Home brewing is legalized in Oregon. Having trouble finding beer in the U.S. that they like to drink, brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer begin making beer for themselves and their friends.
Tired of working for the man, Kurt and Rob decide to turn their hobby into a vocation, quit their jobs and cobble together a brewery. They scrounge up parts wherever they can, and build Widmer Brewing Company in an industrial part of NW Portland, what is now the Pearl District.
Widmer Brewing Company officially opens on April 2, 1984. They start by brewing Altbier, translated from German means “old beer” and a Weizenbier, their interpretation of a filtered wheat beer.
The owner of the Dublin Pub, which carried the Altbier and Weizenbier and eager to expand his offerings, asks the Widmer brothers to make a third beer for him. The brewery only had two fermenters at the time, so to save space and time, they simply left the Weizenbier unfiltered and impressively cloudy, thus creating the first American-style Hefeweizen (literally meaning “yeast wheat”).
Widmer Brothers introduces Festbier, their interpretation of a classic Bavarian style Oktoberfest beer. Widmer Brothers were the first U.S. brewery to offer a full four-seasonal beer lineup.
The Widmer Brothers, along with Bridgeport Ales and Portland Brewing Company, launch the Oregon Brewer’s Festival. Today the OFB is attended by over 80 breweries and 70,000 people, Always the last full weekend in July.
Kurt and Rob move the brewery to its current location in North Portland, and rename the brewery Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
After becoming the nation's largest draft-only brewery, Widmer Brothers beer is available in bottles for the first time .
Widmer Brothers and the Oregon Brew Crew create the Collaborator project. Through this annual competition, different home brew recipes are chosen and produced in the pilot brewery at Widmer Brothers, giving everyone the chance to have their recipe brewed on a large scale. Visit the Brew Crew for more info.
The "W" Brewmasters' Release Series from Widmer Brothers boasts a new beer every year. Built from the ground up by our hardworkin' brewmasters. Traditional, experimental, anything goes. Prost to trying new things!
Today, the Oregon Brewer's Festival is the largest outdoor craft beer festival in the country, drawing more than 70,000 attendees. To date, 31 recipes from the Collaborator Project have been chosen with some winning national awards, including a gold medal at Great American Beer Festival. Widmer Brothers history continues to write itself every day.
Photo by: Brian Stechschulte/All Over Beer