Thebeerchaser Does Alaska – Part II – Haines, Glacier Bay and Juneau

The Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau

The Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau

As we continued our cruise on the Holland America ship, Statendam, after a day and one-half cruising through the Gulf of Alaska from Seward, we had our first port call at Haines, Alaska.  At first, I was skeptical.  Why would we want to stop at a city named after an underwear brand….? (actually that is Hanes – America’s first name in comfort since 1901), but it was one of our favorite stops on the cruise.   Wikimedia Commons(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HainesView.jpg)  Author LCGS Russ 7 May 2011

Haines – beautiful in its isolation – has a population of only about 1,800 and is 90 miles north of Juneau.  In 2011-12 season they recorded 360 inches of snow.  It was actually named in 1884 to honor Frances Electra Haines, who established a mission for the Chilkat-Tlingit natives - the two native tribes populating the area.

2014-06-25 13.54.24We took a nine mile bicycle tour to Lake Chilkat in the morning, thrilled by the bald eagles swooping to land salmon, and later that day, I got to visit the wonderful Haines Brewery Co. on another excursion.

Our tour-guide in the afternoon from Rainbow Glacier Adventures was a great lady named Cheryl Mullins -  a transplant to Haines – “When I was young, I followed a guy from Indiana and ended up liking Haines a lot more than I liked him….”   She fishes, hunts, was an extra in the 1991 movie White Fang – filmed in Haines – and even did her moose call for our tour group of eight.

She is evidence of W.C. Fields great quote: “”Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.”  Based on her energy and spunk, she would probably be the thrower rather than the throwee.

P1020447Paul Wheeler, and his wife, Jeanne Kitayama, are the owners and operators of the Haines Brewing Company.  Paul, the brewer, briefed our group, conveying his passion for brewing good beer – originally a hobby in the 1980′s – and we tasted what were all outstanding brews.

The small brewery, founded in 1999, produces only 380 barrels per year - 90% of which is sold in to nine accounts in Haines, Juneau and Anchorage – and fortunately will be expanding to a much larger site in downtown Haines that will be constructed later this year.

Listen to the video below and you can see the passion and enthusiasm Paul has for his craft.

We sampled four of the ten beers they were currently brewing:

Buster Board Lager    Dalton Trail  Pale Ale  

Captain Cook Spruce Tip #        Lookout Stout  

 #  my favorite and the most interesting to brew and taste

Lined up for tasting
Lined up for tasting
Thebeerchaser and Peter with Spruce Tip Lager and the "logo"

Thebeerchaser and Peter with Spruce Tip Lager and the “logo”

 

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We did not have a chance to visit two of the bars we saw in Haines, but the pictures below show they are interesting..

The Fogcutter Bar in Haines - awaiting our next visit....

The Fogcutter Bar in Haines – awaiting our next visit….

 

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The photo below is courtesy of JudyAnn Mathews who has a gallery in Auburn, Washington and was gracious in sending the print and some of her other work which is outstanding – check out her gallery on-line.

 

Harbor Bar in Winter by JudyAnn Mathews Fine Art Photography

Harbor Bar in Winter by JudyAnn Mathews Fine Art Photography

The Statendam headed for Glacier Bay – not a formal port stop but a destination which we viewed for over two hours – an unforgettable experience.  Naturalist John Muir’s description of The Margerie Glacier - twenty-one miles long, one mile wide and 300 feet high - as “Miraculously Wondrous.”   It’s almost an understatement as one contemplates the scope and magnificent beauty of this bay.    2014-06-24 18.14.01

2014-06-24 18.37.54Take a look at the video below to show part of that action – what sounded like a rifle shot, then a rumble, before a large chunk of glacier (tons of ice) slides into the bay and creates a wave which rocked the Statendam from side to side.

 

 

 

We then headed for a day in Juneau – the “island” capital of Alaska – population of about and

P1020460 A whale-watching excursion on a catamaran was next – with a substantial discount if you don’t see whales - there was no need for a return of cash at the end of the trip!  We learned from our guide, who is a PhD candidate in marine biology, that the humpback whales in the area eat about a ton of food per day although their throats are fairly narrow.

A rare opportunity let us witness them in a cooperative feeding technique in what is described as a “Bubble Net:”

“In this technique, which is unique to humpback whales, the animals exhale through their blowholes while swimming in a tightening spiral so as to create a cylindrical wall of bubbles under the water. The wall of bubbles acts as a net that fish are reluctant to swim through. The whales then suddenly swim upwards through the bubble net, mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in each gulp……Some whales take the task of blowing the bubbles, some dive deeper to drive fish towards the surface, and others herd fish into the net by vocalizing.  (Wikipedia)

You can see the gaping mouth in the incredible picture I took below and the video leading up to it:

The Bubble Net climax...

The Bubble Net climax…

 

 

On the way back to Juneau, we stopped for a visit at the Mendenhall Glacier – another massive ice flow and incredible natural sight.

The Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier

Our excursions kept me from exploring Juneau’s bars and pubs other than to take some pictures and walk in the Red Dog Saloon – supposedly “world famous” but any bar with a line to get in strikes me as a tourist trap rather than a venue worth Beerchaser review.

Perhaps "world famous," but no ambiance....

Red Dog Saloon – Perhaps “world famous,” but no ambiance….

 —————

Worth exploring...

Worth exploring…

 

That said, the Imperial Saloon, both from the exterior and interior, looked like a place worth exploring in the future as did the Arctic Bar.

Intriguing from the outside...

Intriguing from the outside…

Much better character and possibilities....
The Imperial — much better character and possibilities….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We departed Juneau in the early evening and sailed that night to Ketchikan.  The rangers, when briefing us about both of the large glaciers and the resulting typography mentioned “glacial rebound.”  This is the gradual rise of land masses that were forced downward by the huge weight of ice sheets.

Leaving the pier in Juneau

Leaving the pier in Juneau

It sounded to me more like recovery from a hangover after hearing some very detailed and technical information about geology.  And there was no draft beer on the ship to mitigate this rebound.

Fortunately, the Stantendam had other resources – one which Thebeerchaser honors when not drinking his favorite brew -  and that is a gin martini (up and with olives) – a bargain at $6.99!

