The late Jim Kennedy’s birthday is also today and I didn’t want to forget to raise a toast to him tonight, either. I never got the opportunity to meet Jim, but we had a lot of mutual friends and colleagues. Jim Kennedy founded Admiralty Beverage (acquired by Columbia Distributing in 1995) and was instrumental in the success of countless early microbreweries in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.
Chosen as “best beer pioneer” by Willamette Week in the weeks prior to his death, here’s what they had to say in 2002:
Let’s all raise a pint to Jim Kennedy. Don’t know who he is? If you’re a beer imbiber, chances are you’ve admired his work. The Pacific Northwest’s quality beverage scene would not exist without Kennedy and what friends call his infectious passion for the finer things in life. Founder, with his wife, Bobbie, of the Admiralty Beverage Company, Jim helped bring craft beers—as well as imports and fine wines—to these parts. He was a major supporter of breweries like Widmer and Deschutes in their early days. It’s a terrible irony that the man so many describe as the most vital force in the country’s thriving brewing scene has only a few weeks to live. After a serious battle with cancer, Kennedy says he doesn’t expect to live out the summer. A few weeks ago, he and Bobbie threw a living wake at Portland Brewing Company. Jim didn’t want to miss a last chance to party with his friends.
My friend and publisher, Tom Dalldorf, attended that living wake, and spent an hour or so interviewing Jim Kennedy. That interview appeared in the August/September issue in 2002. It hit the streets just a few days after Jim passed away. Please join me in raising a toast to his memory.