On the way south, we spent a couple of nights in Fort Bragg on the northern California coast. In addition to admiring the bird pictured in the post below, we took time to visit with Mark Ruedrich and Doug Moody. They are the president and senior vice president of the North Coast Brewery, the biggestand by far the hippestemployer in that Mendocino County town, population 7,200. Among his other achievements, Brewmaster Ruedrich developed a Belgian ale inspired by a pianist (pictured) known to Rifftides readers.
Ruedrich and Moody installed in the brewery’s restaurant and taproom a jazz club that presents performances by California musicians, many of them national figures. They also founded a record label whose income, in addition to some of the brewery’s, taproom’s and company store’s profits, are earmarked for support of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Many of label’s artists, including trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, singer Gretchen Parlato and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery are alumni of the Monk Institute. Considering the brewery’s other philanthropic contributions in Mendocino, we got the impression of a vital force in the craft brewing field and in a small town that Doug Moody claims with a degree of seriousness hard to gauge, is “in the middle of nowhere.”
This page of the North Coast Brewery website contains a half-hour film that traces the history of Monk’s namesake ale. The mini-documentary, prominently featuring Thelonious’s son T.J. Monk, also outlines the history and processes of craft beer making in the United States. I always wondered what happens to those spent hops.