Oregon History Portland historic preservation Portland History

Historic Portland Breweries 1852-1934

Shout out to Bill Night’s excellent It’s Pub Night and the map he compiled that shows breweries that opened in Portland between 1852 and 1934.

If you’re a beer nerd (ding!), building nerd (ding!), or local history nerd (duh), click on the image below or here and go poke around. It’s a fun time travel.

Portland historic preservation

Beer and history for the win

857A1CE0-C2F3-4CBC-9CA0-84FD5C60FFBD.JPGThe historic I. O. O. F. Orient Lodge / P.P.A.A. building at SE 6th and Alder is now the most-excellent Loyal Legion Beer Hall. 

Originally built in 1908 it was described as a “handsome reinforced concrete building.”

From the Loyal Legion’s website:

The P.P.A.A. building was an architectural “unauthorized copy” of the Voysey building in London, England.  The building was originally commissioned by the International Organization Of Oddfellows (I.O.O.F.) and was named the Orient Lodge #17 at its completion. The Lodge was used as the I.O.O.F. meeting hall through the first half of the 1900s.  Some of the most advanced building techniques of the day were used at its construction such as a complete steel-reinforced concrete structure which was unheard of on the East side of the river at the time.

It’s a great place to grab a beer and burger and soak up some local history if you’re ever in Portland.

Rendering from 1908 (Oregonian).

Oregon History Portland History

Beer and history

Photo: (University of Oregon Libraries)

Introducing “before they were famous: breweries, bars and brewpub buildings in former lives.”

I like beer, especially great local Oregon beer. I also like local history. Mix the two and you have…an excuse to drink more beer.

Many, if not most, of our local breweries and drinking establishments are housed in older buildings just by the fact that rarely is a new brewery built from scratch because let’s face it, most older buildings have an existing personality, architectural touches, good location, and good bones. As I’ve sat at many a bar and sipped on a cold one, I’ve often visualized the building in its previous life – Storefont? Office building? House of ill repute? Haunted by a 1920s flapper girl? [Ghosts are always romantic figures like a scorned lover from the 1920s that threw herself out the window. How many junkies that OD’ed on smack in a flophouse stick around to haunt the place?]

Photo courtesy of PDX Pipeline.

Anyhow, one good quick example I’ve always liked is the re-use of the Q-Hut building by Green Dragon on SE 9th [see above photo] – what a great illustration of a wonderfully, simply utilitarian structure such as a Quonset hut. If it works, has structural integrity, then why not?

So, first up in this series is an obvious choice, for me at least: Widmer’s Gasthaus on North Russell Street. That part of town always seems a bit deserted on weekend afternoons and offers an interesting walking opportunity around and under the freeway bridges and surrounding neighborhoods.

Last fall I was attending Widmer’s Oktoberfest, chugging down a pint of [probably] Okto in the warm sun in the blocked off street when I really had the chance to look at the exterior of the building that houses the Gasthaus. I found myself staring at the building for far too long that the building itself was starting to get a bit uncomfortable with the situation. And then the usual questions [other than, “Do I have more beer tickets?”] When was it built? What used to be here?

So, I reached out to Widmer and got some great answers:

•    The building that houses the Gasthaus is the Smithson building, built in 1890, and is adjoined by the McKay building, built in 1887.
•    The two buildings were used originally as businesses on the ground level, and apartments upstairs, where workers who built ships down on Swan Island would stay.
•    The space where the Gasthaus is located was originally an Italian restaurant, then a tavern, then in 1969 the experimental Storefront Theatre [there’s a post all its own], then finally, the Widmer Gasthaus.

What are some of your favorite drinking hole’s and their history? I’ll be doing more of these posts during the summer.

Update: heard from Capital Taps, a blog based out of Salem that focuses on beer…and history. Check it out.

Oregon History Uncategorized

Portland beer scene, 1983

Wow. We’ve come a long way baby, or, I’m actually going somewhere with this post.

Recent score I picked up: The Greater Portland Guide to Greater Beers.

Published in 1983, the booklet listed a total of 15 restaurants and pubs in the greater Portland area [including one in Vancouver] serving beers on tap that didn’t exclusively serve the usual American swill [Bud, Miller, etc.] of the day. Most served German and UK beers, Canadian [Molson Golden – bleccchh], Red Hook, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and River City Gold straight out of Sacramento. Flipping through the guide I didn’t see many Portland breweries represented because, well, there weren’t that many. One exception was Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve which was listed under the Special Brews from the New World section. So was Michelob. Of course McMenamin’s was formulating its juggernaut brew biz off the ground with its pub in Hillsboro.

As of last count, there were a dozen new breweries/pubs/brewpubs opening in Portland just within a few months. And our airport? Many cities would kill for a beer scene as good as the selection at our airport.

Beer is very important to Oregon’s economy. According to a piece last April by The Oregonian’s John Foyston, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) claims the industry’s economic impact in Oregon includes 25,696 jobs – paying $761,652,866 in wages – as well as $53,236,572 in federal, state, and local taxes.

There are many excellent local beer blogs doing a fantastic job covering the beer scene, whether it’s introducing new establishments, reviewing beers, interviewing brewers or announcing what’s on tap and where. I read them all religiously. They never fail in pointing me to a new beer to try, new establishment or important information needed in the beer-buying process, such as Portland Growler Prices.

Which leads me to that fact that I’ve occasionally been reviewing beer for Food Dude’s epic Portland Food and Drink, although my last post was last December, giving me a total of, oh, four posts in the last 18 months. Which is to say I haven’t been doing a very good job of it.

Reviewing beer is very subjective. It’s all based on personal taste and the ability to throw out phrases such as “the flavors danced on my tongue” and had “an aggressive malty aftertaste.”

I like some styles [IPAs, stouts, sours] and don’t get others [Lager? It all tastes like Bud to me.] It’s also difficult to pan yet another local but boring body-less ale, especially one made by long established Portland breweries that if it weren’t for them we might not have a beer scene. Or the startup, god bless the startup that has sweat and toiled and breathed beer recipes 24/7 for their new business, who sends a beer that can only be best described as jesusfuckingawful. I don’t have it in me to say- in a public forum- sorry, I know everyone loves brewery X but that latest release? It’s crap, boring, and flavorless and they can do better. Then again, it goes back to personal taste. Someone else might love it.

Maybe I’m just a wuss; a copout. I’ll still privately bitch about beers I hate, why I love others and I guess I’ll keep it to myself…for now.

One idea I’ve been floating around is writing about the buildings that house some our local breweries. I bet there’s some fantastic stories that came with building. Of course, beer will be consumed as posts are being written.

Anyhow, now that you’ve suffered through that self-indulgent claptrap, how about some scans from the guide?

The booklet, by the way, is lovingly crafted, sprinkled with cool, old pub clip art and some spot color. It has a nice heavy-stock 4-color cover and I can imagine it sold pretty well in 1983.

Here we go! Click on the imagery for the big version and details. You’ll also notice a couple of familiar names.

This post written under the influence of a Eugene-based Oakshire Watershed IPA. Fresh, not too hoppy with a nice, clean aftertaste. In fact, Eugene has kind of been kicking Portland’s ass in the beer scene.  Ninkasi’s Spring Reign and its Total Domination IPA rule.