beer history widmer brothers

The Widmer Brothers


Started by winemaker Dick Ponzi and family, Bridgeport Brewing Co (then known as Columbia River Brewing) begins operations in industrial Northwest Portland. Now, with dozens of medals and a stable of nationally respected beers like Bridgeport IPA and Blue Heron Pale Ale, Bridgeport is Portland’s oldest operating craft brewery.


The Widmer brothers, along with Mike McMenamin, Dick Ponzi, and others, successfully band together to lobby Oregon’s lawmakers for the right to sell beer directly to the public. (Prior to the bill’s passage it was illegal to locate retail beer sales and beer manufacturing equipment on the same premises.)


On the eve of the first Oregon Brewers Festival, 13 local brewers—including Bridgeport and Widmer—ready their finest ales, expecting 5,000 beer drinkers to show. Instead, nearly 15,000 flock to Gov. Tom McCall Waterfont Park to sample nearly 30 beers.


Blitz-Weinhard Brewery shuts down after 143 years in business. Today the beer is brewed in Hood River, but the Weinhard name is owned by Wisconsin’s Miller Brewing Co.


beer history bridgeport brewers

Bridgeport brewmaster Karl Ockert, with Ron Gansberg, and Brad Roy.


Portland Mayor Tom Potter, along with Governor Ted Kulongoski, declares July to be Oregon Craft Beer Month. In stark contrast to the Prohibition years, the US House of Representatives (with Oregon’s Peter DeFazio helping to lead the way) passes House Resolution 753, which officially recognizes America’s craft brewers for their contributions to the country’s economy, culture, and history.


Today, the Oregon Brewers Festival is the country’s largest outdoor craft beer festival, with some 70,000 beer geeks expected to turn out. And when they do, there’s plenty to choose from: Oregon now claims over 100 breweries—approximately 35 of which reside in the Portland metro area—with more opening seemingly every day, each contributing to an industry that employs nearly 5,000 Oregonians and hauls in $2.33 billion annually.