Beer in Washington State: Some Highs and Lows

1854: Denlin Brewery, first in the Washington Territory, opens in Steilacoom.

1893: Three Seattle breweries merge to form Rainier Brewery. Through further acquisitions and growth, the combined company, Seattle Malting and Brewing, would become the world's sixth largest.

1896: Capital Brewery built in Tumwater. Name changed to Olympia Brewing in 1902.

1916: Washington goes "dry" three years before Prohibition.

1933: Prohibition repealed. Fritz and Emil Sick take over the idle Rainier Brewery.

1934: Peter Schmidt opens new, modern Olympia Brewery plant in Tumwater, near the site of the original Olympia Brewhouse.

1982: The banner year: Bert Grant opens Yakima Brewing and Malting, marketing beer under the Bert Grant label, and also opens the first post- Prohibition brewpub in Washington. Paul Shipman and Gordon Bowker open Redhook Brewery in Seattle.

1983: Mike Hale opens Hale's Brewing in Colville, Wash.

1984: Hart Brewing in Kalama, Wash., markets beers under the Pyramid label.

1985: Andy Thomas and Will Kemper open Thomas Kemper Brewing on Bainbridge Island.

1986: Vince Cottone publishes Good Beer Guide: Breweries and Pubs in the Pacific Northwest.

1988: Big Time Brewery and Alehouse opens in the University District.

1989: Pike Brewery, created by Merchant du Vin founder Charles Finkel, opens.

1990: Maritime Pacific Brewing Company opened by George and Jane Hancock.

1995: Redhook goes public, announcing that Anheuser-Busch would acquire Redhook equity in exchange for distributing Redhook nationally.

1996: Elysian brewpub opens on Capitol Hill.

1999: Rainier Brewery shuts down, as craft breweries take market share from older, established breweries.

2003: Olympia Brewery closes after acquisition by Miller Brewing. Both Olympia and Rainier brands survive in vestigial form, contract brewed by Miller at other plants.

Acknowledgment: was an invaluable resource in providing background data on early Seattle brewing history. Also worth a read is William Least Heat Moon's essay, "A Glass of Handmade," that appeared in The Atlantic in 1987 and can be found republished on the Web at

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