. Busch entered the family business as a young man and became general superintendent of brewing operations in 1924. He took over as head of the brewery division after the death of his father in 1934. Although he did not become president of the company until the death of his older brother, Adolphus Busch 3d, in 1946, Mr. Busch had already made his mark as a salesman-showman.

To celebrate the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Mr. Busch recalled the draft horses that had once pulled beer wagons in Germany and pre-automotive America and obtained a team to haul the first case of Budweiser down Pennsylvania Avenue for delivery to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. Since then the famous eight-horse hitch of Clydesdales has become almost as famous as the brand they continue to promote.

What was undoubtedly Mr. Busch’s greatest promotional coup was disguised as a civic duty – the company’s purchase of the Cardinals for $7.8 million in 1953 after the previous owner was convicted of income tax invasion.

”My ambition,” Mr. Busch declared, ”is, whether hell or high water, to get a championship baseball team for St. Louis before I die.”

He had a long wait. But beginning in 1964, the team won six National League pennants, most recently in 1987, and the World Series in 1964, 1967 and 1982.

Savored Success

Mr. Busch savored success, and he became a familiar triumphant figure to baseball fans in league playoffs and World Series home games when he would ride into Busch Stadium on the Clydesdale wagon waving a red cowboy hat.

He attributed the team’s success and the company’s to his policy of noninterference. Even so, he was active in the club’s affairs long after he left the company to others, and in 1982 he led the campaign among major league owners not to retain the previous commissioner, Bowie Kuhn.

Through the Clydesdales and the Cardinals, other promotional gimmicks and a commitment to mass advertising, Mr. Busch turned a comparatively small and financially ailing company into the industry giant. In his 29 years as the company’s active head, sales of beer went from 3 million to 37 million barrels a year. Last year the company produced 78.5 million barrels, almost double the output of its nearest competitor, and recorded sales of $9.7 billion. Its flagship brand, Budweiser, is the most popular beer in the world.

Medium Stature, Loud Voice

Through direct ownership and various trusts, Mr. Busch owned 12.5 percent of the company, or more than 30 million shares of its common stock. At yesterday’s closing price of $43.375 on the New York Stock Exchange, the holdings were worth more than $1.3 billion. The day’s increase of $1.125 a share represented a gain of more than $30 million. Trading in the company’s stock was suspended for 20 minutes after the announcement of his death.

Mr. Busch, at 5 feet 10 inches tall and 165 pounds, was a man of medium stature, but he had a loud voice that was once likened to the roar of a hoarse lion.

Fortunately for his colleagues, he had a sense of humor about his own shortcomings, which included a hairtrigger temper. ”All right, you guys,” he once shouted at a raucous company meeting. ”Let me blow my stack first. Then you can blow yours.” He also had an outsized zest for life, and both the wealth and the inclination to indulge it.

Among other things, his 281-acre estate, Grant’s Farm, includes a cabin built by hand by President Ulysses S. Grant and has a 34-room French Renaissance chateau and a well-stocked private zoo, which reflect his abiding love of animals. Mr. Busch trained his own chimpanzees and elephants before donating them to the St. Louis Zoo.

A onetime rodeo rider who later served as master of the Bridlespur Hunt outside St. Louis, Mr. Busch stocked his air-conditioned stables with several breeds, including hackneys, hunters and jumpers.

He clattered his way into family legend one day when he rode one of his horses up the main staircase of the family residence to cheer up his bedridden father.

Mr. Busch was married four times. Two of the marriages ended in divorce. His last wife, the former Margaret Rohde, died last year.

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August A. Busch (center) and his sons, Adolphus III (left) and August Jr., seal the first case of beer off the Anheuser-Busch bottling plant line in St. Louis on April 7, 1933, when the sale of low-alcohol beers and wines was once again legal. Prohibition didn’t officially end until Dec. 5 of that year.

During World War II, Busch was very involved in the war effort through the Ordnance Corps, during which time he attained the rank of colonel.

Colonel August A. Busch, Jr. was born in 1899 in St. Louis, Missouri and was educated in the public schools there. He entered the family brewing business in 1924, and by 1931 was Second Vice President and a member of the board of directors. In June 1942, he was commissioned a major in the Ordnance Corps and was assigned to the Ammunition Division in the Office of the Chief of Ordnance.