Gin rather than vodka - up and with olives....

Gin rather than vodka – up and with olives….

I was somewhat curious why the ship did not have a few kegs to provide draft beer, rather than just bottled beer, but for those of you who are true beer aficionados and still want to cruise, there is also a remedy.

Click on the link below to get information on The Top Seven Beer Cruises.”  These cruises cover all parts of the globe – and one in Alaska :
“Now in its 16th year, the Alaska Beer Cruise sets sail Sept 5 to 12 and includes seminars, onboard beer talks, beverage themed activities and tastings led by experts. The tour includes specialty hard-to-find brews distinct to the Northwest region and features a trip to remote breweries in Alaska’s capital city Juneau. The cruise departs from and returns to port in Seattle.”

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2014/06/05/top-7-cruises-for-craft-beer-lovers/

 

Thebeerchaser Does Alaska – Anchorage – Part 1

Mt. McKinley - the tallest peak in North America

Mt. McKinley – the tallest peak in North America

Alaska is not the only place in the United States where one can still find pristine wilderness, but the magnitude of the expansive unspoiled forest, glacial fiords, diverse wildlife AND good bars make it a worthy trip – one which Thebeerchaser and his spouse experienced for eleven days in late June.

2014-06-22 16.34.45 HDR

Boarding the Statendam in Seward

 Robert Louis Stevenson said, Old and young, we are all on our last cruise,” and since we had never been on a cruise, we decided to take the Holland-America Inside Passage cruise on the Statendam – a wonderful decision.

We flew into Anchorage and had a day in this picturesque city, before a day train trip to Denali National Park for two days.

The bar in the ___ Brew Pub

The bar in the Glacier BrewHouse

Of course, it was important to get a feel for the bars in Anchorage – not that I could deduct the trip, but Thebeerchaser has a reputation to uphold.  So for lunch in the city, we stopped at a brewery recommended by the hotel – The Glacier BrewHouse – for a good salad and split a Glacier Brewery Imperial Blonde – it was good and rejuvenated us after the flight.  The Brewery produces more than 4,500 barrels per year.

Adventurous spirit was not required to find the next bar - since it was a half block from our hotel, but Darwin’s Theory will go down as one of my favorite bars on this trip and on the three-year Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  After dinner, while Janet rested, I walked to this wonderful institution – one that had NO draft beer, wine or hard liquor, but free popcorn, a great jukebox and an outstanding environment.  Read two Yelp reviews which were spot on!

Survival of the Fittest embodied.....

Survival of the Fittest embodied…..

“When you step inside, you’ll realize that this is no hipster dive bar.  No sir!  This has been a dive bar since inception and doesn’t appear to have changed.  Beer in the bottle, great service, and interesting patrons round out the perfect dive-bar experience.” Yelp – 11/13 by Eric from Nevada City, CA

On a Friday night, the place was jammed and I sat next to a guy named Bill – in his fifties and an oil field worker, in addition to having fished in the Bering Sea and running marijuana from Mexico to the East coast in the ’70′s. “I had an old Lincoln with really big fenders….”  I asked him about bars in Anchorage and he said to be careful because in the last few years there had been a few shootings at bars close by.

The "patio" outside Darwin's

The “patio” outside Darwin’s

I thought he was exaggerating, but checked out stories on the internet and he was correct.  To wit:

At J.J.’s Lounge on  Oct. 10, 2011 – two people killed.

  • Three men shot and injured outside a downtown Anchorage nightclub – the Anchor Pub in June 2013 – three blocks from Darwin’s.

November 11, 2013 – A shooting wounded a woman and left a man in critical condition outside of the Office Lounge, a Midtown Anchorage bar.

One of the reasons, I felt safe in Darwin’s was the bartender - Betty Jean - who told me that the bar was 30 years old and she had worked there 28 of them.  She was friendly and her patrons loved her, but she was tough and would not tolerate rowdiness.  She put me on the Darwin’s mailing list and didn’t hesitate when I asked to take her picture with Thebeerchaser logo. (Darwin, the last name of the owner celebrated his 70th birthday that Saturday – and there was going to be a big celebration.)

Betty Jean with Thebeerchaser logo
Betty Jean with Thebeerchaser logo

 Another review from a Portland guy who visited Darwin’s in November, 2013 is worth quoting from Yelp.  Ryan P. said:

“ABSOLUTELY the the best bar I’ve been to in Anchorage! The ladies tending the bar were amazingly nice and welcoming and made me feel right at home. Coming from a local bar town like Portland, it was very nice to have the same type of feel in this place.

From the moment I walked in I felt completely comfortable and welcomed. I LOVE THIS BAR. I’ve heard it can be crowded at times, which is reasonable considering how small the space is, but the service is THE BEST. PLEASE VISIT THIS PLACE! They are amazing!”

I paid $4 for my bottle of PBR and the same amount for a Silver Gulch Brewery’s Silver Gulch’s Northern Light (Bill’s recommendation from a good Anchorage brewery) and paid in cash based on the sign on the bar: “We accept no out-of-town checks and damn few local ones!”

We did not partake at any other Anchorage watering holes, but embarked on a walking tour and took some pictures - it showed a number of interesting options:

P1020424Snow Goose Restaurant and Sleeping Lady Brewery - what a great patio on the roof overlooking the bay.    P1020425

 

 

The Pioneer Bar “As a connoisseur of dive bars this one ranks up there. To start off, despite what opinion you have of PBR, any place that serves 24 oz. cans of PBR has a lot of class. Not to mention all the Alaskan beers on tap and knowledgeable bartenders . (Colin from Anchorage on Yelp 7/2011  P1020427

In case you need directions to The Pioneer Bar....

In case you need directions to The Pioneer Bar….

 

 

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Humpy’s Great Alaskan Ale House - presumably named after the whale and not a patron – looked interesting and had “more beers than all the other bars in Anchorage combined,” on tap.   It has a sister pub in Kona, Hawaii  and got mixed reviews, in part, based on slow service and mediocre food, but does have live music.  It will have to wait for another visit, but had a lively crowd, expansive menu and looked intriguing.        P1020434

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The Gaslight Lounge – This is one that you might want to avoid based on violence reported above at other bars.  Four of the five reviews on CitySearch did not recommend this bar and two mentioned fights

 

Not recommended.....

