Beerchasing in the Highest State – Part I

P1020965

Colorado – I have to admit that until last fall, my only knowledge of Colorado breweries harkened back to college years at Oregon State University.  You were a hero with SAE fraternity brothers and could be a babe magnet – at least temporarily –  if you came back from a road trip with a few cases of Coors - brewed in Golden, Colorado.

Coors - the Silver Bullet to popularity in the late '60's

Coors – the Silver Bullet to popularity in the late ’60’s

Coors was then not sold in Oregon because it wasn’t pasteurized.  As a result of its unavailability, it became a delicacy similar to Cuban cigars with the advantage that you were not supporting a communist dictator when you purchased the product.

A state rivaling Oregon in breweries and scenery

A state rivaling Oregon in breweries and scenery

 

 

——

In September 2014, my wife and I spent twelve wonderful days in Colorado, six of which were in a Breckenridge condo.  While we both love Oregon, I was convinced that if we had to choose another home, it would be this state with its majestic mountains, lush forests, lakes, rivers and canyons – and oh yes – bountiful breweries, which although they are not natural wonders, can still make one’s pulse surge with anticipation.

New Belgium Brewery - one of Colorado's best

New Belgium Brewery –  the first in the US to purchase 100% of its electricity from wind generated power

Rocky Mountain National Park's amazing Trail Ridge Road

Rocky Mountain National Park’s amazing Trail Ridge Road

We saw spectacular and fascinating scenery ranging from the Trail Ridge Road, which bisects Rocky Mt. National Park – 48 miles long with eight of those above 11,000 feet (Mt. Hood’s summit is 11,249) – to Garden of the God’s and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The Chapel at the US Air Force Academy

The Chapel at the US Air Force Academy

 —————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our visit concluded watching the Oregon State Beavers beat the Colorado Golden Buffaloes football team in Boulder on a beautiful day. (Please limit your comments re. the Beavers’ final Pac 12 record.)

The Beavs beat the Buffaloes in Boulder - note the orange contingent on the right

The Beavs beat the Buffaloes in Boulder – note the orange contingent on the right

My fondness for Colorado was heightened by the number of breweries and great bars we visited – 18 in twelve days.

Portland purportedly has more craft breweries per capita (76 in the metro area) than any city in the world, and the state of Oregon has a total of 181 – at 6.3 per 100,000 adults – first in the US.

This compares to 175 in Colorado – 4th in the US at 4.7 – where they range from Adolph Coors  Co. – the largest in the world and the formidable New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins to many micro-breweries – eight of which we were fortunate to visit and taste their product.

Don and Janet Williams with our tour guides - the Sengers

Don and Janet Williams with our tour guides – the Sengers

Our philosophy was that the 1.6 breweries per capita fewer in Colorado was the equivalent of being in a bar which had 75 different beers on tap rather than 100 and we would explore notwithstanding the #2 ranking.

We had a great time both at the beginning and end of our trip with good friends, Barb and John Senger – Barb is an OSU grad and both are retired school administrators and were accomplished tour guides.

Their extensive preparation for a Beerchaser tour was evidenced by the copy of an outstanding reference guide awaiting me on arrival – Colorado, a Liquid History & Tavern Guide of the Highest State by Dr. Thomas Noel, a professor at the University of Colorado.

An essential resource for Beerchasing in Colorado
An essential resource for Beerchasing in Colorado

 Dr.Noel states in his introduction that he began surveying bars early when he was  nineteen years old – forty-four years younger than when I commenced Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.   His ultimate mission makes me consider returning to graduate school – a dissertation in history at UC as follows:

 

An historic example of the venues explored by Dr. Noel and Thebeerchaser
An historic example (in Breckenridge) of the venues explored by Dr. Noel and later by Thebeerchaser

 

 

 

 

For that research, I systematically visited every licensed and unlicensed after-hours club, bar, lounge, nightclub and tavern in Denver – some six hundred establishments…..Since completing the Denver bar survey of 1965 to 1978, I have not been idle.  I have expanded the study, hoping to visit every bar in Colorado.”   

What vision and perseverance!

The good professor promptly returned an e-mail I sent and in his response granted me permission to use excerpts from his book in my blog posts.  He also informed me in his reply that he also authored another book of interest to Beerchasers – Denver: The City and the Saloon. A pearl of wisdom from Dr. Noel:

The tavern as an institution, as well as a building type, is underappreciated.  This book gives a voice to people – and an institution – that usually escape dry history books.  Bars have made and shaped history.  They themselves have revealing histories and are great places to collect tall, short and winding tales.

A notable validation of Dr. Noel's premise from the historic Sink Bar

A notable validation of Dr. Noel’s premise from the historic Sink Bar

Based on my Beerchaser Tour over the last 3 + years, Dr. Noel’s quote hits the mark regardless of whether the venue is in Colorado, Oregon, Amsterdam, Anchorage, Prineville or Port Townsend.

So during our twelve-day trip, what were the eighteeen bars and breweries we visited  and which will be highlighted in three or four subsequent Beerchaser posts?

 

From the Avery Brewery in Boulder

From the Avery Brewery in Boulder

Boulder -  Crystal Springs Brewery, The Sink, Avery Brewery, Gravity Brewery, Post Brewery

Fort Collins – The Town Pump, The Mayor of Old Town Bar, New Belgium Brewery

Breckenridge - Angels Hollow Bar, Apres Handcrafted Libations, Breckenridge Brewery, Broken Compass Brewery, The Gold Coin Saloon, Ollies Pub and Grub  P1030035

Colorado Springs - Phantom Canyon Brewery, The Ritz Bar

Dillon Lake -  The Dillon Dam Brewery

P1020937

From Choice City Butchers and Deli in Fort Collins

 

 

 

 

 

One acknowledgement before concluding this post which I would be remiss in omitting.  Our host, John Senger, in addition to having a great feel for selecting quality bars and breweries, also distinguished himself with the quality of his hand-crafted martinis – a libation for which Thebeerchaser is an enthusiastic advocate.

Complementary.  Gin - up with olives!

Complementary: Gin – up with olives!

2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year: Janet Dancer Williams

2014 Beerchaser of the Year, Janet Williams

2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year, Janet Dancer Williams

After publishing this blog for over three years and periodically recognizing various individuals or organizations as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, events dictate the establishment of the first Beerchaser-of-the-Year Award – and it will now be a yearly happening retroactive to 2014.

