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December 05, 2010 - Bruce Nichols, RIP [Updated]
UPDATE: A Memorial Service for Bruce Nichols has been scheduled for late January.

Bruce Nichols, a co-founder of Philadelphia Beer Week and one of the important figures in craft beer history in Philadelphia, died early today of Leukemia. He was president of Museum Catering Company and the man most responsible for famed beer writer Michael Jackson's long relationship with the city of Philadelphia.

Nichols, Tom Peters of Monk's Cafe and beer writer Don Russell organized the first Philly Beer Week in 2008, laying out a framework which has since been copied, but never matched, by over twenty other cities around the nation. In 1991, he invited Jackson to hold a tutored beer tasting at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology as part of the city's ten-day The Book & The Cook celebration of food and drink, creating a tradition that lasted until Jackson's death in 2007. More recently, Nichols was part of a partnership that opened The HeadHouse in Society Hill early this past summer. It faltered and closed within a month but, as of last month, was relaunched by his former partner, Madame Saito.

The original Jackson appearance at the Museum, which he often said was the most difficult of his life, was held outdoors in a tent under terrible weather conditions. Nichols would tell stories of how they went back to his place, where Jackson was staying, afterwards and Michael lay down on the floor in front of the roaring fireplace and said "bring me wine." Bruce got him a glass and Michael replied, "I meant the whole bottle." Nonetheless, that first tasting and drew the largest crowd of the entire ten days and Jackson returned thereafter every year until his death and continued to be the B & C's greatest draw.

"Bringing in Michael began the real emergence of the Philadelphia beer culture," Peters told the Beer Yard. "Bruce really helped push the boundaries of beer culture in Philadelphia. We are all thankful and grateful for all that he did for us."--JACK CURTIN