Sunday, February 27, 2011

Legend celebrates its 17th; announces expansion

Legend Brewing
Legend Brewing Company brewed its first beer in February of 1994. Today, the Richmond, Virginia, brewery throws a party to celebrate its 17th birthday. Beforehand, I talked with Dave Gott —Vice-President of Operations— about this milestone.

Legend —and, that is without an 's'— is both a production brewery, downstairs, and a bustling brewpub, upstairs. The brewery produces six flagship beers —Lager, Pilsner, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Golden IPA, and Porter, and 12 seasonals. The pub serves the beers on tap —and a cask every Friday— and has a kitchen offfering casual American fare. There is live music on Friday and Sunday nights, bluegrass on Sunday. An outdoor patio overlooks the James River.

Legend beers

Prior to 2009, Legend had packaged its beer in kegs and 22 ounce bottles. That year, however, the brewery purchased a bottling line geared for 12 ounce bottles. In large measure because of that, Dave Gott told me, the brewery experienced 45% growth last year, recession notwithstanding, selling 9,200 barrels of beer, its greatest volume to date.

Legend 6-packs

To handle that enviable growth, the brewery has ordered six additional fermentation/maturation tanks. That configuration of thirty-some tanks and a 30-barrel brewhouse will enable production to reach 15,000 barrels. Once that volume is reached, Gott revealed, the brewery will need larger digs.

Legend brewhouse

And, that is indeed welcome —'breaking'— news!

Legend would prefer to stay at its W. 7th street location, but operations would need to be moved into neighboring buildings. If that weren't possible, a move elsewhere is also being considered. One possibility, would be for the existing brewery to produce draft for the brewpub, and to produce specialty beers in the 22-ounce bottles. The newer larger facility would upgrade to at least a 50 barrel brewkettle; the brewpub would keep the current 30 barrel kettle. (A barrel is the equivalent of 13.7 cases of beer.)

Legend Imperial IPA (02)

Whatever may happen —and Gott emphasized all this is only at the exploratory stage at present— the brewpub is NOT moving, he emphasizes. "We love it here, and our loyal customers, and we plan to stay."

Legend currently sells its beers only in Virginia, but, Gott told me, moving into larger facilites will allow the brewery to expand distribution into the neighboring states of North Carolina and Maryland.

Legend was founded in 1994 by Tom Martin, who has a Masters in Brewing Science from Berkeley. Martin's father was the Vice-President of European Brewing Operations for Anheuser-Busch, and the original brewmaster at the Budweiser plant in Williamsburg, Virginia.

John Wampler is the head brewer and Vice-President of Production; he was hired in 1995. Dave Gott joined in late 1996. Rick Uhler —Vice-President for Sales & Marketing— began working for the brewery in early 1995. The brewing staff consists of three brewers —Wampler along with Mike Killelea and Alex Coppola— assisted by three cellarman.

The current register of seasonal and specialty beers includes:
  • ESB
  • Maibock
  • HopFest
  • Begian White
  • Belgian Tripel
  • Belgian Quadrupel
  • Hefeweizen
  • Oktoberfest
  • Chocolate Porter
  • Imperial IPA
  • Smoked Chocolate Stout
  • Barleywine
Throughout its 17 year history, Gott concluded, Legend has striven to produce the best possible beers in their styles for its customers to enjoy. The brewery is confident that there will be many more satisfied customers in the years to come.

I'm one of them.

Legendary Distributing truck

Photos from the celebration: here.

Legend Brewing Company
321 West 7th Street Richmond, Virginia
Phone: 804.232.8871 / Pub: 804.232.3446
Pub hours: 11:30am - 11pm (Sunday opening at 12:30pm)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pic(k) of the Week: Camel Smooch

After I offered this camel a cup of food pellets, he became very friendly.

Camel smooch (03)

At the Metro Richmond Zoo, which is actually in Moseley, Virginia, several miles outside of the city of Richmond.

19 February 2011.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on a Saturday, and often of a 'good fermentable' as subject.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hugh Sisson brings 471 year old beer to northern Virginia.

Heavy Seas Brewing Company
Friday evening, Bilbo Baggins Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, is hosting a tasting of 8 beers from Heavy Seas Brewing of Baltimore, Maryland.

Brewery owner Hugh Sisson will travel the 45 miles south from his brewery, across the Potomac River, to provide commentary. He is providing a beer that has been four hundred and seventy one years in the making.

