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Monday, June 9, 2008

Jay Misson

I just learned that Jay Misson, head brewer for the Triumph brewpubs, died this morning. I'm terribly saddened and diminished by this, as is the beer community in Philly and New Jersey.

The beer community may not realize just how diminished they are. Jay was a thread running back to the very beginning of craft brewing in this area, and typically, it was a lager thread. After learning homebrewing as a high school science project in 1978, Misson came home from college and answered an ad for a brewer at Vernon Valley, the pioneering brewery within Action Park waterpark in northern New Jersey. Here's what I wrote about that in an Ale Street News profile of Jay:
Misson started working for German brewmaster Stefan Muhs, who had managed to install a classically traditional German lager brewhouse in the Action Park waterpark in Vernon Valley, a strange marriage of teenage thrills and thoroughly sophisticated beer. "We were putting out half-liter swingtops of unfiltered, organic-ingredient lagers, brewed to strict Reinheitsgebot standards," Misson recalled. It was a 30 hectoliter brewhouse, with open wooden fermenters, wooden casks, and an open, tower-style wort chiller.

"Everything was done the hard way, the Reinheitsgebot way," Misson said with a wry grin. "It was a great place to learn, because you HAD to be clean, especially with that open chiller. We grew up all our yeast from slants, we even made our own culture medium, and we cultured lactic acid to acidify the malt."
I tasted those beers twice: once at an early Brickskeller tasting of American craft beers with Michael Jackson, who lavished praise on them, and once at Action Park in the late 1980s. Both times I was impressed, though the Action Park beers were served ice-cold, something Jay was never happy about.

Jay remained a lager chauvinist, and wound up at Gordon-Biersch, training brewers. That's where he met Patrick Jones, who he would bring along back to New Jersey to brew for Triumph, first in New Hope and now in Philly.

Jay was always quick to pour a beer, quick to rhapsodize about a German style, and quick to quash any talk of lager being in any way inferior to or less complex than ale. He also loved having a good time, a big man, outsized in humor, knowledge, and passion. As I said to his wife Kelly today (they married in October of 2005; Misson got a call at the wedding to let him know Triumph had won four GABF medals), Jay was just such a big guy, it was like he didn't fit into this life.

Kelly said he'd had a great day yesterday, caught an enormous bluefish. If he had some good lager beer with it, and been with her, I can't think of any way Jay would have enjoyed his last day on earth any better. Oh, damn, but I am going to miss the man. Lift many beers to him, because that's how he would have wanted it. But please...lagers:

I told Jay about something (Hyde Park Brewing's) John Eccles told me once. "Ales!" John said. "I could teach a chimp to make ales. You have to know what you’re doing to make lagers." I asked Misson if John had heard him say that (when Jay was training him at Mountain Valley brewpub).
"No, he didn’t get that quote from me," Misson laughed, a big laugh. Then he smiled. "But the attitude – yeah, that he got from me."
Attitude, and lagers. One more quote:

I was relaxing after the meal with head brewer Jay Misson and part-owner Brian Fitting; Fitting was telling me how they kept getting inquiries about bottling their beer. “They just don’t get it,” said Misson, waving a dismissive hand. “It’s a brewpub. We make beer here, people drink it here. That’s what we do. That’s all we do.
Passionate to the last. Fare well, Jay, auf wiederseh'n.


Anonymous said...

What a shame. Our best to his family. I will get all the Monday Night People to toast him this evening.

rick mayberry

Anonymous said...

Go with God, my friend. Life is too short.
Larry Horwitz

Anonymous said...

Unbelievably sad news!
Jay was a great member of the brewing community and his passing leaves a great void, to say the least.
Jay was so accomplished, yet always so approachable. We shared numerous great times all within hand's reach of a great lager.
My, oh, my, this just isn't supposed to happen this way! Jay was always positive and enjoying life.
I can only hope that his family finds solace in the fact that Jay's was life full of contentment, accomplishment and the true admiration of his industry peers.
Jay, we'll all keep making great lagers for you, brother!!
- Bill Covaleski, Victory

Anonymous said...

I am shocked and saddened by this terrible news. I have known Jay since I first met him at the Action Park in 1989. His beers were superb, only dwarfed by his kind and passionate nature.
Of all the American brewers that I have met, I have never known anyone more passionate about brewing German-style lager beers. His beers will be missed, but not nearly as much as he will. I will miss him dearly.

Unknown said...

This is very sad news. Jay taught me the German philosophy on brewing lagers when we spent time together at Gordon Biersch. He was an intense brewer with a great passion for beer. He will be missed.

Eric Geralds/Gordon Biersch Brewer

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate to meet Jay just a few months ago at Triumph in New Hope. The brewer there was on vacation, and Jay was "filling" in for him. We struck up a conversation as Jay was about to head home. He kept looking at his watch, but asked if I'd like a tour of the brewery. He said he had 15-20 min before he had to leave, so I said "SURE!" Half an hour later, I found myself in the cellar, as Jay picked out a nice, wood aged Belgian in a 750ml bottle. We went up to the bar and shared one of the nicest beers I've ever had. As we talked more, Jay told me he lived near the Jersey shore! What a great man he was to share his passion for beer with a stranger. Everyday he lived the dream. Godspeed, Jay Mission.

Bird Dog

Epices6 said...

Like everyone else, I am shocked by the news of the sudden death of Jay Misson. Only a little while ago, I had lunch with Jay at Triumph in Philadelphia, where we talked about German food that would go well with the excellent German-style beers that Jay was so passionate about.
Sincerest condolences to his family.

