Three titans of independent beer-making raised their glasses in Santa Rosa on Thursday evening to salute the historic — if temporary — resurrection of a pioneer craft brew.

The occasion at Vinnie Cilurzo's renowned Russian River Brewing Company was the commercial re-release of New Albion Ale, which Jack McAuliffe made from 1976 to 1982 at the country's first modern microbrewery, in Sonoma.

Jim Koch, founder and chairman of Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams, said his company is recreating and bottling New Albion Ale in limited edition to honor and generate some money for McAuliffe.

McAuliffe, who lives now in Fayetteville, Ark., sipped the beer, which is being sold in bottles wearing reproductions of his original label.

"To tell you the truth," he said to the cheers of the Santa Rosa crowd, "I cannot taste any difference between this and my memory of what it was."

--Chris Smith