Lonely Planet Writer

Rainier Beer to return to its home state of Washington with a new pale mountain ale

In a state known for its hoppy craft beer, Washington’s Rainier Beer, a mass-produced lager, generally doesn’t make headlines. But Rainier, once as tied to Washington as apples and coffee houses, has been produced in California since 2003, when a series of acquisitions moved production of the beer south of its home state.

Rainier beer sign, Seattle Washington.
Rainier beer sign, Seattle Washington. Image by Wonderlane / CC BY 2.0

Now a Washington-brewed beer packaged with Rainier’s iconic, vintage R logo will echo the history and flavours its lowbrow lager cousin. The new Rainier Pale Mountain Ale bridges the easy-to-drink character of the lager of old with a hoppier flavor that Pacific Northwest beer lovers will appreciate. Packing only a 5.3% ABV punch and a low bitterness, the recipe is inspired by Rainier’s 1930s recipes.

Seattle, Washington.
Seattle, Washington. Image by Tiffany von Arnim / CC BY 2.0

Rainier Brewing Company was founded in Seattle in 1878, where the company’s famous lager was brewed until Washington’s prohibition in 1916 pushed production to San Francisco. The beer became so synonymous with Washington that an urban legend stated Seattle’s famous mountain was named after the beer, rather than the other way around. After prohibition, Rainier beer began production again, and the beer was heavily promoted in Washington. The beer’s neon R sign still adorns the city skyline near Interstate 5. The beer is now owned by Pabst Brewing Company, and analysts say the reintroduction is an attempt at cashing in on the brand’s local heritage while establishing it in craft beer circles.