Thursday, August 14, 2014

Frank Herbert, craft beer photojournalist

I took a short break from this blog to complete school - and to finish my first book!

Before Frank Herbert wrote "DUNE" and became a best-selling sci-fi writer, he wrote for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat from April 1949 to September 1953. I spent the last couple months going through old microfilm records, and compiled 138 lost news articles written by Frank Herbert.

Most amazing, I found a couple photos "by Frank Herbert" highlighting the local craft beer industry, back in 1952. On photo bears the caption, "Truckload of hop vines is swung into automatic stripper." The hops must flow!

Another photograph Frank Herbert took show a troop of Boy Scouts boarding a bus. Shown clearly in the background is the old Grace Brothers Beer sign, which proudly proclaims, "Product of Sonoma County." In the last couple years here in Sonoma County, a huge push has begun to promote our local wine, beer and cheese.  Not only is this local movement older than people think, but it was documented by a famous sci-fi writer!

I'm publishing a first edition of 1,000 copies, and set up an Indiegogo project to fund it. If you have friends who love science fiction, you should tell them about this book of Frank Herbert's Lost Archives:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

College paper puts Russian River on the map

The Santa Rosa Junior College newspaper, Oak Leaf News, published a map of Sonoma County's 20 breweries for their Pliny the Younger issue.

Oak Leaf News also announced an upcoming new beer brewing/hospitality program at SRJC. What will those wacky kids think of next?

Copyright 2014 by SRJC Oak Leaf News - published with permission

Monday, February 10, 2014

New beer program at Santa Rosa Junior College

[Originally posted in Oak Leaf News Feb. 10, 2014]

A new beer-related program may soon bubble up at Santa Rosa Junior College. “We’re looking at the situation,” said SRJC president Dr. Frank Chong. “We need the resources and we need industry support – like we’ve got for our wine programs – so we can target the needs of the industry.” SRJC currently offers degrees in viticulture and wine making as well as certificates for wine-based business and hospitality.
Chris Wills teaches the Wine Studies Program and runs SRJC’s award-winning Shone Farm Winery in Forestville, founded in 2008. “With the talent we have in Sonoma County, we could have a world-class brewing program,” Wills said. “I think we could offer a certificate program as an alternative to the brewing program offered by UC Davis. There is already talk of an ‘intro to fermented foods’ class, possibly in the sustainable agriculture program.”
Wills said this entry level class would feed into focused courses like cheese making, malting barley, brewing beer and fermenting fruits and vegetables.
“We used to have a Community Ed course in brewing taught by Bryon Burch, who used to own The Beverage People,” Wills said. “I don’t know why it stopped.”
Lagunitas Brewing Company’s marketing director Ron Lindenbusch expressed interest in supporting a fermentation sciences program. “Beer hospitality would be a great  class,” he said. “We’d love to be in it!”
Wills encourages any local brewers to contact him at with any feedback on creating SRJC’s new beer brewing and hospitality courses.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Utah beer laws in The New York Times

I was a little surprised to discover the Happy Valley of my childhood mentioned in a New York Times article, but it made more sense when I learned the article was about a controversial vote over allowing alcohol sales. Last year the city council of Hyde Park, just south of the Idaho border in Cache Valley, voted 3-2 to allow  beer sales at Maverick, only the convenience store in town. Then several of the town's 3,900 residents gathered enough signatures to temporarily block the new ordinance.

My Dad's back porch in North Logan, Utah
It was strange reading about Cache Valley in the New York Times, because my friends and I are planning on opening a brewery there, Cache Valley Brewing Company. That project has been brewing on the back burner for a while now, and is bubbling over with possibilities.

However, that project will just have to wait until I have finished my documentary about next year's annual Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing Company next February in Santa Rosa, California.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

EDB's Beer, Cider & Spirits conference brews jobs

[originally published in Oak Leaf News Nov. 18, 2013]