Janet (usually a wine drinker) and Thebeerchaser
Janet (usually a wine drinker) and Thebeerchaser

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulsom Brew Pub

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulton Brew Pub last year

Thebeerchaser blog posts have  “honored” individuals who are war heroes such as my good friends, Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence; authors such as Northwest icon, Brian Doyle, deceased mystery writer James Crumley and the venerable Dr. Harry Frankfurt, author of the marvelous tome On Bullshit

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Harry_Frankfurt

Princeton Professor and author, Dr. Harry Frankfurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

———–

Since I worked with  attorneys for many years, some of the Oregon stalwarts in the profession such as Schwabe’s Jack Faust and Stoel Rives’ Jim Westwood have been designated.  And then there are some more creative picks such as the Crew of the USS Constitution and retired chemist Charles Schlumberg.  For you Seinefeld fans, the venerable Art Vandelay made the list and even former Beaver coach, Mike Riley and his 2012 football team, for their performance — at least after the first six games……

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter - Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood.

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter – Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood.

 

But the omission of any female Beerchaser honoree is glaring, especially since there are many worthy of the recognition.  Although this situation will be rectified in 2015, none have made a more lasting and significant contribution to Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs than my wife of 35 years, Janet Dancer Williams.

A hike in Breckenridge

A hike in Breckenridge

Although our first date in 1979 after an Oregon City Planning Commission meeting (where we first met) was having a beer, Janet is a wine-drinker.   Notwithstanding that, she recently accompanied me to eighteen bars and microbreweries in twelve days on our Colorado trip and was a great companion as we integrated our tour of the wonderful Colorado scenery with Beerchasing in some of the great brewpubs. P1020965

In fact, she was responsible for our VIP tour of New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins – arranged after she met Shawn Hines, one of the executives and his wife, Allison, at the Dundee Hills Winery earlier this year.

She tolerates the hours I sit at my computer researching and writing about the watering holes and only once in awhile accuses me of being preoccupied and not listening to her — at least that’s what I think she’s said……

Jamie and Lisa Williams Magnusson, Laura, Don and Janet Williams with Sullivan

Jamie and Lisa Williams Magnusson, Laura, Don and Janet Williams with Sullivan

And besides her support for Beerchasing, she is a wonderful wife, mom to our two daughters and grandmother (Mimi).

We survived two terms of graduate school Data Analysis in the same class at Portland State University right after we got married in 1980.  We still laugh about negotiating who would stand in line on Saturday mornings to run the computer program at Shattuck Hall and who would stay home and clean the bathrooms.

Memories of Shattuck Hall on the campus at PSU
Memories of Shattuck Hall on the campus at PSU

 

Janet is a native Oregonian, born in McMinnville where her dad, Joe,  was City Manager for 26 years – Joe Dancer Park is named in his honor.  She is a Duck, having graduated from the U of O in 1976 and went on to earn her Masters-in-Public Administration at PSU in 1984.

Mu logo

 ————

She had an outstanding career in local government (Assistant City Manager in both Oregon City and West Linn) and then worked in Human Resources at Nike before becoming the Vice President for Human Resources at Marylhurst University – a position which she held for twenty years.   During that time she also served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations.

P1020885

Janet with Barb and John Senger at The Sink in Boulder

 

Now back to her role in Beerchasing.   She first accompanied me in 2011 to the Coalition Brew Pub, which she loved, but the enthusiasm was not forthcoming that same night when she returned with me and our son-in-law, Jamie, for my second visit to the first bar I reviewed.

That was the Brooklyn Park Pub, a great neighborhood bar.   She asked me afterwards, “Beerchaser (she only calls me that when we are in bars), why do you go to dives like this, when there are so many other good bars?”

She was not agreeable with my response (originally authored by an unknown expert) when I stated, “Janet, these bars are just like hanging out in our own living room —- if our living room were a dingy dive full of strangers.”

On the Mediterranean in Italy

On the Mediterranean Sea in Italy

We have had some wonderful retirement travel together to National Parks, European museums and cathedrals, Spring Training in Arizona, an Alaskan cruise and a Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour.

On the Rick Steves' Best of Europe Tour

On the Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour

DSCN0699

Hiking in the Colorado aspens

And with cheerful (and sometimes restrained enthusiasm) she has gone with me to a number of bars including the Muddy Rudder, Lutz Tavern, Bazi Bier Brasserie and Saraveza in Portland and to the eighteen aforementioned venues in Colorado.

Don’t forget the Devils’ Forest Pub (Venice) and Café Karpershoeck (Amsterdam) and last summer Humpy’s Ale House in Alaska to Roadhouse 101 and the Snug Harbor Bar and Grill on the Central Oregon Coast.

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland with Mary Maxwell and Roy Lambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—————–

Thank you, Janet, and please accept the bottle of 2011 Penner~Ash Pinot Noir that I bought you.  I figured that you would appreciate it more than a case of PBR – a great gift you might consider for me on our next anniversary.

March 30, 1980
March 29, 1980

Thebeerchaser’s 2014 Annual Report

Thebeerchaser on one of the three visits to his favorite 2014 bar - Crackerjacks in NW Portland

Thebeerchaser on one of the three visits to his favorite 2014 bar – Crackerjacks in NW Portland

During the twenty-five years I worked at my favorite law firm (Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt P.C.) the frantic end-of-year financial and compensation activities culminated with preparation for the auditors in the new year.  We had good auditors, but this combat analogy seems fitting: “Auditors are those who arrive after the battle and bayonet the wounded.”

The Original Beerchaser Logo

The Original Beerchaser Logo

Fortunately, there is no similar pressure in the blogging world.  The gurus at WordPress prepared a 2014 Annual report for this blog – replete with graphics and interesting statistics. You can see a summary below which will supplement my own reflections.  But first some context:

Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs commenced in August 2011 – about six months after I retired as the COO of the law firm.  I had a great career working with lawyers at Schwabe, the Oregon State Bar and in local government, but I was ready for new adventures.  And so with great deliberation, I considered many options.   Based on stringent criteria, it was narrowed to two:

Public Domain - National Park Service - 9/14/2009 Wikimedia Commons (http:///en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pacific Crest Trail -logo.jpg)

Public Domain – National Park Service – 9/14/2009 Wikimedia Commons

Either hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) or making a tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs and blogging about them.  My due diligence involved reviewing past backpacking trips.  Reflecting on these pictures of a hiking trip with my two brothers and brother-in-law on the Eagle Creek Trail in the late ’70’s added perspective.

Cheryl Strayed would be proud!!

Cheryl Strayed would be proud!!

 

 

 

I then visited the watering hole that was the inspiration for this hobby – a great dive bar in Dundee named Lumpy’s Landing.  There were many similarities to the two options – the 2,663 mile hike or the multi-year bar tour.

