Celebrating Our 35th Anniversary of Our First Beer

1985. Ronald Reagan is president, The Goonies is popular in theaters, the Unabomber is at large in the U.S., Nintendo releases Super Mario Bros. and McMenamins’ first beer is born.

In 1985 McMenamins was two years old and, after the recent passage of the Brewpub Bill, just dipping our toes into the proverbial mash of the beer-brewing world. At the time, Mike McMenamin and Hillsdale Pub folks were stocking plenty of German, Belgian, English and Australian beers, which, to them, meant a bigger, better beer, but these were mostly lagers, still fairly clean and straightforward, and McMenamins was ready – along with pioneer brewers like Fred Eckhardt, Widmer, Portland Brewing and others – to introduce the Northwest to more flavor.

Beer Anniversary Blog

Kettle at Hillsdale Brewery 1985; Mike & Brian McMenamin with brewer Ron Wolf; Mike filling a keg

Enter Hillsdale Ale. By today’s standards, our very first beer was a lighter golden ale, nothing outlandish, but it packed a lot of flavor when bumped up against what most folks were drinking. And, as it turns out, people were ready for just that kind of beer. A month later, we brewed Terminator Stout. Two months later, Hammerhead. The behemoth was unleashed and in another two months Ruby hit the taps.

This is all to say that we are pleased, 35 years later, to celebrate that very first beer and the glorious experiments that followed. Join us in raising a glass to our first and to the one you’re drinking now. Cheers!


  1. Hank Johnson on October 22, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for 35 years of good brews, good times, and cool pubs. The Portland brew scene wouldn’t be the same without you. Terminator is still one of my favorite brews out there. Cheers!!

  2. Mims on October 22, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    I had my first pint of McMenamins beer at the restaurant in clackamas town center in 1987. I live near Anderson school in Bothell now….still loving the McMenamins vibe.

  3. Scott Miller on October 22, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Terminator is still my go to, except in October when Black Widow rules. I was going to PSU in the mid-80’s when our marketing professor told us that he’d be at a place called Hillsdale Pub at 4:00 Friday if we wanted to join him. We now walk to East Vancouver and love the team there. Good times and thank you!

  4. Melody on January 19, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    In the 80s I worked for a law firm where the senior partner was Bob McMenamin. He told me he had two grown boys. I asked if they were lawyers too and he said, “No, they do what they studied in college. Beer.” I had played City League volleyball, sponsored by a tavern in SE Portland called “Fat Little Rooster.” It became Barley Mill Pub, one of McMenamins first taverns. I’d say his boys have grown, indeed!

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