Mummy’s – A (Buried) Portland Treasure

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Thebeerchaser and Brian before descending……

It is not the typical practice of Thebeerchaser to feature bars that are more of an ancillary feature of a restaurant.  There have been only several exceptions in the five years of this blog – three McMeneman establishments (White Eagle Saloon, Fulton Pub and St. John’s Pub), and the Buffalo Gap Saloon – all worthy of this distinction based on their rich histories. (For Thebeerchaser reviews, click on the link of each name.)

Well Mummy’s has a much lower profile than those above – it’s a subterranean chamber on SW Columbia Street – right across from the now empty high rise that once housed what is now a dying organization – The OregonianStay tuned, or better yet, try it and I think you will agree as do my two Beerchasing companions on my last visit to this venerable place that it is a Portland treasure.

Brain King on the left at Bill Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar

Brain King on the left at Bill Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar

And before telling the Mummy’s story, as per tradition, I will brief you on my colleagues who shared martinis with me while listening to the great music in Mummy’s.  Brian (Brain) King’s (pictured on the left) first Beerchasing expedition – to Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar was memorable (as you can see from the picture) and deserved a return invitation. 

Brain King in his Idaho duds......

Brain King in his Idaho duds……

He also is noted (at least by me) for his profound suggestion after he joined the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm as a litigator and skilled environmental lawyer.  

Based on his experience while practicing in Idaho, he insisted on my 2004 sabbatical road trip to Idaho and Montana, that I visit the Stanley Road and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley Idaho.  (I returned with my wife this summer so she could gain the experience.) https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/  The initial visit was a key factor in ultimately starting this blog.

Thebeerchasers return to Stanley in 2016

Thebeerchasers return to Stanley in 2016

Joining us on her first Beerchasing expedition although not her first visit to imbibe in Mummy’s martinis with me, was another one of my favorite lawyers at Schwabe – Margaret Hoffman.

Besides being honored in her profession as a top product liability litigator (Oregon Super Lawyer and named as one of the Best Lawyers in America), Margaret is an outstanding human being.  She is also skilled at fly fishing and in her “spare time, ” spends additional court-time playing pickle-ball.

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Counselor Hoffmann on our first visit

I might add that my own background with Mummy’s is extensive and why I invited my colleagues to join me.  I used to frequently walk the two blocks from our PacWest Center office for lunch or an after-work drink and say hello to the proprietors described by Portland Bar Fly as, “Hyper-hospitable brother-owners (who) man the small, square bar.”

And an undated article in the Portland Mercury by Denis Theriault, sums it up well: “When he’s not slinging Middle-Eastern staples or mixing up a surprising variety of tiki-inspired blended cocktails, longtime owner, Ghobvial  Mounir, is perfectly willing to sidle up to the rail and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about his homeland. And yours.” 

Phillip and Ghobvial Moumir

Phillip and Ghobvial Moumir

The brothers emigrated from Egypt and originally opened their establishment in NW Portland, but felt they would be more successful in their current location – they moved to it thirty years ago!

Before retiring in late 2011, I would frequently invite several of the firm’s summer associates to lunch – they were the best and brightest law students from schools all over the country working at Schwabe during the summer in the hope of landing a job when they graduated and passed the Oregon State Bar exam.

Since we were competing with other law firms to recruit them, they were typically wined and dined at most of Portland’s finest restaurants – Higgins, the Heathman GrilleJake’s, etc.  To our Recruiting Director’s initial horror, I would take them to either the Lotus Café or Mummy’s – that is until without exception, they would tell her that they loved the “tomb experience,” – the ambiance, Pyramid Beer, the brothers’ hospitality and the good Egyptian cuisine:

“Mummy’s serves the best falafel sandwich in Portland.  It’s delicious, huge, and a great value for only $5 during lunch.  Plenty of other yummy vegetarian and non-veg options are available.” (Yelp 5/20/13)

And the Schwabe managers and my family surprised me after hosting my retirement dinner at nearby Nel Centro, with an after-dinner reception at Mummy’s – it was memorable – in fact, there is a video someplace in the Ethernet of me reluctantly sharing the floor with a belly dancer, who was performing that night.

photo-nov-15-4-44-52-pmMargaret, Brian and I met at the firm at 5:00 and headed on our two-block journey like a reverse exodus of the Children of Israel. 

