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A brewer that can’t drink beer… A sad or happy irony?

beer no

I can’t drink beer anymore… and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a truly incredible truth that needs further explanation.

It has been an eventful 18 months since I walked away from eBay/StubHub with a box of knick knacks and memories (and to be clear, a lifetime of friendships that I’ll cherish forever). May 31, 2013 marked my final day at StubHub and the second half of the year consisted primarily of me embracing the role of “Mr. Mom” with the periodic moment of 30-something angst and soul searching. 2014 saw me rejoin the world of social media (in an employed capacity) as the head of social strategy at my good friend Jill Tracy’s digital marketing agency, Creative B’stro. After 10 months helping guide social programs and strategies for our clients I realized that I missed actually being in the driver’s seat; getting under the hood; taking pole position; (any other driving analogies I’m missing?). Bottom line, I was hungry to implement the same programs I was recommending for other companies. It was tough to relay this to Jill and the team, but it was the right move for all involved. No denying that I miss the Beasts already though.

At the same time, I was experiencing some rather uncomfortable and disheartening medical issues that were impacting my day-to-day routine. After multiple visits to the hospital it was clear that my ulcerative colitis (only click on that link if you can deal with TMI) was back – and back with a vengeance. After years of denial it was finally time to face the fact that my regular enjoyment of all things malty and hoppy was going to have to come to an end.

As a result, I’ve only had one pint of beer since September 10.

That’s right, folks. I’m a brewer who can’t drink beer.

Surprisingly, I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would (I still get to enjoy wine and the occasional vodka/soda), but I definitely miss the community and events that I was so deeply involved with. By dialing back my beer enjoyment I have managed to get my condition under control and I’m feeling really, really good. I’ve since turned 40 and was able to take part in the San Francisco Giants‘ third championship parade in 5 years. Amazing what a difference just two months makes.

I’m also on day three at my new job as head of social for Splunk. The reasons and journey that saw me arrive here at Splunk HQ (just a half block away from 21st Amendment Brewery – yet another wild irony) are too long for this blog post but suffice to say that I feel extremely excited and fortunate to be in this role at this organization. When I came home on Monday to tell Allie about my first day at work, she stopped me half way through and said that she hadn’t heard or seen me this excited and vibrant for years (I would go so far as to say I haven’t been this enthusiastic talking about work – and not beer – ever).

I’m writing all this to answer the two main questions I’ve been getting recently:

1. Yes, I will definitely continue to brew. I’m even researching distilling too. I love it too much to stop now and just because I can’t partake in the final frothy goodness, doesn’t mean you have to do without. I can’t wait to host folks at our home in the near future to pour our latest goodies for you all.

2. When I’m not brewing on the weekends and tweeting via @ESBAle, I’ll now be managing all things @Splunk – so please follow me over there if you’re interested. The opportunities here are vast and I’m genuinely thrilled to be able to lead the program moving forward.

So that’s it. I’m a brewer who can’t drink beer and I haven’t been this excited in a long time. If that isn’t irony, I really don’t know what is.

GiantsParade

Cheers!
Richard.

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Filed: Brewing, ESB Background

Time to get creative. Exciting times indeed.

I am very excited to announce that on Tuesday, February 18, I am joining Creative B’stro as VP of Content and Social Strategy. Having worked closely with the company’s founder, Jill Tracy, at Microsoft back in the late ’90’s, I have been following the growth and achievements of B’stro since she made the gutsy and life-changing decision to start her own agency over 10 years ago. She is a real inspiration. I came in to work on some projects at B’stro late last month and was immediately enamored with the creative and strategic focus of the team and the opportunities that lay before them. I knew I needed to be a long-term part of it.

It has been nearly 9 months since I walked away from corporate life to pursue my dream of being a brewer full-time and to spend more time with my kids. With an overwhelming number of ups and downs, we’ve been through a lot this last year as a family, and have come out the other side as determined and as resolute as before. I believe in the future of the Elizabeth Street Brewery and have some near and long-term plans that I will continue to work on in my free-time. For now though, the brewery will remain a wonderful and pure beer-loving experience in our home… or as one infamous Yelp reviewer put it, “it’s just a f*&king room in some guy’s f$%king house and it’s never f*@king open!”

We can’t wait to host you in our garage for many years to come.