Regrouping at Wahtum Lake after a day of backpacking in the '70's. The Williams boys - Rick, Garry and Don

Regrouping at Wahtum Lake after a day of backpacking in the ’70’s

First, both require use of a compass or GPS to get to remote and sometimes obscure locations not adequately marked with signs and not generally seen as desirable by others.

Secondly, the subpar menu for each option would not be the diverse and tasty culinary delights one is used to at home.  (Example: Kiskie’s powdered eggs on the trail and Hot Mama sausages or pickled hard-boiled eggs – a staple at most dive bars.

Aged to perfection.... but better than powdered eggs
Aged to perfection…. but better than powdered eggs

 

Darwin's Theory - A magnificent Anchorage Alaska dive bar

Darwin’s Theory – A magnificent Anchorage Alaska dive bar – try the free popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, it all “boiled down” to liquid.  In order to avoid the gastro-intestinal distress of giardia, purifying all water by filter, tablets or boiling is required on the PCT.  However, only a few dive bars would require this step on a Bar Tour.

The Ship Tavern - might want to try PBR instead of the water

The Ship Tavern – might want to try PBR instead of the water

And when dive bar potability issues are manifest, there is always PBR – usually cold although at other temperatures still a good option.  (This provides a good chance to take umbrage with an Oregonian movie reviewer who used the following inappropriate analogy when panning a 2014 film:  ….But it had all the zing of a can of flat Pabst.”)   

Good at any temperature!

Good at any temperature!

P1010724

Necessary admonition in Eastern Oregon bar (Burns, Oregon)

 

 

 

 

 

So the bar option was chosen and initiating Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland  Bars, Taverns and Pubs was a wonderful decision.  My initial intent to restrict this journey to just Portland venues was soon discarded.

Thus, followers of this blog have seen reviews of bars in Europe, Alaska, the Oregon Coast, Eastern Oregon, Washington and Colorado (18 visited but not yet posted).

Thebeerchaser enjoying the scenery and a brewski outside the Horner Tavern in laldll Switzerland

Thebeerchaser enjoying the scenery and a brewski outside the Horner Pub in Lauterbrunneen, Switzerland

So three years and five months later, what has been accomplished keeping in mind my forty-years in management were often focused on performance metrics?

In the chart below, the right column is the average number of days between bar reviews for each year although it should be kept in mind that a repeat visit to each bar is generally the case to ensure accurate reporting and not reflected.

Year Days Bar Reviews Avg. Days
2011 146 8 18.3
2012 366 24 15.3
2013 365 29 12.6
2014 365 34 10.7
1242 95 13.1
Stay tuned in 2015 for the Colorado beer tour details

Stay tuned in 2015 for the Colorado beer tour details

Thus you can see that intensity has increased each year and while I do not want to regress to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), the statistics are not accrual-based i.e. there are 18 bars and micro-breweries we visited in a wonderful fall 2014 trip to Colorado that aren’t included in the count and will be posted in early 2015.  This is also a good time to multi-task with both a bar and accountant joke:

A guy in a bar leans over to the guy next to him and says, ‘Want to hear an accountant joke?  The guy next to him replies, ‘Well, before you tell that joke, you should know that I’m 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, and make me living as an accountant. And the guy sitting next to me is 6’2″ tall, 225 pounds, and he’s an accountant too. Now, do you still want to tell that joke?’

The first guy says, ‘No, I don’t want to have to explain it two times.’

That said, those who are interested in statistics (like the drunk using a lamppost – more for support than illumination…) may be interested that the standard deviation from the mean during those four years is 3.27 days demonstrating reasonable volatility and thus stability in frequency of visits.

Beerchasing on the Central Oregon Coast

Beerchasing on the Central Oregon Coast at the Tide Pool Inn in Depoe Bay

So before I conclude by briefing you on the venues visited during 2014, take a look at Thebeerchaser’s Annual Report compiled by WordPress.  I am most proud that in December, the blog surpassed the 40,000 views threshold – from those searching the internet in 115 countries – even those where a limb or appendage might be cut off if you are caught drinking my favorite beverage.

The report below also does not mention the distinguished individuals I have tried to recognize with the designation “Beerchaser of the Quarter”  - an eclectic group ranging from war heroes I know personally to authors to academicians to coaches and even the crew of the USS Constitution based on its famous albeit fictitious voyage in 1798.  A summary of these “honorees” for 2014 follows and to see the others, check out the blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 2014 Establishments Visited and Reveiwed

Beerchasing at Saraveza

Beerchasing at Saraveza

Now remember, the thirty-four venues visited in 2014 do not include the eighteen varied and wonderful bars and micro-breweries we had the privilege of frequenting on our Colorado trip this fall, but here’s the breakdown:

Dive Bars (9) – Club 21 and Sandy Hut in Portland, Nauti Mermaid, Old Oregon Saloon, Sportsman Pub and Grub on the Central Oregon Coast and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee (a revisit from 2011). 

Club 21 - Would you believe a former Greek Orthodox Church?

Club 21 – Would you believe a former Greek Orthodox Church?

Neighborhood Bars (9) - Stamtisch, Lost and Found, Bazi Bier Brasserie, Crackerjacks, Quimbys, Saraveza, Richmond and Nest in Portland and the Mad Dog Tavern in Newport on the coast.     

Outside Stamtisch - a great new NE bar - Laura Williams, Ryan Keen and Kenzie Larson
Outside Stamtisch – a great new NE bar – Laura Williams, Ryan Keen and Kenzie Larson

 

———————

Historic Bars (4) – Skyline Tavern in Portland, Bay Haven Inn and Snug Harbor on the Central Oregon Coast and Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Alaska.

An Historic Newport  Oregon Bar

An Historic Newport Oregon Bar

——————

Sports  Bars (2) - Cheerful Bullpen and Marathon Taverna in Portland

—————–

Owner Amy, Denny Ferguson and Jessica at the Cheerful Bullpen

Owner Amy, Denny Ferguson and Jessica at the Cheerful Bullpen

Miscellaneous (4) – Sniff Café and Peda-lounge (not a bar per se’) in Portland, Oar House and Hoover’s on the Central Oregon Coast    

Multiple bars visited on the Pedaloung tour

Multiple bars visited on the Peda-lounge tour

———-

P1020604                 Brew Pubs (5)Roadhouse 101/Rusty Truck Brewery and the Pelican Brew Pub on the Central Oregon Coast and Haines Brewery, Glacier Brewhouse and Snow Goose Bar/Sleeping Lady Brewery in Alaska.

