By Kirby Neumann-Rea
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Ed Wilder is fighting, and a little mad.
“I had a stroke,” Ed says, splaying the fingers on his left hand across his face and flashing a look of frustration.
Ed is the owner and founder of DaBrewshop/Hood River Brewers Supply, which quickly became a small slice of ale haven where folks in the Gorge could find Northwest one-offs and obscure Belgians. But DaBrewshop, where Ed held court at the bar with locals, has gone dark — for now. In November 2015, Ed suffered a stroke. He was actually found 30 hours later on the basement floor of his business. Fortunately, he survived. And despite the long road to recovery that lies ahead of him, he has the support of a slew of people. Brewers, restauranteurs and friends immediately began fundraising to help with Ed’s medical bills. A “Cheers to Ed” silent auction and dance took place in December 2015. The following month, a larger party called “EdStravaganza” was held on Ed’s birthday. Plenty of money has been raised, but Ed’s supporters declined to cite a figure.
“It’s remarkable — truly inspiring how generous this community has been,” said Matt Johnston of Boda’s Kitchen in Hood River, one of the people organizing Cheers to Ed benefits. “Ed’s needs are great and going to be great for some time to come.”
“It’s phenomenal how everyone has come together,” said Ed’s brother, Mike, of Grand Rapids, Mich. “Every time I thought things couldn’t become more pleasant, more things happened to show how generous the community is.” At the first Cheers to Ed event, Mike told the crowd of 500: “You are his family.”
Ed founded Hood River Brewers Supply in 1997 in Hood River’s Heights Business District. He then moved the business downtown to the corner of Cascade Avenue and Second Street in 2001. He’s sold tobacco and smoking supplies, motor scooters and other products for years, but focused on the taproom starting in 2013. Ed made the bar by hand and expanded the taps from eight to 16. The taproom is the sort of place where time spent talking about the hockey and car racing on TV is split between discussions on grain bills and kettle capacities. He runs the brewing supply shop from the building’s basement, where he also homebrews.
Ed’s regained enough of his motor skills to make limited outings to favorite Hood River pubs, but he spends most of his time doing the hard work of getting better. Much of January was spent in physical therapy at the Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles. Ed is proud of the progress he has made. When asked how his therapy has gone, he says “A-OK,” while giving the corresponding gesture with his left hand as the right is experiencing mobility issues.
Ed’s goal is to return to his own home and reopen the shop. The details are still being worked out according to his brother Mike.
“There are plenty of options; we just have to find the best one,” Mike said. “There are a lot of pieces that need to come together. For him to stay at his existing home, it will take some time — possibly it would be some intermediate facility until this is complete or another residence is secured,” he said. “Wherever it is, it will be the best possible one for making him comfortable and to meet his rehabilitative needs.”
As for DaBrewshop, Mike said, “My goal has been to get that place open and serving beer as quickly as possible.” He is in contact with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission licensing specialist, but said “it’s a lot harder than we originally hoped,” to maintain the license since Ed is legally accountable.
Even though Ed isn’t physically at DaBrewshop, he’s not far from the business he loves. An administrator named Lisa at The Dalles medical center reintroduced herself to Ed in his recovery room. It turns out they’d met before.
“I came to your shop. You taught me to make currant wine and beer, and I’m working on my meadery,” she tells him.
Ed remembered helping her, and thanked her.
He indicated he had enjoyed his recent pub outings to Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River and Solera Brewery in Parkdale.
He’s asked: “Were you able to try some beer? Is that part of your diet?”
He gives a thumbs up and puts two fingers close together.
Donations for Ed Wilder can be sent to attorney Teunis G. Wyers, 216 Columbia St., Hood River. Funds beyond Ed’s needs will be used for another local cause, at Mike’s request.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.