Leaving 2020 in “Good Taste”?

Image courtesy of Pam Williams

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

The Taste of Beer – Follow-up

In my last post, I did a rant, of sorts, about beer reviews – where some of the descriptions of my favorite beverage, in the reviewers’ attempt to be creative, are ridiculous.   I had saved examples clear back to 2014 to illustrate my point.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/12/23/holiday-cheer-and-the-taste-of-beer/

The Von Ebert Boarmobile

The reaction was positive and I wanted to follow with one more current example – from Willamette Week’s 2019 Beer Guide.

It’s an excerpt from the eighth-ranking in their Beers-of-the-Year the Pilsner (4%) from Von Ebert Brewing – a small and good brewer right in Portland’s Pearl District

 I’ll follow with what I regard as some common sense advice on tasting beer from two experts.  I might add, that of all of them, this description was one of the most ludicrous although the brewery’s Pils is a great beer:

“When the first sip of Von Ebert’s Pilsner crosses your lips, it tastes as if you were reading a 19th-century love letter painstakingly translated from German.

Three different Pilsner malts, each with its own crackery nuance, join like the tiny gears inside an imported continental timepiece, ticking beneath a flowery blend of Perle, Saphir and Tettnanger hops lifted into your nose by spritzy natural carbonation. And after weeks of cold-temp lagering, you can actually read a letter through it.”

“Crackery nuance?”

Wie hat Ihnen diese Beschreibung gefallen?

Oh sorry, I meant “How did you like that description?”  I got so carried away with German that I forgot some of you may not be enlightened enough to know the nuances of German to English translation (much less the “crackery nuance” he mentions). The reviewer’s tirade of wacky similes made me laugh.

For some more practical advice, and because he is a smart and gifted entrepreneur with common sense and a great knowledge of beer, I asked Adam Milne, the owner of Old Town Brewing for his take. (His brewery also produces one of my five favorite beers – Shanghai’d English Style IPA – a 2018 Gold Medalist at the World Beer Cup.)  His e-mail stated:

“I always like one of two approaches. One is to use common terms that are known to beer drinkers, so the readers have a universal understanding. This can be words like bitter, hoppy, fruity, malty, IBU’s and many others. 

The second approach is to go outside the beer world for terms that apply to food and drinks that everyone is familiar with. This can be describing sodas, cakes, fruits or vegetables. Basically compare to any ingredient in a grocery store or made in a restaurant. This allows for people who are not as familiar with beer to easily relate.”

Goethe – did not mix German beer and love letters

Notice Adam did not use Shakespearean metaphors or an example from Wolfgang Von Goethe although the WW reviewer might have taken the advice from this 18th century German poet, playwright, novelist and scientist who opined:  “A person ‘hears’ only what they understand.” 

I thought another good source might be an article in Draft Magazine entitled “What a psycholinguist can tell us about how we describe beer flavors,” but unfortunately, Draft Magazine was discontinued in 2017 and the pieces is no longer available.

There was, however, a practical article entitled “How to Describe Beer Like a Pro,” that seems reasonable.  https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/how-describe-beer-pro

Finally, before I leave the subject, I have to give Parker Hall, the reviewer from Willamette Week at least some credit.  Although I think his beer reviews are pretentious, I respect his education and background.  He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music – a very respected institution, where he studied jazz percussion on a scholarship.

Oberlin – respected educational institution

“He remains a professional musician in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, and is an award-winning homebrewer besides being a contributor to Portland’s alt-weekly Willamette Week.”

And While I’m Ranting About Reviews…

I guess before I depart from the subject of reviews, I’ll also talk a bit about book reviews.  Obviously, my exploits to new bars was stymied this year by the virus, so I read a lot more – mainly fiction, but also some good non-fiction works as well.

2020 warranted escapism so a much of my literary menu was thrillers by popular authors such as Lee Child, David Baldacci, Harlen Coban, etc.  But I found that relying on well known authors to rate their contemporaries is not very helpful in selecting a good read.  Usually, they are one or two sentence comments on the front or back covers and thrillers typically have phrases such as “fast-paced, a real page turner, superb plotting, absorbing nail-biter, an all-night read, etc.”

James Patterson writes of Lee Child, “I’m a fan.”   Best selling author, Lisa Gardiner writes of David Baldacci, “…one of the all-time best thriller authors,” and New York Times best-selling author Lisa Scottoline states, “Baldacci delivers, every time!”   One has to ask, with their writing demands and appearances, how thoroughly are these best-selling authors going to read and digest another writer’s book?

Perhaps others have arrived at the same conclusion as stated in a 2012 Los Angeles Times article,Why is Amazon deleting writers’ reviews of other authors’ books?”   The author quotes Amazon in a response to a reviewer inquiry:

Amazon Book Store

“We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we’ve removed your reviews for this title.”  (emphasis supplied)

And, of course, this raises all kinds of questions such as, “How does one define ‘directly competing?'”  The article quoted one writer opining “….author-on-author reviews comprise so little of Amazon’s overall site content as to be nothing more than a “sparrow’s fart.”  Evidently, Amazon amended its position because the policy now allows authors to submit reviews of others’ books:

“….unless the author has a personal relationship with the author of the book being reviewed, or was involved in the book’s creation process.”

A Solution?

Now since in the last blog post and this one, I railed against the over-the-top creative license by beer reviewers and now I’m slamming book reviews for being boring gibberish, one might ask, “Okay Don, what’s your solution?”

My answer – after giving it about the same amount of contemplation that Lisa Gardiner demonstrated in her review of David Baldacci’s book above – is in two parts:

First, since one of the purposes of book reviews and comments is to help readers avoid wasting their time on bad books and other literary works, reviews should be limited to those of lousy writers, poets and other artists.  To illustrate, I will use the example of English poet William Topaz McGonagal (1825-1902).

I became aware of him from a calendar of events in the Oregonian which noted the date of the death of the man “who is affectionately considered Britain’s worst ever poet.”  Upon researching, I learned that others “celebrate” him in more exalted terms – “The world’s worst poet.”

An excellent 2011 article in the British newspaper The Independent entitled, “The Story of William McGonagal” stated:

“In his lifetime, he was a music hall joke….He was paid five shillings for a public recital so that his mostly working-class audiences could jeer at his bad poetry or pelt him with rotten vegetables…..

….Yesterday, the writer and comedian Barry Cryer went on the Today programme to pay tribute to the Dundee bard, and recite the only poem McGonagall was ever paid to write, which was an advertisement for Sunlight soap:

Requires minimal elbow grease….

‘You can use it with great pleasure and ease — without wasting any elbow grease.'”

In concluding this section and without trying to overdo the topic –  albeit extremely fascinating –  I leave you with a poem he wrote after visiting New York City.  It gives credence to the Wikipedia summary:

“He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers’ opinions of his work….. His only apparent understanding of poetry was his belief that it needed to rhyme.

McGonagall’s fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings are considered to generate in his work. Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language.”

Empire State Building – Tall,  but more than thirteen “storeys”

“Jottings of New York” by William Topaz McGonagal

Oh mighty City of New York!  you are wonderful to behold,
Your buildings are magnificent, the truth be it told,
They were the only things that seemed to arrest my eye,
Because many of them are thirteen storeys high.

McCongagal died in Edinburgh in 1902 in poverty and was buried in a pauper’s grave  leaving behind a vast quantity of work and a reputation that endures more than a century after his death.

To reinforce my point – reviews of bad literary work are much easier to write, there is more consensus on the degree of unworthiness, it helps readers avoid wasting their time and it may actually help the author’s awareness.  (I just need to be hopeful that reviews of this blog and the manner in which I play the oboe since retirement will be only mildly disparaging when included under this standard.)

“Bard” Reviews

Furthering my argument to essentially limit critiques to lousy literature or maybe even substandard beer, I would submit that the model in the following article could be used to promote creativity and more inventive descriptions.    Book Bub published a captivating piece, “Twelve of the Funniest Shakespearean Insults” – replete with affronts which would be fit for describing either a shoddy literary work or hideous malted beverage.

For example, let’s assume you’re about 120 pages into a novel that is boring, puts you to sleep and has no redeeming literary value.  You could aptly describe it as, A fusty nut with no kernel,” (from Troilus and Cressida Act 2, Scene 1).

Now since my nickname is “Dirt” as you will see from the blog header above, I might take issue with the following.  It could describe an author who should be pursuing a career using his or her hands to produce a product other than the written word – O Gull! O Dolt! As ignorant as dirt!” (Othello Act 5, Scene 2)

Or let’s suppose you hit a new brewery and after sampling their flagship beer, you have to force yourself to swallow the loathsome malted concoction.  It would lead you to describe the brewer as, “Thou cream-faced loon,” (Macbeth Act 5, Scene 3) while describing his brew as “(A) mouthful of foul deformity.”  (Richard III, Act 1, Scene 2).

This scheme could be expanded to other classical philosophers such as Machiavelli who might have been describing a writer when he wrote  – “……fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.”

Socrates (left) with buddy, Aristotle

Or perhaps, Aristotle, advising a scribe to pursue another occupation – “To avoid criticism – say nothing, do nothing, be nothing!”

Upon reflection, it’s unfortunate that some of these utterances were not employed during the election cycle this last year.   So ends my rant and I guess, if reading annoying and trite reviews is my biggest annoyance, I’m pretty fortunate.

So Happy New Year from Thebeerchaser.  We are thrilled and encouraged that our two nurse daughters both recently received their COVID vaccinations and let us hope that the vaccines end up in arms around the world in a rapid, safe and responsible manner.

That said, since I’m a healthy, retired guy under 75, my older daughter when I asked her when she thought I would get my shot, responded with the following photo and said, “Drink up, Dad!”

So, until then, I will be a faithful mask wearer as I hope you will be.

Holiday Cheer and the Taste of Beer

Image courtesy of Pam Williams

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Happy Holidays, Beerchasers.  In what may be my last post of 2020, I will address one topic which is very interesting, yet tends to perplex and frustrate me. Let’s talk about

The Taste of Beer…..

A Portland “grunge” classic

Although this blog is primarily about bars and breweries, I often mention beers – especially those produced by the various breweries visited and which strike a chord.   

I’ve covered “basic” beers from the $1.50 Happy Hour PBRs at the historic Yamhill Pub  *1 in downtown Portland and the $1.00 draft Hamms (it used to be all day on Wednesdays…) at The Standard in Northeast Portland.

Buck pints – gone but not forgotten

*1  A November story in Willamette Week stated that this institution – at one time it sold more PBR than any bar in Oregon and in the ’90’s was no. 5 in North America – may have to close.  “General manager Kevin Hill has launched a GoFundMe campaign to save the Yamhill Pub, which is struggling financially during the most recent governor-ordered restrictions on dine- and drink-in service.” 

And conversely Janet and I enjoyed a Grolsch Premium Lager in Amsterdam’s Cafe Karpershoek in 2013 – the oldest pub in Amsterdam dating back to 1606 when Dutch sailors and merchants bellied up to the bar.

We’ve experienced some of the wonderful and innovative craft beers such as the Shanghai’d English Style IPA – a 2018 Gold Medalist at the World Beer Cup produced by entrepreneur, Adam Milne at Old Town Brewing – in Portland, Oregon where one can enjoy some of the finest micro-brews on the planet.

Janet at the bar in the Cafe Karpershoek

Now, I also remember life at Oregon State University in the late ’60’s, when the brew choices were all essentially “beer you could see through.”    I loved Schlitz Dry beer although Blitz Weinhard was plentiful on campus.  Of course, when one of the frat bros made a trip to a state in which you could buy a case of Coors – not available in Oregon until 1985 – he gained immediate popularity and new friends. 

However, what mildly irritates me are reviews – those where beer geeks – similar to some snooty wine connoisseurs – go into extravagant, grandiose and sometimes ridiculous detail describing how a beer tastes. 

That said, I realize that producing the ingredients for beer and the brewing process itself has gotten very technical and increased in sophistication to produce the outstanding mix of products from which beer drinkers can choose. 

