Beerchasing Miscellany -Updates and Brew Tidbits….

The Benedictine Brewery and Taproom under construction

Benedictine Brewery Update – I have enjoyed working on this project on the grounds of the Mount Angel Monastery and Seminary.  It will be one of only two west of the Mississippi in which the monks are the owners and operators.  Construction is proceeding well and a certificate of occupancy expected in May and the Taproom is scheduled to open in September.

Father Martin, the Head Brewer and Procurator of the Abbey did a great job at the Meet-the-Brewer function at the University of Portland Pilot House Pub last month where they served Black Habit and Farmhouse Ale – our two flagship beers.

Meet the Brewer at UP

He got feedback from the students on the beer and had a great chance to chat with them.  Notwithstanding his assertion that he is basically a shy person, the students appeared to really enjoy the conversation.   I think many of them will make the trip to the Taproom when it opens.

Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter Update: Each quarter I feature an individual or group who has an interesting story or has made a contribution worth noting.  The “honorees” may or may not have anything to do with bars or beer.  Here’s an update on three of them.

Jud Blakely as 1964 OSU Student Body President

Jud Blakely – this SAE fraternity brother at Oregon State and long-term friend (about 50+ years) is living in Alabama.   Those who remember my previous post when he was Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, will remember him as former OSU Student Body President, Viet Nam war hero during service as a Marine Corps Officer (Bronze Star and Purple Heart) and Renaissance guy who is a prolific writer, former athlete, consultant , family man and general overachiever.

Well, he’s done it again.  Jud’s initial technology work went into the website for the Oregon Viet Nam Veterans’ Living Memorial a number of years ago, which is an outstanding tribute to those who served and died in the War.

Jud after patrol in 1966 at Than Thrah Viet Nam

His latest effort – recently finished (although still an ongoing work in progress…) is a website on the OSU Giant Killers. It’s  the result of months of effort mastering the technology and work during the years since he wrote a screenplay on the subject and started interviewing, obtaining records and film, etc.

Dee Andros – The Great Pumpkin

The 1967 Beavs were the un-ranked (pre-season) football team who amazed the nation, by beating two top-five teams including Purdue and USC and tying UCLA when the Bruins were ranked second.  I was a sophomore at OSU then and still have memories of the game and beating an OJ Simpson-led USC Trojan team 3 to 0.

The Battle of Borodino. No Great Pumpkin, but the “Little Corporal…”

Stated simply, “This website is amazing!”  It is the War and Peace of websites only featuring the yardage gains of football players after mowing down defensive opponents as compared to Napoleon’s French marauders’ march to Moscow after the Battle of Borodino.

Check it out.  You will be amazed at this inspired effort.   http://osu67giantkillers.com/

Coach Andros after the USC win

Thebeerchaser will feature the website and some of the amazing stories from that season when the Giant Killer Team is featured as the next Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

Jack FaustThis Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Of-Counsel and well known Oregon appellate lawyer was also  for many years the moderator of the award-winning public affairs show “Town Hall” which was broadcast on ABC/KATU.  Some of his most noted broadcasts were on the Rajneesh “invasion” of Central Oregon where they formed a commune and tried to take over the town of Antelope and Wasco County by poisoning citizens and importing busloads of transients – whom they later dumped on the streets – after they had voted.

The sordid historical account, which includes attempted murders, political manipulation and organizational intrigue, has been captured in a new, excellent Netflix documentary entitled, “Wild Wild Country.”   A younger, Jack Faust, is shown in the film – his second appearance in such documentaries as he also had a much larger role in “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” the story of the Portland Mavericks which is also on Netflix.

Jack’s food was allegedly poisoned by the Rajneesh, who felt that it would preclude him from broadcasting his third Town Hall show after the first two came across much more negatively than they expected.   (Faust used his cross-examination skills well during the session.)  The box lunch from the Rajneesh deli, Zorba the Buddha, delivered to him at the law firm made him incredibly sick, but thanks to his wife, Alice, who drove him to Antelope, he moderated the show.

For a first-hand account, read Thebeerchaser post on Jack and his amazing career which includes a compelling excerpt from the article his daughter, Amy, wrote for 1859 Magazine. https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

And you should definitely watch “Wild Wild Country”.  In a long e-mail to Thebeerchaser Faust gives his assessment of the film.  While he asserts that there are some issues which could improve the documentary, overall he gives it a “Thumbs Up” as you will see from the excerpted final three paragraphs of his missive below:

One of the Bhagwan’s 90 Rolls Royce

However, none of that should dissuade you from enjoying a fascinating 6 hours.  It is bingeworthy – incredible footage and the amazing feat of telling the story without any narration; the whole story is told by those interviewed and contemporary news broadcasts. 

And, it was well edited from a mass of  materials:  e.g. I was interviewed on two topics – my own poisoning and the fraud perpetrated to get LCDC approval for their comprehensive plan. Both were cut, but I would have added little to what the film presented.

The cult leader smiling at one of his “followers.”

Ma Sheela, whom I came to know, seemed creepy to me from the start.  The mouth smiled but the eyes never did.  At lunch in her home at the Ranch – twice – she treated the Rajneesh girls who waited on us like dirt. And in Town Hall 3 she showed herself to a large northwest audience to be arrogant, contemptuous and heartless.

The parts in hour 6 about the sorrow of the abandoned sannyasins leaving the ranch were on target.  Those were 90% decent people, many very talented, who had hit some bad ‘bumps in the road’ (divorce, depression, personal failure) that left them with damaged psyches that found solace in the group and a lifestyle that was ‘alternative’ to the max.”

Dr. Sam Holloway this associate professor at the University of Portland Pamphlin School of Business, is also an internationally recognized brewing consultant, who is a founding partner in the craft-brewing consulting firm – Crafting-a-Strategy.   Sam is also on the Board of the Eugene Brewery, Oakshire Brewing.

He and his family are on his first sabbatical from the University and besides enjoying Rotterdam, Sam continues to make his mark as an expert in the craft brewing industry as can be seen from this excerpt from a May 2 e-mail to Thebeerchaser. He will return to Portland for the fall term at UP with an additional accolade as set forth below:

Sam’s photo from Sarajevo Brewery in Bosnia-Herzegovina

“First, Erasmus University.  Due to my research and publication record prior to my sabbatical (and their department chair’s love of beer) I was offered and accepted a visiting professor job the University’s Rotterdam School of Management – it’s ranked in the top 10 in Europe and offered me the chance to work in a research focused institution. (I was relieved of nearly all teaching and allowed to focus on research the Dutch craft beer industry as well as overall growth of craft beer in Europe.)

I had an amazing and large group of colleagues that included professors, doctoral students & masters students.  So I got to spend a year surrounded by brilliant people in my area of focus. I also am excited about a new paper Ion which I am collaborating that uses Ratebeer.com data overlaid on Brewers Association data to see how a craft breweries mix of products affects their growth over time.

Dr. Sam having a brew with Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray

I’ve also been able to grow Crafting A Strategy over here and been a featured speaker at two beer industry related events. At the first event, I gave a beer business talk to about 85 Dutch beer industry professionals in February 2018.

Even more exciting, I am a keynote speaker at the first ever beer business June conference in Europe in Brussels. I am speaking opposite Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev.  At this exciting conference, I will be presenting and also emcee a panel of small to medium sized breweries in Europe where discussing how small and independent breweries need to think and act differently to survive.”

 

Finally, Sam was just honored by being awarded a named professorship at the University of Portland.  The Bay Area Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship.  UP stated, “These professorships are critical to support the scholarly work of our finest professors and to recognize and retain their leadership and expertise in their disciplines.” 

Bar Update –  One of the smaller but interesting breweries first reviewed by Thebeerchaser in 2013 has expanded to a second location in Portland’s Pearl District.

Sasquatch Brewing which started five years ago, after the owner, Tom Sims, decided to expand his garage home-brewing hobby, opened a new taproom and sandwich shop, just below Forest Park in the summer of  2017.

“…a new brewing facility in a 4000-square foot warehouse in industrial Northwest Portland.   The new brewery will include a 15-barrel system, two 90-barrel fermenters and a tasting room open to the public seven days a week.” (Brevnet.com 3/31/17)

The beer is anything but abominable……

Check out the 22 beers on tap and see another example of a home brewer who pursued a dream to fruition.

Renners’ Grill and Suburban Room –  This classic dive bar in the heart of Multnomah Village, is trying to continue the tradition of “Generous Cocktails, Cold Beer and Good Food Since 1939,” after a disastrous two-alarm fire on March 29th which closed most of Multnomah Village while firefighters made a successful effort to save the old building.

