Club 21 – Don’t be Fooled by the Name of this Good Bar

Club 21 - Definitely not a Strip Club....

Club 21 – Definitely not a Strip Club….

Okay – admit it.  When you saw the title of this review was Club 21, you thought I had abandoned the guideline to exclude strip clubs from the venues reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  But that’s not the case.  Club 21 is a great NE neighborhood bar in an iconic 1930 building (at one time a Russian Orthodox church) co-owned by Marcus Archambeault and Warren Brophy, who also own two other Portland bars –  Gold Dust Meridian (see Thebeerchaser review in October 2012) and The Double Barrel.

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Unlike some multiple bar owners who stay with one theme, they are creative – each bar has its own marketing, menu and ambiance based on the clientele, the building design and the neighborhood  history.

Club 21 has great character and lawyers Scott Whipple and Dan Duyck and young O”Neill Electric Project Manager, Ryan Keene and I enjoyed our beer and a dinner there one late weekday afternoon.

Whipple is a Beerchaser regular having accompanied me to Ash Street Saloon and the Dixie Tavern downtown, in the early 2012 days of this “journey,” then to Slab Town and the Skyline Tavern in October 2013.

He and his law partner, Duyck, were along for Gold Dust Meridian and Bar of the Gods and Ryan and his girlfriend, Laura, Beerchased at Quimby’s, Sniff Café and most recently, Stammtisch.  (If you’re interested in seeing any of these reviews, just use the “Search” feature at the top right of Thebeerchaser logo.)   P1020507

When we arrived at 5:00, there were few in the building, but a steady stream of regulars quickly filled both the inside and an expansive patio on the sunny afternoon.  And the regulars were friendly and talkative when we asked them to tell us about the bar.

P1020518

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

According to our bartender, Leslie – who has worked there 3.5 years, Club 21 has been the name of the bar since 1958.  After its time as a place of worship, it became the eastside annex of Jake’s Crawfish.

The owner of Nick’s Coney Island bought the building and  named his bar, Shadows.  In 1958, it became Club 21 – just because it’s on 21st and NE Glisan.  Marcus and Warren purchased it in early 2011.

In the photo below, that’s Dennis in the center – he works at Franz Bakery, and first came to the bar in 1966 – where he met the woman who is still his wife in the early ‘70’s.

Jovial and Helpful Regulars - and good taste in beer!!

Jovial and Helpful Regulars – and good taste in beer!!

Dennis and his friends remember the structure when it was a church and talked about sitting on what used to be the altar when they first started patronizing.

As an undated Portland Mercury review asserted,Be sure to say hi to the regulars they’ve been drinking there before you were born. No but seriously. They have!” (Unless you are as old as Thebeerchaser….)

And the dark and cozy environment reeks with personality with accoutrements such as old Schlitz lamps and classic Blitz beer signs, three antler heads, a stuffed duck, a classic nude painting, four old-fashioned pin-ball machines, Big Buck World and a small nook in the wall with religious statuettes.

One of four trophies....

One of three trophies….

In fact, even the men’s bathroom has character – you have to open a door and walk through a small narrow hallway to get to it. (The door on the right is the entrance to the maze in the photo below.)

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character....

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character….

 

 

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The current owners remodeled the infrastructure (kitchen, plumbing and code issues) while being careful to maintain the spirit of the building.    They improved the interior and reformed the menu.  Subsequent reviews show they accomplished their goal:

“Yes, I think they’ve done a knock-out job bringing this historic building back to life. It still feels like a dive bar, but now it has some much appreciated style going for it”. (Barfly 12/13/11)

"Droolworthy" old Blitz sign.....

“Drool-worthy” old Blitz sign…..

“Club 21 is back in action, following a change in ownership (now in the same capable hands as Gold Dust Meridian), and a lovingly-rendered makeover of the old gal.

Don’t worry – she looks like the best Club 21, ever. And, no more of that embarrassing body odor. These are all good changes – enlarged patio, enclosed and ventilated kitchen, new paneling, everywhere, annoying mini-flat screens, nowhere, a drool-worthy collection of beer signs and booze memorabilia.”

And this from Willamette Week (10/12/11):

Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz __ is even better than Pabst stuff
Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz signs are even better than Pabst stuff

“(Club 21) still looks like a little fish tank castle on the outside and feels like a ski lodge on the inside. But the former dive bar, which took only a slight hit in patronage while closed for upgrades this summer, has stepped up its style game considerably.

Its former duct-taped booths have been replaced by new upholstery; dingy old beer mirrors replaced by…well, even older Pabst paraphernalia; two pinball machines have turned into four; the patio now seats dozens of young blue-collar regulars…”

Double the fun.....
Double the fun…..

 

And everybody raves about the food, which once was described as, “….burgers that (came) from a stack in a frozen bag from Sysco.”

Willamette Week continues:

“The obscenely cheap food specials are out, but replaced by still-cheap and altogether more satisfying options, including an epic build-a-burger menu with endless variations (how about a housemade veggie patty on Texas toast with smoked Gouda.” 

 And we leaped at the chance to try their menu specialty, “Build-a-Burger (BaB)”.   (My selections are in bold) and as one City Search reviewer labeled it – “A fat kid’s dream.”