He later became Deputy Chairman in charge of the Industry Integrating Committees of Ammunition (one of 82 committees set up to work with industry). Each Industry Integration Committee was made up of representatives from each participating contractor and set up to integrate Ordnance with industry. As Deputy Chairman, he was instrumental in expediting and improving production on several items. In January 1943, he was assigned to the Tank and Automotive Center at Detroit, Michigan. His task was to further the efforts of the committees on the production of tanks, the most critical item of Ordnance procurement. In March of 1943, he was reassigned to the Industry Committees of the Ammunition Division, as the Assistant Chief in Charge of Procurement for metal parts. In 1944, he became Chief of the Industry Production Branch while still retaining the title and duties of the Deputy Chairman of Industry Integrating Committees.

He established precedents and procedures that helped industry and Ordnance work together towards the war effort. His intimate knowledge of industry and his ability to gain the confidence of industrial leaders made him an invaluable asset to the Ordnance procurement process. During his later years, he served as Chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and as Chairman of the board and President of the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals organization. Colonel Busch died in 1989.

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The St. Louis Cardinals, which Anhesuer-Busch bought in 1953, became an important part of Gussie Busch’s life.

In 1953, Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was convicted of tax evasion. Facing almost certain banishment from baseball, he put the Cardinals up for sale. When Busch got word that Saigh was seriously considering selling the team to interests who would move the team to Houston; he decided to have Anheuser-Busch get into the bidding in order to keep the Cardinals in St. Louis. Ultimately, Busch persuaded Saigh to take less money ($3.75 million) than what he was being offered by out-of-town interests in the name of civic pride, and also achieved a marketing tool.

As chairman, president or CEO of the Cardinals from the time the club was purchased by the brewery in 1953 until his death, Busch oversaw a team that won six National League pennants (1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987) and three World Series (1964, 1967 and 1982). When his son, August Busch III, ousted him as president of Anheuser-Busch, the elder Busch remained as president of the Cardinals.

Although the Cardinals were the dominant baseball team in St. Louis, they did not own their own ballpark. Since 1920 they had rented Sportsman’s Park from the St. Louis Browns of the American League. Shortly after buying the Cardinals, Busch bought and extensively renovated the park, renaming it Busch Stadium (but only after a failed attempt to rename it as Budweiser Stadium). The team played there until Busch Memorial Stadium was built in the middle of the 1966 season.

In 1984, the Cardinals retired a number, 85, in Busch’s honor, which was his age at the time.

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Cardinal’s Owner and beer baron Gussie Busch threw a party at the Chase Hotel following the Cardinals 1964 World Series Championship. Here he congratulates Cardinal’s third baseman Ken Boyer, who hit two home runs and drove in six.

The Busch family also acquired Grant’s Farm, and made it the Busch Family Estate, opening it up to the public beginning in 1954. The estate website also has a timeline and there’s a short history of the farm from Wikipedia:

The property was at one time owned by Ulysses S. Grant and prior to that, by the Dent family. It is now owned by the Busch family, who owned the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company for many years until it was sold to InBev in 2008. Grant’s Farm has been an animal reserve for many years and is open to the public for free; however, there is a parking fee of $12 per vehicle. This fee helps to maintain the farm. The farm is home to such animals as buffalo, elephants, camels, kangaroos, donkeys, goats, peacocks, the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales and many more. Most of these animals can be seen by visitors on a tram tour of the deer park region of the park, while the Clydesdales are found in their nearby barn and pastures. The farm also contains a cabin called “Hardscrabble,” which was built by Ulysses S. Grant on another part of the property and later relocated to Grant’s Farm. It is the only remaining structure that was hand-built by a U.S. president prior to assuming office.

Also on the farm is the Busch family mansion, and a house in which Ulysses S. Grant resided between the Mexican and Civil Wars—White Haven. This had been his wife, Julia Grant’s, family home. Frederick Dent, Julia’s father, gave 80 acres of the farm to the couple as a wedding present. White Haven is now a national historic site: the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, and is located just across the road from Grant’s Farm.

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Here’s Gussie’s entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

August Anheuser Busch, Jr., byname Gussie Busch (born March 28, 1899, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. — died September 29, 1989, near St. Louis), American beer baron, president (1946–75) of Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., who built the company into the world’s largest brewery.

In 1922 Busch was put to work sweeping floors and cleaning vats at the brewery cofounded by his grandfather Adolphus Busch, but by 1924 he was general superintendent of brewing operations. After his father died (1934), Busch became head of the brewery department, and he was installed as president of the company following his older brother’s death (1946).