The community is trying to help get this neighborhood icon back and co-owner, Josh Hartnell, who told me when I interviewed him on one of my visits, to call him “Uncle Stumpy,”  has established A Go Fund Me account to help supplement insurance proceeds.

 

Uncle Stumpy and server,Emmie, on Thebeerchasers visit

According to a May 3 article in the Portland Tribune, which quotes the other co-owner/manager Stephen Potter, who is optimistic that Renners’ will again be serving strong drinks and what I found to be excellent food:

“‘We’ve survived a lot of things. We’ve had our ups and downs. This is definitely a setback,’ Potter said. ‘We’ll power through it and try to look at it as thoughtfully as we can about trying to make it a better place when it comes back open again. Our goal is to keep the same ambiance we had before.’ 

Beerchaser regular, Walt Duddington, at Renners’

Potter purchased Renner’s about two and a half years ago and has since expanded the menu, doubled the beer selection and collaborated with organizations such as Neighborhood House and the Oregon Humane Society for fundraisers. And he says revenue has spiked since he bought the shop.” 

Stay tuned along with Thebeerchaser for the re-opening of this great establishment which according to my brother-in-law, Dave, served “the best hangar steak, I’ve eaten in Portland.”

“Bottoms Up”at The Oaks Bottom Public House

Many Oregon breweries have become high-profile operations with significant advertising budgets and sleek new brewpubs with roof-top patios attracting crowds of millennials from downtown high-tech firms that have become an important part of Portland’s new economy. The bravado is sometimes more for the underlying events and image of the venue than the beer.

Thebeerchaser is not suggesting this is a negative.  In fact, the micro-craft industry, from its roots in the mid-1980’s by some pioneers including Don Younger, the Widmers and the McMenamins has become a multi-billion dollar industry providing family-wage jobs, attracting tourists to all parts of the state and even becoming an integral part of the higher-ed curriculum at Oregon State, University of Portland and Portland State University

Logo for the OSU Food and Fermentation Science Club

According to the Oregon Craft Beer website, by the end of 2016, “…the state had 230 brewing companies operating 261 brewing facilities in 73 cities across the state….employing roughly 31,000 Oregonians directly and indirectly and contributing $4.49 billion to the state’s economy.”  4/017 (The 2017 ending brewery count had grown to 245.)

However, today’s post of Thebeerchaser focuses on one of the more understated and yet highly regarded members of the brewing community which has great beer.  Lompoc Brewing has four locations in Portland – down one when the Hedge House on SE Division closed last year.  “Sadly, it seems to be a victim of increased competition, rising rents and bad weather combined with the lease being up for renewal.”  New School Bar, 11/19/17)

Lompoc’s website is almost too basic and not typical of a brewery with their profile and history. I featured the original pub (the New Old Lompoc) on NW 23rd in an 11/18/15 post on the blog, when I visited it with one of my favorite individuals, Dennis Ferguson, Senior Philanthropic Advisor for the Portland State University Foundation.

Ty, Denny and Rosie, the Manager of the New Old Lompoc in 2015

Accompanying us was Tygue Howland, a superb athlete in his high school and college days and now Associate Athletic Director at Portland State. We loved the ambiance of this small pub which “rose like the Phoenix” when the area around it was redeveloped.

I had the same reaction, as did my fellow Beerchasers, on two visits to one of the other Lompoc locations – the appropriately named Oaks Bottom Public House – in the heart of Sellwood and adjacent to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Former Willamette Week Arts and Culture Editor, Martin Czimar, an expert on the Portland restaurant and brewing scene – in this excerpt from one of his last columns written before he left for a new job in Washington D.C. – wrote about Lompoc Brewing (although describing the NW 23rd pub, it fits Oaks Bottom as well):

“It’s just one story that illustrates why so many Portlanders are fiercely loyal to this friendly mini-chain, which was founded by Don Younger of Horse Brass fame before the ever-affable Jerry Fechter took over.  Lompoc is perhaps the city’s archetypal brewpub of its generation—homey, friendly and totally lacking in all pretension.” (Willamette Week 3/4/18)

Now most Portlanders in the Baby Boomer era (including Thebeerchaser) know the late Don Younger as the legendary founder of the Horse Brass Pub – one of the older and more revered Portland pubs and Younger’s legacy based on his contributions to the fledgling craft industry.

If you have never been to the Horse Brass, you should visit it next time you are in East Portland.  In fact, in Willamette Week’s  “2016 Best of Portland,” the Horse Brass Pub was recognized for the best pub food in Portland:  “….One of the most important pubs in the history of Portland’s brew culture.  It also has some killer meat pies and fish and chips.”  (In 2017, the weekly also recognized Horse Brass for the City’s best Fish and Chips.)

My own experience is described in this post I wrote in May, 2013: https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/05/23/the-horse-brass-pub-pinnacle-of-perfection/

However, we digress as is my tendency when talking about brews and breweries…..Back to the Lompoc Brewery…..In an Oregon Live article written in April 2017, Nathan Freeburg interviews the Lompoc Founder, Jerry Fechter, who the columnist describes as a “fun, friendly and gregarious guy,” about the origin of the Brewery:

“Fechter was working at ‘The Old Lompoc House’ on NW 23rd in the early ‘90’s.  It was a small bar that got its name because it reminded the owner of an old bar from the ‘50’s.  When craft beer started getting big in Oregon, Fechter figured out how to brew beer, went to beer school in Chicago and began building the brewery.  They brewed their first batch in early 1996.

In 1999, the owners weren’t ‘into the whole craft beer thing,’ so he bought them out. ‘We were playing golf and I said, ’hey, can I buy the brewery?’  By the end of the round, we had agreed upon a price’ and the rest is history”

Accompanying Janet and me to the Oaks Bottom Pub were Beerchasing regulars Roy Lambert and Mary Maxwell – they also accompanied us on our first trip to the pub several years ago – both times after a good walk to enjoy the scenery described below.

Newcomer to our walking group and new to Oregon as well, Chris Hamm, who moved here recently from New Hampshire, joined us on the walk and Kate Dickson, met us at the pub afterwards for dinner and beer.

While Oaks Bottom had a nice feel in the past, the expanded space (they acquired the former dry cleaning shop next door) enhances the experience.  It provides additional booths and tables to accommodate what can be robust crowds especially for the good Happy Hour values available.  It also has a nice décor and a big fireplace for winter visits.

Nice job on expansion space…

One trend in micro-brewing lately is to incorporate all kinds of weird ingredients when making beer in an ill-advised effort to be innovative.

According to an article in Paste Magazine, the list includes dill, horseradish, peppercorns, celery seed, maple syrup, molasses, margherita pizza, bourbon vanilla beans, Vietnamese cinnamon and peanut puree to name a few.

Fortunately, there was no indication that Lompoc decided to try leftover dry-cleaning solvents, from their expanded space, in a new beer release which could include turpentine spirits, benzene, carbon tetrachloride or liquid carbon dioxide in furtherance of this trend.  Sorry, I just have no desire for a “Cleaned and Pressed IPA!”

The bar, itself, is a nice setup although most people use the tables and booths.  It’s in a passageway that leads to the patio in the back – a much better option than the few tables on the sidewalk in front of the pub – right on busy SE Bybee Blvd..

While the menu can be described as pub food, it offers a lot of options and based on our experience, the food is pretty good and reasonably priced.  On the first trip, one of us tried the fish and chips and a delicious cobb salad and rated them highly.

On this trip, we stuck to burgers and sandwiches – the Oaks Bottom Burger (1/2 lb. for $12) or a smaller one at Happy Hour and the chicken sandwich.   While the HH hamburger  is a good deal at $6, it does not compare favorably with some of the bars and pubs at which burger lovers rave.  Examples include the Slow Bar and Wilder.  (See prior Beerchaser reviews.)

But the tap list of  Lompoc beers is the highlight – particularly the Proletariat Red, a former winner (2015) of a silver medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.  Craft Beer.com describes it as, “Deep chestnut in color…..features a toasted malt profile with biscuit undertones leading to notes of caramelized pear and cinnamon. It strikes an ideal balance between malt and hops.”

Native Portlander, journalist and Communist party figure

And the proximity to Reed College with its sometimes controversial reputation and the history of Portlander, John (Jack) Reed, (not the founder of Reed College as is often thought) but a key figure in the early Communist Party raises the question, why isn’t Reed’s picture on the back of the Proletariat Red bottle?

Reading about John Reed and Reed College is worth placing yourself in an easy chair at the Pub while having one of the Lompoc Beers. (For example, their Kick Axe Pale Ale – according to RateBeer.com: “The unofficial beer of the Timbers’ Army.  Kick Axe is a crisp and nicely hopped pale ale that has been dry-hopped in the fermenter with whole leaf Cascades for a huge hop aroma.”)