"Build a Burger" and add tater tots or onion rings

“Build a Burger” and add tater tots or onion rings

BaB is seven-step process commencing with picking your “foundation” – one of five options ranging from Oregon beef or prime rib, to fried or grilled chicken to a veggie burger and then your bread from  one five (whole wheat)  and selecting one of eight types of cheeses (pepper-jack).  Keep going with the sauces (sea and salt peppercorn, smoky pepper, 12 spice BBQ, Cajun, habanaro, Jamaican jerk) and condiments (A-1 sauce, sweet & saucy relish).

Check out the menu below which further illustrates the process.

Build-a-Burger - A construction project....

Build-a-Burger – A construction project….

If you want one of the eight extras for just a buck, add an eighth step (bacon, ham, fried egg, avacodo, caramelized onion, onion straws, sautéed mushrooms, anaheim peppers, pickled habanero, tomato bacon jam and grilled pineapple) – the works for only $8!

however

since it was Happy Hour – every day  from 3:00 until 7:00, we got a buck off on the food and $.50 off on our beer.  Side orders included fries tater tots, onion rings, green salads or Caesar salad).

A good menu - remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

A good menu – remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

————

All of us chowed down, supplemented by one of only four beers on tap (Rainier, Vaorizer, Boneyard or Kolisch).   We were so stuffed, we couldn’t even take advantage of the all-day breakfast special consisting of two eggs, hashbrowns, and toast for $5.

And Club 21 has a great juke box and live music periodically (“We’re not a rock show venue, but feature a few bands a several times each month.”)   Also check out some specials such as “Bottomless Mimosas” and “Comedy Brunches.”

They do not have a website but rely on minimal marketing through Facebook.

Don - the cook who is good at his job.

Don – the cook who is good at his job.

So if you are looking for info on the web about Club 21, be careful to be specific about the name and location. Otherwise, you will end up at the websites of venues with the same name in:

Oakland: Club 21 is the San Francisco Bay Area’s Hottest Gay & Lesbian Latin and Hip Hop Party Destination, the number #1 Gay Latin and Hip Hop Night Club.”

Galveston Island,Texas: (in the Historical District. Rated #2 out of 13 on Trip Advisor for nightlife) “Island Chic. Sophisticated. Relaxed. That’s the low-down on 21, Galveston Island’s premier spot for great times, great atmosphere, and great friends.”

Pueblo Colorado:  (The only strip club in Pueblo – rated at 2.5 stars out of 5  – mostly because “The dancers were burned out.”)

Or you could end up at the websites for the nightclub on West 52nd Street in New York City or a luxury retail story in Singapore.  Nevertheless, it appears that Marcus and Warren are going to stick with the name Club 21 and the history it embodies.

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets - tacky but quant.....

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets – tacky but quant…..

But if you want a no frills, old school environment with  exceptional burgers, a charming atmosphere with friendly regulars and helpful staff, no mixed drinks, a diverse juke-box and a good, albeit limited, selection of cheap draft beers, head to Portland’s Club 21.

And Marcus, why not hitchhike on Build-a-Burger (BaB) with BaBS (Build-a-Banana Split).  First you  select the ice cream flavor, then topping…….then……!

An inanimate regular at the bar

 

 

 

Club 21     2035 NE Glisan

 

 

 

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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)

John R. (Jack) Faust – Fall 2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

Wikimedia Commons - public domain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jack_faust.jpg)

This blog has recognized a number of individuals over the last three years as Thebeerchaser-of-the-Quarter or Month.  Why?  Because they have either distinguished themselves in their profession or for their contribution to society.  In the case of the first “honoree,” retired chemist Harold Schlumberg (August 2011) – just because of his approach to life.

Some of those tapped for this laurel include my friends, Jud Blakely (September 2013) and Steve Lawrence, (May 2014) for their military service in Viet Nam – a conflict in which both were awarded the Bronze Star.  Three authors, Portland’s Brian Doyle (Feb. 2014); Princeton Professor Emeritus, Harry Frankfurt, (Jan. 2012) the author of the brilliant tome, On Bullshit and crime novelist, James Crumley (Sept. 21011) were named because I loved their books.

This quarter, we are recognizing one of Oregon’s preeminent appellate lawyers and citizens, John R. Jack Faust.          faust picture from directory

Jack skipped first grade (either because of his advanced intellect or disciplinary issues) and went on to graduate from Jefferson High School – the alma mater of his future law partners at the law firm of Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, former Congressman Wendell Wyatt and now a senior judge in U.S. District Court, Ancer Haggerty.

After undergraduate school at U of O, Faust distinguished himself at the University of Oregon School of Law, serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and graduating first in his 1953 class, receving the Phi Delta Phi Award for Outstanding Graduate – Pacific N. W.. ( He has great tales of legendary professor Orlando J. Hollis.)  After military service, he first  practiced at the law firm of Cake, Butler & McKewan, and in 1979 moved to the Schwabe firm.

Charlie and Jack Faust Beerchasing at Bailey's Taproom.

Charlie and Jack Faust Beerchasing at Bailey’s Taproom

He practiced corporate, appellate and general law and represented public utilities, insurance companies, baseball teams (see below), public officials and did a lot of pro-bono work.

Jack served as President of both the Multnomah Bar Association and Vice President of the Oregon State Bar and was selected by his peers for listings in Best Lawyers in Portland and Best Lawyers in America.

Friend, fellow spook and another great Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood.

