Cheers to Oregon Beer

Hello from the History Department, and happy Oregon Craft Beer Month!

McMenamins operates 25 breweries – the newest (at the Anderson School in Bothell, WA) opened in September 2015. Since our first brew at the Hillsdale Brewery & Public House in 1985, we have produced more than 68,500 batches. For example, in 2014, we collectively brewed 3,251 batches of beer (including more than 250 new and house-specific recipes) – that’s more than 46,750 kegs of beer or 5.8 million pints! Nice work, brewers.

And, of course, Mike and Brian had a big hand in making Oregon craft beers happen in the first place, so below is the short story plus some beer facts, compliments of 1859 Magazine and the Oregon Brewers Guild (OBG).

And, because we are who we are and do what we do, there are a couple summer brewfests coming up – like the 16th Annual Roadhouse Brewfest at Cornelius Pass this coming Saturday, July 15. It’s also the 151st birthday of that beautiful property in Hillsboro, OR. And on Saturday, August 12, head to the coast for the 22nd Annual Lighthouse Brewfest in Lincoln City, OR.

Excerpted from 1859 Magazine:
In 1985, a small motivated group of brewers pushed new laws through the Oregon Legislature that allowed the combination of brewing and retail sales, a critical piece of law that shapes today’s industry. “It was illegal to have retail and manufacturing on the same premise,” notes Brian McMenamin, who with his brother, Michael, owns the legendary McMenamins chain of brewpubs and lodging facilities. “So it was impossible to make beer and sell it in a restaurant that was on the same premises.”

The McMenamin brothers, together with a group of Portland-area brewers including: Richard and Nancy Ponzi of Columbia River Brewing (now BridgePort Brewing); Art Larrance and Fred Bowman of Portland Brewing; Kurt and Rob Widmer, of Widmer Brothers Brewing, all decided to write a bill that would change the law in Oregon.

“Our bill kept getting killed and killed and killed,” Mike McMenamin recalls. “Finally it was attached to a bill to allow Coors to sell their beer in Oregon. We thought this was the death knell for us, but, to our amazement, the bill cruised through.”

Photo: Mike & Brian McMenamin and first brewer Ron Wolf (right) toast with a sample of the Hillsdale’s debut brew, October 1985.

And this, excerpted from a recent OBG release:
Oregonians are drinking more Oregon beer. Beer consumption increased in 2016, with 23.3 percent of the 3.04 million barrels of all beer (both bottled and draft) consumed in the state were made in Oregon.

Oregon draft beer consumption stole an even larger market share, with Oregon breweries producing an estimated 64.9 percent of all draft beer consumed in the state. Barrel production in the state increased by 4.8 percent in 2016, coming in at a grand total of 1,782,000 barrels.

As of December 31, 2016, the state had 230 brewing companies operating 261 brewing facilities in 73 cities across the state, an increase of 15 brewing facilities in 2016.

Brewery count by city and region:
26 in Bend — 36 in Central Oregon
2 in Baker City + Ontario — 12 in Eastern Oregon
5 in Hood River — 12 in Mt. Hood/The Gorge
70 in Portland — 105 in the Portland Metro Area
6 in Medford — 24 in Southern Oregon
6 in Astoria — 27 on The Coast
14 in Eugene — 45 in the Willamette Valley


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