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Ingrid Bartels

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Manny Chao—co-owner and co-founder of the popular Georgetown Brewery, as well as namesake of its most famous brew, Manny’s Pale Ale—met Bob at Camp Goodtimes on Vashon Island nearly 20 years ago. The place, a program for kids with cancer and their families, is where their friendship blossomed. At the time, Bob, who'd first learned of his leukemia when he was 11, was about 16 or 17 years old; Chao was his counselor. “He would come to Seattle for treatment,” says Chao. “He called me up one day and so we ended up spending a lot of time together.” But in 2005, Bob relapsed, and at 21, he passed away.

The memory of Bob remains, however. “His brother and I,” Chao recalls, “were having a conversation and I thought it would be a good idea to name our next beer after him. Bob’s Brown. And so that’s what we did.” His late friend has been honored by Chao via Georgetown Brewing and its beer drinking faithful for the past 13 years on or around May 14—Bob’s birthday. That's when Georgetown releases a much-anticipated limited edition batch of Bob’s Brown Ale, a hop-forwarded take on the crisp, malty standard.

This year is no exception. On Saturday, May 12, the south Seattle microbrewery will open its doors at 10 a.m. to sell growlers of the fresh stuff. And, later that day beginning at 3 p.m., Chao and his Georgetown cohorts will celebrate the release of the 2018 batch at the Nickerson Street Saloon & Grill in Fremont with an auction that includes prizes like the chance to hang out with Chao at the brewery and watch a movie.

Manny Chao in Bobs swag.
Manny Chao in Bob's swag. Ingrid Bartels
Every penny of proceeds collected from Bob's Brown Ale sales goes directly to a charitable organization that was chosen by Bob's mother before he even sold the first batch. “She picked the Seattle Ronald McDonald House,” the brewer says, “because that’s where they would stay.”

Each year since launching the ale, Georgetown Brewing has raised around $100k for Ronald McDonald House Charities, and if Bob's Brown Ale isn’t the proper draft for Georgetown's thirsty denizens, the brewering—which is constantly experimenting with new flavors, like the grapefruit-forward Kicha IPA and bright Frances Session IPA—will also be releasing three more new beers bearing Bob’s name: Bob’s IPA, Coffee Bob’s, and Sour Bob’s.

And so, with each passing brewing season, the beer that bears the name of Manny's dearly departed friend continues to grow in the city that he once called home, his memory living on with each sip.