In the year 1540 A.D., in an area that later came to be known as Wye, Maryland, an acorn fell to the ground. That acorn would grow to become the Wye Oak, a white oak tree measured at almost 32 feet wide, 96 feet tall, and 119 feet at its crown.

The Wye Oak

In 2002, a violent thunderstorm would finally fell the Wye Oak. The state of Maryland collected the wood, and awarded it to a number of woodworkers to produce commemorative pieces of art. Maryland craftsman John Gasparine was granted permission to create the commemorative Star-Spangled Banger, the mallet used to tap the first cask of beer for the opening ceremonies of the inaugural Baltimore Beer Week, held in 2009 aboard the wooden warship U.S.S. Constitution, in Baltimore, Maryland's Inner Harbor.

Star-Spangled Banger (2)

Fast forward to four weeks ago.

The Heavy Seas Brewing Company was granted permission to brew beer with a few precious fragments from the Wye Oak. Stephen Marsh —the brewery's cellarmaster— carved fragments into domino-sized blocks and toasted them.

He racked (brewery jargon for transferred through a hose) 10.8 gallons of the brewery's India Pale AleLoose Cannon— into three firkins —10.8 gallon casks— adding the wood chips, whole leaf hops, and a measure of high krausen Loose Cannon —that is, another batch of the beer whose yeast had just begun to vigorously ferment.

The hops added to the cask have local provenance. Citrusy varietals of Cascade, Palisade, Chinook, and Magnum whole leaf hops were grown at Still Point Farm and Blaze's Folly Farm, both located in Frederick, Maryland, as well as at Marsh's own home garden.

Heavy Seas' Cellarman Marsh

Several days of warm storage at the brewery allowed the freshly fermenting beer within the cask to produce gentle carbonation. 'Warm' is a relative term. Winter temperatures have been somewhat cold recently, so Marsh lifted the casks high on scaffolding to catch the warmer temperatures lofted there from the boiling brewkettle.

Marsh produced only three such firkins: two for special Maryland beer events, and the final triplet for this beer tasting. In addition, Michael Armellino —chef and owner of Bilbo Baggins— found room in his cellar to save some other beers from the brewery. So, after the introductory glass of Bilbo Baggins Lager, he'll also serve:
  • a rare winter Triple, Yule Tide, aged since 2009, 10% abv.
  • Below Decks Barleywine (10% abv), vintage 2009.
  • Red Sky At Night Saison (7.5% abv), vintage 2010.
  • Winter Storm Category 5 Ale (Imperial ESB style) 7.5% ab., released this winter, in 2010.
  • Holy Sheet Uber Abbey Ale (9% abv), released about this time, but in 2010.
The menu for the evening consists of Bilbo Baggins's flat bread pizzas and poutine (handcut french fries topped with New York white Cheddar cheese curds, Italian sausage, and homemade gravy), served throughout the tasting, rather than formally paired with a beer. The final course, however, will be specific: chocolate-ganache truffles, coated in cocoa and coffee, served with bottles of Heavy Seas Siren Noire Imperial Chocolate Stout, released in January 2011.

Bilbo Baggins (03)

Hugh Sisson is not only the owner of Heavy Seas, he is a 'craft' beer pioneer of the DC/MD/VA area. Before opening the Heavy Seas production brewery in 1995, he founded the area's first-ever brewpub —Sisson's— in Baltimore, in 1989.

Hugh Sisson talks

His eight Heavy Seas beers at the tasting tomorrow should offer a fascinating melange of flavors, procedures, and character: several cellared beers, and one fresh and still fermenting beer, locally hopped and prepared with 471 years of oaked maturity.

From an acorn came a mighty oak —and now comes a tasty beer.


  • Photos from the dinner: here.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virgina— I sell the beers of Heavy Seas.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pic(k) of the Week: Real Bright Real Ale

Bright Real Ale

Real bright real ale: a pint of cask-conditioned IronMan Pale Ale (in a 3 Lions Brown Ale pint glass), as seen at Cask Lab, taught by Steve Jones —brewmaster for Oliver Breweries of Baltimore, Maryland— at Columbia Firehouse Restaurant, in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday, 16 February.

Real ale is a beer brewed from traditional ingredients (malted barley, hops water and yeast), matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.

Brewers use ingredients which are fresh and natural, resulting in a drink which tastes natural and full of flavour. It is literally living as it continues to ferment in the cask in your local pub, developing its flavour as it matures ready to be poured into your glass.

Real ale is also known as ‘cask-conditioned beer’, ‘real cask ale’, real beer’, and ‘naturally conditioned beer.’

