Fred Eckhardt (1926- ) is an American brewer, homebrewing advocate, publicist and a National Treasure. He writes about brewed beverages—beer and sake, and wrote the 1989 book, The Essentials of Beer Style. He is identified as a "beer writer," a "beer historian," and as a "beer critic." He's a local celebrity in Portland, Oregon, which Eckhardt describes as "the brewing capital of the world."
He is nationally known as a "beer personality" and as a "beer guru." His success as a local character is the foundation for fame on a wider stage. He is considered by many to be the "Dean of American beer writers."
"Fred is an 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 man with blue twinkling eyes and a white mustache and goatee. Imagine Shakespeare's Puck reborn as a beer mensch."
Eckhardt has developed a national reputation as someone knowledgeable about American homebrewed beer. He is 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.
Fred is a National judge in the Beer Judge Certification Program.
Eckhardt is an evolving advocate and publicist for American sake. Drawing on his experience in beer competitions, he created a set of guidelines for sake tasting competitions. He publishes 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. 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. 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 brewing at home is not allowed under Japanese law. Eckhardt foresees that his book, which spells out how to brew sake at home, 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.
And most of all, Fred is admired by every beer-lover in the world! Happy Birthday Fred!
A special thanks to Wikipedia for some of Fred's background information.