While we were rearranging the lab offices at work and preparing to move into new offices, I came across this gem on the bookshelf with our technical manuals.
The Great Beer Trek by Stephen Morris. Published in 1984, this “Revised and Updated” version was published in 1990. For reference, in 1990 I was 10 years old. Still well away from my drinking years.
Eventually, I’d like to flip through the whole thing, but of course I turned immediately to the section on Oregon to see what was represented there. The book lists 12 breweries for Oregon. I’m not sure if this is every brewery that was in business in 1990, but California has 4 pages worth, so there doesn’t seem to be a numerical limit to the lists. Surprisingly, all but one of them are still in business. If you’re curious who were the beginning of the craft beer revolution in Oregon, this is them.
Ashland Ale’s Brewery and Public House, Ashland OR: Brewers of Ashland Ale and Rogue Golden Ale. This was the first location for what is now known as Rogue Brewing Company. Expanded first to Newport, OR and then Portland, Rogue now has several breweries and pubs scattered across the state as well as a distillery, a cooperage and a farm.
Deschutes Brewery and Public House, Bend OR: The first pub for Deschutes in Bend is still there, in it’s original location. There is now a huge production brewery across town that I highly recommend visiting, as well as a pub and small pilot brewery in Portland. Deschutes is one of the biggest breweries in the state now.
Oregon Trail Brewery, Corvallis OR: I honestly don’t know a lot about this brewery, but it’s still around. Opened in 1987, with an ownership change in 1993, but it’s still kicking.
Eugene City Brewing Co., Eugene OR: This brewery closed in the early 90’s, and a new brewery opened in 1996 with the rights to this name but otherwise unaffiliated with the original. This is the only one presented in the book that no longer exists. The new Eugene City Brewery eventually became a Rogue pub, but closed in 2014.
McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse (Hillsboro), Lighthouse Pub (Lincoln City) and Hillsdale Pub and Brewery (Portland): Hillsdale was the very first McMenamins property. Apparently, they had expanded to three at the time of publication. The McMenamins “empire” as they jokingly refer to it, now stretches from Bothell, Washington (north of Seattle) down to Roseburg, Oregon (damn near the California state line) and now includes concert venues, movie theaters, golf courses, a winery and two distilleries. They are more known for quirky decorations and tater tots than they are beer, but their Ruby Raspberry Wheat Ale is a “gateway” beer for a lot of people.
Hood River Brewing Co, Hood River, OR: Brewers of Full Sale Golden Ale. I haven’t found the reasoning for the “sale” spelling in the Golden Ale name, but this brewery is still around and still in Hood River. Although, now they go by the name Full SAIL. They fashioned themselves as an “adventure” brewery, with all the wind surfing and kite boarding that happens in the gorge. Their Session brand of light quaffable beers is quite popular.
Blitz-Weinhard Brewing, Portland, OR: While this brewery technically still exists, it does so in name only and is no longer in Portland. First owned by Stroh’s and then eventually Miller Coors, the Portland brewery shut down in 1999. The name exists still in the Miller Portfolio as Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve and the line of Henry’s Hard Sodas. At first, I thought Mr. Weinhard must be spinning in his grave to have his name on neon orange and grape alco-pops, but reading The Beer Bible I discovered that Weinhard actually kept his brewery in business selling sodas during Prohibition, so maybe it’s actually fitting.
Bridgeport Brewing Co, Portland, OR: One of the “big three” in Portland, it’s still around, although the last couple of years it’s fallen on hard times. Bought and then seemingly ignored by the Gambrinus Co (Shiner Bock in Texas), they started to fade away. A recent brand refresh and new product offerings has given some life to the old brewery and hopefully it can make a comeback. I’d hate to lose one of the originals.
Portland Brewing Co, Portland OR: The brewery that I work for, although no longer on NW Flanders Street as indicated in the book. Moved into a larger facility in the NW Industrial area and in 2004 merged with Pyramid Breweries out of Seattle (more below). Now part of a conglomerate that includes Magic Hat in Vermont and Genessee in New York. Started in 1986, so between the first publication of the book and the update.
Widmer Brewing Co, Portland OR: The last of the big three (including Bridgeport and Portland Brewing) makers of the ubiquitous Widmer Hefewiezen. The classic example of American Style Hefe. Distributed mostly nationally thanks to a 30% partial ownership from AB-InBev, Widmer also formed a small craft conglomerate called the Craft Brewers Alliance that includes Redhook Brewing in Seattle and Kona Brewing in Hawai’i.
On the page facing the Oregon page, one of the Washington listings is Hart Brewing in Kalama, Washington. Makers of Pyramid Pale Ale and Pyramid Snow Cap Ale. This brewery would later move to Seattle and become Pyramid Breweries, which would then merge with Portland Brewing Co.
Under the section called “Kindred Spirits” following the brewery listing is a list of three homebrew clubs. Heart of the Valley in Corvallis, which still exists, Cascade Brewers Society in Eugene, which is also still around, and the Oregon Brew Crew in Portland, of which I am a member.
North Carolina is listed in the section called “The Wastelands” and only lists 4 breweries. One of which is a branch plant for Stroh’s in Winston Salem, which as far as I know has been closed for a long time, and one is a Miller plant in Eden, which closed about 10 years ago. It’s still sitting vacant to this day because it’s much too large for anyone other than Bud/Miller/Coors to use. Even larger breweries that have since opened in North Carolina like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium would struggle to fill that capacity. The other two breweries listed I have never heard of; Dilworth Brewing Co in Charlotte, which apparently closed in 1998 and Weeping Radish Brewing in Manteo, a German style brewery that still exists and still strictly adheres to the Reinheitsgebot purity law from 1516.
South Carolina lists zero breweries.