Bottle Shops (1) – BeerMongers in Portland

The BeerMongers - an excellent bottle shop

The BeerMongers – an excellent bottle shop

————————

Beerchasers of the Quarter – I am pleased to have spent time and chronicled the remarkable careers, contributions and charismatic personalities of the following individuals in 2014:

Art Vandelay, President and CEO of Vandelay Enterprises
Art Vandelay, President and CEO of Vandelay Enterprises

 Art Vandelay – Entrepreneur, lawyer, philanthropist and voted “Most Likely” at his high school alma mater.

————————–

Brian Doyle – Award-winning Northwest author and editor of Portland, the University of Portland’s outstanding and lauded quarterly publication.

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulsom Brew Pub

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulton Brew Pub

——————————-

Steve Lawrence – Attorney and now Mayor of The Dalles.  Awarded two bronze stars for service in the Viet Nam conflict.

Two Viet Nam heroes - Beerchaser of the Quarter 2014 Steve Lawrence and 2013 BoQ Jud Blakely
Two Viet Nam heroes – Beerchaser of the Quarter 2014 Steve Lawrence and 2013 BoQ Jud Blakely

 

Jack Faust - Attorney, award-winning Portland media personality and former military intelligence officer during the Korean conflict.

Portland Appellate Lawyer and Media Personality Jack Faust

Portland Appellate Lawyer and Media Personality Jack Faust

——

In a self-critique, I noted that during the last three years there have been no female recipients of Thebeerchaser-of-the-Quarter award.  Along with working on lowering the average days between bar visits, that will be a goal in 2015.  Stay tuned!!

While it’s not the Pacific Crest Trail, we will continue to blaze trails in the bar scene.  And for those who have discovered and frequent their own favorite Portland bars – ones that are not included in the 57 reviewed so far by Thebeerchaser, please let me know.  With some perseverance and effort, it may not take 10.7 days for me to get there.

Happy New Year

Lumpy's Landing on Highway 18 in Dundee - an inspiration!

Lumpy’s Landing on Highway 18 in Dundee – an inspiration!

The Marathon Taverna – What’s(a) in(a) a Name(a) ?(a)?

Not what you might expect!

Not what you might expect!

While working in downtown Portland for over thirty years, I would often promise myself that I would pay a visit to the Marathon – a bar housed in an interesting looking building on W. Burnside not too far from Providence Park (aka Civic Stadium).  I figured it was a dive bar with an eclectic group of regulars with a storied history – like some of the classic dive bars I’ve reviewed – Joe’s Cellar in NW Portland and the Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village were stellar.     P1020721

Perhaps it will keep you from reading the remainder of this post, but I was sorely disappointed by this watering hole – a pseudo sports bar with a paucity of character and little to distinguish it.

We should have instead opted for the nearby Cheerful BullPen, which has more character or Claudia’s with a rich history.

The saving grace was being accompanied by Beerchaser regular and Beerchaser-of-the Quarter Jack Faust and his son, Charlie.  Their company and conversation could make a discussion on the Rule Against Perpetuities seem interesting or make a soccer match ending in a scoreless tie, stimulating.  (I would get into trouble by suggesting more globally that such would be the case for any soccer match…..)

Faust & Son with Thebeerchaser logo

The Fausts with thebeerchaser logo

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but one or both have joined me for great trips to the Buffalo Gap Saloon, the Grand Cafe and Bailey’s TapRoomJack’s daughter, Portland radio personality, Amy Faust (99.5 The Wolf), recently Beerchased with us at the Rookery (review still pending).

Upon entering the Marathon Taverna, I raised the question as to why there was an “a” at the end of the word tavern. A taverna is defined as a small Greek café or restaurant.

Not the character or ambiance one would expect on West Burnside

Not the character or ambiance one would expect on West Burnside

There wasn’t any moussaka or souvlaki on the menu and no retsina wine or even ouzo or Mextexa Brandy to drink.  Alas, the only things Greek in this watering hole were Faust who was a Sigma Chi at Oregon, Thebeerchaser – an SAE at Oregon State and a few gyro sandwiches.  Socrates would not be impressed with that line-up.

And what’s with the name Marathon?  The website mentions that the bar – opened in 1974, was originally located in the Acropolis Tavern – also a well known Portland strip club, but whether this heritage is accurate could not be verified.

To better understand the lure of the Marathon, Charlie Faust suggested that instead of driving, we start in Marion County in the city of Donald.  A run to Portland with a short side-trip around Forest Park – would yield a route of 26.2 miles.   We would therefore honor the Greek soldier Pheidippides – who was reported to have died in 490 BC after his run from Marathon to Athens to proclaim the Greek victory over the Persians.  Before dying, he shouted, “We have won!”

I thought this would be fitting, since these are the same words Jack uttered when he represented Bing Russell and the Portland Mavericks in the now famous arbitration with Major League Baseball in the 1970’s and chronicled in the great new documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball.”

Jack Faust ordering a beer from the Marathon Bartender
Jack Faust ordering a beer from the Marathon Bartender

Jack, however, based on his undergraduate and law school days at the University of Oregon, countered with the suggestion that we each drink 8.75 pints of beer to arrive at the 26.2 milestone.  Looking at the photos below will demonstrate that his idea could offer some synchronicity, but his son and I demurred.

Jack Faust drinking a beer at the U of O after a 26 mile swim

Jack Faust drinking a beer at the U of O after a 26 mile swim

 

But we digress.  What was good about the Marathon Taverna?  Well, they have free popcorn – not a Greek dish, but still very good.  There are also a lot of TVs with different sporting events, if that’s what you like with your beer.  A small, but ardent group of  Portland Timber supporters was watching a match on one of the TVs –  20 high definition and a giant 92-inch monster.

Not Mediterranean, but free.
Not Mediterranean, but free.

There are nineteen reasonably-priced beers and also cocktails on their menu – but neither is listed on their website.

A number of reviews are positive about the gyros and the cheeseburgers – and their $2.00 breakfasts served until 2:00 P.M.  But the rather agressive and surly attitude of the staff was also mentioned multiple times in reviews – a downside, especially as you enter.

And this may be because of the physical layout confronting you when entering the bar – the only such arrangement I have seen in visiting over 50 bars in Portland.

There is a bouncer – a security guy, of sorts – sitting at a dias or throne-type arrangement which makes him look – and possibly act like Alexander the Great.  The “welcome” signs shout out, “No soliciting and “No Trespassing.”

Power hungry??

Power hungry??