We dodged Max trains and commuter traffic on SW 6th Ave. and walked by the mausoleum-like remnants of The Oregonian – which seemed to have images of talented past columnists such as Steve Duin, David Sarasohn, Margy Boule, Richard Read and political cartoonist, Jack Ohman staring out the windows wondering what happened……

Construction workers now in the windows where famed columnists used to work

Construction workers now in the windows where famed columnists used to work

Although it did not take us forty-years wondering through the desert, we reached our Promised Land – Mummys –  forthwith and descended to a “mysterious and venerable place…….True to its name, Mummy’s is filled with Egyptian artifacts much like you’d find in an actual crypt.  (It’s) weird, tomb-like, but lovable space.”  Portland Mercury 

The descent......

The descent……

“As I waited, I noticed something. Hieroglyphics are on the bench, hieroglyphics are in a painting on the wall, the cocktails have ancient Egypt themes, the napkin is a pyramid and artifact replicas are in the waiting area.”  Yelp 2/13/16

Even though it had been five years since I had been to their establishment, when I walked in, Ghobvial immediately exclaimed, “Schwabe!” and pointed towards what had been my favorite booth.

Martinis in Thebeerchasers favorite booth

Martinis in Thebeerchasers favorite booth

Ghobvial and Phillip kindly acceded to my request for photographs and the former mixed two excellent gin martinis and a vodka martini for Margaret.

Pyramid Beer and good martinis - Up with olives....

Pyramid Beer and good martinis – Up with olives….

Note:  Besides a great martini, they also have a number of very inexpensive and creative cocktails such as The Cleopatra (Amaretto, Bailey’s, Irish Cream and coffee) or Ramses (Southern Comfort, peach schnapps and orange and cranberry juice).

We did not order any food on this visit although during the many times I had lunch while working at Schwabe, without exception, the food was always very good.

That said, a number of the comments on Yelp and social media are not overly positive about the food. My sentiments, however, were shared by a recent Yelp reviewer (2/13/16) who stated:

“…………When the veal came, it’s a cutlet, it was splendid. The taste was rich and the rice was outstanding, not a word we usually use for rice. My carrots and mushrooms, vegetables nonetheless, were pleasant to eat. Surprisingly, the command of how to invoke spices was second to none.

The sauces were spectacular. It was a bit pricy, even for the medium portions, but a lot came with my meal, that being the salad and bread too, and this chef should be famous, perhaps on Food Network.” 

photo-nov-15-5-38-43-pmI would also suggest that to garner the Mummys’ “experience,” make your initial trip and if you are not sure about an entrée, just have some drinks and order an appetizer such as the delicious hummus or baba ghanush (a dip made from baked eggplant).  The three of us all think you will return.

And besides, one also has to be careful about the substance of social media reviews.  Let’s look at a couple interesting ones on Mummy’s as evidence.  Although this July 2011 Yelp review was positive, one wonders whether the author needed a geography lesson or some history of the Middle East:

“…….the happy-hour is cheap. They have cute Egyptian-inspired drinks.  I was feeling Gaza Stepish, so I ordered a Pyramid Brewing Hefeweizen.” (emphasis supplied)

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Misperceptions of the Gaza Strip….

Not to be nitpicky, but perhaps someone should tell this person that the “Gaza Strip“, has it’s southern boundary along the border of Egypt and is not in Egypt.  Although there has been some involvement by Egypt in the past including some periods of occupying the territory, Gaza has primarily centered around the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  And,  oh yes, the primary Egyptian pyramids are located near Cairo and are not the Gaza Strip.

Perhaps more curious was this enthusiastic – presumably female Mummys customer, who in addition to appreciating the ambiance, lauded an unusual supplemental feature:

“The place is run by two old Egyptians brothers who still use typewriters.  There is plenty of seating in the cool booths engraved with various Egyptian gods and goddesses.  Bonus perk:  the women’s bathroom has office equipment from the late 80’s.”  (Emphasis supplied)

1980 Mimeograph Machine ?????

1980 Mimeograph Machine ?????

Note: It is beyond the scope of Thebeerchaser blog to further research or verify this issue.

Because Margaret had to return to the office for an evening client meeting, Brian and I decided to have one more martini – that’s when this Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado State University demonstrated again, why he has the erudition to be an outstanding drinking companion.

As an aside, Brian runs Schwabe’s Corvallis office which works out well because his wife is a tenured professor at Oregon State University.  He was recently described as the most interesting man in Corvallis and rumor has it that he is still the life of many fraternity parties that he does not even attend.

Stretching the bounds on the Rules of Procedure

Stretching the bounds on the Rules of Civil Procedure

Whether it was the admonition by a judge at one time that his motion for summary judgment was like trying to read hieroglyphics, the fact that his surname is “King” and might have some ancient link to Egyptian pharaohs or just his enthusiasm over our plans to visit Mummy’s, Brian was a wealth of information.