Not recommended…..

“Trashlight Lounge – I worked next door for years and every time I regrettably went in, there was an absence of friendliness. Staff were mostly arguing with drunk customers. It became a joke to look out our back window and watch the fights roll out of the bar every night….it seems to revel in it’s low class reputation among downtown. (ja4vlink – pre 2014)

McGinley’s Pub – While one might be suspicious of a bar that advertises itself as “A touch of Old Ireland in the heart of downtown Anchorage,” they have a great website.  We ran out of time and just took a picture of the entrance – which looked a little boring –  but they have a bunch of dark beers and ciders on tap, serve corned beef and cabbage , sheppards pie, and bangers and mash in addition to standard pub faire.

Some questioned whether it was really an "Irish experience."

Some questioned whether it was really an “Irish experience.”

It got mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, which had them rated 161 of 674 restaurants in Anchorage based on the 67 reviews submitted – 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Glacier Bay Brewery and Darwin’s were definitely hits in Anchorage.

We embarked on the train the next morning for the seven to eight hour trip to Denali National Park through some wonderful scenery.  The bald eagles were magnificent and as we saw one dive successfully for a salmon out the window, I reflected on the observation of one Alaskan resident:

“Alaska in the summer, is a great place to be a bird.”     2014-06-20 16.48.42

Darwin’s Theory                             426 G St, Anchorage

P1020430

 

 

 

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Glacier BrewHouse  and Brewery   

737 W 5th Ave Ste 110, Anchorage

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps you should check the Lost and Found??

 P1020400

While there are some Portland bars which have more types of draft and bottled beers and ciders than you could drink during a seven-year college education (approximately four for matriculating and the other three for drinking…) The Lost and Found Bar is not one of these.

Similarly, there are many taverns and pubs with expansive seating, game rooms, big-screen television viewing areas and lavish furnishings.  The picture above and immediately below are evidence that the intent of owners Amai Hart and Leah Erickson is not to dazzle you with extravagant and opulent surroundings when you patronize their establishment.  But stay tuned as to why you should check out the Lost and Found!         P1020395

One might suggest that Portland’s version of this bar be considered “The Little Engine that Could,” compared to its counterparts of the same name in cities such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and Oakland and even Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

It is a small and recent addition (May 2013) to the Portland bar scene and is attracting a loyal following – it’s is a charming neighborhood bistro in the Overlook Neighborhood in North Portland just off Killingsworth.  There’s a great list of original specialty cocktails – all with fresh ingredients and served in Mason jars.  Four of the ten reasonably priced between $7 to $8 are:

  • The Ron Burgundy Buffalo – Trace bourbon, mint, lemon, orange, and bitters

  • The Sweet Dee – Monopolowa vodka, blueberries, lemon, and iced tea
  • The Bill Murricane - Myers and Bacardi rum, pineapple, cranberry, and orange
  •  The Bernie Lomax - Bacardi rum, blueberries, lime, and mint

The menu is pretty limited, but adequate for pub faire with a Mexican focus – i.e. tacos, several types of quesadillas, frito pie and nachos.   There are only four draft beers, but their rotating taps of Northwest beers were great.  P1010918

During my three visits, we had

Ft. George Quick Wit *     

Double Mountain Vaporizer    

Good Life Descender IPA    

  Hub Lager

*  My favorite    —  And, since one of my visits was on a Tall Boy Tuesday, I had a Miller High Life TB for $1.  (The same price as the daily Oregonian and a lot more substance…….)

Not available from The Good Humor Man....

Not available from The Good Humor Man….

And for a change of pace, why not try a Boozicle – something the Good Humor Man from your childhood wouldn’t carry.  As one patron stated:  “It was a delicate mixture of vodka and juice.  Well made.  Some sort of Guava concoction.” 

And while the retractable garage doors as the entrance are a bit austere, the interior has some nice custom art work and two old-fashioned pin ball machines which enhance the ambiance.

Interesting "suit case" art from _______

Interesting “suit case” art from Upper Case Studios adorns the walls.

 

For example, there are a number of small suitcase lamps with various designs hung on the wall from Upper Case Studios..

As described in one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite references, The Willamette Week Bar Guide (2014):

The bunker-brick walls are painted the colors of ocean and sky, and sport cheery lamps made of suitcases, with shapes cut out for deer, bears and inadvisable airplane procedures. Other lampshades are made of cymbals.

P1020387 A brightly painted, 3-foot-wide cross section of a tree stump—hanging precariously over the broad selection of booze—turns out to be Styrofoam. The bar’s lovely art is made by UpperCase Studios’ Mich Conklin, who started her business shortly after making the art for her daughter’s bar.”

Todd Walberg photos

Todd Walberg photos

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Also photos of rock bands from Todd Walberg - ” (he) will go to shows, take electric, high energy photos of bands and give the music world free range of them. He’s taken photos for practically every up-and-coming musical act in the area.”) Rip City Review“The Ten Coolest People in Portland Music.” (8/10/13)

 

So while the Lost and Found is not a unique venue from the standpoint of drink or food menu, furnishings or otherwise, why is it recommended?  Very simple:

P1020390

Classic pinball machines

It is another example of one of the many establishments founded by young, eager entrepreneurs who invest their capital for a labor of love – also having no experience in the restaurant or bar industry. In this case, Amai Hart and Lea Erickson who bought the establishment which was previously  the Palace of Industry – a vintage store that served wine and beer.

They completely remodeled the interior and immersed themselves in developing a neighborhood gathering place with a caring and friendly staff – we can attest to that.

Amai’s background was of interest to me since she is also a full-time legal assistant  - still working at a Portland employment law firm for about seven years  – after graduating from St. Mary’s Academy and the U of O – the wonderful female-only high school in downtown Portland with a sterling academic program.

Julia the bartender with Sharon ___ Robbins and Thebeerchaser logo.

Julia the bartender with Sharon Robbins and Thebeerchaser logo.

I was pleased to be joined by a good friend, Sharon VanSickle-Robbins, herself a successful entrepreneur in multiple endeavors and one of Portland’s most dedicated civic/charitable activists including past President of the City Club of Portland.

