Public wake for Fred Eckhardt at the Crystal Ballroom, today (Aug. 23)

Fred EckhardtIf you are in or around Portland today the public wake for Fred Eckhardt is taking place at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom from 2 to 6pm. Eckhardt, widely credited as the Dean of American Beer Writers as well as Craft Beer’s Muse, passed away August 10 at the age of 89. A slideshow will be running throughout the event as well, celebrating Fred’s life in pictures.

John Foyston wrote an excellent obituary for the Oregonian, which you should read if you haven’t yet. I love this bit about how Fred became interested in good beer and brewing:

Eckhardt was a U.S. Marine in World War II and Korea, a photographer and a swim instructor well before he was a beer guru. His epiphany came with the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s: If the nukes did hit the fan, as seemed likely at the time, the post-apocalypse world would have little need of either swimming instructors or guys who took portraits of cute babies.

He remembered when he was a Marine, the mess sergeant always had a still going within hours of hitting the beach. “That sergeant was much loved,” Eckhardt said, “and I realized people who make booze always are.” That’s when he set out to teach himself and others how to brew at home and take beer back from the mega breweries that had made it a bland, fizzy commodity.

Today there will be many stories told and much beer consumed in Fred’s honor. If you can’t make it, Lisa Morrison posted a link to the funeral home’s online guest book so you can pay your respects online.