Portland Barfly sums up this issue and the overall atmosphere of the venue quite well:

The  loyal shift of elderly patrons and the unsmiling doorman – those regulars may have been arriving every morning the past fifty years, but they’d best have their ID on hand to enter – are the only traces of The Marathon’s rather-more-dangerous past.

Plenty of TVs, but where are the grizzled regulars?

Plenty of TVs, but where are the grizzled regulars?

Weekend nights have largely been overtaken by a large, tight-knit, metal-happy, pool-playing, irritatingly-attractive group of twenty-somethings seemingly brought en masse from Beaverton for reasons beyond our imaginings.”

 A sentiment echoed by this excerpt from a City Search review:   Great place with horrible irrational staff – This used to be one of my favorite places until the last two times I’ve gone there, the bouncers have gotten extremely aggressive and kicked me out for no reason.”

Now perhaps the bar’s management feels that they need this type of defensive screening based on its Burnside location although the only altercation I could find occurred in 2008, and did not seem to be too savage.  As reported in Willamette Week:

A University of Portland grad is suing a Vancouver man for subjecting him to an uninvited bear hug outside a dive bar on West Burnside Street. In a lawsuit filed Sept. 10 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Patrick Geraghty claims that Brian Yoakum and his friends were standing outside the Marathon Taverna on Sept. 13, 2008.

Yoakum, “without warning, clutched [Geraghty] in a ‘bear hug’ and twisted [Geraghty’s] body after securing said hold,” the lawsuit says. Geraghty suffered a broken right foot as a result, according to the lawsuit. The suit, filed by Portland lawyer Sanam Dowlatdad, seeks seeks $75,000 for medical bills and lost wages, plus $500,000 for pain and suffering.

We don’t know if this suit settled or was tried, but for those wondering, Sanam Dowlatdad, after graduating from Willamette Law School, worked as Multnomah County Deputy DA and then at the Cosgrove Vergeer Kester law firm, before establishing her own firm in 2011.

Charlie Faust and Thebeerchaser - good company but no ambiance.

Charlie Faust and Thebeerchaser – good company but no ambiance.

No Greek national flag either.....

No Greek national flag either…..(Faust and Son)

And the only other egregious conduct recorded is that of Welches area con-man named, David Wilson.  Several years ago he purportedly tried to scam those at the Marathon and nearby establishments by stating that he was desperate for a loan because he’d lost his wallet at a Timbers game and couldn’t get his car out of the parking lot.

 

I guess if you just want nothing more than a cheap beer and to watch a sporting event, hit the Marathon.  But unless you can get the Fausts to join you or maybe start running from a mile and one-half east of the Vista House on the Columbia River Highway – it would allow your marathon to finish at the Marathon – it may not be fulfilling.

 

Marathon Taverna           1735 West Burnside

 

 

 

 

 

The Richmond Bar – Have a Cocktail (or a Beer) at this New Bar

The Richmond - It's cocktails make a splash on the Portland bar scene in 2014

The Richmond – Its cocktails make a splash on the Portland bar scene in 2014

Ten good draft beers to supplement the cocktail menu

Ten good draft beers to supplement the cocktail menu

Those who prefer cocktails, but  want some good draft beers as well, should check out the Richmond Bar – only about a year old and replacing the Matchbox Lounge - oft praised in the past for its great $5 burgers and good beer. It joins the list of plentiful watering holes on SE Division.

The Oregonian includes the Richmond in its listing of “Portland’s 10 Best New Bars,” and describes it as, “….. (a)surprisingly handsome and cozy spot with a British-meets-Pacific Northwest vibe decorated with tufted leather booths, imported wall paper and large wooden tables.”

West Coast Dave Hicks - A Beerchaser Regular who quotes the Sage of Baltimore

West Coast Dave Hicks – A Beerchaser Regular who quotes the Sage of Baltimore

Nate Tilden (the Portland restaurateur and “cutting edge” guy who takes meat very seriously) (also owner of Clyde Commons and Olympic Provisions – entered another of his partnerships with Portlander, Marty Schwartz.

I was pleased that Beerchaser Regular, “West Coast” (although his sales territory goes east to Chicago) Dave Hicks, was in town from his San Francisco environs to raise a mug and convey pearls of wisdom.

Hicks has been to prior Beerchaser watering holes including Crackerjacks, the Horse Brass Pub and Belmont Station.  His Princeton University under-graduate education is evident as he was quick to quote American journalist and satirist, H.L. Menken while drinking an outstanding Fort George Spruce Budd Ale – one of nine beers and one cider on tap.

dd

H. L. Mencken – Skeptical about economists and politicians but not beer

“24 hours in a day – 24 beers in a case –  Coincidence.  I think not.”   

Before we tried the menu and imbibed in one of the cocktails, I took Dave’s suggestion – a bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne – a reddish-brown ale from the West-Flanders region of Belgium.  And although he is not fluent in Dutch, he taught me the correct pronunciation to order it.

Duchesse De Bourgogne - easier to drink than pronounce....

Duchesse De Bourgogne – easier to drink than pronounce….

The Richmond is cozy and low-key.  You order your drinks and food at the bar and even during Happy Hour, it had a nice vibe.   We talked to Kelly, the bartender, who has worked there for just a few months and moved from Clyde Commons – which has also supplied chefs.

The bar has a rotating selection of “hand pies” and Dave enjoyed the ham pie, which the  Portland Tribune Beef and Brew column described as, “….juicy Olympic Provisions sweetheart ham, smoked cheddar and – instead of predictable root vegetables – roasted cauliflower.”   I enthusiastically devoured the wild boar and sweet corn pie.  The most recent choices for pies on their website are a roasted venison and a vegetable option. 

The robust menu shows mainly pub food with an Old English theme – and you know the OP meat is going to be superb.  The offerings include mac & cheese, a number of burgers and sandwiches, salads and some esoteric snacks such as Pickled Eggs and Anchovies, Pork and Pistachio Pate, and Roast Beef and Turnips.  Take a dollar off any item during their Happy Hour from 4:00 to 6:00 every day and all day on Sunday.

Kelly - a skilled mixologist

Kelly – a skilled mixologist

We were pleasantly surprised based on our limited sampling of their twelve original cocktails, and ours deserved the reputation the Richmond has garnered.

I had the Strong Water ($10) – stirred with rye, cardamaro, averna, dry vermouth and bitters – ingredients departing from what you would expect Thebeerchaser to be accustomed to – barley, malt, hops and yeast.

Hicks had a Paloma ($8) – tequila, grapefruit shrub, lime and jalapeno simple.  I did not have the courage to ask what was the difference between plain grapefruit and “grapefruit shrub.”

