Today is the 36th birthday of Collin McDonnell, co-founder and brewmaster for HenHouse Brewing. Collin used to brew for Drake’s, and in 2011 began moonlighting with his own brewery, HenHouse, before cutting the cord and concentrating on only his own venture, along with partners Scott Goyne and Shane Goepel. After starting in part-time space they could only use on the weekends, they moved into an Alternating Proprietorship with Petaluma Hills Brewing, but now have their own brewery, and tasting room, in southern Santa Rosa, plus took over Petaluma Hills Brewing former brewing space as their own for another taproom. Collin, and HenHouse, makes terrific beer, and I love Collin’s opinionated twitter presence. Please join me in wishing Collin a very happy birthday.
Today is the 37th birthday of Tyler Smith, who is the owner and brewmaster of Cooperage Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, California. He’s originally from Southern California but moved to Sonoma County over ten years ago, where he continued homebrewing and working beer bars and retail before opening Cooperage in 2015. I’ve been to the brewery taproom several times, and always enjoyed Tyler’s beers. Join me in wishing Tyler a very happy birthday.
Alright, you caught me again. It’s not the birthday of the beer style, Porter. Strictly speaking, this isn’t really a beer post but it’s my son’s 18th birthday today, but since his name is Porter I figured people wouldn’t feel too duped by the title. It is accurate, after all. In previous years, I’d written that “one day soon, we’ll brew a porter together.” Well that day finally came, and six years ago on his birthday weekend it was Porter’s Porter Day, when he made his first batch of homebrew, with a little help from our friends. Anyway, please join me in wishing Porter a very happy birthday!
At Porter’s birthday party when he turned one, trying to get at a keg of Russian River. That’s my boy! NOTE: To those of you reaching for the phone to call child protective services, put down the receiver. He did NOT drink any beer. His mother got to him before he figured out how the tap worked.
A beautiful memory at the Rogue Alehouse in San Francisco when Porter couldn’t have been more than two, if that. Much to my surprise, Porter utterly charmed Don Younger with his ability to swiftly climb a bar stool. Don was very impressed, and so was I.
Porter several years ago, when he came with me to visit Southern Pacific Brewing in San Francisco. He was trying to emulate his then-hero Tim Lincecum, at least hair-wise, pitching-wise he was more of a closer. Timmy may be gone, but the hair remains.
Me, Porter and Vinnie Cilurzo, after Porter’s Porter Day six years ago.
In the wake of the horrific Northern California wildfires that decimated parts of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, some of our breweries are doing something about it, helping to raise money for those who’ve lost everything and many others who have been affected by this still-unfolding tragedy. A couple of years ago, Vinnie Cilurzo, at Russian River Brewing created the label “Sonoma Pride” for a series of beers. They’ve done two releases — Amasa and Dauenhauer — so far (one each year) and have given recent event have decided instead to call this year’s beer simply “Sonoma Pride” and “100% of the sale of this beer will donated directly to this fundraising effort.” They’re working with the King Ridge Foundation and on October 31, they will release the new Sonoma Pride beer at Russian River Brewery and select retail outlets. You can also sign up to be notified by email when it’s released. They’re also accepting direct donations on the Sonoma Pride website and have launched a line-jumping offer for next year’s Pliny the Younger release in February. For every $25 donated, “you’ll be entered into one or more chances to win line cutting privileges to the 2018 Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewery.”
And that’s just the beginning. Bear Republic Brewing, has also announced they’ll be joining that effort. Here’s the draft press release that will be released early next week (so it may change a little):
Bear Republic Brewing Company is proud to be joining forces with Russian River Brewing and the King Ridge Foundation, and will be brewing a Bear Republic version for the Sonoma Pride release. We are a little late to this effort because our starships are running on impulse power.
We are are currently working on additional collaborations to be brewed with other Sonoma County breweries to support the victims and firefighters of the 2017 Sonoma County wildfires.
