Today would have been the 53rd 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 six 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 is the 36th birthday of Nicole Erny, a certified Master Cicerone and passionate beer lover, who used to work at The Trappist and as a “Beer Ambassador” at the CommonWealth Cafe & Public House, both in beautiful downtown Oakland. She also used to work with Ray Daniels’ Cicerone program, but recently left that position for her next adventure. Nicole and I almost worked together on a great-sounding beer project, but alas it fell apart, and she’s got plans afoot, and is working as a consultant, as well. She’s a great advocate for better beer and has more energy than any three people I know. Join me in wishing Nicole a very happy birthday.
A great shot for Nathan Smith and Nicole’s Beer School at The Trappist several years ago. (photo “borrowed” from Jon Weber’s Beer Obsessed, in the hopes he won’t mind.)
Today is the 67th birthday of Don Gortemiller, former brewmaster for Pacific Coast Brewing in Oakland, California. Don was making beer there since the very beginning, back in 1988, helping to put Oakland and the Bay Area on the beer map, but left under an odd set of circumstances, and has subsequently retired; lucky him. And more recently, the brewery he worked at for decades has closed. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.
Note: the last three photos purloined from Facebook.
Today is the 53rd birthday of Lars Larson, brewmaster of Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California. Larsen studied brewing in Germany and was the perfect person to recreate Trumer Pils in the United States, one of the best pilsners made in California, or indeed anywhere, foreign or domestic. I got to know Lars much better several years ago, when we were both invited to judge a beer competition in Santiago, Chile, and he’s a very thoughtful brewer, and great fun to hang out with. Join me in wishing Lars a very happy birthday.
Lars in Chile with two of the brewers from Cerveceria Berlina in Argentina.
Lars’ former brewing school classmate Asbjorn Gerlach, Matt Brynildson and Lars at Kross Cerveza Independiente in Chile, which Gerlach co-founded.
Today is the 47th birthday of James Costa. James is a brewer and co-founder of Oakland Brewing, and is also currently brewing at Half Moon Bay Brewing. But James has certainly made the rounds, and has also brewed for Moylan’s, Santa Cruz Aleworks, E.J. Phair and others. James is justly famous for his big, hoppy beers like the wonderful Sticky Zipper. Join me in wishing James a very happy birthday.
Today is my good friend Melissa Myers’ birthday. Though now several years ago, her most recent brewing gig was at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro, California. She’s also brewed at Pyramid, Ross Brewing and Magnolia, among others, but now she owns and operates her own beer bar in Oakland, The Good Hop. There’s a stool there with my name on it, and after several years I finally took it out for a spin. Join me in wishing Melissa a very happy birthday.
Arne Johnson, of Marin Brewing, and Melissa at the Boonville Beer Festival several years ago.
Melissa in high school, believe it or not. At a Super Bowl party she threw, Melissa made the mistake of showing me this photo while I had my camera in my hand. I snapped a quick picture of it in the photo album, which is why is looks out of proportion and a little fuzzy. I had to seriously crop it and straighten it out and generally fix it up. But I think the effort was worth it, don’t you?
Just heard the sad news that Pacific Coast Brewing, the 29-year old brewpub in downtown Oakland, will be closing its doors for good sometime in November of this year, around two months from now. I know we’re beginning to see more and more breweries closing, and if anything the pace is likley to increase, but it’s still a sad day wherever it happens. Stop by while you can to the Oakland icon and have a final beer.
Here’s the press release on the closure, which has also been posted to their Facebook page:
After 29 years of serving fine craft beers and classic pub food to the Oakland community, Pacific Coast Brewing is closing its doors. Opened in October 1988, Pacific Coast was one of the pioneers of the Bay Area craft beer community. After an extensive search of the East Bay, founders Steve Wolff, Don Gortemiller and Barry Lazarus fell in love with the Old Oakland Project. They felt that the charm of the neighborhood, and the beautifully restored 1886 Arlington building in particular, was a perfect complement to the classic pub atmosphere that they envisioned for Pacific Coast. They have garnered attention through the years by their commitment to the community as well as by winning numerous awards, including a dozen medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Steve Wolff and his wife Laura, would like to thank all the loyal guests and dedicated employees who have made being the owners of “The Coast” such a joy.
“Unfortunately, due to the uncertainty of our current lease, and the rapid changes coursing through the Bay Area’s restaurant industry, we have made the difficult decision to shut our doors in early November 2017. We are making this announcement well in advance of our closing to ensure that our wonderful staff has the necessary time to find and transition into new employment.”
For their final two months, Pacific Coast, while continuing their regular menu, will also bring back some of the most popular dishes from the past three decades. They will be hosting many of their popular events, highlighted by a four-day Last Anniversary Celebration, October 19th through 22nd. More announcements regarding Pacific Coast’s farewell menu and events will be posted shortly on its social media pages and website.
“We have been fortunate to have been a part of Oakland for 29 years, and to have served the Oakland community and its guests from around the Bay Area, the country, and the world. After watching Oakland’s economy take two steps forward and one (or two) steps back, more times than we can remember, it’s gratifying to see our little Old Oakland neighborhood blooming, as well as Uptown prospering, and now the mushrooming of building cranes throughout the Broadway corridor and beyond. We will miss being a part of Oakland’s exciting future. But we are Oaklanders and are excited for it. Thank you for 29 wonderful years. Cheers!”
Steve, Laura, and all the staff would like to invite all of their friends from the last three decades to come by the Pub one (or more) last time to say good-bye, see old friends, and share their favorite memories.
When Adam Lamoreaux opened the Linden Street Brewery in 2009, it was the first production brewery in the city since 1959. But it proved to be quite popular, and successful, but closed late last summer due to management changes to the company. Lamoreaux has moved on to a new venture, and the brewery has been rebranded starting today as Oakland United Beerworks.
Current owner John Karnay, a longtime Oakland resident and businessman and award-winning brewmaster Shane Aldrich revealed today their new website, core brews and plans for the future.
“Oakland United Beerworks is born and bred in Oakland,” said Karnay. “From the beginning, our mission has been to bring Oaklanders — old and new — together with great brews. Oakland has evolved and grown, and so have we.”
Brewmaster Shane Aldrich originally joined Linden Street in 2016. He learned the brewing craft from Tony Lawrence of Boneyard Beer and Tim Gossack of Bell’s Brewing. He’s brewed at some of the Bay Area’s most popular and enduring brands, including Lagunitas, Moylan’s, Half Moon Bay Brewing, and Marin Brewing Company, where he won a prestigious World Beer Cup award.
“Oakland’s diversity, artistry and authenticity inspires me and our recipes,” says Aldrich. “We love this town – and we’re excited about growing an Oakland community of beer drinkers and beer makers.”
Aldrich brews Oakland United’s beer in small batches, and is currently offering four core beers, and will also offer seasonal ales in the coming months. The inaugural line-up of core beers includes:
- Black Lager: A flavorful and surprisingly light tribute to the classic German Schwarzbier with notes of coffee and toast.
- Pilsner: The best floor-malted German Bohemian Pilsner malt creates a crisp, well-balanced lager that pairs with everything from pizza to pate.
- Common Lager: The original Bay Area Beer, California Common Lagers were invented following the Gold Rush by homesick Germans looking to replicate the lagers of Germany and the East Coast. This robust, amber beer adapts well to its surroundings – perfect for any time and place.
- IPA: The signature Oakland version of the West Coast IPA mixes five different hops into a flavorful, year-round beer that gives off hints of citrus and tropical fruit. A great beer to pair with a savory menu.
Oakland United Beerworks is currently brewing on Alameda while it builds a brewery and tasting room on 2nd Street, near Jack London Square, with plans to open the doors by late summer. A new tap room will play host to the Oakland Beer Drinkers Association, launched by the brewery to introduce beer lovers to Oakland’s best breweries. Aldrich will collaborate with fellow Oakland and East Bay brewmasters to create and test new brews.
I’m thrilled to announce that Melissa Myers’ new beer bar in Oakland, The Good Hop, will have its grand opening this Saturday, July 12, with the doors opening at the mercifully not-to-early time of 3:00 PM. The Good Hop is located at 2421 Telegraph Avenue in West Oakland, near the intersection of 24th Street, just around the corner from the New Parkway Theater. I won’t even try to be impartial here, Melissa Myers is a longtime friend of mine, and I’m excited for her to finally realize a dream of opening her own place. She’s been a brewer for many years, from Denver to Philadelphia and in the Bay Area brewed at Magnolia, Pyramid and the old Ross Brewery (which is now Iron Springs) but now turns her attention to choosing and serving great beer. Eventually, The Good Hop may serve Melissa’s own beer (fingers crossed), but for now they’ll be featuring a nicely curated tap list of 16 taps, with 2 dedicated sour beer lines, plus 450+ bottled beers. At the grand opening, they plan to have a number of rare and hard-to-find beers available, as well as some special surprises.
Here’s more information, from the press release:
The Good Hop Bottle Shop and Tasting Room (TGH) is pleased to announce it is opening its doors to the public on July 12, 2014. The 1,900-square-foot shop, at 2421 Telegraph Avenue Suite 102, is a specialty beer bottle shop and tasting room offering 450+ bottled and canned beers that can be purchased for take-away or can be opened and consumed on site in the spacious and comfortable bar. Their ever-rotating 16 taps will serve up California and West Coast craft beers with 2 designated sour beer lines at all times.
TGH will have an enormous beer selection in bottles, cans, and on tap that would please any aficionado; though, Melissa Myers, The Good Hop’s owner and proprietor, wants to draw in the less familiar to beer client as well. “I love beer and I love making people fall in love with beer. Part of my mission in opening this shop is to serve the customer who walks in and says ‘Well, I don’t know that much about beer, so I’m not sure what I should order…’ That’s where it gets fun for us. I love asking them questions and, based on their answers, figuring what they’ll fall in love with!”
TGH will host a number of events for both beginners and experts alike. The shop will host beer style tastings, vertical brewery tastings, meet-the-brewer nights, cheese-and-beer pairing events, chocolate-and-beer pairing events, and a number of other activities that feature beer as the centerpiece. The TGH website, www.thegoodhop.com, will have a calendar of events posted. Its twitter feed will have daily listings of what 16 beers are on tap for the day. TGH’s Facebook page contains additional information.
Myers is excited about the neighborhood: “We chose this spot because it’s right in the heart of what’s happening in Oakland right now,” says Myers. “We love the KONO [Koreatown-Northgate] neighborhood and we’re thrilled to be part of Art Murmur, First Fridays, and the vibrancy of this area. So much is happening here right now, and we’re really excited to be in the middle of it.”
The regular hours of the Good Hop will be from 3-10 PM Wednesday through Monday of each week, closed only on Tuesdays. Bar snacks are currently available while the local menu is being finalized, and then they’ll be serving heartier fare along with the snacks. They’ll be working with “Off the Grid and other pop-up food vendors to offer a variety of beer-friendly food. Food trucks are also being lined up to serve up beer-friendly bites.”
I won’t even try to be unbiased on this one. Melissa Myers is a dear friend of mine. She’s one of my favorite people in the beer world, and I’m thrilled that she’s finally striking out on her own. Melissa’s also a talented brewer who’s made beer at Magnolia, Pyramid, Drake’s and many other breweries from Philadelphia to Denver to the Bay Area. Melissa knows her beer. She’s about ready to open her own bottle shop and tasting room in Oakland called The Good Hop, which is located at 2421 Telegraph Avenue. The Good Hop Bottle Shop & Tasting Room will be carrying around 600 different bottled and canned craft beers along with 16 rotating California craft beers on tap.
But now that she’s in the final stages, she needs a little help, and has launched an Indigogo campaign to raise the remaining funds to open The Good Hop with a bang. Melissa describes what she’s trying to accomplish with The Good Hop as “your favorite watering hole meets the most well-stocked convenience store you’ll ever set foot in!” Here’s what she needs.
I love beer, y’all! But I need your help to finish construction. All those alcohol permits and red-tape stuff cost a ton of cash, and now we need funding for the fun stuff — the bartop itself, cool lighting, comfy tables and chairs, and most importantly, your beer mugs and the coolers that will hold all that beer. We estimate we need $20,000 for all the finishing touches and flourishes that will make it a chill bar where you can relax with your friends after work, before the big game, or on a lazy weekend.
I am thrilled that I’m *this* close to realizing my dream! I’ve gotten this far through the generosity of friends, family, and the community around me. Now I’m asking for help from my bigger community — YOU. You can help me complete my dream and open the doors to a great bar that you’ll want to spend time in. Please contribute in whatever way you can, even if it’s only five dollars, so that I can help the world get in touch with its inner beer geek. It’s a surefire way to bring some good karma into your life. And if you can’t contribute monetarily, but you like what I’m doing, please help me by getting the word out and sending this link to your peeps. We understand times are hard and money is tight. We’d love some financial assistance, but if how you can help is by spreading the word, we’ll take that gift too!
I can personally vouch for Melissa, she’ll create one hell of a beer destination. I’ve reserved my own bar stool at The Good Hop, and now I’m asking you to help out, too. Check out the video below and listen to what she has to say. If you agree with me that The Good Hop deserves your support, please join me in pitching in — or would that be mashing in? — to make it happen. You can help a little or a lot. There are a variety of levels you can weigh in with, from the very modest to the ostentatiously grand Ultimate Beer Lover.