The Paloma and Strong Water - what in the heck is cardamaro??

The Strong Water and the Paloma – what in the heck is cardamaro??

A return trip would probably mean trying the Park Life, the Incider or the Mo Betta or the June Bug although that would still only cover one-half of their mixed drink lineup.

Skilled mixologists..

Skilled mixologists..

The Richmond has its own nice character, classy décor, the bartenders were skilled and friendly and as Willamette Week concluded in its review, “The cozy, tasteful little bar does absolutely nothing wrong – except perhaps doing nothing wrong.”

 

Their website is pretty basic, but has their drink and food menu and information on their Happy Hour.  However, if you’re searching for “The Richmond Bar,” be specific and expand your search terms or you may end up reading about a bunch of lawyers in the oldest  bar association in Virginia (founded in 1856).

And who can impugn the motives of those whose goal is “to promote legal science and the administration of justice…..while meeting the challenges of our rapidly changing profession.”  

Bartender Kelly and Thebeerchaser with the logo

Bartender Kelly and Thebeerchaser with the logo

 

Since West Coast Dave Hicks is also a lawyer, he would drink to that mission!

And by the way, if you are still wondering, cardamaro is an Italian herbal wine-based liqueur flavored with a relative of the artichoke and blessed thistle among other herbs and spices.

And grapefruit shrub is a sweet-tart infusion of vinegar and fruit.

A nice ambiance to complement good food and beverage options

A nice ambiance which complements the good food and beverage options

 

The Richmond Bar     3203 SE Division

 

 

 

The Finale – Part IV of Thebeerchaser Does the Central Oregon Coast

 

The Cruise Inn in Lincoln City - not the Holland America line, but a good bar

The Cruise Inn in Lincoln City – not the Holland America line, but a good bar

We concluded our time on the Central Oregon coast at some bars with real character back in Lincoln City after two days visiting the bars below. The journey started at Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, which was followed by:

The Old Oregon Saloon and Road House 101 in Lincoln City

The Pelican Brew Pub, the Oar House and the Sportsman Pub and Grub in Pacific City

The Bay Haven Inn, Mad Dog Country Tavern and Hoover’s in Newport

The Tidal Pool in Depoe Bay

2014-08-30 14.58.19

The bar at the Cruise Inn

The Cruise Inn – only a block away from the Old O, is right on Highway 101 in the heart of Lincoln City in an old and somewhat ramshackle pale-blue (for the ocean??) building with what appears to be an ocean liner painted on the side.

Having been on an Alaska Cruise earlier this summer, I can say it was not comparable to Holland America’s Statendam, but a colorful bar with some lively regulars inside.  And how can you lose when you can buy three beers for $8.25.

This set is in the back room after you pass the bar........
This set is in the back room after you pass the bar……..

 You could have some great conversation with the regulars as you came in – or pass the bar - in a manner of speaking – and go into the back room for a game of pool or to resolve your legal issues using the ten-volume set of American Jurisprudence Legal Forms  – 22,000 legal documents.  What better place to review a stock-purchase agreement or make revisions to a spousal indemnification for joint tax return, than in a coastal dive bar?

And right across the street was another favorite – the Naughty Mermaid, which according to the outspoken and experienced bartender, Di, had previously been home to a lending library, John’s Market, a donation store and finally a second-hand store before it became a bar.P1020711

 

Di, a fixture in Lincoln City since 1986, has also poured beers in the Old O and the Cruise Inn before taking a job in a bar with a racier name and decorations…..

Di - an experienced bartender with stories to tell...

Di – an experienced bartender with stories to tell…

 

The presence of an impressive piano on the stage, is explained by the second owner of the Mermaid, who was a classically trained pianist and would not play in public.

Di said that he would come into the bar and practice each morning. There are numerous interesting 33 LP covers hung on the wall in the entertainment area, including artists such as Van Cliburn and Tennessee Ernie Ford, which reflect the owner’s avocation.

Van Cliburn and others....

Van Cliburn and others….

Let's see...do I want Hemingway, Steinbeck or Danielle Steele?

Let’s see…do I want Hemingway, Steinbeck or Danielle Steele?

Although there are no legal forms, if you want to drink your beer while reading, you can sit in a nice over-stuffed chair and borrow a book from the Mermaid’s library.

And like any good coastal dive bar, there are a lot of tacky beach-related knick knacks – such as an ivory sea horse, a scary gargoyle and the descriptive sign on the ladies bathroom.

This mermaid does, in fact, look naughty...

This mermaid does, in fact, look naughty…

 

2014-08-23 17.22.43

A possible museum piece?

A possible museum piece?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the regulars at the Naughty Mermaid...

One of the regulars at the Naughty Mermaid…

 

————

And finally, in Taft – the very southern part of Lincoln City – right near Mo’s Seafood, is the Snug Harbor Bar and Grill, an historic bar which Matt Love describes in his Letitpour.net blog:

“….exquisitely upholstered red vinyl bar and the thick elevated round tables that have coiled rope around the base….(with a layout) refreshingly atypical for the coast drinking scene: rectangular, narrow, then a step down to a triangular annex where the pool tables and library are (a library appears to be a standard amenity in Lincoln City bars…..)”

A Taft landmark

A Taft landmark

Snug Harbor also has an impressive deck on the second floor which would be a great place to relax over a beer on one of the few balmy days at the Oregon coast.             P1020691

Maybe this was Paul Newman's machine....

Maybe this was Paul Newman’s machine….

There are some great decorations including a gigantic chain saw and some posters including the one below that describes the Redhead Round-up.

 

 

According to a Taft Historic District blog, “The first annual Redhead Roundup, originated by Taft Resident Manville Robison (a red-head himself), was held on August 23, 1931 and lasted into the 1940s. The beauty pageant culminated each year in the crowning of a Redhead Queen and King Eric the Red.  Decked out with banners and posters.

Where is Lindsay Lohan, when she could be useful?

Where is Lindsay Lohan, when she could be useful?

Taft was a festive scene, its hotels and rental cottages full, its streets lined with cars and busloads of people from near and far.”

Evidently, there was an effort to revive this tradition in 2011, based on the following appeal: “Redheads unite during the 2011 Redhead Round-Up and Photo Contest! Send in your best redhead picture in one of our fantastic ginger loving divisions including: curliest red hair, most freckled redhead, redheaded pet and more!”

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMCX6A_Taft_Historic_District_Lincoln_City_OR

Thebeerchaser will "regress" to gin martinis when steak is on the menu

Thebeerchaser will “regress” to gin martinis when steak is on the menu

 

A "Goodwill" gesture...
A “Goodwill” gesture…

As we returned to our shelter for the last night, we realized that we had no grill, but a strong desire for red meat – like in steak!

