Today is the 58th 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 61st 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, 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.
Today is also the birthday of Tyler King, who was the senior director of brewing operations, and employee #1, at The Bruery in Southern California. I first met Tyler at the Boonville Beer Festival several years ago although Patrick must have kept him locked up in the Bruery making great beer, because I didn’t run into him very often after that. At the beginning of 2015, he left to open his own brewery, and spent some time consulting and brewing for the Congregation Ale House and also Iron Triangle Brewing. His new place, Brewery Rex, opened in 2016. Join me in wishing Tyler a very happy birthday.
Today is the 35th birthday of Kushal Hall, former Director of Brewing Operations for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Kushal had been brewing at Speakeasy since 2007, but left in May of 2017 to open his own space in Southern California. The new brewery is called Common Space Brewing and is located in Hawthorne. While Kushal studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, I think we can all agree the world is a better place since he became a brewer. A terrific brewer and person, please join me in wishing Kushal a very happy birthday.
[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]
Today is Tomme Arthur’s 45th birthday. Tomme is Director of Brewery Operations for Port Brewing and the Lost Abbey. One of the established stars of the San Diego brewing scene, Tomme is justly famous for his terrific beers, like his Cuvee de Tomme, the Red Poppy, the Angel’s Share and the Track series. Plus, he introduced washoes to the brewing community. Join me in wishing Tomme a very happy birthday.
After the Five Guys and a Barrel Beer Dinner, a toast was offered with Isabelle Proximus, the Collaborative Sour Ale made by blending beer and done by the five of them. Top row: Adam Avery, Rob Tod, Bruce Paton and Sam Calagione. Bottom row: Tomme and Vinnie Cilurzo.
Today is the 50th birthday — the Big 5-O — of Yuseff Cherney, co-founder, former COO and head brewer of Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego. Although not too long after selling Ballast Point in later 2015 to Constellation Brands, Yuseff left the brewery, in July of 2016. I believe he’s focusing his energy on their rebranded spirits division, now called Cutwater Spirits. I used to run into Yusseff in the Bay Area or at GABF, but I’m not sure we’ll see him as much in the beer world. He’s a great person and a terrific brewer and I’m looking forward to trying his gin. Join me in wishing Yusseff a very happy birthday.
Today is the 48th birthday of Steve Gonzalez, who is the Senior Manager of Brewing and Innovation for Stone Brewing. Gonzalez started in the beer world with Miller, and was briefly with Gallo Winery before joining Stone a little over six years ago. I not sure when I first met him, but it feels like it’s been a while now. Most recently, I saw him at the grand opening to Stone’s new Napa location earlier this year. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.
Steve with Mitch Steele, Matt Brynildsohn and Shaun O’Sullivan.
[Note: Last two purloined from Facebook.]