Celebrated American Beer Writer Fred Eckhardt Dies at 89


Fred Eckhardt

Famed beer historian, critic, and author, Fred Eckhardt, who was known by many as “the dean of American beer writers,” died Monday morning at age 89 at a hospital in Portland, Ore.

Eckhardt, who wrote “The Essentials of Beer Style” and “A Treatise on Lager Beers,” had been in failing health, forcing him to miss a number of annual beer events and tastings this year, reports Oregon Live’s John Foyston, a friend and colleague of Eckhardt’s. Foyston writes, however, that Eckhardt was able to make a brief appearance this past May at FredFest 2015, the namesake annual celebration of his birthday, hosted by Hair of the Dog Brewing, that now goes back 10 years.

Foyston continues: “Fred had been feeling poorly for the last several months, especially after his partner of 60 years died in May, and he was 89, but still, if there were any justice, he would’ve lived forever – and he will; that part’s up to those of us who knew and loved him.”

Eckhardt, writes Foyston, also pioneered the American homebrewing movement with Charlie Papazian. A sake enthusiast, he also authored “Sake (U.S.A.)” a guide to American sake and sake breweries.

In addition to FredFest, Eckhardt’s name had been appropriated by Hair of the Dog, which sells a golden strong ale called “Fred.”

In a statement, Alan Sprints, founder of Hair of the Dog, told Brewbound Eckhardt inspired him to create a brewery “that is not afraid to be unique and different.”

“Fred has been a big influence on my life, both in the beer world and as an example of how to be a good person. His outgoing and compassionate personality, his desire to share his knowledge with others, has made me a little better person,” said Sprints. “I will miss his stories, his ability to wander through related subjects and still come back to the point, but most of all, his smile.”