Shaun said...

Jay was as big of a person as it gets in this world of beer and he was magnanimous in his approach to everything. There aren't many Jay's out there and I'm grateful I knew him during his time in SF at Gordan Biersch. Raise a glass, raise a lager to Jay!

Shaun O'Sullivan
21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, CA

mary said...

He was a great brewer. I met him a few times and it is such a sad loss. My best to his family.


Anonymous said...

My wife (who is Jay's first cousin) and I are deeply saddened and shocked by Jay's untimely passing. I was an amateur beer connoisseur even before I got to know him, and so it's been a great honor knowing Jay all these years. I always looked forward to meeting up with him at one of his many brewpubs and talk beer talk. My wife and I will miss him dearly.
Our whole family is devastated by his loss but we'll always remember everytime Jay would show up at a party and everyone thought "awesome, Jay's here!".
You'll be missed, cousin Jay!

Greg G.

jeff said...

From one Schlampe to another! thanks for being a friend and teacher! Not many people lead a lager life! Prost!!! Aloha my friend!
Jeff Liles/Brewer Gordon Biersch

Anonymous said...

I find it impossible to speak of Jay in the past tense. He *is* one of the pioneers, one of the greats, one of the legends in this business. And one hell of a fine fellow to share a beer with.

Unknown said...

Hi, I am a cousin of Jay Misson. I just wanted to say it means a lot to me to read this tribute and the comments that have been left. I have passed this link on to ther family members as well, Thank you for all the kind words...

Greg Zaccardi - Ramstein Beers said...

It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Jay Misson today. His legacy is one of a great brewer and a beautiful person. Many lay claim to being the “father of craft brewing” in our area. Jay was brewing great beer here before most of us knew what to drink.

I had the opportunity to meet Jay at Vernon Valley Brewing in 1990 and I feel blessed. He hosted a brewery tour of the former Vernon Valley Brewing Co for the New York City Homebrewers Guild, of which I was a member. It was an amazing place, historic copper brewhouse, open fermenting barrels, and the famous wood casks (holz fass). Jay was in charge of this place and he made great beer.

A few years later, I got into craft brewing and specialized in German style beers, Jay loved German style beer was certainly an expert.

Jay was more than a great brewer and craft beer leader he was more like a caring big brother. Always made you feel welcome.

My memories of Jay are one of generosity, passion and humanity. He is one of the few people that we think of when we measure the quality of a beer.

Hoist a great beer to a great brewer. God Bless you Jay. Thank you for your contribution to the world of beer.

Greg Zaccardi
High Point Brewing Co., Inc.

Anonymous said...

I met Jay in Bamberg and loved this guy from the first moment on.

Lieber Jay, danke das ich mit dir viele Biere trinken und Mitglied im Team "Superfleisch" sein durfte.
Ich werde auf Dich anstoßen!!

Anonymous said...

Very very sad. I worked for Jay in 97 at the SF Gordon Biersch. I loved life (and work) and became what he admired. He made a great impact on everyone he worked with. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I am Jay's cousin Jan, I wanted to thank all of his friends for the kind words. Jay was larger than life even when he was younger, he always came to my family parties and brought more joy and laughter to all of us. He always had that special look in his eyes; you just knew he was ready to tell you yet another great story about what he had been up to. He brought out the best in all of us; his kindness just poured over to everyone. We had many good times over the years, and we were all so proud of his achievements in the brewing industry. He will leave us all with the memory of a big man with twinkling eyes, always ready with that great laugh and always ready to be there for you. God Bless you Jay, I will never forget you.
Jan Holmes

Anonymous said...

His was my first kegged beer at home.
I'm not sure of the year, but a friend had organized a bus trip to Vernon Valley to sample Jay's beers.
My wife, Myself and Roger Freiday, cooked a pig and some German food for the event. It led to many good times for many years. His beer changed my life in a very good
way. I never looked back.

If there are Beer angels I hope your among them swilling down a few Jay.

Jack and Della Brunner

Anonymous said...

How aweful, what a loss. I had the pleasure of meeting Jay a few times, actually sat with him once at the head table at a beer dinner where Jay was the featured speaker. Only 5 of us at the table, it was a great chance to get to know him. I'll never forget his opening line as the featured speaker. He told me he was nervous, it was his first time in that roll. I suggested he steer clear of a "beer 101" intro, just tell tales. So he started (not certain of the age here):
"I started brewing when I was 16, well, cause I was thirsty!"
Preceeded to share great stories of his days at Vernon Valley.
This is sooo sad.

Unknown said...

A terrible loss. Nancy and I are grief stricken and shocked.
Jay was a mentor, teacher and friend. He touched so many lives. Gave so much joy to people.
How many of us learned our trade at his feet? How many of us owe a debt of gratitude for the knowledge and skills he passed down to us?
Jay gave me a career when I needed it and a passion for my craft. He taught me the zen of brewing and the art to living. I have been, and always will be, proud to call Jay Misson my Brewmaster... and my friend.

John Eccles

Anonymous said...

This beer is for you Jay.

Christian Kazakoff
Triple Rock

Anonymous said...

I met Jay at Vernon in the late 1980's after my first trip to Germany. I never thought I'd taste anything in America like we had in Germany.
Jay and Vernon Valley proved me wrong. My friend Jack Brunner and I did pig roasts and BBQ for the brewers. They would give us a wood keg of beer for our efforts, perched on the boulder near the brewery door. This sparked my interest in brewing and I hooked up with Jay at Mt. Valley brew pub, and after that it was a constant round of beer fests, wood barrel tappings, beer dinners, and comaraderie. I'm sure that we can no longer use the hackneyed old phrase,"Es gibt's kein Bier in Himmel" since Jay will take of that and heaven will be all the better for it.

Roger Freiday

Anonymous said...

I'm a friend of Jay's, but not from the beer world, although he did open my eyes (and taste buds) to appreciate well made beer. I knew Jay from another one of his Jay was an avid fisherman and very much enjoyed swiming and fishing in the surf on the beaches of Monmouth County.

He participated on the Stripersonline message board where he was known as Brewroom, where he touched the lives of so many people.

Some of us are getting together at Murphy's in Rumson, NJ, to lift a glass in Jay's honor. Please feel free to join us. You'll know who we are, or you can ask the bartender, and he'll tell us. It's like family there.

Michael (Kings over Queens)

Lew Bryson said...

Michael! I suspect a LOT of us would like to join you to remember Jay. When are you going to be there, and where's Murphy's?

Anonymous said...

I, too am a friend of Jays from Stripersonline. As devastated as I am over this, I take great comfort in reading the comments here. And it is, I think, such a fitting tribute to the man that the exact same things are being said over and over again both here and at our fishing site. He was as good a friend as anyone could ever hope to have. And we will all miss him. The world is poorer for his loss, but we are all better for having known him. RIP dear buddy.

John Parker (Ben Lippen)

Anonymous said...

Murphy's in on Ward Avenue in Rumson, NJ, where Jay grew up. We are getting together tonight around 6:30 and staying until who know when.

We try and have these get togethers on a semi regular basis anyway...Thirsty Thursday's we call them. It helps put faces to names and normalize our internet existences.

I can't think of a more fitting tribute than to bring our two camps together (fishermen and brewers) to toast Jay's life and legacy.

So yes, please join us, if not tonight, another time.


Anonymous said...

Lew, looks to be just up the road from Redbank.

Anonymous said...

Murphy's Tavern
17 Ward Lane, Rumson, NJ
(732) 842-1600

I'm going back and forth between feeling awful for Kelly, Jay and all the family and friends he's touched, and being really mad that Jay's life was so short. Jay should have had a lot of living left to do. Rest peacefully my friend.

Mike Y -- another fishing friend of Jay's‎

Adrienne Lewis said...

Jay has been a part of our lives and family for 20 years and it's hard to know what we'll do without him. The three of us have sat in shock for the last 24 hours-- recounting more memories than we could ever put down in one short post.

The only two Americans, Elliott and Jay worked side by side at the Vernon Valley Brewery for as long as it remained open-- making beer, drinking beer and reveling in thier shared love. Jay quickly became a part of our family. Always appearing for one of Adrienne's meals at just the right moment, Jay savored every bite with a full mouth and smiling eyes. When afterwards he slept soundly on the easy chair with a full belly, a mischevious 10-year-old Devon painted his finger nails and waited patiently for his reaction- always a jovial laugh. He indulged her by wearing the polish until it flaked off days later.

As the years passed, our friendship with Jay only grew stronger. He shared in every one of our most joyous occasions. He was Elliott's best man at our wedding and when our daughter got married last June, it was Jay who proudly provided the beer. More than most of the other details, the wedding guests remember drinking his exceptional beer.

He was a light in our lives when times have been tough and he will missed by each of us. Our hearts go out to his family. We have nothing but the fondest memories of Jay.

Anonymous said...

I met Jay because Triumph Brewing is a client of ours. Over the past year, every time I've talked to him, it was always a pleasure. The way he presents himself and the way he treats others with dignity and respect. He is an honorable man.

Keith Ng - TAKK Systems Inc.

Anonymous said...

Some more wonderful tributes to Jay, at the fishing forum he participated in:

He touched a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the hefeweizen, Jay. And thanks for everything you ever did for Philly. You'll be missed, indeed.
And, peace to all of Jay's grieving friends and family.
-Don Russell

Anonymous said...

I believe I only met him once, but enjoyed his creations many times. He will be missed sorely by the beer community and all his family and friends.I cannot make the funeral due to work, but he will be in my thoughts and prayers.
God Bless You, Jay!

Scoats said...

I was lucky enough to get to hang with Jay a few times. He was a larger than life guy who loved life, including playing darts and drinking beer.

He was one of the many great people who make working in this industry so fun. He will be very missed.

I will be honoring his memory tonight with a few games of darts and some lager.

Anonymous said...

Jays Funeral Info....
This Thursday, 11 am at St. George's-by-the-River Episcopal Church
7 Lincoln Avenue, Rumson, NJ 07760
Phone: 732-842-0596

Followed at 12 noon at McCloone's Rum Runner
816 Ocean Avenue, Sea Bright, NJ 07760

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a loss to the community of brewers. I was greatly saddened by this news. I think of the times that I have visited with Jay at various breweries and brewing functions and the insightful, intelligent and downright funny observations he made. I will miss him.

I have such fond memories of traveling to Vernon Valley back in 1988 or 9 and the wonderful day the woman who is now wife and I spent with Jay. As young brewers trained in very different traditions (he German, I British) we both learned something about brewing technique, philosophy and most importantly in the value of learning from your peers. I still have a Stein that he gave me on that day displayed in my dining room. When I look at it I always think fondly of that great, first day we spent together some twenty years ago.

