R.I.P. Don Younger 1941-2011

I just heard that Don Younger, owner of the Horse Brass in Portland, passed away last night around 12:30 a.m. He will be greatly missed. The craft beer community has lost one of its earliest and most ardent supporters, and a great friend to so many of us. Here’s to you, Don.

I just spoke to Lisa Morrison, who was up very late, first at the Hospital and then out with friends toasting and celebrating Don Younger’s life. Though nothing definite has been decided, it’s likely there will be a charity wake at some point soon. One story she told me seemed to sum it up best. There was a parade of visitors at the hospital going in, one at a time, to visit Don, and the nurse asked who Don was, to which Lisa replied “he was our Messiah.” Amen.

Don Younger 1941-2011

Below is an interview Tom Dalldorf of the Celebrator Beer News did along with Lisa Morrison for the 30th anniversary of the Horse Brass.


  1. says

    Don was an amazing force for beer not only in the Portland area but throughout the vast ale trail. His sister pub in England will be morning as well. His legacy lives on in every pint properly pour and served.

  2. Drew Cluley says

    I hope for Don’s sake they pour a proper pint in heaven; and allow indoor smoking, or at least a smoking cloud adjacent to heavens taphouse. We all will miss the sage advice and down home story telling that Don was always willing to share. This evening I will raise a glass to his memory.

  3. Janelle Pritchard says

    Thank you, Jay, for posting this interview. He was a true NW beer pioneer who lived life on his own terms. We have much to celebrate about his life. And thank you to everyone at the hospital who let him know how loved he was in his last hours.

  4. W.Dan says

    He was a beautiful iconoclast who didn’t give a fig about what others thought about his actions and the beer world is better because of it. I will smoke a cigarette and drink a pint or three to honor his memory and ideals.

  5. Fal says

    Ohhh Don, I wish I had known that would session would be our last, I would have had that (those) extra MaCallen(s) with you. Thank you for everything. Portland will be a little less interesting from now on. You will be much missed my friend.

  6. iain mclennon says

    Don brought so much color to Portland in the form of authenticity – not just in his two pubs, but the way in which he faced life: Large, loud, and enjoying every minute of it, honestly and to the fullest. No one has to live life missing Don – just drop by the pub and tip a pint to him – he’ll be there.

  7. Marty Jones says

    Oh man. That is sad, sad news.

    The beer world just lost one of its most colorful characters and trailblazers.

    My condolences to the fine folks of Portland who had the pleasure of knowing Don much more closely than us long-distance followers.

  8. LL says

    My husband and I were in Portland some years back for OBF and we dropped by the Horse Brass too early, it wasn’t open yet. Some old dude wandering around asked it we wanted to go in, and hey, he had a key! Turns out it was Don himself and he showed us around. We were pretty dazzled because there just aren’t many pubs that truly get it right with the English feel, artery clogging breakfasts and all. He was an American legend and we’ll always remember meeting him. Salute!!

  9. easong says

    The Horse Brass may be the best truly American pub I have ever entered. Well done Don, may you inspire a thousand more to copy you.

  10. says

    The best hour or so I spent in Portland (and one of the best in my life) was over beers with Don. I was no kid at the time, but I felt like one, listening to him unravel so much history, philosophy, passion and and humor.

    I’m a fan of the thought experiment “who in history would you like to have a beer with?”. The cast changes depending on my mood, but Mark Twain is always on that list. Well Samuel, now you have some company -and I think you’ll find it splendid. Best of all, I had the pleasure already and I’ll always cherish it. What an extraordinary man. Thanks Don, for all you did to color this world, both vivid and nuanced. You left it forever changed for the better.

  11. Steve Frank says

    What a great loss of a great human being, and an original iconoclast. I fondly remember him taking me, a complete stranger at the time, under his wing and touring Portland’s beer history. Don was the one who introduced me to beer for breakfast and, to paraphrase WC Fields, I never stopped to thank him. Don, you are sorely missed.

  12. Fred Scheer says

    In November 2010 I had the honor to visit The Horse Brass pub and had some pints with Don.
    We will miss you……………………….

  13. elvis says

    i just remember going to the HB and seeing him, standing on the left side of the main bar or sitting at the table to the left, with a pack of yellow American Spirits, looking as happy as can be.


  14. Gary & Brian says

    My son Brian and I loved Don Younger. A few years ago he found out we were going to London for the inaugural NFL game and set us up in Wimbledon at the Horse Brass sister pub and they treated us as gracciously as Don did when we were at the Horse Brass. Even let me draw from the cask…..I will miss you Don, and my son Brian will forever remember your as a mentor, friend, first class enteprenuer, and mostly a great guy to have a pint with…..R.I.P


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