Today is the 44th birthday of Derek Smith, who is the brewmaster at Moylan’s Brewing in Novato, California. When I first met Derek he was brewing at Black Diamond Brewing, but in 2013, he started brewing at Moylan’s, and he’s been doing great things there ever since. Join me in wishing Derek a very happy birthday.
Pabst announced today that they’re re-introducing Lucky Lager in the Bay Area. The iconic local beer has been absent from store shelves for four decades, but I’m pretty sure it was still around when I moved here in 1985. By then, according to Wikipedia, beginning in “July 1985, the Olympia Brewing Company in Tumwater, WA began to produce Lucky Lager in the US. In July 2003, this brewery was also closed. Lucky Lager continued to be sold in its original Northern California range at Lucky Stores supermarkets, which although not affiliated, sold Lucky Lager as an unofficial value store brand, until Lucky Stores supermarkets were bought out by Albertson’s and the name of the supermarkets was changed around 2000.”
But as long as I’ve been here, people have been waxing nostalgic about the brand. Apparently, it saw a lot of Bay Area folks through college and their lean years, as an affordable beer brand. And now, they’re bringing it back, albeit without the iconic label and a reimagined modern take on the packaging. I feel like appealing to the nostalgia for the brand — something Pabst knows a thing or two about — would have been a better idea, although only time will tell. On the plus side, it’s being brewed under contract by the 21st Amendment Brewery in San Leandro. When I spoke to co-owner Shaun O’Sullivan, he told me it was under arrangement with Pabst to brew and can the beer for them. At 4.2% it could be a good session lager, something that could definitely be useful. I’m actually looking forward to tasting it, and part of that has to do with 21st Amendment’s involvement.
Here’s the press release from Pabst:
The Gold Rush and Tech Boom are iconic examples of the good fortune emanating from the Bay Area. San Francisco attracts visionaries and entrepreneurs willing to put in the sweat equity to make their dreams a reality. For most of the last century, Lucky Lager was the Bay Area’s beer of choice after a long day. Now, this Bay Area classic has been reimagined as a premium lager to inspire a new generation working tirelessly to turn dreams into reality.
Founded on the heels of prohibition, Lucky Lager became synonymous with the city of San Francisco and a favorite of the diverse cultures that call it home. In an effort to revive Lucky and restore its local roots, Pabst tapped San Leandro-based 21 st Amendment for help with brewing and canning, and San Francisco-based design agency Hatch to helm the redesign. “San Francisco is a town where anyone with a persevering mindset and dedicated spirit can get ‘lucky’ and strike it big,” said Matt Bruhn, General Manger at Pabst. “We want Lucky Lager to be your reward for a hard day’s work.”
San Francisco-based design agency Hatch created the new Lucky Lager can, a modern interpretation of the iconic original. Six packs present “Lucky” in one of five local languages heard every day on the streets of San Francisco, including English, Chinese, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. This new design concept is an initial nod to the area’s rich cultural diversity and a subtle reminder that luck is a universal phenomenon. “Lucky represents sketch dreams and napkin schemes; it’s a beer meant to celebrate both the wins and failures that pave the road to success,” said Nicole Flores, Creative Director at Hatch.
“Born in San Francisco, Lucky Lager is infused with the same drive, where “X” marks the spot for determination, imagination and desire that make the Bay Area so alluring. Such qualities are inherent to the beer and to those in the Bay who drink it.”
A unique, unfiltered lager that pours with a pale straw color and a clean white head, Lucky Lager introduces itself with the aroma of sweet corn, toasted bread and light notes of citrus fruits from delicate hops. At 4.2% ABV, Lucky welcomes you with notes of light malt, floral earthy hops, and slight honey, with a creamy and satisfying carbonation. It finishes crisp with a pleasant linger, proving that being Lucky is refreshing.
Lucky Lager is exclusively available throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. For more information on distribution and our story, please visit luckylagersf.com.
Today is iconoclastic brewer Brian Hunt’s 62nd birthday. Brian owns and operates Moonlight Brewing in Sonoma County, California, as almost a one-man show. If you’ve never had his “Death and Taxes,” “Twist of Fate Bitter,” “Bombay by Boat,” or his fresh hop ale, alternately called “Homegrown” or “Greenbud Ale,” then you’re really missing out on some of the most unique and wonderful beers around. Plus, Brian is one of the nicest curmudgeons you’ll ever meet, and one of my favorite people anywhere. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.
Brian in his hopyard, with Russian River’s old assistant brewer Travis (who opened his own place, Societe Brewing), and Vinnie Cilurzo.