His pre-Mummys research, with emphasis on parallels in history, was focused on one of the ancient Pharoahs – Sankhkare Mentuhotep III – who reigned for twelve years during the Middle Kingdom.

Known for his small fingers, protruding abdomen and intellectual shallowness (he never read the scrolls) Mentuhotep was principally known for his journey to the Land of Punt and efforts to build a defensive structure called the “Walls-of-the-Ruler” in Nubia and also to rebuff Canaanite immigrants.

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At least Mentuhotep opted to wear the headgear to hide his questionable hair…..

Fortunately, we finished our martinis before Brian had the opportunity to factor in more recent developments relating to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s term…….

We “wrapped” up our visit, waved goodbye to the two brothers and vowed to make a return trip to what one reviewer labeled, “a gem hidden in plain sight..”

Drop down into this unique Portland venue.  You will assuredly make a return trip.  Tell them Thebeerchaser sent you!

Mummy’s        622 SW Columbia St

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Beerchasing in California Part II – On to Yosemite….and then Murphys!

The awesome Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

The awesome Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Before driving our second day on the trip from Portland to Yosemite National Park, we stayed at the Sacramento Marriott Residence Inn on a Wednesday evening and as we walked into the lobby, we saw quite a few people with “Blue Angels” insignia on their apparel.   Sacramento was having an air show that weekend and the Blue Angels were obviously, the featured flyers.

Prestigious, but worth the cost??

Prestigious, but worth the cost??

Given the number of Navy personnel in the hotel associated with the prestigious military program (logistics, mechanics, flight and maintenance and marketing besides the five pilots),  it prompted me to check out the estimated cost to taxpayers each year for this group.  And it ranges from $40 million to $120 million assuming no aircraft is lost.

And flying for the Blue Angels can be a hazardous occupation. According to a June 27, 2016 opinion piece in the Pensacola News Journal http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2016/06/26/viewpoint-cut-blue-angels-federal-budget/86404042/.

They have lost 66 pilots/crew in training, air shows or transport accidents since inception in 1946, the last of which was this year.  Notwithstanding all the positive aspects of their performances and that of the Thunderbirds, their Air Force counterpart, it does raise some interesting policy questions about whether this part of the national defense budget could be more effectively deployed.

Rush Creek Lodge just outside the east entrance to Yosemite

Rush Creek Lodge just outside the east entrance to Yosemite

On to Yosemite through some beautiful country. Once we left I-5 in Corning and traveled the 256 miles to Rush Creek Lodge – not actually in the Park because all of those options were filled even though it was after school had started in September – but a beautiful new lodge just outside the west entrance.

Even with the throngs of tourists and Yosemite being in the midst of a road construction process that required multiple detours, seeing the majestic natural beauty was memorable.   In our two and one-half days there, we hit most of the highlights, El Capitan, the Half Dome and a hike down to the Tuolumne Sequoia Grove.

photo-sep-30-9-52-22-amThen another two-mile hike up (that’s no exaggeration) to the beautiful Vernal Falls.  We did that after our hike to the Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls revealed that during the summer and fall, these beautiful cascading waterfalls captured in many of Ray Atkinson’s beautiful photos dry up!

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Vernal Falls – spectacular and worth the hike!

We also enjoyed eating twice in the Rush Creek Lodge Bar where based on the bartender’s recommendation I tried two pilsners – one from California’s Firestone-Walker Brewery which was watery and very disappointing and the second, which was excellent, from the nearby Dust Bowl Brewery.

The Rush Creek Lodge bar

The Rush Creek Lodge bar

This picture of the famous Yosemite Majestic Lodge is evidence that the name is justified and they also have a very nice bar.

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Yosemite Majestic Lodge

 

 

 

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The Majestic bar

 

 

 

The upscale interior of the Majestic Lodge

The upscale interior of the Majestic Lodge

Janet acceded to my plea that even though the scenery had been beautiful , that we travel a different route to return to I-5 and the long drive north to Portland.   That proved to be a great decision.   We drove California Route 4 through what has been described as “The Next Napa” – numerous vinyards and wineries in a beautiful rural setting.

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

And then we went through Angels’ Camp, a little burg of 3,835 and the only incorporated city in Calaveras County, CA.

It’s where Mark Twain resided temporarily in 1865 when he wrote the short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calevaras County,” his first success as a writer.