Friend, fellow spook and another great Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood

 

Like his colleague and friend, Jim WestwoodBeerchaser-of-the-Quarter in March 2013 – our new honoree is a former “spook” (both served in military intelligence) and both are recognized for the legal accomplishments.   Westwood’s description of his friend, Faust, is shown below.

And Westwood is qualified to offer an opinion.  Jim has handled more than 200 appeals and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, listed in Best Lawyers in America and an Oregon Super Lawyer.

“Like Jack Faust, I’m an appellate lawyer. I am 0-2 against him. In the second one I gave a stemwinder of an opening argument, then Jack got up and said to the judges, ‘I don’t have anything unless you have questions.’   They didn’t, he sat down, and he won. That’s Faust, the lawyer who also represented owner Bing Russell of the Portland Mavericks against Major League Baseball and cleaned MLB’s clock. He is not only the Beerchaser of the Quarter – he is The Man.”  (This is a compliment to Faust’s brief, his judgment and his ego.)

We will describe his acclaimed legal career and his civic contributions below, but Jack Faust, also receives this accolade both because of his sense of humor and his furtherance of Beerchasing concepts.  The latter was first achieved while in college at the University of Oregon as can be seen this photo of him swimming.

Efficiency is a hallmark for his achievements

Jack, the recipient – efficiency and multi-tasking are the hallmarks for his achievements

“Faustmaister”  (not copyrighted) is the label of his home brewed beer – a hobby he has pursued for many years in his basement – the nadir of which was the production of “Raspberry Red.

It was digested by his basement drain rather than a human – other than several swallows to test. (The statute of limitations has tolled on violations of environmental regulations and it was not classified as a Superfund site – possibly because “RR” was brewed before the 1980 enactment of the federal legislation.)

A hydraulic lift he installed to lift the five-gallon kegs of beer enabled uninterrupted brewing when he suffered a triple hernia.

Faustmaister production facilities...

Faustmaister production facilities…

Not only does the Schwabe  firm, have outstanding lawyers, and great people, but one of the factors that makes it such a great place to work is an organizational sense of humor and team work.  Jack Faust is a sterling example, as demonstrated by his e-mail sent to the entire firm in 1999.

Jack sent the missive below shortly after Schwabe joined other law firms in moving to a business-casual dress policy for lawyers.  It shows his wry commentary at some of the changes in the legal profession:

“At the risk of the usual barrage of abuse – please spell my name right in your responses – I report the following:  This morning dressed in ‘business casual’ per SWW Reg. 1-901A(1)(c)(ii), I had just parked my car in the Pac West Center garage and deposited my keys in the box by the parking attendant’s station.  

A fancy car rolled up with a well-dressed woman at the wheel.  She asked me, ‘Do I park it myself or will you park it for me?’  I was about to tell her that I am a lawyer, not a parking attendant, but I was afraid my mother would find out.  It would kill her!”

While serving as COO at Schwabe, I tapped his humor numerous times for lighter moments at firm retreats as can be seen by the video below.  You might also note when viewing, that the co-star is another Beerchaser-of-the-Month (January 2014), Art Vandelay, better known by his colleagues as attorney, Carson Bowler.  You will see from the second “blooper video” that Faust’s quest for a flawless product extends beyond his appellate briefs to his acting……

 

 

Civic and charitable service is a firm core value at Schwabe and Faust was no exception.  They are too extensive to name all, but include, Vice Chair of the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Committee (LCDC), the Oregon Commission on Higher Education, Chair of the Board of Lewis and Clark College and board service for the Portland Opera, Campfire Girls and SEI.  Corporate boards ranging from Equitable Savings to Western Savings Bank to Pacific NW Bell are also on his resume.

Son Charlie and Jack with Thebeerchaser logo at the Marathon Taverna

Son Charlie and Jack with Thebeerchaser logo at the Marathon Taverna

Jack and his son, Charlie, have been Beerchaser regulars. (The Buffalo Gap Saloon, Bailey’s Taproom, the Grand Café and the Marathon Taverna – not yet posted)  Jack helped me line up personal tour of the Grand Café (Beechaser review in January 2013) by Frank-The Flake-Peters when Schwabe’s Product Liability Group visited the bar.

Jack and Frank Peters

Jack and Frank Peters at the Grand Cafe

—————-

He knows Frank well (Frank wrote to him often when Peters served time at the Oregon State Penitentiary) and Faust is a personal friend and represented Bing Russel, the actor and former owner of the Portland Mavericks baseball team when Frank Peters managed.

The escapades of this wonderful minor league team are captured in the recent Net Flix movie “The Battered  Bastards of Baseball,” which has drawn rave reviews nationally.  In fact, Faust appears in the movie because of role as the lawyer who won the $206,000 arbitration award for Russell from the Pacific Coast League – the League’s final pre-arbitration offer was $5,000!

Jack is also well known for his television work – moderating the award-winning (Iris Award for Outstanding Local Public Affairs Program in the Nation) “Town Hall,” on KATU for thirteen years.  The stories about “Town Hall” – filmed live with a small studio audience – essentially a panel (in-the round) of parties vested in the topic with the moderator in the center –  are numerous.

Moderating Town Hall
Moderating Town Hall

Faust is a quick study and after playing tennis in the morning, would go to the KATU studio at noon where staffers would have material and brief him on the topic he studied until the live broadcast at 6:00 P.M.

