Fred Eckhardt is one of those journalists who inspired you to write about beer. His 1989 book, The Essentials of Beer Style, made him a craft beer celebrity, defining categories like a beer critic and historian. It was a shocker last year when Eckhardt passed away.
Luckily, he continues to live on. Recently, the papers of the renowned beer journalist and historian were acquired by the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives at Oregon State University’s Valley Library. The Eckhardt collection provides a record of the craft brewing industry dating to the 1970s, and they should be open to researchers by spring. Few in the brewing world had Eckhardt’s influence on the history of beer in Oregon and homebrewing nationwide, and his collection covers a broad range of topics related to craft beer as well as sake and wine making. Eckhardt, who died in 2015, was an advocate, critic, educator, mentor and historian, and has been called the founding father of craft beer.
“This is a cornerstone collection for the archives and a real treasure for the history of craft and home brewing in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” said Tiah Edmunson-Morton, an archivist at Valley Library and the curator for the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives. “It’s a researcher’s dream that someone would keep all of this and an archivist’s dream that it would be this well-organized.”
Eckhardt became prominent in the brewing community with the publication of “A Treatise on Lager Beers” in 1970, the first modern American book on homebrewing. As breweries opened across the country in the 1980s and 1990s, Eckhardt traveled to visit with brewers and owners, take photographs, keep detailed records and write for industry publications like Celebrator Beer News and All About Beer. He served on the American Homebrewers Association’s board of advisors for many years, and was one of the founding members of the Oregon Brew Crew homebrew club in Portland, where many professional brewers started.
He’ll be missed, but luckily, now the Eckhardt collection will continue to live onward.