The Craft Beer Hall of Fame?


I’ve loved baseball since I was a kid. It’s a fairly logical game for a youngster and
when I was young I wasn’t sitting playing video games. In the summertime your Mom
said “go out and play” which could be riding bikes or stoopball if there were only two
of you, although that sometimes did result in a broken glass pane or screen on the
aluminum outside door, or maybe stickball in the street if you had four or so; it was
tough to get eighteen to go down to the ballfield in the park to play. And yes growing
up in NY I was and always have been a Yankee fan, probably because they were
winners and the Dodger and Giants left town in the late 50’s.

So I made a note that on July 21st I wanted to watch the Baseball Hall Of Fame
Induction Ceremony as MO–The Sandman –the greatest closer of all time (so maybe
that’s a C-GOAT) –Mariano Rivera is being inducted. A true gentleman who
respected the game and his opponents; never looking to show off or grandstand or
show any other player up. And yes he’s a unanimous first ballot vote! It is so
ridiculous that this is the first player voted in unanimously when you think of some of
the other forty nine first ballot greats (and yes I’m excluding the initial class of ’36 as
there were so many great players to start with) like Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax,
Ted Williams and Stan Musial. Not to mention players like Joe DiMaggio and Jimmie
Foxx who had to wait to their second year of eligibility!!! I could go on; but what
nonsense that some baseball writers didn’t think anyone should get a vote in their
first year; seriously, why not? Maybe they shouldn’t get their first paycheck every

But that’s not all Mike Mussina, who split his career between Baltimore and NY is also
going in; another competitor and gentleman. He played his entire career in the AL
East in the “live ball” era, so He’s finally getting acknowledged for an excellent
career. Then there’s Edgar Martinez, one of the great all time pure hitters, in fact he
owned MO! Harold Baines, a 22 year vet who has some great numbers, Lee Smith
who owned the save record for many years and Roy Halladay, the great Toronto and
Phillies pitcher.

It’s the second largest crowd ever on a hot sweltering day, so I’m glad to be watching
on my flat screen in my air conditioned home. It’s a great lineup and I’m ready.
Interestingly enough I don’t always watch the BB HOF Induction Ceremony. You
would think I’d have it circled on my calendar every year but I guess it means more
when one of your special players is getting in.

I enjoyed it and it got me to thinking that maybe it’s time for a Craft Beer Hall of
Fame; after all we’ve been around for few decades and have expanded considerably.
Why shouldn’t we begin to recognize our pioneer breweries, owners, brewers and
beers? Some might say it’s too early. The BB HOF wasn’t organized and opened for
approximately one hundred years after the claim of Abner Doubleday inventing the
game, so shouldn’t we wait. But there are some big differences; both went through
their infancy and growing periods, but if you think about the 1800’s and the early
1900’s, many were working six or seven days a week so there wasn’t a lot of free
time, as compared to our forty hour work weeks with a couple of weeks’ vacation. And
then there’s the transportation factor, horse and carriage and trains were the
standards in the early game and the automobile the train were available when the BB
HOF opened. Today we’ve got faster more reliable cars, roads that crisscross the
country, as well as lots of airports and planes carrying us around at a much quicker
pace, so is there really a need to wait??

So let’s think about this. I guess the Craft Brewers Association - CBA would be the
primary force behind organizing/starting something like this, but I would like to see a
separate board of directors for this, similar to BB HOF. There are some complaints
that they’re playing regular baseball games on the Induction day and some current
players, coaches, managers, etc. who would like to go can’t. But let’s be realistic the
baseball doesn’t want to shorten the season now and if they take a weekend off all
the hundreds of thousands of fans who definitely aren’t going to Cooperstown would
just be sitting home or doing something else instead of sitting in the ballpark. Craft
beer doesn’t have a season, so I don’t see that as a big issue. In fact it could be a
celebration all over the country as many of our 7,000+ breweries could do special
induction beers each year.

