May 20, 2013

Gregory Fretz of Phoenix Ale Brewery Passes at 44.

The Arizona beer community was stunned with the news of Gregory "Fretzy" Fretz passing on Saturday. Word spread from the beer tents at the Amer-CAN Canned Craft Beer Festival that Fretzy passed in his sleep after after a battle with throat cancer. It was a shock, to say the least, since Fretz had been active all during American Craft Beer Week including an open house at Phoenix Ale Brewery on Thursday. The open house announced  the operational partnership with Sonoran Brewing Company. After the festival, industry and fans gathered at the nearby Praying Monk to remember and to hear the words of others. Chuck Noll of Crescent Crown led the crowd with a moving tribute.

Fretzy had been in the beer industry since 1994 with long stints at Pyramid and Deschutes Brewery before co-founding Phoenix Ale Brewery with George Hancock. Gary Fish, President of Deschutes credits Fretzy with developing the Arizona market for brands like Black Butte Porter. Fretz was able to get Deschutes everywhere across the state and he also secured handles in some of Arizona's most iconic destinations including the El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon and at (then) Bank One Ballpark.

Greg Fretz was the namesake for an unfiltered English pale ale and an unfiltered wheat with the pale ale serving as the company's flagship. Fretz was also the driving force behind the Phoenix Brewers Invitational Beer Festival held last December. It will be impossible to separate American Craft Beer Week, the Phoenix Brewers Invitational, AmeriCAN and of course Fretzy's Ales without out thinking of his gravelly voice and ebullient manner. Fretz was able to talk about his treatments with just about anyone and provided comfort to those that knew someone battling cancer. Such is the role that he played in my life.

This is a particularly difficult spring for the beer community as Arizona has lost Professor David Conz in April.

Greg is survived by his wife and two children. Arrangements and memorials have yet to be announced. Our thoughts are with them.

EDIT: Fretzy's wife Stacie has announced a fund to support the family in this dire time.
Greg was the kind of person that would say a few kind words, smile and buy you a beer if he saw that you were down. Please consider sending a few bucks their way.

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