Thirty years ago, Portland had a large regional brewery, Blitz-Weinhard, which made undistinguished mass-market lagers -- and the first hint of things to come, in the form of Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve. The city's first microbrewery, Cartwright Brewing, died young. It was padlocked for unpaid taxes at the end of 1981 and its equipment and inventory auctioned off, says beer historian Fred Eckhardt.
A generation ago, pioneer craft brewers tried to persuade tavern owners to buy funny beers brewed in tiny breweries in reused dairy tanks, beers that they or their customers had never heard of and which cost twice as much as a keg of Bud or Blitz. "There were times," says Rob Widmer, "when they'd look at me as if I wasn't speaking English."
A must-read for anyone who is either too young to have witnessed it first-hand or was somewhere else. John identifies the key factor in an overlooked part of craft brewing: the importance of regional breweries. What are the best places for beer? Denver, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Wisconsin. What did they have in common? Regional craft breweries. Other cities are now catching up, but the founders were where the idea of local beer hadn't already become an inconceivable concept. To understand Oregon beer, you gotta know Blitz Weinhard.
Anyway, go read it.