Ah, but where to put it; the CBA is located in CO, so that’s a logical place, but what
about some of the other notable craft beer states, Michigan, Massachusetts or
California; not to mention CO always hosts the GABF, the Great American Beer
Festival; I think they have enough going on. We could take a page out of the creation
of the BB HOF and put it where it started even though we’ve learned that’s really a
myth. I’m guessing they really didn’t know it was a myth back then as it took decades
to really debunk it. But that’s not a problem for us. Sure there were all kinds of
experiments going on in the brew process by many brewers; examples like Ballantine
Burton Ale and Ballantine IPA, but we credit Jack McAuliffe as the father of the
modern craft beer movement and we know where he was; Northern California, more
specifically Sonoma in 1976 when he, along with a couple of business partners,
opened New Albion Brewing Company. So to me that’s the obvious place!

Now there may be some discussion about whether Jack McAuliffe or Fritz Maytag
should be the father of craft beer. Fritz deserves some consideration as he bought
Anchor Steam in 1965 as it about to shut down again and needed a savior. Who
among us wouldn’t buy the brewery that makes the beer we love if it were going out
of business? Unfortunately most of us don’t have the capital, but Fritz actually only
needed to come up with a few grand to buy 51% of the brewery; even in today’s
dollars that’s a steal.  Anchor continued to produce its quality Anchor Steam and
began bottling it in 1971. By 1975 they had four other distinctive beers; Anchor
Porter, Liberty Ale, Old Foghorn Barleywine Ale and an annual Christmas Ale!

Although the terminology of “craft brewing” and “micro” brewery weren’t yet the
lexicon of the day Anchor was clearly a pioneer of making great tasting beer. And yes
Jack and others have credited Fritz as an inspiration, but Jack did build his own
brewery and basically gave those to follow a blueprint of how to build a microbrewery.
But hey Anchor was in San Fran, New Albion was in Sonoma, so that just doubles
down that Northern Cal is the general area where the CB HOF should be located!

We should do more of a display than a plaque, as we’ll want visitors to be able to
read and understand what these folks did in the context of the growth of craft beer.
Another big question might be should there be a brewery at the CB HOF? One might
think that’s a great idea, like apple pie and Chevrolet, well I don’t. There should
definitely be a tasting room, but it should showcase some of the notable foundational
beers. I would get New Albion to get a contract brewer out west so New Albion Ale is
always available; not enough people have tasted what is a very important beer in our
history. And there will be a bunch of regionals that many have never tasted either.
Maybe do different decade flights so again visitors can taste the evolution. What you
don’t want is another craft beer bar. Some of us, shall I say “more seasoned” craft
beer lovers may have tried every beer inducted but there are a lot of younger folks
who haven’t.

We’ll need some benefactors to help build or remodel a building for us but if you
really want their buy-in you need to have a plan, not some willy-nilly ideas, so we’ll
need to get going on that. Since the BB HOF has already done a lot of that work we
could easily borrow from their bylaws, etc. to get started.

But who’s going to “vote” in those we want to induct? Baseball uses it’s writers who
obviously follow the game virtually year round so should have knowledge of those
deserving. Do we use beer writers? Hey that means I could be a voting member!?!
Not that I don’t consider myself somewhat qualified but I’ve read a lot of articles by
others that I’m not sure I’d want voting. That is a real dilemma. My preference would
be a selection committee that needs to be made up of “craft beer people” from all
over the country as craft beer developed differently all over. You need all regions
represented as not everyone had the capital or maybe even the desire to keep
expanding and not everyone was successful either. I can think of a couple;

•        David and Karen Geary incorporated The Geary Brewing Company in 1983.
December 1986 began the sale of Geary’s Pale Ale and New England’s first
microbrewery had arrived in Portland, ME. Their Pale Ale and later their HSA or
Hampshire Special Ale were excellent early arrival craft beers. Unfortunately when
craft beer went crazy producing tons of different IPA’s every other batch, Geary’s
stuck with their tried and true English style ales and traditional IPAs and sales
decreased to the point they were sold in 2017, much like Anchor was back in 1965,
to continue production. They were one of the first thirteen microbreweries in the
country. If you’re not from or traveled to New England would you have ever heard of
Geary’s? That’s why we need the regional input to something like this.