We will all miss you Jay. I will lift a lager in your memory today.

-John Mallett, Bells Brewery

Unknown said...

I wasn't fortunate enough to know Jay very well, but I knew his passion for great beer as well as anyone. I used to see him at the bar in New Hope, usually @ lunch after one of my Saturday morning bike rides when the place was more or less empty. He used to crack open bottled samples of aged- or upcoming- Triumph beers and share them with pride w/ anyone lucky enough to be around.

As an avid homebrewer myself with a dream of someday brewing on a larger scale, Jay served as an inspiration to me. A great man, all around. I was truly shocked and saddened to read of his passing. Stopped at Triumph on my way home last night and hoisted a fresh pint of german pils in his memory.

My condolences to all who knew and loved him.

CarolynS said...

I audibly gasped when I read the email with this sad news yesterday; the people working around me actually shuddered at the sound. They knew, from my reaction, that something terrible had happened..."a great loss," they surmised. Yes, a great loss for the beer world - the lager world - and for those of us who were fortunate enough to know him! Jay was an artist, and I somehow suspect that lagers are lean in heaven. Our loss, indeed; but I cannot help thinking that Beer Hunter Michael Jackson is doing handsprings in heaven at gaining Jay's companionship in Nirvana. Nonetheless, I am sad at our loss, and particularly sad for his wife, his family, and his closest friends. My thoughts are with you.

Jay, you will be greatly missed.

Carolyn Smagalski, The Beer Fox

Anonymous said...

I am devastated over the sudden loss of Jay. Jay mentored and trained me to become a brewer while he was at Mountain Valley. I was fresh out of Siebel when I first worked under him and yet it is his ideas on lagers which have permanently influenced the way I brew. He trained me with a unique blend of strict discipline, humor and mischief. You’d scrub your fingers off for him and then he’d take you fishing when the brewhouse boiler was broken. He was a great friend. I have many great memories and an arm that still feels sore from arm wrestling with him for who would go get the next round of Pils out of the cellar. Over the years we'd meet up at different brewing events and conferences and I'd try and thank him. Instead of basking in some well deserved praise from an apprentice he remained approachable and positive. Jay's accomplishments in brewing far surpass the self promoters we see these days. His easy manner, integrity and peerless skill at brewing will be sorely missed and never replaced. God bless you Jay. I owe you so much.
Neill Acer
Defiant Brewing Company

Anonymous said...

As the resident lager lout here in Dutchess Cty of NY I am going to miss this man. When I arrived in NY in the early '80s he proved to me I did not need return to Germany to get real beer. I spent a week in San Fran on a business trip (please don't tell the boss) drinking that marvelous Marzen and then he was kind enough to come back east and share his beer with us. It was a privilege to know this big guy and I will miss him.

Anonymous said...

Jay was a friend and colleague of mine that I have had the honor of knowing in recent years. It was always a pleasure just kicking back and talking with Jay about beer and all the finer things life has to offer. He was wonderful person and mentor who will be sorely missed by many.
My best to his family during these trying times, you are in my thoughts.

Jeff Loranger-Brewers Supply Group

john tucci said...

The brewing community has lost another great one.

I'm sure he's sitting down right now though with a bottomless glass of pilsner, fishing rod nearby, watching the Yankees on TV win one world series after another after another after another.....

The cellars of Gordon Biersch San Francisco remember you fondly Jay.

Thanks for the memories.

John Tucci
Gordon Biersch San Francisco

Anonymous said...

Jay and I go back to 1989 when we met at the GABF. He and John Berardino were wearing their Vernon Valley tandem lederhosen garb fending off advances from a unique combo of gay guys and hot girls. We hit it off day one as both evangelists of the German way of brewing. I was very fortunate to have him part of the Gordon Biersch family. I know he will be missed by me, Dean, Tom, Michael D, Michael K,Jeff L, John A, John T and Justin (GB brewing staff)who all had the pleasure of knowing him as a friend and colleague. We always had fun and never any bad times together. How many people can you say that about.

Dan Gordon

Unknown said...

Jay, being a lager guy, we had many a talks at a number of events. I always found him witty and kind and loved to talk shop. Prost!

Raven Beer

Anonymous said...

Jay Misson....
He was so incredibly larger than life....his love and zest for life was something you could see in his eyes, and his good nature was infectious.
I worked with Jay at Mountain Valley...he the Brewer, and I the chef. Planning our brewdinners was always fun as we'd sit, taste and talk about flavors. My time spent with Jay will always be remembered as the best. This is just so incredibly sad, and my heart goes out to his family at his passing.
Godspeed Jay Misson. I can only echo the many sentiments here in stating that you will truly be missed.

Anonymous said...

I first met Jay in the late 80's when he was at Vernon Valley and I later enjoyed his beers at the Mountain Valley Brewpub when I lived a 1/2 mile away in New Jersey. He always asked me how the beers tasted and I would say: "Great Jay!" What a shock. Jay was a great guy and I was always happy to see him. Rest in peace Jay...and Prost!

Anonymous said...

Please see attached link for those who would like to see the obituary

Anonymous said...

Not just the beer world but the world as a whole has lost a great soul, a great person, one who I will carry fond memories of. I met Jay, as I have with half of my current friends, at Mountain Valley in Suffern, NY. Jay was always quick to let me try his new creations and his Christmas Ale is still my top favorite for seasonal brews. I may have lost a friend but I know I'll see him again. When I go to the Big Brew Pub in the sky, I know Jay will be the Brewmaster.

All of my thoughts and prayers to his family. God Bless!

Robert Prescott

Steve Parkes said...

I am shocked to say the least. Jay's always been a larger than life presence. He visited me at my first brewery in America in 1987, I visited with him in San Francisco. He's provided me with many quotes on German brewing I still use when teaching. The other day I found the fake cigarette he used in a prank at the American Brewers Guild a few years back. I was counting on seeing him again. Treasure the friendships you have and never miss an opportunity to tell a friend what they mean to you. We're putting lager on tap in the tasting room today

Anonymous said...

I've known Jay and Kelly for four years, as one of their priests at St. George's in Rumson, and I'll be preaching tomorrow at his funeral. I was blown away when I got the call that Jay had died. Reading all that people have shared about Jay on this and other sites brings home to me the Jay that I knew--a guy who always had a smile on his face, a great love for his wife, and a zeal for life. And he loved what he did for a living, and was great at it. I grew up in Princeton, so I knew Triumph before I knew Jay, and once I got to know Jay, it was an absolute joy to sit down with him at Triumph, with Kelly (and once or twice without) and sample some of his handiwork. It was a glorious education. I'll miss him--a guy who was truly larger than life, and just a really great person.


Anonymous said...

My life was richer for the times I was able to spend with Jay, even though they were few and far between.

I will never forget attending my first Microbrewers Conference in 1989 in San Francisco, especially the brewery tour when I sat next to Jay on the bus -- and our first stop was Gordon Biersch in Palo Alto for a 10 am, 1/2 liter glass of Hefeweizen.

Ever since then I enjoyed catching up with Jay each time I saw him at a GABF or CBC. And I had the good fortune of visiting him at Mountain Valley Brewpub. Was there a better, yummier Porter being brewed at the time in the mid-1990s? Possibly not. Any more Ruffian Porter fans out there? I always loved the fact that Jay was an accomplished and talented lager brewer -- and then he formulated a beautifully rich, balanced and 'robust' Porter for this little brewery in the town of Suffern.

Ten years after that I visited Jay at the "new" Triumph Brewing in New Hope, PA, after he returned to the Northeast. Jay brewed some great ales there, too, along with the lagers.

It's true - it might sound like a broken record here - You could always expect excellent beers from Jay. And he was always warm hearted and generous with his time, even when he did not have much time to spare.

Thank you, Jay, you left us too soon!

David Edgar

Unknown said...

I received a call from an old friend and colleague last night and learned of Jay's passing. As many have noted above, Jay was a larger than life figure. He trained me at Gordon Biersch in San Francisco and was always a great friend and mentor. I'm certainly grateful that our lives crossed. My best wishes to his family.
Steve Ryan

Anonymous said...

I didn’t know Jay personally, but I know we’ve all suffered a great loss. Please pass along our condolences to his friends and family.

David Thibodeau
Ska Brewing Co
Durango, Colorado

Anonymous said...

Those of us who knew Jay liked him for his passion for beer and life in general.

I met Jay first when he was still with Gordon Biersch and I had just talked to him on Friday when I heard the terrible news on Monday.

Jay, you will be missed. RIP

Anonymous said...

Ed and I are deeply saddened by Jay's untimely passing. We have known him for over twenty years having followed his brewing career from New Jersey, Hawaii, Germany, Florida and were thrilled to have him close and a part of our Phila. brewing community. Here's hoping he will have some great lager
beers ready for us when we all meet again.

Carol and Ed Stoudt
Stoudt Brewing Co.

Jack and Jewel said...

I met Jay in ’89 and was lucky to run into him a couple years later in Germany when he worked at Castel. He gave me a tour of local brew pubs. There was one in particular he didn’t want to go into because he didn’t like their beer. The building was so unique that I insisted we go in, but told him we didn’t have to get a beer. As luck would have it, the Brewmaster was there. He proceeded to pour us a beer and ask for Jay’s opinion. Jay had to choke the beer down with a smile. He said that he wouldn’t forgive me for that.
In reading all the comments, I can’t help but think how fortunate it is to know someone who makes such a great impact on so many lives, half way around the world.
For those who haven’t heard, there will be a “Toast to Jay” at Gordon Biersch SF Saturday at 4pm.
Tom Davis
Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.

Anonymous said...

Zum wohl im Himmel alte Brauer, ich trinke heute ein schone lagerbier fur dich.Prost.
Brenden Dobel
Thirsty Bear Brewing Co.

Anonymous said...

I first met Jay by doing an apprenticeship under him at Mountain Valey Brewpub. As someone passionate and eager to make brewing my profession I cold called Jay and asked him if I could do my apprenticeship with him. He instantly said yes and a couple of weeks later I met him for the first time when I arrived to start my apprenticeship. It was obvious instantly that Jay was eager, willing and capable of teaching me alot. He gave me alot of freedom to brew and package and have a real fun time doing it. Like many times in one's life when you have no perspective or reference as to what things should or could be, you sometimes assume that everyone or everywhere is the same. I have worked in the brewing industry since 1994 after having completed my apprenticship with Jay. What I discovered after being in the brewing industry for a very short time is that there is no better industry to work. Jay set the standard for my expecations and reference for what the brewing industry should be like. We come close alot of times. I think that we all should try to emulate the qualities he exhibited.

Anonymous said...

As it was to everyone, we were completely shocked and overwhelmed when we got the call.