Conference Pans Out New Job Prospects For SRJC Students In Liquid Gold Rush
Sonoma County EDB's confernece on Beer, Cider & Spirits
Sonoma County’s first-ever Beer, Cider and Spirits Conference tapped opportunities for Santa Rosa Junior College students in the county’s $200 million home-brewed industry. Speakers and panelists included 2nd District Assembly member Wes Chesboro and brewers from 20 breweries, five cideries and four distilleries in Sonoma County, the birthplace of the modern microbrewery.
2nd Dist. Wes Chesboro addresses the EDB conference.
Chesboro said California’s 422 craft breweries, opening at a rate of about one a week, employ 48,000 people, pay $850 million in taxes and add $4 billion to the state’s economy. Chesboro described California’s craft beer industry as “guerilla capitalism” battling the “culture of sameness placing mediocrity over adventure”  and tapping into the barrels of people looking for a new favorite.
California Craft Beer Association Executive Director Tom McCormick outlined the industry’s positive impact on city and state economies, as well as Sonoma County’s world-wide fame as the cradle of the craft beer countermovement.
When Sonoma’s now-tapped-out New Albion Brewery opened in 1976, Jack McAuliffe transformed used dairy equipment to build from the ground up what became the first microbrewery in the U.S. McCormick said New Albion is known around the world, even in recently-visited Denmark where he said, “they treat you like a rock star if you say you’re a brewer from Sonoma County.”
Keynote speaker Tom Magee of Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Tom Magee, owner of Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, delivered the keynote address, dropping only one F-bomb in the process. Lagunitas accounts for 70 percent of the county’s beer sales and half the county’s 680 craft beer employees, and their soon-to-open expansion in Chicago will quadruple their production. Magee said the decision to expand came after “running the numbers” of their shipping costs of $150,000 per week and discovering he could borrow $25 million with that kind of cash flow.
Magee also spoke about “bankers, not brewers” running multinational beer conglomerates like InBev, the world’s largest brewing company that owns Budweiser, Busch, Löwenbräu, Michelob, Natural Light and several other brands found in supermarkets. Magee said Budweiser’s release of American Ale was “full of capitulation; it gave drinkers permission to leave the reservation” by offering an option besides the standard pilsner style.
“If the tail can wag the dog that hard, it’s not the tail anymore,” Magee said. Lagunitas attracted the interest of several Dartmouth MBA students “turning their backs on the morass of soullessness of Wall Street.”
"Branding of Sonoma County" panel
Ken Weaver, author of “The Northern California Craft Beer Guide,” sat on the panel “Branding of Sonoma County.” Weaver said the county’s craft breweries benefit from the tourism industry already deeply rooted and growing for another purpose, Sonoma County wine.
Jay Brooks, a syndicated beer writer on the same panel, spoke about the built-in recognition of the Sonoma name. While wine drinkers might view Napa and Sonoma interchangeably, craft beer drinkers only know Sonoma. “Around the world, people know the Big Three,” Brooks said, referring to Lagunitas Brewing Company, Bear Republic Brewing Company and Russian River Brewing Company. “People come to visit the Big Three and find out about the other 17.”
The panel on “Liquid Assets” included Richard Norgrove, owner of Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg, who said his biggest resource was his employees, but even with great employees a company still needs to have a product. “There is no such thing as a ‘loss leader,’” Norgrove said. “Every aspect of your business must be profitable, every decision has to make sense – but your bottom line is not always key.”
On the same panel, Fred Groth described using the Kickstarter website to raise $25,000 for equipment to expand his Sonoma distillery, HelloCello & Prohibition Spirits.
Natlie Cilurzo [left] on "Brewing Solutions" panel
Natalie Cilurzo, owner of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa spoke on the “Brewing Solutions” panel about the country’s most regulated industry. Of the nine regulatory challenges she raised, waste water topped her list as a barrier for new or expanding breweries. Cilurzo said Russian River Brewing Company, whose annual limited release of their Pliny the Younger brought Sonoma County $2 million in tourist dollars this spring, is not considering expanding their world-famous brewery partly because of regulatory barriers.
While brewery waste water is not toxic, it provides rich nutrients for organisms that overpower sewer systems. Assuming Russian River invested $1 million in a water treatment system for a brewery three times their current size that discharged only 100 percent pure water, sewage hook-up fees would be $1.2 million in addition to any monthly fees, Cilurzo said.
During the tasting session after the conference, some of Sonoma County’s world-famous home-brewed legends offered advice to SRJC students intent on tapping into the craft beer industry.
Russian River pours the world-famous Pliny the Elder
“Biochemistry knowledge is critical if you want to be a brewer,” said Lagunitas’ maketing head Ron Lindenbusch. “If you want to be in the marketing end of things, SRJC has a great culinary program to be able to take the whole ‘beer & food’ thing to a whole other place.” Students interested in restaurants and hospitality, already in place for the wine tourism industry, benefit by incorporating craft beer into those existing programs. “You learn that, and then you try to put a ‘beer’ angle to it, and you’ve got something that has a dual purpose in the consumer’s mind,” Lindenbusch said.
“There’s not currently any type of brewing science class [at SRJC],” Lindenbusch said, “but anything you know about making wine translates into beer in a lot of ways – a lot of the same chemistry, the same biochemistry. But you’ve got to make sure you’re old enough to drink before I can encourage that!”
Sebastopol's family-owned organic Devoto Orchards cider
Cilurzo advised SRJC students interested in opening a beer bar or a brewery that having enough start-up money is essential. “You need to have tons of capital, and you need a plan,” Cilurzo said. “You need money. No matter what you’re going to do, get money. If you just get to the almost-open point, but don’t have enough money to open, or once you get open and can’t get people in your door, it’s not going to work. It looks like a money-making venture, but it’s not; it’s a money-spending venture.”
Santa Rosa City Council member Gary Wysocky, former adjunct professor of accounting at Sonoma State University, advised SRJC students interested in any industry, “It’s all about personal connections. You do what you can to get in front of people, you do whatever job is offered, and you work your way up the food chain. But people skills are what matter.”
Wysocky also said desire was essential and “timing’s not the only thing – it’s everything. You can have forever-bad timing but you just have to be ready when that break comes your way – and it will. You just have to be patient for it and ready for it.”
Don Winkle, business attorney with Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP and moderator of the Brewing Solutions panel, advised SRJC students against sloppy texting habits to set themselves apart. “Learn how to write,” Winkle said. “Learn how to express yourself clearly and professionally and you will have a leg up on many, many people – regardless of what degree you get."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sonoma County's 20 Breweries, 5 Cideries, and 4 Distilleries

