Friday, March 21, 2008

30 years of liquid history

Many good-beer partisans will know what the latest 'quadruple wet-hopped 20% abv thingy' is, yet may not know who Don Barkley is, or Jack McAuliffe.

But they should.

Barkley and McAuliffe were and are pioneers of the American good beer renaissance. Beer is liquid history. Not knowing beer's history is not knowing beer.

Read this, from 28 February 2008 at Appellation Beer:

Don Barkley, arguably the closest active link to America’s original microbrewery, is returning to small-scale brewing. The North Bay Business Journal has the scoop.

Visionaries from Mendocino County are looking to break down the walls between fine wine and craft beer in wine country. Don Barkley, a legend in U.S. craft brewing, left his post as master brewer at Ukiah-based Mendocino Brewing Co. in November and is preparing the inaugural releases this spring from a rare winery-brewery in south Napa.

Barkley worked for Jack McAuliffe in the 1970s at New Albion Brewing in Sonoma County shortly after McAuliffe started the first “built new” (it wasn’t really new) microbrewery. Last April when the Brewers Association honored the reclusive McAuliffe it was Barkley who accepted the award.

Barkley retired from Mendocino Brewing in November after nearly 25 years at the brewery. Mendocino acquired much of the new Albion equipment as well as the house yeast after New Albion closed. [His fellow brewer at New Albion, Michael Lovett left Mendocino 10 years ago this month.]

From the North Bay Business Journal:

Mr. Barkley plans to release wheat beer, pale ale and amber ale under the label Napa Smith Brewing Co., named after the ownership, Napa mortgage broker Kathy Smith and her family. She acquired the former Hakusan sake winery at the intersection of highways 12 and 29 in March 2006.

Mr. Barkley, 53, said he made the move from Mendocino Brewing Co. to Napa Smith Brewing Co. to get back to his roots with his family, his brewmaking and his customers. He’s working with a 15-barrel batch brewery versus a 100-barrel one in Hopland. And he misses the feedback he used to get from customers before Mendocino Brewing Co. production facility was moved out of the Hopland brewpub to Ukiah in 1997.

“Jack McAuliffe’s favorite comment was winemakers are poets and beer makers are industrialists,” Mr. Barkley said about the iconic founder New Albion Brewery in Sonoma. “We’re going to see whether an industrialist can become a poet.” About 1,000 barrels of Napa Smith beer will be filled in 22-ounce bottles and marketed to local fine restaurants at about $4 each.

Emphasis mine.

I may sell beer, but I do not believe it merely a 'product'.

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