Why's Portland Brewing Coming Back? A Chat with Ryan Daley

In early December, I learned Portland Brewing Co. received label approval for a few beers. What makes this interesting is the fact that MacTarnahan's replaced the Portland Brewing Co. brand over a decade ago.

NAB (parent of MacTarnahan's) was unable to comment at the time. Last week, a press release (shown at the end of this post) formally announced the return of Portland Brewing Co. I contacted Ryan Daley, NAB Brand Manager. This time he was able to discuss the reasons behind the change.  Here's what Ryan told me...

The brewery was originally called Portland Brewing Co. When was the name changed to MacTarnahan's and why? 

Ryan Daley:  The name changed around 2002.  Since I was not there at the time I cannot entirely answer why the change was made.  But certainly with “Mac” MacTarnahan being such a key figure in the company at the time and the success of Mac’s Amber Ale the name MacTarnahan’s was well recognized as a big part of Portland Brewing.

Why is the name changing back to Portland Brewing Co? 

RD:  We wanted to get back to what the company stood for when it first opened and rebuild the connection to the city of Portland. Portland is known for so many great things, and great beer is one of them.  We want to be able to help celebrate that love of great beer and get back to bringing out a good range of brews for the people of Portland to enjoy.

What is the distribution region for Portland Brewing? Is the brewery's distribution footprint changing with the rebranding?

RD:  The majority of the existing Portland Brewing business is in Oregon, but also expands into some neighboring states.  We are looking to bring select Portland Brewing beers to new markets in the new year.

Where will the beer be brewed? 

RD: The beer will be brewed in Portland, Oregon.

Besides the name change, what other changes can consumers expect with regards to the beer?

RD: New beers.  We are excited to brew up some new beers in 2013, and starting in the spring alone we have three new brews coming out.  An IPA, made with 5 different hops; a new spring seasonal Rose Hip Gold, a Belgian-style ale brewed with rose hips; and an Oyster Stout, which is the first brew in a new local Oregon draft series. And then we will look to keep new beers coming for the following seasons.

How is the rebranding of Pyramid coming along?  Is it similar to what you are trying to achieve with Portland Brewing?

RD: We are happy with the changes made to Pyramid.  It was a situation where some of the previous decisions made were not ideal, but it was good to get back to a place that embodied the great things that Pyramid stood for since its first days in Kalama, WA in 1984.  And that meant we got to get back to brewing up new beers and exploring some different styles.  In terms of looking to achieve something similar with Portland Brewing, I would say it is similar in the way that we just want to be true to how these companies were founded, and at the heart of what we want to do is get back to brewing up new beers for beer lovers to enjoy.

North American Breweries (parent of Portland Brewing, Pyramid, and Magic Hat) was purchased by Cerveceria Costa Rica. Where are decisions made with regards to Portland Brewing beer?

RD: No changes have been made.  What we are doing on Portland Brewing was decided on long before any changes in ownership, and the people that have been brewing and working on Portland Brewing for the last few years are the same people that will be doing so moving forward.

Thanks to Ryan for taking the time to chat!  NAB did a good job of reinvigorating Pyramid last year.  It'll be interesting to see how things take shape with Portland Brewing Co.

What do you think of the change?  

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Portland Brewing Company Is Back
MacTarnahan’s Brewing Co. Goes Back to Portland Brewing name
PORTLAND, OR— An exciting change for Portland’s beer scene is quickly taking shape. The company that brews the beloved MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale and other craft beers is going back to its original name and will once again operate as Portland Brewing Company, beginning in February 2013.

The main change for consumers will be that the company, its beers and packaging will once again proudly carry the Portland Brewing Company name. Beer drinkers will still see the company’s flagship brew – MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale – continue, along with many new offerings.

Head brewer Ryan Pappe talks about this excitement around going back to Portland Brewing. “We’re excited to take a new direction that celebrates our past and sets the stage for our future as Portland Brewing Company,” Pappe said. “We brewed our first beer back in 1986 and our commitment to brewing great beer has never changed. Our consumers can expect their favorite beers to continue, and will love and be surprised by some of the new brews Portland Brewing has in store for them.”

