Five Most Important Figures in Craft Brewing
Lists proliferate at the end of the year, and most of them are useful for starting conversations--but not a lot else. The New York Observer identifies the five most important figures in craft brewing, though, and it's hard to argue with their list:
- Jack McAullife, who founded the first micro (New Albion).
- Fritz Maytag, who provided a blueprint for the modern micro (Anchor).
- Ken Grossman, who founded Sierra Nevada.
- Jim Koch, who founded Boston Beer and pioneered contract craft brewing.
- Fred Eckhardt, the "dean of American beer writers."
- Fritz Maytag. When people regale the story of Anchor, Fritz gets credit for rehabbing an ancient brewery and bringing back the steam beer style. But his biggest contribution was showing that it was possible to find a market that would buy traditional, expensive all-barley and whole-hop beer.
- Ken Grossman. He was one of the pioneers in craft brewing and put all the elements together. One of the most important aspects of his approach was quality control, which is not incidental in Sierra Nevada's longtime success.
- Bert Grant. All the brewers in the Observer's list are production breweries, but Bert was the first one to see the potential in brewpubs.
- Dave Logsdon. If you've ever read the story about Redhook brewing, you know that yeast wasn't always easy to find. Americans didn't really know how to brew, and yeast was a topic mostly beyond their ken. Logsdon, who founded Wyeast, is perhaps more responsible than any brewer for the proliferation of authentic beer styles in the US.
- Michael Jackson. Although I love the Observer's choice of the most colorful, lovable figure in Beervana, I'd say that it was Michael Jackson's World Guide to Beer that set brains spinning.