Today is the 47th birthday of Christian Ettinger, founder of Hopworks Urban Brewery, or HUB, in Portland, Oregon. I first met Christian when was the head brewer at Laurelwood, also in Portland. A few years later, having won several medals and awards, he struck out on his own in 2007, and it’s been over ten years now. They started canning their beer in 2012, and also hard cider, and they make some wonderful beers. Join me in wishing Christian a very happy birthday.
Today is the 46th birthday of fellow beer writer Brian Yaeger, author of Red, White & Brew and Oregon Breweries. Brian also writes online at his Red, White & Brew Beer Odyssey blog. A couple of years ago Brian and his lovely bride Kimberly lived in Portland, Oregon (having moved from San Francisco), but then moved to Amsterdam, then moved back to Portland, but more recently relocated once more, this time to Santa Barbara, California. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.
Today is the 50th birthday — the Big 5-O — of Van Havig, co-founder and master brewer at Gigantic Brewing in Portland, Oregon. Van used to be the brewer at Rock Bottom in Portland, but left shortly after the merger between Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, when some offhand remarks got him the boot. That’s when I first became aware of met Van, when he brewed a beer called Ned Flanders for OBF, a Flanders red that was aged in five different kinds of barrels and then was blended back together. And this was back in 2006, long before sour beers became trendy. I remember enjoying the beer near the line for it and overhearing someone complaining about the beer, saying to a friend that it didn’t taste right and that something was wrong with it. Laughing to myself, that persuaded me it was a very bold choice of a beer to make for the festival, as there was clearly nothing else like it at OBF that year. I spent a morning with Van, Ben Love and John Harris, from Ecliptic Brewing, during OBF a few years ago as they brewed a collaboration together, which afforded me an opportunity to discover what a thoughtful, philosophical brewer Van is, and what a pleasure he is to share a beer with. Join me in wishing Van a very happy birthday.
During a collaboration brew at Gigantic a few years ago during OBF, with John Harris (from Ecliptic Brewing) and Gigantic’s Van and Ben Love.
Today is the 42nd birthday of Ben Love. Ben was the head brewer at Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon, and before that brewed at Pelican Pub & Brewery and Adler Brau in Wisconsin. He more recently opened his own place, Gigantic Brewing. I had a chance yet to visit it a few years ago during OBF and try his, and partner Van Havig’s, wonderful beers. Ben’s a great brewer, a good friend, an active board member of the Oregon Brewers Guild and a great cheerleader for the Portland beer scene. Join me in wishing Ben a very happy birthday.
During a collaboration brew at Gigantic at OBF a couple of years ago, with John Harris (from Ecliptic Brewing) and Gigantic’s Van Havig and Ben.
Today is the birthday of Chris Crabb, who does public relations for the Oregon Brewers Festival and other clients in the beer industry through her agency, Crabbsoup. If you’ve had any dealing with OBF, you’ve undoubtedly encountered Chris, because she does an amazing amount of work to get OBF up and running smoothly every year. Plus, she does all that hard work while keeping a smile on her face the entire time. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.
Esteemed Portland beer writer Fred Eckhardt would have turned 94 today. Portland’s Fred Eckhardt was a living legend, especially in his home city, having pioneered writing about and defining beer styles with his early book on the subject, The Essentials of Beer Style, published in 1989. FredFest, a Portland beer festival honoring Fred has been held around his birthday since he turned 80 and is still being held without Fred in attendance. The beer festival . Last year the 14th annual FredFest around this time, but sadly there won’t be one this year for obvious reasons. Instead, raise a toast to Fred’s memory, and today join me in wishing Fred a very happy birthday.
At the Celebrator’s 18th anniversary party in February. From left: Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment, Fred Eckhardt, the woman who wanted this picture of all her beer writing “heroes” in the first place, me, Tom Dalldorf, Celebrator publisher, and Randy Griggs, with DBi and the BN.
Today is the birthday of Robert “Mac” MacTarnahan (May 1, 1915-October 25, 2004), one of Oregon’s most famous athletes. Mac was one of the original investors in Portland Brewing Co., which was later named MacTarnahan’s Brewing in his honor. I met Mac twice, once in Portland at an event at the brewery, and once he visited me in California when I was still the beer buyer at BevMo. I hope I have half the energy he did when I’m in my eighties. A couple of years ago, my friend and colleague John Foyston wrote a nice remembrance of Mac in The Oregonian, which included the obituary he wrote in 2004. Raise a glass today to Mac’s memory.
Mac’s Oregon Sports Hall of Fame photo. Here’s his entry:
Oregon’s most accomplished Masters Athlete, Robert “Mac” MacTarnahan is the first masters competitor ever chosen for induction into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. His athletic feats are amazing. Mac is a four-time Masters world record holder with a national record in the mile plus three world record holders in the 3000-meter steeplechase. In the steeplechase, he is a six-time AAU National Masters champion, two-time USA National Senior Olympic champion, two-time World Senior champion. Mac is also a five-time National Masters wrestling champion. The wiry Scot owns more the 50 Masters Gold Medals.
