Rest In Peace Nate Soroko
When Jonny and I began The Full Pint over 10 years ago, we began covering “the scene” by taking long weekend trips down to San Diego. This was the easiest and most fun way to immerse ourselves in craft beer culture as San Diego has always been on the cutting edge of craft beer. Right after crossing the border of Orange County and San Diego County, we had many options to explore right in the first half of the county. We had Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, The Lost Abbey, Green Flash Brewing, Pizza Port and not much farther down, AleSmith Brewing. The amount of lifelong friends we made in and adjacent to the beer industry was astonishing. At one of the early Lost Abbey anniversary parties was when we met the one and only Nate Soroko. He was larger than life then, wearing a signature graphic tee with something ridiculous on it and hollering and zinging one liners at everyone in a 20 yard radius. We were a couple of wise asses ourselves and he thought what we were doing was cool.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014. The Full Pint was arguably at it’s peak in popularity and we were holding annual rare beer themed anniversary parties. Keeping in mind we had no experience or business running a fiscally sound beer event, Nate took on the insane task of co-hosting The Full Pint 7th Anniversary party at the now defunct Toronado SD in North Park. Nate had been the flagship beer server and sometimes chef at the second Toronado location and without hestiation told me I could procure 50+ rare kegs of beer and he’d worry about buying them, selling them and making sure the venue was whole. All I had to do is run air traffic control for 50 kegs coming from all corners of the United States. To this day, people still fondly remember this party, and it would not have been possible without Nate.
Fast forward one year later, we moved the party of the same format to Los Angeles, and he was gracious enough to be our guest of honor/Grand Marshall of the event. This predates the beer influencer craze but he was essentially one of the most famous people in California craft beer, and might be until this very day.
Two years later, we tried to recapture the magic at Toronado, largely due to his generosity. Nate wasn’t getting paid a single extra dime for hosting these parties that essentially had thin margins and left their staff with an oversized crowd. The event didn’t live up to our expectations, and he knew it and began walking around the event personally addressing anyone who seemed unsatisfied. He didn’t have to do it but he did because he was such a good person. It was also at this point where I was overwhelmed with the vision of Nate’s health.
Nate has been a large man since I met him and he kept growing as the years have gone by. At the event we hosted in 2017, I began to worry a little about Nate. He was less mobile, less jovial and seemed tired. After that event, I called two people that he worked for in the beer industry and said that I was worried about Nate, I was worried about his health and that I thought that there was a chance that he could not only die while on their pay roll, but that he could die on a shift. Sadly, both business owners shrugged it off. People can say that I was out of my lane by intefering with a man’s employer, but I considered Nate a brother and wanted to raise my concern.
Nate’s declining health was widely talked about with those who loved him the most. While we were all blown away by his passing last week, it was not shocking. One thing that always bothered me was that there weren’t more people trying to run intervention to keep him alive longer. I don’t know this as fact, it’s just a gut feeling that more people liked partying with him. On one hand, one of Nate’s greatest gifts was to light up a room and make people happy. People go to bars and tasting rooms to enjoy beer and have a moment away from the grind of reality. Part of the fun experience was to go to the Toronado or Modern Times to see Nate, bring him a pizza, bring him a cool beer, have a laugh, have a chug race, talk some shit. I understand nobody is going to the bar to get extra real with their friend who clearly needed some help with their health. But still, I wonder, to all the people who brought King Nate plates of food, extra beers and wanted to do chug videos with him understand he was on borrowed time and that the short term fun of having this gigantic man do bar tricks was not helping him stay with us. I’m not a medical or psychiactric professional (obviously.)
I had a near death experience last fall and I reached out to Nate after I left the hospital immediately thinking of him being in a similar scenario as I. We talked and he mentioned making some lifestyle changes for the better. As he had less of an online presence this year, it was my hope that he was headed in the right direction and staying away from the noise that is the craft beer industry and craft beer culture. From those who are closer to him, it was conveyed that he was making a real effort to trend the other direction.
I will miss Nate and his legacy will live forever. If you have a hometown hero in your beer scene that you love but might need some help, consider doing so even if it doesn’t seem like the popular thing to do.