For example, programs such as the Oregon State Fermentation Science Major have trained and educated outstanding brewers and enhanced the quality and flavor of beer immensely –  “a hands-on applied science addressing the biological, chemical and physical processes of fermented foods, including those used in the production of wine, beer, and spirits…..”

How cold was it? Sign outside Lumpy’s Landing

I’ve  progressed from not really knowing much about beer except that it’s much better really cold and in a frosted mug and have gained an appreciation for the rich history of brewing which goes back thousands of years.

“…..ancient Chinese artifacts suggested that beer brewed with grapes, honey, hawthorns, and rice were produced as far back as 7,000 BC.”  (Wikipedia – The History of Beer.)

I’m trying to educate myself on types of beer (ales and lagers – depending on the fermenting process), brewing styles, differentiation in ingredients and elements of taste.

A prime resource for beer education

There are some great online references and books such as the highly-rated The Beer Bible by Northwest author, Jeff Alworth who is also the originator of the Beervana blog. His almost 600 page book, with five appendices, could fill an upper-division college course on beer.

Lisa Morrison – also known as The Beer Goddess and a previous Beerchaser of the Quarter on this blog also wrote a good basic book on NW regional beers in 2011 – Craft Beers of the Northwest.

And after viewing the following sentence on page four of Jeff Alworth’s book, I thought that perhaps I was being too cavalier in dismissing the intricacies of beer taste.  Was I missing something when I raised a mug?

“When you sit down with a glass of beer, you do a lot more than taste it.  You will eventually put your papillae to the task, but they won’t work alone.  Your eyes take in its color, clarity and vivacity. 

Your nostrils detect sharp or subtle aromas drifting off the surface.  When you taste, you’ll be smelling the beer while its inside your mouth.  Your tongue, meanwhile, will be noticing whether its prickly with carbonation or smooth and still, whether it is thin or creamy or thick.  You don’t merely taste a beer, you experience it.”

However, after looking up the definition of “papillae” (a small rounded protuberance on the tongue) and realizing that I don’t really think about the prickly nature of beer while quaffing, I realized that I should not alter my own approach. 

Beer expert, Jeff Alworth at the Benedictine Brewery structure raising in 2017

I really love beer, but a major factor in my enjoyment is the social interaction with companions while imbibing.  That and drinking in the ambiance and unique character of each dive bar and brewery I frequent. 

Focusing on “mouthfeel” which is defined on page 599 of The Beer Bible as “Qualities of beer other than the flavor; includes body and amount of carbonation,” would detract from my Beerchasing experience.

I also respect those home-brewers who want to enhance their expertise and those in the brewing industry where it is a bonified occupational qualification to possess this technical knowledge.  And there are national and international brewing competitions such as the World Beer Cup.

It’s the world’s largest beer competition and labeled as “The Olympics of Beer.”  In the 2018 competition, there were 295 judges, three-fourths of them from outside the United States and beers from over thirty countries.

One can also choose to become a:

“….beer judge and work your way up the ranks evaluating beer to the Grand Master level. The (goal is) to remove as much of the subjectivity involved in evaluating beer during competitions as possible by giving all certified judges the tools needed to objectively evaluate the beers they judge.” https://winning-homebrew.com/evaluating-beer.html

But many of the beer reviews one reads in publications are pretentious and questionable.  My favorite example was so ludicrous, I saved it from five years ago. The reviewer, from a Portland weekly newspaper, was describing a new Gose beer introduced by an Oregon coastal brewery:

“”The first sip of the brew was like tasting the salty foam just as a large wave crests off the Oregon Coast.”

“Gasp – Gurgle – Glub – I think I have salt in my lungs….” (Off Lincoln City, Oregon)

I haven’t seen any more reviews from this columnist who most likely drowned while pursuing his next review, but there are others which also struck me as set forth below.

Small anti-hero??

Perhaps this is the challenge of those who pen reviews – trying to be creative and interesting, thereby using superlatives and hyperbole to capture the readers’ interest.  It happens with book and movie reviews too, as exemplified by this review of “The Joker” which hit theaters in 2020:

“Joker is so monotonously grandiose and full of its own pretensions that it winds up feeling puny and predictable.  Like the anti-hero at its center, it’s a movie that is trying so hard to be capital b – Big, that it can’t help looking small.” 

Let’s take this example from a Willamette Week’s Parker Hall 1/22/19 review of Day Runner IPA from Portland’s Threshold Brewing.  Now perhaps more sophisticated beer experts could truly discern the flavor he describes but take a look:

Rub your hands together and then give a “high” five…..

“A blend of Columbus and Ekuanot hops brings piny tar and tropical funk furnished by a tiny bite of freshly baked sourdough that makes your mouth water for the next sip, it smells like your hands would after an afternoon trimming Portland’s second favorite intoxicant. 

It’s a welcome and decidedly West Coast interpretation of the style that melds classic lupulin bite with deep hop flavor….”

Now remember, the reviews I’m talking about are not those in beer geek periodicals, but newspapers and publications for a general audience.   Heater Allen – a wonderful family brewery  in McMinnville, Oregon, gets a number of raves for its beers including this one from the 2014 Willamette Week Beer Guide where its Isarweizen was rated number six out of the top ten Beers of the Year.

“If you’ve only guzzled Widmer or Blue Moon, prepare yourself. This beer will thump your nostrils with the smell of clove and then strike your tongue with the taste of banana.  It’s creamy and crisp, something like chewing a slice of Juicy Fruit gum – in the very best way.”

“So sweet, you can’t help but chew” – and in the very best way!

Now while brewing creativity is a good thing, one reader argued about restoring some sanity in his clip entitled, “Holiday Ale Festival Gone Amok” when he described a disturbing trend in the annual Portland event in 2018 as:

“The festival’s hallmark has always been wonderful strong, winter ales and cask conditioned brews. Just the thing to blast me out of my IPA rut. But this year the festival got too cutesy and lost its way. The so-called stouts all tasted like milkshakes or Snickers bars.  The ales were so fruity that a better name might be the Kool-Aid Festival. 

And then there are the sour beers. There are probably some folks who actually like this stuff, but how many sour beers does it take for the rest of us to learn what we truly don’t like? Let’s take the Holiday Ale Festival back to its roots and put great winter brews back where they belong.”

To demonstrate how the trend to get a sweet confectionary flavor has escalated, let’s look at a few more.  Ten Barrel Brewing released The Last Blockbuster which was described as “having a light body and smooth finish with nuances of red licorice.”

“Nuances” of Red Licorice……

And here’s another one that I’ve saved about Priem Brewing (Hood River) Vienna Lager

“The relaxed toastiness, gentle caramelly sweetness and elegant body that define (this Vienna Lager) are all present, as are deeper notes of liquid toast, caramel apples and hints of toffee. A swallow brings out smooth cashew butter and dried, herbal hops balance the semi-sweet finish.”

The composer would judge the symphony of flavor as “classical”?

Now, Pfriem references the beer as a “malted symphony that would make Mozart proud….” and the review above was even in Draft Magazine, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen “liquid toast”.  (Although the Urban Dictionary defines “liquid bread as “A beer with a high specific gravity at the end of fermentation resulting in a dense beer.”)

It also sounds like this reviewer would get the same eclectic taste by stuffing the entire contents of his Halloween bag in his mouth in one gulp.

After griping about this brewing pattern, I’ll end the comments about beer reviews on a more positive and healthy note (except for the “chocolate milk” reference below).  While I’m not a great fan of stouts and porters, I did like the description of Most Premium Russian Imperial Stout from Gigantic Brewing – another Portland brewer. 

It was also in the WW 2014 Beer Guide and was favored as the 10th Best Beer in 2014: “In a beer scene lacking in big, bottled Imperial Stouts, Gigantic’s might be the czar.”  

“Thick as chocolate milk and black as the Mariana Trench, it masks its 10% ABV in a complex, aromatic palette of flavors, intermingling touches of raisin and prune with deep caramel and nuts.  It’s dense and robust, not to mention, dark – like a Russian winter’s night.” 

We need to add some raisins and nuts

For accuracy sake, I would also point out that while one would expect the Mariana Trench which reaches depths of 36,000 feet in the Pacific to be black, the hue in its ocean floor is actually “….a yellowish color…because of all the decaying plants and animals, animal skeletons, and shells that are continuously deposited there.”  

(If you’re wondering why I’m quoting from  2014 published reviews, it’s because I’ve been meaning to write on this topic since that time….)

Scriptural Guidance?

Since this is the Christmas and Holiday Season, I thought there might be a Biblical reference – from the Holy Bible versus the Beer Bible -which would provide some direction on the issue of beer flavor and taste – and I discovered one.

Proverbs 20:1 states: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” 

A brawler…..

A “brawler” would hardly be perceived as a brew with “nuances of red licorice” or a “gentle caramelly sweetness” or for that matter, “creamy and crisp – like chewing a slice of Juicy Fruit Gum.”  This – in contrast to an imperial stout or porter, both characterized by their dark color and full body.

The gold standard probably being Guinness Draught, which Guinness states is “distinguished by its legendary stormy surge upon pouring.”  That and a brew such as Smuttynose Imperial Stout can definitely be considered as “pugnacious.”  (Perhaps those who prefer dark beer can consider this as Old Testament Divine Guidance.)

The Beerchaser’s Favorites

Since I talked about beer itself – rather than breweries in this post – I’ll end by offering my five favorite Oregon beers (in no priority).  And hats off to the beer aficionados who are into the more esoteric brews.  But I graduated from an aggie college and have less refined and expansive preferences based on my education at Price’s Tavern in downtown Corvallis.

I am not offering any flamboyant or eloquent rationale except, “I really like them!”

Black Habit

 1.  Black Habit Brown Ale – (7.8%) the flagship beer of the Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary brewed by Fr. Martin Grassel

2.  Sticky Hands IPA – (8.1% – 110 IBU) Block 15 Brewery in Corvallis 

3.  Oakshire Amber Ale – (5.4% – 24 IBU) from Eugene’s Oakshire Brewing 

4. Shanghai’d English Style IPA – (6.5% 65 IBU) – Portland’s Old Town Brewing

5.  Buoy IPA – (7.0% – 70 IBU) from Astoria’s Buoy Beer Company 

But I Can’t Forget….

And I would be remiss without this honorable mention.  Now, I realize that this American lager is a Wisconsin – not an Oregon beer – from the brewery founded in 1844 and unfortunately now produced by Miller Coors, but it’s still a great beer. 

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) – (4.74%)  Pabst Brewing Company

An outstanding honorable mention

Besides, in Thebeerchaser’s opinion:

“PBR tickles the olfactory epithelium with a pleasant and satisfying aroma and provides a hint of the forest on a fall day.  And the smooth malt-infused taste this sophisticated pilsner gives mid-palate is memorable.  

Topping it off is the no-nonsense hoppiness which creates an emotional mouthfeel similar to the crest of a wave breaking in the Pacific off Lincoln City, Oregon at high-tide.  PBR is tantamount to the Nectar of the Gods!”  (Don Williams 2020)

Christmas and Holiday Blessings from Thebeerchaser

And may all your shots be Pfizer rather than Vodka!

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (Who, What, Why?)

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Followers of Thebeerchaser blog know that generally, each quarter I try to convey the story of an interesting individual or group – a departure from my usual reviews of bars and breweries. Originally, I posted a Beerchaser-of-the-Month, but that schedule precluded doing justice to each story, so I moved to a Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOQ).

Who are these people and why do I devote space in my blog to the thirty-five individual  “honorees” named during the nine + years I have been authoring Thebeerchaser. The answer is pretty simple. 

Throughout my earlier years, during my career and in retirement, I have met (or read about) many fascinating and wonderful people with compelling stories and both notable exploits and accomplishments.  Those I’ve featured may or may not have anything to do with bars or beer. Exploring how to chronicle the BOQ tales has been fun and gratifying.

The late author and humorist, Brian Doyle

I’ve known almost all the BOQ’s personally – and in a few cases, such as the late Brian Doyle – a noted NW author, I met them after writing and asking to meet them over a beer – asserting that adding the BOQ entry to their resume would pack the same punch as having a notary-of-the public designation. 