She also accompanied me to the Twilight Room -  in 2011 on only the fifth of what is now 66 taverns reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland bars, taverns and pubs.

So visit the Lost and Found – the expansive patio as described by one neighborhood regular on Yelp offers all the motivation needed:

“An inviting space with friendly service and great drinks is very refreshing. I plan to spend a good portion of my summer out on that patio.”           P1020394

 

The Lost and Found Bar                5426 N. Gay Avenue

(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

 

Away in a (Beer)Monger(s)……

 P1020351

Former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, was hired as Executive Director of the City Club of Portland in February 2013.  Shortly thereafter, Sam and I had a few beers at The Tugboat Brewery in downtown Portland to talk about the challenge ahead at City Club – I have been a member of that great organization for 43 years…..

The Tugboat Brewery on SW Ankenny Street

The Tugboat Brewery on SW Ankenny Street

I thought it was time for us to have another chat, so I invited Sam for a Beerchaser Event at the Commons Brewery in SE Portland.    We headed there late in the afternoon, but it was closed, so we started a search in the nearby blocks.

We encountered one of Portland’s nice dilemmas – and one which reaffirms the premise of this blog – Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs – a corner in SE Portland with three great bars facing us:

The Double Dragon           Apex            The BeerMongers

The guy with the cell phone is on the left edge of the picture!

The guy with the cell phone is on the left edge of the picture!

I somewhat arbitrarily chose The BeerMongers and I could tell it was a good choice when we walked up to the entrance.  A guy was standing immediately outside talking on his cell phone and exclaimed, “Sam Adams.  Wow!  Will  you say hello to my girlfriend?”  Sam obliged and we went into this combination bottle shop and taproom that has  great ambiance. 

We had just ordered a beer when a young woman came up to our table and said, “Sam Adams, we really miss you.  I want to buy you guys a pizza!”  The woman was the owner of Portobello a vegan trattoria in the same building as the bar and in between Beer Mongers and a tattoo shop!

____ the owner of Portobello

The owner of Portobello

Besides having some great beer that day, I had my first vegan pizza – an arugula pesto with toasted walnuts and smoked Portobello mushrooms – it was excellent.

The Arugula Pesto Pizza was a winner.

The Arugula Pesto Pizza was a winner.

While BeerMongers is small, it was lively on both visits and has a group of regulars and oozes character.  The following two reviews from Yelp give apt descriptions:

Man oh man, I love this place. First time I came, it was with my father and step-mother on a hot, long summer day. The exceedingly kind bartender (slash…beer curator?) handed us glasses of Radler, and I fell in love instantly. Not with the bartender – with Beermongers itself…….

While they do their most business as a bottle shop, I always come here for the small but well-selected tap list. These folks really know their stuff, and they love to both introduce people to new experiences and provide bottles of old favorites.” (12/13)

P1020347

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“This isn’t the best bottle shop in the city; it isn’t the best bar in the city, but for doing both, it’s pretty awesome.” 8/13

One of the best features of this bar  was Jim, the bartender – and he definitely did know his stuff.  I was also impressed, because when I went back for my second visit about two weeks later, he pointed to Thebeerchaser logo he had pinned to the wall and addressed me by name.

Jim the Bartender - friendly, helpful and knowledgable

Jim the Bartender – friendly, helpful and knowledgable

I also got to meet Sean Campbell, the manager, who opened the bar four years ago, after 18 months looking for leased space and researching the concept – to offer a small group of well thought out and select beers on tap, in addition to a wide selection of very reasonably priced bottled beers (about 600 including 100 ciders).

P1020343

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BeerMongers introduces about 20 new bottled beers per week and is a destination for Portland beer tours — understandably, with three bars on the corner of 12th and Division (Double Dragon and Apex)

The eight taps on our first visit were:

1. Cider Riot! Burncider  2. Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale   3. Baerlic U.S.A.  4. Heater Allen Pils    5. Hair of the Dog/De Proef Flanders Fred ’12   6. Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter   7. Widmer 30 For 30 Festbier    8. Crux Outcast IPA       

P1020172They keep the overhead and prices low, in part, by not having a kitchen, but you can bring in food – like from Portobello!!   Sean learned a lot by working for McMenamins for 15 years.

The rotating taps on the second visit

The rotating taps on the second visit

I chuckled when he told me that his first employee – a guy named, Sam - was a lawyer who graduated from Dayton University Law School.  One of Sean’s principles is to hire well – as evidenced by Jim, but I got the impression that lawyer Sam did not work out……

A small sample of the 600 beers/ciders available.
A small sample of the 600 beers/ciders available.

 Another one of Sean’s operating guidelines is, “Don’t BS and know your product well.”  He didn’t remember how they selected the name, Beer Mongers, but it is appropriate since a fish monger is defined, in part, as:

One trained at selecting and purchasing, handling, gutting, boning, fileting, displaying, merchandising and selling their product.”  (Well – okay, not even Hog Heaven Ale requires gutting, boning and fileting, but one could assert that Steelhead Extra Stout and Trout Slayer might…?)

Fish mongering - presumed to be followed by brewskis....
Fish mongering – presumed to be followed by brewskis….

———–

While Sam and I enjoyed our drafts, we talked about City Club.  I told him that I was one of a number of people who had questions about how good a “fit” he was for the Exec. Director slot; however, his performance and energy has converted the skeptics.

Sam and Jim with Thebeerchaser logo

Sam and Jim with Thebeerchaser logo

 

 

City Club membership has increased by 25% to 1,800 and the membership is much more diverse as is the Board of Governors – a long-term City Club goal.

Corporate sponsorships have doubled, the Club has a new communications strategy, website and logo.  In addition, under Sam’s leadership, there are now new and innovative programs including Civic Drinks and Friday Night Forums and the proposed Civic Scholars Initiative.

 

City Club Logo

Finally, the City Club Research program – nationally recognized - has grown from two studies to eleven – the most since 1987 and eight of the eleven research committees are chaired by minorities.

We also discussed Sam’s work for the last several years with Christian evangelist, Kevin Palau, President of the Luis Palau Association and his organization - working to connect the evangelical church with political leaders and to collaborate for positive change.   This includes aiding in charitable activities from city park renovation to counseling people in need.

