The Birth of Beervana

Portland's metropolitan area boasts about 40 craft breweries.

Photo by: Picasa 3.0

Picasa 3.0

By: Ryan Ritchie
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February 1, 1979, was a historic moment for beer-loving Americans: that’s when President Jimmy Carter signed the Cranston Bill legalizing home brewing in the United States. No city has benefited from this piece of legislation more than Portland. 

These days there are around 40 craft breweries in the metropolitan area. The influx of DIY beer gave the city some new nicknames: Brewtopia, Munich on the Willamette and Beervana. The Oregon Brewers Guild estimates a Portlander is never more than 15 minutes away from a craft brewery.

In 1985, the Oregon Legislature passed a law allowing the public to purchase beer directly from manufacturers, and brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin opened Portland’s first brewpub, a restaurant with an on-site brewery. The brothers, who went on to open 60 more brewpubs in Oregon and Washington, are locally famous for their Terminator Stout and Bagdad Ale pilsner. Other local microbrewery favorites include BridgePort Brewery, Hair of the Dog Brewing Company, MacTarnahan’s Taproom and Widmer Brothers Brewery Company.

Portland’s rainy climate fuels its microbrew culture. Approximately 14 varieties of hops (a plant used in beer making) are grown in the nearby Willamette Valley. Two-row barley, the preferred grain for making craft beer, also grows in the region.

Portlanders take pride in homegrown beer, but they won’t make fun of you if you order a Pabst Blue Ribbon; they’re beer lovers but not beer snobs. This is Portland, man, where cool is the rule.

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