I’m not sure why I seem to be numbering all my posts of late, or how many posts this “series” might eventually include, but it’s the time of the year when so many people look back on the year just past and I just figured I might as we join the fun.
Sadly, though, this post is anything but fun to write. Because the first thing I think of when I reflect on 2011 is that it was the year when the world of American beer and hospitality lost three very special and influential men, each of them bar owners and publicans extraordinaire.
I didn’t know David Farnworth well, but on the occasions when I did have a chance to sit and chat with the Lucky Baldwins owner, I couldn’t help but be impressed with his commitment to and enthusiasm for quality beer. Even though his bar was styled as a “British Pub & Cafe,” David was nothing if not a great aficionado of Belgian beer, and his passion was infectious, leading Lucky Baldwins to eventually expand to three locations, including the newest in East Pasadena for which the “British” in its name was swapped out and replaced by “Trappiste.” The greater L.A. beer scene will miss his presence greatly.
David Farnworth: 1952 – 2011
Anyone even remotely familiar with the craft beer juggernaut that is Portland, Oregon, will know well the name of Don Younger. The region abounded with tales of the reluctant publican’s life and exploits, not the least of which was the story of his getting drunk and waking the next morning to find that he had bought the pub which would become an icon of the Pacific northwest beer scene, the Horse Brass. My relationship with Don was one forged of mutual respect, he for my craft and I for his, and so it was that although we conversed only rarely, I vividly recall almost every word we spoke. The passing of Don in January was more than the death of a much-loved fixture in the American beer scene, it was the loss of a true craft ber pioneer and icon.
Don Younger: 1941 – 2011
The most untimely passing of Ray Deter was, for me personally, the hardest of these tragic deaths to take. For Ray was not only, with his business partner Dennis Zentek, the owner of one of the truly pioneering beer bars in the cut-throat market of Manhattan, he was also a good friend. I still can’t recall whether or not we met on the first occasion I visited d.b.a. not long after it opened in 1994, but I certainly spent ample time with the man thereafter, at his bar, of course, but also in Denver at the Great American Beer Festival, in Belgium for some cafe crawl or beer fest, or at some other unexpected spot on the planet where a good ale or lager might be had. Unfailingly animated and always good company, even when he was feeling cranky, Ray left the mark of his presence everywhere he went. I can scarcely believe that the next time I walk into the shadowy confines of d.b.a., he won’t be there to share a pint or two.
Raymond Deter: 1957 – 2011