They recently returned from meeting with leaders in New York City – as they have done previously in Atlanta, Nashville and the Bay Area.  They are promoting the Season of Service concept initiated six years ago in Portland with great success.

P1020349The BeerMongers is worth a visit both to sample one of their drafts and to take home a beer or cider you have never tried before.  And while you’re at it, bring in one of the Portobello entree’s – it’s a great combination.  They’re vegan so they don’t have to be gutted, boned or fileted.

The BeerMonger’s website doesn’t do justice to what this venue has going for it, but you can learn a lot about beer by checking out the Beeriodic Table (shown above) and clicking on one of the types of beer which brings up interesting details.

They also have a Facebook Page and are even advertising as of June 4th for an Assistant Manager/Beer Buyer:

“Full time position starting at 30-35 hours a week. Duties include: Curation of bottle and draft selection, event planning, brewery relations, beverage service, inventory management/stocking, payroll, staff management/scheduling, cleaning, social media coordination, website maintenance… and more!  You will be busy!”

Tell them Thebeerchaser sent you.

 The Beer Mongers        1125 SE Division

 (To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

 

Steve Lawrence – Mayor of the Dalles and Beerchaser of the Quarter

The Dalles - West from the City's official website.

The Dalles – from the City’s official website.

The Dalles, with a current population just under 15,000 people, incorporated in 1857 (as The Dalles City) is one of Oregon’s most historic cities on the Columbia River.  It was known earlier in its history as the town at the end of the Oregon Trail.  Archeological evidence suggests the area has been inhabited more or less continuously for more than 10,000 years.

Steve Lawrence is now the Mayor of The Dalles and fits the ideal profile as a chief elected official – one you would expect of any of the towns listed in Small Town Gems of America which to illustrate, include Red Wing and Stillwater, Minnesota; Guthrie, Oklahoma and Cody, Wyoming.

Steve Lawrence with 2014 Beerchaser of the Quarter and his good friend Jud Blakely

Steve Lawrence with 2014 Beerchaser of the Quarter and his good friend Jud Blakely

He and his twin brother were born in 1945 and graduated from high school in The Dalles, where the future lawyer was a three-sport athlete – wrestling, track (held his high school’s pole-vault record twice) and football (he was a 146 pound starting center.)

Steve went to Boise Jr. College and ended up enlisting in the Army in 1967, which of course, meant a trip to the Republic of Viet Nam.  He was selected for Officer Candidate School and because of his linguistic skills, was promised Russian Language School, and in a series of events that remind one of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 - after training at Ft. Benning he ended up commanding an infantry platoon in Viet Nam where he was decorated for heroism in combat.

2nd Lt. Steve Lawrence

2nd Lt. Steve Lawrence

We were joined that day by another Viet Nam hero – Jud Blakely, awarded the Bronze Star (with Combat V) and recipient of the Purple Heart in 1967 as a Marine Corps 1st Lt. - described in Thebeerchaser’s post from October 2013.

While a Second Lieutenant, Steve recalls several “serious helicopter events” including two crashes nearby during fire-fights, and an Army pilot who made three passes firing on Steve’s troops and wounding half of his squad before the chopper was called off by radio.

His Silver Star was awarded for action in combat in July 1968 and Bronze Star (with Combat V) for “his display of personal bravery and devotion to duty” in February 1969.  His Bronze Star has an Oak Leaf Cluster because he received a second one for meritorious service while still in Viet Nam. Excerpts from the text of the citations for these two medals is shown below:

Steve's Bronze and Silver Stars for Gallentry

Steve’s Bronze and Silver Stars for Gallantry

Silver Star - “For gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force….2nd Lt. Lawrence distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader……When his unit became heavily engaged with a large enemy force, (he) exposed himself to hostile fire as he moved to a forward fighting position to direct the fire of his men.  When two men were wounded, and lying in an exposed area (he) maneuvered his men into position enabling the injured personnel to be recovered.” 14 October, 1968

Bronze Star with Combat V – “During an intense mortar and rocket attack, one of the billits in (his) unit took a direct rocket hit.  With total disregard for his own safety (he)…moved through the rocket and mortar fire to the damaged building….and assisted in applying first aid and evacuating severely wounded men.  Although the attack continued….,he repeatedly returned…in search of other missing individuals. 3 June 1969

A moment of "relaxation" in Quang Tri Province.

A moment of  “relaxation” in Quang Tri Province.

After the Army, Steve attended  Portland State College where he first met Jud Blakely – then a Marine Corps Officer Recruiter – while Steve was involved in student government and trying to mediate in the dispute with students, who tried to throw the Marines off campus after the Kent State University tragedy.

At Jud’s suggestion, both were going to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), but after Jud purchased two of the massive prep manuals, he decided otherwise, although he still justifies the decision by quoting comedian, John Wing:

“And God said, ‘Let there be Satan, so people don’t blame everything on Me.  And let there by lawyers, so people don’t blame everything on Satan…’”

Steve was admitted to Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College at night and Jud went on to work as the Asst. to General Manager Tom King at TriMet (newly formed in 1969 to replace five private bus companies in the Tri-County area). The two were reunited after Steve was selected as the Asst. Director of Marketing and then as Asst. Personnel Director. (Jud told him about the job opening)   A major project was developing Tri-Met’s first handicap accessible policy.

Mementos of his military service.

Mementos of his military service.

During this time Blakely, Thebeerchaser and Lawrence (as a 146 pound center…) played basketball on Friday nights in the gym at Catlin-Gabel School with a group of Nike execs, and then Mayor Neil Goldschmidt with some of his key staff including Alan Webber (now an entrepreneur and candidate for Governor of New Mexico)

The two offered Steve a chance to write and manage a federal demonstration grant for the LIFT Project through the City of Portland.  The LIFT became a permanent TriMet special transportation program and still exists.

After admission to the Oregon State Bar, he had a long legal career and established a reputation as a tough litigator first at the Hampson Bayless & Stiner labor law firm (Lon Stiner is the son of legendary Oregon State Football coach, Alonzo Stiner from 1933 to 1948), in his own practice in The Dalles, at the Williams &Troutwine firm and then as in-house counsel for both North Pacific Insurance Co. and Liberty Mutual.

