It is with profound sadness that I write that Ant Hayes died Monday.
He was one of the most popular speakers at the Cincinnati and Minneapolis conferences and a good friend.
Llewellyn van Rensburg phoned me from Johannesburg with the stunning news on Monday. Tragically, he took his own life.
I first met Ant when he, Llewellyn, and the Wort Hog Brewers organized the first BJCP exam outside of North America in 2003 and they flew me down to South Africa to administer the exam. We had been email correspondents, and online friends, for years before that, having "met" on HomeBrew digest. He and Llewellyn each hosted me for part of my stay in Jo'burg. Ant was my roommate at the two conferences, and my wife and I visited him for two days in the UK, where he moved to in 2005 or so.
I am just stunned and can't imagine that such a bright light has been extinguished.
Several of us AABGers drank a toast to Ant's memory at a local brewpub last evening. I invite you to do the same. We must keep Ant alive in our hearts since he couldn't bear to keep himself alive with us.
It is a wonderful hobby that brings so many of us together from all over the globe, but it also opens us to having our hearts broken. I'll accept the trade-off.
Below are several notes, the first from Jeremy Wallis of the Wort Hog Brewers in Johannesburg. Llew's eulogy is beautiful and I can't add to it.
I will be posting to HBD and the BJCP forum later in the day.
Many thanks for your kind words, Ant was indeed a great friend & brewer to so many.
When you come to share the sad news with your community that side, maybe some of the links in the message below can be of use for pictures (this is a message sent out to some 1800 people off our club website just now).
I am not even sure where to start, but I am emailing this evening to pass on the sad news around the passing away (in the UK) of our long time brewing friend Antony Hayes.
I cannot even believe the words I am typing, this is really such a shock. Ant was one of our founder members at the Wort Hog Brewers and as the words below from Llewellyn and Andy and the links thereafter show, he was a central and very enthusiastic club member for all the years that we got to share his life. He carried his love for his hobby around the world with him and is the only WHB member I know of who presented a paper at an American Homebrewers Conference, he started the BJCP exams and qualifications here in SA and more recently in the UK (http://www.bjcp.org/index.php
Ant was was one hell of a brewer, a great friend to so many of us and, most importantly, loving husband to Leonora and dad to their twins. Our hearts go out to his family both here and overseas and I offer condolences on behalf of all his friends at the Wort Hogs, you're in our thoughts & prayers.
Below I include emails from Andy and Llewellyn, received earlier today.
Ant, we'll miss you buddy.
WHB Member Andy Tasker, Ant's uncle, sent this message to the homebrewer's email discussion group this evening :
I apologise for using this forum to convey bad news, but it is the quickest way to contact all club members. Yesterday Ant Hayes passed away. Apparently Ant had been suffering from deep depression and he took his own life. I do not have more details at this stage.
For those of you who don't know Ant, he was a founder member of the WortHogs and an inspiration to everyone he came in contact with. He initiated the BJCP programme in our club and enthusiastically put in hours of work for the club members. And for all of you who had the pleasure of knowing Ant you will surely feel and know what a great loss this is.
To me he was a nephew, a close friend and a great brewer.
We can all mourn in our way, but I ask you all to raise a glass to celebrate his life.
Email from Lleweelyn jv Rensburg :
As you know, we have had very sad news. Ant Hayes died yesterday.
I met Ant at a Wort Hogs evening when we were still meeting in Rietfontein at the thatched roof place. I was standing outside chatting to this lovely girl, Leonora. She said her husband was in the hall there and he is also a brewer and an actuary. What a coincidence! We became great friends.
We spent many a happy evening at his house, tasting and discussing things beer related.
Do you remember the "Braaipap CAP"? And his relentless quest to make a clear sorghum beer. He succeeded!
Ant talked me into doing the BJCP exams. At first I wasn't too keen. But he persisted and he got Jeff Renner from the USA to come to South Africa and oversee the exam.
Did we have fun evenings doing the studying. He would always have some mystery beer that he sourced somewhere.
Ant and I both agreed that the BJCP exams were some of the most difficult exams we had done in our lives.
We wrote the exams and Ant achieved the highest score in our group. With enough experience points he would be a National Judge.
Ant's twins, Daniel and Nicola were born in 2003. Ant brewed two cases of Barley wine to be stored for their 21st birthday.
Leonora and his kids were held up in their Bryanston home - this was a very heavy blow to Ant.
We talked a lot about actuarial matters. Ant was a brilliant actuary we often talked about difficult decisions and advice that he had to give his clients. He always took the professional and correct route. I admired him for that.
Ant and his family moved to the UK. He left the Barley wines in my custody. It is still in my cold room. He fetched a case a year or so ago.
Ant and I went to the American Homebrewers Conference in Cincinnati in 2009. We visited Jeff Renner and stayed over at his place for a couple of days. We had so much fun! Ant made two speeches at the conference. He had a bee in his bonnet that the BJCP guidelines did not reflect the true character of English Brown Ales. He specially flew in a couple of cases of various Brown Ales for the attendees to sample and make up their own minds. He was one of the most talked of speakers. We met all the great guns in the American home-brewing scene - John Palmer, Randy Mosher, Gordon Strong, Al Boyce, David Houseman, etc.
Ant started the London Amateur Brewers club. He recently held the first BJCP exams in the UK.
I had the fortune to meet a lot of Ant's family - what great people!
Over the years I had learnt so much from Ant.
My heart is broken. I feel so sad for his family. I only hope that the great memory of this great man will, over time, overshadow this sad time.
We have lost a great brewer, a great actuary and above all a great friend!
Ant, we are going to miss you!
A few links from our website :
Ant & fellow Wort Hogs with Charlie Papazian at Sun City
Ant's Braai Pap Classic American Pilsner at Big Brew in 2001 :
The First Wort Hog Brewers Summer Beer Festival in 2001 :
At the 2001 SA National Homebrew Competition :
At the 2002 SA National Homebrew Competition :
Ant with his uncle, Andy, at the 2001 SBF :
Shopping At Gil's brewery in Roodepoort :
A very recent one in the UK after the BJCP exams - the story is on the front page of the BJCP site at present :