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 OregonLive.com
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.

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