On Sunday, February 13, 2011, an event took place at Portland’s Horse Brass Pub to celebrate the life of the legendary publican Don Younger, who recently passed away.  There was a private gathering inside the pub, and a public gathering in a large tent in the parking lot behind the pub.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the event, other than high probability of good beer, and a higher probability that many of my good friends in the craft beer community would be there.  I was not disappointed.  As I entered the tent, I was handed 3 beer tickets and a 2 sided card with pictures of Don and some of his choice quotes, such as “It’s not about the beer, it’s about the beer!”  I got my wallet out to pay the entry fee, and was told that there was no charge, it was all free.  At that moment I felt like Don was personally buying me a beer, or two, or three.

There were a lot of people there.  And I heard there were people who flew in from around the country, and around the world.  I saw someone with a Walkabout Brewing jacket, likely from Australia.  I heard there were others from New Zealand.  Walking around the tent, I saw a lot of very interesting people, who seemed to embrace their own individuality; a trait Don Younger seemed to embody.

The crowd inside had special invitations, or had been invited in.  I was not among them, but talked with someone who had been in there earlier.  The inside event had started at 11am, while the outside event started at 2pm.  So those who had been inside that had wandered outside showed the effects of their headstart.  In addition, word was that the Macallan single malt scotch was flowing in large quantities.  An employee from Belmont Station said that his boss Carl Singmaster had to go through some effort to get large 1.5 liter bottles of Macallan for the event.  He went to a SE liquor store to get some, and was told they were out.  The store contacted the Macallan rep, who went all over town to get the needed bottles.  Apparently, there is no Macallan available on the east side of Portland until more shipments come in.

This event to honor the life of Don Younger would feel incomplete if smoking didn’t play a tangible part.  Reports from the inside event were that the air inside had, temporarily, been restored to the blueish grey it had prior to the Oregon smoking ban.  I could probably be described as a militant non-smoker (at least by militant smokers), and I personally prefer the post smoking-ban atmosphere.  But, I’m glad those who knew Don and had been decades long regular patrons of the pub had the opportunity to restore its atmosphere to the way Don loved it, if only for the day.  Outside I saw a wide variety of smoking.  I saw a man with a Sherlock Holmes style pipe talking with another man with a corn cob pipe.  I saw more women smoking cigars than men.  Lucky for me the air wasn’t blue.

Don Younger was so influential jump starting the craft beer industry in Oregon, and around the world.  You could feel how much people appreciated his contributions and the man himself.  At 3pm, Lisa Morrison asked for everyone’s attention and called for a simple toast to Don Younger.  The crowd quietly raised their beer filled cups and cheered to Don.  Bagpipes played, people smiled, and beer was enjoyed.

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  • Jim

    This seems like a fitting end to a beer lovers great story. Glad to see he was honored properly.

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