So for the record, no matter what…whenever I get invited to attend ANY event that involves drinking great beer…I say yes. #truestory
So when I got the chance to head over to the IPA capital of the world, also known as Russian River Brewing, of course I was like “shit ya”. The event was to celebrate Jack McAuliffe, a true pioneer in the craft beer world. Jack started his New Albion Brewing company in 1976 and guess where?… wait for it…wait for it…SONOMA, CA!! #noshit
Here is the shop space that Jack got started in, it’s located on 8th St East in Sonoma…but here is the cool part…as a kid I used to make my bike ramps in his parking area…haha. My sister and I spent time with our dad who owned the house next door to this place and we would run around putting pennies on the train tracks (right behind the building) and just goof off being kids. Man, if I liked beer as an 8 year old I would have been stoked!
Here’s the deal, there are a ton of other websites that can give you all the details but here is the skinny. Jim Koch, Founder of Sam Adams was inspired by New Albion back in the day and when New Albion closed its doors and didn’t renew its trade mark…Jim snapped it up and has been paying the fees and sitting on it for 25+ years…till now.
Jack McAuliffe is going through some challenges so Jim Koch relaunched the brand and is kicking some dough back to Jack…pretty cool. So I went to the release party with my wife Megan and drank beer, listened to stories and drank more beer.
But, this is where it gets kinda cool and weird… My kids great grandpa was Herb Batto and the Batto family owned, and still owns the original building that New Albion was started in. When Kyle and I were making our first home brew a couple of years back we were looking in the old barn for a few old school bottles we could use to bottle our precious brew. We knew there were a few cool bottles from the old Agua Caliente Springs water company but to our surprise we found a bunch of really old, super dusty, empty beer bottles…New Albion beer bottles. At the time I didn’t really know what the story was, remember at 8 years old I was focused on jumping my bike as high as I could, not tipping back a couple brown bottles… now it all makes sense. In a cool way I feel kinda connected to Jack and the start of craft brewing in the United States, maybe that’s why I have such a love for great beer.
Who knows, but this I know for sure. I love great beer, Jack and New Albion started what today can be called the craft beer phenomenon. Many great craft brewers like Sierra Nevada say they owe there start and inspiration to Jack and what he built at New Albion and I think thats pretty cool. So do yourself a favor…go pick up a couple six packs the the new, New Albion brew and raise a glass to Jack and wish him much health and happiness in the years to come.
(p.s. if you are in, or near Sonoma you need to go to Sonoma’s Best and buy your six packs. Not only did I used to ride by bike there as a kid and get candy…old Herb Batto drove his truck through the front of the store about 15 years ago when he was pushing 90 years old…and the story continues…:)