Today is the 43rd 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. I’ve gotten to know Brett much better since his return, beginning with when I interviewed him several years ago for a Beer Advocate magazine article profiling him. Join me in wishing Brett a very happy birthday.
Today is the 59th 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 59th 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.
Kurt Widmer, the older brother in Widmer Brothers Brewing, announced today he will be retiring at the end of 2015 from the day-to-day work with the business he founded with his brother Rob in 1984, 31 years ago.
Here’s the press release from the Craft Brew Alliance:
Kurt R. Widmer, 63, co-founder of Widmer Brothers Brewing, announced today that he will retire from Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. (“CBA”) and will be leaving CBA’s Board of Directors at the end of the year. At that time, he will assume the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus. Mr. Widmer has served as Chairman of the Board since Craft Brew Alliance was formed in 2008 through the merger of pioneering Pacific Northwest craft brewing companies Redhook Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewing. Previously, Mr. Widmer served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Widmer Brothers Brewing Company from 1984 until 2008.
Mr. Widmer will remain in his role through December 31, 2015 to support the transition as CBA’s Board of Directors engages in the process of selecting a new Chairperson.
“Since my brother Rob and I founded Widmer Brothers Brewing over 31 years ago, this extraordinary industry that we helped create has grown and evolved in ways I couldn’t even imagine,” said Mr. Widmer. “Many of us who set the foundation for today’s booming craft beer market are thinking about the next chapter in our lives, and my wife Ann and I have been discussing the fact that there’s still a lot we want to do. So while I’ll miss walking into my office at the brewery every day, I’m admittedly looking forward to more time with my family and doing more of what I love to do – whether it’s traveling around the world or home brewing in the basement.”
He continued, “In terms of timing, I feel really good about where CBA is today. Looking back on how CBA has grown from two craft beer companies to a powerful alliance of great beers, brands, breweries and partners, I couldn’t be more confident in the future. The focus, expertise, and vision of the leadership team, under the helm of Andy Thomas, are further proof that CBA, its people, and its shareholders are in great hands. People who know me will probably not believe that I’m stepping away from Widmer Brothers and CBA. As a Widmer Brother, I will always look forward to that next innovative collaboration or a chance to connect with Widmer fans over a pint of Hefe at a local account.”
Kurt and Rob Widmer co-founded Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Oregon in 1984 with help from their father Ray. They are among a handful of brewers in the United States credited with creating a universally recognized new style in 1986 with Hefe, the original American-style Hefeweizen and the #1 selling craft beer in Oregon.
“I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of truly remarkable people in this industry, and Kurt Widmer is definitely at the top of the list,” said Andy Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, CBA. “From his role in creating the craft beer category, to his foresight and vision in bringing together CBA to secure his brands’ route to market — and the adversity he faced as a direct result — to the role he continues to play as an impassioned advocate of our industry, Kurt has made a profound impact on many of us. CBA wouldn’t be CBA without Kurt Widmer, and I am grateful for his support and confidence as we continue forward.”
Today is the 56th 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 last year, 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.
Today is Fred Bowman’s 71st birthday. Fred co-founded the Portland Brewing Co., which was bought a few years ago byPyramid Breweries, which in turn was bought by Magic Hat and then again by North American Breweries. Fred continues to be very active in the craft beer community, and has been supportive of the movement since the beginning. A couple of years ago, he dropped by and stayed with us during his drive ’round the country in a van, visiting old friends and family. Join me in wishing Fred a happy birthday.
By the Celebrator booth at OBF, from left, John Harris (head brewer at Full Sail Brewing), Tom Dalldorf, and Fred.
I just learned from my friend, and Belmont Station owner, Lisa Morrison that legendary beer writer Fred Eckhardt has passed away. Apparently he died peacefully in his sleep this morning, with a few caregivers by his side.
Portland native Eckhardt was 89, and was a pioneer in writing about and defining beer styles with his early book on the subject, The Essentials of Beer Style, published in 1989. Annually in Portland, the FredFest beer festival has been held since his 80th birthday to honor Fred and his contributions to the modern beer and homebrewing scene. As Lisa observed. “He was one of the giants on whose shoulders we stand. What a life he lived, what he gave to us all.” He will be greatly missed. Join beer lovers everywhere as we raise a toast to Fred’s memory and to his enduring legacy tonight.
Fred in 1969, from the back cover of his book, A Treatise on Lager Beers.
Fred Eckhardt and me at the Great American Beer Festival in 2005.
Today is Matt Van Wyk’s 43rd birthday. Matt was the brewmaster at Flossmoor Station but a number of years ago moved to Eugene, Oregon to brew at Oakshire Brewing. He also used to co-write one of the best brewer’s blogs, the Flossmoor Station Blog and is now blogging for Oakshire, though not nearly as much these days. Join me in wishing Matt a very happy birthday.
Today is John Harris’ 52nd birthday. Until not to long ago, — and for a long time — John was the head brewer at Full Sail Brewing and was responsible for many of their excellent beers. He’s more recently opened his own brewery in Portland, Ecliptic Brewing. John also occasionally plays washboard with the Rolling Boil Blues Band. Plus he’s a terrific person, so join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.
By the Celebrator booth at OBF, from left, John, Tom Dalldorf, and Fred Bowman, co-founder of Portland Brewing Co.
John speaking very passionately about something or other at Elysian Brewing in Seattle, as Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment is about to accost him.
Today would have been publican extraordinaire Don Younger’s 74th birthday. He ran the famous Horse Brass pub in Portland, Oregon, along with a few others, for many years. Don was a wonderful person and his early and continuing support of craft beer helped make Portland the great beer town it is today. As you undoubtedly recall, Don passed away unexpectedly in January, four years ago. Join me in wishing Don a very Happy birthday and raising a toast to his memory.
Don Younger and me outside the Falling Rock in Denver, Colorado.
Don with braided hair with Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment Brewery.
10, 20, 30: The same year, Dave Keene (center) was celebrating his 20th anniversary, flanked by Don Younger (on the left), whose bar the Horse Brass in Portland celebrated its 30th anniversary, and Chris Black (on the right), whose Denver, Colorado bar, The Falling Rock, celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Don bookended by Robin and Jonathan Surratt, who runs beermapping.com, displaying his excellent taste in attire at the Falling Rock during GABF week 2007.