District Northwest Heritage

From Master Brewers' two collections of district histories, the 75th Diamond Jubilee Edition published in 1962 and the 100th Golden Jubilee Edition published in 1987, we salute District Northwest!

The impetus for choosing District Northwest was an inquiry from Tiah Edmunson-Morton, who runs the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives at Oregon State University. OSU houses the District Northwest historical records, and Tiah is writing a guide of those materials. She requested information about the establishment of District Northwest.

As a reminder, in 1962, all MBAA districts were asked to submit a concise history of their district for the 75 year Diamond Jubilee Convention. The histories would be published and distributed in a special edition of the Communicator. The history submitted was written by the 1962 district president, Harold Rohrbeck. Mr. Rohrbeck concentrated on providing some details about when and how District Northwestern was formed.

On June 1, 1935, twelve Master Brewers met in Seattle and formed their own Master Brewer Association independent of MBAA. They felt “the need for the common bond of a technical association... and organized for purposes of communication and sociability.” That initial effort was successful enough that they held a second meeting in autumn of 1935, in Spokane. At that second meeting, they agreed to petitioned MBAA for affiliation. They were officially granted an MBAA charter on December 6, 1935, and became known as “District Northwestern.”

DNW1.jpgThe original geographical expanse of District Nortwestern included the states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia. Over the next decade, the growth of breweries in the Canadian provinces warranted the creation of a separate Canadian district affiliation. Over that decade, the world became engulfed in the Second World War, and for the duration of the war, MBAA conventions were limited in scope as “wartime conferences.” The conferences limited participation to active MBAA members, and all discussion was limited to wartime production problems. Three such wartime conferences occurred: Cleveland in 1942, Cincinnati in 1943, and St. Louis in 1944. At the second wartime conference held in Cincinnati, MBAA tabled its wartime production dialogue just long enough to grant Canada's Western Provinces their own charter as MBAA's District Western Canada. The geographical boundaries of District Northwestern were reduced to include just the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Mr. Rohrbeck lists the seven breweries in the district at that time, providing 52 active members, 12 associate members, and 69 allied members. He also explains that the district met twice a year and was known for its two-day “Fall Round-Up,” offering excellent technical presentations.

DNW2.jpgIn 1987, all MBAA districts were again asked to submit a concise history of their district for the 100 year Golden Jubilee Convention. The histories would again be published and distributed. District Northwestern's 1987 president, Robert Magruder, updated the 1962 history for that document.

Mr. Magruder, for the most part, reiterated the 1962 history. He updated the list of member breweries, which had dropped from seven to four by 1987, providing 37 active members, 10 associate members, and 37 allied members. He also notes that in 1985, the district hosted the MBAA National Convention in Seattle.

Today, the district is known as “District Northwest,” and is one of 25 active Master Brewers districts. It is one of the largest in terms of geographic boundaries. The craft beer explosion has been especially kind to the district. Its membership includes some of the most recognized and venerated breweries in the country! Its brewing culture encompasses not just world-class breweries, but also a unique agricultural history of hop breeding, development, and production.

District Northwest is one of the most heritage-aware districts in Master Brewers, influenced in no small part by Oregon State University and their brewing archival efforts. OSU established its Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives in 2013. Their website homepage describes it as “the first in the U.S. dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing materials that tell the story of Northwest brewing.” Their wide-ranging efforts include collections of historical papers, records, industry periodicals, and research reports, and also a very unique collection of oral histories with brewers and others who have impacted the states brewing industry.

Your heritage chair salutes District Northwest and the ambitious, contagious culture of ongoing efforts to both preserve and communicate their heritage treasures.

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