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Beer Birthday: Henry “Zadie” Benesch

Today would have been the 104th birthday of Henry “Zadie” Benesch. Unfortunately, he passed away a few days shy of his 101st birthday on January 11, 2021. Until then, the centenarian was believed to be the oldest living person working for a brewery, where he helped out at his grandson’s brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, Union Craft Brewery. Thanks to Gregg Wiggins and Tom Cizauskas for alerting me to this story. You can read more about Zadie in an interview of him from a few years before when he turned 99 from the Washington City Paper. Here is what Yours For Good Fermentables had to say:

Happy 100th birthday to America’s (and the world’s?) oldest brewery worker: Henry ‘Zadie’ Benesch. A World War II veteran, Mr. Benesch works at Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

On Jan. 19, 2020, Henry will celebrate his 100th birthday. He isn’t sure what’s kept him alive for a full century. ‘I can’t answer that, but I say I drank from the fountain of youth when I was 17 and I smoked cigars when I was 22 and I’m still smoking cigars and drinking bourbon.’ “

“His badass-ness just rubs off on all of us,” said Union Craft Brewing co-founder Kevin Blodger. His fellow co-founder, Adam Benesch, is one of Henry’s 16 grandchildren.

Sounds like a fascinating person with a lot of stories to tell. The brewery has declared January 19th as “Zay Day” and thrown a big birthday bash at the brewery. Join me in drinking a toast to Zadie with a beer, a cigar, or bourbon.

In his obituary on Baltimore Jewish Living they reprinted Zadie’s 11 Life Lessons, and I think they bear repeating and taking to heart.

  1. You can never have too many hats.
  2. Vegetables are always optional.
  3. Exercise will kill you.
  4. Travel often and see the world.
  5. Coffee, bourbon, Blackwing Lager and cigars are the four basic life necessities.
  6. Show up and work hard.
  7. Treat everyone you meet with kindness and compassion.
  8. Don’t take life so seriously.
  9. Stay humble.
  10. Keep it simple.
  11. Appreciate what you have.
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