Portland Brewing Will Close in February After 34 Years of Business

The Pyramid brand will live on, and the company that owns Portland has not decided what to do with the brewery equipment.

(Portland Brewing, Pete Dunlop)

One of the breweries from the groundbreaking class of the mid-'80s that helped put Portland on the map as a beer mecca is shutting its doors for good.

Portland Brewing announced Friday on its Facebook page that it would cease operations on Feb. 5. Twenty-seven employees will lose their jobs and receive paid severance.

Mary Beth Popp, vice president of brand and corporate communications for the company that owns Portland Brewing, Florida Ice & Farm Co., tells WW that the pandemic was not a factor, unlike so many other closures we've heard about this year.

"We wish there were an alternative. The history of the Portland brewery and its brands made this a very difficult decision," Rich Andrews, FIFCO USA's CEO, stated in a press release. "It just no longer made sense to sustain the operation given the brand footprint, competitive craft beer landscape, and capital investments needed to update the brewery."

Although the Portland Brewing and MacTarnahan's brands are coming to an end, Pyramid will live on. But those brews will not be produced locally—their new manufacturing hub is going to be in Rochester, N.Y.

Florida Ice & Farm Co. tells WW it has not made any decisions about what will become of all the Portland Brewing equipment, including those signature copper tanks near what used to be the entrance to the taproom.

The news comes a little more than two years after Portland Brewing abruptly halted service in its Northwest Portland restaurant and taproom. In another social media post announcing that change, the company cited the city's challenging restaurant market as the primary reason for the closure. Brewing continued, and customers could get kegs and cases through dock sales or six-packs at traditional retailers.

Founded in 1986 by Art Larrance, Fred Bowman and Jim Goodwin, Portland Brewing opened during Oregon's beer boom of the 1980s, which also saw the start of Widmer Brothers, BridgePort, McMenamins, Full Sail and Deschutes. The brewery's original location stood in what is now the Pearl District, but it moved to its long-standing home on Northwest 31st Avenue when it needed room to grow.

Over the years, as the city and state's beer scene exploded with producers and drinkers were eager to explore rather than remain loyal to any single brand, Portland Brewing's relevance waned. A flurry of sales didn't help its identity, either. Pyramid Brewing purchased Portland in 2004, and not long after that it was snatched up by Vermont's Magic Hat Brewing. In 2010, North American Breweries acquired Portland, which was then bought by Florida Ice & Farm Co., based in Costa Rica, two years later.

Portland Brewing revamped its logo and packaging about six months before it mothballed its restaurant in 2018, even holding a launch party to showcase the new look and names, like Ink & Roses IPA.

Staying relevant in a fiercely competitive market with fickle consumers has been a challenge for several longtime breweries. BridgePort Brewing also went through a restructuring in 2017, though in a more dramatic fashion, with the layoff of 13 brewing staff members and installation of a pilot system. It closed two years later.

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