My first memory of Jay is this big guy in a cable knit sweater, mop of curly hair and giant hand reaching out to shake mine. Then he proceeded to introduce me to about 100 other people while throwing darts, have a drag then taking a sip and chuckle 'that' laugh. One of those 100 people at Mountain Valley became my future husband. If Jay hadn't given 'skunk boy' a $ job scrubbing kegs, we may have never met. Mt. Valley gave so many of us fond memories and long lasting friendships because of that giant handshake.

Jay went out to San Fran and Scott went on to open Trap Rock. So we decided to pay him a visit in San Fran after the 97 GABF - Jay picked us up by surprised at the airport, whisked us through the quiet back entrance of G.B. only to walk into the total chaos of Punk Polka music during Octoberfest.

Our lives changed so much over the past 12yrs, but we'd always get the random surprise call or a pop up on IM. Visits were less frequent but Jay always knew 'the perfect' place. Of course you had to drive down a dirt road, wave at a random guard, while entering a water treatment plant - BUT when you got there it always had the best view, cold drink and delish sammich :). We'll see him there again having a sip and laughing his laugh.

Our hearts go out to Kelly & the family.

Karen & Scott Sutera
Oak Ridge NJ

Anonymous said...

From the OG pirates of GB past. Jay lived life, excreted, and enjoyed all things beer and not. He was a the fisherman of Bradley Beach and humor was Jay's #1 goal in life. He found his true love in Kelly and shared with all of us the enjoyment of life..........we will always remember SF to NJ

T,V, R, J
the four OG of GB.

Anonymous said...

I meet Jay at our brewerie in Kemmern /Germany and i feel very sad about this message.
sincerest condolences to his family an friends.

Anonymous said...

Although I never met Jay in person, I spoke with him over email several times. I always took it for granted that I would meet him, and that is a lesson learned.

My first experience with his beer was at Triumph in Princeton. I had a sampler and was instantly impressed. At first it was the seasonal ales that really impressed me, and as time went on, I gained an incredible amount of respect for their lagers. There aren't many brewpubs that do lagers, let alone well and they were all flawless.

Jay was always very generous with his knowledge when I asked him brewing questions through email and his passion very evident. Whenever he came up as the topic in conversation with a brewer or beer enthusiast- I always heard about how great of a guy he was, how generous he was, his sense of humor, and passion for brewing.

RIP Jay, and thank you for the contributions you have made to brewing and the world of beer in general. You will be sorely missed.

Boonton, NJ

Anonymous said...

I knew Jay as a colleague during the years he worked at Gordon Biersch and after. Jay was indeed the type of guy we were always excited to see and spend time with, always upbeat and always full of life. He was consistently generous with his knowledge and passion for the German brewing tradition to those around him and always fun spend time with. Jay is the only Yankee fan I’ve ever absolved for that misguided allegiance, he will be missed dearly

Michael Doherty
Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.
Red Sox Native

Anonymous said...

My prayers go out to his family and friends.

Rob Cassell
Philadelphia Distilling

Anonymous said...

Very sad news... I remember Jay brewing beer in Highschool with my older brother John, up in my parents 3rd floor tub...just shows you, "follow your passion" (can't imagine a High school kid telling his parent's.."i want to brew specialty beer for a living" IN 1979!) WOW..and he did it! Sometimes it is not how often, but when, in our lives we are touched by someone special. I will never forget Jay in North Carolina joining John and my family for our 2 week summer the Outter Banks. I was much younger (maybe 11 to his 18?)but old enough to know "the coolest guy in the room" people just gravitated to Jay...he was a true giant and a great guy to hang with us younger guys back then (surf fishing, name it!)...a true class act...he will be missed


Anonymous said...

I heard the news today and still cannot believe he is gone he was just larger then life.I ran the the bar at Mountain Valley and remember the day he came aboard with his curly black hair and his warm smile and distinctive laugh.In the following years at Mountain Valley we all became a large very close family that will always be in my heart and I will always have the most cherished memories that I will keep forever.

As I write this I think of the lagers and ales we drank together , the laughs we had , and the friendships we made. I think of my wedding where Jay as my best man made the wonderful speech that included the line that we had consumated the marriage years ago to the horror of all the older relatives !!!

Jay I will miss you and the talent and passion you had brewing your beer and the world of micro brewing will never be the same. The next time I have a beer it just will not be the same knowing you are not here. Thank you for your friendship and all the wondeful memories.

Kevin Fitzpatrick
Orlando FL.

Anonymous said...

My life has forever changed knowing Jay. His farewell pulled chapters of his life together for all of us to share. I've never had such a sad day where I laughed so much. We'll see our friend again, he'll be handing us his newest creation with those big paws of his.
I love you, my friend.


Anonymous said...

I met Jay in 1988 at Action park a week after I moved to America. I still remember our first meeting, he was sucking down a giant glass of dark beer playing a harmonica. I have many memories of this special man who I am proud to call my friend. His passion for his craft and great sense of humour will forever remain with me. i'll never forget this incredible man who really touched my life in many ways.Jay I miss you pal. Rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

I'll remember Jay's easy and ever-present grin - - his lager fanaticism - - the precise quality of his work. He loved to learn and shared what he knew.

Raising the boot to Jay-

Dean Biersch

Anonymous said...