Campaign for Real Ale

Although cask-conditioned beer is never filtered, Jones explained, a proper pint of it will never be clouded with sediment, yeast, or haze. It will be "crystal."

  • More about Cask Lab: here. More photos: here.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virgina— I sell the ales of Oliver Breweries.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on a Saturday, and often of a 'good fermentable' as subject.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beer-full Mid-Atlantic Weekend

It's quite the beer-full Presidents' Day weekend, in the mid-Atlantic area.

The Blue-Gray Show —an exhibition of beer memorabilia, known as breweriana— continues through Sunday, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Blue-Gray Show, which began modestly in 1980, is now the largest such exhibition on the East Coast. There's more information (and directions) at the and on Facebook.


In Baltimore, Maryland, it's the 7th annual running of the Belgians ... Belgian beers, that is.

Max's TapHouse Belgian Beer Fest features ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIX Belgian beers on tap, ONE-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-TWO bottled Belgian beers, and 6 locally-produced 'Belgian-style' casks served via beer engine handpumps. There is no entrance fee, simply the cost of any beers ordered. The fest runs today from 11am until 2am, and during the same hours on Saturday and Sunday. The pub has 102 draft lines, so not all the beers will be offered at the same time. As well, many of the rarer beers will probably sell out today or early Saturday. To replace them, Max's will add. on Sunday, Belgian-style drafts, produced in the United States.

The pub will offer a Belgian-inspired food menu, and display eight hundred images from over sixty Belgian breweries, prepared by peripatetic beer writer Chuck Cook.

Max's celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, with events throughout the year. The first will be this Saturday with a tapping of 25 to 1, a special 'Belgian-style' beer brewed for the pub by Stillwater Artisianal Ales, which celebrates its own 1 year anniversary.

For more information, go to Max's website or its Facebook page. The site does not list the draft and bottle list. To peruse that, go to Sandy Mitchell's Beer in Baltimore blog.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steve Jones has a glass-bottom ... firkin

It's a Cask Ale Lab, Wednesday, 16 February, as classic cask ale techniques come to the Columbia Firehouse Restaurant, in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. None will be flat, cloudy, or warm!

Columbia Firehouse Restaurant

Steve Jones, brewmaster of Oliver Breweries at the Pratt Street Ale House, in Baltimore, Maryland, travels to Columbia Firehouse Restaurant to discuss and pour cask-conditioned real ale. He'll describe the brewing process (traditional English techniques), explain the difference between casks and 'regular' kegs, talk about cask ale terminology and technique, and, of course, reveal how to enjoy an authentic pint of cask-conditioned beer.

Beginning at 5:30, Jones will tap and serve from a unique glass-bottomed firkin (10.8 gallon cask) of his IronMan Pale Ale. In an instructive visual, the beer, hops, and yeast sediment can be seen within the firkin itself.

Glass 'head' firkin (01)

Here's how Jones describes IronMan Pale Ale:
A very English pale ale, balancing malt and hops rather than a citrus hop assault! The base malt is a mixture of English Halcyon and Canadian Pale Ale with a little crystal 45 and malted wheat added. The bittering hop is English First Gold made as a single addition at the start of the boil. The finishing hop is Kent Golding leaf steeped in a hopback through which hot wort is passed prior to cooling on transfer to fermentation. 6.2% alcohol-by-volume (abv). [The name is an homage to Hall of Fame baseball shortstop/third baseman, Cal Ripken, Jr., who set the record of playing in 2,632 consecutive games.]

Another one of Oliver cask beers —3 Lions Brown Ale— will be served handpulled through a traditional beer engine at the main bar. Again, from Jones:

Three Lions is a heraldic symbol adopted by the British Royal family (Richard The Lionheart, etc.) Nowadays, it's worn by English National teams (football, rugby, etc.). I originally brewed Three Lions as a one-off in support of our rugby team in the Rugby World Cup. Everyone loved it, and it stayed on tap. 3 Lions is a nod to my heritage and I thought suited the beer style: a big, bold, full bodied English Brown Ale. The full complexity of the body offers undertones of anise, hints of sweet toffee. and a well-rounded, dry finish. Hopped with Challenger, First Gold, and Bramling Cross. 7.5% abv.
[For this event, Jones specially aged the beer over oak staves.]

Throughout the evening's Cask Lab, Columbia Firehouse will serve complimentary 'small bites', and offer brewery glassware per participant. There is no entry fee. Participants simply pay for the beers they order. The event concludes at 10pm.

