nuclear bomb test loc
In 1951, members of the 11th Airborne Division watch the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb test at Frenchman’s Flat in Nevada. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

In its November 1961 company newsletter, the Olympia Brewing Company reacted to the threat of nuclear war by volunteering its plant and facilities to the Civilian Defense program, “should this area be subject to bombing. In the event of any attack, providing, of course, that the plant is not seriously damaged, we believe that with our totally enclosed water system, [and] the auxiliary power plant, pure water could quickly be supplied to contaminated areas as long as a supply of bottles and cans, or other suitable containers, were available. Detailed plans are being worked on to rapidly convert and utilize our brewing kettles and other equipment, if necessary, into a massive food kitchen capable of turning out daily enough hot foot to properly feed over 100,000 people.”In the late 1950s and early 1960s, nuclear war was a hot topic, no pun intended. The Cold War was a reality, atomic bombs were being tested in Nevada, and fall-out shelters appeared in many a backyard. I vividly remember teachers instructing us to hide under our school desks, as if thin plywood could protect us from a blast or radiation.

Community spirit notwithstanding, the brewery also promoted Oly beer as a vital part of any survival kit, as evidenced in the special message below:

by Karen L. Johnson, Curator
Picture of Artesian #81
Artesian #81

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