His stories range from the forum on prostitution which included a number of “participants” in the panel who provided an itemized pricing of various services; a fight in the KATU parking lot between two panel members (a female and a male) after the show, and one on professional wrestling where one of the burly participants demonstrated a headlock on the moderator, and gave a twist whereupon Jack exclaimed, “Jesus!” into his mike.

Ghosts in residence?
Ghosts in residence?

He also recounts the show on ghosts – broadcast on location from Portland’s White Eagle Café (see Thebeerchaser review from Nov. 2012), a venue reported to have a ghost still living in the basement.

Three shows on the Rajneesh and the Bhagwan concluded with two in Rancho Rajneesh – now, Antelope, Oregon. Ma Anand Sheila was the spokesperson for the Bhagwan.  Amy Faust, Jack’s daughter and a local media celebrity, writes a compelling account of these shows in the July, 2014 edition of 1859 Magazine(The first two shows had not gone well for the Followers and they balked at having the third one):

“Then, just one day before the scheduled taping (of the third show), they reversed their stance, sending my dad an apology and a boxed lunch from Zorba the Budha Deli. While my dad remembers his receptionist, Jeannine Marks, saying, ‘I wouldn’t eat that if I were you,’ like a good, waste-not child of the Great Depression, he wolfed it down. ‘What are they going to do,’ he replied, ‘poison me?’

The next day, his producer, India Simmons, got an odd phone call from Ma Prem Sunshine, asking simply, ‘How’s Jack today?”’Sunshine’s tone of voice prompted Simmons to call my dad, who was in fact at home in bed with a fever of 103, horribly sick for the first time since age 5. Not wanting to miss the show, he recruited my mom to drive him to Antelope, feeling nauseous the whole way.          Copyright2003 Samvado Gunnar Kossatz (http://web.org/web/2007/1026130939/http://m31.de/ranch/index.html) Osho Drive By

After a heavy does of Tylenol, he hosted the show, which was indeed more damaging to the Rajneeshee reputation than the previous episodes. In the face of criticism from detractors, the Rajneeshees often broke into loud, disconcerting laughter, and at one point responded to an angry local by bursting into song.”  (Faust’s response in ending the chanting was, “This show is not a musical!”)

One clarification:  When Amy said that Jack had not been sick since the age of five, she did not include the hangover he suffered while in college after the swim shown in the picture above.

For many years, he was the premier emcee for banquets and events all over the state. He’s also met a number of U.S. Presidents as evidenced by this photo.

At the White House with President Reagan
At the White House with President Reagan

 

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He introduced Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Vice President Rockefeller, in addition to numerous US Senators including the late Howard Baker and every Oregon Governor from Tom McCall to Ted Kulongoski (finally a Democrat!!)  Add Gloria Steinham to his list of celebrities when she was in Portland for a fundraiser for former Senator Bob Packwood.

 

Because of his public speaking abilities, Faust was a vital part of the Schwabe firm’s oral communication training for lawyers – including how to introduce speakers.  I had attended this same training and knew most of his tips and naively acquiesced to his request to be his “shill” and introduce him at one of these training sessions.  Of course, I prepared and practiced knowing that he would shred my effort in front of the approximately fifty colleagues who attended – I was not disappointed.

Army Intelligence duty - notice, he has no insignia on his utilities.

Army Intelligence duty – notice, he has no insignia on his uniform

—————

Our honoree is a wonderful story-teller, although even with the passage of time, about the only thing he is close-mouthed about – even after a few beers – is his role in Army Intelligence and counterintelligence during the Korean War.  From 1953-55 as a Special Agent in the US Army Counterintelligence Corps – detachment Far East Command, he was stationed in Korea, Japan and China.  Remembers the interviews and IQ tests.

Faust at a liaison dinner with Japanese counter-intelligence personnel in Japan.

Faust at a liaison dinner with Japanese counter-intelligence personnel in Japan

—————-

Jack is also a great family man.  He and Alice will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in 2016 and they have three great offspring.  Barbara, the oldest is a retired customer service representative and Charlie, Thebeerchaser regular and a successful Portland mortgage broker.

Amy – who has inherited her father’s media notoriety and is the Amy of Mike and Amy on 99.5 The Wolf - the pair recently returned to air – brought back by listener demand when the station, in 2012, decided to cut corners for on air-personalities after the duo had been together on the station for 13 years.  Several years ago, Jack co-hosted with Amy when Mike was gone and did a very credible job – probably feeling as much pressure to perform as when he argued in front of the Oregon Supreme Court…..!

Mike and Amy (Faust) -- a triumphant return to the air waves
Mike and Amy (Faust) — a triumphant return to the air waves

In fact, Jack tells how when Amy was growing up, she sometimes got a little frustrated because people would always inquire, “Oh, you’re Jack’s daughter?”  Jack smiles when he relates that for the last ten years, when people first meet him, the standard question is, “Oh, you’re Amy’s Dad?”

He and Alice have traveled extensively – to 35 countries, the most exotic of which was Bangladesh (Ask him to tell you about the legal case he handled and his adventures wondering around when you have a few minutes for intrigue….)

Jack and Alice in China
Jack and Alice in China

And there are many other stories such as the time he sang a duet with actress, Ginger Rogers, when she was staying at a house on the Rogue River.  These tend to spill out when he reminisces over a Faustmaister – with the exception of “Raspberry Red.”