Today was the 22nd annual IPA Festival and the 2nd annual Hazy IPA Festival at the Bistro. The weather cooperated and it ended up being a sunny day in Hayward, making it was perfect beer-drinking weather once we emerged from judging in the basement. This year the judging was split into two groups, regular clear IPAs
- 1st Place: Central Coast Lucky Day IPA
- 2nd Place: Revision IPA
- 3rd Place: Urban Roots Like Riding a Bike IPA
- 1st Place: Lead Dog Saturdays are for Brews IPA
- 2nd Place: Fieldwork Dancing in the Dank IPA
- 3rd Place: Cellarmaker Cantaloupe Island IPA
Peoples Choice Awards
- People’s Choice Award — Traditional IPA: Altamont Mau Waui
- People’s Choice Award — Hazy IPA: Urban Roots Lapse of Judgement
Congratulations to all the winners.
Today would have been the 52nd birthday of Mark Martone, better known to the beer world as “Fraggle.” Fraggle always called them borndays, so I’ll continue that tradition for him. Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke five years ago in late June and passed away a few days later, on July 5, 2014. Fraggle, along with Rebecca Boyles, founded the terrific Beer Revolution in Oakland, near Jack London Square on 3rd Street. I first met Fraggle when I featured him and Rebecca in an article I did for Beer Advocate magazine on beer geeks several years ago. It’s been great to see them turn their passion into their livelihood, and go from civilian to pro over the last few years. Join me in wishing Fraggle a very happy bornday, and raise a toast to his memory today or tonight or all day long. He would have wanted it that way.
Today would have been Bill Brand’s 81st birthday, if not for the tragic events of February 8, 2009. Bill, of course, was hit by a Muni Train that evening and passed away twelve days later, on February 20. He was a bastion of support for the local beer community for decades, and one of it’s most visible media faces. He did a staggering amount of good to help brewers throughout the Bay Area, and wrote about the beer he loved so much with an unmatched passion and zeal. His Bottoms Up blog was read by millions, the newest form of his What’s On Tap newsletter that stretched back into the early 1990s. It was my great honor to take over his column and try to continue his legacy of support for craft brewers in the Bay Area and beyond. Drink a toast to the memory and legacy of William “Bill” Brand today. Happy birthday Bill, you are most certainly missed.
Today is the 51st birthday of Jason Chavez, who was the brewmaster at Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz for a number of years. Chavez started homebrewing while still in high school on his family’s kitchen stove. He’s a graduate of the American Brewers Guild, and had been brewing at Seabright since 1999. I believe I first met Jason many years ago at the Rock Bottom in Denver during a GABF week, but I still run into him occasionally at events. Seabright celebrated their 25th anniversary two years ago, when I spent the day at the brewery to do a story on their silver anniversary. But last year, he made a big change, moving closer to home to take over the Kelsey Creek Brewing Co. in Kelseyville. I still haven’t made up to see the brewery since he took over the reigns, but hopefully one day soon. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.
Here’s a great shot by Dan Coyro, from an article in Santa Cruz Sentinnel.
Jason, in the center, surrounded by Seabright folks at the 10th annual Stumptown Russian River Revival and BBQ Cook-Off.
Jason, again in the center, at GABF (Note: last two photos purloined from Seabright’s website).
Today is the birthday of J.J. Phair, co-founder of E.J. Phair Brewing. J.J. started homebrewing in 1990, and ten years later opened his brewery, which is named for his grandfather Ewart John Phair, who was an amateur winemaker and beer lover, as a way to honor E.J. The brewery’s grown since then, and today there’s a Concord Alehouse, a production brewery and taproom in Pittsburg. Join me in wishing J.J. a very happy birthday.
Today is the 65th birthday of Grant Johnston. Grant was the original brewer at Marin Brewing when it opened in 1989, and spent a number of years at Black Diamond Brewing in Concord, California. Grant was very influential in the early days of Bay Area brewing, and he’s an incredibly talented brewer. A few years ago he moved to the midwest, and these days can be found working a few days a week at the Argus Brewery in Chicago. A couple of years back, I was in Belgium at the Cantillon Brewery when in walked Grant, quite by chance, so you never know when you’re going to run into him. Join me in wishing Grant a very happy birthday.
Grant (on the right) judging the 2006 Double IPA Festival in the cellar of The Bistro, with Tom Dalldorf, Vicky, our hard-working beer steward in the middle, and the Toronado’s Dave Keene in profile on the left.
Today is Brendan Moylan’s 58th birthday. Brendan owns both his eponymous Moylan’s Brewing as well as Marin Brewing. He’s a very active part of both the local and beer community, and each year puts on the Breasfest to benefit breast cancer awareness. Join me in wishing Brendan a very happy birthday.