Craft beer is huge here in Washington, but certain macro brands are as integral to the local culture as flannel and complaining about Amazon. But now, one of the state’s most famous “big beer” brands has declared its operations will cease, at least for now.
Known for its gold and white cans, light American Lager taste, and “It’s in the water” slogan, Olympia Beer or “Oly” gained a strong presence in the state quickly after its founding in 1896 and grew throughout the 20th Century (not counting those Prohibition years, naturally). Even after Pabst Blue Ribbon acquired the brand in 1999 and moved operations out of state, the original brewery building in Tumwater, WA remained a popular historical landmark. Nevertheless, the change coincided with a decline in sales, and on Monday the brewery announced its indefinite closure.
“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 company said in an Instagram post on January 25. “We remain committed to finding the best solution to keep brewing Olympia Beer in the future.”
As its future remains uncertain, Olympia Beer’s legacy is cemented in various movies throughout its 125-year run. Most movies use fake beer brands to avoid controversy or paying for the use, but Olympia proved its cultural relevance by making dozens of pop culture appearances. Here’s a rundown of the top 6 film uses of those iconic suds:
6. W. – 2008
If you look closely, you can see George W. Bush (played by Josh Brolin) sipping a bottle of Olympia Beer. Fun fact: the real 43rd president reportedly stopped drinking sometime after his 40th birthday, but has been known to enjoy non-alcoholic beer.
5. Every Which Way But Loose – 1978
Actually, pretty much every Clint Eastwood flick from Dirty Harry onward includes at least a bottle or can (once a whole six pack!) of good ol’ Oly. But 1978’s Every Which Way But Loose takes the cake – even the orangutan goes for a swig!
4. The To Do List – 2013
Bill Hader’s slacker character can be spotted downing several cans of Olympia Beer throughout this summer rom com. Hader’s great, but the talented (and often underrated) Aubrey Plaza really makes this movie fun.
3. The Blues Brothers – 1980
In the memorable “Bob’s Country Bunker” scene, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi win over one rowdy crowd of bar patrons with their Blues Brothers renditions of “Rawhide” and “Stand By Your Man.” While they’re at it, they also run up a $300 bar tab that, judging from the bottles seen onstage, is mostly Olympia Beer.
2. Chrome and Hot Leather – 1971
Chrome and Hot Leather is a truly weird action / revenge movie, but it’s a lot of fun AND it’s one of only two movies with singer Marvin Gaye in an acting role. But the reason it makes this list? The characters drink Olympia Beer throughout, in both can and bottle form. The brand even gets to appear in neon bar sign form. Seriously, did someone from the beer company produce this or what?
1. The Graduate – 1967
Of all of Olympia Beer’s appearances over the years, it’s tough to top the closeup it gets in The Graduate. If the beer never ends up returning to production, this isn’t a bad legacy to have.