RIP Oregon Beer Growler Magazine and Northwest Brewing News

The March 2019 issue of Oregon Beer Growler Magazine may be it’s last

Both Oregon Beer Growler Magazine and Northwest Brewing News will no longer be published after their current issues.

It’s a bad time for print media in general, and perhaps an even worse time for beer print media. Oregon Beer Growler stops publishing following the current issue, which follows Northwest Brewing News final issue earlier this year. In 2017 Draft Magazine sold to All About Beer Mag and quit publishing, then in 2018 All About Beer Mag also bit the dust. Yesterday we learned Oregon’s only other print beer publication (and one of the nation’s last), Oregon Beer Growler, will also cease printing and is up for sale while Northwest Brewing News quietly has also hinted at a goodbye.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear of the possible demise of a publication that was an integral part of my life for more than four years. Losing both beer magazines at the same time is a huge disservice to the craft brewing industry and drinkers who want to learn more about this constantly evolving field that they not only feel a strong connection with, but also benefit from on a larger economic scale,” said former Oregon Beer Growler editor Andi Prewitt this morning.

Oregon Beer Growler began publication in 2012 by the Oberst family. Will Oberst ran the publication, but his family sold OBG to Mcminnville, OR-based News-Register Publishing in August 2016. Andi Prewitt served as Oregon Beer Growler editor-in-chief from 2014 to 2018, and after her tenure the News-Register recently changed the format from a 10 x 12″ newsprint to a 6 x 10″ glossy print. The new format new editor and other company changes seemed to telegraph the publications decline before the ax officially fell yesterday.

“There will not be an April issue, but we hope to find a team to continue OBG, relaunching with a May issue,” writes the News-Register’s Ossie Bladine. I actually wrote the cover story of the most recent (and probably final) issue of the March Oregon Beer Growler, covering the inside story of the Oregon Beer Awards. We will see if News-Register finds a new buyer, but with decreasing ad revenues and the decline of print, the future is not bright.

“I’m proud of my time at Oregon Beer Growler, having shepherded the publication through a critical transition, along with the work all of the writers and photographers poured into the magazine. It’s my hope that the owners are able to find a new entity to take over so that it can continue, ” said Prewitt to The New School when asked for comment.

Northwest Brewing News was a nearly 20-year-old publication most recently edited by New School contributor Aaron Brussat. Before Brussat the NWBN was edited by Abram Goldman-Armstrong (now of Cider Riot), and before that Alan Moen edited the paper for more than twelve years. In its time NW Brewing News featured notable writers like Fred Eckhardt and Lisa Morrison and provided one of the only regular sources of beer information and history before there were blogs and other websites.

A recent unfortunate and much-publicized incident undid the midwest version of the publication, called Great Lakes Brewing News. Co-owner Bill Metzger wrote an article on cask and real ale that was rife with sexism and misogyny, which led to calls for a boycott, and advertisers left the Brewing News publications in droves. Metzger claimed the article was satire, but was still forced to resign, and in the wake of that decision, many of the regional publications of Brewing News have been left without a publisher/owner.  Sadly, Northwest Brewing News is one of those papers to meet the chopping block, even though it had very little to do with Metzger and did not publish his controversial article.

Metzger was subsidizing many papers like Northwest Brewing News with outside revenue before this incident, and ad revenue for Northwest Brewing News was already declining. Metzger’s ouster, however, hastened what would have likely been a drawn out end for a publication that may have had years left in its lifespan. Northwest Brewing News covered Alaska to the Bay Area of California with around 30,000 copies distributed to over 1,200 brewery tasting rooms, beer bars, homebrew shops, and various other retailers.

“Personally, I think it’s pretty sad that Northwest Brewing News is collateral damage by association,” says Aaron Brussat, the most recent editor of Northwest Brewing News. “I have to qualify what I say next by noting that the piece of writing in question should not have been published, especially not without any sort of disclaimer of its author’s intent and position. It was part of a series of fictional, satirical articles; this one missed its mark by a wide margin.”

Brussat and others, like former editor Alan Moen and myself, find it sad that the publication and the jobs it provided are falling by the wayside because of one ill-conceived article.

“The reaction from other beer industry media, as well as the avalanche of online insults, public retractions of support from breweries, and the projection of anger without asking questions (which, thankfully, Tara Nurin did in her articles for Forbes about the whole affair) begs a question: who deserved the punishment, and to what degree?” says Brussat.

