Knight left Estes Park in 1995 to start Twisted Pine, back in Boulder. “Estes Park got too big; he didn’t want that,” said Jim Parker, who was Knight’s partner at Wolf Tongue, a few years ago. “Gordon likes to make beer; the rest of the stuff he doesn’t really care about. The startup is what really turns him on.”
In 1997, Twisted Pine merged with Peak to Peak, reuniting Knight with his first brew house. He left Twisted Pine to move up Boulder Canyon to Nederland and open Wolf Tongue in June 1997, and bought the brew house from Twisted Pine to get started. Wolf Tongue captured gold in the GABF’s brown porter category for Coffee Porter in 1998, Twisted Pine took gold in American amber for Twisted Amber in 1996, and High Country grabbed gold for Renegade Red, an India pale ale, in 1993.
Knight was a Nebraska native who earned a Purple Heart as an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He moved to Boulder in 1988, and soon turned from homebrewing to professional brewing. He also worked as a professional helicopter pilot, most often in firefighting.
Just a few days before his Wolf Tongue beer won the gold medal in 1998, we visited the brewery and asked him if he’d be at GABF that weekend. “I don’t think so; I’ll be flying,” he said. His voice was matter-of-fact, but that was the norm.
“I’ve got someplace else to be.”
“I fly helicopters into fires.”
“I brew beer.”
Gordon Knight had plenty to brag about, but bragging wasn’t in him.
In informing other brewers about Knight’s death, Brian Lutz—who himself left his brewing job and couldn’t stay away—of the Redfish brewpub in Boulder, wrote:
“Gordon didn’t have jobs, Gordon had passions. Gordon’s job was his passion and vice-versa. That’s a good way to live and I thank him for challenging me to do the same. If you knew Gordon Knight, please take a moment to reflect on his life and his family. I will miss him.”