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Jack McAuliffe Visits Russian River

Quite by accident yesterday I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Jack McAuliffe, founder of New Albion Brewery. I had to meet some new friends from Argentina at Russian River Brewery (more on that later) and when I arrived, I found out that Jack was coming by to have lunch with Russian River owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo. I knew Jack was still in California because at CBC last week, where I met him for the first time (more about that later, too), he’d said as much. And I knew Natalie had invited Jack to come by their brewpub, where the original New Albion sign (that I later learned Jack made himself) hung behind the bar in a prominent place, but I didn’t know any of the details.

Vinnie and Natalie with Jack McAuliffe and his friend Pat Crisco.

Vinnie and Natalie generously invited me join them for lunch with Jack and a friend of his, Pat, who he was staying with for the week. We sat below the New Albion sign and talked, drank and ate. For an amateur beer historian, it was nothing short of remarkable. Jack told great stories about his early days in brewing — some can be retold, others perhaps not — but all of them colorful and entertaining. I knew as much of New Albion’s story as had been told, but to hear it from the man who lived it was such a treat, plus Jack added many personal details that I’d never known before which was amazing to hear. Anyway, at some point, Jack pointed up at the old sign and asked Vinnie if he’d like him to sign it. I’m not sure we all believed he’d do it, but we got out the ladder and up he climbed, sharpie between his teeth like a beer pirate.

Jack up on the ladder signing the New Albion sign.

Signing it up close.

Signing the sign.

The finished old sign, now new again with Jack McAuliffe’s signature.

Jack and me at Russian River. What a great afternoon.

UPDATE: During Jack’s visit to Russian River, I met Peter Stetson who does social media for the town of Calistoga, and he also took some photos and captured some video of Jack signing the New Albion sign. Thanks, Peter.

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