There is no denying though that in these past few weeks I feel like a man transformed. I have a renewed energy in the morning; a passion to get off my bum that I think has been missing for a while now. I attribute it to two separate things (that have a unifying theme). The first was hosting our Super Bowl party… pouring beers for friends and family and getting back to “bartending” was invigorating. Secondly, working here at B’stro and sharing ideas with the team has been fantastic. In a nutshell, I don’t do well in isolation. Human interaction is like breathing for me and when I look back on my career, I’m never happier than when I’m helping companies connect with their customers in new and innovative ways. Take one look at the website (http://bstro.com/) and you’ll see that Creative B’stro is the perfect place for me to begin the next chapter of my life.

I’ll be focused on all things content and social. From our clients’ needs to our own, we’ll be evolving an already impressive digital marketing, branding, design and web development agency into a full-service marketing resource for the connected world.

I’m fired up and ready to go.

Bottom line… I’m back.

Cheers!

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Filed: ESB Background, Events, Marketing

Beer Labels of the World

ww-labels

I’ve been playing around with Learnist these past few weeks and am really enjoying the experience. In a nutshell, Learnist lets users share what they know and learn new things. You can create “Learn Boards” on topics you understand and add learnings by pointing to videos, blogs, images and documents on the web.

Here is my Beer Labels of the World board aimed at providing everything you need to know about the art, design, business and evolution of beer labels around the world:

Cheers!
Richard.

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Filed: Beer Industry

36% of consumers drink Craft Beer

Thanks to Jay Brooks and his Brookston Beer Bulletin for turning me onto this infographic from Kendall College. I particularly like the food-pairings… I’ve only ever had lager with curry in the past so I’m looking forward to pairing a Blind Pig with my Rogan Josh in the near future.
Cheers!
Richard.

KC-beer-info

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Filed: Beer Industry, Brewing

Day 50: Playing tennis

It has been 50 days since taking the plunge.

First, I’ll give the only update anyone really cares to read… We do not know the exact location of where the brewery will be and therefore do not know when we’ll be opening a brewpub. But do not despair; we are getting closer.

The support has been consistently positive and has come from a global network of family and friends. Thank you.

Ironically though – despite numerous interactions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – it is a surprisingly very lonely process. I’m typing this in the basement pub of our home; a windowless man-cave, surrounded by bubbling fermenters, empty bottles of beers from around the world and Noel Gallagher playing quietly in the background, while the San Francisco fringe-neighborhood of Noe Valley gently bustles above me in its chilly, overcast Monday way. Alone.

When I walked away from corporate life at the end of May, I did not realize I had timed it with the beginning of the Wimbledon tennis championships in England. Over the last few years it has become a sporting event that I have become quite addicted too… a complete contrast to when I was a child growing up in England and I’d come home from school frustrated to learn that my Mum had taken over the television viewing rights for the better part of 2.5 weeks to watch bloody tennis… placing all children’s after school programming on hold for a while. Now though, I love it. England’s own Tim Henman had started this late interest in me and then, when Andy Murray emerged from Scotland, I was well and truly hooked. As I watched him go through the early rounds at Wimbledon, I realized that he was taking part in what has to be the loneliest sport in the world. Even in boxing (if you consider this a sport to begin with), an athlete can retire to his/her corner at the end of each round; golfers have caddies… granted, long-distance runners are out there on their own – but they’re competing against themselves for the most part – bettering times, distances, etc.

Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon 2013

No… tennis has to be the loneliest sport one competes against another individual at. But for Andy Murray, Wimbledon was something even more surreal. An entire nation willing him to win, cheering him on, but absolutely powerless to help him achieve the goal that has eluded him so long. If he wants to do it, to reach that lifelong dream, he has to do it himself. He’ll have the support of coaches and trainers and loved ones and family and friends… but when it comes down to it, he’s the one who has to make the shots and make them count.

Which leaves me back here in my man-cave. Working on my business plan; identifying potential brewpub locations; meeting with potential investors; going to City Hall to make my case; brewing my beers; refining my recipes. There is no denying the waves of support coming from all sides but what it comes down to is that I have to make it happen on my own. One day, when we open the doors, all of those supporters will be there to raise a glass and celebrate the realization of a dream.

Until then, I promise to keep my eye on the ball and follow through with every shot.

Cheers!
Richard.

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Filed: ESB Background, Marketing, Operations

Day 1: Taking the Plunge

We’ve been a member of the Brewers Association since 2007 as a “Brewpub-in-Planning.” There have been a lot of highlights over the past 6 years. From winning a World Beer Cup gold medal with 21st Amendment Brewery and being named Best Microbrewery by SF Weekly in 2010 to being named a “Best Hidden Secret of the Bay Area” that same year and being highlighted in the latest video series Brew-Age, it has been a wild ride to say the least.

