Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Remembering Dr. James Kollar (1946 - 2014) —Chesbay founder, craft beer pioneer.

Dr. James Kollar VMD (1946 - 2014)It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of the passing of Dr. James Kollar VMD, on March 14th 2014.

Dr. Kollar was a pioneer in the brewing industry. He started the Chesapeake Bay Brewing Company, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 1984. Known as Chesbay, the brewery was the first microbrewery to open in Virginia, and only the second microbrewery to open on the East Coast.

Jim was a renaissance man by any standard. He set the brick that became the building of the Chesbay Brewery. He chose to brew lager beer. He sought out expertise from around the world to ensure he made the best beer possible.

At the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in 1987, Chesbay brought home a gold medal for Bock beer. This was the very first GABF to award medals (in only 12 categories). Jim’s legacy in craft brewing is his passion for beer, his big heart and spirit, and the people he brought together. Although the brewery would only last until 1988, many of those who worked there with Jim have continued on in craft brewing.

In his youth, Jim played football, and was Pennsylvania state champion in the discus. He played college football under Engle and Paterno at Penn State. He secured his veterinary medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and moved with his wife, Marilou, to Virginia Beach, to build what would become a successful practice at Princess Anne Veterinary Hospital.

In lieu of flowers, an endowment to the First Colonial High School track and field program will be established in Dr. Kollar's honor. A memorial service will be held this Saturday, March 22, 2014, at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, in Virginia Beach, at 11 am. Reception to follow.


Allen Young was an assistant brewer at Chesbay in the mid-1980s. He posted his remembrance of James Kollar to Facebook, but gave his permission to have it re-posted here, and then added additional comments, below.

I first met Jim on a tour of Chesbay in 1984 during the construction phase, and was immediately impressed by the amount of time he spent with my tour. I returned and toured again after opening, and met his brewmaster, Wolfgang Roth. I was told if they got to the point to hire an assistant that they would call me. I had heard that before and gave it no hope. But a year later, I got that call, and joined the Chesbay brewery. That set the course of my career.

Twenty years later, in 2006, I returned to Virginia Beach to start the Gordon Biersch Brewery/Restaurant there. I met up with Jim and installed him in our Stein Club. We plotted to reproduce Chesbay's Doppelbock, and in February of 2007, I had Jim tap the wooden keg to celebrate.

We enjoyed life and lager; he will be missed.



  1. I still have a growler of the Calvinator Dopplebock signed by Alan from Fordham at Ram's Head in Annapolis in 2000. Was the Calvinator the same recipe as the original Chesbay?

    1. From Allen: " Close but at Annapolis that beer was based on Black Top Doppelbock I brewed at Hosters in Columbus and it used CaraFa special type 3 for color much darker than Chesbay."

    2. Thanks for the information, I remember visiting Hoster's around 1991 or 92, and liked the beers very much, but I must confess I don't remeber the specifics enough to compare.

  2. Jeffrey Sacks3/20/14, 9:46 PM

    So sorry to hear of his passing. I met Mr. Kollar and Wolfgang Roth at the first DC American Homebrewers Association event in 1984; I still have and cherish the Chesbay t-shirt from that event. Chesbay gold was a great pilsner that I remember buying for $11 a case in 1986.


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