Busch was a civic leader who helped revive St. Louis in the 1950s by donating $5 million toward the construction of Busch Memorial Stadium and purchasing the St. Louis Cardinals professional baseball team for $7.8 million. A familiar figure during postseason play-off games, Busch often rode into the stadium in a wagon drawn by Clydesdales, the horses that were indelibly identified with the beer wagons of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch’s main brand. Grant’s Farm, the Busch family estate near St. Louis, was converted into a 281-acre (114-hectare) historical site and wildlife preserve.

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And finally, here’s a video created for Gussie’s induction into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.

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To celebrate production of the ten millionth barrel of beer, August A. Busch Jr. (right) and his son August III share a toast with other officials of the company on December 15, 1964.

Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick C. Miller

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Today is the birthday of Frederick C. Miller (February 26, 1906–December 17, 1954). Fred was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, “the son of Carl A. Miller of Germany, and Clara Miller (no relation), a daughter of Miller Brewing Company founder Frederick Miller.

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Succeeding his younger cousin Harry John (1919–1992), Miller became the president of the family brewing company in 1947 at age 41 and had a major role in bringing Major League Baseball to Wisconsin, moving the Braves from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953. He coaxed Lou Perini into moving them into the new County Stadium and the Braves later played in consecutive World Series in 1957 and 1958, both against the New York Yankees. Both series went the full seven games with Milwaukee winning the former and New York the latter.

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Fred Miller was also notably a college football player, an All-American tackle under head coach Knute Rockne at the University of Notre Dame, posthumously elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985. He later served as an unpaid assistant coach for the Irish, flying in from Milwaukee several times a week.

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He also “volunteered as a coach for the Green Bay Packers and, during a difficult financial period, even helped fund the team. Miller Brewing remains the largest stockholder of the Green Bay Packers,” which probably explains why they played half of their home games in Milwaukee before Lambeau Field was refurbished.

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Here’s his biography from the College Football Hall of Fame:

A native of Milwaukee, Fred Miller was the grandson of the founder of the Miller Brewing Company. The qualities which later made Fred a great business executive were already evident when he entered Notre Dame in 1925, and they were quickly recognized by the immortal Knute Rockne. It was under Rockne’s tutelage that the 6-1, 195-pounder came to his gridiron peak, earning All-America mention in 1927, and again in 1928, and achieving the ultimate Notre Dame football honor by being named captain of the 1928 team. His quest for perfection was not limited to the gridiron. During his years at Notre Dame he coupled athletic prowess with academic proficiency and established the highest scholastic average of any monogram winner. Miller was involved in real estate, lumber, and investments before becoming president of the Miller Brewing Company. In 1954, he and his son, Fred Jr., were killed in an airplane crash. Miller was 48 years old. He was survived by his wife, six daughters and a son.

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Miller at Milwaukee’s County stadium, where he helped moved the Boston Braves to in 1953, along with paying $75,000 for the County Stadium scoreboard in the background.

But beyond his sports accomplishments, he was an effective leader of his family’s brewery, as detailed by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in Remembering Frederick C. Miller, Milwaukee brewing’s 1st rock star:

Frederick C. Miller was the first brewery rock star.

Industry types praised Miller in the 1940s and early ’50s in the same way they gush over leading craft brewers today.

Frederick J. Miller was the builder of the brewery that is marking its 160th anniversary this year. Frederick’s son, Ernest, who took over after his father’s death, was a caretaker for the brewery keeping the status quo.

But Frederick C. Miller, part of the focus of a monthlong celebration of the company’s history that wrapped up last weekend, was the innovator who sparked new relationships, new buildings, put new ideas in motion and marched the family brewery past regional dominance to become the nation’s fifth-ranked brewery.

When you sip a beer at Miller Park or Lambeau Field it’s because of Fred C. He identified the relationship between beer and sports, and ran with it like the all-American football player he was.

“Fred was iconic,” said David S. Ryder, MillerCoors vice president for brewing, research, innovation and quality. “He was named as president of Miller Brewing in 1947, and from the day that he was named president, Miller Brewing started to grow.”

Frederick C. died when his plane crashed on takeoff at what is now Mitchell International Airport on Dec. 17, 1954. He was 48. His son Fred Jr., 20, and two pilots on the Miller Brewing payroll were killed on impact in the crash; Frederick C. was thrown clear of the crash but died hours later in the hospital.

