At the end of World War II, there are 421 breweries operating in the United States. By the mid-1970s, however, that number dwindles to 53. Perhaps it was a response to the lean times of rationing faced by Americans during the war years, but thus began the era of consolidation that would turn Budweiser, Coors, and Miller into titans.
With the country’s taste buds in hibernation, the earliest rumblings of craft brewing in Oregon really begin when a young writer and brewer named Fred Eckhardt (mentor to beer barons like Kurt and Rob Widmer) publishes A Treatise on Lager Beers, widely acknowledged as the country’s first practical guide to homebrewing—an art that was still, technically, against the law.
Publican Mike McMenamin takes over Produce Row, a small, funky tavern in Southeast Portland, where his clientele is introduced an exotic array of imported beers.
Senator Alan Cranston’s (D-California) bill that allows citizens to brew up to 200 gallons of beer annually is signed into law.
A mere 48 breweries are still operating in the entire country. Industry experts predict that by 1990, only 10 will be left. But in Portland that same year, one operation, Cartwright’s, the state’s first true craft brewery, opens its doors. Unfortunately, by all accounts the suds here are virtually undrinkable and Cartwright’s shuts down a few years later.