History of Portland Brewing Company:
Portland Brewing Company was a pioneer of the Portland craft beer movement, dating back to 1986 when the company was founded by Fred Bowman and Art Larrance, high school friends whose dream it was to start their own brewery. Since opening its doors in January of 1986, Portland Brewing Company quickly evolved and grew. 1992 saw the introduction of MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale – the company’s flagship and most popular brew to this day. In 1998, Robert “Mac” MacTarnahan, a shareholder in the group, purchased the debt of Portland Brewing Company. To honor this, Portland Brewing Company developed MacTarnahan’s branded labels. In 2004, Pyramid Breweries purchased Portland Brewing Company, and the company has operated as MacTarnahan’s Brewing Company since that time.

The company’s rich history played a big role in the decision to evolve from MacTarnahan’s back to Portland Brewing Company. As a thriving local brewery and an active member of the community, Portland Brewing reinforces its place as an important part of the brewing fabric of Portland.

“Portland Brewing Company has so much history, so going back to our original name is another way for us to celebrate our connection to the Portland community, while developing our future,” said Ryan Daley, brand manager for Portland Brewing Company. “As we grow and bring our beers to consumers in new markets, they’ll be able to see our name and immediately appreciate its inherent quality. Portland sets the standard for great craft beer.”
What Consumers Will Notice:

Consumers in Portland and beyond will see some changes and new offerings as Portland Brewing Company. Some of those include:
·       The MacTarnahan’s name: Portland Brewing Company will continue to produce MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale as its flagship brew. The recipe will remain the same. A true Portland original, it will be brewed with the same great quality and taste that it has been since 1992.
·       Beer: Consumers will see old favorites like Mac’s Amber Ale and new brews from Portland Brewing Company. Seasonal, year-round and specialty draft beers are in the works for 2013.
·       The Taproom: The Brewery and Taproom will continue to operate, serving as a key place for the Portland community to connect with the Portland Brewing team. Consumers can continue to expect great beers and food, daily, along with special tastings, events and more.
·       In-Market Packaging: New packaging will reflect the Portland Brewing name. For cases like MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale, consumers will easily see the beer’s name on all products. Ex. Portland Brewing: MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale
·       Timing: Consumers can expect to see beers under the Portland Brewing Company name in February 2013.

As Portland Brewing Company moves forward, the company plans to introduce several new beers in 2013. This spring alone, consumers will see three new beers:
·       Portland Brewing IPA: a new year-round beer. With a darker golden color and some of the most popular citrusy IPA hops, as well as Sterling for a bit of spiciness in the finish, this IPA is hoppy like a Northwest IPA should be. Five different hops and a soft malt backing make for one great, easy-drinking ale. Available in six-pack, 12-pack, 22 oz. bottles and on draft.
·       Rose Hip Gold: a new spring seasonal that is a Belgian-style ale with notes of fruit and spice and a little citrusy bite from a generous addition of rose hips in the kettle. Available in six-pack, 22 oz. bottles and on draft.
·       Oyster Stout: the company’s first brew in a new small batch draft program that is exclusive to the state of Oregon. It will feature locally sourced oysters from Yaquina Bay.  
Consumers will begin to see some of these beers in market as early as Feb. 1.
About Portland Brewing Co.:
Founded in 1986 by Fred Bowman and Art Larrance, Portland Brewing Company was a pioneer of the Portland craft beer movement. Since opening its doors, the company quickly grew into an important part of Portland’s brewing landscape. The company’s flagship brew, MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale, was first introduced in 1992, earning gold at the Great American Beer Festival. It remains one of the company’s most popular brews today. Driven by a love for brewing great beer for the people of Portland, OR and beyond, Portland Brewing Company is committed to delivering great beer, all the time. From unique small batches, to seasonal brews and new year-round offerings, beer drinkers can expect variety, innovation, quality and great-tasting beer in 2013 from a company that, simply, brews with a passion for beer.
Please drink responsibly.

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