Brewing Up Bigfoot: A Conversation with Olympia Beer

Brewing Up Bigfoot: A Conversation with Olympia Beer

The world wide web has been abuzz lately with discussion of the million-dollar reward offered by Olympia Beer for the safe capture of a Bigfoot. Many of the details have been laid out through their press release and the contest’s website. Having read the company’s official statement, I felt the need to inquire a bit further and find out just what the deal was with a beer company offering big bucks for a breathing Bigfoot. Is it all just a ploy to sell more beer, or are their deeper, genuine motives at work? I chatted by phone with Brand Manager Andy Gurjian this week to dig deeper into the story.

Turn over a live Bigfoot, get a cool million.

Turn over a live Bigfoot, get a cool million.

To start the ball rolling, I had to ask the obvious. What is it exactly that makes a beer company show some interest in Bigfoot?

Generally speaking, Olympia Beer and Bigfoot share the same back yard [in the Pacific Northwest]; Bigfoot is such a part of our long heritage with so many sightings over the years. Our biggest goal is trying to show just how relevant it is… Bigfoot gets people talking, and searching for it is a fun, interesting thing for people to do.

Did anything instigate the contest?

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Well, we know that Bigfoot certainly gets attention. It’s been here so long, right, with all the sightings… this is one way to keep the interest [in Bigfoot] up and keep it relevant.

I’m sure you heard about the Dr. Melba Ketchum story. Was it just really good luck that your challenge came out at the same time?

(laughs) Pure coincidence… I get alerts on Bigfoot news stories, and when we were setting up the site, that story came up and I thought, ‘Oh, man, what timing!’

By now, many people have read the fine print on what you might consider as evidence. Aside from the usual blurry pictures, is there anything people shouldn’t even bother sending you?

Well,… we’re interested to see what people have if they think it’s relevant. To us, [Bigfoot proof] is not a footprint. [That’s not substantial enough] …and doesn’t ‘talk’ to anyone. But we’d like to see a hair sample, feces… the more [evidence], the better.

So what if two people show up on your doorstep with two bodies? Who gets the cash?

Really… good… question. I’d have to say the first—whoever was the first to bring [the evidence] forward.

Conceptualized blimp/airship for The Falcon Project.

Conceptualized blimp/airship for The Falcon Project.

When I asked Gurjian if they’ve received any angry calls from cryptozoologists, he said the overall response has been “great.” Olympia Beer has been working with The Falcon Project—an attempt to use aerial surveillance in the Northwest to locate Bigfoot. With the guidance of Jeff Meldrum, they spent a lot of time trying to get all the details of the challenge just right and making sure they weren’t “stepping on any toes.” He did, however, state that they have already received several submissions at their office. One of these items is what you might expect: a photograph which may or may not show something like Bigfoot, but they can’t quite make out anything for sure. (As more evidence starts to filter in, we’ll be checking back to find out what sort of weird things cross their desks.)

It might be easy to think that Bigfoot is just a marketing gimmick for Olympia and not something they actually feel any connection with, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While not a native Washingtonian, Gurjian hails from Florida: “…home of the Swamp Ape.” An English Literature major transplanted to the concrete jungle of California, Andy never had his own Bigfoot encounter, but there were lots of rumors and talk:

People would say, ‘there are lots of woods, lots of swamps [here in Florida].’ It’s always been an interest of mine. You would hear about things out there… people hearing noises…

The rest of the folks at Olympia Beer share the enthusiasm, and that’s what brought the whole Bigfoot contest into being. The company has been around since 1896 and Washington State has been a hotbed of Bigfoot sightings for at least that long. It’s hard to ignore Bigfoot’s influence over everyone in Washington and Oregon. And you’re never far from some Sasquatch statue, a hairy representation of an ape-like creature on some product or merchandise, or a local with a wild story of their own personal encounter with the creature.

So, what’s the whole purpose behind the contest? What does Olympia Beer hope to achieve?

