Marinoff's Northwest Brg. Co. letterhead - image


and successors (1937-1970)

Northwest Brg. Co. Tacoma, c.1935 - image
Northwest Brewing Co., ca.1935

In 1925, Peter Marinoff purchased the Walla Walla Brewing Co. (the old Stahl Brewery) which had been producing near-beer. He named it the Washington Brewing Co. and continued with the production of two non-alcoholic brews called "Olympic Club" and "True Brew." These near-beers were bottled under the company name of Empire Products. Marinoff continued this operation until 1930 when the plant was closed.

However, the public was tired of Prohibition, and Repeal was finally a realistic expectation. Towards that goal, Marinoff established the Northwest Brewing Company, Inc., on 10 February, 1931. The organization then raised capital to remodel the old Washington Brewery in Walla Walla, and find a suitable site for a brewery in the Puget Sound area.

He located an old meat packing plant, built in 1911, at 105 E. 26th St., Tacoma. It was solidly built, and could reasonably be converted into a brewery. This site was also ideal in that it had an accessible railroad spur for bulk distribution. He started with near-beer so that he could immediately shift to real beer when it became legal by dropping the last step of de-alcoholization.

In September of 1932, he commenced remodeling the Walla Walla plant, again to manufacture near-beer, while laying plans for the stronger brew. "Olympic Club" near-beer was now being brewed in both the Tacoma plant and the Walla Walla plant.

Olympic Club, tin beer sign ca.1933
Olympic Club, tin beer sign ca.1933

With Repeal in April '33, Marinoff was immediately up and running with the production of full strength "Olympic Club." However, the Olympia Brewing Co. of Tumwater was nearing completion of its new plant, and requested that Marinoff be enjoined from using the trade name "Olympic Club" and slogan "It's the Beer." On Oct. 31,1933, Olympia got their injunction. Within a week Marinoff appealed, but the appeal was denied. So "Olympic Club" lasted only six months as a real beer!

With the purchase of the Gambrinus Brewery in Portland, Marinoff now owned the brand, and with "Olympic Club" gone, both "Gambrinus" and "Marinoff" (labels below) became his primary brands. However, his troubles were not over. A labor dispute with the Teamster's Union in Sept. of '34, resulted in picketing of his plants, boycotts of his beer, and violence against his workers and clients. Consequently, he suffered a major down-turn in business.

On January 18, 1935, Marinoff re-organized his eastern plant as the Northwest Brewing Co. of Walla Walla, Inc., and the following month he transferred the registered office of the Northwest Brewing Co. (Tacoma) to the Walla Walla plant.

But the Union problems persisted, culminating in a shooting death of a Teamster in Tacoma. Peter Marinoff was convicted of conspiracy but the conviction was subsequently overturned. However, the Teamsters were furious at this perceived injustice and vowed to "get" Marinoff. Fearing for his own safety and that of his family, he fled to California.

By mid-1935 the two plants were shut down and forced into bankruptcy. In early July, the Brewery Workers union announced that they hoped to purchase the company and reopen the two breweries.

Gambrinus Beer label, Tacoma - image
½ Gallon label for Gambrinus Beer

Marinoff Beer label, Tacoma - image
½ Gallon label

Marinoff qt. Beer label, Tacoma - image
quart label

Marinoff Beer neon sign - image
Marinoff neon beer sign

Marinoff Beer truck, c.1934 - photo
Beer delivery truck, ca.1934



Over the protest of stockholders, the United Brewery Workers Union purchased the Northwest Brewing Company's two plants from the receivers for $27,000, and established the United Union Breweries. However, conditions in Tacoma were still too volatile and only the Walla Walla plant resumed operation.

In 1943, the shuttered plant was purchased by Williams Brothers, Inc. of Tacoma, along with the functioning plant in Walla Walla. Williams Brothers also owned the Mutual Brewing Co. of Ellensburg, and controlling interest in the Silver Springs Brewing Co. of Port Orchard.

They initially used the Tacoma building for storage and transfer for their produce company. Then in June of 1944, after purchasing the Pioneer Brewery in Aberdeen and closing the Mutual Brewery in Ellensburg, they established the Pioneer Distributing Company there. This operation was soon shifted to Tacoma.


While the name of the company would suggest a working brewery, this was a holding company for the Williams Brothers' breweries, as well as their distribution hub. By now, in addition to the Silver Springs Brewery and the Pioneer Brewery(Walla Walla), they also had controlling interest in the DeLuxe Brewing Co. of Wallace, ID -  previously the Sunset Mercantile Co.

With the outright purchase of Silver Springs in '49, the earlier plan to move the Silver Springs Brewing Co. to Tacoma became a reality. The following year the move was completed.


Silver Springs Bry. of Tacoma - image

Hartz Wester style beer can - image

By August of 1950, the Williams Brothers had added a three story bottling house, and drilled an artesian well in Marinoff's old brewery. The Silver Springs Brewery was moved to the remodeled plant, and the Port Orchard plant was then permanently closed.

The company's president was still Gene Williams, and Lyle L. Lane was now secretary. By 1954, Lane was manager of the plant and Allen Lehman was their Master Brewer.

The company still produced Oldstyle, Gold Seal, Hartz and Pioneer (below), but added a number of other brands, including Olde Pilsner, Dunkel Brau, and Hartz Western Style (left), which replaced the old Hartz.

In 1963, the Atlantic Brewing Co. of Chicago closed it's  Bohemian Brewery in Spokane, and the Williams brothers purchased the Durst and Köl brands that had been brewed there since 1959.

The Williams also introduced a bottled version of a Red Eye or Red Rooster, which was a tavern favorite of tomato juice and beer. They named their version, Pioneer Red One.

Pioneer Beer label from Tacoma, 1950s

The Tacoma Silver Springs Brewing Co. continued until 1967, with the second generation of Williams - George E., in the management position, assisted by his brother, Howard, Jr.

The old brewery stood empty for nineteen years and was then demolished in 1986 to make way for the I-705 interchange.

 Article by



  • To Michael Magnussen for the quart label and neon sign images.

  • To Red Kacalek for the photo of the Marinoff beer truck.

  • And a special thanks to Patrick & Marilyn McDonald for donating the Olympic Club tin sign to the Brewery Gems archives.

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