Since 2010 we’ve had to put our little brewery on the back burner as I focused on my day job at eBay and StubHub. In 2013 however, we’ve seen our focus on beer ramp up once more and I needed to make a decision. So earlier last month I sat down with my wife and discussed the next chapter in the life of our little brewery. With 15+ years of experience in PR, social and marketing – and my 10-year immersion into brewing and the beer community – I want to partner my passion with my strengths in a more formal, full-time capacity.

With the exception of a 3-week period in early 2000, today is my first day out of the Silicon Valley workforce since August 18, 1997.

I’m not sure what the future holds. I know what I want it to be. I’m very passionate about the craft beer movement – particularly its emergence here in the Bay Area – and I want to share that passion with everyone I meet. I’ll be working with other breweries; I’ll be trying to build my own. I’ll be testing out recipes on family and friends and we’ll get back to occasionally opening up the original, homebrew-pub on Elizabeth Street in Noe Valley to do it.

So sit back (or lean in) and watch me take this hobby out of my kitchen and into our community and beyond. I’m going to chronicle it all here as regularly as possible.

Cheers!
RBH
RBH Last Day

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Filed: Beer Industry, Brewing, ESB Background, Operations

ESBrew 2012 – Batch #2 – Daddy’s Chocolate Milk

Glorious Molly pre-brew

We brewed the second batch of beer of 2012 on March 9. It was the first Daddy’s Chocolate Milk batch of the year. A favorite among folks that have been enjoying our beer since the beginning, DCM (also known as Super Bowl Stout once a year) is an English Sweet Stout made with Maris Otter, chocolate, black and Carafa malts and a combination of cluster and UK Golding hops. This “session stout” lives up to its name with a rich and creamy finish. Unfortunately, it cannot be enjoyed by the lactose intolerant due to the lactose – an unfermentable sugar – that we add during the boil.

The brew was relatively stress free and, with just two brews on Molly (pictured above) in 2012, we’re already starting to hit our stride.

Sparge of DCM

However, no brew day at ESB would be complete without some kind of drama. This time we experienced a tear in the wort chiller (second time I’ve had this happen in 7 years) so went into a bit of an immediate panic given the situation. Thankfully, Twitter came to our rescue:

It had been over 5 years since I had used an ice-bath to chill the beer down to the right temperature for pitching the yeast so I could be excused for the brain-fart. It was great to get immediate help from folks via Twitter all the same.

Emergency ice bath

Like every beer we plan on brewing this year, the ESBrew 2012 Batch #2 had its own soundtrack and inspirational beer. This time, I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s new “Wrecking Ball” album on a continuous loop throughout the brew and drank Marin Brewing Company‘s San Quentin Breakout Stout for inspiration. One of our favorite stouts here at the ESB – and my wife’s favorite local beer.

Cheers from the brewer!

For all the pictures from the brew day, check out the Elizabeth Street Brewery Flickr page.

The Famous Podcast – Episode 3
A reminder that one of our favorite bands, The Famous, has launched its very own podcast bringing you the best in craft beer, country music and NASCAR. Each episode includes a beer update from yours truly.

Here is episode 3:

You can also subscribe via iTunes.

Cheers!
Richard.

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Filed: Brewing, Operations

Introducing #ESBrew2012, Bluesbreaker’s Black IPA and The Famous’ podcast

Mash-in on Molly

We’re back up and running here at The ESB and kicked off the year with our first #ESBrew2012 on March 3, 2012 with a brand new recipe that I hope will be a nice addition to our selection of beers. We’re calling it Bluesbreaker’s Black.

#ESBrew2012
This will be our brewday hashtag on Twitter for the duration of the year. I am committed to chronicling each of our brew days this year here on the blog and on Twitter @ESBAle. We’ll also maintain a photo journal on our ESB Flickr page and, from time to time, we’ll also upload videos to our ESB YouTube channel.

Bluesbreakers Black Inspiration

Bluesbreaker’s Black IPA
Bluesbreaker’s Black is our latest brew here at The ESB. It was inspired by 21st Amendment’s Back in Black IPA and Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye IPA. It is definitely a work in progress but an exciting one to be sure. It’s a 27 lb grain bill for a 12-gallon yield. 3 lbs of rye are included and we use a combo of Warrior and Cascade hops during the boil. More info on the beer as we dial it in.