One fascinating article describes John Reed’s interactions in Russia with Lenin and Trotsky in an article entitled, “Oregon lad became a founding father’s of Russian Communism.”  He was buried with full military honors and is the only American to be buried in the Kremlin Wall!

https://offbeatoregon.com/1602d.john-reed-communism-380.html

Another example is  this excerpt from a 2009 piece written by a Reed grad and activist – Ty Marbet, who interestingly enough, tried to get rid of gun free zones on Oregon college campuses including Reed:

“Depending on who you ask (Princeton Review, etc.), Reed is between 2nd and 8th ‘most politically and socially liberal’ college in the country, comparable to UC Berkely.  Our school’s unofficial seal proudly sports the hallowed trinity: ‘Communism, Atheism, Free Love.'”  

Elliot Hall at Reed College

Finally, an extremely interesting and detailed article on John Reed is from the Marxist Internet Archive with intriguing references to the Arlington Club, Waverly Country Club, Dunthorpe and Portland society – part of John Reeds, young life in Portland – written by prolific Portland author, Michael Munk, another Reed College grad and university professor.

Those considering a trip to the Oaks Bottom Pub, should definitely work in a hike given the proximity of some attractive options.

For example, on the first visit, we walked the trail along the Oaks Bottom Wild Life Refuge for which the pub is named.  It’s an urban wetland popular with bird watchers and full of other critters including beavers, otters and cranes which sometimes pose for photographers.

Photo taken during our walk along Oaks Bottom

It also provides some great views of the southern parts of Portland along the Willamette River – a great contrast to the wild and primitive nature of the area surrounding the trail.

This was a description from a 10/10/17 Willamette Week article on haunted hikes in Portland

“You’ll wind around Wapato Marsh, passing by the wildlife mural on the Portland Memorial mausoleum, which became the first crematory west of the Mississippi when it opened in 1901.

Eventually, you’ll turn left onto the Springwater Corridor and head toward Oaks Amusement Park. The amusement park is allegedly haunted by a young man and a little girl who died there long ago, according to Ghosthunting Oregon by Donna Stewart.”

 

And if you want a more urban, although highly scenic option, try meeting at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens adjacent to Eastmoreland Golf Course and across the street from Reed College and only 1.2 miles away from the pub.

While you’ll have to pay $5 per person for admission to the Gardens, the flowers and surrounding ponds are well worth the price.

And then we walked through the interesting trails on the Reed College campus which also includes more wooded landscape, streams and ponds.   It’s also great to see the students lounging on the greens scattered through the campus which also has some interesting and historical buildings.

Even if you don’t supplement your trip with a hike, check out the Oaks Bottom Pub.  This excerpt from a Yelp review last August sums up the situation pretty well and is typical of those you will see on social media.

“…….now it’s one of my favorite spots for dinner and/or drinks in the Sellwood neighborhood! I love that they expanded the place, so it’s definitely faster getting a table now. But I do tend to try to go before or after their busiest times.

The food is great (I actually love their salads!) and the drinks are strong in just the right way. Service is almost always awesome. And I love sitting by the fire on cold, rainy nights.”

Oaks Bottom Public House           1621 SW Bybee Blvd.

Beerchasing in the Desert – Part II

The OHSO Brewery Taproom in North Scottsdale

The initial post in this series, chronicled the first part of our week-long trip to Phoenix/Scottsdale in January.  Along with hiking and relaxing, we hit eleven breweries during the trip.  Arizona has stepped up its beer culture and the establishments were interesting, the people cordial and the beer very good although for the most part, the exteriors were largely a reflection of the strip-mall ambiance of this SW desert metropolis.

If one can handle the traffic and the visual blight from the sprawl, there is some nice weather if one hits Phoenix at the right time.  We did escape a week of rain in the Northwest.   Unfortunately, this year, we weren’t able to make it during Spring Training – something even marginal baseball fans tend to love.

The breweries we visited and the hikes we took the first few days of the trip are described in the first post:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/02/19/beerchasing-in-the-desert-part-i/

Arizona has some interesting politics.  In the first post, we talked about a nice family brewery named Goldwater – for the late conservative Republican Senator, Barry Goldwater.  *1

Although the retired Air Force General had some strong beliefs on national defense that some thought too militant, he was admired for his integrity and service to his country.

But since this is a blog about bars, taverns, breweries and beer, let’s get back to the primary topic and leave comments about Arizona politics to the end of this narrative.

Two of the breweries that were repeatedly recommended by their competitors when we asked what other venues we should visit were Helton Brewing 

and

Wren House Brewing. 

Wren is a very small place – opened  a few years ago  in an historic home.  It evidently was originally named Westward Brewing “….until a pesky trademark lawsuit from a West Coast distillery forced the name change.”  (Draft Magazine)

“……the property we now call home at Wren House sat unoccupied and disused for decades. We fell in love with its character, rebuilt the old guest house and garage in the backyard into our brew-house, and converted the main 1920s bungalow house into our cozy taproom.”  

The woman with the laptop is second from the left.

Janet and I sat at the nice bar, which filled up in the late afternoon and shared a Wrenovation IPA – a good hoppy IPA with some citrus flavor.

The people at the bar were all conversing and a young woman who brought in her laptop and was doing some work while having a beer, joined the conversation.

We started comparing beer in the Northwest to Arizona and she mentioned that she had just been to Portland in June of 2017.  “My husband’s nephew graduated from Oregon City High School and we attended his graduation.” 

Of course, I told her that Thebeerchaser’s OCHS 50th high school reunion was held two months later.

George Hamilton stories and more…..at Sun Up Brewing

We have found that conversations while sitting at the bar are almost always interesting and establish linkages.  (Read about our conversation with the character on the right at Sun Up Brewing in the first Phoenix post and his tale about George Hamilton……)

Helton Brewing describes itself as “Your Neighborhood Brewery” although that seems contradicted to some extent by the fact that it is in a totally commercial and industrial area and located in a 10,000 square foot warehouse – formerly a radial tire operation.

Your “Neighborhood” Brewery???

The brewery and taphouse opened in 2016 and has expansive space adjoining the bar area for events and which houses pool tables and shuffleboard.

We were there in the mid-afternoon on a weekday and there was only one other person in the expansive space besides the staff.  (The yellow stools were kind of cool.)

Neat yellow stools.

We split their flagship beer – the Scottish Ale.   Since we had already had lunch, we did not ascertain whether their assertion that “It pairs well with robust foods like lamb, gruyere and beets,” was accurate. 

That said it was a good ale and the owner, Brian Helton, has an extensive background in brewing and according to Draft Magazine, has won several Great American Beer Festival awards when he brewed at Rock Bottom Brewing.

Spacious patio with games

Other breweries we hit included the larger Scottsdale Beer Company and OHSO – the latter also has a brew-pub at the Phoenix Airport.

Scottsdale Beer Company was hopping on a Monday night when we stopped in for beer and dinner.  We headed there after reading some great social media reviews on both their beer, the food and their large patio. 

And the reviews were accurate….They had about fifteen of their own beers on tap plus several guest taps.  I tried the Red Rocket Imperial Red IPA – partly because I was amused by the menu description:

The chewy maltiness….”  (One of my pet peeves is ridiculously contrived descriptions of beer to be creative.)

SBC – hopping on a Monday night

Janet, at the recommendation of our friendly server, Shalene, who had worked there 2.5 of the three years since they opened, recommended the Big Mouth Blonde, which also had an interesting description:

“It wouldn’t be Scottsdale without all of the nipped, tucked and chemically enhanced ladies that call it home……Perfect for a friend who always orders a Coors Light, yet flavorful enough to know its fresh and locally crafted.”

Taco Monday….!

We started what was superb food with two tacos – since it was Taco Monday – only $4 for two with your choice of meat.  Janet then had the fish and chips and I had one of their five “Large Plates” – the Protein Rice Bowl which was, in fact, large and a delicious combination of:

Fried brown rice, assorted fresh vegetables, Asian vinaigrette, fresh herbs, pickles, slow poached egg, sesame, your choice of chicken, salmon, or shrimp.  (We both took some food back to the hotel.)

The next day we stopped into Four Peaks Brewing – a large brewery in Tempe with a Taphouse and Grill in Scottsdale.  Nothing really special on the Scottsdale Brewpub – again in a strip mall (the address was 1340 E 8th Street #104)  but we had a good flight of their beer.  One of the four was creatively named Kilt Lifter – a robust Scottish Ale.

A flight at Four Peaks

The entrance to OHSO

Only one minute away by Google Maps and past a Home Depot, Safeway, Staples, Target and a mini-warehouse was OHSO Brewing and Distillery (“Outrageous Homebrewer’s Social Outpost” ) – I did not ask why the apostrophe was before the “s” since that would mean only one person hung out there….

