MacTarnahan's Scottish Festival – Why Not?

MacTarnahan's Scottish Festival

Those who are not newbies to the Portland craft beer scene might remember when Portland brewing and MacTarnahan’s held the popular Mactoberfest to welcome in the harvest season. This fun event eventually went by the wayside, perhaps due to the breweries identity and marketing struggles, or Widmer’s ability to put together a better organized and more centrally located Oktoberfest event.

Perhaps there’s just too much going on in the area in the way of events these days. Fresh hop festivals are now popping up all over the region. So, picking your time to showcase your product in a fun and festive atmosphere can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are located at the corner of NW 31st and Bumfuck in Portland’s industrial jungle. A great spot for Portland Brewing/MacTarnahans/Pyramid/NAB to craft their countless signature ales and lagers, but not exactly the best place to head out to for a pint after work – that is unless you happen to work out in this seemingly vapid industrial maze betwixt the foot of Forest Park and Highway 30.

Pug Crawl (photo by OregonLive)Events like Mac’s Pug Crawl and especially the Juggernaut fall release party were, for better words, a bust. Poorly attended were these mini-fests, and sadly so. There was always tasty affordable beer and great live music. It just kind of ties back in to MacTarnahan’s lack of brand identity.

Well, this could be changing somewhat. Despite the poor reputation that Pyramid and Macs might have with the hardcore beer geeks, there really is no denying that they craft some of the best brews in the Pacific Northwest. Now under the rule of North American Breweries, who makes products like Seagram’s Escapes, Natty Ice, and Labatt’s Blue, there is a recognition and understanding of what needs to be done to make and sell good beer. The first obvious approach is undercutting the market with a lower price point. This is why you’ll see  super specials on not only growlers and pints at the pub, but everyday redonkulously cheap bombers of beer anywhere from Fred Meyer to Plaid Pantry to Belmont Station, usually not much more than $2.00, which is an straight up steal.

Juggernaut release party in 2009

MacTarnahan's Noble ScotNAB have recently made some rather wise decisions with their brands, especially Pyramid, when they not so long ago admitted “We Hefe’d Up” in their move to putting their wonderful beer in horrendously packaged energy drink-esque packaging. The move back to classic design and that to put forth more one-offs and innovative seasonal recipes is evident with brews like their Helles Smokey Lager, Red Wheat Fig, Wheaten IPA, etc. These recipes and brands show a connection between the company’s roots and an ability to adapt to the always evolving craft beer market. And, at the forefront of their Portland branch’s latest festival attempt, it’s a real doozy. Scottish ales might not be the most gripping style to beer geeks, but it sure fits righteously with the history and groundwork developed by Mac MacTarnahan.

Robert "Mac" MacTarnahan

On September 8, 2012 from noon until 4 p.m., MacTarnanhan’s Pub (2730 NW 30th Ave., Portland, OR) will throw a party marking the release of Noble Scot Scottish Ale. The company promises live Scottish music and food, and highland competitions, kilts galore, and all that Scottophiles could hope for. Somewhere Mac MacTarnahan must be smiling (or at least not rolling his eyes frustratedly from the afterworld). It remains to be seen how this event will turnout. Will it be a bust? Hopefully not. At very least there will be good beer, and that, that is the glue that binds us all.