Fred Eckhardt

Fred Eckhardt, RIP

Yesterday, Fred Eckhardt, the dean of American beer writers, passed away at his home in Portland, Oregon. He was 89.

In the 1960s, Eckhardt inspired thousands of beer lovers with his pioneering “A Treatise on Lager Beer.” Years before it became legal in the United States, he wrote about homebrewing and inspired many Americans, including some prominent craft brewery owners, to take it up. At a time when breweries were consolidating and almost all domestic beer was light lager, Eckhardt wrote about better beer—and challenged his readers to make something better.

Eckhardt’s writing style was legendary. Tom Dalldorf, the editor of Celebrator Beer News, said of him, “I’ve pretty much given up on giving Fred assignments, because he writes on whatever interests him and ignores the tedious requests of unenlightened editors. That’s why we call his column ‘Fred’s World.’ He’s comfortable in it, and you can only hope that some day he invites you in as well. It’s a pretty cool place to be.”

The word “unique” is badly overused, but Eckhardt truly was. He served in the Marine Corps during World War II, under a sergeant who kept a still going, even in combat zones. Later he became a Buddhist but defied that faith’s disdain of alcohol. During the Cuban missile crisis, when nuclear war seemed imminent, he decided there were more important things to do in life than take pictures of children and teach people to swim. He decided to brew beer and teach others how to do it as well.

If ever there was the proverbial life well lived, it was Fred’s.

h/t: John Foyston of The Oregonian, for his wonderful remembrance of Fred Eckhardt.

The Friday Mash (Vast Wasteland Edition)

Forty-three years ago today, Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton Minow delivered his famous “Vast Wasteland” speech in which he decried “totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in the Shaab Valley in Jordan, where Yazan Karadsheh has launched his country’s first microbrewery. The brewery is called Carakale, after an indigenous mountain cat.

A mobile beer garden is coming to Milwaukee County’s parks this summer. The tables, glassware, and of course, the beer, will be provided by Sprecher Brewing Company.

In Portland, Oregon, Fred Eckhardt’s many friends celebrated his 88th birthday last weekend with two dozen big special beers from breweries from throughout the region.

PYT, a burger joint in Philadelphia, is now serving a burger topped with a Pabst Blue Ribbon-filled wonton. It’s designed to explode hot beer in your mouth as soon as you take a bite.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, so many new breweries have opened in recent months that the city can make a good argument that it’s now Canada’s craft beer capital.

Chicago’s DryHop Brewers has collaborated with the Lincoln Park Zoo to brew “I’m Not a Raccoon”, a red saison that checks in at 6% ABV. Proceeds will be donated to the Red Panda Wish List Fund.

Finally, beer writer John Holl went to the Bud Light Hotel in Las Vegas, which was “designed to be the ultimate fusion of sports and music.” Holl was amazed at Bud Light fans’ brand loyalty.

Update on Sierra Nevada Collaboration

Last month, we mentioned Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s plans to celebrate craft brewing’s pioneers by brewing special beers in collaboration with them.

Here are the details.

In March, the brewery will release the first of four beers at Anchor Brewing with Fritz Maytag. The other pioneers are Jack McAuliffe of the departed, but certainly not forgotten, New Albion Brewery; and veteran beer writers and homebrewers Fred Eckhardt and Charlie Papazian.

Speaking of McAuliffe, he’s now living in San Antonio where he’s been recovering from a serious auto accident (hat tip: Jack Curtin and McAuliffe’s sister, Cathy).

Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada’s founder, explained why he’s doing this series:

We wanted to pay tribute to the original pioneers who helped me and hundreds of others get started….Few people in the craft-brewing world have accomplished more than these guys, and we thought it might be fun to get the original crew together and make something special.

Cheers, Ken. That was very classy of you.

If you want more information, Sierra Nevada has created a special website for these beers.

Sierra Nevada: Celebrate & Collaborate

2010 is Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary and founder Ken Grossman has big plans that are sure to make a big splash. He’s announced four collaboration brews involving the founders of Americas current craft brew movement.

March of 2010 will see the first of four beers in a series of collaborative projects with America’s craft-brewing pioneers: Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing; Jack McAuliffe, founder of New Albion Brewery; and authors, homebrewers, and beer advocates Fred Eckhardt, and Charlie Papazian. Together, this group is credited as ‘the men who launched a thousand breweries;’ and without them, our current day craft-beer-renaissance might never have happened.

Proceeds from the project will be donated to charities selected by the four pioneers. And, when can we look forward to what’s sure to be the best in earthly delight?

The beers will be released periodically throughout the year, starting with the first release in March, and continuing until Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary on November 15. These limited-release 750ml cage-and-cork bottles will be available at select retailers and beer-centric bars.

We hope they make their way out to the Midwest.

Powered by WordPress