But the place was kind of interesting with the brewery hardware visible, good accoutrements, a large distillery tasting room (it was empty although one can take a tour for two of the distillery for $28 which includes a bottle of their distilled spirits, except for barrel-aged ones….)

OHSO Patio

 

 

They also had a very large and brightly-lit patio area and a game room.

We decided on the way back to the hotel to hit one more brewery – Mesquite River – recommended by a few people, but again this little place that also advertises itself as “Your neighborhood craft brewery,” was in another strip mall and looked like a Petco from the outside.

MRB – lacking ambiance….

We walked inside MRB just to take a picture, but the combined ambiance of the parking lot and traffic noise argued against stopping and having a pint.

Our last night in Scottsdale, we decided to have dinner in other than a brewery and chose the excellent restaurant True Food Kitchen, where besides excellent and healthy food, they mix one of the best Citrus Skinny Margaritas I’ve had anywhere.  (Maybe it was “Skinny Citrus” but you get the point……..)

Citrus Skinny and smooooth…

Fortunately, the cell-phone charges I incurred when I inadvertently called a similarly named restaurant in Dublin, Ireland were only a little over $1.

I had called at about noon our time and told Janet, that although it was hard to understand the guy because of his accent, they didn’t have any tables left that evening – this seemed odd given the time – until I looked at the call record and saw “Dublin.”  I then tried to figure out whether the guy just had a brogue or was speaking Gaelic….

A great restaurant without having to travel internationally….

Earlier in the post I mentioned politics and the legacy of Barry Goldwater.  Arizona evidently does not see the same level of integrity in its latest candidate for the Republican nomination for the US Senate – former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Yes, the convicted felon, can run for office although only based on being pardoned earlier this year by the President.  To read an entertaining, albeit sobering article, from the Phoenix New Times entitled “10 Reasons Not to Vote for This Bloodsucker (You Want More?)” 

85-year old Republican candidate for Senate

The paper states, “…..we are publishing excerpts from 10 of our Worst of Sheriff Joe stories today, in honor of his decision to enter the ‘wackiest Senate race in the country.” (They have published Sheriff Joe exploits for years.)

*1  I was also surprised to see in light of events which transpired since we were in Phoenix, that the Goldwater Brewery still has its Machine Gun Teddy beer on tap – they advertise it as “cuddly.”

You might remember that the Brewery has a second place to drink sixteen feet below the main taproom – in the space which used to be Mandall’s Basement Shooting Range.   Three of the former shooting tunnels are filled with fermentation tanks! 

Oh well.  Notwithstanding some of its politics, the landscape and urban planning, by visiting the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, you can (if the right time of year) get some nice weather, take some good hikes and drink some excellent beer in interesting breweries – many of which have only opened in the last several years.  And you’ll be happy to return to your home afterwards – unless it’s Newark!

An OHSO Hoppy Beer from OHSO Brewery (7.1 ABV and 66 IBU)

Walk on the “Wilder” Side

The late playwright and author, Thornton Wilder wrote the play and subsequent film, “Our Town” about a fictitious New Hampshire Town – Grover’s Corners.  Portland’s Wilder Bar Cafe (known simply as “Wilder”) is not named after him, nor is the Wilder Bar in Fort Lauderdale, but I have a feeling, the Wilder Bar in Portsmouth, New Hampshire may be.

In an historic brick building

Nevertheless, Portland’s Wilder in an historic brick building, which has housed at various times a craft shop, tattoo parlor and stationary shop, on NE 30th and Killingsworth is definitely worth an outing(s) for the food, the beverages and the ambiance.

While we liked the last establishment we visited and posted on the blog – The Woodsman Tavern (https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/the-woodsman-tavern/), Wilder surpasses the former in all respects and our first two visits will be reprised multiple times in the future.

Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, “……illustrates the importance of the universality of the simple, yet meaningful lives of all people in the world in order to demonstrate the value of appreciating life.”  (Wikipedia)  And perhaps this theme, reflects the environment, décor and attitude of the staff in this bar opened in 2014.

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Thornton Wilder

As examples, examine the following excerpts from several print media reviews:

“A homey little bar more interested in maple buttermilk pie, kale Caesar salad and a local-leaning tap list (only one of eight offerings wasn’t from Oregon) than in ethically iffy foie gras or distantly sourced seafood.”  (Rebecca Jacobsen 1/7/14 )Willamette Week)

Or this one, a month later, from Oregon Live (2/26/14) :

Yakuza, Beast, D.O.C., Cocotte(other Portland restaurants) have brought a steady stream of well-heeled Oregonians and visitors (to that intersection) but they’re not the sort of establishments likely to be frequented by their neighbors who have long awaited a pleasant, affordable place to watch the Beast-bound limos roll by. Wilder, a new corner bar with culinary ambitions, seeks a more local audience with a suave atmosphere and an inexpensive, if not exactly groundbreaking menu.” 

Meet bartender, Bertrand, an artisan!

So, what has made this small bar so attractive.  Well, the staff was wonderful.  On our first visit, Janet and I sat at the bar and started talking to the bartender, Bertrand.  He mentioned that he is a photographer and trying to move up the level of his craft by attending Pacific Northwest College of Arts.  The interaction among Bertrand, the servers and the cook was low-key and very positive and the customer service was A+.

One advantage of sitting at the bar, is the ability to view the essentially open-kitchen which was hopping and interesting to watch.  And the servers told us, “We love Colby.”  He’s one of the two cooks.  (After excellent meals on two occasions, we were also enamored with Colby…)  

Because seating is somewhat limited by the overall size of the establishment, we had to wait a bit on our second visit when we were joined by our daughter, Laura, and her husband, Ryan.

We hit right at dinner time and there were no unoccupied tables, but the servers were very accommodating and suggested we go for a drink to nearby Yukuza Lounge which has a great bar.  When we returned, our table was ready and our server was superb.

Bertrand was effusive about his cocktails and we had read about Wilder’s excellence in this category, so we tried both the Powers’ Punch (Gin, Combier, Benedictine, Dolin Rouge, Absinthe and Lime) ($9) and the Bourbon Sprawl (Whiskey, Pomegranate, Lemon, Angostura). ($9)

We hope that he continues his bartending when he graduates from PNCA, because besides photography, he is an artisan at combining distilled sprits.

When we returned we had two of the eight beers they had on tap – both from breweries we had not tried before – Royale Brewing, which is nearby in NE Portland and 54-40 Brewing in Washougal, Washington.  Wilder tries to feature Northwest beers on tap and they did a good job with these.

Wilder in the evening is pretty dark – candles on the table and minimal lighting – but it enhances the cozy ambiance of the bar, which is very attractive with slatted lath wood walls, exposed-beam ceilings and a dark wood floor.   With the limited capacity of the bar and the positive vibe from the staff and patrons, it creates an intimate atmosphere that is not easily found in Portland establishments.

Now, let’s talk about the food.  The Oregon Live article described their menu as “not exactly groundbreaking.”   The 2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide calls it accurately, “Elevated comfort food.”  Well, it may not be the most expansive menu you’ll find, with five starters and seven main courses including two outstanding salads, but the finished product from their kitchen is truly “elevated” based on our experience – admittedly limited, but check out some of the other comments below.

We split the hamburger and each of us had the large roasted squash salad with arugula and plenty of walnuts.  The burger surpassed our expectations and the meal, which was both excellent and filling was a total of less than $30 without tip ($11 burger and two salads $16).

Although social media reviews on the mussels, fried chicken, the white bean burger and the blackened chicken sandwich were also very positive, we ordered the identical meal when we returned and our companions had the kale and kidney-bean Caesar salad with their burger.   (They thanked us for the recommendation.)

Besides the newspapers, I try to look at a number of reviews from different social media sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon and Zomato to discern trends or identify specific strengths and weaknesses.   And while there were a few who had complaints about a specific food item, these two typify Wilder patrons’ sentiments:

“Fried chicken is the best! Burger is awesome!  Service staff are prompt, friendly and knowledgeable. Beverages are delicious. A gastronomic adventure to be enjoyed.”  Trip Advisor 2/27/17

And this from Zomato within the last six months:

Great drinks and one of the best burgers in town.  Wonderful ambiance and good service.  This is one of my favorite local community bars that has a real neighborhood feel to it.  Highly recommended.”

“One of the best burgers in town….”

I did chuckle because one of the only really negative (and almost hostile) reviews was from February, 2018, by a woman on Yelp who raged about the “control freaks” at Wilder because she disagreed with their policies – one was to comply with OLCC regulations and the other two seemed very reasonable.