Bear Republic will be supplying ingredients and manpower to St. Florian’s Brewery in a mutual aid effort to brew another version of Sonoma Pride. We are currently working on the details with 101 North Brewing for a similar collaboration, with the efforts supporting the rehabilitation of Cardinal Newman High School, the alma mater of the brewmasters of 101 North and Bear Republic.
Many of the BRBC family members have lost their homes and have little to rely on. For the next 30 days, 50 cents on every case of Bear Republic beer sold will be donated to raise funds to help those affected. We are reaching out to our wholesalers and asking for their support through matching funds up to 50 cents per case or a one time donation.
Many of our distributors nationwide also committing to this cause, making it a truly national effort.
As we are coming together to support this cause, we ask that you consider supporting one of our own. Bear Republic’s Head Brewer Rob and his wife Cami, both employees of Bear Republic, lost their home recently to the fires. While there are many people in the same boat out there, anything will help in supporting them. Please donate if you can at GoFundMe.
Bear Republic’s brewpubs will be offering FREE MEALS to the first responders involved with the local fires at both restaurant locations in Healdsburg and Rohnert Park, California.
Thank you for your continued support, kind words, and prayers during these difficult times.
But wait, there’s more. I’ve also heard from Derek Drennan and Robert Raney, owners of Sonoma Springs Brewing Co.
They’ve also been in contact with Russian River Brewing, and will brew a beer under the “Sonoma Pride” label in the coming weeks, donating the proceeds to local relief charities. And in November, Sonoma Springs will go forward with their planned event, which they began in 2015, to honor and raise funds for local firefighters, specifically the Sonoma Fire Association, with a beer dedicated to them, Sotttile Double Red Ale.
Sonoma Springs will also hold its third annual Sottile Red release event in November (either the 4th of the 11th, depending on when we can get brewing again). This event, from its inception in September 2015, has raised funds for the Sonoma Firefighters Association. It commemorates the response led by the Sonoma Fire Department to put out a major fire in our building back in November 2014, which imperiled the completion of our current brewing facility. This year’s event will provide the community with an opportunity to thank all our local firefighter and first responder heroes who will undoubtedly appreciate such praise after the events of the past week. The beer will be available at the event in November and, for the first time, in cans that we plan to distribute across the north bay.
And that’s what I know so far, there will undoubtedly be additional efforts. I know, for instance, that Fogbelt Brewing will be doing something, but haven’t decided yet what they’ll be doing. Likewise, HenHouse Brewing, which has stayed open through the week, has been announcing collaborations and special brews on their Facebook page, and raising money through the Redwood Credit Union, “a local institution working with our local State Senator to get funds to the right people. RCU did a similar donation portal for the Lake County Fire in 2015 and we know Senator Mike McGuire well, this is an excellent way to help.” For details, go to North Bay Fire Relief.
That’s what I know about so far, I’m sure there will be additional efforts in the coming days and weeks. I’ll update this page as new information becomes available. In the meantime, whenever possible, please support Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino county breweries by purchasing their beer at bars, restaurants, and stores wherever you live, and help the vibrant beer cultures in Northern California continue to thrive and grow.
You know the brewing industry must be doing something right if one of America’s largest producers of wine has decided to jump in with a new brewery. Brewbound has the scoop, with Jackson Family Wines Proprietor Launching Sonoma County Craft Brewery.
It’s certainly not the first time. Does anybody else remember Sonoma Mountain Brewing? And more recently, Carneros Brewing built a brewery on the grounds of their Ceja Vineyards. And don’t forget that Korbel Winery once launched their own small brewery, hiring a young brewer to make the beer. After a short time, they decided to get out of the beer business, and brewer Vinnie Cilurzo obtained the name and moved Russian River Brewing to downtown Santa Rosa, and with his wife Natalie Cilurzo, built it into a destination brewery that’s undoubtedly helped put Sonoma County on the map for beer, as well as wine. So some have worked great, others not so much.
