Portland Brewing Co. Re-Launch Party

By now, you've probably heard that Portland Brewing Co. is returning and you may have seen their newly re-branded packaging on retail shelves. I recently interviewed Ryan Daley, Brand Manager for PBC, about the change

Portland Brewing is owned by North American Breweries. Last year, NAB did a nice job of refreshing their Pyramid brand, so I've been curious to see if they can rekindle interest in Portland Brewing.

Last Friday, my wife and I attended the re-launch party hosted by PBC at their NW Portland taproom. Four beers were served, each paired with a small bite of food.

  • Oyster Stout:  This new beer was brewed with whole Yaquina Bay oysters. This is a draft-only release that will be available only in Oregon. I liked it. It was smooth and roasty, but I couldn't taste the oyster / briny flavor. 
  • India Pale Ale:  Another new beer, this will be a year-round release. I'll post a detailed profile after I find a bottle and sample it at home. My first impressions were positive. Well balanced, and not overly bitter. 
  • MacTarnahan's Amber Ale:  An old classic that has stood the test of time. No changes were made to this beer, and it will continue to be a year-round release.
  • Rose Hip Gold:  I first tasted this new spring seasonal a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised. Paired with Rose Hip Gold Ice Cream created by Salt & Straw, this was easily the best pairing of the evening! Made with the beer, the ice cream was delicious. It had a strong malty-sweet base and a light rose aroma. 

Fred Bowman, Portland Brewing Co's original co-founder, makes a toast.

Bottom line, I'm encouraged by what I saw (and tasted). The Portland Brewing re-launch strategy is simpleit's focused on beer and reconnecting with the past. To that end, in 2013 we'll enjoy some old favorites such as Zig Zag River Lager and Blackwatch. We'll also see new releases and draft-only selections. In addition, I think they've hit the mark with the new packaging designs.

Funny how we always seem to end up where we started...

What do you think of the "return" of Portland Brewing Co.?

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  1. MacTarnahan's, Portland Brewing, Pyramid...it doesn't matter what they call it. The various parent companies have sucked the life out of this organization. To me, the new branding is crap, not to mention confusing. Do they seriously think they can regain lost credibility by simply shifting back to the Portland Brewing name? They must be on crack. That brand has no standing today. It has been utterly crushed by the negligence of the parent brands and an increasingly competitive marketplace. I don't see this move having much traction. Of course, you never know.

  2. Are they on crack? Perhaps, but I expect it's more likely a few too many dried rose hips. :)

    In all seriousness, you raise a great point. Clearly, this brand has been mismanaged. The need to rebrand is evidence.

    I expect to move back to the Portland Brewing name is their attempt to halt the decline. I can only speculate, but I think they would agree that just the name change isn't enough. The beer is the key. We'll see how that pans out over the next year or two.

    I think segmentation within the craft beer market is important to consider. I don't think they need hard-core craft beer geeks to to be successful. After all, when was the last time a beer blogger had anything positive to say about MacTarnahan's or Pyramid? These brands can survive without the hard-core beer geek.

    The market is growing quickly, and if they can capture the attention of the casual craft beer drinker, I expect they'll do well.

    Brand image aside, I'm curious to know why you think the new branding and packaging is crappy and confusing.

  3. I have written a few pieces about Pyramid beers in the last year and I have to say that they did more than just re-brand the beer. They clearly decided to focus on the quality of the product in the bottles, and it shows when you drink Pyramid beers now. As for Portland Brewing...maybe it works out, maybe it doesn't. However, I am willing to give them a shot based on the Pyramid results. Good beer is good beer. The past shouldn't influence your opinion on whether a beer is good today or not.


Thoughts? Tell me what you think.