Dining With Denise Neil

A Wichita grandma so fabulous, a local restaurant launched a Facebook search for her

Grandma with a zest for life gets a beer named after her

Dan Norton, owner of Nortons Brewing Company, and his team named one of their craft beers after Debbe Keckler, after meeting her at a drinking event at Botanica. The team found her through Facebook and named a strawberry rhubarb gose after her.
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Dan Norton, owner of Nortons Brewing Company, and his team named one of their craft beers after Debbe Keckler, after meeting her at a drinking event at Botanica. The team found her through Facebook and named a strawberry rhubarb gose after her.

In its short time in business, the new Nortons Brewing Company at 125 N. St. Francis has come up with some pretty entertaining names for its beers.

There was a gose called Becky With the Good Hair, a reference to the lyric in the Beyonce song "Sorry." (Or perhaps to co-owner Becky Norton's long locks?)

There was also a gose called Cuddle Party and an IPA named McLovin.

And please don't forget the beers called Hoozie Hoo, MoFo and Faceplant.

But recently, brewery owners Dan and Becky Norton got beer naming inspiration from a wild-and-crazy stranger they met at a drinking event. They loved this lively grandma so much, they decided, they had to brew a beer in her honor.

The only trouble was they didn't know her name — or how to reach her. So they did what all people with a burning question do in 2018: They turned to Facebook.

Hours later, the mystery was solved and the beer — a bright red gose made with strawberries and rhubarb — was named. It would be called "Debbe."

It all started at Botanica's Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys event, which happened on May 31. Nortons was among many vendors serving its beverages at the event.

The party got rowdy, and Nortons made a friend: a white-haired lady who was tons of fun and refreshingly upbeat.

"She hung out at our booth for a little over an hour," said Dan Norton. "We were drinking beers with Debbe and quickly realized that Debbe could drink us all under the table if she wanted to."

They learned that Debbe was a former business owner, and she offered the young entrepreneurs some encouragement and advice. Mostly, though, she was just fun.

The next day, Norton and his brewing team convened and started talking about Debbe.

"We decided we needed to brew a tribute beer for Debbe because she is an amazing, amazing lady," Dan Norton said. "She was just all about family and friends, just having a zeal for life and just the most positive attitude you've ever seen."

They put up a post on the brewery's Facebook page asking for help finding Debbe. It read:

"ATTENTION PEOPLE OF WICHITA! We are looking for DEBBIE! We met a sweet older lady at Blooms, Brews and Bloody Marys at Botanica Gardens. Her name is Debbie and she knows how to party and live life! She was there with her daughter. If you know of whom we speak, we have a special tribute for her that we need to talk to her about! Have her reach out to us PLEASE!"

The post was shared 63 times. Hours later, the Nortons had Debbe's name and number and had talked to her daughters.

"Facebook detectives are a powerful resource," Dan said with a laugh.

Debbe is Debbe Keckler, a 67-year-old grandma and onetime owner of the children's clothing store Kracker Jax, which operated at 21st and Rock.

She said she was a bit surprised the brewery wanted to name a beer after her, but she didn't intend to fight it. She loved the Nortons and had a ball at their booth.

"I felt a little bit weird," she said. "I'm kind of one of those that's quiet. Everybody else is louder. I'm kind of in the background."

Nonetheless, she accepted an invitation last week to attend a tapping event for the new Debbe beer. Nortons reserved a table for her and even topped it with flowers and balloons.

Debbe's husband, Bill, two of her daughters and two of her grandchildren attended the tapping, as well as several of her longtime friends. Debbe gave the Nortons a framed picture that said, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." The Nortons gave Debbe a personalized beer mug.

The beer was a small batch that the Nortons didn't expect to last through the week. But even once her beer is drained, the Nortons say, they'll still consider Debbe a VIP.

"Debbe is the sweetest person that we've ever met in our whole lives," Dan said.

Perhaps a Cuddle Party is in order?

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