The latest inductees to Oregon Beer Awards Hall of Fame made the beers that convinced an entire generation to embrace the flavors of craft brewing.
Kurt and Rob Widmer, founders of Widmer Brothers Brewery and producers of the now-ubiquitous Hefeweizen, were part of a small group of pioneers that helped launch the modern craft beer industry in the mid-1980s. The duo were honored at the annual Oregon Beer Awards, held in front of a sold-out crowd at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland on Feb. 18
Before taking the stage, a short video outlined the Widmers' influence on the beer community.
"Beers like the Hefe and the Alt, those speak to you as a brewer," said Upright Brewing founder Alex Ganum. "Who better to look up to than that?"
The Widmers opened their business in 1984 in a then much-grittier Pearl District, often driving kegs to accounts in a beat-up red Datsun pickup—which the brothers still own and roll out for special occasions. Many of their early customers not only had to be convinced their German-style beers would sell, but that it was safe to drink.
"First, retailers frequently thought it was illegal," Rob Widmer recounted in the video, "and then next they thought the beer would make them sick."
In recent years, Widmer has seen some tumultuous change, including the closing of its pub and tasting room in 2019, followed by Anheuser-Busch InBev's purchase of Craft Brew Alliance, whose brands include Widmer, Kona and Redhook, among others.
If you missed the OBAs, you can watch the tribute video below: