It has been close to 17 years since Rainier was last brewed in the state of Washington. After the brewery was sold a few times and then finally to Pabst, the brewery along Interstate 5 permanently closed in 1999. For a few years Rainier was brewed south of Seattle in Olympia but that ended in 2003. Since then Pabst has been contracting its production to Miller Brewing at its Irwindale, California brewery.
Now 13 years later, Rainier is once again being brewed in the Emerald State. However its not the famous Rainier Beer that we all know and we here have a slight affection for. Rainier has recently launched its new Rainier Pale Mountain Ale, brewed in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville at the Redhook Brewery. Back in January of this year, Pabst reached an agreement to brew this new Pale Ale at the Redhook Brewery that is part of the Craft Brew Alliance. Part of this agreement will allow Pabst to purchase the Woodinville based brewery at any time during the next three years.
The recipe and the retro looking label are both inspired from the post-prohibition pale ales that Rainier brewed back in the 1930’s. At retail the 16 oz. “pounder” bottles convey a complete retro-style that includes an embossed Rainier “R” located where the bottle curves to become the neck of the bottle. Pale Mountain Ale will also be available at restaurants, bars and taverns in bottles and on draft.
“We’re very excited about the launch of Pale Mountain Ale,” said Kurt Stream in a news release. Stream is the Seattle field representative for Rainier Brewing Company and a local beer historian. Stream continues, “Rainier has such a rich heritage in Seattle and throughout the Northwest. Our goal with this new beer is to honor and build on that.”
“In developing Rainier Pale Mountain Ale, we mined Rainier’s archives for post-prohibition pale ale recipes and worked hard to stay true to the authenticity of the brew while adapting to modern tastes,” said Greg Deuhs in a news release. Deuhs is the current Master Brewer at Pabst Brewing Company, parent company to Rainier. “I’m very proud of what we came up with.” Prior to coming to Pabst, Deuhs served as Director of Operations at the Craft Brew Alliance Woodinville brewery from 2008 to 2012, the brewery where Pale Mountain Ale is being brewed.
Enough on the background, what does Pale Mountain Ale taste like? The newly brewed Rainier beer pours a deep copper color, a bit darker than a traditional Pale Ale. The use of Fuggle and Cascade hops from the Yakima Valley exert a pleasant hop profile that’s expected from this style of beer. Prior to packaging, Pale Mountain Ale is dry hopped for 10 days. From tasting the Pale Mountain Ale, the beer itself offers up some pleasant citrus notes that enhances the approachable light body of the beer. Pale Mountain Ale is 5.3% ABV, 28 IBUs and only 134 calories.
“The beer itself is excellent. It really is a tribute to the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company,” states Deuhs in the accompanied promotional video.
“Rainier is one of the most beloved and oldest brands in the history of the Pacific Northwest. We were gone for a while, but we are back home,” states Stream as the promotional video closes out.
With the release of Pale Mountain Ale, the plan is to develop additional craft beers all inspired from the archives of Rainier. Rainier Pale Mountain Ale will be distributed throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Northern California. The suggested retail price is $11.99 per six-pack of 16 oz. bottles, yes a tad bit more than our “Vitamin R”.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.