A crowd of 3,000 mourners attended the funeral services, and the overflow was described by The Milwaukee Journal as “everyday folks — men in overalls and other rough work clothes, mothers carrying babies, young people and old.”

During Frederick C.’s time, Miller’s brewery expanded and sales grew from 653,000 barrels in 1947 to more than 3 million in 1952. He added buildings, including a new brewhouse and a new office building. He turned the former ice caves into The Caves Museum, a place where brewers could assemble for lunch or special occasions.

Liberace, a West Allis native, cut the ribbon for The Caves in 1953, according to John Gurda’s book “Miller Time: A History of Miller Brewing Company.”

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Here’s a newspaper account of the tragic death of Fred and his son in 1954.

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And lastly, here’s some interesting speculation from my friend, historian Maureen Ogle, that Miller Brewing might have done considerably better against their rival, Anheuser-Busch, if Fred Miller had not died prematurely in that place crash when he was only 48 years old.

It’s rare that the presence or absence of one person makes a historical difference (I said “rare,” not impossible). But I think that the death of Fred C. Miller in 1954 altered the course of American brewing. Miller was aggressive, ambitious, smart — all on a grand scale. He was the first beermaker to come along in decades who showed the potential to go head-to-head with the Busch family, particularly Gus Busch, who ran A-B from the late 1940s until the mid-1970s.

Miller became company president in 1947, and over the next few years, he shoved, pushed, prodded, and otherwise steered his family’s brewing company not-much-of-anything into the ranks of the top ten. But in late 1954, he died (in a plane crash) — and Miller Brewing lost its way.

As Miller faltered, A-B solidified its position as the dominant player in American brewing. Had Fred Miller not died, I believe the course of American brewing would have turned out differently: Fred Miller would have transformed his family’s company into a formidable powerhouse. He would have challenged A-B’s dominance. He would have been able to command-and-direct in a way that, for example, Bob Uihlein was not able to do at Schlitz during the same period.

Put another way, in the 1950s, Gus Busch met his match in Fred C. Miller. Things might have turned out differently had Miller lived

I can’t prove that, of course, but hey — what’s all that research good for if I can’t express an informed opinion.

And lastly, the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame created a short video of Miller’s life that’s a nice over view of him.

Historic Beer Birthday: Morton Coutts

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Today is the birthday of Morton W. Coutts (February 7, 1904-June 25, 2004) who was a “New Zealand inventor who revolutionized the science of brewing beer,” and “is best known for the continuous fermentation method.”

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Here’s a basic biography from the DB Breweries website:

Morton Coutts (1904-2004) was the inheritor of a rich brewing tradition dating back to the 19th century. Like his father, W. Joseph Coutts and grandfather, Joseph Friedrich Kühtze, Morton Coutts was more an innovator and scientific brewer than a businessman. He was foundation head brewer of Dominion Breweries Ltd under (Sir) Henry Kelliher and became a director of the company after his father’s death in 1946. He and Kelliher formed a formidable team-Coutts, the boffin-like heir to a rich brewing heritage, obsessed with quality control and production innovation, and Kelliher, a confident, entrepreneurial businessman, able to hold his own with politicians and competitors.

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Morton Coutts’ most important contribution was the development in the 1950s of the system of continuous fermentation, patented in 1956, to give greater beer consistency and product control. The continuous fermentation process was so named because it allows a continuous flow of ingredients in the brewing, eliminating variables to produce the ideal beer continuously. The system achieved this by scrapping open vats-the weak link in the old system-and replacing them with enclosed sealed tanks. Continuous fermentation allows the brew to flow from tank to tank, fermenting under pressure, and never coming into contact with the atmosphere, even when bottled. Coutts’ research showed that his process could produce consistent, more palatable beer with a longer shelf life than under batch brewing. A London newspaper described it as a “brewer’s dream and yours too”. Coutts patented the process, and subsequently the patent rights were sold worldwide as other brewers recognised the inherent benefits of continuous processes. Although many attempted to implement the technology, most failed due to their inability to apply the rigorous hygiene techniques developed and applied by Coutts. Eventually, in 1983, Coutts’ contribution to the industry was honoured in New Zealand.

And DB Breweries also has a timeline with key events in the brewery’s history, including dates from Coutts’ life.

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The Waitemata Brewery in 1933, after it became part of DB Breweries.

