An upcoming documentary will digitize Seattle beer history

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A group is putting together a documentary film that shines a light on an important part of Seattle beer history.

First up, it is important to note that this project is completely independent of Pabst Brewing Company, which owns the Rainer Beer brand. They offered support, including rights to use the brand, but this is not a Pabst project. This is an independent project.

Back in the days before craft beer, from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, Rainier Beer made some amazing television commercials. The impact of these commercials is an important part of Seattle’s beer history and America’s beer history in general.

The commercial above looks murky and old because it has not been digitized. It, and many others, are getting new life in the 21st century thanks to this project.

Why This Matters

The future should know about Rainier Beer’s uncommon approach. That is why it is important to digitize the archive. Plus, the commercials are entertaining, even if they’re trapped in time. To say the old Rainier Beer commercials were untraditional is an understatement. The commercials defied and mocked traditional beer advertising, which was dry, serious, and lifeless. Funny, weird, and quirky, the Rainier Beer commercials’ pioneering use of irony and humor has now become the norm across the entire advertising industry.


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Not long ago, a treasure trove of the original Rainier Beer commercial films was unearthed in Tacoma. Those films are now being digitized for the first time. The work will result in a feature-length, independent documentary.


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“A few years back, we discovered all the original Rainier Beer commercial motion picture films sitting uncataloged in the archives of the Washington State Historical Society,” explains Kurt Stream, a local beer history expert who is working on the project. “We’re currently working as partners with the Historical Society to digitize all of the film in beautiful 4K for future generations to enjoy. In return, we can use all the footage for a documentary that Issac Olsen is directing.” 

You can watch a preview of the documentary on the Kickstarter page. The project is now about 68% funded, with the goal of digitizing all the films and making the documentary. Check out the Kickstarter page, whether you want to contribute or not. It’s a pretty cool project.

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@washingtonbeerblog
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