This one at least seems off to a big start. It’s not officially a project of the Jackson Family Wines, but Christopher Jackson, who is the son of winery founder Jess Jackson. Of course, most start-ups don’t have the resources to start by “constructing a 25,000-barrel craft brewery” with “an initial brewing capacity of 8,000 barrels.” Most start-ups don’t have $8 million as their initial capital, even though Jackson states that “[i]t is a passion play” and I “am the sole proprietor and it is my project going forth, but we are employing a lot of similar philosophies from my wine background.”
The new brewery will apparently be called Seismic Brewing Company, which name Jackson bought from San Diego’s Rough Draft Brewing. The new brewery will be located at 2870 Duke Court, Santa Rosa and plans to open in late summer.
It sure seems like Sonoma County is indeed becoming a “craft beer Mecca,” as Jackson called Santa Rosa. I think that’s truer of the whole county, but certainly between Santa Rosa and Petaluma the county’s doing pretty well. Sonoma County currently has 31 licensed breweries, at least according to the latest number from the CCBA, which means we’re nowhere near the 100+ that are now open in San Diego County. Still, I think Sonoma probably has more than most counties.
One of my favorite breweries, and the 2nd largest in Sonoma County, announced that they will be opening a second brewpub in the town right next door to me, in Rohnert Park, California. Bear Republic Brewing, whose original brewpub in is Healdsburg, and also operates a production facility in Cloverdale, has taken over the former Latitude Island Grill space in Rohnert Park, just off the Gold Course Drive exit.
Here’s the press release:
In keeping with the tradition of honest ales and family values, Bear Republic Brewing Company®, its employees and the Norgrove Family are excited to announce that after twenty years, Bear Republic will be opening the company’s third brewery operation in the City of Rohnert Park, California.
“Bear Republic looks forward to developing a positive relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, the City Fathers, the local business community and the citizens of Rohnert Park,” said Bear Republic Brewing Company® President & CEO Richard Norgrove.
The former Latitude Restaurant will be the new site of Bear Republic’s Rohnert Park brewpub.
The brewery and brewpub operation is currently in the planning stages and will commence with the construction phase at 5000 Roberts Rd, formerly the site of Latitude Restaurant. No opening date is available as of this writing.
“Rohnert Park is thrilled to have Bear Republic coming to town,” said Rohnert Park City Council Member Amy Ahanotu. He added, “A brewery of their quality is exactly what we’ve been looking for to expand the dining and entertainment choices for our residents and visitors.”
That’s going to be awesome, with Bear Republic so much closer to my house, but also in building their business with this third location. For more information about the space, here’s the original designs from Latitudes.
Sonoma State University will again be offering my “Beer Appreciation” certificate course this fall. Classes start in just over two weeks, on September 9. The class is through SSU’s Extended Education school, and fueled by Lagunitas, which is where the 12-week, 36-hour course will be held.
Classes are once a week, beginning September 9, on Wednesday nights from 6:30-9:30, and again classes won’t be in a stuffy classroom, but will be held in special lounge room at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma. If you’re interested in learning more about the class, I set up a page with more about my Sonoma State University Beer Appreciation Course. Or if you’re ready to go, here’s the official SSU class page and there’s information online about registration, too.
Today’s beer video is a short documentary on Russian River’s seasonal release of their triple IPA Pliny the Younger, which is released today in Santa Rosa, as it has been every first Friday in February for the past ten years.
Today’s infographic is local to me, and concerns my home county of Sonoma. Entitled Sonoma County Gets Crafty With Beer, it shows how Sonoma has been growing lately in terms of the number of breweries and their overall production. Even though the infographic was created in 2013, two more have actually opened and we now have 20 breweries within our borders. I recently sat on a panel discussion at the Sonoma County Beer, Cider & Spirits Conference, which was put on by the county’s economic development board. We certainly live in a great place for beer.