Widmer Brothers History
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company is a Portland, Oregon-based "craft brewer" that
produces several distinctive varieties of beer. The firm's brews include top
seller Hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer; black raspberry-flavored Widberry;
Drop Top Amber; Blonde Ale; seasonal varieties like Okto and Snowplow Milk
Stout; and others that are brewed for sale on draft only. Hefeweizen is
available in most American states, and the rest are found primarily on the West
Coast. The firm is run by brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer, who sold a minority
stake to Anheuser-Busch in 1997 to gain access to the industry leader's
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company was founded in 1984 in Portland, Oregon by Kurt
and Rob Widmer. Older brother Kurt had come to appreciate a wide variety of beer
while living in Germany in the 1970s, and had begun making his own beer when he
returned to the United States. He used a traditional strain of yeast obtained
from the Brewing Research Institute in Weihenstephan, Bavaria, and later
returned to Germany to fine-tune his craft at a brewery in Dusseldorf. By the
early 1980s he had developed a recipe for beer that produced consistently good
In 1984 the Widmer brothers decided to found a brewery, and raised more than
$50,000 from family members and an outside investor. With their father Raymond,
they assembled a small brewery out of used dairy and restaurant equipment, and
by fall had begun running test batches. The first Widmer offering, Altbier
(German for "old beer"), was offered for sale in early 1985, and the richly
flavored brew was soon joined by a lighter variety, Weizen, which used wheat as
an ingredient. Unlike German wheat beers, which had a slight flavor of bananas
and cloves, the Widmers' recipe produced a less noticeable aftertaste.
1984: Kurt and Rob Widmer found Widmer Brothers Brewing Company.
1986: Hefeweizen unfiltered wheat beer debuts.
1990: The firm opens a new brewery/headquarters facility.
1996: A second brewery and bottling plant is added across the street.
1997: Anheuser-Busch buys a 27 percent stake in the firm for $18 million.
2003: The company begins brewing Hefeweizen at the New Hampshire Redhook plant.
2004: Widmer and Redhook form the Craft Brands Alliance to handle West Coast
Broken Halo IPA
Drop Top Amber
Hop Jack Pale Ale
KGB Imperial Stout
Noggin Grog Imperial Wit
Snowplow Milk Stout
Spring Run IPA
W'08 Crimson Wheat