Friday, July 08, 2016

Northern Virginia says goodbye to "a good beer guy" today.

In 1974, he began his wholesale beer career, flogging Budweiser in northern Virginia. But he would grow to know and love the upstarts, the 'micro-breweries,' and he would never look back.

In the 1990s, he signed as beer manager with northern Virginia wholesaler Select Wines, Inc. to develop a 'craft' beer portfolio. There, he would guide small breweries through the difficulties of building their brands. He would convince skeptical barkeeps and store managers to stock those beers.

He would be the first to bring the beers of Sierra Nevada to beer drinkers of northern Virginia back when that California brewery was only beginning to grow into the national juggernaut it is today. And he would introduce other further-afield 'craft' breweries, such as Allagash, Abita, and Brooklyn Brewery). In the process, he helped establish a 'craft' beer retail paradigm.

He ... is Ted Curtis — a pioneer of the 'craft' beer business in northern Virginia. And, today, he'll be responsible for his final beer keg delivery. After forty-two years of bringing good beer to the people of northern Virginia, Ted Curtis is retiring. Beer lovers in Stafford, Fauquier, Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church may not see his like again.

Ted Curtis spoke (and speaks) his mind; he's easy with a laugh; he plays a mean drum set; he's old school for a new world.

And he is my friend.

Ted Curtis (l)

I’ve known Ted for almost 20 years now. He’s a good beer guy – and that’s a high compliment from me. I will miss his enthusiasm and good humor going forward. Have a great retirement!
— Hugh Sisson, Heavy Seas Brewing (née Clipper City Brewing)
So you young'uns out there, never forget to respect all who laid down the foundation. Happy retirement, Ted A. Curtis! Thanks for joining me on drums one more time before your World Voyage, my good friend.
— Jeff Wells, Global Brewers Guild
Ted Curtis is one of the people I have had the great pleasure of working with in my 21 years in the beer community of the Mid Atlantic. That is only half the number of years Ted has been on the scene...WOW! I can remember Ted hauling kegs for one of our festivals in his personal vehicle since the work truck was down for repairs. No doubt, Ted was a bit salty about it, but he relented and made sure we were taken care of, even though the tires on his Explorer were about to burst. That was Ted to a T. As our industry grows and the beer festival seasons grind on, there will be something missing with Ted not there to shed some good humor on us all. I wish him all the best in retirement. Cheers!
— Bill Madden, Mad Fox Brewing Company & Taproom
In the "old days" of Allagash when I was getting started, I spent tons of time on the road in our markets doing ride-withs in all of our territories. I always looked forward to riding with Ted... I learned a lot from him, and loved hearing all of the classic stories from the beer biz that he had spent so much time in. Fond memories for sure... I'll miss him!!!
— Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company
What can we all say about Ted? More than we can put here, I can tell you that.

Ted was an integral piece of where I am today in craft beer. During my early days with Hard Times Cafe back in 1999-2000, Ted helped introduce me to the amazing beers of Baltimore Brewing Company and Clipper City (it's still Clipper City to me.....sorry Hugh!), as well as learn so much more about what Sierra Nevada could be, beyond just Pale Ale and Celebration.....although those were damn great! That is of course how I came to know this man, Tom Cizauskas, as well as the ubiquitous Hoppy Jeff Wells. Just one big happy family.

The early days of beer dinners with Ted and all these guys was my indoctrination to what the craft beer community can be and has become. I've never worked with anyone so dedicated to his customers, so honest in helping them in any way. Now that all culminated into the opening of Ornery Beer Company. Ted has his mark here forever. Ted's dedication to craft beer will be sorely missed around here. I'm honored to call him a friend and damn sorry I missed the big retirement party!
— Randy Barnette, Ornery Beer Company

  • If you're ever fortunate enough to find Ted sitting on the barstool next to yours, ask him about the 'letter.' He'll know what you mean. Memorable and classic Curtis. I couldn't reprint it here.

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