A few miles farther and we came to Murphys California, another small town (or according to the Census Bureau, a CDP or “Census Designated Place”) with only 2,200 permanent residents.   Our timing was fortuitous, because it was the first Saturday in October and that means thousands of people converge on this colorful little town for the 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp.

Perhaps rather than moving to Canada, an option is to secede from California...

Perhaps rather than moving to Canada, an option is to secede from California…

Main Street was closed down and the throng inspected the booths lining both sides of the street ranging from artists and craftspeople, to wineries to advocates for the State of Jefferson – right across the street from a booth housing the Calaveras County Democratic Central Committee.  Jefferson seeks to form a new identity for northern California and southern Oregon.

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A stop in the historic Murphys Hotel and Saloon – first opened as a stagecoach stop in 1856 – and the Murphys Irish Pub – just opened in 2016 – showed that they were filled to capacity with those celebrating this festival which was the epitome of Americana.

Murphys Irish Pub

Murphys Irish Pub

Of course, the City of Murphys would have an Irish Pub....

Of course, the City of Murphys would have an Irish Pub….

 

 

 

We had lunch at Murphys’ Pour House and tried our second Dust Bowl Brewery – the Son of Wrath Double IPA, which as was the Dust Bowl Pilsner the night before, a good beer and one of sixteen the Pour House had on tap.

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Good lunch and beer at Murphys Pour House

Good lunch and beer at Murphys Pour House

 

Check out this link which gives background and history of the Grape Stomp  (http://www.calaverasgrapestomp.com/) and plan to make this a stop on a future road trip.  You won’t be disappointed……

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photo-oct-01-6-57-28-pmOur stay in Redding, Ca. capped out our last night on the road trip and a visit to another venue which typifies how microbreweries have become thriving enterprises and assets to their communities.

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Janet and our great server, Naomi

This one was Woody’s Brewing Company and our server, Naomi, although she had only worked there for about six months, was a wealth of information about their sixteen beers on tap (five of which are brewed in their 10 barrel operation on site at the brew-pub) and the history of the brewery.

The bar at Woodys was hopping....

The bar at Woodys was hopping….

Woody’s is another of the examples Thebeerchaser has chronicled and never tires of – a family (three brothers – Pat, Scott and Andrew Wlodarczyk) who fulfilled their dream:

Woody’s Brewing Co. is a dream of many decades that finally evolved from a love to consume and brew beer, to all other activities involved with it. We are a brewery that started out with three men’s passion to deliver good beer in a great atmosphere. We are believers of the do it yourself attitude and feel that mantra shines through in our high quality and artfully perfected ales.”

They started brewing in 1984 and although still a small operation, from what we saw, they’re still going strong and do good work helping Redding non-profit organizations.

Woody's has sixteen beers on tap.

Woody’s has sixteen beers on tap.

I had an Asian chicken salad and Janet had fish and chips – both of which got very good ratings.  And we definitely liked our beers – mine was Woody’s Apricot Wheat Ale and Janet tried their Teacher’s Aide – a robust amber ale.

Their food gets great ratings on social media and we echoed the sentiments of these two recent Yelp reviews:

“Good beer, quick friendly service, bar style food.
Nice “hidden gem” of a brewery”.
(September 29, 2016)

“Wonderful local brewery and eatery.  IPA is awesome! Great atmosphere downtown Redding and wonderful staff. A Redding must visit.”  (October 21, 2016)

After the drive through Shasta country, the Siskiyou Mountains and up I-5 with a short stop for a large ice-cream cone ((although now somewhat diminished and more expensive than what we remembered on long ago road trips) at the infamous K & R Drive Inn at the Rice Hill I-5 exit in southern Oregon, we made it back home.       601px-i-5_svg

And while Thebeerchaser is officially done with political campaigns and election results, I feel compelled to offer my own comment about our road trip in response to those who rile people up by denigrating America with negative bloviating about how we need to remake the US.

The Majestic Hotel in Yosemite

The Majestic Hotel in Yosemite

“While the US has many challenges and has not done an effective job in resolving a number of problems, we traveled more than 2,500 miles in five and one-half days through incredibly beautiful countryside on both interstate highways (with clean and impressive rest stops) and well-maintained state roads and county by-ways. 

We visited another one of our renowned National Parks – one of sixty-one in the Park system’s Centennial Year, a national treasure and where we interacted with citizens from many countries there to gasp at the splendid scenery.  

photo-sep-30-10-19-06-amWe marveled (in Yosemite and the other National Parks we have visited in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Montana, South Carolina and Washington in the last three years) at the the vision of leaders, politicians and citizens to preserve this bounty for future generations.  We even saw a pay-telephone in Yosemite.

