For those of you who don’t live in the Pacific NW of the US, we have a mini-empire in our little corner of the world called McMenamin’s. Named after two brothers who started with a small beer and sandwich spot in the produce district of Portland in the late 1970’s – and from that grew an empire of over 50 restaurants, hotels and brewpubs throughout Oregon and Washington.
McMenamin’s have their critics but I encourage you to check out their website – because they have done some amazing and creative things – all in the pursuit of good beer, good food and community. They support artists, history, restoration, they introduced the concept of brewpub movie houses – they have taken some abandoned schools and hospitals and restored them into hotels, restaurants, golf courses, what I like to call amusement parks for adults.
And I credit the brothers for bringing good beer to the northwest. It is easy to stand in today’s Portland, which overflows with creative brewers and amazing food and scoff at McMenamin’s but 40 years ago it was Coors Light and Bud. And Mike McMenamin helped change that (along with the Widmer Brothers and many others).
The clever folks at McMenamin’s have created the concept of the McMenamin’s Passport (see below) listing all their properties. You get a passport stamp every time you visit a new pub or property and you win prizes along the way. And when you fill your passport completely (which would be pretty hard to do) you become one of the legendary “Cosmic Travelers”. Brilliant!