The hometown boy retired in 2007 and returned to The Dalles where in 2008, he married the widow of the quarterback on his team.  Donna, his new wife, was his high-school sweetheart and they had lost contact when Steve went to junior college.  His civic work in the Dalles and beyond is notable including 25 years on the Board of United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and SW Washington (3 terms as President).

His initial novel, First Light, based on his experience in Viet Nam, will be published on-line in the near future and his second novel, Amaton Field - an historical novel of The Dalles is about 3/4 finished.

Steve for MayorHe ran successfully for Mayor in 2012 and will be on the General Election ballot this November. One can see his energy, enthusiasm and leadership by reading one of his monthly reports.  They chronicle his efforts to bring new industry, capitalize on recreational opportunities including cycling and promote the City’s agricultural legacy:

In the movie, “Lincoln,” I witnessed three skills which Abraham Lincoln possessed. The first, was to listen more and blame less. The second, was to relax now and then and the third was not to hold grudges. He had a vision and he was persistent. If we exercise these skills, we can all help move The Dalles forward.”

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Beerchasing in the Dalles

Steve, Jud and Danny at The Ale House - great food and beer and no salmonella!

Steve, Jud and Danny at Clocktower Ale House – great food and beer and no salmonella!

P1020193Steve invited Jud and me to hit a few of watering holes and it was interesting to see the affection of the townsfolk to their elected leader. (It was also part of the effort to “relax now and then…”

We kidded him about the safety of these eateries, harkening back to 1984, when 750 people were victims of the Rajneesh bio-terror attack through the deliberate contamination of salad bars at ten local restaurants with salmonella. This bizarre plot, according to some sources, was one of only two confirmed bio-terrorist attacks on humans in the US since 1945. 

Clock Tower Ales and Brew Pub, where Steve had his election victory party, “is located in the second Wasco County Courthouse built in 1883 and home to the last public hanging in 1905….. Join us in Historic Downtown for fine pub grub, live entertainment and over 30 craft beers on tap (cider, local wines and a full bar also).” 

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Danny mixes a cocktail at the Clocktower bar.

 

Our waitress, Danny, from Wamic, was a wonderful server, the beer and food was excellent and they have a great patio.

The Clocktower patio on Union Street.

The Clocktower patio on Union Street.

 

 

 

 

 

We then trekked a short distance to River Tap – owned by Tom Wood, who has a similar bar in Hood River - in one of first new buildings in downtown, The Dalles, in about 20 years.  We toasted over Braeval single-malt scotch shots.

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Happy Hour — All Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve is a Renaissance guy, and he had mentioned to us that he reads poetry at “Open Microphone Night” at Zim’s Brau Haus - another bar with great ambiance just up the street.  So we set out again – but it was closed since it was late on a Sunday afternoon.  However, in deference to the Mayor, the owners, Bill and Connie Ford, readily answered his knock and gave us a walk-through of their establishment.

Zims

Zims

Zims is noted for its $2.50 breakfast and two steak nights – Tuesday and Friday “yum! The steak is cooked just as ordered…..better than Delicious!!  They have Spatzel!!  it’s absolutely wonderful!
(Yelp review)

Besides the Mayor reading poetry, there’s also some good entertainment: Total forty-something and over place. Lively on a Tuesday night. Old guys with acoustic guitars crooning old country favorites–and giving a pretty professional performance to boot. (Trip Advisor)

The owners of Zims with Thebeerchaser logo.

The owners of Zims with Thebeerchaser logo.

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As an aside, Steve is also a great fan and collector of Hemingway’s works as evidenced by the view of his home den below.

This summer beckons for a return trip to The Dalles.  In one of his monthly Mayor’s report he states, “If interested in serving on a city committee or commission, please let me know….. My phone number is 503-807-0724 and my email is SeLawrence1963@yahoo.com.”

 

A fan of Hemingway.
A fan of Hemingway.

Even if you don’t reside in The Dalles, but are visiting, you should take him up on that offer.  He might even buy you a micro-brew at Clock Tower, a shot of scotch at River Tap or read a poem at Zim’s!

And if you talk to him, thank him for his service to his country and community.


Bazi Bierbrasserie – More Than Just a Walk in the Park!

Another one of Draft Magazine's 100 Best Beer Bars

Another one of Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars

Bazi Bierbrasserie (Bazi) is another one of the select five Portland taverns which made Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars in the USA for 2014.  And Thebeerchaser has done reviews of two of the others in this list – Bailey’s Taproom (reviewed 4/13 – somewhat of a disappointment) and Saraveza (reviewed 3/14).      P1020153

Bazi was a definite favorite with our group, which included Roy Lambert, Mary Maxwell, David and Kate Dickson and Janet, Thebeerchaser’s spouse.  We typically take a walk before eating and drinking – a great way to get exercise and mitigate the guilt from partaking in pub faire.

And Mary, who prior to retirement in 2009 was the Director of Aviation for the Port of Portland, demonstrated her superior planning skills by charting a superb 2.5 mile walk through the Lone Fir Cemetery and Laurelhurst Park on a rare, beautiful spring day.

Perhaps this should be labeled "The Beer Walk"....

Perhaps this should be labeled “The Beer Walk”….

Strolling through the Lone Fir was very interesting and we learned about the ties with Portland’s Russian community – as evidenced by many of the family plots with pictures engraved in the stone monuments.

” ….Russian immigrant graves  which are distinguished by colorful plantings of genuine, live flowers, creating a patchwork of color among the somber greens. The Russians are particularly fond of a kind of black granite which they have laser-etched with their likeness and, usually, a highly romantic scene. (Flickr – “Dead Man Talking”

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Laser-etched likeness….

For those interested in Portland history, Lone Fir Cemetery “….reads like a good book, telling the story of the many eras of settlement and development that have transformed the Portland area since the cemetery was founded in 1855. This 30-acre property is the resting place for more than 25,000 people, including famous Portlanders with names like Lovejoy and Hawthorne. Visitors will also find notable trees and shrubs, giving Lone Fir the feel of an arboretum.” (Metro website)  P1020142

 

We then walked through Laurelhurst Park, which on one of the first nice days in many moons, teemed with people and activity.  The 27 acre park was purchased by the City of Portland in 2011, and in 1919, the Pacific Coast Parks Association named it the “most beautiful park” on the West Coast. It was also the first city park ever to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A Portland Gem!
A Portland Gem!