Today is the 42nd birthday of Abram Goldman-Armstrong, a Portland-based beer writer who is the managing editor of the Northwest Brewing News and also writes online at Brewsville. Abe also is the organizer of the North American Organic Brewers Festival and by day works in construction. When Abe was writing for the Celebrator Beer News several years back, during GABF we spent an evening drinking out and about the city eventually ending up at the Denver Diner, during which time I discovered I’d spent the entire evening calling him by the wrong name — d’oh. Anyway, these days I can get his name right. Join me in wishing Abe a very happy birthday.
Today is John Maier’s 65th birthday. John had been the head brewer at Rogue Ales for as long as I can remember, though he recently retired. He’s won countless awards, pioneered numerous new styles and been instrumental in the rise of the Pacific Northwest’s beer scene. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.
John at the Brew Am gold tourney three years ago. Photo courtesy of Bob Brewer, from his Picasa gallery.
A portrait of John at Rogue by Gregg Hinlicky.
Today is the birthday of William H. “Billy” Biner (April 16, 1889-January 5, 1953). Biner was a journeyman brewer who worked for numerous breweries over his long career. He was born in the Montana territory to Swiss immigrant parents. His father, Theophil Biner, knew Leopold Schmidt and even worked at his Olympia Brewery. Biner sent two of his sons, including Billy once he’s finished with a career as a boxer, to brewing school in Milwaukee. Biner’s first brewing job was at the Phoenix Brewery in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1912. He then worked as the brewmaster for at least eight more breweries, from Los Angeles to Canada. The breweries he worked at included the Mexicali Brewery; the Orange Crush Bottling Company in L.A.; the Mexicali Brewing Company again after it was rebuilt following an earthquake; then the Kootenay Breweries, Ltd. in both Nelson and Trail, in BC, Canada; followed by the Ellensburg Brewing Co. in Washington, and then in 1937 he founded his own brewery, the Mutual Brewing Company. But it didn’t last thanks to World War II and supply issues, and it folded. Afterward, he moved on to both Sicks’ Century Brewery in Seattle and the Silver Springs Brewery in Port Orchard, Washington. Finally, he ran the East Idaho Brewing Co. in Pocatello, Idaho until 1946, when he retired from brewing and bought his own bar, the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon. He stayed there until a year before he died, which was in 1953.
Here’s his biography from Brewery Gems, written by Gary Flynn working with Joseph Fulton, the grandson of William Biner:
William Henry “Billy” Biner was born in Boulder, Montana Territory, on April 16, 1889. He was the fifth of nine children for Theophil Biner and Juliana Truffer, immigrants from Randa, Switzerland.
Theophil Biner was a builder and an acquaintance of Leopold Schmidt, founder of Olympia Brewery. He worked briefly for Schmidt in Tumwater, Washington from 1903-1905. Later in 1905 he purchased the Phoenix Brewery in the copper boomtown of Phoenix, British Columbia. Theophil became president of the company and his sons Albert and Dan ran it.
Younger son Billy became a boxer, eventually earning the title of welterweight champion of British Columbia. In 1911 Theo Biner sent his sons Billy and Gustave to the Hantke Brewery School in Milwaukie, Wisconsin where they graduated in 1912. Billy then became the brewmaster for the Phoenix Brewery and as an aspiring artist he also designed all of the beer labels. During this time he gave up boxing for curling where he found similar success.
Billy Biner married Harriet Lynch, the daughter of diamond drilling supervisor Dan Lynch in 1914. As prohibition approached Billy wrote articles for the local paper espousing the benefits of beer. But business declined in Phoenix and he moved south to Los Angeles in 1919 to work for the Canadian Club Bottling-Orange Crush Bottling Co.
From 1924 through 1929 he served as the brewmaster for the Mexicali Brewing Company in Mexicali, Mexico. In 1929 he returned to Canada and was a brewer in the towns of Merritt and Princeton, BC. From 1929 through 1936 he served as brewmaster for the Kootenay Brewing Company in both Nelson and Trail, BC.
In 1936 Biner moved to Ellensburg, Washington where he became brewmaster at the Ellensburg Brewery through 1942. After the Ellensburg Brewery closed Biner worked as a brewer at both Sick’s Select Brewery in Seattle and Silver Spring’s Brewery in Port Orchard, WA before moving on to Pocatello, where he ran the Aero Club Brewery until 1946.
He purchased the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon in 1946 and operated it until 1952 when he moved to Los Angeles to work for the North American Aircraft Company. He died of a heart attack on January 5, 1953.
Billy and Harriet Biner had four children; Betty, Bill, Bob and Fredericka (Fritzi). Bill and Bob Biner both worked for their father in Ellensburg before becoming members of the US Air Corps during WW II. Together they flew over 100 missions and are the subjects of the book The Brewmaster’s Bombardier and Belly Gunner.
Although none of Billy’s children or grandchildren became professional brewers, his great-grandson, Charlton Fulton, is the brewer at McMenamins Mill Creek Brewery near Seattle, Washington.
Biner with his sisters Julia and Mary Cecelia and his children Betty and Billy, c. 1925.
A label from his first brewery job, which he may also have designed.