•        Carol Stoudt in Adamstown, PA broke ground in 1986. She and her husband
decided to open a brewery as an add-on to their restaurant. She had no brewing
background so had to learn. They were inspired by flavorful, fresh German lagers, so
started with a Helles, Viennese Lager and then a dark lager. Interestingly enough the
older Germans, whom she expected to love it, stuck with their German imports but
younger customers, used to the typical fizzy American lagers loved it. Expanding into
the Philly area also meant expanding their selection with an ESB and ale. Carol has
always believed that brewers must control their size, remain independent and
carefully watch quality so was never interested in a national approach. Although they
stuck with a more traditional approach as the market has evolved so has Stoudt’s.
Carol is a craft beer icon that some may have heard of, but unless you’ve been in the
Philly/PA Dutch area, you’ve probably never tasted her beer.

And there’s got to be more of these folks in the Southeast, the Midwest, the West, all
over the country

I think we again need to take a page from the BB HOF who had an initial induction of
five of their greatest, which unfortunately left out players like Cy Young and Tris
Speaker and make a big splash with our first inductees. So if I were drawing up a list;
well I’ve already named four:
•        Jack McAuliffe - New Albion Brewing Company –New Albion Ale
•        Fritz Maytag – Anchor Brewing Company – Anchor Steam Beer
•        David and Karen Geary - The Geary Brewing Company – Geary’s Pale Ale
•        Carol Stoudt – Stoudts Brewing Company

Now who else…how about:
•        Ken Grossman and Paul Carnusi - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Sierra Nevada
Pale Ale
•        Jim Koch –Boston Beer Company –Samuel Adams Boston Lager
•        Charlie Papizian –founder of the American Homebrewers Association in 1978,
the Brewers Association in 1979 and the GABF in 1982 –author of The Complete Joy
of Homebrewing
•        Michael Jackson –probably considered the preeminent beer authority and
writer – author of The World Guide to Beer in 1977 considered one of the most
fundamental books on beer which popularized the idea of beer styles
•        Paul Shipman & Gordon Bowker – Redhook Ale Brewery
•        Kurt & Robert Widmer – Widmer Brothers – Hefe American Hefeweizen
•        Michael Laybourn and Norman Franks –The Hopland Brewery –Red Tail Ale
•        Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan –New Belgium Brewing Company –Fat Tire
•        Larry Bell – Bell’s Brewery –Two Hearted Ale
•        Vinnie Cilurzo – Russian River Brewing Company – Pliny the Elder
•        Dave Engbers & Mike Stevens –Founders Brewing Company – Kentucky
Breakfast Stout & Canadian Breakfast Stout
•        John and Greg Hall –Goose Island Brewing Company –Bourbon County Stout
•        Sam Calagione – Dogfish Head Brewery – 60 Minute IPA

Wow, I’m up to 25 people, 15 breweries, a bunch of classic beers, a writer and oh
let’s just call him a driving force and I haven’t had to really start searching as there
must be others I’ve missed. That’s probably too many already, but hey just think of
how Cy Young and Tris Speaker felt being left out of the first BB HOF class. Maybe
the first induction is really multiple inductions in the first year; hey we can figure this
out…over a great tasting craft beer.

And yes as you look at the list the first thing some will say is “well Redhook and
Widmer and Goose Island and Founders aren’t technically craft any more so they
shouldn’t be there.” Well yea I get it and the baseball writers don’t vote in those most
highly suspected dopers into the BB HOF, BUT all of them were independent craft
brewers at one time. And Redhook and Widmer showed the rest of the industry a way
to remain independent by merging in 2008 (although you can’t let AB buy a third of
you later). The CB HOF is about celebrating craft beer and you shouldn’t exclude
them because they sold out or decided to take an investment partner.

I’m excited to see this advance. I’ll bet others will suggest another twenty five that
either didn’t pop up in brain or I don’t know much about.

So whoever does advance this, can I get a ticket to Induction Ceremony…

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing

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