Nostalgia reigns...

Nostalgia reigns…

Caldera Brewery

Caldera Brewery

 

Mugs were raised at small breweries – the end result of the  dreams of young entrepreneurs that grew into thriving businesses through hard work and business acumen.  We ate at bars and restaurants which demonstrated the enterprising talent and creativity of their owners and which employed hardworking and friendly people dedicated to serving the clientele.

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

 Wineries, rice and wheat fields,  dairy and beef cattle ranches, and orchards stretched for miles outside well-designed cities with urban growth boundaries preserving this agricultural resource.  We joined about 10,000 other people in a showing of pure Americana as we celebrated a local festival in a rural California community.        

Savannah - on our tour of Caldera Brewery in Ashland

Savannah – on our tour of Caldera Brewery in Ashland

And, of course, we cannot forget the wonderful people we met from Savannah, the restaurant manager at Caldera Brewery, to the National Park rangers, to the couple visiting from the United Kingdom who raved about the beauty of Yosemite, to Amanda, our outstanding server at Woody’s Brewery in Redding.” 

Cheers!

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Bridgeport – Good Brewery “Infrastructure”…….

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Our “Walking Group” which has been present at other venues reviewed by Thebeerchaser such as Produce Row, SaravezaBazi Bierbrasserie, Hair of the Dog Brewing and Ecliptic Brewing (click on the name to see the prior Beerchaser post) hit Bridgeport Brewing Company on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in October.

photo-oct-26-5-09-08-pmBeing of sound collective minds, we abandoned plans to walk that day – understandable given that this tenth month was the third wettest October in recorded Oregon weather history.  (we are not wimps and have often walked in the rain…..)   We met at the Bridgeport Brew Pub in NW Portland.

photo-oct-26-5-43-23-pmAnd while Bridgeport did not have the idiosyncratic charm of a dive bar or the intimacy of one of the smaller brewpubs such as Sasquatch or Tugboat, it proved to be a great selection based on the beer, the food and the service.  In addition, the Cubs won the second World Series game  (5 to 1) as we watched while talking and drinking beer.

Bridgeport, originally founded by the Ponzi’s of Oregon winemaking fame, as Columbia River Brewing, has an interesting history, claiming to be Oregon’s first craft brewery. It was established in 1984 – one of 94 US breweries – and has grown from a small operation (600 barrels annually at inception ) to a thriving enterprise with annual production over 100,000 barrels and now one of 4,269 (2015) breweries according to national Brewers Association statistics.  In the early 2000’s it was listed as one of the top fifty breweries in the US, but is not currently in that category although Oregon has four of which the largest is Deschutes in Bend.

The mezzanine

The mezzanine

Our group of eight, found a good table on the second floor or mezzanine level – smaller and more ambiance than the expansive main level – immediately adjacent to the bar and served by a wonderful young woman named Kelsey.  And as you will see below, our experience was very positive – beer, food and service.

Outstanding server, Kelsey and bartender, Leah

Outstanding server, Kelsey and bartender, Leah

 

In researching on social media sites, I was curious about some of the negative comments.   One always expects some about food or service in any venue with a lot of customers, but a number of the disparaging remarks were very old and, as expected, based on changes when one grows comfortable with a favorite watering hole.

For example, this one from Yelp clear back in March of 2006 after a major remodel – they are still in their original structure, an historic building on the west edge of the Pearl District:

What a letdown!  They made it more upscale and fancy…….No game room anymore.  Gone was that cool pub feel.  And you could no longer see the brewery behind the taps and kitchen, they walled it all off.  It’s just a fancy looking place now.  The only good thing was the beer, and the people were friendly and nice.

photo-oct-26-5-17-40-pmAnd as expected, Portlanders were upset when the founders, sold to the Gambrinus Company a large beer distributor and brewer in San Antonio in 1995, whose founder, Carlos Alvarez’s, original beer operation was in Acapulco, Mexico – creating all kinds of ominous predictions about the future of Bridgeport.

However, as with most brewers, Bridgeport has been a model citizen, showing growth, community involvement and impressive sustainability practices as set forth in great detail on their website.  It’s also a great place to have a beer and a meal with friends.

photo-oct-26-6-06-00-pmTwo of our group (including Thebeerchaser) had what we considered outstanding pulled-pork sandwiches and everyone (ranging from blackened salmon salad to the chicken sandwich to vegan bowl to the quesadilla) with one exception, thought the food was great and reasonably priced.

