We brewed a number of different variations of that stout and sent them down to Fritz and Mark Carpenter to weigh in on, but it was pretty much our formulation and recipe with Fritz's input on the style of beer.
A little history: When I brewed my very first batch of beer in '80, it was a commercial beer. It was five barrels of stout. Fritz and I were sitting around talking about what we'd want to do as a beer that would be a signature for both of us and he [remembered] when he was first thinking about what beers he was going to brew when he bought Anchor. When he was rebuilding the brewery from the ground up, he would go to a little restaurant near the brewery and drink imported stouts.
He thought to himself, "If I could only make a beer like this, it would be my signature." So stout was one of his first early memories with Anchor and was our first beer, so it was a fitting beer to do together. We actually served that at the Craft Brewers Conference. Fritz and I gave a talk together in San Francisco last year or the year before last. We had enough of that beer that I was able to share it with the 2,000 people or so in that audience.
What has Fritz been up to since selling Anchor?
He's had a bunch of other pursuits. He's got some vineyard property up in the mountains and started a winery next to the brewery. When he sold the property I know he moved all of his equipment out of there, but I don't know if he's back making wine again.
He has property in an area outside of Calistoga and was raising grapes for many, many years. He's doing that, traveling a bit and has a house in Arizona now, so I know he's spending some time in Arizona. I'm in the middle of writing a book and I did track him down recently to write a little blurb.
When speaking to folks at your brewery last year, they were mentioning that the split in Sierra Nevada's production was once more than 60% Pale Ale compared with your other varieties. It seems to be a bit more even now as you've introduced more products. Given your history, is this a fun time for you? Is this a good time to be making beer?
It's a great time to be a craft brewer, that's for sure.
From my history, we've gone through many years of fairly significant growth and we're still growing. To keep growing and still have fun at what I'm doing is great. The awareness of craft drinkers and the receptive audiences that craft brewers are turning out in this country is great to see.
For us, we're approaching capacity in Chico, so we're starting to work diligently on our East Coast plant expansion.