This week, the Seattle beer community is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved and tireless advocates. Morgan Herzog, founder of popular West Seattle beer bar and bottle shop The Beer Junction, died last Thursday after a three-year battle with multiple myeloma. Over the weekend, those who knew him shared sentiments and stories about the 38-year old’s influence on the industry, his sense of humor, and the depth of his kindness. “We have lost another icon of the Seattle craft beer community,” wrote Michael Deiterle of the Craft Beer Monger.
Herzog made The Beer Junction, the first bottle shop of its kind in the neighborhood, an integral part of Seattle’s beer culture and the tight-knit West Seattle community. He championed breweries, near and far, every Thursday for “brewers night,” connecting people — who came from all over the city — with new beers and the professionals who brewed them, from Redmond’s Black Raven to Bellingham’s Chuckanut Brewery to Ecliptic Brewing in Portland, Oregon.
Herzog joined forces with nearby neighborhood bars such as Beveridge Place Pub and Ounces Taproom for events like Hop Around West Seattle, which raised funds for the local food bank. He also collaborated with first-rate breweries each year to create special, often humorous, anniversary beers for The Beer Junction, which paved the way for ales like Skookum Brewery’s “Tommy Talon Goes to Space IPA” and “The Thing On The Wing IPA” from Airways Brewing.
“This industry is full of nice people, but Morgan was a standout: kind, generous and with a fantastic sense of humor,” said Alex Dittmar, one of the founders of Airways Brewing. “He was a champion of our brand and a great guy, who will be sorely missed.”
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Sad day for West Seattle and the beer community. Morgan may not have known it, but we have tons of great memories with him in them! From our very first housewarming keg out of his first store, to inspiring us to start Ounces, he was a very influential person in our story. Cheers to Morgan and our sincere condolences to his wife Allison and the whole @thebeerjunction family.
One common thread among those sharing memories has been Herzog’s hospitality and how he treated those around him — countless tales of how he remembered everyone’s name after just one meeting, or how he gave people a chance or their start in the beer industry. Nick Marianetti and Gregory Marlor opened the Best of Hands Barrelhouse in West Seattle after years of working behind The Beer Junction counter, and spoke of his influence in an Instagram post.
Many people who knew him in the industry emphasized his support, whether that was through mentoring, friendship, being a sponsor, or stopping by new taprooms to connect with fledgling owners over beers. “Morgan supported us from day one, as he did with lots of small breweries getting off the ground,” says Steve Luke, founder of Cloudburst Brewing. “But the thing we’ll miss the most was his gleeful, utter nerd-dom for all things dinosaurs and space related — which inspired our Beer Junction Anniversary IPA, Brontosaurus Supernova.” Luke said they had arranged to bring back the beer as a fundraiser for Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in the spring. “We still plan to hold up our end of the bargain, and brew this beer to remember him.”
Herzog started his career as a CPA, and was a lifelong Seattleite and “Seinfeld” superfan — there was even a “Seinfeld”-themed beer collaboration in 2019 between Airways Brewing and Narrows Brewing that was released at The Beer Junction. After five years at a big accounting firm, he finally — in his own words — “saw the light! It was beer.” A University of Washington graduate, Herzog had an innate business sense and was happy to share his knowledge, helping others along their own paths to the industry.
“When I became a Sales Rep and worked directly with Morgan, I was blown away by how laid-back and kind he was, while also being so ahead of the game, and professionally savvy,” says Nick Weitzel of Black Raven Brewing. “His kindness in the shop was only amplified outside the confines of the workplace. Morgan touched the lives of so many people, and we are all lucky to have had the privilege of knowing him.”
“As a West Seattle resident, and a beer drinker, I am lucky to have benefited from his passion for beer,” says Kendall Jones, producer of the Washington Beer Blog. “He was a benevolent badass in our industry and a great friend.”
While there’s no word yet on a memorial or gathering, pints were raised over the weekend by friends and customers — some of them stout, one of Herzog’s faves — in the legacy he left behind: a welcoming neighborhood shop that will continue to create connections, memories, opportunities, and an appreciation for good beer. Herzog is survived by his wife, Allison, and his brother, Nate.
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It is with great sadness that we share the loss of our owner, founder, and friend, Morgan Herzog. Yesterday evening, just before 6 PM, Morgan passed away peacefully at his West Seattle home. After bravely battling multiple myeloma for the past three years, Morgan developed a respiratory infection earlier this week. This happened very suddenly and has taken us all by great shock. The fighter that he was throughout this entire struggle, he found the strength yesterday morning to leave the ICU, so that he could spend his last few hours at home, looking out at the water, and in the company of his wife, Allison, and brother, Nate, who were both right by his side at the moment he left us. He will be forever missed. While we were not prepared for this sudden timing, we've always been prepared for this possibility, and in Morgan's honor, and wishes, The Beer Junction will remain here for you, just as you've been here for all of us. Thank you for your thoughts and support throughout this difficult time. Allison, Patrick, and The Beer Junction Team