Thebeerchaser raises a mug to John R. Jack Faust for his contributions to make Oregon a better place to live and his outstanding legal career, – both of which mitigate his somewhat questionable propensity to wear Oregon Duck gear when we drink beer and in his travels all over the world.

Jack and waitress, Eldridge at the Buffalo Gap Saloon.

Jack and waitress, Holly Eldridge, at the Buffalo Gap Saloon

Pedal(ounge) up to the bar(s)

Anticipating the journey....

Anticipating the journey….

Picture from the Pedalounge website (http://www.pedalounge.com/index.php)
Picture from the Pedalounge website (http://www.pedalounge.com/index.php)

 

Thebeerchaser has seen the vehicle referred to as “Party Bikes” – in various cities ranging from Seattle to Denver to Amsterdam.  In each case, the riders were exuberant and obviously having a good time.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenzie Larson, a group of us hopped aboard this mode of transport on a summer Sunday afternoon to hit a few SE Portland watering holes.

Lloyd, our leader (front center in the gray shirt).  Owner of this small business.
Lloyd, our leader (front center in the gray shirt). Owner of this small business.

Lloyd - the erstwhile driver, owner (his company name is “Pedalounge“), cheerleader, safety officer and coxswain – after collecting our liability waivers, (much less onerous than what I signed before zip-lining in Alaska)  gave us a brief admonition to be cautious and obey the rules.

One of these was no partaking of alcohol while we were pedaling – something that made sense and is not the case in all cities licensing these vehicles.  Another was, “Pedalounge loves good friends, laughs and an ice-cold beer and does not believe that riding a big bike entitles anyone to be rude or annoying.” (emphasis supplied)

Thebeerchaser and Lloyd - an impressive small entepraneuer

Thebeerchaser and Lloyd – an impressive small entrepreneur

Lloyd barked encouragement and a lot of funny lines – some about his native state of Minnesota – he moved to Portland because his watch was two hours slow and he couldn’t fix it.  He measured our pace – at one time an impressive 5 mph – and urged us onward – we responded out of a sense of morbid curiosity.

His recitation of the rules was not necessary, because all of us – even though we were not wearing helmets –  as if anointed by the Goddess of Two Wheels, became subservient in our attitude toward automobiles, self-righteously obeyed all traffic signals and gratuitously wanted to share the road with autos while refraining from operating on sidewalks.

Portland_Pedalounge_ridePerhaps we were reflecting on HG Wells statement, “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race,” although I assume he might amend that assertion if he saw the Pedalounge that day. Lloyd asked us what bars we wanted to visit and helped us formulate a route, which both started and ended at the Green Dragon in Southeast Portland.

The Lucky Lab - first stop....

The Lucky Lab – first stop….

We then pedaled – drawing waves and cheers from envious passersby – to our first stop, The Lucky Lab Brew Pub on SE Hawthorne.   We spent about 30 minutes there and each bar thereafter.  The collaborative effort to develop enough thrust to push our conveyance generated a team spirit which was celebrated at Lucky Lab.P1020527

Rejuvenated, we mounted up and spurred on by Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” attained an impressive velocity.

We arrived at The Baerlic Brewery and Taproom - a new micro-brewery, like many, started by two gents (Ben Parsons and Richard Hall) who for years brewed our favorite beverage in their basement and opened this enterprise in 2013.

 

 

Kenzie Larson adding new meaning to the term, "of barley."

Kenzie Larson adding new meaning to the term, “of barley.”

“Baerlic” is an old-english adjective meaning “of barley.”  The selection is somewhat limited with only three of their beers on tap – and it is a small and sparsely furnished space, but the beer was good – most notably the Invincible IPA.

By this time, we all were thoroughly enamored with Lloyd and his enterprise and since we thought it might be imprudent to nominate him for elective office, we brainstormed ideas to support him.

One was to bring the Pedalounge to the Pendleton Roundup this fall Another was for a cross-country Pedalounge trip.

Sampling Baerlic's ____

Sampling Baerlic’s Invincible IPA

Jamie Magnusson, my son-n-law and an engineer with advanced math skills, started calculating.  It was like the old SAT math problem:  “If one Pedalounge started a cross-country trek from  Portland and another simultaneously headed West from Virginia Beach, when and where would they meet.”

Jamie figured, if the East Coast group, first headed south, they would meet in Salina, Kansas on Interstate 70 at the appropriately named Rendezvous Bar on Santa Fe Avenue.  There could be ceremony reminiscent of the Golden Spike in 1869 at Promontory Summit in Utah when the Union and Central Pacific Railroad tracks met to complete the first US transcontinental railroad.  Unfortunately, the only review of this bar was a 2010 Yelp one-star and this excerpt does not portend a good result.  “Reviews are obviously subjective. Some people clearly enjoy this bar. Due to my preferences, I simply don’t, and would never step in it again.”  (The references to the condition of the bathroom is omitted in the interest of prudence.)

The Rocky Mountains and bathroom stops - insurmountable??

The Rocky Mountains and bathroom stops – insurmountable??

We discarded the idea when he revealed that even assuming we averaged 3 miles per hour (probably not going to happen over the Rocky Mountains) and pedaled 12 hours per day with minimal bathroom breaks, it would take each Pedalounge 42 days to reach Salinas.  Although, based on one bike that caught my attention at the Portland Art Museum’s Cyclepedia Exhibit in 2013, one of us could make the trip solo on this bike shown below:

Solo cross-country trip??