We reveled in our in resourcefulness after we rigged up the contraption below with a grate – purchased at the local Good Will store for $4.50 –  and some coastal rocks for a platform.  The end result is shown in the photos.

P1020708So what were the highlights of the coast trip and were there any trends we could identify from the 13 establishments we visited in the 3.5 days.

  1. 1.  Great bartenders
  2. 2.   Old and idiosyncratic buildings with hallways and side rooms that add to the character.
  3. Great stories from the regulars reinforced by the memorabilia “decorating” the bars.
  4. 3.  Steve’s affection for old-school beer – “Beer that you can see through….”        

    Translucent beer??

    Translucent beer??

 

4.  Steak and Tide Pool Bar pizza

5.  Dave’s erudition, reflecting his career as an educator, “Remember guys – ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ – and  Budwieser.”

And although it was not a highlight, one ubiquitous presence  –  video poker and slots as a revenue generator. We saw this first-hand at Lumpy’s, the Mad Dog and Hoovers when patrons with morbid intensity, each tossed away big bucks in record time.

This fact has had a negative impact on the bar environment as passionately stated by Matt Love.   While I wouldn’t go as far as Matt in his final blog post.  He asserts that the lottery has led to the death of bars.  While we may not accept that premise in its entirety, we did see that it has led to a degradation of their character:

 

The video poker sign above the name may be one reason this venue is now mediocre and lacks character
A death knell??

I love these taverns, so much in fact, that six years ago I began writing about the ones on the Oregon Coast where I live.…(in his excellent blog Letitpour.net)  After all this exploration, doubtless I am an expert on Oregon taverns. Thus, it is with sadness that I declare the unique cultural institution of the independent Oregon tavern is dead.

The state of Oregon seriously wounded it with video poker, and more recently with the introduction of line games, (slots) killed it altogether.….In 1991 when the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Lottery to allow video poker in taverns and bars…..it was a frenzy.

Then in 2005, line games were introduced into Oregon’s taverns and bars…..Sure, the pool and darts continue, but these taverns are not the same, and I know because I drank beer in them before they were enlisted by the state to raise revenue from the pockets of vulnerable, occasionally inebriated people.   What is especially sad is to have witnessed how video poker slowly transformed taverns from gritty bastions of independence into de facto tax collectors for the state….Rest in peace Oregon tavern.”

Notwithstanding the video poker issue, the three of us were so enamored with the coastal bars – they reinforced the enjoyment of our tour last summer of Eastern Oregon watering holes – that we ended by dreaming of a road trip next summer.

Perhaps it will be Montana or better yet, Wyoming, where Steve and his wife, Babs, taught school for many years in Thermopolis, (“A past to behold and a future to uphold.”) and can attest to the culture – one consistent with Beerchasing.  For example, at the Safari Lounge or Shirley’s Bar - Steve’s favorite bars – and the latter, one of the few watering holes I know with a drive-in window for customers on the run.

Beckoning.....!

Beckoning…..!

These may have been replaced by Loonie’s Bin and the Flying Dutchman on Highway 20, which “…is the place to do it. The drinks are strong, the atmosphere laid back and welcoming,”  but some interesting bars need exploration.

And if we don’t find the right bar in Thermopolis, we can take a short hop to East Thermoplis and find a viable alternative.

That said, with its range of options, Thermopolis should maintain our interest with attractions  –  such as the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, a blue-ribbon trout stream (the Big Horn River), the breathtaking Wind River Canyon, world-class waterfowl and big game hunting.”

We’ll report to you next summer.

Newport and Depoe Bay – Thebeerchaser Does the Central Oregon Coast – Part III

An Historic Newport Bar

An Historic Newport Bar

The third day of our Beerchasing sojourn on the Central Oregon Coast, we headed south from Lincoln City to Newport along beautiful Highway 101.  Dave, seeing the boiling foam from the surf stated, “That reminds me of the suds on a brewski and I’m looking forward to a beer.”

P1020630Our first stop was the historic Bay Haven Inn in Newport – a sanctuary over the years to many fishermen and loggers and also the set for the Snag Saloon in the Ken Kesey movie, “Sometimes a Great Notion,” filmed in Newport in the early ’70’s.  The establishment originally had an inn on the second floor – long gone, but the name of the bar has never changed.

Steve, the bartender who has worked there for three years after moving from Montana,  was friendly and helpful in telling us about this classic watering hole – he also shared some scrumptious smoked salmon – worth the trip to Newport alone.

Bartender Steve, Thebeerchaser and my favorite logo

Bartender Steve, Thebeerchaser and my favorite logo

We viewed the varied artifacts in the bar and absorbed the ambiance artfully described by Matt Love in his Letitpour Blog review from the 1990’s:

….beaten-to-a-pulp hardwood floors, fog-light lanterns, sea captain sculptures, deer trophies, a property seizure receipt from the National Marine Fisheries Service, a mounted octopus, an ancient outboard motor, plaques commemorating fisherman perished on the water and lots of wool-wearing, bearded drinkers at 1:00 P.M. on a weekday.” 

Eclectic interior design material.....

Eclectic interior design material…..

We also admired the sign which said, “I’ve been fishing so long, my worm is getting Social Security.” 

The Bay Haven is also the only bar I have visited in almost 100 venues, that had a horseshoe pit in the back – and there was an intense game in progress at 11:00 in the morning.  No corn-hole contests for these patrons!

 Steve told us that during rowdier times, the pit is closed as the horseshoes can become lethal weapons with some inebriated patrons – something that could happen if one guzzled a few of the featured Bay Haven cocktails including the Dead Nazi – (1 oz. Jagermeister + 1 oz. Peppermint Schnapps) a bargain at $6.

Prior to three years ago, they did not serve hard liquor – evidenced by the sign captioned, “Soup of the Day — Whiskey.”  They also have a full menu.

 

Potential lethal weapons for those with blurred vision

Horse-shoes – Potential lethal weapons for those with blurred vision

A final story (“The best drinking hole story on the Oregon Coast for all time…”) from Matt’s blog that should be told, relates to Paul Newman, who directed and was the star of the aforementioned movie:

“….with the cast and crew of the movie staying in Newport, the man (who told Matt the story) drank in a dive tavern in the rugged timber town of Toledo, eight miles east……Enter Paul Newman carrying a chainsaw, exactly like the hard-ass logger character, Hank Stamper, he happened to be portraying…….