What was humorous, is that she went ballistic after her three visits – each where she encountered these policies developed by somebody with a “sad, little mind.”   It obviously begs the question, “Why did you keep returning??”

She gave Wilder only one star which was a real departure from the guy on Yelp who only one month earlier stated, For the best burger and cocktails in town, I wouldn’t recommend any other space. If I could borrow someone else’s thumb, I would give this place 3 thumbs up.”

Co-owner, Raquel

The co-owners are Raquel Bournhonesque and Ben Preacher.   Raquel, shows on her Linked-in resume that she has been with Upstream Public Health and a community coach, health advocate and food enthusiast.

She and some friends formed Upstream as a non-profit to further health and equity advocacy issues.  It has done some great work in the public health arena. While with Upstream,  she worked on the unsuccessful effort to fluoridate Portland’s water in 2013.

Raquel happened to answer the phone when I called before Wilder opened on a Sunday with several follow-up questions for the blog.   She has an upbeat and affable personality and we had a nice chat.

In the six years since I started this blog, I have found that the owners of the small bars and breweries, for the most part, are entrepreneurs who have a passion about beer or food, risk a lot to make their dreams come true and then work inordinate hours to make it successful.  Raquel and Ben are typical and make one feel a lot better than, as a contrast, having a brewski at the Yardhouse in Portland’s Pioneer Square.

 

(See Beerchaser review on 4/4/16)  https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/04/14/the-yard-house-does-it-measure-up/

So instead of having a beer and/or a meal at The Yardhouse and adding to the profits of the same giant corporation that owns the Olive Garden,  you should enhance Raquel’s and Ben’s 401(k) by dining and drinking at Wilder.  Tell them Thebeerchaser sent you!

Wilder Bar Cafe               5501 NE 30th     Portland

 

 

 

 

Beechaser Miscellany –

The Origins of Dirt – Followers of this blog may remember reading about how the nickname “Dirt” was bestowed on me as a freshman at Oregon State University.  And when my younger brother, Rick, started at OSU living at the same fraternity two years after I graduated, they named him “Dust.”  To see the origin of the story, check this link about Cracker Jack’s Pub in Portland.

The Origin of Dirt

The moniker Dirt has stuck all these years as you may be able to discern from looking at the blog header above.  I therefore chuckled when I saw the truck above in Lincoln City from the Rogue Brewery a few weeks ago.  The length of the trailer had this phrase, “Beer begins in the dirt.”

It’s Rogue’s campaign to promote the agricultural component of their brewery ranging from growing hops, wheat and corn to raising free-range chickens and pot-bellied pigs. http://legacy.rogue.com/roguefarms/

Update on Brewing by the Monks at the Abbey in Mount Angel

The Benedictine Brewery is moving forward in anticipation of opening in late spring with the Taproom ready for visitors in June.  Stay tuned and come down to see us at the Mount Angel Abbey St. Benedictine Festival which will be held on the Abbey Hiltop on Saturday, July 7th.

It’s a beautiful and historical location and you can look forward to ” an afternoon of great food, drink and things to do that are inspirational, educational and just plain fun.”

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/07/26/father-martin-grassel-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Check the link above to read about the Benedictine Brewery’s  Head Brewer and mastermind of the project (in addition to being this blog’s Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter last summer – Father Martin Grassel.)

Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter Update

Followers of this blog also know about my effort to highlight one person or group each quarter by bestowing the “honor” of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter four times each year.

Past recipients of this award include authors, war heroes, athletes, media personalities and other interesting folk that may or may not have anything to do with bars and beers.  (See the tab at the header to see a list of all former B-O-Q’s and click on their names to see the entire story of the three featured below.)

Amy Faust (4/11/17) Amy and her co-host, Mike Chase who are on the air from 5:30 AM to 10:00 each weekday morning on KWJJ -The Wolf are award winners and I mean National Awards.  The duo was named the Country Music Association Major Market Personality of the Year.

“The CMA Broadcast Awards are among the most prestigious awards given out in the field of Country Radio…..

(They) are judged on air-check ratings, community involvement, format leadership and biographical information.”  (We don’t know if Amy’s ability to play the mandolin was a factor in the last category….)

They received the honor on stage in Nashville, Tennessee when the November ceremony was televised nationally on ABC.

Perhaps radio management realized this was another reason why replacing them with a syndicated robot DJ in 2012, after they had been on the air for thirteen years, was a mistake and reaffirmed the decision to bring the pair back to the air in 2014.

Jay in his earlier rugby years

Jay Waldron  ( 3/29/16)  Portland lawyer, Jay, was named to the US Rugby Association’s Hall of Fame at the 2017 induction ceremony in San Diego.  To see why this honor was well deserved, check out the link.

You can also find out why he will never receive the same award from the US Boxing Association even though his ring (and IM Football) name at the University of Virginia was, “The Dancing Bear.” 

 

The Dancing Bear

 

 

Dwight “The Godfather” Jaynes (12/13/16) Dwight and Aaron Fentress started a new talk show which is broadcast on both radio and television each weekday from noon until 3:00 PM on  “NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio”

They’re a good combination and their debates show some real knowledge of both current and past events and personalities in NW athletics that you won’t get on any other station.   Dwight also continues to serve as a regular panelist on “Talkin’ Ball” – broadcast after each Blazer game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put These on Your Book list

In an effort to expand my list of regularly read renowned authors such as Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Dostoevsky and ….David Balduci……, I successfully requested two new non-fiction works at Christmas.  They’re both excellent to this point although I’ve only read the first few chapters of each so far.

I first saw Drinking with the Saints – The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour by Michael Foley in the Mount Angel Abbey Bookstore when I was there working on the Benedictine Brewery.

The book has a Catholic focus although readers (like Thebeerchaser) who are not Catholic  will also find it educational and entertaining.

Just take a few examples in the first twenty + pages and you can see why I am using my yellow highlighter when I read it. (And any book which quotes G.K Chesterton is a must…)

“As our Episcopal brethren like to say, ‘Where two or three are gathered in His name, there is a fifth.”  (Forward – Page x)

G.K. Chesterton – poet, writer, theologian, etc. etc. etc.

“And I am in accord with G.K. Chesterton, who is said to have converted to Catholicism because it was the only religion that could reconcile the pipe, the pint and the Cross……..”   (Forward – Page iX)

“A Franciscan and a Jesuit, both fond of the drink, wanted to have a draught while they prayed the Breviary, and so they asked permission from their superiors.  The Franciscan was turned down because he asked if he could drink while he prayed, but the Jesuit’s request was granted because he asked if he could pray while he drank.”  (Introduction – Page xvii)

Foley has toasts, blessings, a glossary and how to make some great cocktails.  One of the first is the “Monk.”  (1 ½ oz. of gin, ¾ oz. of lemon juice and ¾ oz. of Benedictine)  “Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.” (Page 6)

The Beer Bible is written by author and blogger (Beervana), Jeff Alworth, a Northwest guy who has written about beer for over fifteen years including several books and whose blog has a national audience.

I am an expert on bars but not on beer, so I have eagerly become engrossed in the chapters detailing the different styles of beer, the history of the beverage and how to store, serve and taste beer like an expert.

The Military

We should all be thankful for the sacrifice and service of our military personnel.   There is no need to have a parade down Pennsylvania Ave in Washington D.C. for us and other nations to understand the might and toughness of our military infrastructure and the quality of the men and women who serve.

However, like any large bureaucracy, there are many mistakes, humorous stories and facts which are stranger than fiction that are part of the ongoing story of the United State’s fighting forces.

Brothers Garry and Don Williams

My two brothers and I are veterans and we encountered  these during both training and while on active duty.

The story of my late brother, Garry, calling home when he was singing at the White House in 1972 and stood next to President Nixon when he was there with the West Point Glee Club still makes our family chuckle.

Garry (3rd from left) and the West Point Glees Club at the White House with President Nixon in 1971

Youngest brother, Rick, who like Thebeerchaser, graduated from the OSU NROTC program, became an underwater hard-hat diver and ultimately the skipper of a nuclear submarine the USS Spadefish (SS 668). 

He surfaced through the ice at the North Pole a couple of times among other adventures when the Cold War was still frigid.   He also has many stories, but still maintains he would have to kill me if he related them to me.

Captain Rick Williams at Spadefish change-of-command ceremony

But a recent article from the 2/15/18 Washington Examiner entitled, “Navy Acknowledges Air Crew Drew Penis in the sky over Washington,” caught my attention.  It was a Northwest story about an electronic warfare plane based at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.  (The link above has a photo.)

The two-person crew was grounded pending an investigation after they, “….created skywriting in the shape of male genitals in the skies over Okanogan, Washington……Witnesses took photos and posted them on social media platforms (of course!) and they were widely viewed.”