One of my early “honorees”, Princeton Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt – author of the magnificent treatise, On Bullshitsurprisingly responded to the missive I sent him at the University informing him of this new accolade with the following e-mail:

Dear Mr. Williams,   First of all, thank you for the honor of naming me the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Quarter.  I have looked at the blog in which you announced my receipt of this distinction, and I was impressed by its wit, its charm, and its erudition. 

Emeritus Professor Harry Frankfurt

Also, I enjoyed the pictures.  I intend to follow your blog regularly.  Anyhow, thanks very much for writing.  Sincerely,  Harry Frankfurt”

Beerchaser followers have sometimes asked for a list of all those I’ve written about.  Although you can access the posts, by clicking on the category at the left side of the blog header above, I haven’t to this point published a complete roster of this disparate group comprising academicians, athletes, authors, clerics, consultants, developers, environmentalists, friends/family, media personalities, military veterans, musicians…..well you get the idea.

Coach Dee Andros – celebrates the Giant Killer 3 to 0 victory over top-rated USC in 1967

And joining these individuals listed below, are four groupsthe 1967 Oregon State Giant Killer Football Team, the 1798-99 Crew of the USS Constitution (Unfortunately, none of whom I’ve met!), OSU Football Coach Mike Riley and his 2012 Team and Lawyers, – the latter based on the respect and admiration I gained – for at least most of them – working with these professionals for almost forty years.

Drinking a Sam Adams IPA at Dirty Nelly’s in Boston

Oh yes.  And there is, appropriately, one Beerchaser-of-the-Year (well, actually it should be 40 years).  She has been my life partner since March 29, 1980, but also supported me in the pursuit of this idiosyncratic hobby over the last nine years.  Janet even went so far as switching from her favorite vintage of wine to IPAs on our road trips exploring new watering holes.

Janet on Alaska Cruise

The BOQ’s are listed by year below in reverse chronological order ending with Harold Schlumberg – one of the few I have not met, but the first person, I named in 2011 shortly after starting Thebeerchaser.   Yes, in some years, there aren’t four but let’s not get too formal. – this is a hobby!  Before enumerating them below, I thought I’d give you an idea of their memorable exploits by this simple quiz.   The answers are at the end of the post after the list:

  1. Who are the father and daughter who both garnered this title in separate posts?
  2. What BOQ has the nickname “Godfather?”
  3. What BOQ is known as Oregon’s “Beer Goddess?”
  4. What family member of Thebeerchaser took a deep dive?
  5. Who is the only BOQ whose existence is questionable – not that that’s a bad thing!
  6. Vandelay —– Latex  – Really?

    What 2012 BOQ was recently inducted into the State of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for two sports and what other BOQ did he join in that organization?
  7. What two persons are the only married couple named as co-BOQ for their outstanding long-term environmental work?
  8. Sam Holloway with Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray

    Which BOQ is a tenured professor and internationally recognized micro-brewery industry consultant? 
  9. Which BOQ was named because of his heroic military service and is also not only an author, but served two terms as Mayor of an historic Oregon City?
  10. Which BOQ authored a book known as “the most influential crime novel of the last 50 years” and had an opening line that one author/reviewer described as “….probably the greatest opening line of any book I’ve ever read.” 
  11. Which Portland lawyer was named BOQ not only for his legal skills, but helping put Portland State College in the national spotlight during the 1960’s?
  12. Who is the BOQ who designed the memorable logo for Thebeerchaser?

You can click on the link over the name of each BOG below if you want to see the narrative and pictures in the original post.  And if you want to suggest an individual worthy of this esteemed title in the future, please leave a comment or e-mail me.

2020

Fr. Chuck Wood Catholic Priest 12/4/2020
Billy Main Football player – entrepreneur 5/25/20 – 5/11/20
Lawyers Lawyers 8/31/2020
Jack and Jan McGowan Environmentalist – non profit leaders 2/19/2020

No 22 – Billy “Rabbit” Main

2019

John Runkle Owner – The Dirty Shame Saloon  8/13/2019
Col. Terry “Spike McKinsey – USMC Marine Aviator and Base Commander 3/26/2019

Marine Aviator Terry “Spike” McKinsey

2018

The 1967 Oregon State Giant Killers Collegiate Football Team 5/20/2018
Mark Edlen Developer and Philanthropist 2/7/2018

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Mark Edlen

2017

Fr. Martin Grassel Benedictine Monk and Benedictine Brewer 7/1/2617
Brain Doyle – Beerchaser Eternal Author and Humorist 6/9/2017
Amy Faust Media Personality and Writer 4/11/2017

Amy Faust – now on Classical 89.9

2016

Dwight Jaynes Media Personality, Journalist and Writer 13/13/16
Kelly Gronli Symphonic Musician – Oboist 6/29/2016
Jay Waldron Attorney, Athlete, Adventurer 3/29/2016

The Godfather – Dwight Jaynes

2015

Capt. Rick Williams USN Retired Military Veteran and Energy Consultant 10/22/2015
Sam Holloway University Professor and Micro-brew Industry Consultant 8/25/2015
Lisa Morrison Bar owner, Author, Media Personality 4/9/2015

First a hardhat diver, then submarine rescue vehicle then skipper of a nuclear sub

2014

Jack Faust Lawyer and Media Personality 9/2/2014
Steve Lawrence Veteran, Lawyer, Author, Mayor 5/29/2014
Brian Doyle Author and Humorist 2/24/2014
Art Vandelay Latex??!! 1/31/2014
Janet Williams Wife and Outstanding Human Being 1/19/2014

Jack Faust and son, Charlie, at Bailey’s Taproom

2013

Johnny Brose Winemaker, Brewer, College Instructor 11/14/2013
Jud Blakely Veteran, Consultant and Writer 9/16/2013
Doug Bomarito Veteran and Lawyer 9/16/2013
Jim Westwood Attorney and Civic Leader 3/28/2013

Lt. Jud Blakely in Than Thrah Viet Nam – July 1966

2012

Forrest Green Musician, Environmentalist and Counselor 11/4/2012
Mike Riley and the OSU Football Team Coach and Players 10/23/2012
Craig “The Dude”  Hanneman Athlete, Executive, Elected Official and Mountain Climber 8/27/2012
John Terry Historian and Journalist 5/29/2012
Dr. Harry Frankfurt University Professor and Author 1/6/2012

 

The Dude on Mt. Everest Climb

2011

Four Bartenders Portland Area Mixologists 11/9/2011
James Crumley Author 9/27/2011
Harold Schlumberg Retired Chemical Engineer and Philosopher 8/29/2011

Phoebe – Bartender at the Brooklyn Park Pub – my first bar visited

Answers to the BOQ Quiz Above

  1. Jack and Amy Faust
  2. Dwight Jaynes
  3. Lisa Morrison
  4. Rick Williams – my youngest brother
  5. Art Vandelay who has a remarkable resemblance to lawyer, Carson Bowler
  6. Craig Hanneman and Dwight Jaynes
  7. Jack and Jan McGowan 
  8. Dr. Sam Holloway
  9. Steve Lawrence
  10. James Crumley
  11. Jim Westwood
  12. Jud Blakely

Cheers and Have a Safe and Joyful Christmas and Holiday Season

 

 

Father Chuck Wood – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Followers of Thebeerchaser blog know that each quarter, I name an individual or group as my Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  They may or may not have anything to do with bars or beer; however, the “honoree” has, in my humble opinion, made a contribution to society and a good story I try to convey.  (For the BOQ posts, see the tab on the left side of the header above.)

Dr. John Walker – Portland State University graduate school

As an example, my last group so honored was Lawyers – in light of the 40+ years I worked with these professionals.  Individuals who have garnered this designation include veterans with distinguished military service, authors, athletes, media personalities, civic leaders and academicians including my graduate school professor of public finance – Dr. John Walker.  

The individuals whose stories I related in 2020 include William Tucker (Billy) Main – an outstanding member of the 1967 Oregon State Beaver Giantkiller Football Team and Jack and Jan McGowan – the co-Executive Directors of the outstanding Oregon environmental group SOLVE.

Jan and Jack at their Sisters, OR home

This quarter, Fr. Chuck Wood, joins another man-of-the-cloth, Fr. Martin Grassel (Order of St. Benedictine) in BOQ membership.

Fr. Martin, a Benedictine monk, is also the Head Brewer for the Benedictine Brewery – one of three in the US owned and operated by Benedictine Monks.  I have been privileged to be involved as a volunteer with the Brewery and development of the St. Michael Taproom since late 2017, where our motto is “Taste and Believe” and our flagship beer is Black Habit.

Head Brewer and Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary Procurator, Fr. Martin Grassel

Through involvement with the Brewery, in part, I became a member of the Abbey Foundation of Oregon (AFO) Board of Trustees, which is where I met Fr. Chuck – another member of the Board.  Before telling you Chuck’s story, a few general comments on why I wanted to share it with you.

I’m a Presbyterian, so before becoming involved in the Brewery and the AFO, I had essentially no prior contact with either priests or monks.  Since then – fall of 2017 – I’ve become good friends with both a number of Benedictine Monks who live at the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary and the priests involved with the Abbey.  (Perhaps the picture below, will show why you should visit the beautiful and expansive grounds on the Abbey Hilltop.)

Without exception, they have been wonderful caring and dedicated men of God.  The monks at the Abbey pray collectively six times a day and rise at 5:00 AM to commence their prayer and duties.  They also have diverse backgrounds, for example, Fr. Martin, graduated from the University of North Dakota in Computer Science and after graduation worked as a software engineer for Honeywell Corp in Phoenix, when he got the call which brought him to Mount Angel.

Abbott Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, grew up on a farm in a small town in Idaho and became the twelfth elected head of the Abbey and Seminary in 2016. Before he was elected Abbot, Fr. Jeremy taught theology at Mount Angel Seminary and at Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll OSB

He has published three books and fifteen scholarly articles on Evagrius (a Christian monk and ascetic) and related topics in ancient Egyptian monasticism.

He has also written widely on liturgical questions. and published three books of poetry in addition to a recent collection of poetic essays called A Monk’s Alphabet.  (A wonderful book I would strongly recommend.)

The Abbot has a wonderful sense of humor and his humility endears him to all.  To see an example, check out this short video – one of the weekly inspirational messages – this one at Thanksgiving – he has given to those of all faiths during the pandemic: https://www.mountangelabbey.org/monastery/abbot-jeremy/abbot-jeremy-videos/

And with apologies for digressing – again…but I have been amazed at the wonderful  perspective and collective sense of humor all the clerics I have met possess.   While I  talk about this merriment more below, look at a brief preview with Fr. Chuck and two of his colleagues (Fr. Mark Nelson and Fr. Mark Bentz)

This YouTube clip is entitled “Three Priests React to Priest and Church Jokes,” and while some of the jokes are corny, just observing the fun these three priests have doing the bit, is well worth watching. (Click on the center of the photo below)

Father Chuck

Chuck and his dad in Washington DC.

Chuck was born in Washington DC in 1960 into a Catholic family.  His dad was a graphic artist and designer who worked for the Depts. of Agriculture and Labor.  His mom, raised a Baptist, converted to Catholicism and worked as a clinical and hospital nurse at both Howard University and in a private clinic.

The theatre, music and art were all avid interests – “I was a creature of artistic variety and was involved in drama from the time I was in grade school, but our plays were terrible and my talents as an actor were not so good!”  (You’ll have a chance to judge that below…)

His best friend starting in second grade was Vincent Cowal – they kept in contact and in one of a number of amazing “coincidences” in Chuck’s life, Vince now teaches media and technology at Jesuit High School in Portland where he is a respected educator.

Chuck Wood was a good boy growing up – never in trouble, having no curfew, and was interested in going into politics and government – maybe as a diplomat.  He graduated from St. Anselm’s Abbey School – an all boys school for grades 6-12, which was on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery and where “Where Bright Boys Become Exceptional Men.” 

St. Anselm’s Abbey School

A turning point……

Then in his sophomore year “I became bored with being a good boy.”   After a year of somewhat disruptive behavior contrasting with his former demeanor – although not resulting in any major trouble – he had a change of heart because of the influence of a young priest.

