Opinion: Goodbye, Henry Weinhard

PORTLAND, Ore. -- An old Blitz-Weinhard commercial using the fictitious brewery Schludwiller featured two truck drivers trying to bring a truckload of beer into Oregon from California.

Two state troopers stop the truck at the border. One asks, “Where you fellas goin’ with all that beer?”

After determining that the beer “isn’t brewed naturally without artificial ingredients” — like Blitz-Weinhard — the troopers make the truck turn around.

“Wanna try Idaho?” one of the truckers asks the other.

I loved that commercial. You can find it on YouTube here.

I was reminded of that — and other iconic Weinhard’s commercials — by staff writer Erik Siemers’ stories on Henry Weinhard’s in this week’s issue of the Business Journal.

The company’s owner — MillerCoors — is taking the brand national. It views Weinhard’s as an entry level craft beer that will appeal to consumers more familiar with mass-produced brands.

As part of that push, Henry’s will no longer be brewed in Oregon. It has been brewed at Hood River’s Full Sail Brewery since 2003.

I know it sounds a little ridiculous, but it seems as if Oregon has lost something.

The original Portland Weinhard brewery operated from 1856 until 1999. Henry’s 12th Street Tavern is there now.

The beer was then brewed at Olympia Brewery until it closed. It then moved to Full Sail.

Despite all the recent twists and turns, Henry’s was an iconic Oregon brand. As Siemers notes in his story, the real Henry Weinhard once wanted to pump beer into Skidmore Fountain on Southwest First Avenue beneath the Burnside Bridge.

You can’t make that stuff up. Henry Weinhard’s will always belong to Oregon — even if, in reality, it’s now all in the past.