Like all of us, I am incredibly saddened by the news of Jay’s untimely passing. I never fully appreciated this until now, but he (via his beer) had a significant hand in getting me into brewing. I didn’t know Jay at the time, but some of the first craft beer I enjoyed was brewed by him in Vernon Valley and served at the Chapter House pub up in Ithaca, NY back in the late 80’s. I was an undergraduate studying food science at the time and discovered that beer could have great taste – thank you Jay! Fortunately we eventually met and our paths crossed several times over the years. It was always great to see his smiling face and enjoy a beer. I will always remember the two dominant, recurring themes of our conversations – lager brewing vs. ale and his consistent dream “to brew great lager near the beach.” My sincerest condolences to his family. Jay you will be missed!

Rich Tucciarone
Kona Brewing Company

Anonymous said...

Both my wife and I are deeply saddened by the passing of another cousin in a weeks time. I think of my poor aunt who is very ill herself having to face the loss of a second son.

Although having lost contact with Jay for many years I remember that devilish look he would alway get in his eyes as a young boy when he would be up to something. I will never forget him helping me to wash my fathers brand new car, me on one side with a sponge and he on the other with a brillo pad that was ment for the white wall tires. He was laughing and having a great time thinking he was being such a big help.

Our hearts go out to Jay's Wife Kelly, Sister Mari, and my Aunt Liz. Jay will be gratly missed by all.

Anonymous said...

Tom Clark and John Berardino called on Wednesday and informed me about Jay`s passing away. I am shocked and devastated over that sudden loss.
I remember the day when he applied at Vernon Valley Brewery to become an apprentice. I had my doubts that a guy wearing tie and suit would be the right one for us. Getting friends I found out that this was the only suit he ever had (before marrying his wife Kelly). He doubtless became an excellent brewermaster with a never ending thirst for knowledge and a passion for our business haveing no equal. With his very fine sense for the art of brewing he crafted beers setting milestones. During my time in Vernon Valley Brewery we got very good friends and even the long distance over the Atlantic never changed that.
I feel deeply sad about his passing away and it might take a while for me to realize that he is gone for good.
My sincerest condolences to his wife Kelly, his family and all his friends.

Stefan Muhs

Anonymous said...

Jay was the best of the best. He was a skilled brewmaster, but also a kind, sharing human being. I treasure the many, many technical conversations we enjoyed as well as comparing tasting notes and philosophy. SHINE ON, BRIGHTLY, JAY, WHEREVER YOU HAVE TRAVELLED TO...

Anonymous said...

On the plane yesterday afternoon, coming back from Italy, I finished reading Cormac McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men". There was a line that stuck with me, though I paraphrase - "The only way you get to be this happy is if they're planning to take it all away from you."

Life isn't fair, and this news today was particularly crushing. I'm glad to hear that Jay's last day was so brilliant. I knew him for over 20 years - we first met when he worked at Vernon Valley in the late 80's. He brewed on a museum piece; some of his lagers were put up in pitch-lined wooden barrels and the brewery had a baudelot chiller. And he was in his element, approaching his craft with unswerving dedication and passion.

The beers were wonderful, both then and later, but as I sit here, I don't remember them so much as his ever-present smile, his booming voice and that laugh that filled a room. Jay was a positive force wherever he went, and as importantly he was a gentleman. You don't see many of those anymore. He was genuine, generous, and without artifice. I wish I'd had a chance to tell him what a terrific person I thought he was, but I thought there would be many more pints, so many more. People like Jay is why we brewers are here, why "this thing of ours" is the very best thing in the world. Wherever Jay is, I'm sure the stripers are running, and they don't stand a chance. Keep the keller helles cold for me,

- Garrett Oliver

Anonymous said...

In the short time I knew Jay, his love for living life at its fullest was an inspiration, and thankfully, rubbed off on me. Prost!

My deepest condolences to Jay's family, both at home, and his extended family of the beer world.

Brady Schoenrock
Philadelphia, PA

Anonymous said...

No amount of kindness on my part could ever repay Jay for the love, laughs, and knowledge that were so freely given. I'll miss him dearly.
His love of life was infectious, and his spirit edified everyone he came in contact with.
I hope they have beer in heaven, I owe him quite a few.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Jay at Triumph in New Hope on a couple of occasions, and he was already to serve up samples if you were interested enough to try. Triumph was certainly one his triumphs, and he will be greatly missed.

JWClement said...

I was the owner of the Vernon Valley Brewery during its last days under Jay, and he and I brewed together and drove many kegs of beer into New York City. I remember him telling me a great story about getting stuck in a traffic jam coming into the city with John Beradino, their opening up the refrigerated doors and pouring themselves beer while waiting for the road to clear - all with people in nearby cars shouting if they could have some!

Jay was one of the nicest, humblest guys I met and I was greatly saddened by this news. I will really miss him. My condolences go to his wife.

James Clement
former owner Chapter House Brewpub, Ithaca, NY, & Vernon Valley Brewery, Vernon, NJ

Anonymous said...

I consider myself fortunate enough to call Jay a friend. I remember the first time i met him. I was enamored by not how big a guy he was, but how he was so in love with what he did. Jay is a great person, and more people, not just brewers need to be more like him. This world would be a much better place if this were true. I loved when he would say hey Jordan try this, it was almost Micheal Jacksonesque, just passing you a beer for the reason that he loved what was in it. I am deeply saddened at the loss of what I consider one of the nicest people I have ever come across this trade we are in. Its because of people like Jay that i wake up every day with a smile on my face, knowing there are others who share the the same passion for what we do involving the one thing that caused us to cross paths... I will surely see you soon enough my friend.

