It’s no secret that Portland’s history of brewing and craft beers is an integral part of this city’s DNA. It’s also no secret that the typical Oregonian’s views about the influx of Californians is nothing new. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Blitz-Weinhard company, one of Portland’s oldest breweries, capitalized on that to launch a series of ads that not only swept the zeitgeist of Portland and Oregon at large, but spawned a spin-off album and children’s television show.
A series of popular television and print ads featured the fictitious beer “Schludwiller,” made by the “California-Eastern Brewing Co.” In one ad, a Schludwiller beer truck is stopped in route to Oregon to make a beer delivery, only to be met by an impossibly cherry and wide-smiled “Border Patrolman,” played by actor Dick Curtis. “Well now…where you fellas going with all that beer?” Curtis asks the two truck drivers (Earl and Vern, for those keeping track). After admitting they’re bringing in beer from California, the truck is turned away, and Oregonians are kept safe from the onslaught on non-locally brewed beer.
The ad campaign was an enormous success, spawning t-shirts, beer cans, and more featuring the “Schludwiller” name. “Trooper” Dick Curtis released his own comedy album (under the same Border Patrolman character) and became such a beloved household name that he was given his own variety show, “The Dick Curtis Show.”
Of course, the irony is that the Weinhard Brewing company itself would be absorbed by out-of-state interests, eventually being purchased by MillerCoors. But in its wake sprang up hundreds of microbreweries and craft beers that have become one of Portland’s greatest calling cards.