Where We Live: Oregon Craft Beer Month

There are 234 breweries in Oregon, number one in the nation per capita

Fans of craft beer in Portland are upset about a Budweiser ad that aired during the Super Bowl. February 2, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Fans of craft beer in Portland are upset about a Budweiser ad that aired during the Super Bowl. February 2, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — July is Oregon’s Craft Beer Month and when it comes to craft beer, Oregon is number one in every category. From consumption to the number of breweries per capita, Oregon takes the cake.

Beer from a tap, file. (KOIN)
Beer from a tap, file. (KOIN)

“This was the first brewpub in Oregon since Prohibition,” Brian McMenamin, one of the founding fathers of Oregon’s craft beer industry, told KOIN 6 News. “It really got traction and now we’ve got 23 breweries.”

It all started some 30 years ago at the Hillsdale Brewery and Public House, where Brian and his nephew Dan recollected on their family’s business.

Brian and his bearded brother Mike are regarded as the godfathers of Oregon’s craft brew industry — along with the Widmer brothers, Dick and Nancy Ponzi of Bridgeport, and Art Larrence and Fred Bowman of Portland Brewing.

“It’s crazy,” Brian said. “It seems like there’s a whole ‘nother wave that’s going on right now, you can’t envision that when you start.”

The economic impact of Oregon’s craft beer industry is more than $2.8 billion. There are 234 breweries in Oregon — number one in the nation per capita — that directly employ more than 7,400 people.

“You have sour beers, the cider thing is exploding,” Brian explained. “People are lagering, people are mashing up the genes perfectly to make great new products.”

So, how much bigger can Oregon’s craft brew industry get?

“I don’t know where it’s going to go, but it’s kind of exciting,” Brian said. “It really is.”

Brian said the real key to the industry was the passage of the Brewpub Bill exactly 30 years ago this month. The bill allowed brewers to make their beer and sell it in the same establishment, something that you couldn’t do before.

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