Sunday, February 13, 2011

Don Younger R.I.P. 1941-2011

Don Younger in the back seat of his '72 Rolls Royce 

Scott, Lisa, and Don at the Brass last year on their shared birthday
By now most people know that the legendary owner of Horse Brass Pub Don Younger passed away a few weeks ago on January 31. Since that time I've been trying to come up with the words to post something about Don with little success. Like most people I didn't know Don that well. But I do know quite a few that did know him well. People like beer writer and radio host Lisa Morrison a.k.a. "The Beer Goddess" who helped organize the wake and the worldwide toast to honor Don that is happening today, Sunday, February 13,  in the parking lot of the Horse Brass Pub.  From Lisa's web site:

"Whatever you are doing, and wherever you are at 3 p.m. your time on Sunday, Feb. 13, make sure to hoist a glass to Don Younger, the venerable publican of the world-famous Horse Brass Pub, who died Jan. 31.

“In his hometown of Portland, a wake will be in full swing by 3 p.m. at the Horse Brass Pub. Attendees at the time will be raising their glasses to Don. But hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world who knew Don and loved Don aren’t able to be there in person,” says organizer Lisa Morrison. “So we are having a worldwide toast — a virtual wake, if you will — to help bring us all together, at least in spirit.”

The toast will travel around the world, because it will happen at 3 p.m. in all time zones.

“So, at 3 p.m. your time on Sunday, organize a gathering of your own or just stop what you’re doing. Pour a glass of something you think Don would appreciate. And raise a toast to one of craft beer’s biggest champions and most colorful characters,” Morrison says.

Younger, a true beer pioneer, took the Horse Brass from a one-tap tavern to a beer mecca, consistently named among best beer bars in the world. It is a favorite hangout for brewers, beer geeks, neighbors and visitors alike."
Don at the Highland Stillhouse

Lisa interviewed Don not to long ago. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Back in October of 2009 I was lucky enough to be invited to go drink with Don by my good friend Carl Singmaster (Don's business partner at Belmont Station). Carl wanted to get Don down to the Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City to drink some whisky and meet with the owners of the the pub. I had a great time and it is a memory I will hold dear for the rest of my life. I have some more pictures from that day that I never got around to posting.  I will try to post some more soon.

One thing that has struck me while talking to people in the beer business the last couple of weeks since Don's passing is the number of lives he touched. As Carl Singmaser said “More than anybody I’ve ever known, Don lived his life exactly the way he wanted, but he didn’t do that by stepping on anybody — we’d all be amazed if we knew all the people he helped without ever making a big deal of it. But he did live his life exactly the way he wanted to.” Almost everyone has a Don story to tell. He will always be remembered through those stories. And that is a beautiful thing. 

Death touches all our lives at some point. Each time it happens we are reminded of our own mortality and that nothing lasts forever. Don's passing reminds us all that we need to enjoy our friends and family while we still can. Here's to you Don! Cheers mate!

Other remembrances worth a read:
The Beer HereDouble Mountain, The New School (with some great stories in comments), Celebrator (with a great video interview of Don), Beervana, It's Pub Night.

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