Forty years ago the Portland Trail Blazers entered its 7th season in the NBA and won the hearts of fans from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. This was the magical season that led the Blazers to the playoffs for the very first time and beat the favored Philadelphia 76ers in 6 games of the NBA. Down 2-0, the Blazers miraculous season ended on a 4 games winning streak defeating the 76ers at home inside the Memorial Coliseum 109-107. This had been Portland’s only major professional sport championship until last year’s Timbers Major League Soccer championship.
Last evening on the eve of the 2016-2017 Trail Blazer season opener, Pyramid Brewing hosted an event inside its Pyramid Taproom at Schonely’s Place at the Moda Center to officially launch 1977 Lager. Now its third consecutive beer brewed for the Blazers NBA season, 1977 Lager joins the formerly brewed Schonz’ Red Session Ale and last season’s Reigning 3s White Pale Ale.
At last evening’s launch, on hand were a couple members of that championship team, Lloyd Neal and Bob Gross along with the Blazers co-founder Harry Glickman and longtime Blazer announcer Bill Schonely. All four gentleman told stories about that magical season on how they overcame the challenges to bring Portland its first and only NBA Championship. The mark that this team left on Portland was immense. Portland is not the city that it is today. “At the time, this state needed something to generate some goodness,” stated Schonely during last night’s reception. Neal was the first Blazer to have his number retired by the team and it was the Schonz who coined the term Rip City for the Blazers that is still so well known to this date.
Pyramid Head Brewer Ryan Pappe discusses the new Pyramid Brewing 1977 Lager, a beer that honors the 1977 Trail Blazer NBA Champions.
This historic season drew inspiration to the beer that honors this team, 1977 Lager. “One of the highlights of my year is when we can come out and bring a new beer for the Blazers,” stated Pyramid Head Brewer Ryan Pappe at last night’s release. This year’s release drew inspiration from the 1977 Championship team.
When describing how he developed 1977 Lager, Pappe stated that he wanted, “A great accompaniment to enjoying the game weather here or at home watching it on TV. I just think it’s a winning beer all around and its perfect for the 40th anniversary of the most winning season of the Trail Blazers.”
In keeping with a theme for the beer that honored this historic season Pappe brewed a beer that was deeply inspired by them. Pappe explained last night that this process came about by, “Trying to incorporate some tidbits, I tried to do some research and put some details in there that fit with this 40th anniversary. The beer’s SRM is 7, inspired by the Blazers 7th year in the league. The bitterness of 1977 Lager is 32 IBUs, the same number as the jersey worn by Bill Walton, the NBA Finals MVP of that year. When it came to the malt bill he went with 5 grains; 2-Row Pale Barley, Goldpils Vienna, Munich 20, Wheat, and Carapil. These 5 grains paid tribute to the 5 starting players on the court during that season; Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Dave Twardzik, Bob Gross, and Larry Steele.
“As proud sponsors of the Portland Trail Blazers, Pyramid Breweries is extremely happy to announce this special release,” said General Manager Robert Rentsch in a statement. “The strategic combination of crisp, sweet and hoppy flavors in this fest-style lager truly embodies Portland and one of the most exciting NBA seasons in the city’s history.”
“We are extremely proud of our team’s history, and no season brings back better memories than the Championship run in 1977,” said Trail Blazers Senior Vice President of Revenue Steve Scott in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Pyramid Breweries with a special brew in honor of a truly special time for our city.”
Beginning next month and running through December, Pyramid is celebrating fans with a “Party Like it’s 1977” text-to-win contest for a party suite for 77 guests at an upcoming January Trail Blazers game that includes a custom 1977 growler.
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.