Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve (Henry’s), a Pacific Northwest stand by brew for generations will finally no longer be brewed in Oregon.
Henry’s has always been near and dear to my heart–I grew up with hop aroma wafting from the Blitz-Weinhard Burnside brewhouse, it was the first beer I tasted, and I wrote my history thesis on the man and the brewery.
So I’ve followed the Weinhard brand around as it’s bounced from brewery to brewery. Here’s what I know:
Henry’s, based on an original recipe of Henry Weinhard, started as a special beer brewed only for the brewers and management of the Blitz Weinhard brewery. The story, as I heard it, is that in 1960’s (before Oregon passed the homebrewing law), management kept some of the beer, unlabeled, in the Jake’s Restaurant cooler, which was just across the street. The OLCC didn’t like that and demanded to know what the unlabled beer was. Either everyone could drink it or no one could drink it. The brewery decided everyone could drink it and one of their best-selling brands was born.
After the family sold the brewery in the 1970’s, Stroh’s continued to brew Henry’s at the Burnside brewhouse until 1999. The new owner (Miller) closed the brewhouse and began brewing Henry’s in Tumwater, Washington. That facility closed in 2003 and Full Sail began brewing Henry’s under contract.
Until now. Miller decided not to renew its contract with Full Sail. It looks like Miller will be rolling out Henry’s as a national brand.
For me, this has been a long goodbye. I was sad when the brewery closed, sad when the beer was brewed in Tumwater, and a little happy to see it come back to Hood River. But it will never be what it was–a lager from a family-owned brewery that weathered the founding of Oregon and Prohibition. I had my last Henry’s at Henry Weinhard’s great, great great grandson’s wedding a few weeks ago. And it will stay that way.