The happy-hour “boulevard burger” with cheese was a disappointment although it only sets one back $6.  I also thought the old-fashioned dumbwaiter they used to move food from the kitchen on the first floor to the mezzanine was cool.

Moving food the old-fashioned way....

Moving food the old-fashioned way….

We were all pleased with their beer and since there were nine on tap plus a barley wine, Kelsey was wonderful about letting us have multiple tastes to hone in on a favorite.

The mezzanine bar - nice bar selection

The mezzanine bar –

 

 

We tried the Stumptown ORA (oatmeal red ale – my favorite), the Hop Harvest Red IPA, the Cream Ale and the Porter.   And at $3.75 for a happy-hour pint, the price-point was a winner.  Happy-hour is 3:00 to 5:00 for food and 3:00 to 6:00 for beer on Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 to 11:00 PM on weekends.)

Good beer at $3.75 for a happy-hour pint....

Good beer at $3.75 for a happy-hour pint….

Given the number of good beers on tap, when we go back, we’ll try the sampler of eight beers for a tidy $9.

Now in looking at all the reviews – both positive and negative, Bridgeport does very well and as is the case with many of the social media sites, one gets a few with a myopic perspective (some might call them idiots…).

The beer sampler (courtesy of Don V Yelp reviewer)

The beer sampler (courtesy of Don V – Yelp reviewer)

Such is the case of the Yelp reviewer in September, 2016 who I would suggest rather than go out, should just stay in his pajamas and get a six-pack to consume in the basement of his parents’ house while he watches the game:

Bridgeport hasn’t sold its soul completely. But they might be losing their way a little. Case in point: I went there last during the kick-off weekend of college football, and had to ask them to change to channel to the Oregon Ducks game. They had the bar television on the Esquire channel, which I never knew existed. I am sorry, but beer goes with sports. Period. End of story.

If you have televisions, they should be featuring whatever major sporting event is occurring. If not that, then shows what lively fan bases like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones…….I don’t know that they are there yet. Just having the television on the Esquire channel and not on the duck game is forcing me to dock them a star. Sorry. Not really. (emphasis supplied and I will restrain myself from pointing out that this guy probably went to school in Eugene and not Corvallis…..!)

photo-oct-26-5-18-31-pmAnd as a final note, I would add that the week after our visit to the Bridgeport Ale House, we went with some friends visiting from New York to the nearby Deschutes Public House – also in the Pearl District.

While the beers were comparable in quality, Deschutes is a much larger operation and is more like a large restaurant than the brewpub environment of Bridgeport especially if you eat on the nice second level in the latter.  And although it appears that they have a few more beers on tap, Deschutes does not have a happy-hour and pints are about $5 to $6.  The parking is much easier at Bridgeport as well.

Besides, it would be difficult to get a server better than Kelsey!

Bridgeport Brewing and Brew Pub         1313 NW Marshall        

 

 

Beerchasing in California – Part I – Sacramento

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A somewhat spontaneous trip to Yosemite National Park gave us the chance to visit a few interesting bars to add the Thebeerchaser’s inventory.   Our first night in Ashland, Oregon – near the California border- gave us the opportunity to check out what turned out to be one of Oregon’s finest micro-breweries – the Caldera Brewing Co.   Check out the post dated 10/24/16 for a full review which this outstanding Oregon business deserves.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/10/24/ashlands-caldera-brewery-now-thats-a-fine-kettle-of-beers/

The next day we stayed in Sacramento – right in the downtown core near the California State Capitol Building and a mall-type development which is in full swing and will enhance the Central Business District.

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name......

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name……

On a walk to explore the area and pick a restaurant for dinner, we came across “Dive Bar” on K Street.   Now Thebeerchaser loves watering holes with this description although my spouse, Janet, has an aversion to this type of bar.  2016-09-28-19-47-01

 

 

That said, it became obvious that Dive Bar had none of the characteristics of saloons in this hallowed category.  This quote from a Thrillist.com article entitled, “Signs You’re in a Fake Dive Bar” is worth considering:

“If a place is actually calling itself a dive by name, that’s a surefire sign that some hipster who’s never been in a real hole wanted to open a bar, but didn’t want to invest in a vacuum or nice lights. Lots of ferns, though. There’s always money for ferns. Most light should be provided by slightly broken neon signs, not something weird like an Edison bulb or, ugh, a window.”

Nor your standard dive-bar taps.....

Nor your standard dive-bar taps…..

