Jack Joyce: 1942-2014

Posted On June 1st, 2014 -

Craft beer pioneer took risks and dished out ‘tough love’
By Sarah Zoellick

Jack Joyce, co-founder of Oregon-based Rogue Ales, made a name for himself as a beer pioneer, and he also made many friends in the isles.

He was a “really well-liked guy, especially down here,” Colin Nishida, the owner of Side Street Inn, said Friday.

Joyce died Tuesday in Honolulu at age 71, and friends and family are mourning the sudden loss of an iconic innovator in the craft beer industry.

“I miss my friend; I just miss sitting down and shooting the (breeze) and drinking a beer and talking about anything,” said Troy Terorotua, owner of REAL a Gastropub.

Joyce, who previously worked as an attorney and then an executive for Nike before the sneaker maker became a multibillion-dollar company, helped found Rogue in the late 1980s with other former Nike executives and longtime friends at a time when one-of-a-kind craft brews were far from being the latest craze, as they are now.

Rogue, with Joyce at its helm from the get-go, has always had a reputation for pushing boundaries and breaking barriers when it comes to brewing craft beer.

“Jack was definitely the marketing man. He was really good at what he did, and he didn’t care what anybody else thought about it … that ‘Dare, Risk, Dream’ thing (the company’s motto) was like his style of life,” Terorotua said. He later added: “He was one of the pioneers, and it’s a shame that he’s gone.”

On the first anniversary of REAL, Joyce called Terorotua and asked bluntly, “Hey, you broke yet?” Terorotua said. Terorotua answered, and Joyce followed up with, “Congratulations. You did better than 98 percent of people who want to own a bar.”

That was just how Joyce was — “quite the man of words,” Terorotua said. “He held no punches; he called a spade and spade and just gave you some tough love.”

Joyce also had a flare for giving back to the community, and he found ways to weave his two passions together for the benefit of others.

A special Monk Seal Ale is currently being sold in the isles in honor of the Waikiki Aquarium’s 110th anniversary, with part of the proceeds going to the aquarium’s monk seal preservation program. Terorotua said the beer was one of the last projects Joyce worked on before he died.

“He would always do something crazy and tie it in to somebody and give money away … give back to the community in some sort of Jack fashion,” Terorotua said.

Additional Hawaii-inspired signature ales have also been produced over the years.

Terorotua said he approached Joyce in 2010 to come up with the No Ka ‘Oi IPA (India Pale Ale) to mark the opening of Whole Foods Market in Kailua. A portion of the sales went to community nonprofits.

Terorotua, who previously worked as a beer buyer for the grocery chain, said he met Joyce after he caught a glimpse of him browsing brews at the Kahala Whole Foods while he was stocking shelves. Terorotua introduced himself to Joyce, who was surprised to be recognized by a stranger.

The two struck up a friendship that blossomed into a mentorship, with Joyce talking Terorotua through opening a pub of his own.

Joyce also developed a signature ale for Nishida.

Nishida said he was recovering from being in the hospital in a coma a few years ago when Joyce surprised him with the Side Street Inn Ale.

“When I opened it and I saw, you know, Side Street Inn Ale on it, that pretty much makes your day,” he said. “I don’t know how you can describe something (a feeling) like that.”

Nishida and Joyce met decades ago through a mutual friend. After the two got to know each other better, “He started telling me, ‘You work so hard; don’t work so hard, take it easy,’ and ‘Life’s too short,'” Nishida said. That was about the time Joyce started to retire and move his belongings down to a house he bought on Oahu.

“There’s not a nicer guy that I ever met,” Nishida said. He recalled fondly that Joyce would walk into Side Street Inn, show himself into the kitchen and talk story with the cooks and wait staff.

He was the kind of guy to “just come in and be himself and do what he wants,” he said.

Nishida said he plans to honor Joyce at his restaurant in some way, but he isn’t yet sure how.

Joyce was a “simple guy, never wanted nothing fancy,” he said, so a Jack burger might pop up on the menu soon in honor of the many times the two spent lunch talking over burgers and beer.

Both Nishida and Terorotua said they’re confident Joyce’s legacy will live on in the quirky, creative beer brand he helped establish.

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Jack Joyce co-founded Oregon-based Rogue Ales in the 1980s with other former Nike executives. He helped create several brews specially for Hawaii causes. (Photo courtesy New York Times)

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