It wasn’t until I got home today that I learned the news of the passing of the Dean of American Beer Writers, Fred Eckhardt, today, and tonight I’m enjoying beer in his honor and toasting his legacy.
Fred’s contribution to American beer cannot be overstated and probably will never be matched. He wrote a homebrewing guide, A Treatise on Lager Beers, in 1969, ten years before homebrewing became legal in the United States, and his 1989 book, The Essentials of Beer Style, was just as influential to American brewers as Jackson’s The World Guide to Beer. He continued to write about beer for years in Celebrator Beer News and All About Beer. Alan Sprints at Hair of the Dog Brewing in Portland created a beer in his honor, aptly named Fred, and every year Hair of the Dog hosts FredFest, a celebration of Fred’s birthday with proceeds going to the charity of his choice.
I never had a chance to meet Fred personally. I had an opportunity many years ago at the Oregon Brewers Festival, but I was frankly too intimidated to simply walk up and introduce myself as “only” a beer blogger. Some years later I saw him speak at the Portland Beer Bloggers Conference and loved it. To date my favorite beer quote of all time is probably Fred’s (paraphrasing): “My favorite beer is the one in my hand.”
Fred was 89 years old and passed peacefully in his sleep. He will be missed.
Other remembrances and tributes:
- John Foyston, The Oregonian
- The New School
- Willamette Week
- Jay Brooks
- All About Beer
- And of course, many notes and memories on Facebook
Cheers Fred, and good luck and safe travels, wherever you land.