by Gabe Meline
Inevitably, anyone who's polished off a few pints at the Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa eventually looks up, sees a sign on the wall that reads "New Albion Brewery," and wonders, "What the hell's that sign mean?"
As any beer snob sitting at your table will quickly tell you, New Albion happens to be hailed as the first "microbrewery," at least as we know the term now. They may explain that New Albion, in Sonoma, pioneered the way small-batch beer was made. They may even report that New Albion founder Jack McAuliffe lived in mythic seclusion for almost 30 years, brewing out of the limelight in Texas, completely unaware of his status as a totally goddamn awesome pioneer of the craft beer movement until his rediscovery a few years ago.
That's why it's kind of a big deal that on Thursday, Jan. 10, the Russian River Brewing Co. welcomes the man himself, Jack McAuliffe, back to Sonoma County. And who's coming with him? Ahem: Jim Koch, from Samuel Adams.
The whole thing's a celebration of Samuel Adams' re-release of New Albion Ale—a nice gesture on Sam Adam's part using Jack's original recipe. I'll let Russian River's Natalie Cilurzo take over:
Brewing pioneer Jack McAuliffe and the legendary Jim Koch, the face of Sam Adams, will be at the pub from 6-8pm discussing their recent "collaboration" on the resurrection of New Albion Ale! New Albion Brewery was located in Sonoma, California, from 1976 to 1983. This was the first newly licensed start-up craft brewery in the United States after the repeal of prohibition right here in Sonoma County. It's safe to say Jack was the first nanobrewer back when no such term existed. Vinnie and I were lucky enough to get our hands on the original New Albion Brewery sign which has hung proudly in our pub since the day we opened.
We will have New Albion Ale on draft at the pub that evening and hopefully for a few days after. Boston Beer is releasing bottles with an incredible reproduction of the original label for national distribution, but I'm not sure how much or where it will be available. I'm just excited to have it on draft at the pub while Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch are both in the house! This is such a rare opportunity to have these two brewing legends in our brewpub at the same time.
Needless to say, I'd advise getting there early.
Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch speak at Russian River Brewing Co. on Thursday, Jan. 10, from 6-8pm. 725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. Free... and packed. 707.545.2337.