Fr. Thomas Kalita came to Chuck’s Catholic parish and helped the young man come to the realization that being a Christian meant not just going to church, but having a personal relationship with Jesus and helping others.

Fr. Kalita – a profound influence

In October 1976 at an evening service, he committed to do that.  “It changed my life.  My life now is a direct line from that day.”   He said that “prayers and circumstance got me to the University of Notre Dame.”

A central factor and one that “became part of my identity” was his introduction to People of Praise.  Founded in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, this organization has grown into a community of about 1,700 members…. in 22 cities across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.  To summarize their philosophy:

Jesus desires unity for all people. We live out this unity the best we can, in spite of the divisions within Christianity. We are Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and other denominational and nondenominational Christians…. Despite our differences, we worship together. While remaining faithful members of our own churches, we have found a way to live our daily lives together.

Our community life is characterized by deep and lasting friendships. We share our lives together often in small groups and in larger prayer meetings……. We strive to live our daily lives in our families, workplaces and cities in harmony with God and with all people.”  (People of Praise webslite)

Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus

Chuck became a member of People of Praise  (POP) in the fall of 1978 while a student at Notre Dame and also joined the Brotherhood within POP committed to a celibate life.

He studied economics and government and was a “bad actor” in a number of University productions and “hung around with artsy friends.”   During this time his interest in journalism was heightened by writing articles for the school newspaper and serving as editor of the student magazine.

Preparing for life after graduation, he applied and was rejected for several jobs including a nationally known Catholic publisher, but a priest told him about an internship at the Catholic News Service in Washington, DC. and through the help of a Catholic bishop, he secured an interview in his senior year.

When the six-month internship ended, he was hired as a reporter – a job he loved and at age 24, he thought would be a great lifetime career. Moving back to South Bend, he took a job at a small publishing company.  Although Chuck was firmly committed to People of Praise, he had not seriously considered the Catholic priesthood.

Looking back, when he was about eleven, his Aunt Leona – a protestant – commented to Chuck’s mom, “He will probably be a priest.”   After he was ordained his sister stated,  “Chuck was probably the last person in our family to know that!”

Cardinal Francis George – another strong influence in Chuck Wood’s spiritual journey

Chuck stated, “God nudged and prodded me to be open to the possibility.”   And part of that “prodding” was moving to Portland in 1996 after driving across the country in two vans with ten other Brothers from the People of Praise living in communities in South Bend and Minneapolis.

This was, in part, at the urging of Yakima Archbishop Francis George who would soon be appointed as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland and who was eventually created a Catholic Cardinal in Chicago by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

This move was a matter of faith as he was finishing his Masters in Theology at Notre Dame.  Three of the ten new Oregonians decided to attend seminary at Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary near Salem, Oregon – a Benedictine community.  Two started in the fall of 1996 and Chuck joined them in January.

“I attended high school on the grounds of a Benedictine Monastery and felt very comfortable in this environment,” he stated.  “I became immersed in the Benedictine tradition and love the intellect and culture.”

Mt. Angel Abbey Seminarians

Upon graduation in 2000, he was ordained a priest and his first assignment was at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in North Portland.  For two years at that assignment,  he and a colleague also co-pastored at Sacred Heart Church in SE Portland.

It also brought some special assignments with a Brother from POP in Minnesota involving teaching at a secondary school. He then returned to his long-term home in Oregon, where Fr. Chuck has served in a number of parish posts all in the Portland metropolitan area as follows:

2004 – 2010:  St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Gresham as Associate Pastor

2010 – 2012:  St. Clare Parish in SW Portland as Pastor

St. Clare Catholic Church

2012 – -2016: Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego as Associate Pastor

Now lest you think that Fr. Wood’s attachment to the arts diminished in his ministry and restrained him from showing his talents, take a look at this video below.

It shows him and Fr. John Kerns, the Pastor, rocking out and their “inspired” dance moves to the cheers of their congregation at Our Lady of the Lake’s 2014 Parish Festival.  (This one should make you laugh out loud….!)  And if you search YouTube, you can find more of Chuck’s artistic endeavors including a Gilbert and Sullivan entry. (Click on the center of the photo below)

2016 to present: St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Scapoose ( 20 miles from Portland) as Pastor

The beautiful sanctuary of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church

St. Wenceslaus is a parish of about 275-300 households. They are fortunate to have a pastor with the faith, dedication, intellect, sense of humor and dance moves of Fr. Chuck Wood.

Since this is a blog about bars and beers, I ended my interview (unfortunately we could not meet face-to-face in a bar or brewery) asking Fr. Chuck about his beer-of-choice to which he replied:

“Because of pre-diabetes, blood sugar issues, I had to cut back on beer intake.  When I do drink beer, I like darker brews – stouts and porters such as Benedictine Brewery’s ‘Black Habit(an obvious choice) – and Hopworks Urban Brewing – ‘Survival – 7 Grain Stout.'”

In light of Fr. Chuck’s fondness for corny jokes, after I saw the video about the three priests, I sent him this bar joke – perhaps he will use it in the future….

A little variation with a computer reference..

“A priest, a minister and a rabbit walk into a bar and the rabbit says, “I think I may be a typo….” 

And finally, because I couldn’t resist, I leave you with just one more YouTube example.  Fr. Chuck sent this 2020 production to the Monastic Community, the AFO Board and the Abbey Staff by e-mail after Easter.

After a few months of the pandemic and lockdowns, people were looking for something light-hearted and positive and he accomplished that goal. He prefaced it with the following comment:

“While it’s still the Easter Season for a couple more days, I invite you all to take a look at an Easter video I put together. Just short of 6 minutes, it’s a spin on Pharrell Williams’ song, ‘Happy,’ from the 2013 movie, “Despicable Me 2.’ Pardon me if my ego is showing, but I’d be honored if you’d care to take a look.  Happy Easter!”

The reaction as you might expect was effusive and generated numerous thankful e-mail responses.  God bless you Fr. Chuck.  You are truly a Soul Man!  (Click on the center of the photo below)

Modern(e) Family

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

I have written at length in several posts about Thebeerchaser’s six-day solo Montana road trip in the fall of 2019 – solo, that is, until I picked up my wife, Janet when she flew into Billings for the remaining nine-days of our trip.

The trip began with two days in Yaak, Montana where I spent a great amount of time at the Dirty Shame Saloon, getting to know the unforgettable character and now friend, John Runkle while I stayed at John’s Yaak River Lodge.

Devouring John Runkle’s blueberry pancakes in the Yaak River Lodge dining room

Overnight stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston followed – all wonderful, towns that beckon a return after COVID becomes a vivid memory from 2020 – not one etched into our everyday thoughts and prayers.

Now during that time, I hit 29 bars and breweries in pursuit of my Beerchasing retirement hobby started in 2011.  Due to the number of establishments, aside from the Shame, I have featured multiple watering holes in each post until now — the Club Moderne in the historic mining town of Anaconda.

That’s because not only is the architecture and décor totally different than any other bar in Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho, but the momentous story that continues to cement the Moderne’s legacy in the robust history of Anaconda is unique.

Now I am not and never will be a hunter, but I loved one almost universal characteristic of the Montana dive bars I visited.  Taxidermy is a recurring and dominant theme and as evidenced by the fact that there are 205 taxidermists registered in Montana and Helena even has the Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning.

The 2019 annual convention of the Montana Taxidermists’ Association in Billings was the most well-attended ever according to the Billings Gazette.  The product of taxidermists is ingrained in the culture – kind of like soccer in Europe and losing in the Pac 12 Athletic Conference since Larry Scott became the Commissioner….

A notable example is the stuffed alligator hanging over what is reported to be the longest bar in Montana at the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls – the saloon also has a polar bear and grizzly in a gigantic glass display case among others on display. 

Although there are too many to mention in this post, don’t forget the albino mule deer fawn tucked in between multiple other formerly wild creatures on the west wall of the legendary New Atlas Saloon in the heart of Columbus – a bar that originated in 1906.

It’s described by Joan Melcher, author of two outstanding books on historic Montana watering holes:

“Hulking throughout the room are bald eagles, an albino mule deer fawn, a coyote howling to the moon, young bobcats fighting an Audak (African mountain sheep), a Canadian lynx, raccoon or two, a fox, a snow owl. moose heads, elk heads – buffalo, antelope, mountain sheep – all kinds of head….

….After a few drinks, you feel countless pairs of eyes bearing down.  You have another beer to relax under their scrutiny, look around again, and you’re among friends, the animals’ glares having softened to amused acceptance.”  (Page 95 – Montana Watering Holes by Joan Melcher)

One of multiple footrest spittoons at the New Atlas

The historic character is usually enhanced by dark wooden bars and backbars and in the New Atlas, spittoons, in the footrest running the full length of the bar.

But the Club had a one-of-a-kind exterior – at least in Montana – and possibly one of just two similar themes in the Western US (see below).

In Big Sky Country, such design was tantamount to finding a liberal arts major at an aggie school like Oregon State University or a guy, in what some regard as the Micro-brew capital of the Western Hemisphere, ordering a Budweiser at after-work gatherings in the PacWest Center in downtown Portland.  (Oh yeah, I guess I meet both of those conditions, but you understand my point – the Club Moderne is just very unusual and surprising given the context.)

Now even though I was a liberal arts major, I had to look up the definition of “moderne”  – it’s defined by the Free Dictionary, in part, as:

“Of or relating to the art deco style marked by bright colors and geometric shapes….An architectural and decorative style popular from the 1930s to the 1940s and characterized by streamlined and curved surfaces, strong horizontal lines, and minimal surface ornament.”

And the Club Moderne was added to the National  Trust for Historic Preservation in 1986 and described on its website:

“The bar was – and still is – a sight to behold, with its rounded front facade and Carrara glass panels that perfectly embody the Art Deco style of architecture popular in the U.S. earlier last century.  Club Moderne was built under the direction of owner John “Skinny” Francisco. The building was designed by Bozeman, Montana-based architect Fred Willson and built by local carpenters and craftspeople.”

And the City of Anaconda – dating back to 1893 and a with current population of about 10,000, has an interesting history:

“…..founded by Marcus Daly, one of the Copper Kings, who financed the construction of the Anaconda smelter on nearby Warm Springs Creek to process copper ore from the Butte mines……

The Anaconda company expanded smelting capacity over time; by 1919 the Washoe Reduction Works could boast that its 585-foot (178 m) smokestack was the tallest masonry structure in the world and that the smelter-refining complex constituted the world’s largest non-ferrous processing plant. In 1980, Atlantic Richfield Co. closed the smelter, bringing an end to almost a century of mineral processing.”  (Wikipedia)

One of my friends lived there during the 1950’s and said that the town bustled with activity.  There was a bar on almost every block of Commercial Street.  But disaster struck in 2016 and a devastating fire ravaged the Club Moderne the night of October 3rd. To understand the sentiment of Anaconda residents, consider an article in The Missoulian when the Moderne reopened in the spring of 2017 after community efforts to make it happen.

One resident described the loss of the Club Moderne as “the most devastating thing to happen to Anaconda.”….Victor Zenahlik, a captain with the Anaconda Fire Department, said he felt “heartbroken and sickened” when he got the call to respond to the Club Moderne.  (The Missoulian – May 13, 2017)

But the Moderne, at least from what I saw, never lost the family-type character and historic flavor which defined it.  According to an article in the Montana Standard on 10/4/16:

“‘This is a place where you brought your lady. This is a place where you could be comfortable. This is a place where they had it similar to Cheers where everyone knew your name,’ he said. ‘Everyone was welcomed when they came to the Club Moderne. It was a comfortable place and it spanned all the generations — from 21-year-olds to 80-year-olds.” ”

The Owl – not an inviting environment

And it was the exact opposite of The Owl Bar – another Anaconda bar I visited which was one of the few places on my trip where I had the distinct vibe that those who weren’t regulars should probably find another place to drink.

Admittedly, this sentiment is based on only one try, although my visits to about 400 watering holes since 2011, gives me a pretty good feel for mood.   The Owl originally, and for many years, didn’t have stools at the bar which is some indication that it was more of a place to throw down shots than to mingle.