The righteous indignation in the Navy’s response and apology statement is worth reading.  No word on whether the recalcitrant crew collected on a bet from their fellow pilots which might mitigate the effects of the punishment.  And how many discrete toasts to the pilot were there that night in the Officers’ Club for his creative use of the “joystick.”

And this one about the German Navy written by Tyler Rogoway December 23, 2017, in The Drive entitled, “The German Navy Decided to Return Their Bloated New Frigate to the Ship Store This Christmas,” makes one wonder when an exec from a military contractor will write a “tell-all” about some of the horror stories emanating from the manufacture of these technology-driven land, sea and air behemoths.

Another example – according to a 3/18/18 story in Seeking Alpha “The Pentagon estimates it will cost nearly $16B to modernize the fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets through 2024, including $10.8B for software development and $5.4B for deploying the updates.”

New German Frigate

The aforementioned German frigate (Baden-Wurttemburg class) which in size, although not armament and technology, is similar to the US Navy Destroyers – the “Tin Cans” which served heroically during World War II.  It was constructed by a three member consortium of German defense contractors.

Well this new ship because of its advanced technology including “an advanced command and control communications installation based around an open architecture concept and has a 360 degree surveillance and situational awareness system….,” is supposed to be able to have a crew component much smaller than ships of similar size and be able to deploy for a least two-years at a time i.e. it can sale very reliably.

However, during sea trials before commissioning of the ship, there were some real problems:  “A chronic list of 1.3 degrees to starboard…….(and) they are severely over weight.”  (like by about 356,000 pounds!)  And a few more technical problems like “There doesn’t seem to be enough internal volume to add a vertical launch system in the back of the ship’s main gun.”

The USS McGowan (DD 678) World War II Tin Can

Perhaps this account can make us feel a little less concerned when Vladimir Putin boasts about Russia’s capability to send nuclear missiles that could overcome any U.S. missile defense system – he used animated versions to illustrate the concept.

And it makes at least this guy have a renewed appreciation for the manner in which those World War II ships stayed in combat service.  For example, the Destroyer USS McGowan, which served valiantly in the South Pacific in World War II, with heroic engagements from Guadalcanal to Okinawa to the Leyte Gulf.

Websites

Since I use a lot of on-line resources to research and write this blog, I find it annoying when entering a brewery website and it has a question about whether the user is twenty-one years or over.  Of course, any enterprising minor regardless of how rules-oriented he or she is, probably won’t feel too guilty and “getting older,” to access the website.

Avery Brewery in Fort Collins

And ever wonder what happens if you answer that you are not of legal age.  I tried it with two of my favorite Colorado breweries – Avery and New Belgium – both in Fort Collins and also Oregon’s Rogue Brewery.

Avery takes a simplistic route and states piously and directly, “You must be new to the internet.”

New Belgium is more empathetic and states in large letters,Take Solace.”  It then goes on to console the minor that he or she will “someday be 21 years old,” and cites statutory prohibitions, but continues in the conciliatory vein by stating, “However, if you would like to learn more information about our brewery, our business practices or our Core Values…..contact us by phone or e-mail.” 

New Belgium Brewery

The e-mail address was not that of Shawn Hines who Janet met while he and his wife were touring a winery a few years ago on a visit to the Yamhill Valley.  He was high-up in the New Belgium exec ranks with a title of “Pharaoh of Phlow!”   Shawn invited us to tour the New Belgium facility when we were in Colorado – it was a wonderful tour.

The most innovative approach is that of Rogue which immediately upon the indication that the computer user is under age, redirects them to a website for Disneyland.   (Try it….) https://www.rogue.com/

This rant reminds me that another reason those warnings annoy me is that most have drop down menus for year of birth, and it takes me three “Page Downs” to get to mine!

And while on annoying  trends, how about the robo calls that start with a lifelike voice that states, “HI, I’m Kathy.  I hope you are having a good morning and just wanted to talk to you about your bathroom drains (Fill in the topic.)” About that time I interrupt Kathy (who keeps on talking) and tell her she should be in a holding cell because I realize it is a taped call.

Or how about those automated receptionists who answer your call with, “Please listen closely because our menu options have changed,” even though the last time they  modified them was in 1999.

This from a brief clip in The Week (a magazine which is a good source of news and irrelevant tidbits like this one) about Mya, an artificially intelligent “chatbot” who “can evaluate resumes, schedule and conduct applicant screenings and even congratulate you on your first day of work.”  If I had retired later, I might have avoided listening to all of those candidates reel off their boring strengths and weaknesses.

Tidbits

In my research (and since I’m retired) I save a lot of miscellaneous bits of information to share with others in the hope that they will appreciate my sometimes cynical sense of humor. They get thrown in a file folder or electronic file – sometimes without date or info to allow proper attribution, so please indulge me, but below are a few:

Has Mount Rushmore but evidently not enough micro-breweries

The Week (5/5/17) – “A South Dakota man was arrested after he pushed past police and firefighters and ran into his home to rescue his beer……..He emerged clutching two cans of Bud Ice Premium, but officers quickly cuffed him and charged him with obstruction. A police spokesman said (the guy) had demonstrated ‘poor judgment.’”  (At least there was no collusion.)

The Beer Celebrator(Fall 2017) – “America, it should be noted, has more breweries than colleges.” There is no source or data to back up this statistic, but perhaps they need more in South Dakota….)

Parade Magazine (no date) – Abe Lincoln, among his other qualifications, was a licensed bartender.

Concerned about a lot of trends…..

The Oregonian – George Will’s column – (1/3/16) – This conservative, but erudite columnist, railed against some trends in 2015 that he felt were ludicrous.  He was concerned that “The common thread is the collapse of judgment in, and the infantalization of society by government.” Below is one example:

“The University of Georgia said sexual consent must be ‘voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest.”

The Week (6/2/17) And finally, this one about the village of Wacken, Germany. They are “building a 4-mile network of pipes so that it can funnel beer to thirsty attendees at the world’s largest heavy-metal festival.  (75,000 attendees)  …….In previous years, tractor trailers have turned the fields into a giant mud pit…”

Pipeline Solution

This got me to ponder if corporate execs decided to change the focus of the much maligned and delayed Keystone Pipeline from carrying oil to beer, would they gain bi-partisan support and mitigate environmental concerns.  They wouldn’t even have to change the name…….

Cheers!

The Woodsman Tavern Strikes a Chord

Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs has resulted in visits and reviews of over 200 establishments since its inception in 2011 – not only in Portland, but all over Oregon, the US and even a few in Europe.   Therefore, its logical that the Woodsman Tavern – a Portland icon, of sorts, would make the list.

That said, I try to avoid venues that are primarily restaurants with a bar as kind of an ancillary feature.  It’s not that these establishments don’t have good beer or cocktails or attractive bars.  They just don’t have the character and ambiance of a stand-alone watering hole, especially that evidenced in dive bars!

The McMenamin’s bistros generally fall into the former category although I have made a few exceptions.  Beerchaser visits to The Fulton Pub, the White Eagle Saloon and the St. John’s Pub were splendid.  These all, however, had historical significance or distinguishing features.

For example, The Fulton was the site at which Hammerhead Ale was originated (and I consumed my first beer with the late NW author and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Brian Doyle) and the White Eagle is on the National Historic Register – its history is replete with tales such as a prostitute being murdered and it being haunted by ghost-like apparitions on the second floor.

Notwithstanding its title, the Woodsman Tavern is an example of the former category i.e. more restaurant than bar.   While our two visits were well rewarded, it had the look and feel of a high-end restaurant.  That said, let’s look at why it is getting great reviews – it has a new chef, an expansive menu of cocktails and whiskeys and the food – most notably, the fried chicken is superb.   (Note also that most taverns do not have a “chef” per se’.)

The Woodsman is also one of the few places that I’ve visited where the Oregonian’s food critic, Michael Russell has authored a detailed review.  (He’s probably never been in the Reel M’ Inn – twenty blocks down Division Street and also known throughout the Northwest for its fried chicken. According to one article, it fried up an estimated 52,000 pounds of chicken in 2016.  But it’s a completely different ambiance….)

The Woodsman is in an old building in Southeast Portland and has a bright and attractive entrance with classy dark wood interior.  When opened in 2011, it was evidently a hot spot in the Portland food culture – known for its high-end dishes such as roasted trout.

Eateries run in cycles.  Social media reviews until recently started trending negative on the food and service.   That appeared to change late last year evidently because one of Portland’s noted chefs, Doug Adams, temporarily took command of the kitchen and menu:

“Suddenly, the Woodsman Tavern is once-again among the hottest restuarants in town.”   (1/1/18 Review by Martin Cizmar of Willamette Week.) Adams made his mark at Paley’s Place among other restaurants and is waiting for a new restaurant in downtown Portland to open.

