In early 1998, as a newly hired WW reporter, I knew nothing about journalism or Portland (many readers have told me my cluelessness on either score hasn't changed) when I was assigned to write a cover story about the stalled growth of the micro-brewery business.

As a keen beer-drinker, I was interested in the assignment although I lacked sources and context. 

One gray winter afternoon, I made my way to the now-defunct Rose & Raindrop pub at 532 SE Grand. There, I met Don Younger, whose enthusiasm for selling craft beer at the Rose & Raindrop and more prominently, the Horse Brass Pub at 4534 SE Belmont, was exceeded only by his enthusiasm for drinking it.

Younger wore his gray hair long, and to put it generously, uncombed. The nicotine highlights in his beard and on on his fingers reflected a loved of cigarettes nearly as strong as his love for beer. In a conversation that went on long beyond my ability to ask coherent questions, Younger was generous and patient in his tutelage about beer for a rookie reporter. After about eight pints at the Rose and Raindrop, we repaired to the Horse Brass, because eight is never enough. By that time, my handwriting was a soggy illegible mess and so I put the notebook away and enjoyed Younger's tales of the bad old days when taverns either served Henry's, Bud or Miller and not much else.

I ran into Younger periodically over the years and he never appeared to change, giving me hope that beer is indeed health food.

Younger died early this morning at 69, reportedly as a result of complications he suffered after a fall. Details of his memorial service have not yet been announced.