In contrast, the Moderne had and has a family environment which is what led to its recovery after the fire.   In the words of Stephanie Hekkel, the Moderne owner’s words, describing what she liked best – “….hanging out with some of Anaconda’s old-timers, who ranged from miners to smelter workers, lawyers, teachers and policemen…..They had their stools. Everyone knew where you sat…..Some regulars came five days a week.”  The Montana Standard 10/4/16

Is this what you call a “beer chaser…?”

I sat down at the bar and the friendly bartender, Destiny, went through the tap list while a woman named Wanda sitting on an adjacent bar stool, advised me that I should try the Bloody Mary – it was a great choice and not just because it was served in a tall Bud Lite glass….

It turned out that Wanda had some Oregon roots as she went to college at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon – about twenty miles from my house.

And joining in the conversation were two affable young guys – Kyle and Logan – who it turned out were staying at the same hotel as I was and were in Anaconda for a month on a contract for the Montana Highway Department to install underground culverts.  The Club had quickly become their “bar of choice.”

The front of the establishment where the bar and booths are located is a bright and inviting room where various ornate trinkets and mementos adorn a lighted display case over the full length of the backbar. (The Moderne does not have a website and research did not yield any underlying story, but they were interesting.)

Author Melcher describe the front room in her 2009 visit:

“We order drinks and settle in, taking in the unerring details of art deco design.  The perfect geometry of the back bar, the copper and aluminum checkerboard ceiling, the stainless steel accents, the angles and lines in inlaid wood, the chromium and leather furniture – all details – all preserved.”

The larger back room – once restricted for ladies – because in Montana, as in many American jurisdictions, females could not drink in the same room as males – they had a separate entrance on the side or back of the establishment.   It’s now reserved for community events with a number of chairs, a shuffleboard game and an electronic dart board.

As a wonderful coincidence, Camille (Cam) Fallow, one of our nearby Oregon friends, when I related my Montana road trip experience and visit to the Club effused:

“Oh, You have found part of Anaconda’s history!  Many years ago, Club Moderne’s bartenders wore starched white vests and ties and the back room area was very formal.

Much of the design of the building was unique.  Folks far and wide knew about Anaconda’s Club Moderne, owned and operated by my step-father,
Skinny Francisco!  So happy that you stopped by there!”

The picture below from the Club’s Facebook page affirms Cam’s statement in this picture on its 80th birthday in 2017, when everyone dressed up as in the “old days.”
So, if you travel to Montana, be sure to put this bar on your itinerary.  And speaking of Cam’s step-dad, Skinny Francisco, if you prefer a more urban setting on the West Coast where you can check out the art-deco architecture, you might want to try the country’s other Club Moderne in the heart of San Francisco.

Stookey’s Club Moderne is located between Nob Hill and Union Square on the corner of Bush and Taylor Streets, where owner Tim Stookey also provides the art-deco vibe according to an article in Liquor.com.

“Tim Stookey, Stookey’s namesake co-owner, has spent nearly 20 years behind a bar. After much reconnaissance, he landed on the space near the city’s Nob Hill neighborhood.

The building itself has, appropriately, been a bar since 1944 and in all likelihood, ‘they were slinging booze here since Prohibition,’ says Stookey. The former Faverman’s Pharmacy #4—there were once five locations in San Francisco—became Faverman’s Liquors and remained a bar until its current incarnation.”

Cheers and Stay Safe!

Image by Pam Williams

On Veterans and Lawyers….

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Based on the tyranny of the urgent as well as the unique challenges presented in 2020, we may tend to overlook our traditional commemoration of individuals and groups on Veterans’ Day.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, experienced raging wildfires throughout the West, encountered protests and riots over the issue of social and racial injustice, witnessed businesses floundering or ceasing operation and endured divisive political campaigns culminating in one of the closest and most contentious elections in many years.   Oh yes – and now we face the ever-present dilemma of how, with many gyms still closed, to get back in shape and lose the poundage gained snacking during the lockdowns.

We cannot, however, forget those who had a profound impact on preserving our freedom –  our Veterans.  In this Beerchaser post, I’ll attempt to reinforce the importance of taking time during Veterans’ Day on November 11th to hail their dedication, sacrifice and patriotism.

A poster from 2013

In a recent post, based on my forty years of working with them, I named lawyers –  as a group -as my Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.   Now I know some of you may think that the recent post-election turnout of lawyers exceeded the turnout of voters, but they are critical to preserving the Rule of Law – a foundation of our system of justice.

And below, I will single out a few of them – some who have previously garnered the “honor” of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, but should also be recognized for their distinguished service in the Armed Forces.  In closing, I name a few others who should also be saluted on this day.

The headline and narrative below first appeared as an opinion piece in my local newspaper in 1998.  It was inspired by an event at the law firm where I worked for twenty-five years – the last thirteen as the Chief Operating Officer.

A number of times in the past, I have asserted why Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt is an outstanding firm – not only for its superb lawyers and support personnel, but also its culture, commitment to civic engagement and community service. The event below is just one example of how Schwabe distinguishes itself and I want to share it again.

(The following was originally published in the West Linn Tidings in November, 1968.)

“Vets Stories Awe Law Firm, Honor Holiday”

Joe Willis

Joe Willis is a senior partner in the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm based in Portland, Oregon.  Joe was an E-5 (petty officer second class) in the Navy quite a few years in the past.

A few months ago, he sent an e-mail to everyone in the firm.  Joe asked military veterans to e-mail him back, indicating the branch of service and some details about when and where they served.  Those of us who responded promptly forgot about his unusual electronic request.

But Joe didn’t forget.  He felt that Veterans’ Day is now largely taken for granted.  Joe wanted his law firm to think about what it signifies.  On November 14th, he sent another e-mail with the invitation below inviting everyone to a social function honoring the men and women in the firm who are veterans.

Most people in the firm attended – many out of curiosity.  Willis made a few opening remarks (after all, he’s trial lawyer…) and then asked three of the firms named partners to relate stories about their military service.  We heard:

John Schwabe – After he graduated from college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and then completed officer training. He endured beach landings and the battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan. For his service, he was awarded a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars and a Presidential Citation for Valor.

John told about coming ashore in the Battle of Tarawa as a Marine Corps officer.  Of the twenty-two men in his amphibious vehicle, only four survived – one of them received the Medal of Honor posthumously.  

John Schwabe was known for his humility and modesty and Joe had at one time asked him why he volunteered to go back on the last two of his four campaigns and John told him simply, “Because it had to be done.”

Wendell Wyatt – This former Oregon Congressman told about flying reconnaissance missions as a Marine Corps aviator in the South Pacific from 1942-46.

Marine aviator, Congressman and lawyer

Wayne Williamson – He related an exciting and somewhat humorous tale about when he was a Naval officer during World War II.  While his ship was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Germans surrendered to the Allies.   Without much warning, a German U-Boat surfaced near them evidently to surrender.

German SS – “Surface and Surrender??

Armed to the hilt including a pistol, grenades and a submachine gun he didn’t know how to operate, he and his party boarded the sub.  They descended the ladder to take command of the vessel, which was a problem because no one in the submarine could speak English and none in the boarding party knew any German.

As everyone in the firm listened attentively, Wayne told how as he looked at all the German sailors surrounding them, he “got the giggles” at the absurdity of the situation.

The hour passed 5 0’clock, as the lawyers continued their stories.  No one left.  Everyone, but especially the young people, listened with rapt attention.  Joe Willis distributed a large sheet of paper with a chart he made giving each veteran’s, branch of service, rank or rating and duty stations.

US Army Intelligence and Security Command logo

Attorney, Jack Faust, who served in Army counter-intelligence, walked in wearing his kaki tunic (several sizes too small, which was probably why he didn’t wear the pants).

On display in the conference room was a pith helmet one of the soldiers had worn on active duty, along with some photos of people who were in the room, but “hard to recognize” from the photos taken years before.  People cheered as the veterans finished their stories.

That morning as I drove in, I bemoaned the fact that the firm was not closed to commemorate the holiday unlike government offices, schools and banks.  When I went home that night, I thought it had been the most memorable Veterans’ Day I could remember.  Each person who attended had been enriched by the experience.

Thanks Joe.  Well done.  Mission accomplished!

Well, that’s the Schwabe story, but there are some additional individuals who I want to salute on this Veterans’ Day – mostly lawyers, but also some friends and relatives:

Former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

(To see the full story of each BOQ including the full text of the medal commendations for Blakely, Bomarito and Lawrence, click on the link over their names below)

Jack Faust

Jack Faust – US Army –  He served in Army intelligence and counterintelligence during the Korean War.  From 1953-55 as a Special Agent in the US Army Counterintelligence Corps – detachment Far East Command, he was stationed in Korea, Japan and China.  Jack is a retired Portland attorney and the former moderator of the Town Hall public affairs television program.

Jud Blakely – USMC After graduating from Oregon State University in 1965, where he served as Student Body President, Jud was commissioned as a USMC 2nd Lt.

He spent a total of 13 months in combat ops in Viet Nam as an infantry platoon leader with India Co., 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines.

He received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. His purple hearts were for a punji-stake puncture in his knee and shrapnel wounds in his forehead from a midnight mortar attack during the monsoons on the southern edge of the DMZ.

Jud writes and consults from his home in Alabama.

Doug Bomarito – USN – a good friend of Jud Blakely, Doug graduated from the US Naval Academy.  As a Navy Ensign, he initially was on a destroyer, but in 1969 volunteered for Patrol Boats River (PBR), which patrolled in the hostile rivers and canals.

Lt. jg. Bomarito

He served as a patrol officer for a number of PBRs attached to a River Division near the Cambodian border by the Gulf of Thailand.  It was, to say the least, hazardous duty.

February 23, 1970, on his 75th combat mission, the boat on which he was directing tactics and another for which he had responsibility, were ambushed by the North Vietnamese.

During a severe fire-fight, Doug and two of the crew were wounded and eventually medevacked to hospitals, but not before Doug completed his mission.  He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his heroism.

He is now a Portland lawyer.  Bomarito was a key player in developing, designing and funding the Viet Nam Veterans of Oregon Living Memorial. (see below)

The “grown-up versions of Blakely and Bomarito

Jim Westwood

Jim Westwood – USN This now semi-retired Oregon appellate lawyer in the ’60’s was the Captain of the legendary Portland State College Bowl Team which made headlines for its victories on national television.

After graduation from PSU and before law school at  Columbia University, he was commissioned in the Navy and served as a Naval Intelligence Officer for several years.  Because of his superior language skills, he spent a year learning Thai – an extremely difficult language to master.

Steve Lawrence – US Army Steve is a retired lawyer and until recently, the two-term Mayor of the Dalles, Oregon went to Boise Jr. College after graduating from The Dalles High School, but enlisted in 1967.  He was selected for Officer Candidate School, was commissioned and then commanded an infantry platoon in Viet Nam.

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

His Silver Star was awarded for action in combat in July 1968 and Bronze Star for “his display of personal bravery and devotion to duty” in February 1969.  His Bronze Star has an Oak Leaf Cluster because he received a second one for meritorious service while still in Viet Nam.

The Late Colonel Terry “Spike” McKinsey – USMC Ret. – I first met this Gladstone, Oregon native who was to become a legendary jet pilot when we were shipmates on a Navy destroyer (USS John R. Craig DD 885) on our 3/c midshipman summer training cruise when I was in NROTC at Oregon State and he was at the Naval Academy.

Terry took his commission in the Marine Corps and after his eighteen-year career in the active military where he earned the nickname “Spike” because of his tendency to come in for “hard landings,” he flew for the Oregon Air National Guard.  As a result of his charismatic leadership skills, he became the Base Commander from 1985 to 1989.  He then flew as Assistant Chief Pilot for Horizon Airlines.

Spike passed away in 2019 and this excerpt from his obituary written by a USNA classmate sums up his character:

“During his 72 years, Spike’s undeniable strength, unconditional kindness, and unquestionable integrity made a lasting impact on his friends, colleagues, and family….. Spike lived a life true to his values. He stood for what is right and didn’t hesitate to step in when he saw injustice in action.”

Proudly on display at The Dirty Shame

John Runkle  US Army –  He joined the Army in 1980 and was ordered to Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia.  John became a Paratrooper with the 509th Airborne Combat Team, was shipped to Europe and graduated from the French Commando School. 

He also earned Spanish Jump Wings.  The big guy made a total of 53 jumps.

He served as a member of an Army Service component command of United States Africa Command, which although based in Italy, primarily operated in Africa.  His last billet was as an instructor at Fort Benning.

John is now the owner of the Dirty Shame Saloon and the Yaak River Lodge in Yaak, Montana.  I met him on my 2019 Montana road trip and “The Shame” was the most interesting and my favorite of any of the 400 watering holes I’ve reviewed since starting I started Beerchasing in 2011.

Thebeerchaser giving John two bottles of Benedictine Beer in 2019

Don (NROTC) Garry (USMA West Point) Rick (NROTC)

Captain Rick Williams USN Ret. – Although all three of the Williams boys served in the military, our youngest brother had a long and distinguished Navy career.

After graduation and commissioning from the NROTC program at Oregon State, he became a Navy hard-hat diver and then commanded a deep submergence vehicle (USS Sea Cliff DSV 4) including a dive to 20,000 feet in the Middle American Trench off Guatemala.

On his “journey” he went to Nuclear Power School after an interview with the late Admiral Hyman Rickover.  He retired as the Skipper of the USS Spadefish SSN 668 – a Sturgeon Class attack submarine.

And while mentioning submarines, I don’t want to forget our brother-in-law, Dave Booher, a retired teacher and school administrator.

Dave served as a sonarman on two Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines for five nuclear deterrent patrols and was aboard the diesel boat USS Dogfish – it was older than the Beerchaser, having been launched in 1944!.

Dale Harlan

Dale Harlan – US ArmySoon after the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and was sent overseas. Dale was awarded two battle stars and the Air Medal for service in the Central Pacific. Subsequently, he volunteered for the Parachute Infantry and was assigned to Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles).

Dale received two battle stars in Europe, two Presidential Unit Citations, and a Purple Heart. He was severely wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in January 1945.

He passed away in 2017 and had a distinguished career as a lawyer and elected official besides a life-long commitment to charitable and civic activities.  Dale Harlan is the epitome of those in the Greatest Generation and was a wonderful friend.

But my final recognition on this Veteran’s Day goes to two members of the military who gave the last full measure of devotion to their country:

Captain Donald Wilburn

Don Wilburn – US Army Air Corps – Captain Donald E. Wilburn was my dad’s best friend and SAE fraternity brother at George Washington University.  Don was a pilot in the Army Air Corps and died during World War II. I’m honored to be named after him (Donald Wilburn Williams)

Gary Kestler – US Marine Corps – Gary Kestler was my best friend at Oregon City High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1967.  He was killed by enemy rifle fire while on patrol in Quang Tri Province in Viet Nam on May 28, 1968.  In high school, Gary was a student leader, a multi-sport athlete and a friend to all.

So what are a just a few things we can do this Veterans’ Day to pay homage to those who served:

  • Show the flag at your personal residence.
  • Call a veteran(s) and thank him or her for their service.
  • Raise a mug and make a personal toast to those currently serving.
  • Send a check to the Viet Nam Veteran’s of Oregon Memorial Fund (VNVOMF) to honor all of our Viet Nam Veterans.  Send to:
Doug Bomarito, Attorney at Law
Past Chairman and President
7157 S.W. Beveland Street
Tigard, OR 97223
(503) 223-8285

Cheers to our Veterans!

Reflections on Elections and Rhetoric

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While the virus is an insidious and continuing health threat and the wildfires which raged across Oregon and the West Coast brought staggering losses, another disheartening 2020 phenomenon is the ubiquitous and unfortunately unrelenting rhetoric surrounding the election campaigns.

The lack of civility and rational dialogue has redefined the meaning of “polarized” and we can only hope that after November 3rd, the citizenry of the US will pull together and a plan to conquer the virus is developed.

Meanwhile, it inspired me to re-read a relevant little book with some gems that seem strangely appropriate.   Excuses and Lies – Pithy Proclamations for the Workplace, Liked Ones, Loved Ones, Self Deceptions, Behaving Badly and Famously Infamous is a handy primer for many rationalizations or departures from the truth which are funny, but not pernicious – unlike those spewed forth in the current political environment.

This includes two of my favorites which I have used previously in this blog (and possibly in my own life..) both of which are in the “Self Deceptions” section of this little tome:

“It’s not drinking alone, as long as you have the TV on.”   (page 66)   

“Red wine prevents heart attacks, but you have to drink a lot of it.”  (page 66)

And it is difficult to argue with the major premises of the book including:

“Indeed, if the truth were consistently told, the result would be social anarchy – the end of friendship, correspondence, entertaining, cohabitation and dating.”  (Page 27)

The moral of this story?  If you love someone, lie – and if you really love them lie with scripted wit and creativity.”  (Page 47)

I’m not willing to accept a very cynical premise conveyed on page 62: “People who lie to themselves are more confident and self-assured than those who grapple with the truth of their own inadequacies.”

Benji – living on a farm in the country…

But what parent can argue with two deceptions in the “Loved Ones” section on page 48 including “We’re almost there,” or

“He went to doggy heaven,” the latter being a more spiritual version of, “We gave him a new home on a farm where he can really run free.”

Travolta in his personal Boeing 707 Jet

And it’s not just rationalizations with young children.  The book makes it all relative in the environmental context when defending one’s own lack of discipline for extra trips to the store, use of plastic water bottles (a ridiculous and outrageous habit) or griping about not being able to use a traditional straw in your soda:

“My carbon footprint is so much less than John Travolta’s.”

In revisiting this book, published by Knock Knock Press in Venice, California, it forced me to take down two other similar and adjacent works on my home office bookshelf – both of which I have showered with praise in previous blog posts – the brilliant On Bullshit by Princeton Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt and The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm by James  Napoli.

Napoli’s book is witty and brilliant – a dictionary with a broad range of definitions, but particularly relevant in the political realm.  They range from “activist” – “a person who cares about the fate of the world until reaching approximately twenty-eight years of age,” to “zealous” – “Fervently committed to being so fervently committed that nobody wants to talk to you anymore.”

And he is non-partisan, taking shots at both the left and the right:

Biased: “What pissed-off liberals call people they suspect might have a point.”

Conservative: “Someone who hates liberals because they have, at least once, seen themselves naked.”

JC

I recommend it because it’s 367 enjoyable pages of dry wit which will make you laugh even during a pandemic and with rich historical and geographical references.  Two last examples:

Julius Caesar:  “Dictator of ancient Rome.  His nearly fifteen years of conquest which resulted in the formation of the entire Roman Empire; now reduced to salad.”

Canada:  “Free health care.  Low crime. Birthplace of William Shattner.  Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Now, in two past blog posts, I have gushed, at length, about the profound wisdom of Princeton University Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt in his essay On Bullshit.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/03/12/bs-revisited-if-only-i-had-known-in-2012/

One should go through this treatise to garner a better understanding of pre-election communication, but also to put that dialogue in perspective:

“The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.” (emphasis supplied)

So in order to get through the next three days until the election, you need some inspiring reading, I suggest browsing through these and having a good, strong alcoholic libation while viewing the unceasing political ads.   

The Rev. Swift

And remember these two assertions – the first, by Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) from my own collection of brilliant citations of famous authors and philosophers, I’ve collected over the years. Swift wrote satire and essays and political pamphlets – both for the Tories and the Whigs and was also noted as a poet and cleric.  (Wikipedia)

“If a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work.”

Or from Excuses and Lies if you are caught drinking when it was discouraged or prohibited – from page 91:

“My juice must have accidentally fermented in the cupholder.”

1972 – Have Times Changed that Much?

I’ve mentioned previously that during the lockdown, my wife has justifiably mandated I go through the hundreds of old newspapers, magazine articles, e-mails and documents in our garage from my years in local government and legal management.

Garage Files…..Future High School Civics??

Having reread the aforementioned Lies and Excuses I lamely suggested, “But our granddaughters can use them in their future high school civic classes,” which she summarily rejected and asked, “Have you ever heard of the Internet?”   That said, it has been fun and interesting to wade through this eclectic collection of papers and documents.

And this unsigned letter, a copy of which I made when I worked in the Clackamas County Elections Department dated October 25th 1974, may be evidence that the political environment hasn’t changed that much from years gone by:

During the late 60’s and 70’s with the Viet Nam War, the continuing US Civil Rights Movement and the Nixon Administration, the country was polarized and politics was a nasty business.   In subsequent years, there was a least a modicum of bipartisanship with many beneficial policy issues initiated, destructive and discriminatory past practices remedied and we lived in a more united country.

I have a real interest in history and my intention is not to poke fun at the author of this correspondence who obviously was under some delusional impressions.  (In fact, I admire the fact that he laboriously wrote a long letter notwithstanding his condition: “I am right-handed but have to write with my left hand.  Hope you can read it OK – broke my elbow.”)

The missive demonstrates at least some of the intense emotions of that period. Now, the country is again divided, communication is often acrimonious and we are faced with enormous challenges ranging from the pandemic, wildfires, climate change and unstable global affairs.  

Cheers

My prayer is that after the election we as a nation can unite to address these calamities with concrete actions rather than rancorous rhetoric and that friends with disparate political philosophies can again, raise a mug of their favorite beer.

Then have friendly and respectful discussions (safely and in person).  It seems that we now consciously avoid that kind of dialogue because it will jeopardize the future relationship.

And one final comment from a usually non-political Beerchaser blogger.  I have enjoyed sharing the examples of lies, bullshit and rationalizations above from three “great” literary works. 

It should be strongly noted, however, that there is a vast difference between the everyday exaggerations, fibs, and cock-and-bull stories that most of us utter and the outright lies and falsehoods spouted by both public officials and elected officeholders with deliberate intent to deceive thereby violating their oaths of office. These are  pathetic and disgraceful!

Although I’m now not a member of the same political party, I yearn for the days of bi-partisan politics and some of the great elected officials in Oregon.  My friend, Matt Love, who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a publishing house on the Oregon Coast recently sent me this decal which will be another garage treasure which is a keeper!

A leader for the ages….

If you have not done so Vote on Tuesday!

The Coast is Clear……..Reflections

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Well Beerchaser followers, I’ve told you since March that I’ve not been to any new watering hole because of the lockdown and pandemic.  

To be safe, we have just stayed away and confined our consumption of my favorite beverage to Happy Hours on our back deck with the exception of one visit to the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel, Oregon. (see below)

We added to that one exception on October 15th however, when we went to the Oregon Coast for a few days.  On a beautiful fall Friday, my spouse convinced me to break away from the Siren Call of “Breaking News” on cable television and drive down the Oregon Coast from our base in Lincoln City on the Central Oregon Coast.  

A beautiful sunset the night before helped me to fully grasp the natural treasure that we have in our own backyard.  

We drove about 50 miles south along Oregon’s amazing scenic coastline momentarily escaping thoughts of COVID and focusing on breaking waves, seals and gulls populating dramatic rocky cliffs and the surrounding lush forest which complements the ocean views. 

And all the while, we remembered the legacy of Governor Tom McCall, whose actions in 1967 preserved public access to the beaches in the Oregon Beach Bill.

On our 2017 road trip

Yachats Brewing was not a new establishment for us – we had stopped here during a road trip in 2017 which I highlighted in a November blog post – it was a wonderful place to have lunch.  Still being cautious about COVID, we ate on the patio which is right on Highway 101.

We split a tasty pint named “Bestest Mensch” which is a hoppy and delicious collaboration with the innovative Wolf Tree Brewery a few miles up the road. Our server was friendly and helpful.

I had a delicious brisket sandwich while Janet’s chicken-salad sandwich was also a winner.  Yachats did a great job observing preventive and cautionary COVID measures so we were buoyed, so to speak, by the fact that this coastal brewery appeared to be thriving during these challenging times.

It was a wonderful day and we realized how fortunate we are to be able to have a day like this and will continue our prayers and support for those who are struggling with the pandemic.

