Today is the 60th birthday of Alex Puchner, who’s the Senior Vice President of Brewing Operations, and its first brewmaster, for the BJ’s Restaurant Brewhouse chain. He started with the chain in 1996, a co-founder, when they built their first brewpub. Alex had been homebrewing for a decade before that first brewery. There now have 174 locations in 23 states, although they backed away from their brewpub model and contract most of their beer, but have added lost of guest taps and good bottled imports, including a great selection from Belgium. Alex has been very active over the years in the beer community and the CCBA, and has been great for beer in California, providing many people’s first introduction to craft beer with BJ’s. Join me in wishing Alex a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Alexandra Nowell, brewmaster of Three Weavers Brewing in Inglewood, southwest of L.A. She’s brewed previously at a variety of Bay Area breweries, including Moylan’s and Drakes, before moving south to Kinetic Brewing a few years ago. More recently, she joined Three Weavers, located in Inglewood. Join me in wishing Alexandra a very happy birthday.
The Drake’s/Stone Quarter Century of Issues Celebrator 25th Anniversary Pale Ale brew crew (from left to right): Drake’s owner John Martin, Stone Northern California regional brewery rep. Dave Hopwood, Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele, Stone San Francisco regional brewery rep Michael “Zippo” Parzick and, obviously the only one doing any real work, then-Drake’s brewmaster Alexandra (on the brew deck).
With Jesse Houck, who also worked at Drake’s, and for a time brewed at Golden Road. in L.A., but more recently moved to Hawaii to brew on Maui with Maui Brewing.
Alexandra with Mike “Tasty” McDole (purloined, er … borrowed from the Weekly Pint)
Today is the 36th birthday of Kushal Hall, former Director of Brewing Operations for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Kushal had been brewing at Speakeasy since 2007, but left in May of 2017 to open his own space in Southern California. The new brewery is called Common Space Brewing and is located in Hawthorne. While Kushal studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, I think we can all agree the world is a better place since he became a brewer. A terrific brewer and person, please join me in wishing Kushal a very happy birthday.
[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]
Today is the birthday of Jesse Friedman, co-founder of Almanac Beer Co.. I first got to know Jesse when he was writing his beer and food blog, Beer & Nosh, but he’s since gone on to partner with Damian Fagan to create “Farm-to-Barrel” beers in 2010. They currently make three year-round beers and a plethora of individual seasonals under the “Farm to Barrel Series” umbrella, usually with local ingredients, often fruit or field. More recently, they opened a taproom and restaurant in San Francisco, where they’re doing great food as well as beer, as well as a newer taproom on the Island of Alameda. Over a year ago, Jesse left Almanac, and moved to Los Angeles and is working on what to do next. Join me in wishing Jesse a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Meg Gill, founder and owner, along with Tony Yanow, of Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles. Meg is also the former national sales manager for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers in San Francisco. When I first met Meg she was working for Oskar Blues, and later she organized the Opening Gala for SF Beer Week in years two and three, a Herculean undertaking. Golden Road made some waves a few years ago when they were acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, and I haven’t seen her since she went over to the “winning team,” and alienated us losers. Although she did try to pretend it didn’t happen when Golden Road announced they were building a taproom in the Temescal area of Oakland and were met with some opposition. Ultimately, it was approved and they should be building a brewpub in the near future. Still, join me in wishing Meg a very happy birthday.
Today is the 31st birthday of Erika Bolden, who among much other beer writing in the Los Angeles area, is the Executive Director of the North American Guild of Beer Writers. She has the Herculean task of keeping the rest of us miscreants in line and on task, and she does it with such grace and style that we hardly notice. She’s also run the awards for the last few years, and has grown the event severalfold. Plus she’s an awesome tent neighbor, as we camped next to Sarah and me at last year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival. Join me in wishing Erika a very happy birthday.
This morning, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced they were acquiring Golden Road Brewing, located in Los Angeles. The Wall Street Journal confirmed “Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed,” and that the “acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter.”
From the press release:
“The energy and passion of the beer community is what drew me into this industry and with Golden Road we wanted to help develop the craft beer market in L.A.,” said Meg Gill, president and co-founder at Golden Road Brewing. “Our team worked hard to build Golden Road from the ground up and we are proud of the growth we’ve achieved in such a short time. California is an exciting and competitive market for beer and I see endless opportunities in partnering with Anheuser-Busch and their incredible distribution network to bring our beers to more people.”
As the largest craft brewery in Los Angeles County, Golden Road expects to sell approximately 45,000 barrels of beer in 2015 and can be found in more than 4,000 retail locations. With a brewery focused on draft and can production, a pub in Los Angeles and a new tasting room downtown. Additionally a new tasting room, opening in 2015, second production brewery and pub in Anaheim will be operational by the fourth quarter of 2016. Its core brands – Point the Way IPA, Wolf Among Weeds IPA, Golden Road Hefeweizen and 329 Days of Sun Lager – represent 95 percent of volume. Along with the core beers, Golden Road brewers are constantly experimenting with the freshest ingredients through a collection of rotating, seasonal and limited-edition brews, most notably the Custom IPA Series, a line-up of diverse, hop-forward IPAs.