Oliver Breweries was established in 1993 in what was known then as The Wharf Rat Pub, located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland, across from the Baltimore Convention Center and Camden Yards Ballpark. The restaurant and brewery were sold in 2009; the pub, quite successful, is now known as the Pratt Street Alehouse. The brewing equipment was imported from the U.K. The brewery's ales are brewed with imported malt and hops, using a traditional single infusion mash technique, and fermented in open vats with English Ringwood ale yeast.

Oliver's Brewhouse

Steve Jones graduated from the University of Warwick, Coventry U.K., with a Bachelors of Science (Honors) in Biochemistry. He has a diploma in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, London. Stephen brewed for the Firkin Brewery in Coventry and Loughborough in the U.K. for six years before joining Oliver Breweries in December of 1999.

The special firkin —with both a glass top and bottom (referred to as the heads of a cask)— is actually the property of Steve Parkes, on a long term loan to Oliver Breweries. Parkes, a degreed brewer —also originally from the UK— is the owner of the American Brewers Guild, an on-line brewing school, based in Vermont. The firkin was specially fabricated for him by keg (and cask) manufacturer Maisoneuve.

  • UPDATE: Photos from the event: here.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for beer & wine wholesaler Select Wines, Inc., I sell the ales of Oliver Breweries in northern Virginia.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for 2011 Weeks 5/6

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A non-comprehensive roundup of two weeks'
news of beer and other things.

Weeks 5/6
30 January 2011 - 12 February 2011

  • 2011.02.12
    New brewpub coming to Richmond VA: Haxall Brewing, in summer 2011. Via blogger Relentless Thirst.
  • 2011.02.12
    "There are more breweries than stoplights in Nelson County, Virginia." The Happy Hour Guys visit Devils Backbone Brewing Company brewpub. Via Musings Over A Pint.
  • 2011.02.11
    Vandals destroy a 500 year old Austrian grapevine said to be the ancestor of modern Gruner Veltliner.
  • 2011.02.11
    After nearly 30 years of rule Egyptian President Hosni Mubarack resigns, under pressure.

  • The Galleria
  • 2011.02.11
    Cystic Fibrosis Washington DC Brewer's Ball. Great beer for great cause. 12 March 2011. Via DC Beer.
  • 2011.02.11
    The Singularity arrives in 2045, the year, a scientist believes, that computers will become sentient. Via TIME
  • 2011.02.09
    More speculation about the possibility of a 2011 purchase of SABMiller by ABInBev.

  • Legends, Ltd. Trade Show 005
  • 2011.02.09
    Birthday in Beer: Ron Fischer, US cask ale authority.
  • 2011.02.09
    Be famous! Drink 'craft' beer! Apply to be on the tasting panel for the Washington Post's 2011 Beer Madness.
  • 2011.02.08
    'Extreme' beer in the 19th century: sweet, strong (11+% abv) Burton Ale for the Northwest Passage and the St. Petersburg Court. Via Zythophile.
  • 2011.02.08
    How about a 'Super' carbon offset? The energy consumption of Cowboys Stadium, during the Super Bowl, etc.
  • 2011.02.08
    What is SAVOR? A $110 ticket national beer-with-food exposition sponsored by the Brewers Association, in Washington, D.C., 3/4 June 2011.
  • 2011.02.07
    The White House served its own homebrewed Honey Ale at President Obam's Super Bowl party. Via Charlie Papazian

  • Virginia cheeses
  • 2011.02.07
    The FDA to examine raw-milk cheese. Action could threaten artisinal cheesemakers.
  • 2011.02.06
    “That Brewery Sucks.” A rant from Full Steam Brewery in North Carolina on breweries, community, and incivility.
  • 2011.02.05
    Democrats in the Virginia Senate join with Republicans in the House to block Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's plan to privatize state ABC liquor stores.
  • 2011.02.04
    The internet, as it is now, will begin to run out of addresses within a few months.
  • 2011.02.04
    An essay by Virginia winery Keswick Vineyards on how wine bloggers can be friends and foes.

