This is actually not new news. Donohue hasn’t been at Firehouse Brewery & Grill for nearly 2 weeks now. Some might say this was a sudden change, while those of us who know Donohue fairly well will ask what took him so long? Instead of focusing on “why” he left, let’s remember “what” he did in his time there.
In his tenure as the brewmaster of Firehouse, Donohue earned 4, consecutive medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Most breweries would be thrilled to win a single medal let alone 4. Well regarded by locals, his Hops on Rye rye IPA and One Tun Imperial Stout (OTIS) proved popular enough to be bottled and enjoyed outside of the brewpub. Despite his apparent dislike of beer festivals and events, Donohue has been pivotal in the creation of several craft beer events in the South Bay. In fact, one of the very first South Bay SF Beer Week events was the highly regarded, and missed, Beer & Cheese tasting event.
Fittingly, Donohue’s last day at Firehouse was punctuated with a brewhouse filled with friends and colleagues alike. Just about anyone who appreciated the craft beers he brewed were there: fellow brewers, homebrewers, industry friends, brewpub locals, and craft beer media. It can often be said that a man can be measured by the company he keeps and by the looks of things, Donohue’s not that bad of a guy.
So what does the future hold for Donohue? He is currently in the planning stages, with a yet to be revealed partner, of opening a new production craft brewery to be located in the South Bay. Donohue is also “pinch-hitting”, if you will, at Hermitage Brewing Company. It is only a temporary position but he should be working there for the next couple of months.
Notable technology personality/writer and brand advocate Guy Kawasaki once said that brand evangelism is easy if a brand produces quality products. And it’s true. If you look at the cult of Apple, it’s hard not to see why their customers are so devoted to their products and sing their praises any chance they get. It’s similar with any other company you find yourself advocating for. They’ve either treated you well, have a product that is highly satisfying, or have connected with you on a level far beyond a monetary transaction.
Donohue has been one of the better brewers that you’ve never heard of for several years now (except on this blog). Put him anywhere else in the San Francisco Bay Area and he’d be a “rock star” in the local craft beer world. Being one of his many advocates is easy because of the fantastic craft beers he brews but also because of who he is as a person.
Join me in raising a toast to Steve Donohue! Let us wish him luck as the begins writing the newest chapter in his life. I wish him well in his new business venture and eagerly await the day I can, once again, share a pint of his beers with him.