Grant, Bert (1928–2001) was an expert on the hop plant and a pioneer of America’s craft brewing industry. He was the founder and president of Yakima (WA) Malting and Brewing Co., which brewed Grant’s Real Ales. Grant opened one of America’s first pub breweries in Yakima in 1982. The brewery later grew into a packaging brewery producing beers that bore the Grant’s label. In 1995 he sold the brewery, but continued his association with the brand.
Born Herbert L. Grant in Dundee, Scotland, Grant moved to Toronto at the age of 2 and later got his first brewery job at the age of 16 as a beer taster. He subsequently worked for the Carling-O’Keefe and Stroh breweries and consulted for many breweries around the world, before coming to Yakima in 1967 and helping to build two plants that processed hops with a technique he patented.
Grant carried a vial of hop oil with him to enhance the hop character of the mainstream beers he was forced to drink while travelling. “All beers should have more hops,” he declared. Modesty was not one of Grant’s traits. With author Robert Spector, in 1988 he wrote The Ale Master: How I Pioneered America’s Craft Beer Industry, Opened the First Brewpub, Bucked Trends, and Enjoyed Every Minute of It.
In the 1980s Grant tangled with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms over his claim that beer was a food. He printed labels that listed his beers’ vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Even though all the information was true, the BATF forced him to stop using the labels.
Grant had a showman’s flair and often appeared at beer events in a Scottish kilt and tweed cap. The vanity plates on his white Rolls-Royce declared: “REAL ALE.”