By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
I didn't know him personally, but Jay Misson was buried today. Most of the clientele at Princeton's Triumph brewpub were probably unaware that one of the great beermen in the state of NJ had passed away. Therefore, the mood among them was markedly different from that of the staff, especially those who knew and worked with Jay Misson.
Triumph was the second brewpub up and running in NJ. From Sales and Marketing Manager Eric Nutt, to GM Doug Bork, to young bartender Christine, it had been a rough day. In fact, Nutt told me that most of the staff from all three of Triumph's brewpub locations--Princeton, New Hope (PA) and Philadelphia-- found a way to get to Misson's funeral services, so large was his impact on the company's operations, its employees, and, from what I could gather, everyone who knew him.
Nutt, savoring a glass of Misson's favorite pilsner, waxed nostalgic, though not maudlin, about his friend and colleague's passing. "His mission was to increase beer knowledge across the world," said Nutt. While Nutt was obviously emotionally drained, he smiled with every sip of the lager that Misson so loved. Nutt commented that while Misson was in charge of brewing operations for all three sites, it was the Philly site that Misson helped to build that was his protégé.
Bork, a nephew of famous jurist Robert Bork, was much more emotional when describing the void that Misson's passing left. His emotions ranged from smiles to tears as he described his working relationship with Misson. "Jay wanted to produce the most perfect beer ever," said Bork. "His dedication to the craft is what I most remember."
Twenty-five year old Christine (pictured above right), who began working at Triumph at the tender age of 19, spoke of Misson with reverence and respect for his beer knowledge. "On my first day, when some customer asked me what the difference was between a lager and an ale, I replied that one was dark and the other was light. Jay overheard the exchange and when I got finished with my shift, he called me over and sat me down. He educated me for two hours about this liquid he loved so very much. He knew so much. His knowledge of beer, his passion for it and his desire to share it with others is what I remember." Bartender Christine raises a glass to Jay Misson.
As a beer writer, I was familiar with Misson's status, work and reputation among the beer cognoscenti, though I never had the pleasure of a face-to-face. After hearing from Misson's co-workers, that was my loss. But two things are certain besides death and taxes:
- Misson's Mission is clearly imprinted on every glass of beer that comes from a Triumph tap
- As long as there are lagers, he will not be forgotten.