This “dive” bar had only four beers on tap – all micro-brews with one from Oregon……but none of which bore the moniker PBR or Budweiser – standard brews for dive bar regulars. (I tried the tangy Otra Vex by Sierra Nevada Brewing and Janet, the Falcon Lagger  and we were pleased with both brews although more expensive than a PBR….

So I asked bartender,Jason, how the title of the bar was derived.   He immediately responded, “Take a glance upward.  You see that 7,800 gallon aquarium.  (To put in perspective, that would be about 1,006 kegs of beers…..) A few nights each week, we also have “mermaids” swimming in that tank.  Now do you understand how we got our name.?” 

When I say "dive", I mean literally.....

When I say “dive”, I mean literally…..

As further evidence their website states, “A typical dive bar denotes a few things in one’s mind: no frills, approachable, slightly dangerous, and a leftover relic from another era.

This version has refurbished brick walls, dark wood and upholstery and is a version of a bar from a different era: but with all brand new accoutrements.

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs...

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs…

 

Dive Bar’s lighting consists of Dimmable White LED flex tape, installed on each shelf, lighting the natural brick on the walls. The lighting systems were designed by Anthony Aristo of Lumatech Architectural.” 

Dive Bar also has an Executive Chef and you can pay extra for VIP privileges…..Case closed!!

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

There were no mermaids swimming that evening and it was a quirky but somewhat sterile, bar although based on social media, it is a hot spot in Sacramento night life.

Dive Bar has a head mermaid and mermaid trainer and you can even hire the  mermaids for your own party:

“Stunning Professional Mermaids and Mermen with years of swimming and underwater performance experience are available to enchant your guests with their playful spirits, beautiful a capella siren songs, water performance, prop work and so much more!”       Check out their website: https://www.gigsalad.com/dive_bar_mermaids_sacramento1

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Non-descript and boring exterior, but worth going inside..

Dinner that night was at Blackbird Kitchen and Bar a small restaurant/bar with a non-descript exterior, but with fifty beers on tap and a happy-hour fried chicken special that was outstanding.

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

We sat at the bar and our friendly server,  Dave, explained that they focus on local beers with 20 of these on tap.

Janet drank wine and I had a memorable  Double Down Imperial Red from Wildcard Brewing in Redding, California.

Then an after-dinner drink at Craft HF (Hock Farm Craft and Provisions) – one of the Paragary Restaurant Group’s establishment. (Fourteen in Sacramento)  This was a spacious bar with modern décor and an ample up-scale restaurant area adjoining.   Bartender, Blake, served us as we sat at the bar and was quite a marketing asset for the venue.   He was enthusiastic about their inventory of beer which we were surprised did not include any draft beers although they had a very robust collection of bottled and canned brews – most notably from California breweries.

2016-09-28-17-05-15He also talked about their specialty gin drinks and exotic cocktails, but we stuck to beer and had an “interesting” bottle of Briny Mountain Gose from  Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA:  “………boasts a thirst-quenching tartness that is perfectly balanced by subtle watermelon flavors and aromas.  Gentle additions of sea salt create a refreshing harmony between the acidity and fruity sweetness leading to clean, dry finish.”  (Who writes this stuff????)

Slick, but no beers on tap!

Slick, but no beers on tap!

In response to our question, “Why don’t you have any beers on tap?”   Blake replied very assertively,

“We believe in highlighting the unique taste of each beer.  The brewers specify the CO2 line pressure which should be maintained from the keg to the tap and it varies for each beer.  

Rather than compromise the taste by maintaining the same pressure for each draft beer, we opted to abandon drafts and offer bottles and cans.  We do have wine on tap directly from kegs because we go through enough wine each day in order not to compromise the product.”

Blake - nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

Blake – nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

(I checked with a reliable source who is an expert on breweries and he debunked that explanation as “blowing hot air.”

“After a short distance through the hose, drinkers cannot discern any difference based on the C02 pressure employed.”

Then back to the Marriott for the night before driving the rest of the way to Yosemite.  We did not have a drink there, but the hotel bar looked kind of interesting – at least as far as hotel bars go…… 2016-09-28-20-16-40

 

 

And one other interesting sidelight.  We were struck by the number of persons who had parkas or insignia with the Navy’s Blue  Angels in the hotel lobby.  Being a Navy veteran and having seen the Blue Angels fly when I was a NROTC midshipman in college, I was interested.

And we discovered on that Wednesday night that the prestigious aviation group was performing at an air show in Sacramento that weekend.  The Navy personnel were all very polite and looked sharp and they had designations ranging from “Maintenance” to “Air Frame” to “Logistics,” etc. (we did not see the actual pilots).  Given the large number of both male and female personnel who were obviously part of the contingent, made me curious and I did a little more research.