The Bar Itself

The dining room is separated into two large rooms with booths and tables.  The bar is a long L-shaped counter with about twelve stools at the back of the east section.

It has an impressive display of hard liquors and twelve cocktail options ($12) with names such as “Dog Will Hunt” and “Married in a Fever,” and includes their trademark “Old Fashioned.”

For the bourbon and whiskey connoisseurs, I counted 120 options on the menu ranging from a pour of Jim Beam for $7 to Wild Turkey Tribute 15-Year Bourbon that will set you back $180.  (Perhaps this is economic validation of the distillery’s 2011 ad campaign entitled, “Give’em The Bird.”)

They have a nice selection of wines and fifteen beers on tap including five by one of my favorite breweries – Block 15 in Corvallis.  On our first trip to the Woodsman when we had dinner, I had a pint of Block 15 Double IPA and on the second trip, where we just sat at the bar for drinks during Happy Hour, I could not resist a cold Rainier for $2.

The east side of the restuarant

Let’s get back to the food, which should be the guiding rationale for a visit.  I will talk more about the food critics’ reviews below, but The Oregonian stated, “For food fans, this might be Portland’s best sports bar.”

Since there are only two televisions over the bar – both with sporting events when we were there, I guess this is his subtle way of promoting the Woodsman’s Double Cheeseburger and implying that the food in most Portland sports bars, sucks! 

An outstanding starter

The side dishes are ala-carte and either $3 or $5 and the bucket of chicken was $19, so we started by splitting what is a boring option in most places – a wedge salad.  And while a little spendy at $11, it was wonderful (bacon, big croutons and superb blue cheese dressing!)

I love fried chicken – that’s how I persuaded my wife, Janet, to go with me to the Woodsman.  It was a late birthday present.   There was no question what I was going to order. And it’s a fantasy – your own metallic bucket filled with five large pieces.  I am appalled that I was so enthralled that I forgot to take a picture!

Now let’s look at how some experts describe this one of six entr’ees.  Martin Cizmar, who for the last seven years has been the Arts and Culture Editor at Willamette Week, is succinct, but on point.  (I am sad to see him leave the weekly this month.  He wrote great reviews of not only restaurants, but every kind of bar, tavern or brewery in Portland and always creatively captured the character of the place.  (He’s moving to Washington D.C. to write for an on-line publication.)

You should read his entire review of The Woodsman:  http://www.wweek.com/restaurants/reviews/2018/01/02/the-woodsman-tavern-is-entering-a-new-golden-age-under-chef-doug-adams/

Martin Cizmar – will be missed….but will still drink PBR (Photo courtesy of Willamette Week

He is a an outstanding writer and seems a lot less pretentious than his counterpart at The Oregonian:

“….the best fried chicken in town….(Adams’) ultra crispy recipe in which the honey is drizzled onto just out-of-the-fryer batter.”  (WW 1/1/18)

Now compare that to the more ostentatious description by Michael Russell:

“…..Adams’ fussed over bird , each crunchy piece wearing a shaggy brown coat reminiscent of a teddy bear’s fur, drizzled in honey and served with a clear glass bottle of hot sauce on the side.” (Emphasis supplied !??)

And not to get overly compulsive, but this one from a Thrillist ranking of the top 15 fried chicken places in Portland by Andy Cryza (9/2/15 – before Adams arrived…)  Woodsman was the top-rated option.  (Reel M Inn was #3.)

“…..Perfectly fried, with the juices locked into the premium bird, which is cut up into five generous pieces…..And the breading – occupying the zone between crisp and light – is kissed with a smack of honey which, when mixed with the salt, takes it into a danger zone hovering near meat-candy perfection.”

But if you don’t like chicken there are other worthy choices. I was able to persuade Janet, if I gave her a little bit of my chicken, to get the Double Cheeseburger ($16).  It was immense and the Canby, Oregon, Laney Family Farm’s beef scrumptious.  The fries were a perfect complement.

I described Michael Russell’s writing above as somewhat pretentious e.g. he started his review with the following: “…the restaurant has languished of late (last year) behind food that seemed to have lost its sense of place.” 

I changed my opinion – a little.  He was a little more down-to-earth when he wrote this about one of the Woodsman’s twelve starter options:

“Take the bologna sandwich.  It’s impressively thick cut of pink meat seared gently, surrounded by melted American cheese like fondant on a wedding cake and topped with sweet pickle on a sesame-seeded bun.  It’s a borderline obscene take on the classic….I’ve ordered it on every visit.” 

Fried chicken – “each piece wore a shaggy brown coat….”

At least he shied away from the toy creature analogy he made above with the fried chicken and didn’t compare the bologna to the Porky Pig stuffed animal he got at Disneyland……

And to affirm that this menu option may be worth the seemingly steep price ($12), let’s look at a non-foodie’s view – just your typical Yelp comment on 1/17/18:

“Now I know what you’re thinking, what the hell is in Bologna anyway, but this (sandwich) was freaking delicious.  I don’t know what’s in Bolgna, I probably don’t want to know.  But I’m on board.” 

Finally, while the bistro is also known for its chilled seafood and a seafood tower for $95 along with “Oyster Hours” all day Monday and from 5:00 to 6:00 on other weekdays, I loved our meal there because the food was good but also plentiful.  The picture below shows the box that we took home with our leftovers (It was filled and some of which survived to lunch the next day…) 

As another Yelp review who shares similar views succinctly stated:

“The food big.  Big food.  Platters….Reminds me of a place when I was a kid.  Logger means, man.”  (Yelp 1/15/18)

Most of the recent social media reviews are very positive although some question the prices especially since it is an ala-carte menus.  Another complaint which rang somewhat true with us on our first visit was the physical spacing:

“I don’t mind sitting at tables or booths, but why does anyone think that being 6 inches from a stranger is comfortable.”  (Yelp 1/14/18)

However, if someone is going to do a hatchet job on the Woodsman Tavern, they will have to come up with something of more substance than tables being a little too close.  Besides, you should check out their fried chicken……….

The Woodsman Tavern

4537 SE Division Street

 

Beerchasing in the Desert — Part I

The Oregon Coast in Road’s End at Lincoln City

How does one reinforce his or her appreciation for living in Oregon?  I started wondering this when I was only twelve after we moved here from Ohio – a courageous decision by my parents in 1960, since they were building a new house in Cincinnati and my dad had no job out here.

“FDW” on back road near John Day

He moved to Oregon City while my mom stayed back and sold the house and then she transported the four kids (ages 8 to 14) on a cross-country road trip.  They raised us to always look for the “Spirit of High Adventure” and we did repeatedly on his carpet sales territory in Eastern Oregon.

Janet is a native Oregonian, having been born and raised in McMinnville, where her dad, Joe Dancer, was the first City Manager and held the position for twenty-six years. (Joe Dancer Park in McMinnville is named in his honor.)

City of McMinnville Website

The opportunity, however, for  us to escape for a week in Arizona  in late January when it was dreary and KGW’s weather guru Matt Zafino was predicting “Significant precipitation for the next week,” sealed the deal along with a Companion Fare on Alaska Airlines.

“Let’s go to Phoenix/Scottsdale and sit in the sun, read, hike and Beerchase.” (not necessarily in that order) at a number of breweries and pubs.  We’d be there too early in the year to see Spring Training, a favorite pastime, but it would be a great respite.

Well the weather that week ended up being pretty reasonable although on the night we flew in, the server at our roadhouse (a very good Chelsea’s Kitchen) admonished us to “Stay warm!” as we left with strong desert winds whipping and temperatures in the mid-30’s.

The visits to the ten breweries and one taphouse/bottle shop were outstanding – superb beer, friendly and helpful bartenders and nice patrons who enjoyed chatting while sitting at the bars, in addition to one of the best pizzas we’ve consumed in years…..(See below)

A typical Phoenix intersection but less occupied because it was Saturday

However, the overall ambiance of this “disaster in urban planning,” made us immediately homesick for the concepts we take for granted – like trees, urban growth boundaries, good public transit, intersections which don’t require a ten-minute wait if you hit a red light, trails in Forest Park and, of course, the Oregon Coast.

While Portland breweries surpass every city on the globe, Phoenix and Scottsdale have made great progress and have a thriving beer culture with about thirty venues. We passed two brewpubs packed to capacity on the way to the baggage claim at Sky Harbor Airport O.H.S.O. Brewing and Four Peaks Brewing.  The acronym of the former stands for Outrageous Homebrewer’s Social Outpost.  

O.H.S.O. in the airport – great BLT sandwich!

