McMenamins Pubs and Breweries is a chain of over fifty brewpubs, microbreweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs. The chain is located mostly in the Portland metropolitan area, but has many other locations in Oregon and Washington. According to the Association of Brewers, as of 2003 it is the third largest brewpub chain in the United States, serving approximately 20,000 barrels annually. Brewmasters at most locations experiment with new beers, an experimentation promoted within the company through an annual competition.
McMenamins was founded by Mike and Brian McMenamin, who grew up in Portland. Mike learned the ins-and-outs of the restaurant business while working at a sub shop as a student at Oregon State University. After a series of failed restaurant ventures in the Portland area, the brothers began establishing pubs throughout the metropolitan area. In 1985 they created the first post-Prohibition brewpub (the Hillsdale Brewery & Public House in southwest Portland in February 1984) in Oregon after the brewing industry in Oregon — including the McMenamins — successfully lobbied the state legislature to change liquor laws to make such an establishment legal.
As the brothers expand their restaurant chain, they have replicated core elements of their menu and decor. Yet most locations, particularly the historical properties, still retain a sense of individualism and employees are partly chosen for their strength of personality. Many in Portland consider the chain to be a high-profile component of Portland culture since the 1980s. Their respectful renovation and rehabilitation of historical locations throughout the city, their contributions to the popularity of a microbrew culture, and the Grateful Dead-inspired decor make them almost a required part of any visitor's tour.
The brothers have faced some criticism, mainly from some who feel that the business uses a vertical integration model that could easily be co-opted by large commercial breweries. Others feel that the company's many locations may be pushing out smaller microbreweries.