Don Barkley Returns to His "Roots"

The last two chapters of my beer book cover the "microbrewing revolution" (or "real beer movement" or whatever tern you prefer). I interviewed a number of people involved in changing the American beer scene. One of my most important sources of information was Don Barkley.

In the 1970s, he was an avid homebrewer who enrolled in the UC-Davis brewing program with the goal of going professional. More important, he was one of two "employees" at New Albion, the nation's first microbrewery (he got paid in beer; I guess that made him an employee....). His recollections of what happened there proved to be an unexpected and priceless treasure for me.

I met Don in person at the 2006 GABF, and then got to drink some beer and enjoy serious talk time with him and his wife in San Francisco in October 2006.

Anyway -- I just learned, thanks to Stan, that Don has retired from Mendocino (where he went after New Albion closed) and joined a new small-scale craft-brewing venture called Napa Smith Brewing Co.

I'm delighted to hear this. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Don is the longest serving brewmaster now working in the United States. And he's young (53). He's got a lot of great beer left in him.

And I know this much about being in my fifties: new challenges are crucial to keeping the mind and spirit young.

So this is exciting news about a guy that I ilke and admire. You can read about the venture here and at Bill Brand's blog.

Don, here's to you!

And a BIG tip 'o the mug to Stan for alerting me to this news.