Today is the 70th birthday of Mark Ruedrich, co-owner, and original brewer, of North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg. Mark was a marine biologist who discovered good beer while living in England. Looking for a spot to build a brewery in Northern California, he was drawn to the tidal pools around Fort Bragg, and built a mini-beer empire there beginning in 1988. His Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout was one of the first truly great world-class beers made by early American microbreweries and helped put the nascent industry on the map. Plus he’s great fun to share a pint with. He’s retired now from the brewery, but his legacy continues to pour great beer. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.
Today is the 69th birthday of Steve Grossman, a Beer Ambassador at Sierra Nevada, and co-founder Ken Grossman’s older brother. “Steve grew up in Southern California, where he and his younger brother Ken learned about the art of home brewing. Steve continued to homebrew throughout college, and when Ken founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, Steve’s passion for craft beer was immediately put to good use. In the early years of the brewery, he helped establish the Southern California distribution network, and was involved in direct sales. Today, Steve works with Sierra Nevada’s international export program, and serves as an ambassador and spokesperson for the brewery both domestically and abroad. Steve also serves as a director of the brewery’s wildly popular Beer Camp, which brings people to Sierra Nevada for a unique and intensive hands-on beer education.” Steve is a terrific ambassador not just for Sierra Nevada but for craft beer more generally. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.
Today is the 60th birthday — The Big 6-O — of former homebrewer extraordinaire Jamil Zainasheff, who over the last ten plus years had become something of a rock star in the homebrewing community, and especially the Bay Area. He’s also the co-author two books on beer and homebrewing: “Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew” (with John Palmer) and “Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation” (with Chris White). In addition, he hosts the Jamil Show on The Brewing Network and has a website online entitled Mr. Malty. Jamil also turned pro a number of years ago, starting his own commercial brewery, Heretic Brewing, which is now located in Fairfield, California. And more recently they began making gin, too, which is very tasty. Join me in wishing Jamil a very happy birthday.
Today would have been longtime Sierra Nevada employee Steve Harrison’s 70th birthday. Unfortunately, Steve passed away in August of 2007. He was Sierra Nevada employee number one, and was responsible for a lot of their early success. I first got to know Steve in the mid-1990s when I was the chain beer buyer at BevMo. He was a terrific person and universally respected and beloved in the industry. Sierra Nevada had to hire two or three people to take over his responsibilities. Join me in raising a glass of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to Steve’s memory today. Here’s to you, Steve.
The last time I saw Steve was at a CSBA meeting in San Diego in 2007, though we talked on the phone a few more times after that because he’d asked me to do some freelance work for him shortly after that CSBA meeting. You can almost make him out in the photo below. He’s in the middle, toward the back, in a blue shirt. He’s in between Tom McCormick (in a green shirt) and a man in a black shirt raising his glass below the giant boulder in the background.
A very young Steve, at right, with Michael Jackson and Lou. (Photo by Tom Dalldorf, from the Celebrator Beer News.)
The Steve Harrison Memorial Arch, which is at the northern entrance to the Steve Harrison Bike Path, which is located not very far from the brewery in Chico. (The photo was taken in 2010 by Jack Peters, and sent to me by Miles Jordan. Thank you, gentlemen.)
Today is the 56th birthday of Colin Kaminski, who for over a decade had been the brewmaster of Downtown Joe’s in Napa, California. He started brewing there around 1998, and after four years learning from Brian Hunt and others, he became the head brewer in 2003. He’s gone on to give many presentations on brewing and write technical articles on brewing and he’s also the co-author of Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers, along with John Palmer, which was published in 2014. Colin was also kind enough to give a talk about brewing water to my class a few years ago. Currently he’s the R&D Designer at More Beer. Join me in wishing Colin a very happy birthday.
Today is the 60th birthday — The Big 6-O — of Ron Lindenbusch, who’s been with the Lagunitas Brewery since the very beginning. I first met Ron and founder Tony Magee when I visited the brewery in its original location in the mid-1990s. Ron has been a huge part of bringing the brewery along to where it is today, and is a terrific person and a good friend. More recently, as a side project, he’s reopened the old location of the original Mendocino Brewing Co. site as the Hopland Tap and Grill in Hopland, California. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.
Today is the 69th birthday of Charlie Bamforth, who is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at U.C. Davis (and was my teacher when I took the brewing short course there). His three most recent books should be on your must read list: In Praise of Beer, Beer Is Proof That God Loves Us and Grape vs. Grain. He’s a terrific advocate for beer and a great person. He was also kind enough to speak to beer appreciation class that I recently taught at Sonoma State University and our Beer Writers Guild symposium a few years ago in Philadelphia. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.
Charlie with John Dannerbeck from Anchor Brewing, at a reception held there for the launch of Charlie’s new book.
Charlie being courted by both wine and beer on his publisher’s blog, Cambridge University Press.
Today is also the birthday of Todd Ashman, who turns 61. Todd is originally from Santa Rosa, but spent a number of years brewing at Flossmoor Station near Chicago, and then short stints at Titletown Brewing in Green Bay, Wisconsin and with Brewers Supply Group. Several years ago, Todd moved back to California to take a position brewing with a then-new brewery in Truckee, Fifty Fifty Brewing, which he’d made into an amazing brewing powerhouse. Some health issues sidelined Todd for a time, and he’s moved back to Santa Rosa, but I did see him at our local Target the other day and he’s working on a few things. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.
Today is the 61st birthday of Tony Magee. Tony is the founder and owner of Lagunitas Brewing. We first met in the mid-1990s when I visited the old brewery, before they moved to their present location, and have been good friends ever since. Several years ago, now, I wrote a profile of Tony for Beer Connoisseur magazine. With his beautifully twisted, iconoclastic vision, Tony’s built an amazing empire. His unique beers, and especially their quirky label designs and text, are always a treat. I know some people are down on the brewery since their sale to Heineken, but as far as I’m concerned, Tony is still Tony. Join me in wishing Tony a very happy birthday.
Performing the Big Bill Broonzy song, Key to the Highway, at the Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Festival in January of 2010.
At the CCBA’s California Beer Summit several years ago.
Today is Judy Ashworth’s birthday. She’s the Grand Dame of Publicans, having once owned the Lyons Brewery Depot in the East Bay, one of the earliest bars to really embrace, support and promote craft beer. Judy sold the pub in 1998 after some health troubles sidelined her, but she’s still a fixture in the Bay Area beer scene. I’ve judged with her many times and these days she’s very supportive of the homebrewing movement and she can be seen at most of the major beer events throughout the year. Join me in wishing Judy a very happy birthday.
At the Toronado Barleywine Festival in 2008, Judy Ashworth, Matt Salie (with Big Sky Brewing) and Judy’s daughter Laurel.