As for his most influential invention, continuous fermentation, here are some resources, one from New Zealand’s Science Trust Roadshow with Morton Coutts — Continuous Fermentation System. And after I visited New Zealand, I wrote a sidebar on it for an article I did for All About Beer, and also later when a German university announced something very similar a few years ago in Everything Old Is New Again: Non-Stop Fermentation.

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Coutts later in life.

Also, here’s the story of him creating DB Export The Untold Story, featuring this fun video.

Historic Beer Birthday: Adolph Coors

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Today is the birthday of Adolph Coors (February 4, 1847-June 5, 1929) whose full name was Adolph Hermann Josef Coors, although it’s probable that the Coors surname was originally spelled Kuhrs, or something like that. Coors was born in what today is Germany, in the town of Barmen, part of Rhenish Prussia, or Rhineland. After being orphaned as a fifteen-year old boy, he continued the apprenticeship he’d begun earlier at the Wenker Brewery in Dortmund, and later on was a paid employee. When he was 21, he stowed aboard a ship in Hamburg and made his way to New York City, where he changed the family name to its present spelling. By spring he’d moved to Chicago, and shortly thereafter became a foreman of John Stenger’s brewery in nearby Napierville, where he worked for the next four years.

At the beginning of 1872, he resigned and headed west, to Denver, Colorado. Coors took a few odd jobs, and then he purchased a partnership in the bottling firm of John Staderman, buying out his partner later the same year, assuming control of the entire business. But it was the following year, on November 14, 1873, that the Coors empire really began. On that day, Adolph Coors, along with Denver confectioner Jacob Schueler, bought the Golden City Tannery, which had been abandoned, in Golden, Colorado, and transformed it into the Golden Brewery. “By February 1874 they were producing beer for sale. In 1880 Coors purchased Schueler’s interest, and the brewery was renamed Adolph Coors Golden Brewery.”

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And here’s a short biography from the Colorado Encyclopedia:

Adolph Coors (1847–1929) immigrated to the United States in 1868 after serving as a brewery apprentice in western Germany and then in the Kingdom of Prussia. After working in Chicago breweries, he moved to Colorado in 1872 and purchased a bottling company. He transformed it into the Coors Brewing Company and became one of Colorado’s wealthiest and most influential men during the early twentieth century.

After moving to Denver, Coors promptly bought into a bottling company and became the sole owner by the end of the year. In 1873 he started looking for a place to build a brewery with access to clean mountain water and found one at the abandoned Golden Tannery. He partnered with candy store owner and fellow German Jacob Scheuler to purchase the tannery and turned it into the Scheuler and Coors Brewing Company, one of the first breweries in the area. By 1874, even in the midst of economic crisis, the company was making 800 gallons of beer a day. Their beer was valued for its taste, consistency, and crispness.

Coors hired many German immigrants to run his beer factory, bottling plant, malt house, and icehouse. He invested heavily in new technology, such as metal bottle caps and increased automation. In 1879 he married Louisa Weber. The couple had six children – three daughters and three sons. That same year, he bought out Scheuler and became the sole owner of Coors Brewing. He allowed his workers to join the United Brewery Workmen of the United States and paid them well. The brewery famously provided free beer to its workers during breaks. By 1890, Coors was a millionaire, a US citizen, and a medal winner at the Chicago World’s Fair.

The movement to abolish alcohol began to gather momentum in the late nineteenth century. Coors correctly diversified his investments; beer may be recession-proof, but it would not weather Prohibition. In 1916, when Prohibition began in Colorado, Coors shifted his manufacturing from beer to milk products and porcelain. In 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition, Coors returned to his preferred product but continued to manufacture other goods.

Coors generally remained aloof from Denver high society, but he felt great kinship with his employees and identified with them as a craftsman. He instituted more breaks, better working conditions, and higher wages for his workers than did almost all other brewers. But Coors became disillusioned with his product in the early twentieth century, after pasteurization (the heating of beer to kill microbes) and mass marketing transformed the beer industry. Coors took his life in 1929 by jumping from his hotel balcony in Virginia Beach. In his will, he stipulated that his hotel bill be paid in its entirety; otherwise, he left no note and no reason for his action. Coors is remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit, his rags-to-riches immigrant story, and his dedication to the craft of brewing beer.

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A portrait of Adolph Coors by artist Bill Moomey

Coors was elected to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 1990, who produced a short film of his life for the induction ceremony:

And here’s an early postcard depicting the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado. It’s a remarkable place and you should definitely take the tour if you ever get near that part of the world.