Solo cross-country trip??

Lloyd, rounded us up and we headed for our third stop – Apex on SE Division.  He resisted the temptation to play some Gaelic tunes to increase our velocity.

Apex, like the Green Dragon, has an impressive selection of beer (50 on tap) -my favorite was an innovative and very spicy Diablo Rojo En Fuego from Bend’s  Boneyard Brewing ( Poured deep amber/red with a thin head. Great chili pepper flavor without being too heavy on the spice and heat…” – “ratebeer” blog) 

Apex has been named multiple times  (2010 -13) as one of the five Portland bars to make Draft Magazine’s “100 Best Beer Bars in the United States:

“Whether you’re inside the sleek aluminum bar eyeing the real-time digital tap menu or out front tipping back pints on the fleet of picnic tables, Apex’s hoppy list of 50 brews is the perfect intro to the IBU-centric taste of the Pacific Northwest.”  

Over 50 beers on tap.

Over 50 beers on tap.

While the beer selection is memorable, Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland’s Bars, Pubs and Taverns primary focus is the environment and character of the watering holes.  And Apex, like Bailey’s Taproom (Beerchaser review in April 2014) another one of Draft Magazine’s finest, doesn’t have a lot of ambiance and serves no food.

No need to have a Coors Light here.....

No need to have a Coors Light here…..

 

With heavy hearts and full bladders, we headed towards our final stop – the Green Dragon with thoughts about the Circle of Life.  The Green Dragon is a neat pub with a robust selection of beers.  After making the 2011-12 Draft Magazine 100 Best lists,  it fell off the last two years, but this 2012 description still holds:

“……the urbanesque Green Dragon tempts patrons through its garage door entrance, and keeps them hanging around with more than 50 ever-rotating taps—probably none fresher than offerings from Buckman Botanical Brewery, a small-batch brewery set up inside the Dragon. From regular meet-the-brewer nights to the annual Great American Nano Fest, this bar is one of the most craftbeer-centric venues you’ll ever find.”   

The Green Dragon

The Green Dragon

A robust selection of beers at the Green Dragon.

A robust selection of beers at the Green Dragon.

 

 

 

 

While the Pendleton Round-up still might be a possibility for the Pedalounge, the cross-country trip is not, so help us support Lloyd – the epitome of humility – “I owe everything to my parents – especially my mother and father…”

Check out his website below and get a group of friends and reserve the Pedalounge.  The website shows a calendar with available dates,  informs you how to sign up and everything you will need.  And bring some of your own music to play on the journey.  Although avoid certain artists.  For example, Lloyd told me, “I kind of wondered over the years why none of my patrons ever wanted John Tesh numbers.  And then I realized it was because John Tesh sucks….!”

You can pick the bars in Southeast Portland you want to visit although Lloyd’s recommendations were very good.  Thebeerchaser has also found after reviewing over 70 Portland bars and pubs in the last three years, that the SE area served by Pedalounge houses some of the premier establishments in our city.  The Pedalounge price is a great bargain, the camaraderie is memorable and you will want to pay Lloyd a return visit to explore new watering holes.

Pedalounge

 P1020525P1020544

 

Thebeerchaser Does Alaska – The Final Installment – Ketchikan

P1020483

We sailed from Juneau to Ketchikan on the Holland America ship Statendam for the third leg of our Alaska Inside Passage cruise before the final evening voyage from Ketchikan to Vancouver B.C. and the flight home to Portland.

Ketchikan is a charming village-like city that “empties out” in the winter, but is a nice tourist destination in the summer.   It is he southeastern-most city in Alaska, has a population of 8,050 within the city limits – the sixth-most populous city in the state, and according to its website is known as “The Salmon Capital of the World.”

One of Kethikan's finest

The 49’er Bar – One of Ketchikan’s finest

Since we were there only a day, we did not have an opportunity to actually visit any of the watering holes although a few looked very interesting.

The most interesting bar in Ketchikan

The most interesting bar in Ketchikan

The Asylum looked like a bar that needed a Beerchaser visit based on the politically incorrect slogan in their website:  “We serve nuts….” and several very good reviews on Yelp such as this one from 6/19/14, I can only attest to the beers, beer prices, and staff–all were excellent. At $3.50 for a true pint for all 14 micro-brew taps, these were the lowest beer prices I’d found in Alaska.”  P1020484

According to our guide, “Ketchikan has1 tunnel, 3 stoplights, 5 churches and 8 bars.” 

The Sourdough Bar - one of eight in Ketchikan.

The Sourdough Bar – one of eight in Ketchikan.

The Sourdough Bar and the 49’er Bar also looked intriguing.  And I definitely would have appreciated a brewski before I had my first zip-line adventure in the rain forest about 30 miles outside the city.  (It was a great experience although I told my personable leader – also named Don – my lawyer friends would have killed me if they had seen the waiver I had to sign before hooking up…….

The Asylum may have been a good place to pre-function

The Asylum Bar may have been a good place to pre-function for this activity

Fortunately, the zip-line went well and we boarded the ship for the last day and one-half cruise to Vancouver BC – then the airplane flight home.

The final rappelle

The final rappel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014-06-29 11.07.02

A massive bow and a galley that cooks for almost 2,000 people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the Statendam galley cooked for almost 2,000 people (1,250 passengers and 650 crew-members), the food was excellent – great variety and good quality.   So how does one enjoy the culinary excellence without gaining too much weight?