“Golden Road’s commitment to making great beer, their pioneering spirit and the passionate beer culture built within the company is what appealed to us,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “Their focus on giving back to the community and impact on the Los Angeles craft market in four short years makes Golden Road a strong addition to our craft portfolio.”
Golden Road Brewing will join Goose Island Beer Company, Blue Point Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewing and Elysian Brewing as part of Anheuser-Busch’s High End Business Unit’s portfolio. Anheuser-Busch’s partnership with Golden Road Brewing is expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter of 2015. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Meg and me at the opening Gala for SF Beer Week in 2011.
And here, co-founder Meg Gill talks about the deal in a video.
Ah, the numerical beers. First there was Goose Island’s 312. After being acquired by ABI, they proceeded to file trademark applications for many other metropolitan area codes, leaving many to speculate that they’d start doing locally themed area code beers. When the overlooked the San Luis Obispo / Paso Robles area code, Firestone Walker snapped up, almost as a joke, and started producing 805. It may have started out as a humorous idea, but it’s become one of their best-selling beers in their home market. Golden Road, who’s down the road in Los Angeles, named one of their beers 329, not for an area code, but for the average number of days that L.A. gets sunshine each year.
So they threw down about the area code beers in a musical parody entitled (Beers with) Area Codes, a spoof of Ludacris’ Area Codes (feat. Nate Dogg). The video features co-founder Meg Gill, and some of her brewery team, as they call out Matt Brynildson by name, and humorously dis his 805. Golden Road’s brewer Jesse Houck (who used to brew at Drake’s and 21st Amendment) can also seen briefly in a cameo. At the end, they give a shout out to other area codes, which at first sound made up, but they do mention my 707, so maybe not. All in all, a pretty funny music video.
Wow, Jesse Houck, who used to brew at 21st Amendment, and most recently was at Drake’s, is moving to Los Angeles to become the new brewmaster at Golden Road Brewing. According to the press release:
Houck and Golden Road President, Meg Gill, first met at 21st Amendment Brewery in 2008, where they bonded over their mutual love for canned beers and California IPAs.
Golden Road has experienced a rapid expansion since opening in October of 2011, doubling the size of their brew house and brewing capacity, releasing four canned beers and over fifteen specialty brews, opening over 500 draft accounts throughout the greater LA area. Says Golden Road President Meg Gill: “As we look forward to 2013, we have big plans for the direction we want our beers to go. We’re thrilled to bring Jesse’s leadership and dry, hoppy, clean-beer loving palate to LA.”
Adds Houck, “I am looking forward to sharing Meg and Tony’s vision of crafting quality beers for LA, and excited to be part of one of the fastest growing craft beer scenes on the West Coast.” A long time bay-area brewer, Houck brings a blend of chemistry and artistry to his brewing, having studied Chemical Engineering before becoming fascinated — and later obsessed — with home-brewing and beer.
Co-founder Tony Yanow has also been a fan of Houck’s for years, commenting, “Jesse has created some of my favorite beers, and we’re excited to bring his creativity and brewing expertise to our team.”
That’s awesome news for Jesse. He’s a terrific brewer and should be a good fit at Golden Road.
I know it’s a good thing when celebrities drink craft beer, because people tend to copy their behavior. So the more celeb’s drinking good beer, the more some people might pick it up, too. But I can’t help but find it a little sad, too. I just don’t find all the minutiae about famous people very interesting. It’s just not my thing, though I have friends and loved ones who feel otherwise, so I do tend to find out about these gossipy items anyway, sometimes whether I want to or not. Case in point, I just learned that actress Charlize Theron served Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA at her house in Los Angeles during the Super Bowl. And that’s great, don’t get me wrong. Charlize Theron was, at one time, on my list of five (married men will know what I’m talking about here) so I’m certainly glad to know she has good taste in beer.
The whole thing was captured in nauseating detail in the U.S. Showbiz section of the UK’s Daily Mail in an article titled — believe it or not — We’re in for a Super night: Charlize Theron hardly breaks a sweat as she carries a case of beer to a Super Bowl party. They have five, count ’em five, photos of Theron carrying the beer from her car to the house. The running commentary is hilariously absurd, though I couldn’t help but hear it in my head as if being read by Robin Leach from Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.
To be fair, I’ve posted a photo of television celebrity Nathan Fillion drinking a Drake’s IPA through a curly straw, that my wife took during an L.A. Browncoats convention a few years ago, but somehow that seems different. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself. What I really wanted to know from the article is why she chose that beer, and how she and her guests enjoyed it. Now that I’d find far more interesting than how she managed to carry it a few feet without breaking a sweat.