-Jordan Fetfatzes
Bella Vista Beer

P.S. Jay, you know it just wont be the same with out ya buddy. but hey you can go fishing every day now.

Anonymous said...

Mortality hits you squarely in the face when someone so vibrant, warm, and with such a hearty laugh can die so young. While I've lost touch with Jay since my years as a bartender at Mountain Valley, I have very fond memories. Jay at the end of the bar with a cigarette and a smile, playing darts, kind to all, and... that laugh. Thanks, Jay, for giving me my love of good beer.

Tammy Smolar
Montville, NJ

Anonymous said...

Everyone talks about his lagers but if he is the man responsible for the Bengal Gold IPA Triumph brews he knew his hoppy ales too. R.I.P. Mr. Misson, from a beer geek who loves the Bengal Gold.

Anonymous said...

It was about a year ago when I played golf with Jay at the annual Master Brewers outing, and I am in total shock that he is now gone.

I first met Jay at The Brewery, and we did shots of Tequilla and drank Lagers and IPA's and talked about fishing. Looking back, I recall his friends at the outing telling me how he would be out in the surf, in the freezing cold- wearing shorts, and a beard of frozen sea mist on his face. He was a man who respected the law of the sea. He knew that civilization ends at the shoreline, and we all enter the food chain from there on out.

I also recall that Jay forgot more about beer, and stripers and blues on the Jersey shore than most people will ever know. I love beer, but I sat in awe trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about.

My most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

I feel like going fishing and drinking some good beer.

Via Con Dios.

-Adam and Penny

Anonymous said...

Ich werde mich nächste Woche mit Tom in Bamberg treffen und auf Jays Wohl diverse Lager und Rauchbier trinken, ihm zuprosten und eine riesige Portiopn "Schäuferla" verzehren.
There is only one

Anonymous said...

Go with God,
I met Jay back in 1996 during my time as a trainee at Gordon Biersch. He was one of the most sympathetic guys I ever met and we had a very good time together. Thank You for beeing with You.
Yours Peter Fischer (Munich/Germany)

Anonymous said...

So it all worked out...........

Anonymous said...

I was just unpacking a box and found a pils recipe Jay wrote down for me in 1997. He titled it, "Pils - Jay's Way". It has a little smoked malt.

Peter Kruse

Lew Bryson said...

Please hold on to that, if you don't mind: we're talking about a Jay memorial event at Philly Beer Week, and that would be a real appropriate beer.

Anonymous said...

Jay was such an adventurous and kind person. I knew him way back in the 1980's when he lived in Santa Barbara. I remember when we took a trip up through California in his little VW bug, going up highway 1 with the Springsteen music blaring,that New Jersey music... The views of the Big Sur coastline were so fantastic that he accidentally drove into a big ditch on the side of the road, but pulled out of it just in time. We camped in Santa Cruz, wine tasted in Napa before it got all commercialized. Even back in his early 20's, he was making beer and enjoying the great bottles of wine, not just the so-so ones. He had a passion for that. We went hiking in Tahoe, he played the harmonica. He laughed easily. He always talked about his family, especially his sister Mari. I kept in touch with him off and on over the years. Years later, he gave our family a tour of the Gordon Biersh brewery in San Francisco. He rode his bike all the way there every day. I was so sad to hear about the testicular cancer, then so happy to hear of his marriage, so glad he found the right person to spend the rest of his life with. I just went to facebook to say hello, and was shocked to find out that he had passed away. It's just so tragic that it was so short, way too short... I'm sorry that his wife didn't get enough time with him. I will forever miss that wry smile and thoughtful quips.

Anonymous said...

I know it's been quite a long time since Jay passed, but I still felt the need to add some words. I'd lost touch with Jay many years ago after he moved out to San Francisco, but we had spent many nights hanging together at the George Inn or the Vernon Valley Brewery many moons ago. I'm no less shocked to learn of his passing now, even though it's five years later. He was one of those rare people who left an indelible mark on your life. I play the harmonica today mainly because I remember watching him woo a crowd with his and thinking "I want to do that too". He didn't introduce me to the game of darts, but we both played countless games in various Sussex County venues, particularly wearing away the old floorboards of the George Inn (before it was remodeled and lost it's charm). I recall even helping him organize a dart tournament held in the George's (now unused) basement. And of course there was the beer. His midnight brewery tours are a story I still often retell. There were no windows in the Vernon Valley brewery (that I remember anyway); many times I was surprised to leave there with the sun rising over the ski slopes! Sitting right above me at my desk are three Bernon Balley glass 1L steins (they still give out those misprinted mugs at Vernon Oktoberfests to this day).
I recall Jay's amazingly sharp intellect as well. I was attending engineering school around that time and we had a running joke about Calculus that evolved from a conversation one late night at the Sussex Queen Diner. "If an inverted cone is being filled with liquid at a rate of ..." Nerd stuff, I know, but those were the things that brought laughter at 1am. One of the last times I saw him was while he was still working at Mountain Valley Brewpub. He and his future wife came down to Lake Hopatcong and we spent the day cruising the lake with a few good lagers shooting the breeze and enjoying life.
Bis wir uns Wiedersehen,
Wayne Dunn

Unknown said...

Wow. While I did not know Jay personally, his legend and legacy were far reaching. What a loss to our brewing community, it most of all what a loss to his family and friends among us. My condolences to all who knew and loved Jay.

Megan Parisi
Samuel Adams/Boston Beer Company