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Beer Birthday: Bryan Selders

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Today is the 42nd birthday of Bryan Selders, who is the brewmaster at Post Brewing in Colorado. Up until March of 2011, he was lead brewer of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and one-half of the hip hop duo The Pain Relievaz, before leaving the industry temporarily to do web design at Inclind. But a few years ago, he came back to brewing, which was great new for everyone who love terrific beer. I first met Bryan at Hop School in Yakima, Washington years ago and he’s a terrifically talented and fun person. Join me in wishing Bryan a very happy birthday.

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Bryan with his boss Sam on picture day at the brewery.

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Bryan with some of his “fans.”

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The cover of the latest CD, Awesome = Yes, the Pain Relievaz Greatest Hits, available nowhere as far as I can tell. But below is Bryan and Sam in the video “Pinchin’ Pennies.”

Note: All photos purloined from Facebook.

Charles Bukowski’s “Beer”

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Today is the birthday of American poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920-March 9, 1994). Bukowski was a hard-living individual, as well as a hard drinker. Wikipedia gives a summary of his life, albeit a very brief one.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife.” Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

If you haven’t read his work, you’re definitely missing out. I think my favorite quote by him is from an interview he did in Life magazine, in December of 1988. “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” A collection of his poems, entitled “Love Is a Dog From Hell,” was published in 1977, and includes the poem “Beer.” A few months ago, an Italian animation studio, NERDO, created a short animated film of that poem, and it’s pretty awesome.

Beer Birthday: Garrett Oliver

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Today is Garrett Oliver’s 54th birthday. Garrett is the head brewer at Brooklyn Brewery and has done more for the craft beer industry to promote pairing food and beer than just about any other person alive. If you haven’t picked up a copy of his book, The Brewmaster’s Table, you should definitely do so. He was also tapped to be the editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer, which came out four years ago (and which I also contributed to). He’s the best-dressed brewer in the world and a great person. Join me in wishing Garrett a very happy birthday.

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Garrett and Bruce Joseph, from Anchor Brewery, at the Brewer’s Dinner before GABF a few years ago.

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Tom Dalldorf, published of the Celebrator, Garrett and me share a beer at d.b.a.

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Giving a cooking demonstration with beer chef Bruce Paton at GABF in 2005.

Garrett Oliver and Randy Mosher
A happy Garrett with Randy Mosher at the World Beer Cup dinner at CBC in Chicago a few years ago.

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Earlier this year at Carlsberg in Copenhagen.


Dancing with Jessica, formerly of the Brewers Association, late one night after GABF in 2004 at Falling Rock.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer

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I first made Johann, the founder of Seef Bier, in San Francisco, when he was here to do a presentation with his importer and the Belgian Trade Delegation as he was beginning to import his beer to the U.S. And I quite like Seef, and have since I first tried it. I saw him most recently last month in Belgium, when he was on hand to pick up the gold medal for Seef he received at the Brussels Beer Challenge. At any rate, this morning he sent me this fun video of Christmas Wishes from Seefbier, a spoof of the popular Christmas carol recorded by Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It really is the most wonderful time to drink beer. Enjoy.

Felix The Cat (& Beer Drinker)

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As if you needed further proof that cartoons weren’t always for kids — and still aren’t — here’s an interesting one from 1930. Today was the debut in 1919 of the popular cartoon character Felix the Cat. It was actually the third film using a similar-looking cat, but the Adventures of Felix, released today in 1919, was the first time the name Felix was attached to the character. Felix became very popular and remained so until sound was introduced, when he fell into cartoon obscurity when his transition to sound tanked. There was a much later cartoon version, from when I was a kid, that began in 1958 and was shown on television through at least the 1960s and 70s, and that’s probably the one you’re more familiar with.

But the earlier Felix was darker and less kid-friendly, for the simple reason they were aimed at adults going to see a movie in a theater.

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Woos Whoopee was one of Felix’s later cartoons (at least of the earlier black and white and largely silent ones), and takes place in a speakeasy (it was still Prohibition after all).

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Felix stays out late, drinking and dancing, while his wife paces at home angrily, watching the clock with a rolling pin in her hand. Finally, well after 3 AM, Felix begins to stumble home and begins to hallucinate. Finally, after a surreal journey, he makes it home around 6 AM. I thought sure he’d be in more trouble, but besides shooting the cuckoo in the clock, not much happens to him after he gets home. Oh, well, at least he had a few laughs and drank a few beers.