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Aurora Beerialis
My first exposure to the Celebrator Beer News was in the late ’80s in a small pub in Hayward, Calif., called Buffalo Bill’s Brewery. I wasn’t there on purpose. I was in the military at the time, stationed at Loring Air Force Base in Maine, and I was home on leave. I was visiting a longtime friend who had stayed in touch over the years. I’d already launched my good-beer career with a curiosity and fondness for brews outside of the mainstream. Anchor Steam Beer from San Francisco was my all-time favorite at the time, but foreign and off-track beers always vied for my attention. It was a hot August afternoon when I found the place and parked across the street, not knowing what to expect.

My excitement for good beer had long since caught my friend’s attention, and his selection of Buffalo Bill’s was not unintentional. I sauntered inside and found him waiting. He’d already ordered beers. He rubbed his hands together in excitement as I brought the beer to my lips and tasted. Although I can’t recall what I was served, I recall that it was different and very good. But I digress. What I recall vividly is chancing across a publication devoted entirely to beer, and it was as good as what I was drinking.

What I recall vividly is chancing across a publication devoted entirely to beer, and it was as good as what I was drinking.

Inside that issue was refreshing, cutting-edge information about primarily West Coast beers that were increasingly catching the attention of beer lovers across America and, I suspect, worldwide. Because I was distracted by camaraderie, good beer and a perfect beer-drinking ambiance, I didn’t have time to give the rag the attention it deserved, so I folded it up and stuffed it in my pocket. Later I unfolded it and perused the contents. I discovered a “whole ’nuther world” of beer surrounding me that I never knew existed.

I credit that very issue with pushing me toward new horizons and eventually putting pen to paper to extol the virtues of the Elixir of the Gods. What would that issue be worth today? What is the Celebrator worth to the beer-loving globe now? Not to steal the coinage of a popular credit card, but I’d call it “priceless.”

In those formative years of my beer career, I was far too junior in my sensory adaptation to the fermented arts to describe beer as aptly and artfully as the long stream of writers were doing and have continued to do for this publication’s rich 20-year history. Today I’m proud to be featured among the greats that are pushing this zine forward into the foamy centuries that will continue to expose the curious and experts alike to all that’s great in a beverage that’s defined our world since recorded history exposed its blessings.

But the Celebrator remains more than that to me, because every other writer’s piece is huge and rich in geocentric information about beers in places that I wouldn’t think about visiting before reading about the fermented adventures that tempt me. I never, ever travel without the most current issue of the Celebrator as part of me, as comfortable and necessary as a well-worn leather wallet, and always a friend.

And, it’s nice to run into that friend at various establishments around town that have a bundle or two of the Celebrator sent to them so they can hand it out to interested patrons. Always the emissary of good beer, I’m quick to point out the paper to worthy imbibers who show more than average interest and curiosity in their pints. Because I write a weekly piece for a local paper here in Anchorage (the Anchorage Press) and write an extended weekly blog (, I get hit up countless times for information on foamy destinations in the Lower 48 or abroad by people with travel plans that include beer. I’m quick at the draw when handing them the most recent copy of this fine magazine.

If you visit Alaska without a copy, or if you live up here and are too cheap to subscribe to this priceless rag, Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse (610 W. 6th Avenue; 907-276-2339), the La Bodega Liquor Store (University Mall, 3801 Old Seward Highway; 907-569-3800), Café Amsterdam (530 E. Benson Boulevard; 907-274-0074) and Glacier BrewHouse (737 W. 5th Avenue; 907-274-2739) are all good bets; I’ve picked up copies at each of these locations.

I must also salute Tom Dalldorf for his tireless efforts to spread the good-beer gospel. I’ll never be as big an emissary as he is. Tom has explored our vast state countless times during his annual sojourn to the Great White North to attend our Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, bringing with him great beery cheer and his forever-fabulous Rolling Boil Blues Band, an eclectic collection of anyone with (or sometimes without) musical talent that he uses to provide entertainment at various events. After 20 years, Dalldorf ain’t singing no blues!

I’m looking forward to seeing my fellow journalists and other devoted beer lovers at the Celebrator’s 20th anniversary party at the Marriott Hotel in Oakland, Calif., on February 17, 2008. Plan on attending, as I’m sure Uncle Tom will have something that’s good for what ales you. After 20 years, he’s pretty damned good at it. What is a good beer for me to hoist right now in honor of Dalldorf and this publication? I’ll have to crawl into my cellar for something as rich and varied as this paper continues to be. [How about Celebrator from Ayinger? — Ed.]

See you in Oakland!




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