Although the walk was great, the biggest treat was still to come – drinks and great food at Bazi.  And it was evident by the total experience why this bar made Draft’s Top 100 list.

The beer selection is extensive, the staff is knowledgeable and the food really good.  “Bazi is a Dutch word for lovable crook or scoundrel….Bierbrasserie is a noun used in Flemish Belgian to describe establishments that have great food and a killer beer and beverage selection.” (Bazi website)

The Portland Barfly summary is apt:

A great place to watch Timber (or Blazer games.
A great place to watch Timber (or Blazer games.

“Suds snobs rejoice! This friendly Hawthorne neighborhood hang has more than 15 Belgian-style brews on tap, including locals like Double Mountain, Pfriem, and Commons. It’s a dandy spot to watch Portland Timbers games on the 119″ big screen, and the food is surprisingly awesome….”       

 

An extensive selection of Belgian beers.

An extensive selection of Belgian beers.

 

One of the distinguishing features for Bazi is its management -  Hilda Stevens is the owner.  I was surprised to find while researching before my visit that she responded to many comments from sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor – most notably, the critical ones – which often times are really trite and unwarranted.

Hilda, the owner, (holding the logo) with our group.

Hilda, the owner, (holding the logo) with our group.

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An example was a complaint on Yelp, by a customer who thought the food service was too slow:

“Thanks for taking the time to write. Can you let me know when you visited recently that you experienced slow service?….

I’ve also been monitoring our food tickets and they’ve been in the 5-25 minute range. Considering we make everything from scratch that’s within industry standards. The more information you can send me as to your recent visit the more valuable it will as I investigate the situation. Thank you again for being a return customer. I value everyone’s feedback, but specially those who continue to support us.” Hilda

I have to admit, given the ongoing success of the bar, which opened in May, 2011, and was an immediate hit and the moniker, “Hilda,”  I was expecting the proprietor to be a much older person.  When we chatted with her, however, we met a delightful, young entrepreneur, who was raised and went to college in Texas.   She traveled extensively in Europe and did a bunch of research – most notably on Belgian beers.  She completed her Masters’ Degree at Oregon’s George Fox University and developed a smart business plan – to specialize in Belgian beers – and capitalize on service and quality – this was evident.

The bar at Bazi

The bar at Bazi 1906 reclaimed wood from the Jim Beam distillery in Lexington, Kentucky!

Our server, Sydney, was also very knowledgeable and offered specific and detailed comments on several of the seventeen beers on tap, which helped in our selection - we tried a few including Oakshire Frederic’s Lost Arm Farmhouse Ale and the Bavik Premium Pilsner - all very good.

In retrospect, given the superb selection, we should have done a flight of four 5oz. pours ($10 Domestic and $15 Imported.)

Given the outstanding line-up of handcrafted cocktails, Thebeerchaser also tried the $5 Happy Hour Cocktail which that day was “Sleepless in Oostende” (Jim Beam, lemon and orange juice and orange bitters.)  The cocktails are named after Belgian cities.

Oostende is a Belgian city located in the Flemish province of West Flanders.  The “sleepless” reference might result from worry that the series of the dikes that keep the North Sea from flooding this town would fail.  Or perhaps it is in recognition of the City’s guards during The Siege of Oostende (1601 -1604) of which it was said that “the Spanish assailed the unassailable and the Dutch defended the indefensible”  (Wikipedia).  The siege resulted in 80,000 combined casualties - the single bloodiest battle of the Eighty Years’ War.

Bazi also has an extensive list of bottled beers and ciders, a nice wine selection, a bunch of hard liquor selections you can get by the shot, and you can also fill your growler.

Impressive Happy Hour menu.

Impressive Happy Hour menu.

You can see from the picture that they have a robust Happy Hour menu.  The Baon burger, fried chick peas, brussels sprouts, veggie burger and most notably, the Stoemp (Yukon mashed-potatoes and veggies) were all scrumptious.

Great food - made from scratch....
Great food – made from scratch….

The patio was full that day and it was obvious that it was both dog and family friendly.

The Patio

The Patio

As stated in the most recent Beerchaser post, I have conceptual difficulties with rankings; however, having visited five of the eight Portland bars making the Draft Magazine Top 100 Beer Bars in the last five years, Bazi is my favorite so far.  (The Horse Brass Pub (reviewed in 5/13), Concordia Ale House, the Green Dragon and Imperial Bottle Shop have also made the list in prior years.)

And when you visit Bazi, try a walk in the park and a stroll through the burial grounds – it’s a hike with a plot!

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Bazi Bierbrasserie           1522 SE 32nd Ave Phone (503) 234-8888

Old-growth timber in Laurelhurst Park

Old-growth timber in Laruelhurst Park

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(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

Bailey’s Tap Room – Keep a Stiff “Upper Lip”

Bailey's - Repeats on the Top 100 Beer Bars

Bailey’s – Repeats on the Top 100 Beer Bars

As was the case with The Tugboat Brewery, (reviewed in March, 2013), Thebeerchaser was embarrassed that he worked downtown – right on the Portland Transit Mall for many years and had never visited – or even known about Bailey’s Tap Room.  For five straight years, it has made Draft Magazine’s Top 100 USA Beer Bars.  It even got special recognition in the preface to the list with the following quote:

“We want you to go to Bailey’s Taproom in Portland, Ore., which cares so much about beer freshness, the digital menu says when each keg was tapped and how much is left. We want you to go to all 100 of these places, because they really are a cut above the rest.” (Actually, part of this statement is incorrect – the digital display shows how much of the keg is left, but does not give the date it was tapped, although it does have the designation, “Just Tapped” for a few selections. )

Charlie and Jack Faust with Thebeerchaser logo

Charlie and Jack Faust with Thebeerchaser logo

Accompanying me were Oregon appellate lawyer, Jack Faust, – who before retiring, made it on a number of list for many years – that of Oregon’s and America’s best lawyers.  Jack, who was also the award-winning moderator of KATU’s Town Hall program, was joined by his son, Charlie.

