In 1934, a group of Pacific Northwest businessmen founded Great Western Malting in Vancouver, Washington. Prohibition had been repealed in late 1933, so these professionals, most of whom were experienced brewery owners, saw this as an opportunity to get back into the brewing business, but with a different approach.
During Prohibition, many breweries struggled to stay afloat, often producing products with extremely low alcohol content that scantily resembled beer. Another tactic to stay in business was consolidation. The City Brewery in Portland, Oregon, owned by Henry Weinhard, was purchased by Arnold Blitz who merged it with his brewery, Portland Brewing, and renamed the newly formed union the Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Company. Blitz, along with William Einzig, also of Blitz-Weinhard; Phillip Polsky, of Vancouver’s Star Brewing; Peter Schmidt, of Olympia Brewing in Tumwater, Washington; and Emil Sick, who opened the Century Brewing Company that would later become Rainier Brewing, banded together and formed Great Western Malting to provide barley malt, a brewing ingredient in high demand, to breweries and distillery owners in the Pacific Northwest. Henry Collins, of the Pacific Continental Grain Company, and J.R. Bowles, an entrepreneur from Portland, were also among the group that brought Great Western Malting to life.