You will be missed, Griz
The longtime owner of SF Brewcraft and local homebrew legend, Greg "Griz" Miller, recently passed away. After hearing the sad news, I find myself surprised at how moved I am when I think about Griz and the way he touched my life, not to mention the lives of tens of thousands of Bay Area brewers. I'm strongly passionate about homebrewing, I began my homebrewing adventure by getting a starter kit from Griz in 2008. In 2012 I founded the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild (SFHG) and have served as its President for the last two years.
The fact that the SFHG already has over 140 annual dues paying members is, in part, a testament to the success of SF Brewcraft's role in building the local homebrewer community long before I came around to organize it (and that's not to downplay the roles of others in that effort, like craft beer gurus such as Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing or now defunct SF-based homebrew clubs like the Bay Area Brew Crew). Since beginning to homebrew and running the SFHG I've had the opportunity to interact with Griz many times. He was always incredibly supportive of my brewing, as he was for everyone, and also of the SFHG. He was an eccentric, opinionated guy, who knew homebrewing so well that he famously could write you out a recipe for any style of beer by memory. He was a true character, an irreplaceable personality who touched the lives of many people, lots of whom became passionate homebrewers and some of whom even became professional beer makers.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you Griz, for years and years of passionate dedication to homebrewing, you served as a whacky inspiration to me and to many people I know. The SFHG is making a plaque that celebrates your memory to present to the guys at SF Brewcraft, but I really wish I'd thought to do that last year.
Here's the post I wrote up for the SFHG website, in Griz' memory:
The San Francisco homebrewing community lost a legend on September 23rd. On Monday night our friend Greg Miller, better known to all as Griz, owner of SF Brewcraft, passed away in his sleep. Griz was a true character, a gregarious and opinionated guy who forgot more about brewing over the years than most of us will ever know. During his 40+ years in the homebrew supply business many Bay Area brewers, both pros and homebrewers, got their starter brew kit from Griz and learned the basics in his class or from his worksheets. We all owe Griz a debt of gratitude for showing us what true passion for brewing looks like and for infusion mashing the SF homebrew community with his hoppy free spirit. Let’s all raise a glass to Griz tonight and dedicate our next brewing adventure to his memory.
Griz was a brewer-philosopher and he left us not only with many great memories, but with loads of fantastic quotes about how you shouldn’t be “anal retentive” when you brew (a little funnier than the old “don’t worry, relax, have a homebrew” quote, if you ask me), “you can’t brew a lager,” and how it was good and comforting to be connected to a craft that mankind had been undertaking for thousands of years, “but turn off your goddamn cell phone before you start because it’s a creative artistic endeavor…where you can iron yourself out.” For Griz, brewing was therapy, it was his meditation. I believe that many dedicated homebrewers know exactly what he means when he says that.
I don’t know exactly what the first bit of the quote below means, but I get the overall gist and it feels profound only two days after Griz’ passing. I think Griz grabbed and rode exactly the wave he wanted to in his life and he rode it all the way home.
“When the bullshit-choking chain gets pulled, ride that wave all the way to the shore. You only get so many of those in a lifetime. And when you grab it, don’t feel guilty about it. Grab on to it and ride that wave as far as it’ll take ya.” – Griz
Here are some excellent videos of Griz, if you feel like reminiscing or are wondering what sort of dude he was: