A Short History of Rainier Beer

Rainier, or as it is sometimes known: Alibi Juice, the Carbonated Facial, and the Great Emancipator, was originally brewed in Seattle in 1884.

The company was also known for employing the most beautiful women in the city to swim naked through the beer to give it that little extra lilt. Some of these women, in search of greater economic freedom, took other jobs in Seattle as well. This probably had something to do with the “Ring of Rainier,” a distinctive set of sores that surrounded the mouths of Rainier drinkers at the time.

In 1901, the brewery was sold to a man named Adolph Hitler—Wait, I’m sorry, I can’t read my own writing, it actually says the brewery was sold to a man named Kenneth Blumenthal. Under Blumenthal’s direction, the brewery grew and focused sales on the fringe groups that appreciated it the most: transients, drifters, and women. For this same reason, Rainier beer cans began bearing the slogan, “Rainier: Your first step to a very dark place.”

Blumenthal sold the Rainier brewery to a California businessman who sold it as a De-gumming agent.

Five years later, that same California businessman was killed in a train yard by Charlie Chaplin in the world’s first comedy snuff film before anyone realized that there should be no such things as comedy snuff films. The horrifying footage was re-edited and became the delightful Chaplin classic “The Tramp.” Soon after, Rainier was sold to a company back in Seattle.

In 1927, to reduce costs, Rainier started to be made with water from the Duwamish River, a river known for its many “pudding-like” qualities. Some worried that this would alter the taste of Rainier, since fish continually vomiting a combination of DDT, fiberglass, and rusty nails makes up 3 percent of the Duwamish. But any worries regarding Rainier were allayed when health officials realized that 4 percent of the Duwamish is actually Rainier beer caused, sure, by industrial dumping but mostly careless urination.

In 1934, Rainier was briefly sold as “Goodnight Medicine for Overactive Children.” This practice was stopped when overactive children started stabbing people for “goodnight medicine.”

In 1951, the first Rainier was exported to Japan. Japan sent it all back.

In 1967, a publicity photo shoot for Rainier coincided with a downtown riot. Needless to say, a man wearing a Rainier can costume was thrown through a plate glass window by looters. This influenced the new slogan printed on cans and bottles, “Rainier: We don’t want any trouble.”

Between 1975 and 1977, due to complaints, the Center for Disease Control actually listed Rainier beer as a virus. It had a place in the CDC’s sample refrigerator between rabies and rickets. During this time, cans of Rainier were forced to carry a Mr. Yuck sticker.

In 1980, a second Rainier brewery was opened in Newark, New Jersey to increase the beer’s national distribution. This was closed weeks later when it was discovered that, given the choice, nobody else in the country ever chose Rainier.

In 1999 when the brewing facilities were being moved down to Olympia, a beer salesman, who is basically like a car salesman without a inch of soul, told me that Rainier was no longer going to be produced with corn syrup. Also, the brewers were going to “try harder.” I think the beer suffered as a result of both decisions.

Throughout the years there has always been the rumor that Rainier is full of carcinogens. I’d have to ask you, “What isn’t full of carcinogens?” And then you’d say, “Most things” and then I’d change the subject.

Rainier is now made in Irwindale, California with water from Irwindale, California. Some of the highlights of Irwindale, California? Guy Lancelot’s Museum of the American Drinking Straw for one. The 99-cent movie theater is the other.

Rainier is brewed in the parking lot of a Irwindale Jack in the Box by people who have a choice between picking up roadside garbage or brewing Rainier beer. You can taste their aversion to work in every sip.

Looking back at Rainier’s long history in Seattle, it’s hard to imagine the two separated. It might legally be considered poison, but it’s local poison.

So, I’d like to raise a toast to the swift return of Rainier and the knowledge that, like a bad penny or herpes, Rainier will always come back.



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