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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Local beer aficionados are mourning the death of Bruce Nichols, one of the pioneers of Philadelphia’s craft brew scene.

Bruce Nichols (above left) died on Tuesday, just weeks after he was diagnosed with leukemia. His sudden passing left longtime friends and kindred spirits such as “Joe Sixpack” columnist Don Russell (center of photo) reeling.

“The great thing about beer, in my mind, is that it’s the friends that you share it with,” Russell said on Wednesday. “And Bruce and I had a lot of good beers over the years.”

Beer became a cottage industry for Russell, Nichols, and others who turned an annual dinner and beer tasting into what is now one of the biggest events of its kind: Philly Beer Week.

“Bruce was one of the key people in the way it (Philly Beer Week) was formed and sort of the way it grew so quickly,” Russell recalled. “It took off running and a lot of that had to do with the energy he put into it — the energy and the great ideas.”

Bruce Nichols was 62.

Reported by Paul Kurtz, KYW Newsradio 1060.

Photo courtesy of brookstonbeerbulletin.com.

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