A Quick Watering Hole Update

Bars, breweries and restaurants are some of the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic and I was saddened to see that Bailey’s Tap Room and it’s upstairs annex, the Upper Lip – reviewed in the early days of Thebeerchaser – closed permanently.  

Bailey’s featured twenty-four rotating taps of great microbrews and was a repeat recipient of Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars in America.

I won’t go into all of the closures in Portland but to give you an idea of the breadth of this economic downtown for the hospitality industry, other shut-downs include Back Pedal Brewing  on NW Flanders, Grixen Brewery – a SE Portland brewery established in 2013 which was:

 “….one of the area’s most striking brewpubs with open-beam high ceilings and old-growth timber repurposed into table tops and other accents.  Modern-industrial custom metalworks graced the space, with rolling bar-table frames and a 600-pound lighting trust above the length of the bar.” (Oregonian, 8/19/20) 

We visited Grixen early this year as my neighbor was one of the three owners, but I didn’t have the chance to write a Beerchaser review.)

Another innovative brewery – Base Camp – which is owned by Justin Fay, a graduate of the Oregon State University Fermentation Science Program and opened in 2012 by some Klamath Falls friends, shut down its Buckman Neighborhood brewery:

“The taproom with its spacious outdoor areas, fire-pit and food-cart pod, was a popular spot for years, attracting neighborhood regulars and drawing from Portland’s beer tourism as the scene exploded around it, all while spreading the outdoor life mantra.” (Oregonian 8/19/20)

Even some of the stalwarts of the Oregon Craft Industry are having to revamp their operations to cut operating costs because of reduced patronage.  For example, Rogue Brewing shut its public house in the Pearl District in September after 20 years (Willamette Week) although its two other Portland locations will remain open.

The BeerMongers

With the closures above, I was heartened to see that another early destination when I started Beerchasing – The BeerMongers – celebrated its tenth anniversary last year. 

I went to this eastside bottle shop and taproom with former Portland Mayor Sam Adams, in 2014 right after he assumed the Executive Director position of the City Club of Portland.cxcvx

The BeerMongers  is “known for its artfully curated selection of beers, being named the Best Beer Bar in Oregon by Craftbeer.com in 2018.”  (Oregonian 8/30/19)  The owner of Porto Bello, the pizzeria – a vegan trattoria in the same building as the bar in between BeerMongers and a tattoo parlor next door – came over to our table and said:

“Sam Adams, we really miss you.  I want to buy you guys a pizza!” 

Sam Adams and Porto Bello owner

She came back ten minutes later with a delicious complimentary pizza which meshed perfectly with the pints we drank. 

Unfortunately, it appears that Porto Bello wasn’t still around to celebrate with its neighbor in 2019.

The Monks’ Legacy Continues

Some of you know that I was involved as a volunteer in the planning of the Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael’s Taproom, which opened in the fall of 2018 on land owned by the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary in the rural area east of Salem. 

The community effort in erecting the structure in late 2017 is a wonderful story (check out the videos in the post below) and it’s one of only three breweries in the US owned and operated by Benedictine Monks.   https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/21/the-benedictine-brewery-beam-me-up/

A skilled brewer – Father Martin Grassel

And former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Fr. Martin Grassel, the Manager and Head Brewer reported that the first year of operations was a great success.  He brewed 118 barrels with sales that greatly exceed expectations that year.

When the pandemic hit in March and with the lockdown, only take-out sales were allowed for ten weeks in 2020, but since reopening,  the Brewery continues to thrive with August being the highest month of sales since opening in 2018.

My wife and I can confirm that the Taproom was very cognizant of COVID measures and has an expansive patio area which allows social distancing.   The Taproom will soon have a permanent heated pavilion tent above it during winter months.  

And the best part of was taking the short hike up to the Abbey Hilltop and strolling around the  campus with outstanding views.  The beautiful chapel has also reopened.

While the ambiance and the scenery is a real draw, the key is Fr. Martin’s growing skill as a brewer.

With over ten beers now on tap, this former software engineer has drawn rave reviews for the quality and taste of his brews with the St. Michael’s Helles being the most popular although the flagship Black Habit is also a favorite.

And take a look at the charcuterie plate that you can enjoy while drinking one of Fr. Martin’s beers.

Survival of the Fittest?

Speaking of the pandemic, there’s nothing remotely funny about this global tragedy, but maybe it helps a little to try to look on the light side when one can – for example, this post from one of my favorite dive bars.

Darwin’s Theory is in downtown Anchorage and owned by a fellow Oregon State University alumnus.  This “story” was in it’s latest newsletter.

Darwin wrote: “We were in the 11th day of self quarantine.  As I saw my wife quietly standing in front of the living room window staring off into space with tears running down her face, it was breaking my heart.  I was trying to think of some way to cheer her up.  In fact, I almost considered letting her inside, but rules are rules!”

Maybe he named his bar Darwin’s Theory because of his adherence to the concept “Survival of the Fittest”.

“Dough nut” Follow This Example!

In a previous Beerchaser post where I cover the legal profession and how I enjoyed working with lawyers for over thirty-five years, I mentioned some bizarre cases.  Some of the most recently appreciated essential workers have been emergency responders although this 2001 incident reported by MyPlainview.com addresses an incident some years ago. 

The incident precipitating the lawsuit was bizarre:

“An ambulance driver was fired after being accused of stopping for doughnuts while taking a patient to the hospital….The incident occurred while (he) was taking a boy to the hospital with a leg injury.  The injury was not life threatening.  The boy’s mother filed a complaint.”

“Eat one whenever you want”…Not!”

But perhaps more bizarre was the fact that the driver then filed suit against the City of Houston for intentional infliction of emotional distress and racial discrimination. 

While initially a judge rejected the City’s effort to have the case dismissed and ordered the plaintiff to amend his lawsuit, all of the claims were ultimately dismissed in July 2002. (I’ve been saving that one up for a long time….)

Cheers and Stay Safe!

 

Montana Bars – The Continuing Saga – Kalispell

Since I started recounting my adventures on our 2019 Montana (and more…..) road trip – 3,700 miles in fifteen days – in the last two blog posts, I’m on a roll of sorts.  So I’ll tell you about a few more of the 29 I hit in the six days I drove solo before I picked up my wife in Billings, for the remaining nine days of our trip.

The Blue Moon’s bar – plenty of room for bellying up…

In my last post –  “Two Montana Classics,” I told you about the Bulldog Saloon in Whitefish and the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls.

The Antler Saloon

And before that in “Pondering the Pandemic – No. 1”, it was the Saw Mill Saloon in Darby, the Wise River Club in Wise River, the Antler Saloon in Wisdom and the Dewey Bar – also in Wisdom.

All of these had great people – bartenders and regulars, great historic ambiance and the “watering hole character” which the forward to author, Joan Melcher’s first book Watering Holes – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars:sums up:

“…..the role of the western saloon remains what it has always been.  As an institution of importance it has always had its detractors — indeed it has always been been venomously attacked by the pious and the righteous. 

The attacks have never really mattered to the  keepers of the institutions nor to the patrons.  The western saloon is simply too important a social, economic and political instrument of western society to be turned aside from its predestined course.” 

(K. Ross Toole – Hammond Professor of History, University of Montana) 

Although the bars discussed below are not historic, they still fit that mold.  And Moose’s Saloon is another shining example of Montana culture – this time as part of the bustling city of Kalispell.

Moose’s Saloon

I rolled in late on a Sunday afternoon after driving from Yaak with stops in Whitefish and Columbus Falls – only about 125 miles and through beautiful Big Sky scenery.

I checked into the historic Kalispell Grand Hotel right in the center of town.  It dates back to 1912 – the bars aren’t the only vestibules of frontier history – and it still has an outstanding old-fashioned elevator and a pipe organ in the lobby.

The lobby of the Grand Kalispell

Then a dinner – only a few blocks away – in a former blacksmith shop – now called The Forge which houses the Desoto Grill and a superb barbecued rib dinner.

Then I moved onto Moose’s Saloon on Main Street and the west end of town.  Since it was a Sunday evening, I expected somewhat of a staid environment – not what Joan Melcher described on most other nights:

“The first time I described Moose’s Saloon, I said walking into it was ‘like opening the door to an eighth grade study hall….Both times I drop by during the summer of 2008, the place is wild.”

Moose’s is not real impressive on the outside – kind of a tacky wooden false front – and the building doesn’t seem to be historic – evidently it was called the Corral Bar before it was transformed to Moose’s in 1957 by a guy who played tackle for the Montana Grizzly Football Team.

Moose and his wife built a thriving establishment and never looked back. (He died in 1999 and it’s now owned by his daughter according to my friendly bartender, Frank.)

Friendly Frank

Frank is from Pittsburgh and has worked there eight years although he called himself “the new boy” compared to the tenures of his co-wokers.

But Frank gives a great rundown of the 24 beers on tap.  I was inclined to get an MGD on tap, but thought “Dirt, (That’s me as you can see from the header at the top of the screen.) this is Montana,” so I had a pint of Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing.

Although the room adjacent to the space housing the large rectangular bar, filled with big wooden booths and picnic tables, was hopping, the bar had only a few people seated.  That changed quickly and by the time I finished my mug, it was pretty much filled.  Moose’s has a lot of ongoing events and specials which draw customers as you can see by this sign. 

I had a great conversation with a guy and his wife who drove their RV out from the east coast for a conference in Great Falls. Since meeting new people is one of the joys of Beerchasing, I soon found out that the guy’s name was Huck, the conference was the Beer Now Conference and his avocation is of all things – a blog called “Huck’s Beer Buzz.”

What’s that you ask – as did Thebeerchaser!  It’s summed up in the home page of his blog and as you might suspect, Dirt and Huck had a fairly robust conversation about our favorite topic – bars and beers!

“Huck hails from Blacksburg Virginia in the Roanoke Valley. With the help of “Huckette,” his lovely wife, Huck writes about craft beer and various related topics.

Huck travels for work in his ‘real’ job which allows him to travel and sample beer at various locales. Huck  tries to document the places so that others can find the good places and be forewarned about the bad!”

Huck and The Huckette

We traded cards and then went on our separate ways.

Moose is known for it’s great pizza and I was almost sorry that I had eaten (although I still had some ribs in the mini-fridge in my hotel room that I would gobble down the next day – or maybe when I got back that night since Janet wasn’t with me…..)

The pizzas were flying and everybody at the bar was consuming loads of unshelled peanuts – a gob of them for only $1.50 – many of which landed on the sawdust floor. (They’re in the plastic bag in the photo below.)

While Joan’s recommendation was enough for me, if in doubt, check out the comments on social media, almost all of which mention the great quality of the pizza:

“If you like an old fashioned country atmosphere, then this place is for you! Sawdust on the floor, beer flowing, and country music accompany the best pizza in town! Don’t miss out on this if you are visiting the Kalispell area. (Trip Advisor, November 24, 2019)

And they also usually mention the atmosphere like this one:
“Just what the title says! This is probably the most unique place in Northwest Montana! EXCELLENT pizza!”  (Trip Advisor , January 1 , 2020)

The VFW Bar 

I had seen that in Montana a number of the VFW Posts open their bars to the public and curiosity got the better of me as I was leaving Kalispell late the next morning, so I stopped in at one – again only a few blocks from the hotel and on 1st Street.   It was the Glacier Park Chapter.

It would be just a nice place to grab a beer, play some pool or have a card game and interact with some wonderful people, most of whom were veterans who had served their country.  I sat at the end of a long bar and talked to a grizzled regular former Army guy who talked about the good old days in Kalispell:

“There were thirteen bars within several blocks on Main Street.  We had a Friday night ritual – we’d start with a shot of Galliano (43.2% ABV!) and then start having a beer at each bar to see how many we could get before one guy would pass out.”

The bartender, a veteran, was friendly and when I told him about my blog he introduced me to Jonathan who was an officer in the Chapter and had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan where he was an electronic aviation technician.   He and the bartender let me tour the Chapter museum which was in a spacious locked room adjacent to the bar.  It was interesting and humbling to see the magnitude of the military service of the members.

