Portlanders love beer. We adore it.
There are more than 200 breweries and brew pubs in the state of Oregon with more than half of those breweries in the Portland metro area alone.
Gigantic Brewing made headlines just a few days ago by introducing their new take on coffee beer at a festival dedicated solely to the mating of coffee and beer (sounds like peanut butter and chocolate to us).
How did beer, craft beer, in particular, become so popular in Portland?
How Beer got Hopping in Portland
Beer’s roots in Portland go back nearly two hundred years.
In 1852, Henry Saxer kicked off the first recorded brewery in Portland, Liberty Brewing with Henry Weinhard buying the brewery and renaming it to City Brewery in 1862. The beer industry got smacked around a bit when, in 1914, five years before national prohibition, Oregon’s crazy voters banned the manufacture, sale, and advertisement of all intoxicating liquor. They must have been drunk!
After the population sobered up, they realized they were nutty and ratified the 21st amendment in 1933, bringing beer back to the masses.
Craft beer kicked off in 1979 when Portland’s first microbrew pub, The Cartwright, open for just three short years, featured not just one beer on draught like the pubs before it (yes, initially, bars in Portland were loyal to one and only one beer at a time), but a selection of different beers around the area. More pubs followed including The Fulton, Bridgeport, Widmer’s Taproom, the Horse Brass Pub, and Portland’s Brewing Taproom.
Key legal precedent was set in 1985 when a dedicated group of brewers convinced the Oregon Legislature to permit brewing and retail sales laws which legalized brewpubs. Prior to that time, it was illegal to make and sell beer on the same premises.
The stage was set for craft beer to take off.
Here Comes the Rain Again
For once, the notorious rainy weather of the Pacific Northwest yields something great – hops. Hops, a key flavoring in beer, grow best in environments with regular rainfall, making the Pacific Northwest the best place to grow the flowers (yes, hops are actually flowers).
Oregon, Washington, and the panhandle of Idaho provide 97.8% of the hops in the United States. In fact, Washington alone produces nearly 75% of the hops used in the entire domestic industry of the United States.
Add in the fact that beer is a brilliant beverage to battle depressing cold and rainy weather, and you’ve crafted the perfect recipe for beer guzzlers in Portland.
Perfecting the Formula
The combination of ingredients, favorable laws, and a population that loves the beer consistently makes Portland the top of the crop, winning Beer City competitions the world over and regularly being named one of the best beer cities in the United States – often earning the top spot as it did with Insider’s recent 10 best beer cities in the U.S. earlier this year.
One thing’s for certain – Portland loves to guzzle the finer things in life and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s your preferred pub to populate? Pour one out in the comments!
- Beer for Breakfast – Portland Mercury
- Coffee Loves Beer: Gigantic Brewing’s new “SOLID Guji!” – Sprudge
- Why everyone is suddenly obsessed with sour beer – Time Magazine
- Why Portland (Yes, the Oregon One) Is the Best Beer City in the USA – Serious Eats
- Brewing in Oregon – Wikipedia
- The History of Oregon Beer – 1859 Wine Club Magazine
- 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Hops – Men’s Journal
- The 10 best beer cities in the U.S. – Insider