  • broaching casks in cooler
  • 2011.02.04
    Beer bloggers compare beer from cask, keg, bottle, and can. Beer Blogging Friday: The Session.
  • 2011.02.03
    The strange new guidelines on alcohol in the US government's new Dietary Guidelines. From Beer Business Daily.
  • 2011.02.02
    Flickr accidentally destroys an account containing over 4,000 photos, all unrecoverable. Via Tech Crunch.
  • 2011.02.02
    Victory Brewing of Pennsylvania celebrates its 15th anniversary this month. Via Lew Bryson.
  • 2011.02.02
    Growlers Brewpub in Gaithersburg, Maryland, re-opens. Via Baltimore Beer Guy.
  • 2011.02.02
    Despite midwest blizzard, it's an early spring warming, according to groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, who did NOT see his shadow.
  • 2011.02.02
    How to read a wine bottle. Via Washington Post's wine critic, Dave McIntyre.
  • 2011.02.02
    Proactive response: Deschutes Brewery detects an unintended brett infection in its barleywine, and offers consumers refunds. Via BeerNews.
  • 2011.02.01
    Decade-long delayed expansion back on track at Racer's Cafe, north of Baltimore, Maryland. To finally include a kitchen.
  • 2011.02.01
    R.I.P. Don Younger 1941-2011: Portland's Horse Brass Pub proprietor; examplar for US publicans. Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories  not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from my Twitter account:
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pic(k) of the Week: Beer Discussions

Making (beer) points

New Year's at Mekong Restaurant: a Vietnamese restaurant on the west side of Richmond, Virginia, that specializes in Belgian beers, with many on draught.

Owner An Bui (l) gestures as patron Evan Setzer (r) responds. Eric Delia (c) —author of beer blog Relentless Thirst— observes. Discussions about beer can be animated!

1 January 2011.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on a Saturday, and often of a 'good fermentable' as subject.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Port City Brewing ships, opens

Port City Brewing Company

Port City Brewing Company began shipping kegs of its beers this week to a few select restaurants and pubs in Virginia and Washington, D.C. That makes Port City the first production brewery to operate in the city of Alexandria, Virginia, since 31 October 1916, when the Robert Portner Brewing Company last extinguished its kettle.

Port City 4

Port City will have four 'flagship' beers.

Optimal Wit is already available in a few outlets. Essential Pale Ale and Porter (and, that's the name!) will be shipped next week. Monumental I.P.A. is being dry-hopped today, using a hop cannon, a device designed by lead brewer Jonathon Reeves. Monumental will be shipped when he deems the aromatics ready.

To ensure that those pubs which get the beer will have an uninterrupted supply, owner Bill Butcher and head brewer Jonathan Reeves plan to take things slowly at first. The short list, for now, includes Argonaut, Big Hunt, Black Squirrel, ChurchKey, and Smith Commons in Washington, D.C., and, in northern Virginia, Columbia Firehouse Restaurant, Evening Star Cafe, Food Matters, Galaxy Hut, and Rustico. More will follow as production is ramped up. At present, the beers are kegged only; the bottling line will first be used on 14 February.

Port City Brewing is NOT a brewpub; it is a production brewery. However, the facility WILL be open to the public today from 12-5 and tomorrow, Sunday, from 12-4. Owner Bill Butcher and lead brewer Jonathan Reeves will be on hand to offer sample tastes of Optimal Wit and Essential Pale Ale, and, yes, to fill growlers. (Open as well for a preview on Friday evening, the tasting room was filled with nearly 200 people, Butcher told me.)

UPDATE: The tasting room is now officially open, but only on weekends:
Friday 4-8pm
Saturday 12-5pm
Sunday 12-5pm

Public tours begin at 2pm and 3pm on Saturdays; reservations are not required. The cost is $5 and includes a tasting glass to keep and a full tasting of all the beers on tap. Growlers (take home re-usable glass containers) can be purchased. Growlers from other breweries will be filled, for a fee, as well.

Tour group

For more details, go to Facebook, Twitter, or the website: The physical address is: 3950 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria, VA, 22304.

  • More photos from the preview tour: here.
  • Photos of the brewery under construction: here.

Pic(k) of the Week: Tiny Bubbles

Tiny Bubbles (01)

The release of a stream of bubbles of carbon dioxide in this sight glass indicates an active beer fermentation within the tank. When fermentation subsides, and the beer is lagered, it will be a Golden Export Lager at ...

Gordon-Biersch Brewery & Restaurant
Tysons Corner, Virginia.
4 February 2010.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on a Saturday, and often of a 'good fermentable' as subject.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

FREE Beer & Cheese

Wendy Buckley owns and operates Screwtop —a wine bar, café, and shop— in the Clarendon district of Arlington, Virginia.

Wendy also sells —and likes— cheese and beer. Wednesday, 2 February, 2011, she'll pair those two in a demonstration she calls a Super Bowl Beer & Easy Cheesy Appetizers Class.

