Beer Birthday: Bill Brand

Today would have been Bill Brand’s 79th birthday, if not for the tragic events of February 8, 2009. Bill, of course, was hit by a Muni Train that evening and passed away twelve days later, on February 20. He was a bastion of support for the local beer community for decades, and one of it’s most visible media faces. He did a staggering amount of good to help brewers throughout the Bay Area, and wrote about the beer he loved so much with an unmatched passion and zeal. His Bottoms Up blog was read by millions, the newest form of his What’s On Tap newsletter that stretched back into the early 1990s. It was my great honor to take over his column and try to continue his legacy of support for craft brewers in the Bay Area and beyond. Drink a toast to the memory and legacy of William “Bill” Brand today. Happy birthday Bill, you are most certainly missed.

Dueling laptops; Bill and me at Magnolia on February 6 for the tapping of Napa Smith Original Albion Ale by Don Barkley. Photo by Shaun O’Sullivan.

At the Falling Rock during GABF week in 2004. Clockwise from left, Bill, Lisa Morrison, me, Tom Dalldorf, Stephen Beaumont and my cousin Mike, who lived in Denver at the time.

Bill toasting with a pitcher of Oakland’s new Linden Street Brewery, with Fraggle at the far right, whose birthday would also have been today. Photo by RRifkin.

Bill taking notes at the Monk’s Blood Dinner at 21st Amendment, February 8, 2009. Photo by Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh.

Drink a toast to Bill today, it’s how he would have wanted to be remembered.


  1. Ed Chainey says

    Bill Brand was friendly to everyone he met, always a good listener and a superb writer. It was truly a privilege to have known him and called him my friend.

  2. says

    Thanks for the reminder, Jay. I toasted Bill with a bottle I had leftover from the last time I saw him. He was doing an article on the 2008 Winter Ales, and we met in the cellar of my shop to taste through a handful in early November. Although still youthful, Mad River’s ’08 John Barleycorn Barleywine was glorious, and a fitting tribute to a dedicated enthusiast. Cheers, Bill~

  3. beerman49 says

    Jay – you’ve been a more than worthy successor to Bill, & I already hoisted a few of Elevation 66’s Ramble Tamble Red (in his honor, retroactively).

  4. The Duke Of Dunkel says

    Thanks Bill…your column rekindled my passion for craft beer. Was looking forward to meeting you during beer week, but it was not to be. I raise a glass of JW Lee’s Calvados in your honor tonight.

    – D.o.D.

  5. Greg Eason says

    My most lasting comment from Bill Brand (paraphrasing I think):

    “Drink your beer from a glass. Pigs drink beer from bottles.”

  6. Jerry Kaufman says

    I sure enjoy your website. I knew Bill many years ago. Knew his family as well. What ever happened to his younger brother Dick Brand? I heard he had been a state patrolman. What happened to his wonderful dad, who was a great animal doctor? And what happened to his first wife Janice? I went to school with all of them except Bill’s dad. Bill’s dad was a friend of my dad back in Nebraska. I went to college with Bill back at the old junior college in our home town in Nebraska. It was the “good old days” back then…

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