Danny Williams, the cooler manager for the Great American Beer Festival, Craft Brewers Conference, and World Beer Cup for more than a decade, died on January 23 after an eight-month battle with pancreatic and stomach cancer. He was 52. Williams was beloved in the Colorado beer industry and beyond, and was the unofficial “person you’d most like to have a beer with (and usually did)” at many industry events. He was known for his personable nature, easy-going demeanor, and love of life. He was famous for the “Belgian beer parties” held at his home in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colo., site of the former United Empire gold mine that he had converted into a beer cellar with more than 3,000 bottles lining the shelves on the sides of the mine. The mine was featured in a 2008 New York Times article.
Williams worked for Greenpeace in the late 1980s and early 90s before moving to Boulder in 1991, according to Brewers Association director Paul Gatza, who worked with Williams at Greenpeace and was his best friend and neighbor. Williams began homebrewing in 1992 and started volunteering at the GABF in the mid-1990s. He served various functions for the BA as a volunteer steward, block captain, and contract cooler manager for the GABF competition; beer service team lead for the CBC; and also helped with calling campaigns for the BA professional division.
Williams, who was divorced, has two grown children from a previous marriage, Josh and Chasity, and an eight-year-old son, Fletcher.
Per Williams’ request, a memorial service was not held; instead, he had requested that friends and family gather for a party. An event with a beer garden, pizza buffet, and silent auction to raise funds for his estate took place at Backcountry Pizza and Taphouse in Boulder on February 11. In addition, proceeds from Avery Brewing’s Boulder Strong Ale Festival held March 9-10 benefited Williams’ family.
“My dad has always been one of my best friends and it makes me so happy to know that he had so many people who loved and cared about him,” Josh Williams wrote in an email to Danny’s friends after his passing. “I know that I will not be the only person who will miss him dearly.” — Jill Redding
[A PayPal account has been set up to assist Williams’ family at bit.ly/AElZHW.]