To tell people about our beer! It’s a great way to tell people. Olympia used to be a lot bigger than we are… I mean, look at the beer world now. [Even though we’ve been owned by Pabst Brewing Company since 1983], we’re always in touch with our heritage; there’s something special about it.

Olympia's giving away gear via their Facebook Page!

Olympia’s giving away gear via their Facebook Page!

But that’s not all; it’s not just about selling a few brews. Olympia Beer has giveaways of adventure packages, tents, backpacks, and other outdoor gear. There’s a deeper motive at work here: exploration.

You’re not going to find Bigfoot sitting on your couch. We want to encourage people to go outside and have fun. You have to get out there… people like someone who has an interesting story to tell.

We couldn’t agree more.

For more information on Olympia Beer, visit their brand spanking new site www.olympia-beer.com. To learn about the contest and pin your own Bigfoot sighting on their interactive map, stop by www.olympiabigfoot.com where you can register for the $1 million challenge and learn how to submit your own evidence.


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9 Comments

  1. Greg Newkirk

    04/18/2013 at 11:21 AM

    This was awesome, Ken. Andy seems like a really cool guy. I can’t wait to see what kinds of weird stuff they get sent. Maybe the big hairy guy should just show up and claim the prize himself.

    • Ken Summers

      04/18/2013 at 11:25 AM

      Thanks, Greg. He was! The hard part was we kept going off on tangents about buried treasure, travel, and other things… and he had to catch a flight. LOL But he said I can check back in a couple weeks and see what they get… and get updates as the contest wears on. Oh… and free beer. 😀 I’ll save some for you guys, I swear. LOL

  2. S.

    04/18/2013 at 11:34 AM

    As a slightly functional alcoholic I’ll ask the important question: has anyone had their beer before? I don’t think I can find it in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

    Around here we drink camouflaged cans of Busch Light when we go hunting.

    • Ken Summers

      04/18/2013 at 11:37 AM

      It’s not available here in Ohio… Pennsylvania, but not here. He was commenting on that and I told him nothing ever makes it to Ohio. lol That makes free samples all the more desirable!

      • S.

        04/18/2013 at 11:46 AM

        Yeah, I didn’t see that you were getting free beer until after I wrote that. Now, exactly how do you go about getting your job?

        In Marietta there’s a pub/store that has an awesome selection of wine and beer and the gas stations around there always seem better stocked so you have it better than WV.

        I guess it will join Stoney’s in beer brands I’m always trying to find.

        Now I’m at work and really want a beer…

        • Ken Summers

          04/18/2013 at 12:04 PM

          Good luck and being in the right place at the right time, I bet!

          I’m a bit picky with my beer. Guinness, Pilsner Urquell, Yuengling in a pinch… Post Pumpkin Ale was freaking awesome! I haven’t ever had Olympia, so I’ll have to see what I think of it. He certainly seems to like it.

          • S.

            04/18/2013 at 12:09 PM

            I stopped drinking liquor when I got old enough to buy alcohol…didn’t have to stock up or anything. Nowadays I drink beer and very occasionally wine. But I’m not picky at all really. I mean, my favorite may be Miller High Life! I’m also the only guy I know who didn’t have to “acquire a taste for it.”

            And thank you Greg for letting us talk about beer here. After magic and books it may be my favorite thing to converse about.

          • Greg Newkirk

            04/18/2013 at 12:19 PM

            Pff, I could talk about beer all day, though I’m definitely not a snob about it. At the risk of being labeled a hipster, I have to say my favorite is Pabst, but that’s probably because it’s all I could afford when I lived in Chicago. I’ll drink Yuengling whenever I see it in the States because I can’t find that anywhere here. Now I mostly drink Devil’s Pale Ale because it’s great and easy to come by here in Ontario.

  3. Michael Verselle

    04/18/2013 at 6:52 PM

    Awesome interview, and he sounds like a great guy. Maybe their next contest can be about finding a long lost treasure up in that area…treasure hunts are just fun!

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