Del’s Bar in Somers Montana

After the great visit at the VFW, I drove about ten miles and stopped at Somers – on the north shore of Flathead Lake.   There was one more bar – not anything historic, but the reviews made it look like it was an interesting community bar — and it was.

Del’s Bar from the outside, would not pique your imagination or make one inclined to explore further, but I’m Thebeerchaser.

At 11:00 AM on a Monday morning, however, it was just the young female bartender, Kylee and a nice guy named Tom who was a painting contractor who was a Montana State grad in the place.

Now Del’s is spacious inside besides having a nice sized bar and it appeared to be a community-oriented watering hole which is a cherished spots for the regulars, who come for Bingo Night every Wednesday.  But the reactions from some others is somewhat tepid – at least that’s the cursory impression one would get looking at some of the Yelp reviews: https://www.yelp.com/biz/dels-somers

That said, the pizza gets great reviews and I wish I had been there to partake of some of their daily dinner specials such as the Buffalo Stew, which if you look at their Facebook Page is supplemented on other nights with chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, elk chili, spaghetti with sausage and mini corndogs – enough variety to keep you happy throughout the week, but lead to an early coronary if you are a regular.

Del’s also has a nice patio and a spacious outdoor area which in the months in Montana one can be outside, gets heavy use as you can see from this picture taken on one of their summer Bingo Nights – voted Best in Flathead in 2019:

Bingo Night – check out the reviews on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10157464601228316&set=

And to give you a better idea of the regular vs. tourist opinion to which I earlier alluded, check out the link on the picture above where a tourist commented:

“The woman bartender calling the numbers, used the “F” word all the time on the microphone. Very inappropriate. We won’t be back. Surprised the manager is not saying something to control her language.”

This comment garnered fifteen responses suggesting that they hoped the lady was serious about her threat not to return.  Every comment was along the sentiments below – most with profanity interlaced, including one guy who sarcastically agreed with the lady in a comment that had twelve uses of the F-word in one long paragraph:

“Don’t like it?? You don’t have to come, there’s plenty of other bingo’s to attend! Have at ‘er bud!!!  The bingo caller makes bingo at Dels worth going to. People come hours in advance to get a seat. Welcome to the bar and the best bingo in town.”

I finished my bottle of MGD – the first time during the trip I had a morning beer, but it was Monday……, bade farewell to Kylee and Tom and traveled south along beautiful Flathead Lake where I stopped and had my lunch (the rest of the ribs from the night before) at a picnic table.

Nice picnic spot

Then a drive through Missoula for about 160 miles and three hours to my next night stop in Hamilton – a wonderful Montana community on the west border of the state with great bars and breweries.   Stay tuned for more Beerchasing adventures…..

Cheers

Image by Pam Williams

Two Montana Classics – The Bulldog and the Blue Moon

Yaak River Falls in NW Montana

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

Unless you have been hiding under a rock since early March, you know that the ability to explore new bars and breweries is either extremely limited or in many locations, non-existent.  Thus, Thebeerchaser, in a fit of maudlin retrospective, has harkened back to past trips to Montana (2004, 2016 and last summer) and the wonderful scenery and historic watering holes of the Big Sky State.

In a recent blog post, I remembered the great adventure we had last June when Janet and I embarked on a fifteen-day road trip through Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming before we returned to Oregon.  We visited 49 great establishments in addition to our adventures in several memorable National Parks and Monuments we encountered on the 3,700 mile journey.

Mt Rushmore – still with the original four…..

In the above post, I mentioned five bars – all in Montana which were my favorites and I want to continue the story on others since I didn’t write these up right after the trip.

Bernie – bartender at the
Antler Saloon in Wisdom

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/08/24/pondering-the-panemic-no-2/j   All five have robust histories and great character as evident in the picture above.

Now one might wonder, “Why focus on Montana?”  I’ve visited almost 400 bars and breweries in the last nine years since commencing my Beerchasing exploits – 125 in Portland, Oregon and the others throughout Oregon, various regions of the US and even a couple in Europe – talk about memorable!!

Sheriff Plummer – a man of controversy

Well, perhaps I can answer that with a description from my most recent book:

Hanging the Sheriff – A Biography of Henry Plummer – a fascinating book about an iconic Montana ghost-town that I visited while on a sabbatical from my former law firm in  2004 road trip.

I spent about seven hours touring Bannack – including Hangman’s Gulch where Sheriff Plummer came to his untimely demise, and the cemetery in this photo I took.  Men – both innocent and guilty were summarily tried, immediately hanged by the vigilantes, and left to “swing” so they could be a graphic example to others before they were laid to rest.

The book describes one notable saloon in “downtown” Bannack:

“…..the important role played by the saloons:  They occupied a ‘large space in the social and public life of the camps to which nearly everyone was driven….’ Most were ‘hospitable, conducted by well-behaved attendants or proprietors, only a few of them contented to be known as bad.’

Of the ‘bad’ saloons, the one guaranteeing the most action was the Elkhorn, so named because of the pair of huge antlers the owner, Cyrus Skinner had purchased and tacked over the front door.   Inside was a long, polished, dark wood bar, a few card tables and attached to one wall, two rows of bunks with grass-stuffed mattresses, usually occupied by customers.”

The Montana Bar – present day in Miles City

Indeed, besides the mattresses, the narrative above could describe a majority of the bars I visited on my trips to Montana as evidenced by this picture of the Montana Bar in Miles City which has been serving beer since 1908.

And while I love Oregon, Montana will continue to lure me back.  I contemplated showing you a few stanzas of the Montana state song to convey that allure, but they are really boring.  So I decided to illustrate with the song written by my new friend, Geoff, and to which I and several others were serenaded at the Yaak River Tavern after I bought him a beer on my trip last summer.  (Besides, every song about the Big Sky State should also have the word “banana” in it.)

(I asked the bartender to credit his tab and let him collect the next day as he didn’t need another beer that evening……)

 The Bulldog and the Blue Moon – Two Great Watering Holes 

In the interest of brevity, I’ll only touch on two additional bars and save others for future posts.   The Bulldog Saloon in Whitefish and the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls, right outside Kalispell.

I didn’t stay in Whitefish – just passed through on Highway 93 on a Sunday afternoon in between nights at Yaak River Lodge and the historic Grand Hotel in Kalispell, both of which I strongly recommend.

Author, Joan Melcher’s second book – Montana Watering Holes  describes the Bulldog Saloon as:

“Sometimes there’s nothing better than a surprise.  And the Bulldog is that…..A step in the door and you know you’re in a world unto itself.  The walls and ceilings are black, providing a sharp relief to the hundreds of decoupage photos mounted on primal colors of wood and varnished to a glow…..School pennants hang from black ceiling tiles”

(I immediately noticed the Oregon State banner in one section of the ceiling – also occupied by the LA Dodgers and the SF Giants, the Hamilton Mont. High School Broncs and the Marquette University Golden Eagles…)

And I had a feeling of ambivalence as I drank a bottled Miller’s and talked in the dark environs of the saloon to the great young bartender – a college student on summer break from Montana State .

He filled me in on the bar’s history and told me about recent visits from sports stars, Stephen Curry, who owns a place on nearby Flathead Lake and his brother, Seth – also Jerry Rice and NBA star, Kevin Durant, who stopped in while vacationing.

Why the contradictory perceptions? Well in Portland, aside from Claudia’s Sports Pub and Grill – I reviewed in 2012 and was opened in 1959, none of the sports bars are historic. The Bulldog, is on the ground floor of a 1903 building, which housed doctors’ offices on the second floor, but a pool hall – the Pastime thrived on the first floor.

“In addition to pool, the Pastime was the place to go for card games such as poker, pinochle and pan. During the prohibition era, the Pastime survived selling everything from guns, fishing tackle, batteries, and work gloves, to tobacco and cigars. There was even a soda fountain for teenagers located in the basement during a short period following World War II.”

Named after Whitefish HS mascot

It eventually became The Bulldog Saloon in 1983, when the owners, Buck and Linda May, opened it and named the bar after the Whitefish High School mascot.

Most sports bars, I’ve visited in almost ten years of Beerchasing are not family-type bars, but that’s not true of the Bulldog.   That said, there’s a slight dissonance, because both the men’s and women’s heads, have semi and fully nude photos from magazines decorating the walls along with additional sports memorabilia.

A small section of mens’ restroom photos

For example, on the photo at the right, you can see the Penthouse Pet of the Month’s photo right above an autographed photo of former New York Met pitching star, Ron Taylor (1967-71) thanking the Bulldog for its hospitality.

And aside from that, it’s pretty typical – scads of big screen TVs, video poker, local team photos, signed jerseys and memorabilia from college and pro sports stars.

But my favorite part and a lasting image of the Bulldog Saloon was ensconced in my memory as I was leaving the men’s head — the life-size, smiling visage of a younger, Boston Celtic great, Kevin McHale holding 60% of a basketball in his left hand and a full can of Miller Lite – only 96 calories and 4.2 ABV – in his right.  He was rumored to favor the beer because it tasted great rather than being less filling….

The Blue Moon Saloon

After reading Joan Melcher’s effusive reviews in both her books about the history and the memorable owners, Dick and Charlotte Sapa, I absolutely had to stop at the Blue Moon – less than 25 minutes outside of Kalispell in an expansive building.  Maybe that’s because the bar is over sixty feet long – one of the longest in the north western states.

Over 60 feet long

There’s also a big dance floor and multiple glass-covered exhibits which house the largest display of taxidermy I saw on my trip.  And as you will see from the picture shown below, they weren’t just native Montana species such as grizzly bear, moose, elk and antelope and the biggest big horn sheep brought down in Montana.   That’s a polar bear which they bagged in northern Ontario, Canada.

When I walked in, sat down at the middle of the (very long) bar – which had a stuffed alligator hanging from the backbar – and ordered a beer,  I asked the bartender if the Sapas still were the owners.

She nodded and pointed to her right and said, “That’s them sitting down at the end of the bar.”  I took advantage, moved to the end of the bar and began an extended conversation with this amazing couple who were not hesitant to regale me with stories.

The Sapas opened the bar in 1947 and have owned it since.   They were very friendly and among the questions I asked was whether the story about the cowboy patron who showed up shortly after the bar opened  was true.  They knew which one I meant!

As Joan Melcher relates:

“A young man was bragging about the horse he just acquired.  He told Charlotte, he wanted to bring the horse over to show it off…..Sure enough, the guy goes and gets the horse and rides it into the bar.

He orders a ditch (a small glass filled with some ice and 2 oz. of whiskey and 2 oz. of water) for himself and a gin and tonic for horse. (Charlotte explains that they are supposed to like gin.)”   

Dick and Charlotte

But as Charlotte explained to me while laughing, the story doesn’t end there:

“The cowboy rode right in front of the middle of the bar and his horse took a big dump!   We spread saw dust on it until we could fully clean it up after the bar closed.”  

What made the story even funnier was that while Charlotte was relating it, the song on the jukebox happened to be “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphy, about another pony, but this one in Nebraska.  I still thought it was a funny coincidence….

Charlotte told me about their family and Dick talked about the rodeo they have at the adjacent arena which draws big crowds and professional riders every weekend during the summer. 

Their son, Bill, who was drafted by the New York Yankees came in with his son – they were still tired after branding cattle on their 200 acre farm the day before.

After we talked awhile, he offered to take me up to the fabled upper rooms – “an honor not many outsiders get” .  You walk behind the bar to almost a hidden door and then a stairway to the second floor – several rooms are completely filled with additional trophies from their big game hunts in Montana and all over the world

Bill Sapas – son of Charlotte and Dick

The Sapas are wonderful people – typical of the owners and regulars I met during the solo part of my trip, and later Janet and I encountered throughout the remainder.  I could have stayed there and talked for several more hours but the dinner special at Moose’s Saloon in Kalispell beckoned.

Nevertheless, if you take a road trip to Montana, stop at the Blue Moon Saloon.  It’s a rather non-descript building on the outside, but oozes character once you walk in and is a great example of why I have such an affinity for the bars in this beautiful state.