Bailey’s has also made Willamette Week’s Annual Bar Guide, featuring the paper’s favorite Portland bars every year since its opening in 2007, but let’s examine the rationale for Bailey’s -  BEER!!! (not that there’s anything wrong with that….)

Scott - one of the knowledgeable and helpful bartenders

Scott – one of the knowledgeable and helpful bartenders

"Beer-me-up, Scotty!"  The space-age display

“Beer-me-up, Scotty!” The space-age display

The twenty-four rotating taps of West-coast beers - according to Scott, the friendly and knowledgeable bartender – they tap about five new ones each day – are an eclectic and impressive list supplemented by spotless showcases featuring over fifty bottled beers from all over the USA.

An impressive selection of bottled beers too!

An impressive selection of bottled beers too!

But the title of 100 Best Beer Bars begs the question, “How come?”   The Beerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs is not primarily about the beer.  It’s about the ambiance and distinguishing characteristics that make you want to return to an establishment with your friend(s).

And that’s lacking at Bailey’s as evidenced by the following excerpts from the Willamette Week guide:

2009“What it lacks in atmosphere (white walls, bright lights and sparse decorations give off the vibe of an operating room) Bailey’s makes up in suds.”

2012“Simplicity is the name of the game at this busy downtown beer bar.  No liquor, no wine, no food, no games – just 20 taps of craft beers and a dozen tables filled with mostly male computer programmers, loan officers and other assorted cubicle drones.”

2014“Really, the people are the only problem at Baileys.  First, there are always far too many of them crammed into the SW Broadway space, bird-dogging tables even when somebody just gets up to go the restroom.”

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Now it’s certainly true, that we had an excellent sampling of esoteric beers – and it helps that  they have both large and small glasses (4 ounces) for a number of brews, so you can get a good sampling and maintain your equilibrium and your wallet.

And Scott and Janelle, the bartenders, were extremely helpful and patient in explaining each one – but the overall atmosphere was more like that of a cafeteria (without the food…) than a bar or pub.

Between the four ounce glasses and sharing some pints, we tasted the following beers:

Green Flash White IPA (Belgian)         Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout

Ninkasi Critical Hit      Kermit the Hop IPA        Stillwater French Farm Ale

Heater Allen Pilsner (McMinnville)      Ballast Point Navigator Doppelbock

New Belgian Gruitt (horehound, bog myrtlle, yarrow, wormwood and elderflower)

All of them were great except the Espresso Stout, which would have been better at Starbucks.

No food except what comes in externally - thanks Charlie!

No food except what comes in externally – thanks Charlie!

Fortunately, Charlie Faust had the foresight to bring some pretzels we could munch on and a number of reviews talk favorably about Santeria, the Mexican restaurant across the street that will deliver orders to go to the bar, and evidently has great food.

The lack of atmosphere and food means you focus the conversation on the beer and your compatriots – that’s not a bad thing given the background of the Fausts:

For example, I learned that Charlie, after graduation from U of O, traveled for a year in Europe and SE Asia, then worked as a staffer for Senator Bob Packwood.  That prepared him to weather the storms when he worked for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and had the experience of being on the crew in a NOAA hurricane research plane during Gloria in 1985 – peak winds of 155 mph.

Charlie's plane was in there someplace....
Charlie’s plane was in there someplace….

 

Jack Faust - Brews his own beer besides doing some other stuff....
Jack Faust – Brews his own beer besides doing some other stuff….

And drinking beer with Jack Faust, means chatting with a very interesting and intelligent guy – after all, for years he had a hobby of brewing beer in his garage.  (once brewed a raspberry ale that was the color of sweat…)

He graduated first in his class at U of O Law School, was editor of the Law Review and still stimulates conversation with queries such as, “When will all the rhetorical questions end…?”

I shifted the conversation to past cases before the Oregon Court of Appeals and Supreme Court after he told me that he would have to kill me if I asked any more questions about his service as a Special Agent in the Far East Command of the Army Counterintelligence Corps during the Korean War.

I will have to admit, however, that Charlie and I were both fascinated by his recounting the details of his arguments in the 1986 Oregon Supreme case Oregon Republican Party v. State of Oregon.  Did the Party violate the Oregon Corrupt Practices Act provision that “[n]o person * * * shall directly or indirectly subject any person to undue influence?”

And  finally,Thebeerchaser’s standard practice of visiting each bar reviewed twice, paid off because Scott the bartender, casually mentioned that I should visit “Bailey’s Upper Lip.”  My response was to ask whether I needed a secret code word or a note from the bartender, but that wasn’t the case.

The entrance to the Upper Lip on Ankeny Street

The entrance to the Upper Lip on Ankeny Street

And walking part way down Ankeny Street to an inauspicious doorway with only a bottle on the door, and then up a dark, narrow stairway heightened the anticipation of what awaited.

Willamette Week’s 2014 Bar Guide sums it up well:  “There, you’ll find six well-chosen taps and a massive case of bottles ranging from Belgians to small-batch bourbon stouts.   P1020166

There’s a short bar, a long table for groups, a digital tap list, a bartender, a few high-top tables set on barrels…..”

There were less than ten people, while the Taproom below was very crowded and Luke, the bartender, told me that the group was typical – evidently a lot of people are just not aware of the speakeasy-type addition to the main floor bar.   I decided to be bold and had a small glass of Nebraska Brewing’s Sexy Betty Imperial Stout.  (Betty was, in fact, hot….)

Bartender Luke and the bar at The Upper Lip

Bartender Luke and the bar at The Upper Lip

If you want a to sample a wide variety of draft or bottled beers from all over the world and receive expert guidance and advice from the staff, Bailey’s is your place. 

Bottled beers from all over -- to say the least

Bottled beers from all over — to say the least

If you want the ambiance of a neighborhood bar with good food and interesting regulars, Thebeerchaser suggests going Off Broadway…..    

Long tables upstairs

Long tables upstairs

 

 

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If you want to view all a map with all the establishments previously reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click the link which states, “View Larger Map” below.

Bailey’s Tap Room and The Upper Lip                  231 SW Broadway