“I’ve met Bill in both professional and social situations. He’s not a misogynist; he’s not the fictional character in the article,” opines Brussat, who still doesn’t make any excuses for Metzger. “He spent 30 years building Brewing News papers and American Brewer magazine. He (and the editor of Great Lakes Brewing News), I believe, made a mistake printing the article.”

As publisher/creator of The New School, I hope to continue on the tradition of covering northwest beer news and strive to attempt to meet some of the late print publications standards. We may even get to absorb some of the skills, talents, and readership of these former print media outlets.

Still, even with our own work online, it’s hard to disagree with Brussat’s assessment:

“With NWBN, and, apparently, Oregon Beer Growler, gone, there are no more beer industry publications in print in our region. There are online resources like The New School and others that cover the news very well. But there is, I think, anthropological and social value to the artifact that is a newspaper in your hand. It is one cohesive thing, that you can hold alongside your pint at the bar. It doesn’t distract you with clicks and other open tabs. Its finality, its static, finalized nature in print, means that the writers have a stake in the story, that it is, hopefully, as right as it can be. Print media is dead; long live print media!”

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

Discussion

  • Anon Lady Brewer
    Anon Lady Brewer
    Fri Mar 8, 2019 4:17 PM

    “Brussat and others, like former editor Alan Moen and myself find it sad that the publication and the jobs it provided are falling by the wayside because of one ill-conceived article.”

    Meanwhile women and other non-masculine beer enthusiasts, brewers, etc like myself feel relief (and dare I say, pride?) that this one terrible article caused such a ripple effect. The macho/dude culture of beer in the Northwest feels stifling (on a good day) and sometimes toxic (on the bad days). While change can make some people feel sad, change can also be a much needed opportunity to create new cultures and new institutions within our PNW beer world that don’t leave out a demographic group. Please use your sad energy and use it for strengthening new journalism like The New School, rebuilding community, creating new jobs, etc that’s inclusive for all of use who want to be involved.

    • Samurai Artist
      Samurai Artist
      Fri Mar 8, 2019 6:05 PM

      I do believe you can find positivity in the backlash to a sexist article and also be sad that its killed a print publication, hastened the demise of print media and put people out of jobs. Also I’d add that women are among the people hurt by this, it’s not like no women read NWBN or wrote for it. As mentioned, Lisa Morrison wrote for it for a long time and I although I am not familiar with the most recent crop of writers it was always welcoming to women. Lack of print media means less opportunities for women in journalism and less resources to learn and get into beer, if we are promoting the cause of more women in the industry than this doesnt help. Metzger dug his own grave but a publication he was not even managing or even directly publishing shutting down is not a positive.

      • Anon Gentleman Brewer
        Anon Gentleman Brewer
        Sat Mar 9, 2019 6:12 AM

        “feel relief (and dare I say, pride?) that this one terrible article caused such a ripple effect.”

        Excuse me? You’re proud to destroy an institution that helped countless male, female, etc. brewers get started in the industry? Relieved that jobs are being lost? This isn’t about change making people sad, and this energy is not magically converted to new jobs. You do not sound inclusive, in fact, quite the opposite, you are excluding the bedrock of the industry with ridiculous blanket statements. Women have done terrific things in the industry, especially in the NW with the Pink Boots Society and the message they have spread. Inclusion can coexist with the existing institution, you don’t have to tear it all down to address a handful of bad actors, they will expose themselves over time. P.S. I don’t think Bill Metzger was one of said bad actors and the fact that you have no contrition over how he was railroaded (and the ripples it created) speaks volumes.

      • david
        david
        Fri Mar 8, 2019 4:20 PM

        The radical left has reached critical mass, and is simply marching further and further every day, the blood in its eyes blinding it to reality.

        There are no “innocents” …just a litany of intolerable wrongs to be righted, no matter the cost.
        Most dangerous job in the 21st century? Comedian.

        This is hell.

      • Neal
        Neal
        Fri Mar 8, 2019 5:38 PM

        Sad day indeed, I have been a long time regular reader and find it an amazingly useful resource for beer life in the Northwest. I had a bad feeling seeing the last issue printed in black and white. Thank you New School for being my main source of PNW beer news, please don’t go anywhere!