Today is Kurt Widmer’s 65th birthday. Kurt is, of course, one of the bros in Widmer Brothers. He and his brother Rob helped found the Oregon Brewers Festival, created the style American Hefeweizen and are one of the few small brewers that have managed to retain their spirit and reputation as they’ve grown much larger. Last year, Kurt announced that he would be retiring at the end of the year. Join me in wishing Kurt a very happy birthday.
The original rogue, Jack Joyce, who founded Oregon Brewing — better known today as Rogue — would have celebrated his 73rd birthday today. Sadly, he passed away in late May of 2014. Join me in drinking a toast to Jack’s memory today.
Brett and Jack Joyce from an interview by World Class Beverages in 2010.
One of the best photos of Jack I’ve seen. This was taken by Leah Nash for a New York Times article entitled Food and Fuel Compete for Land.
Today is the 43rd birthday of fellow beer writer and aspiring brewery owner Christian DeBenedetti. In 2011, he wrote The Great American Ale Trail and you can check out a lot of his other work online. His latest project is building a brewery on his family’s property, Springbrook Farm, and it’s called the Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery. It’s now been open a short time, and just added food, too. Join me in wishing Christian a very happy birthday.
In front of the brewhouse at Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery, his brewery under construction.
Today is the 49th birthday of Darron Welch, brewmaster at Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon. Darron has something like a gazillion awards for his beers, including “Brewer of the Year” seven times (at GABF in 2000 and 2005 for small brewpub and in 2006 and 2014 for large brewpub; and at the World Beer Cup in 2008, 2012 and 2014 for large brewpub or small brewery). In addition to being a great brewer, Darron is also a terrific person, as well. Join me in wishing him a very happy birthday.
Darron and the gang (including Ben Love at far left) from Pelican Pub & Brewery winning Gold for their Kiwanda Cream Ale at GABF in 2006.
Today is the 44th birthday of Brett Joyce, President of Rogue. Joyce grew up in the brewery, which his father Jack founded when Brett was sixteen. Having gone off to college and made a name for himself working with Adidas, building their international golf shoe business from the ground up, he returned to work for the brewery a number of years ago, and has been Rogue’s president since 2006. I’ve gotten to know Brett much better since his return, beginning with when I interviewed him a number of years ago for a Beer Advocate magazine article profiling him. Join me in wishing Brett a very happy birthday.
Today is the 57th birthday of Karl Ockert, who is the Director of Brewery Operations at Deschutes Brewing. But Karl spent many years as the BridgePort Brewing Co. in Portland, Oregon, nearly thirty years, from 1983 to late 2010. That’s when I first met Karl, who was responsible for one of the first IPAs in the modern era, BridgePort IPA. For the last few years he was the Technical Director of the MBAA and also did some brewery consulting, before joining Deschutes last summer. Join me wishing Karl a very happy birthday.
Karl when he was with the MBAA.
Debuting Stumptown Tart.
“Co-founders Dick and Nancy Ponzi, pose with BridgePort’s first brewmaster, Karl Ockert, at the brewery’s grand opening in 1984 when it was known by its original name “Columbia River Brewery.” At the time, patrons could taste beer at the brewery, but not legally purchase it onsite. The Ponzis, along with other local brewers, successfully lobbied on behalf of the Brewpub Bill, which made it possible for local brewers to sell their products directly to the public.” [From the Multnomah County Library.]
“BridgePort’s crew in 1986 included Karl Ockert (at left), the brewery’s first brewmaster, and Ron Gansberg (center), who later became brewmaster at Cascade Brewing. Ockert was just 23 years old and a recent graduate of the brewing program at the University of California at Davis when Richard and Nancy Ponzi hired him.” [From the Multnomah County Library.]
“Karl Ockert, BridgePort’s original brewmaster, is seen in the center of this photograph from 1985 when BridgePort was still known as Columbia River Brewery. Flanking him are other figures from Portland’s craft brewery vanguard. From left, Steve Harrison, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Fred Eckhardt, beer columnist; Fred Bowman, Portland Brewing Co.; Paul Shipman, Independent Brewing Co.; Karl Ockert, Columbia River Brewery; Tom Baune, Hart Brewing Co.; Jim Temple, General Brewing Co.; Mike McMenamin, McMenamins; and Kurt Widmer, Widmer Brewing Co.” [From the Multnomah County Library.]
Today is the 60th birthday of Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewing in Bend, Oregon. Gary grew up in Northern California wine country, but relocated to Bend to start the brewery in 1987, opening the original brewpub the following year. Since then, they built a production brewery and have gone on to open two additional brewpub locations, one in Bend and one in Portland. As of last year, they were the 5th largest craft brewery and the 11th largest brewery in America. Not bad for a brewery with a Porter as its flagship. Plus, Gary is a great person to discuss politics with, preferably over a beer. Join me in wishing Gary a very happy birthday.
Larry Sidor, former brewmaster at Deschutes (and now at his Crux Fermentation Project), with Alan Sprints (from Hair of the Dog) and Gary at their downtown Bend brewpub when we visited there last summer on a family vacation.
U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, Gary, and Representative Greg Walden — all from Oregon — enjoying craft beer at a Capitol Hill reception when the Small Brewers Conference held their first meeting.
Today is Rob Widmer’s 60th birthday. Rob is, of course, one of the bros in Widmer Brothers. He and his brother Kurt helped found the Oregon Brewers Festival, created the style American Hefeweizen and are one of the few small brewers that have managed to retain their spirit and reputation as they’ve grown much larger. Join me in wishing Rob a very happy birthday.
Rob with the Ralph’s (Olson and Woodall) from HopUnion at the 15th Anniversary Party for the Celebrator Beer News.
Today is the 49th birthday of Tyler Brown, founder of Barley Brown’s Brew in Baker City, Oregon. I first met Tyler somewhere in Portland, some years ago, and his beers are amazing. Most recently, other GABF, I saw him at Belmont Station, and I thought I had a picture of him wearing the Belmont Crown. Alas, I could not find it. Join me in wishing Tyler a very happy birthday.
Today is the 57th birthday of Alan Sprints. Alan is the founder of Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, Oregon. Alan makes some of the most unique and wonderful beers, not just in Portland, but anywhere, all the more impressive because he brews out of an old Campbell’s soup kettle. He recently relocated the brewery, now with a tasting room, to a new location on S.E. Yamhill in Portland. And a couple of years back, he came over to our home and brewed a version of his wonderful Doggie Claws with my son Porter on his brew sculpture. Alan is simply one of the best brewers anywhere. Join me in wishing Alan a very happy birthday.