Today is also the 58th birthday of William Sysak, better known to the beer community as Dr. Bill. Dr. Bill’s massive tastings are the stuff of legends, and he’s now transported them — albeit on a smaller scale — to working at Stone Brewing’s World Bistro & Gardens. He has impeccable taste, be it in beer, wine, whiskey, cigars, what have you, and is one of the most fun people to taste with. He was working with Stone Brewing for a time, but more recently he started his own brewery, co-founding Wild Barrel Brewing, in San Marcos, California, which opened a couple of years back. Join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.
Today is the 52nd birthday of Chris White. Chris founded the yeast company White Labs in 1995 and he’s also on the faculty of the Siebel Institute. He’s also a fixture at virtually every brewing industry and homebrewing conference, and was kind enough to talk to my SSU beer appreciation class about yeast. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.
Chris and his brother Mike bookending Chuck, from Green Fash Brewing, Natalie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, John Harris, from Full Sail Brewing, and Vinnie Cilurzo, also from Russian River, at CBC in Austin, Texas in 2007.
[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]
Today is the 46th birthday of Jeff Bagby, who until a few years ago was the head brewer extraordinaire at Pizza Port in Carlsbad. There, you used to be able to read the entire biography of Jeff “Extra Spicy” Bagby. I’m not sure when it was written, but it’s no longer there, but it ended with the following sentence. “Jeff has his sights set on winning a GABF Brewpub of the Year award and we most definitely believe it is in his future as well.” Eight years ago at GABF, Jeff won an amazing seven medals and Pizza Port Carlsbad was awarded the Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year. That means his plaid pants got to go up on stage a record eight times! You can see a retrospective of Jeff’s plaid choices over the years, too, at Jeff “Lucky Pants” Babgy Wins Big. Once he started working on opening his own brewery, I suggested he should consider “Plaid Brewing” or some variation of that idea, like “Plaid Pants Brewing” or “Lucky Plaid Brewing.” Unfortunately, he went with a more sensible Bagby Beer Co., which opened a few years ago. All, well some, kidding aside, Jeff is a terrific brewer and a hell of a washoes player, though I still think Dave Keene and I could beat him and Tomme again. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.
Jeff with his then-girlfriend, now wife, Dande at GABF a few years ago. And yes, those are his lucky pants.
Dandelian and Jeff Bagby in the upstairs loft dining area of their new brewery. The plaid back of the bench seating was inspired by Jeff’s winning plaid pants that he used to wear for GABF award ceremonies, as I detailed several years ago in Jeff “Lucky Pants” Bagby Wins Big.
Today is the 66th birthday of Pat McIllhenney, brewmaster and founder of Alpine Beer Co. near San Diego. Pat makes some amazing hoppy beers. Unfortunately, his beers are hard to find up our way, but that hopefully will be improving since Alpine was acquired by Green Flash Brewing a few years ago. Join me in wishing Pat a very happy birthday.
Today is the 46th birthday of Drew Beechum, who’s a past president of the Maltose Falcons homebrewing club and its current webmeister. He’s also the author of The Everything Homebrewing Book: All you need to brew the best beer at home! and writes a regular column for Beer Advocate magazine. Join me in wishing Drew a very happy birthday.
Today is the 59th 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 Steve Wagner’s 62nd birthday. Steve is a co-founder of Stone Brewing and the president of the California Craft Brewers Association. In the late 1980s, Steve was a member of the band “The Balancing Act,” who put out several albums on I.R.S. Records. Now he just presides over one of the most successful microbreweries in the U.S. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of filmmaker Anat Baron, whose Beer Wars movie started people writing and talking about the beer business, from all sorts of angles, over ten years ago, and while it’s slowed down, the discussion has yet to have completely gone away. Or as Alan from A Good Beer Blog puts it, “joined to the long-standing discussion about the beer business and added an interesting interpretation.” Love it or loathe it, it has certainly managed to capture people’s attention, and if that’s all it’s done, that’s still a huge positive to my way of thinking. But it’s also opened quite a few minds to what those of us who’ve been embedded in the beer business have known forever, which is how the business operates, where it’s fair and unfair, and what you can do as a consumer to support the beers and breweries you love. Join me in wishing Anat 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 also the birthday of Chuck Silva, former brewmaster at Green Flash Brewing in San Diego. His West Coast IPA has taken the world by storm, and personally, I loved his Tripel and Le Freak. The big, shiny new brewery they recently built is also pretty amazing. But eventually Chuck wanted to something of his own, and he recently opened Silva Brewing Company in the Central Coast of California, around his native San Luis Obispo area in Paso Robles. Join me in wishing Chuck a very happy birthday.