Production of iconic Olympia beer has been paused, Pabst Brewing announces

By Rolf Boone

The Olympian

Get your Olympia beer now because it’s soon to run out.

The lack of Olympia beer at area retailers and restaurants finally has an answer after Pabst Brewing Co. announced Monday that it has temporarily paused production of the iconic product due to a drop in demand.

The brewing company announced its decision on Instagram.

“Sadly, we have not been able to find a solution to the challenges posed by reduced beer sales and have had to make the difficult decision of temporarily pausing production of Olympia beer,” the statement reads. “We remain committed to finding the best solution to keep brewing Olympia beer in the future.”

Reaction to the news was mixed on Monday. Some were disappointed the brand would go into hibernation, while others said it was good the brand has a chance of coming back in the future.

A question to a company spokeswoman about how long the temporary halt of production would last went unanswered on Monday.

“It’s pretty sad,” said Dave Unwin of Bellevue after hearing the news. Unwin is a collector of Northwest beer memorabilia, including Olympia beer. He recalled a neighbor who used to enjoy the product and the tours of the brewery one could take when beer was still being produced on Custer Way in Tumwater.

The best outcome is for Pabst to start making the beer again, or to sell the label to someone who will, Unwin said.

The decision to temporarily halt production won’t change anything for O Bee Credit Union, the Tumwater-based credit union started by and that once exclusively served brewery workers, said Lee Wojnar, vice president of marketing.

“We’ll continue to do business as usual,” he said, adding that it means no change for its Olympia beer-branded credit card.

“We still celebrate the history of the brewery,” he said.

Olympia beer was last produced in Tumwater in June 2003, finally closing after a series of operators, including Pabst, had run the brewery after the Schmidt family, the founders, sold the business in the 1980s. Olympia beer got its start in 1896.

Before Pabst’s announcement on Monday, a number of area retailers were alerted to the supply change. That led Andy Thielen, co-owner of T Brothers Liquor & Wine Lodge downtown, to load up on Olympia beer while he still had a chance.

On Monday, after buying more than three pallets of Olympia beer, he was down to 240 six-packs of Olympia tall boys and five 12-packs, he said.

“I’m glad to hear that it’s temporary,” Thielen said about Pabst’s decision. “It’s good to know that it will come back at some point.”