The name of the beer – Bluesbreaker’s Black – comes from the music played during the brew. Throughout the brew day, all that was played was blues music performed by British artists like Eric Clapton and John Mayall. Primarily the beer was brewed to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. One of my favorite bands. Music plays an integral part of the process with every beer we brew. Every beer has it’s own soundtrack.

The Famous Podcast
We’re huge fans of The Famous here at The ESB and have been following their musical escapades for as long as we’ve been brewing. They play regular shows at The Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa (the next show is on April 7 at the home of Pliny The Elder). They started their own podcast last week and in addition to playing all manner of traditional country music – and highlighting NASCAR so far – they also want to chat about beer so I sent an update to the show talking about Bluesbreaker’s Black… something I hope to do on a regular basis over the coming months.

We look forward to keeping you up to speed on developments here at The ESB. More importantly, we look forward to sharing and brewing the beers with you all.

Cheers!
RBH

Drinking a Back in Black as the boil gets ready

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Filed: Brewing, Events, Operations

Elizabeth Street Brewery Update – January 2012

Proud brewer on "Molly"

We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries these past few weeks regarding what’s going on here at the Elizabeth Street Brewery. The short answer is, “not a lot” to be honest. But that would be selling our efforts a bit short.

Since we invested in the 20-gallon tippy dump system and conical fermenter last Summer, we haven’t done much brewing to be frank. In addition to heightened activity at my day job, the system is currently getting a few minor adjustments to help optimize brewing efficiency moving forward so, as a result, I’ve only brewed three times in the past 6 months.

RBH and Molly

Like most things I’ve tackled in my life, I’ve always said that the growth of the Elizabeth Street Brewery would be a natural progression. Nothing forced. I need to keep reminding myself of this fact when I worry that we’re not as involved in the “beer community” as we were just 12 months ago. I’ve had to make some difficult decisions to start the year with regard to the work around the ESB. I will not be participating in SF Beer Week in 2012. We’re not throwing our annual Super Bowl Extravaganza here at the ESB next month (for the first time in a decade), and I think I’m also going to take a year off from traveling to the Craft Brewer’s Conference. I don’t take any of these decisions lightly.

It’s not all doom and gloom here though and the new brewery wasn’t the only milestone we hit in 2011. We’re an officially licensed business of California and the business plan has undertaken three major adaptations over the past 12 months also. There are a lot of positives ahead for us in 2012 too. When we do have “Molly” back up and running, we are going to brew. We are going to brew some of the best beers we’ve ever brewed. And we’re hoping you’re going to help us. This Spring, I’ve committed to brewing three beers with people that have never brewed before – tackling recipes of their choosing – and really experimenting with styles and advanced brewing. I hope to carry that into the rest of the year; inviting groups of people interested in the brewing process but not sure where to start. We’ve always said we were a “brewery for the people, by the people” – now we’re committed to being exactly that.

Engraved tap handle

The ultimate goal is still the same – and we’ll never waiver in our commitment – to introduce a craft beer establishment to our good friends and neighbors of Noe Valley. Everything we do has that prize in mind… but until then, we’re determined to enjoy every step of the way. This is definitely a case of the journey being just as important and rewarding as the destination.

So, thanks for sticking with us and we can’t wait to get back to brewing and pouring frothy goodness for you over the months ahead. Until then… Cheers!

Richard, Allie, Addison & Quincy.

Brewing Princesses

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Filed: Brewing, ESB Background, Events, Marketing, Operations

Stumped on Holiday shopping? Stay local and buy cosmetics from our sister company Elizabeth Street Cosmetics


We’ve got quite the little hub of activity happening on our small block of Elizabeth Street. For those of you interested in buying something truly local for that special someone, check out The ESC – Elizabeth Street Cosmetics – just down the street from us.

From the ESC website:
Elizabeth Street Cosmetics is a boutique collection of lipsticks and glosses that pays tribute to San Francisco’s charming Noe Valley district. As a twelve year resident of Elizabeth Street, nestled just off the business corridor of 24th Street, I continue to be inspired everyday by my beloved Victorian neighborhood. All lip products are named for streets in Noe Valley. РKelly Crispen

My wife, Allie, is a big fan so go check it out. Maybe we should work with Kelly on some ESB-themed shades in the future. :)

Be sure to follow them on Twitter @elizstcosmetics and become a fan on Facebook.

Cheers,
Richard.

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Filed: Marketing

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