Two answers -

  • Daily walks around the quarter-mile deck outside our stateroom.
  • Rocking and rolling in the Bering Sea......

    Rocking and rolling in the Bering Sea……

    Enrolling in a one-hour morning cycling class led by a very fit Serbian named Adrian – a great young man with high standards and no compassion – who kept us rolling even when the ship was in choppy seas requiring its stabilizers…..

I actually lost one pound.   And the lack of draft beer on the Statendam did not prevent me from enjoying an evening libation – the martini bar with cheap $6.99 martinis and a great jazz trio – Neptunes, led by classically trained bass and vocalist, Gerald Benson.

That's gin - up and with olives......

That’s gin – up and with olives……

The seven and one-half day cruise from Seward to Vancouver BC with stops at Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan, after our jaunt to Denali National Park was memorable.

The voyage covered a total of 1,538 nautical miles (1.15 statute miles per) at average speeds ranging from 9 knots to 19 per hour.

An impressive vessel

An impressive vessel

 

And the Statendam is an impressive vessel – 574 crew members – weighing 56,000 tons (the ship not the crew….) with a length of 719 feet and width of 111 feet.  It has five diesel generators consuming 65 tons of diesel fuel per day, and according to HA’s specs, produces 600 tons of potable water daily – 500 tons of which is consumed.

IMGP0366

Grizzly mom and her cub.

Besides seeing scads of wildlife in Denali (grizzly bear and cub, mountain goats, caribou, moose, fox, whales, eagles).  We saw spectacular scenery such as that shown below and backdrops which will spoil us for dinners without views for a long time, went on some great day excursions and visited some cool bars and breweries.

No reservation needed for a window seat at dinner.

No reservation needed for a window seat at dinner.

passport_0001

A passport clerk with a sense of humor…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And to cap off an outstanding cruise, the immigration clerk in Vancouver B.C. complimented me on my passport photo, indicating a great sense of humor.

2014-06-26 19.27.03

Beautiful scenery in every sense of the word…..

My wife rejected my proposal to commit to a January tour of the Panama Canal allowing us to take advantage of Holland America Cruise’s $200 discount on future cruises if a commitment was made before debarking!

Of course, cruise options that followers of this blog might want to explore can be accessed at the link below with details on “Seven Beer Cruise Options,” including one to Alaska:  ” …..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.”

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

That voyage does not appear to be in the cards, so I guess Thebeerchaser will get his vicarious thrills until the next cruise at one of his favorite bars – close to home in Multnomah VillageThe Ship Tavern (reviewed by Thebeerchaser in December 2012).

The wonderful Ship Tavern in Multnomah

The wonderful Ship Tavern in Multnomah

Stammtisch – Get a group, grab a table and drink a bier!

 

What Legacy??

A new face in the Kerns Neighborhood

Dan Hart and Chris Navarra are the co-owners of two North Portland bars –  Prost and Interurban – see Thebeerchaser reviews in November 2011 and May 2012, respectively.   Prost was an early favorite on Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  Interurban, relatively new when we visited, was okay, but had none of the character of its counterpart a few blocks north on Mississippi Ave.

Memories of Prost....
Memories –  Prost in 2011

 

P1020375

Laura, Ryan and Kenzie – some of University of Portland’s great alums

They have now opened a third Portland bar – Stammtisch on NE 28th Avenue – in the Kerns Neighborhood.  Early reviews are very good and we had a great experience.

Stammtisch replaces a bar named Spints Ale House, which based on numerous largely critical comments, was not a loss because of mediocre food, expensive beer and marginal to terrible customer service.  One Yelp review concluded, Spints is ultimately an exercise in unmet potential,” consistent with another stating, “As mentioned in other reviews, the ambience in this joint is non-existent, the music loud and dreadful, and the staff a tad less than gracious (& I’m being polite there!).” (Yelp 1/2011)

Before that the site had Café 401 – closed only a few months after opening to big breakfast crowds.   An April 2009 review in the blog “Breakfast in Bridgetown” summarized as “Simple, but above average” - not a rousing endorsement.   So Stammtisch does not have an insurmountable legacy to uphold……

Community tables...

Community tables…

Stammtisch is a German term for “an informal friendly get-together held regularly and also the usually large, often round table, around which the group meets.” 

Based on the lively crowd  on a weekday night, the name is appropriate because community seating is encouraged – and appeared to be working well.   “My boyfriend and I shared a table with some strangers when we first sat down and we were clinking our steins with them by the time the bier arrived at our table.”

P1020369According to Oregon Live (4/30) (Hart plans to) transform it into a sister bar to Prost with more German taps, more schnapps and more food.”   Our experience and the majority of the early comments viewed indicate that predecessors food quality issues won’t be an issue: “Stammtisch has now become our go-to German restaurant in Portland ..and it’s a drive since we live about 30 miles out-of-town.” (5/6/14 Yelp John B)

Expansive menu and food quality creates a nice dilemma....
Expansive menu and food quality creates a nice dilemma….

Willamette Week published a restaurant review on June 25th and went into great detail on the expansive selection of German food on the menu.  The four of us shared just a few of the selections ranging from the Fiorelle (Riesling braised trout) to the Bretzel to the Brites to the Bratwurst with sauerkraut.  A return trip would pose the dilemma of whether to repeat what was outstanding or try something new.