We also visited O.H.S.O.’s Scottsdale brewery and stopped for a quick albeit delicious BLT sandwich at their airport pub while we were waiting for our return flight..

The fact that Four Peaks had been acquired by Anheuser Busch in late 2015 dampened our enthusiasm for visiting what is now a corporate extension although both Ten Barrel and Elysian in the Northwest have gone the same route.

The first night we started with what became our favorite and was also the most interesting – Goldwater Brewing Company.  It was named after the late Arizona icon, Barry Goldwater, a retired US Air Force pilot and Major General who served five terms in the US Senate and ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1964 against Nelson Rockefeller.

His campaign slogan was, “In your heart, you know he’s right.”  He was portrayed as a militant conservative who, if elected, would lead the US into a nuclear war with Russia.

Now there were no B-52 models hanging from the ceiling at the great family-owned brewery, but their flagship beer, which won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival, was “Machine Gun Teddy. While this might seem clever in Arizona, in light of recent events, it makes one wonder if they will still advertise it as “cuddly,” or in the interest of discretion, rename it.

Is this an appropriate name for a beer?

A warm and inviting bar at Goldwater

And besides the festive, warm taproom, which has twenty-four of their own beers, delicious free popcorn popped with Jalapeno peppers, Goldwater has a second space to drink beer sixteen feet below – in the space which used to be Mandall’s Basement Shooting Range.  They serve Goldwater’s specialty brews and it holds about twenty people – it’s opened limited hours on the weekend:

“Three 10-foot fermentation tanks fill three of the shooting tunnels.  One of the tunnels has been restored to what it likely looked like while in  operation; pulleys on the wall and top of the range, let the shooters move their targets down the tunnel.”

(This may be a good idea for conversion of shooting ranges around the country…..)

Next to Goldwater was an interesting place although it was closed when we went by – Sip Coffee and Beer House:

Sip Coffee and Beer House

“Sip’s coffee beans will be provided by Cartel Coffee Lab, a local roaster.  We will feature 19 rotating craft beers on draft and over 100 bottled beers.  We will also feature some very wild and unique liquor infused espresso/coffee drinks.”  

(This seems like a better idea than Starbuck’s mostly failed experiment of having one beer tap and trying to turn their stores into your neighborhood bar.)

Two Brothers Brewery and Taphouse – After Goldwater, this one was a disappointment although at least they were located in a renovated historic building and had a good line-up of beers although just five of their own. Two Brothers is a Midwest brewery based out of Chicago that opened a brewpub in Scottsdale (probably so the brothers could deduct their winter vacations……).

It’s like going into a Rock Bottom Pub – more restaurant than pub with some young and effusive woman out front who are eager to seat you and a bartender who would rather be watching one of the games on their many wide-screened TV’s than serving beer.

Although now that former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (October 2012) Coach Mike Riley is back at Oregon State as an assistant football coach, we wonder why anyone would bother, but Two Brothers is now an official University of Nebraska bar “where Husker fans can enjoy every game throughout the football season!”  (I didn’t ask what a venue has to do to become “official”...

Shaw Butte – an essentially urban hike

The next day, we hiked up Shaw Butte, which tops out at 1,380 feet and gives a nice view of the desert to the north and Phoenix to the South.

It was much better than our attempted hike the next morning in South Mountain Park – purported to be the third largest municipal park in the world with “miles of hiking trails.”    Now maybe we hit the wrong entrance, but all we saw on our abbreviated walk in the park was freeways that ran directly by high-rise buildings.

After the walk up Shaw Butte, we hit North Mountain Brewing, a microbrewery and gastropub where we talked to Bernie, the affable bartender, who had worked their five years and was spot on with his recommendation of the Sessions IPA.

Bernie at North Mountain

The brewery is in a strip mall and doesn’t have great ambiance but gets rave social media reviews for their food, which transcends just pub faire.

A few common themes emerged from the watering holes we visited.  First, the bartenders, almost without exception were great people.  They each let us sample their different beers – and even encouraged us to do so.  (Some misguided Portland brewpubs even charge for this courtesy, which is pretty short sighted.)  They were knowledgeable about beer.

Secondly, when we told them that were from Portland and about TheBeerchaser blog, almost all suggested competitors that we should visit to see the best Phoenix/Scottsdale breweries.   In fact, Bernie recommended our next stop – SunUp Brewing – as did just about every other bartender.

Phoenix parking

Another trend, albeit, negative, is that almost all the breweries and pubs (and just about every other commercial enterprise) was located in a strip mall surrounded by parking lots that are usually full.

The historic ambiance of Portland gems such as the White Eagle Cafe, Gil’s Speakeasy, The Rambler (all of which I have reviewed and could go on) not only have warm interiors, but very interesting or idiosyncratic exteriors which makes Beerchasing a lot more enjoyable.

The Historic White Eagle

Metropolitan Phoenix (The Valley of the Sun) has a population of 4.3 million and the City itself a density of 2,797 people per square mile.  That compares to Portland’s 4,537 and Portland is near the bottom in density for West coast cities.

The Valley of the Sun seems to be the epitome of urban sprawl.  While the road system is pretty good (I assume the Mexicans paid for it..) it takes a long, boring drive to get almost anyplace.

“Density” must be a pejorative term as evidenced by even one of their athletic teams “The Phoenix Sprawl” Okay, it’s an Ultimate Frisbee Team, and I guess that’s better than the San Diego Wild Fire in the same league, but don’t embrace the concept!

Janet enters SunUp

Sarah, our bartender, at SunUp Brewing, (she  was a gem) told us that it was the oldest brewery in Phoenix although their website states they opened in 2001 which made the claim a little dubious.  It was a great place, however, from the logo to the expansive patio to the cool historic building and their lineup of beers, which has gained popularity.  (Another source stated that the oldest brewery in Arizona, is Gentle Ben’s in Tuscon which opened in 1971.)

George Hamilton stories and more…..

One of the more interesting chaps we met that week was sitting at the bar at SunUp – an old guy with a considerable white beard who was friendly but full of baloney – to be polite – and talked loudly.

While drinking a porter, he went on for about forty-five minutes with stories on his exploits around the world including the one where he served as a doorman in an exclusive Park Avenue apartment in New York City in which B-list star and artificially tanned raconteur, George Hamilton lived.  (He told this story because he asked where I was born and I told him Long Island, New York.)

Perhaps he got sloshed remembering his start on Rin Tin Tin and the Donna Reed Show

The bearded one told us how Hamilton came in early one morning sloppy drunk and he aided the actor to his room and into bed.  He was purportedly awarded with a generous tip at the end of the month.   We left when he started the story about trekking in the Khumbu region on the way to climb Annapurna in Nepal……Oh well, we agreed that this encounter is one of the reasons that sitting at the bar is fun and interesting.

SunUp, like a number of the breweries we visited, has expanded as the beer culture in the desert has intensified.  For example in 2014, they produced 800 barrels, but after expansion, rolled out 3,000 the next year.

An example of mead – A Polish mead using two units of water for each unit of honey.

We demurred this time, but will have to try mead at another venue.  SunUP had twelve different meads.  Their flyer described mead as,

“A beverage as old as the hills and as new as a shiny penny….a delicious honey wine enjoyed for centuries with evidence of mead dating back to 700 BC.”  

They ranged in price from $10 to $16 for a 5 ounce glass – not only expensive but the ABV averaged 13.5% which explains the small glass size.

McFate Brewing

That night, again based on recommendations, we had beers and dinner at McFate Brewing.   Ryan was our favorite bartender in Arizona. 

He was outgoing, generous with samples and we ended up with a flight of three 4 oz. pours for $6 (No-Nelson Pale Ale, False Promises IPA and Fateful IPA were super.)

But the real prize that night was McFate’s pizza.   We had a Truff Diver and Janet asked and they honored her request for extra arugula on her half.  This review from Trip Advisor (3/24) summed it up well 

“The real star of the evening was the Truff Diver pizza. It was topped with olive oil, mozzarella, parmesan, mushrooms, truffle oil and an egg, and finished off with fresh arugula before serving. Hands down one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had – it even tasted good 2 days later as a leftover!”  

It’s the first pizza I’ve had with an egg (over easy) on the top.  Notwithstanding its good size, we did not take any back to the hotel like the reviewer above.

Ryan – an outstanding bartender

McFate’s, opened by a former financial exec in 2010, could not meet the demand for their beer and expanded in 2015 with another location in South Scottsdale and now has a 15 barrel capacity.

We were at the original brewpub which is not a large space, but it has a good vibe, friendly staff, robust selection of good beer and great food.  – What more can you ask for??

Stay tuned for the reviews of the other Phoenix and Scottsdale breweries in Part II of Beerchasing in the Desert.”