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Friday, March 29, 2013

From Whence the Name "Beervana?"

This blog is called Beervana, as is this town and, sometimes, this state.  The name is actually a registered trademark of the Texas-based Gambrinus Corp, which is the worst thing one can say about it.  But where did the name come from?

Marc Zolton.

I actually first learned of this at Don Younger's wake, where I met Marc.  In 1994, he was writing for Willamette Week, and the paper decided to put out an insert celebrating the city and its beer.  They called it Beervana.  Willamette Week picks up the story:
Making the guide was all a ton of fun, says [Audrey] Van Buskirk. Sure, they had to call the library to get information. But when they weren't slaving over a wax gun, they were hanging out and drinking. "We were just all really good friends," she says. "We went out together all the time. Marc Zolton, who wrote a lot of it, was really into beer and got us all excited about beer."

Marc Zolton, as it happens, randomly ended up at our 2013 Beer Guide release party at Green Dragon. He confirmed Van Buskirk's general account of the time. "But I think I'm the one who came up with the word 'Beervana,'" he says. "Pretty sure that was me."
You can see the whole insert here (pdf).  

I owe a debt and a thanks to Marc for coining the word.  When Audrey hired me three years later to write the beer column for the paper, I happily used the word to promote our city's fine beer.  I once owned and of course, in 2006, appropriated it for this blog.  The name has entered the public domain and I hope no one associates it with me personally (and I hope they don't associate it with BridgePort even more).  If anything, you should recall Marc when it comes to mind.
Indeed, I think we all owe Marc an additional thanks for the name.  It has been fantastic PR for the state's good beer, a name that reinforces Oregon's primacy in the craft beer world every time someone utters it. He may not have intended it to become a permanent fixture in Portland's self-image, but it has.

On behalf of everyone, thanks, Marc!


  1. Beervana is a trademark of Gambrinus? Those schmucks.

  2. I was there. I can confirm: it was Marc Zolton. The right man at the right place at the right moment. That's how legends are made, yo.