Craft Beer Pioneer Passes

The industry has lost a pioneer.

Jim Patton, an avid homebrewer and a founder of Abita Brewing Co. and Zea Rotisserie & Brewery died suddenly of unknown causes Oct. 23 in Miami, where he was helping to start a new brewery. He was 59.

Patton was a founding partner in the Abita Brewing Co. in Abita Springs, LA which opened in 1986 – the 13th craft brewery to open in the country and the first in the South.

Abita produced 1,500 barrels of beer its initial year. Patton sold his stake in the company in 1997, but the business he launched now brews more than 125,000 barrels.

Patton later was a co-founder and brewmaster of Zea Rotisserie & Brewery, and was brewmaster at Key West Brewery in Florida. Recently, he became involved with the launch of Wynwood Brewing Co., a craft brewer in Miami.