When Vancouver’s signature Lucky Lager Brewery shut down and left town, it surely spelled the dead end of beer history here in Southwest Washington, right?
Of course not — because history never ends.
“The closing of Lucky Lager Brewery in 1985 seemed to signal the end of more than 100 years of beer production in downtown Vancouver,” said Steve Bader said. “Over the last two decades, however, passionate local brewers have come together through small bars, pubs and microbreweries to create a culture of craft brewing in our community. We are in the midst of an exciting new chapter in Vancouver beer making.”
Bader should know. He’s the driving force behind Bader Beer and Wine Supply, a longstanding local business that’s played a key role in nurturing Vancouver’s resurgent, independent brewery scene through instruction as well as sales of brewing equipment.
On Thursday night, Bader will offer his well-positioned overview of local brewery history at the Kiggins Theatre, which has teamed up with the Clark County Historical Museum to launch a companion to its remarkably popular learning-while-drinking lecture series, “Science on Tap.” (How remarkably popular? Last week’s lecture about crow behavior sold out the whole 340-seat auditorium.)
“History on Tap,” the new quarterly series, launches with Bader’s talk about local beer and brewing. It’s set for 7 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door.
If You Go
• What: “History on Tap: From Lucky to Loowit,” featuring talks by Steve Bader and Pat Jollota, beer by Loowit Brewing Co.
• When: 7 p.m. Thursday.
• Where: Kiggins Theatre, 1011 Main St., Vancouver.
• Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door.
• Venue website: www.kigginstheatre.com
Bringing a quarterly history night to the Kiggins was cooked up last summer over chitchat at a backyard barbecue, where museum executive director Brad Richardson crossed paths with Dan Wyatt, owner of the Kiggins Theatre — a 1936 art deco building that’s considered one of Vancouver’s historical gems. Richardson recalls Wyatt saying: “‘I do Science on Tap, I do Comedy on Tap, but given the building I’m in, it seems a shame that I don’t do ‘History on Tap’.”
Richardson was sold. The pair discussed the formats of those “On Tap” events and structured an evening of uniquely local, historical fun. “Our goal is to have fun with history and explore popular historical stories in an engaging way,” Richardson said.
“History on Tap” will get started with a game-show-style history quiz that is, itself, an interesting artifact of recent history. In the early 1990s, an Olympia company called Trivia Game Productions created customized historical games for many mid-sized Northwest cities by engaging local businesses for game-board imagery (and sponsorships), and experts like Vancouver historian Pat Jollota to write quiz questions. The local result was a board game called “Clark County Trivia,” and Jollota rolled dice and sampled questions with Richardson last week at the museum.
The museum director scored with a true-or-false question about a Yacolt schoolhouse that was erroneously built by volunteers on non-school land, and wound up a private residence. (True.) But he was stumped by another, about a historic Washougal bridge. Jollota confessed that the game wasn’t a runaway best-seller — probably because the questions were too hard, she said with a laugh.
Therefore, Richardson has rounded up a panel of celebrity contestants to put to the test: Mayor Anne McEnery-Ogle of Vancouver, Mayor Molly Coston of Washougal and Mayor Don Stose of Ridgefield. They’ll be able to reach out for “lifeline” help, Richardson said. The spoils are a Mayor’s Cup — and a Loowit Brewing Co. gift card for someone in the audience.
The next segment will feature more of Jollota’s expertise. The historical museum is now collecting “Ask Pat” questions from curious citizens by email, Facebook and other social media; Jollota will select one for a 15-minute talk that evening. (Submit your “Ask Pat” question via the museum’s Facebook page or email@example.com.)
Finally comes the centerpiece of the evening, a deeper look at historical topic. For this inaugural “History on Tap” event, the speaker is Bader and his talk is called “From Lucky to Loowit: The Fall of Lucky Lager and the Rise of the Craft Brewing Industry.” Taking over Kiggins’ taps for the evening will be the Loowit Brewing Co., naturally.
The rest of this year’s “History on Tap” schedule is:
• April 18: Pat Jollota on her new book, “The Murder of Joanne Dewey in Vancouver, Washington.”
• July 18: Brad Richardson on “Stuff We Used to Believe.” (“Like TV advertisements that told us, cigarettes are healthy and great!” Richardson laughed. “I want to have some fun looking at the way history changes our views. Let’s not always be too certain we’re correct about everything.”)
• Oct. 17: “Campfire Tales,” featuring the scariest Clark County ghost stories.