Screwtop Wine Bar

Participants will taste five beers with five cheese-based appetizers. Prepare-at-home recipe cards will be available. Here's the lineup:
  • Prairie Breeze Cheddar.
    Served with Stoudt's Winter Ale.
    Hoppy red ale. 6.2% alcohol-by-volume (abv). Pennsylvania.
  • Red Dragon Mustard Seed Cheese.
    Served with The Raven Special Lager.
    Amber lager. 5.5% abv. Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Morbier Cheese, Spicy Chorizo Salami, and Beer Mustard.
    Served with Allagash Dubbel.
    'Belgian abbey-style' ale. 7% abv. Maine.
  • Buttermilk Blue Cheese/Roqufort Dip on Endive.
    Served with Heavy Seas Siren Noire Imperial Chocolate Stout.
    Strong stout, brewed with chocolate nibs. 8% abv. Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Fondue prepared with Gruyere and Comte Cheese, and Beer.
    Served with Brooklyn Brewing Local 1.
    Strong 'Belgian-style' pale ale. 9% abv. Brooklyn, New York.
I'll be on hand to assist Wendy, to talk a bit about the beers, and to offer some enthusiastic suggestions on pairing beer with cheese.

So, how much would you pay for all of this? $40? ... $30 .... $20? Well, how about zero, nada, nothing!

Wendy is offering all of this sipping and nibbling for free, but with one proviso. For that $0 price, you have to be a member of Screwtop's wine club. Otherwise, the cost is five dollars.

Beer for cheese (01)


  • Easy Cheesey Recipe cards: here.
  • More on beer with cheese: here.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative of Select Wines, Inc. —a northern Virginia wholesaler of beer and wine— I sell all of the beers in this event.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

We're the lesser without Don Younger.

Don Younger has passed away, and the beer world is the lesser for it. Mr. Younger was, for years, the publican and owner of Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon, which All About Beer Magazine selected as one of 125 places in the world in which to have a drink before you die.

I never met Mr. Younger, but I have heard several stories about the man. Some were about his prodigious appetite for good beers, but all were about his example leading the way for what a publican should and could be. He wouldn't just pour a beer; he lived the beer. Visitors to his Horse Brass Pub were made to feel part of a special brother-and-sisterhood.

As Pete Brown, a gentleman of beer in his own right, put it:

Last night the brewing world lost one of its best, someone who summed up everything – every last little wave and particle – that is good about the world of beer and pubs.

Don Younger @Horse Brass Pub, courtesy
Don Younger (1941-2011)

I reached out to a Washington, D.C., based beer writer for his remembrance of Mr. Younger. Here is what Steve Frank had to say.

When I think of one-of-a-kind, broke-the-mold people, the first name that comes to my mind is Don Younger, who passed away yesterday. Younger was a warm human being and an iconoclast, who helped raise the awareness of craft beer, first in Portland and, from there, throughout the U.S. From his renowned and revered Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon, Don helped many of the industry’s notables get started, including the Widmer Brothers, and Rogue’s Jack Joyce.

I first met Don through his desire to help anyone appreciate good craft beer. Preparing for a trip to Portland, I found the Horse Brass website and called to ask for suggestions of beer places to visit. Don wouldn’t hear of it. His response was “We’ll pick you up and take you around to the places you should see,” and he did just that. What a marvelous evening that was.

On another trip to Portland, I stayed with Don, who told me, when I woke up in the morning, to come to the Horse Brass for breakfast. It was closed in the morning, but Don was doing his chores and took me back to the kitchen. Having once been a short-order cook, he insisted on making me a sumptuous breakfast, and then joined me. Before he sat down, Don went behind the bar to the long line of taps, featuring Pacific Northwest and European beers, and pulled two pints of a high alcohol Hair of the Dog release. When I downed that, he pulled two Belgian tripels for the next round. Needless to say, by the time my cousin came to meet me at 10 AM, I barely recognized her.

Since that time, I have co-hosted several beer breakfasts in the area. However, it was Don Younger who first introduced me to beer for breakfast, and, to paraphrase WC Fields, 'I never stopped to thank him.' Don will be sorely missed, but great memories of him will last a lifetime.

Read more about Don Younger: at the Horse Brass Pub website, at the Beervana blog, at the Brookston Beer Bulletin, and at Pete Brown's blog.

Steve Frank and his writing partner, Arnold Meltzer, have been writing about beer under the pen name Brews Brothers for over 15 years. They currently write for the Gazette newspapers, Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, and American Brewer.