Beer Birthday: Will Kemper

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Today is the 66th birthday of Will Kemper, who’s the brewmaster of Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen in Bellingham, Washington. Will was the “Kemper” in the early brewery “Thomas Kemper,” which was an early lager brewery first in Poulsbo, and later nearby on Bainbridge Island in Washington. I first visited the brewery on my honeymoon in 1996, after it had been sold to Pyramid (then Hart Brewery) in 1992. After Thomas Kemper, Will became a brewery consultant, helping launch such breweries as Philadelphia’s Dock Street, Seattle’s Aviator Ales, Capital City Brewing in D.C. and Denver’s Mile High Brewing. Later, he and his wife Mari moved to Turkey, building a brewery in Istanbul called Taps. After the Taps project was completed they returned to their home in Bellingham, Washington and opened Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen. Within a year of opening, Chuckanut and Kemper were named small brewery and brewmaster of the year at GABF in 2009. Needless to say, Will’s a terrific brewer. I reconnected with Will when CBC was in Chicago when I ran into Will and Mari, along with Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, and ended up spending the evening bar hopping with them. Join me in wishing Will a very happy birthday.

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Will accepting a medal at the 2011 GABF awards.

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Mari (next to Charlie on the left) and Will (far right) with the Chuckanut crew winning small brewery of the year in 2009.

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Thomas and Sabine from Weyerman’s with Will and Mari during a visit to Chuckanut.

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Matt Brynildson and Will at GABF in 2011.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: John Bryant

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Today is my good friend John Bryant’s 49th birthday. I first met John when he was with Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. Several years ago he migrated to Odell Brewing in Fort Collins to work his magic on them, and then a few years ago he joined Dale at Oskar Blues. He recently left Oskar Blues and disappeared for a time, finally re-emerging in Spokane, Washington with the newly rebranded No-Li Brewing. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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At the Brewer’s Reception before GABF in 2006. From left: Bob Pease (Brewers Association), Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River Brewing), John and his wife Cindy, Banjo (Real Beer) and Tom McCormick (California Craft Brewers Association).

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John, with Ray Daniels of the Brewers Association, who celebrated his own birthday last week.

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John and me during a visit to the brewery a few summers ago, when we were in Colorado for my cousin’s wedding.

Anheuser-Busch InBev To Buy Elysian

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Anheuser-Busch InBev and Elysian Brewing of Seattle, Washington announced today that they had reached agreement for ABI to buy the small Elysian brewpub chain.

From the press release:

“For two decades, we’ve welcomed guests into our brewpubs and served them creative and impeccably crafted beers,” said Joe Bisacca, Elysian ‎CEO and co-founder, who will continue with Elysian along with his partners, Dick Cantwell and David Buhler. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve grown from one Seattle brewpub to four pub locations and a production brewery. With the support of Anheuser-Busch, we will build on past successes and share our beers with more beer lovers moving forward.”

Dick Cantwell, Elysian co-founder and Head Brewer added, “Throughout our journey we’ve been focused on brewing a portfolio of both classic and groundbreaking beers and supporting innovation and camaraderie in the beer industry through collaboration and experimentation. By joining with Anheuser-Busch we’ll be able to take the next steps to bring that energy and commitment to a larger audience.”

Elysian sold more than 50,000 barrels of beer in 2014, with Immortal IPA accounting for more than a quarter of the company’s total volume.

“Elysian’s story includes everything we look for in a partner,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The team has spent their careers brewing distinctive beers in the thriving West Coast beer community and building unique venues that celebrate beer. As the fastest growing brewer in Washington, their recipe is working. Elysian’s brands are an important addition to our high-end beer portfolio, and we look forward to working together.”

In addition to the Seattle Airport Way brewery, the acquisition includes the company’s four Seattle brewpubs, Elysian Capitol Hill, Elysian Tangletown, Elysian Fields and Elysian BAR.

Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Elysian is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Not sure what to make of the news yet, all I know is what’s in the press release. So far, there’s been no statement from anyone at Elysian, though I suspect we’ll learn more throughout the day.

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Beer In Ads #558: Vigor & Strength In Every Drop


Wednesday’s ad is Rainier Beer, from the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. Like the other Rainier ad I’ve featured, For Pure Drink, it’s from the early years of the 20th century, probably in the first decade. It’s a simple ad showing a beautiful woman holding up a dainty glass of beer while leaning on a giant bottle of Rainier. And I love the message, which would be illegal in a beer ad today; “There’s New Vigor and Strength in Every Drop.”

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Hard Liver Barleywine Fest Winners 2012

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Here are the results from the 2012 Hard Liver Barleywine Fest in held at Brouwer’s Cafe in Seattle, Washington:

Congratulations to all the winners. (And special thanks to Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, for sending me the results since I couldn’t be there this year.)

Beer In Ads #489: For Pure Drink Get Rainier Beer


Thursday’s ad is another ad for healthy beer, somewhat similar to yesterday’s Budweiser ad. This one is just a few years later, from 1907, and was sent to me by fellow blogger Lisa Grimm from WeirdBeerGirl (thanks Lisa). The ad is for Rainier Pale Beer, from Seattle Brewing & Malting Co., and shows a group of children using a giant beer bottle as a Maypole. Mother can be seen in the background, arriving on the scene with a tray full of beer bottles and glasses. Again, can you just imagine that ad today? The copy is equally interesting.

Pure Air, Pure Food, Pure Drink are essential to healthy growth … for Pure Drink get Rainier Pale Beer

Another beautiful sentiment.

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