Fred Eckhardt

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Eckhardt enjoying a beer at Houston's annual "Dixie Cup" festival.

Fred Eckhardt (1926 – August 10, 2015) was an American brewer, homebrewing advocate and publicist.[1] He wrote about brewed beverages—beer and sake, and wrote the 1989 book, The Essentials of Beer Style. He is identified as a "beer writer,"[2] a "beer historian,"[3] and as a "beer critic."[4] He was a local celebrity in Portland, Oregon, which Eckhardt described as "the brewing capital of the world."[5]

Beer personality[edit]

Eckhardt was nationally known as a "beer personality"[6] and as a "beer guru."[7] His success as a local character was the foundation for fame on a wider stage. A typical niche profile describes him as a "beer mensch:"

"Fred is [an eighty-two] year old former Marine Buddhist who teaches swimming classes to children back in his native Portland, Oregon. . . . He wrote a book on how to homebrew lagers in 1969, ten years before homebrewing was relegalized. His 1989 book, The Essentials of Beer Style, has become a kind of Rosetta Stone for homebrewers and those who judge homebrew competitions. "Eckhardt (as mentioned by Ken Wells of The Wall Street Journal) is a soft-spoken, diminutive, roundish man with blue twinkling eyes and a white mustache and goatee. Imagine Shakespeare's Puck reborn as a beer mensch."[8]

Eckhardt considered himself as an educator.[5]

Beer publicist[edit]

Eckhardt developed a national reputation as someone knowledgeable about American homebrewed beer. He was a featured lecturer and competition judge at "The Dixie Cup" in Houston, Texas. This annual event is the final competition in the series that determines

  • the Lone Star Circuit Homebrewer of the Year
  • the Lone Star Circuit Homebrew Team of the Year
  • the Lone Star Circuit Homebrew Club of the Year.

The Dixie Cup is one of the Qualifying Events for the Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing.[4]

Eckhardt wrote articles on beer, brewing, and other miscellany in Celebrator Beer News and in All About Beer.[9]

Fred was a National judge in the Beer Judge Certification Program.

Sake publicist[edit]

Eckhardt was an advocate and publicist for American sake. Drawing on his experience in beer competitions, he created a set of guidelines for sake tasting competitions. He published a sake newsletter several times each year; and he authored Sake (U.S.A.): A Complete Guide to American Sake, Sake Breweries and Homebrewed Sake.[10] While the rest of the world may be drinking more sake and the quality of sake has been increasing, sake production has been declining in Japan since the mid-1970s.[11] The increase in American production for domestic consumption and export has been, in part, affected by the lower cost of rice compared with Japan; but other more difficult-to-analyze factors are important.

At present, sake homebrewing is not allowed under Japanese law. Eckhardt foresees that his book, which spells out how homebrewing might reinvigorate sake consumption in Japan. His optimism is informed in part by the unanticipated expansion of micro-breweries in Oregon since the state law prohibiting them was repealed in 1985.[10]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Merrill, Jessica. "In Oregon, It's a Brew Pub World," New York Times. January 13, 2006.
  3. ^ "Henry Weinhard's Classic Dark seasonal produced," Modern Brewery Age. November 7, 2005.
  4. ^ a b About "Dixie Cup" competition
  5. ^ a b "Portland Dominates Craft Brewing Boom," CBS News. May 7, 2006.
  6. ^ Jones, Andrew. "Craft Brewing Defines Oregon as U.S. 'Beer Capital'," National Geographic News. August 10, 2001.
  7. ^ Brand, William. "This old Dog doesn't need any new tricks," The Oakland Tribune" (California). January 3, 2007.
  8. ^ Wells, Ken. (2002). Travels with Barley, p. 191.
  9. ^ Welzel, Karin. "Specialty publications fill niche for every nosh," Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh). December 7, 2003.
  10. ^ a b Frank, Robert. "Firms Brew a U.S. Interest in the 'Drink of the Gods'," International Herald Tribune. February 20, 1995.
  11. ^ Gauntner, John. (2002). The Sake Handbook, p. 78.


External links[edit]