'Mac' MacTarnahan dies

Patriarch of Portland brewing scene was 89

Oct 28, 2004 - Robert Malcolm "Mac" MacTarnahan, known as both the grand old man of craft brewing in Oregon and the most accomplished senior athlete in the state, has died at 89.


MacTarnahan apparently died in his sleep at his home Monday night.

Earlier in the evening, MacTarnahan attended the grand reopening of the MacTarnahan's Taproom in Portland on Monday, where he shook hands, slapped backs and touted the health benefits of his MacTarnahan's Amber Ale.

MacTarnahan was born on May 1, 1915, in Missoula, Mont., but his family soon moved to Portland. MacTarnahan had many business interests over the years. He was a self-made millionaire.

In the 1980s, he was an early investor in Portland Brewing Co. During the early years of the brewery, MacTarnahan provided the personality that identified Portland Brewing's beers and an entire line of beers was named for him. Ads made much of his athletic prowess, his 50 gold medals as a senior masters runner and wrestler. In August 1999, at the age of 84, MacTarnahan became the first Masters athlete inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

In 1998, the MacTarnahans bailed out the brewery by covering $3.5 million in secured debt and accepting brewery stock for money owed them. In August of this year, the family sold its interest to Seattle's Pyramid Brewing Inc., but still owns the brewery property and building in the Northwest Industrial district. Even after the sale, MacTarnahan remained the public face of the brewery.

The taproom, along with "Mac's Table," was dedicated to MacTarnahan at a party on Monday evening. There were long tables of food, short speeches, lots of good beer, live music and a crowd of about 400 family members, brewery employees, associates and friends of the brewery and MacTarnahan.

Throughout the evening, he was his usual cheerful self, dapper and animated amid the hubbub. He circulated among knots of people and sipped his trademark half-pint of Mac's Amber Ale.

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