This has been one amazing week. During yesterday’s unexpected lunch with craft beer pioneer Jack McAuliffe at Russian River Brewery, Jack invited us to have him show us around the old site of the New Albion Brewery in Sonoma, California. Needless to say, we didn’t have to be asked twice and readily accepted Jack’s kind offer.
We met at high Noon at the Swiss Hotel on Sonoma Square. After a quick lunch and a few pints of beer, our convoy of two cars headed out into the industrial park wilds of Sonoma, with Jack and his friend Pat leading the way. After a few minutes driving, we pulled off the road into a warren of tin buildings with scrap metal in organized heaps, including the recognizable midsections of several jet airplanes. We turned around, parking out on the public road, and Jack went in to ask the landlord — still the same man Jack rented the property from in 1976 — for permission to show us around. He came back a few minutes later, waving us in.
Arriving at the old brewery site.
This is the building where the New Albion Brewery stood over thirty years ago.
Despite its proximity to the entrance, this was not the front of the brewery building, in part because Jack didn’t rent the entire building, just a portion of it.
This was essentially the front of the brewery building.
Jack indicating that this was the front door to the brewery.
Vinnie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewery, and Jack McAuliffe in front of the old site of his brewery.
Jack McAuliffe showing us around the old site of his New Albion Brewery.
The view of where the brewery building stood from the road.
Jess Kidden has scans from Brewers Digest issues in November 1979 and October 1980 where you can contrast the building today and what it looked like 30+ years ago.
What a wonderful afternoon. Having the opportunity to spend time with the father of the modern microbrewery and have him show us where it all began was just amazing. Seeing the history and hearing Jack reminisce about that time in his life was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Thanks again Jack, and cheers to Vinnie and Natalie for letting me tag along.