The Sonoma County Economic Development Board held their first-ever Beer, Cider & Spirits Conference on November 12, 2013 in Santa Rosa, and they published their list of 20 breweries, 5 Cideries and 4 Distilleries:

101 North Brewing Co - Petaluma
3rd street Aleworks - Santa Rosa
Bear Republic Brewing Co - Healdsburg
Carneros Brewing Co - Sonoma
Dempsey's Restaurant & Brewery - Petaluma
Healdsburg Beer Company - Healdsburg
HenHouse Brewing Co - Petaluma
Hopmonk Tavern - Sebastopol
Lagunitas Brewing Co - Petaluma
Moonlight Brewing Co - Santa Rosa
Old Redwood Highway Brewing Co - Windsor
Petaluma Hills Brewing Co - Petaluma
Russian River Brewing Co - Santa Rosa
Ruth McGowan's Brewpub - Cloverdale
Sonoma Spring Brewing Co - Sonoma
St. Florian's Brewery - Windsor
Stumptown Brewery - Guerneville
Warped Brewing Co - Sebastopol
Woodfour Brewing Co - Sebastopol

California Cider Inc (Ace Cider) - Sebastopol
Devoto Orchards Cider - Sebastopol
Murray's Cider - Petaluma
Sonoma Beverage Works - Healdsburg
Tilted Shed Cider Works - Forestville

Hanson Spirits, LLC - Sonoma
HelloCello & Prohibition Spirits - Sonoma
Spirit Works Distillery - Sebastopol
Sweetwater Distillers - Petaluma

More about the EDB's Beer, Cider & Spirits Convention to follow...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sonoma County Beer, Cider, and Spirits Conference - Nov. 12, 2013

The Sonoma County Economic Development Board's first-ever Beer, Cider and Spirits Conference will be held Tuesday Nov. 12, 2013 in Santa Rosa. Keynote speaker is Tony Magee from Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, and other local brewers will speak as well, including Richard Norgrove from Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg and Natlie Cilurzo from Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa.

Craft beer brings over $120 million to Sonoma County's economy each year. The 2013 release of Pliny the Younger at Russian River Brewing Company brought in over $2 million tourist dollars over the two-week one-a-year event. Tourism to Sonoma County in general brought in $1.47 billion in 2011.

Sonoma County Beer, Cider and Spirits Conference
1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday Nov. 12, 2013
Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa
170 Railroad Street, Santa Rosa

This one-of-a-kind event will close out, so RSVP soon.
Sonoma County Beer, Cider and Spirits Conference on Facebook
Russian River Brewing Co's Natalie Cilurzo serves a 3-liter bottle of Supplication