Wordless, alone, Newman, who according to various biographies……has at times drank to considerable excess, fired up his chainsaw.  He sawed the legs off the pool table.  It crashed to the floor.  Stunned logging locals looked on.  They did nothing.  Newman left, perhaps later sending a check to cover the damage. Perhaps not.”

What's in a name??

What’s in a name??

We traveled a few miles up the road along Yaquina Bay to Sawyers’s Landing and a delightful and idiosyncratic venue with a name that belies its history.  On the way, Steve saw a fishing boat and said, “Fishing reminds me of hoisting a brewski with friends, I’m looking forward to a beer.” 

And when we sat down at the bar in the Mad Dog Country Tavern, Steve immediately ordered a Sessions – which he fondly described as, “Like Coors Light – only with body.”   

Pauline - a good storyteller

Pauline – a good storyteller

Pauline, another of many cordial bartenders we met on the coastal journey, has worked at the tavern for 3.5 years.  She told us that her “regulars” are people from the adjoining RV Park, summer tourists and Newport residents.

Pauline’s story on the origin of the name of the bar – about 50 years ago –  was similar to Matt’s, but given his diligence with historical details, we will defer to the Letitpour.net blog account:

Historical significance.....

Historical significance……

“….Years ago, a large log rested in front of the tavern.  It has seatbelts attached to it.  In some sort of contest, certain patrons would strap themselves in and then proceed to consume a bottle(s) of a particular brand of fortified wine.  The “winner” remained sitting upright.  Thus Mad Dog Tavern.”  

Aged to perfection....

Aged to perfection….

———————

While we drank our beers and considered how long the pickled eggs and Hot Mama sausages in the jars had been fermenting, Pauline told us other stories.  One was about the wake for one of the regulars named Brenda.  Based on septic tank issues, all of the toilets in the bar backed up the day before the gathering, so they ordered 3 porta-potties, which “accommodated” the mourners that afternoon.

We sat stunned as a resident from the RV park next door came in, ordered a beer and asked Pauline for his “envelope” which she retrieved from the safe and counted out $125 in cash.  He sat down at a video poker machine and about 30 minutes later came back and said he needed the envelope again!

Aside from this one negative, Matt Love’s description stands, “The Mad Dog is so perfect and perfectly American..maybe not for the Drys, but definitely for us wets.”

After a good lunch at Ocean Bleu Seafoods and a walk along the Newport Bay, we made our last Newport stop – an innocuous little bar named Hoovers Bar and Grill – just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on Highway 101.  P1020652

We noticed an interesting portrait of a women with a semi-exposed breast – allegedly given to the owner by Gracie, the founder of the Sea Hag Restaurant in Depoe Bay and a sign promoting their jello-shots stating, Jello isn’t just for kids…,” , We then were fortunate to hear the history of the bar related by Amy, the granddaughter of the owner.  

A one-time petting zoo -- oh wait.....!

A one-time petting zoo — oh wait…..!

Evidently, the building became Alice’s Tavern in 1978, but that was after the mini-mart, gas station and petting zoo with a live alligator and black bear was decommissioned.

We listened in fascination to a fellow sitting next to us at the bar from Minnesota arguing in a heated cell-phone conversation that he had been promised a gig on a NOAA ship out of Newport as first mate.  We also sat appalled as a kid who couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19 sitting right behind us, burned through $70 on a video poker machine in no more than 15 minutes.

Oh yes, another intriguing sign appeared to be a dated – but authentic – advertising Caroline’s Topless Charter Service,  – a former Newport “sport-fishing” option that offered three-hour expeditions for $75 and all-day trips for $100.  Perhaps this approach to “bosom fishing” ran its course, because the bartender told us they were no longer in business.

P1020655We headed north, and since to that point I had been the designated driver, I said after seeing a pool of stagnant water along the road, “That reminds me of PBR and I’m looking forward to drinking a beer in Depoe Bay.”

We decided to pass on an option to stop at O’Downey’s Irish Pub in Depoe Bay based on the premise that Sheperd’s Pie and Irish Stew might be not be a coastal culinary special, but found our way to a wonderful, albeit dilapidated building just north of Depoe Bay housing The Tide Pool – a former video store and laundromat – now a great dive bar.

Maybe in Dublin, but not in Depoe Bay....

Maybe in Dublin, but not in Depoe Bay….

Our bartender was Vicki – also the owner – and she was emphatic about her pizza being the best on the Oregon coast.  Dave and Steve agreed and their order was faster than the sign posted by the kitchen i.e. “Same day service on most food orders…”

Both of them got into the spirit by purchasing Tide Pool t-shirts.  Vicki told us about going to “Take Your Kid to Work Day,” when she lived in Iowa as a child and her dad worked in a slaughter house……

 P1020662

P1020668

The girls resting after a day of charter fishing and conversing with Steve

The mementos and brick-a-brack in the bar was superb ranging from artifacts such as a huge dead lobster from the former Depoe Bay Aquarium to a life raft recovered from the New Carissa, to a picture of three bare-breasted nymphs – a recurring theme in the bars along the coast although perhaps these had been employees of the now defunct Carloline’s Topless Charters.

As Matt Love opined in his blog post, “What a joint!  For starters it was practically a labyrinth with all sorts of weird angles, alcoves and passages.” 

Standing guard

Standing guard

 

 

 

 

 

This included a narrow passage into the video poker and pool room – in which there was a second bar and a battered, legless, facially tattooed, mustached mannequin in a bright red shirt stood guard.

P1020666

But perhaps the highlight was what Matt described as “a salt-water glass coffin called the Tank of Death.  It is packed with all manner of marine creatures caught by local fishermen who bucket in their curious finds and dump them in.  Eels, crabs, sea bass, perch, Dick Cheney, octipi and urchins all end up in the mix……….

P1020670

Beware — The Tank of Death!

  

According to the bartender, aquatic creatures regularly stage a battle royal to the death and the tank serves as a Roman arena of savagery and merciless predation  – with bets slapped down and accelerated drinking when the water turns a creamy, cloudy red.”   

 

The Tide Pool was one of our favorite watering holes and one to which we will return.  And thanks to Matt Love’s outstanding blog – Letitpour.net – which has not lost its value even though not active anymore.

P1020664Filled with a strong appreciation for the tales and history of the Oregon Coast, we headed north to Lincoln City for dinner – it was Senior Night at the buffet at Chinook Winds Casino….   P1020673

 

Steve, Vicki and Dave with Thebeerchaser logo

Steve, Vicki and Dave with Thebeerchaser logo

 

Buying into the program…..