This ambivalence would also occur on the German bier selection.  The 18 taps – six rotating – helped to reinforce Ernest Hemingway’s assertion: “It was as natural as eating, and to me, as necessary.  I would not have thought of eating a meal without drinking a beer.”

Affirmed at Stammtisch

Affirmed at Stammtisch

Our selection included:

Professor Fitz Briem 1899 Berliner Weisse    

Kostritzer Schwarzbier              Ayinger Celebrator 

Veltins Pilsner  

A Beerchaser tradition is to visit my bars with interesting people and this was no exception – three young professionals, all of whom make me an ardent fan of The University of Portland, their alma mater.  Brian Doyle, Editor of UP’s wonderful magazine Portland, award-winning author, and most impressively, Thebeerchaser of the Quarter in February 2014 summed it up best.

Author Brian Doyle

Author Brian Doyle

He was chronicling the amazing success of the Rise Campaign at the University which concludes this summer and has raised $180 million over the last four years.  He reflects on UP: “I cannot count the number of students I have met in 23 years here who became riveting and creative and devout and admirable men and women.”        

Portland - the UP magazine

Portland – the UP magazine

So let’s briefly look at my companions that night.  Laura Williams - who I am immensely proud to say, is my youngest daughter, a 2008 UP alum and a dedicated pediatric oncology nurse, first at Randall Children’s Hospital and now at Doernbecher.

Ryan Keene – UP 2011 – a skilled project manager at O’Neil Electric, who also helps coach the cross-country team at Clackamas High School, and even works weekends helping in the Arleta Library Bakery and Café – a great SE venue especially for breakfast and featured on the Food Networks “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”  (Ryan and Laura were along for Thebeerchaser visit to Quimby’s in NW Portland earlier this year in March.)

And Kenzie Larson – UP 2010 – a very successful senior account representative at the amazing young company, Jama Software recognized on the Forbes’ Most Promising Companies in America list the past two years.

Our waitress, Leslie and Ryan, Laura and Kenzie with Thebeerchaser logo

Our waitress, Leslie, with Thebeerchaser logo and Ryan, Laura and Kenzie

All of them are good citizens and great athletes – with the emphasis on running.  For example, last summer Ryan, who ran two years of cross-country at Gonzaga before transferring to UP, ran a 50K – that’s 31.1 miles –  ultra-marathon in Bend on the Flagline Trail. He finished 3rd overall with a time of 4:15. – that’s essentially an eight minute mile for the distance!  In fact, the only negative thing I can say about Ryan harkens back to his college days when his favorite beer was warm Busch Light.  

Fortunately, his discernment in girl friends surpasses his beer selection...

Fortunately, his discernment in girl friends surpasses his beer selection…

 

Kenzie, besides having played basketball at UP, recently ran the Rainier-to-Ruston Relay, with a team of 4 ladies – it’s like a mini Hood-to-Coast (51.9 miles – so each ran about 12 or 13 miles over the 3 legs) from a starting point on Mt. Rainier to the Tacoma waterfront finish line.  They were the top female team, finishing in 7 hours and 20 minutes.

Laura, Ryan and Kenzie lend credence to the complaint: “The only problem with beer is that you have to be stationary to drink it.”  They also motivated me to at least sprint from the bar to my car when we left….     

Laura and Kenzie - stationary for the moment

Laura and Kenzie – stationary for the moment

Now there were complaints about the service at Stammtisch’s predecessors, but the reviews so far are very good.  Our waitress, Leslie –  a Louisiana gal who moved to Portland based on the recommendation of her friend who works at Prost – was knowledgeable about the bier, friendly and efficient.

She’s worked there for a month and one-half and said, “We’re having fun here.”

Adrian and his wife - neighborhood fans....

Adrian and his wife – neighborhood fans….

 And Dan Hart is smart.  One of Ryan’s co-workers at O’Neil (Adrian) and his wife live in the neighborhood.  They said that Dan met with the neighbors as they were planning the layout and operation – he was a good listener and responsive to their concerns.  As you can see by the picture of the parade of bikes which filed past while we ate, the neighborhood is interesting!

An interesting neighborhood
An interesting neighborhood

He had an impressive response to a complaint by one patron on Yelp that the beer was too expensive:

We are glad that you enjoyed Stammtisch. A little note in regards to the price of bier.  Our biers that we sell are all premium imported biers shipped from Germany that are sold in .5L glassware. These glasses hold approximately 20 oz, but are filled to the .5L (16.9oz) mark, then the rest with head.

This means that you are getting about 25% more bier then you would if you were at most any other brewery or bar in town…. From my experience that is cheaper than most any other brewery….that makes their beer on site and doesn’t need to be shipped half way across the world. Just trying to ensure you know exactly what you are getting for your dollar. Thanks again for checking us out and we hope to see you at the Pub again soon.”  6/9/2014 Yelp

P1020367We thoroughly enjoyed Stammtisch and plan to return.  The comment from another happy repeat customer, who gave a five-star review in Trip Advisor, echoes our experience:

“I’ve been to Stammtisch several times since it opened a few months ago and I highly recommend it. It’s a casual place, but the staff is friendly and attentive, and the food and beer are excellent. Pretty much all the food I’ve had has been delicious.” (July 8, 2014)

 Stammtisch            408 NE 28th 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)

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”

 

——–

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….

 

 ————-

 

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….

 

 

 ——————-

 

 

 

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

—————–

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