The Blue Angels - awe inspiring but raise some questions...

The Blue Angels – awe inspiring but raise some questions…

In these days of federal budget constraints, it’s probably fair to raise the question as to whether the annual budget outlay is worthwhile in light of other priorities.   According to Wikipedia (which admittedly may not be the most reliable source, but okay for a blog about bars…) the annual budget is $37 million although it begs the question, what does include or not include.

For example, a thought-provoking opinion piece from the Pensacola New Journal, entitled “Cut the Blue Angels from Federal Budget” authored by the son of a Navy captain who is also the brother of a naval aviator, asserted that based on the cost, the safety record and the environmental issues, the program should be discontinued.  He estimates that if accounting for all costs and amortizing lost aircraft over the years, the true figure approximates $200 million annually.

Wikipedia states that as of 2006, twenty-seven of the 262 Blue Angel pilots have died in air show crashes or training accidents.   The opinion piece above was prompted, in part, by the June, 2016 Blue Angel crash and death of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, in an airshow.

Something to consider, but we left Sacramento before the air show and headed for Yosemite National Park.  Stay tuned……

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The Half Dome at Yosemite

The Half Dome at Yosemite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashland’s Caldera Brewery-Now that’s a fine kettle of beer(s)!

A gem in southern Oregon along I-5

A gem in southern Oregon along I-5

On a recent road trip from Portland to Yosemite National Park, we decided that rather than drive ten hours in one day to Sacramento, we would see how far we got along I-5 leaving Portland in the afternoon.   This spontaneity was fortuitous because when our usual Marriott choices were filled in Medford, we pushed on to Ashland.

Ashland - Shakespeare and excellent beer too!

Ashland – Shakespeare and excellent beer too!

And based on the recommendation of the reception clerk at the motel, we found the Caldera Brewery – a gem and one with an outstanding reputation only a half-block away.  This business grew from Jim Mills’ hard work and creativity when he was a young man, to a brewery, restaurant and tap-house which employs 100 people and now ships its product internationally, but it has garnered a national reputation for the quality of its beer.

Caldera was born on the 4th of July in 1997 as a small 10-barrel brewery and tap-house and expanded in 2011 to much larger capacity – 30-bbl and 28,000 square feet – including what is now one of the largest restaurants in Ashland.  Besides the 92-seat interior, it has an expansive patio which seats another 42.

We were amazed to see that they had 43 of their own beers on tap.  (We did not visit the tap-house in downtown Ashland, but it has 20 Caldera beers on tap.)

2016-09-27-20-21-54Besides the nice ambiance including an attractive bar, Caldera has a unique collection of bottles and cans that provide the central décor for the brewhouse and restaurant. In fact, at 4,567 in number, they claim it is the largest collection of its kind in Oregon.  That assertion seemed pretty credible to me given the visual when you walk in.

(In case your wondering, given Oregon’s location on the Cascadia Faultline and the state’s average of sixty-five earthquakes per year, all the cans and bottles are glued to their shelves – which perhaps might prevent a catastrophe, of sorts, in the event of The Big Shaker.  Fortunately, Jackson County has only had five since 1931 and the probability of a 5.0 quake in the next fifty years in only 11.94%! – Homefacts.com)

An amazing bottle and can collection....

An amazing bottle and can collection….

And their beers are plentiful and very good based on what we sampled.  It appears from their website that they brew seventeen year-round and another twenty-one that are available periodically and their brews have won multiple awards.

For example, in 2016 alone, they won a gold, two silvers and three bronze medals in various beer competitions. The most prized is the gold medal at the World Beer Cup – the Olympics of Beer held in Boulder, Colorado for Caldera’s Ashland Amber in the English Style Pale Ale category, where they bested thirty-two other entries in an international competition that comprised 253 judges from thirty-one countries.  (And Janet and I can vouch for the quality of this great beer by the pint we shared that night in addition to a wonderful Dry Hop Orange Session IPA.)

___ beers on tap

43 beers on tap

 

Ashland Amber - Gold Medal Winner

Ashland Amber – Gold Medal Winner

Caldera also has some great names for their brews including Vas Deferens“a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with a unique twist incorporating a little snip of this and a little snip of that….” (I’m not sure how a guy would work that beer into a pick-up line in a bar.)  Other great names were the Hopportunity Knocks and Lawnmower Lager – chosen one of the “Twenty Great American Lagers not Named Budweiser in 2016 by gearpatrol.com (“This was one of our favorites. Sweet on the nose, like a graham cracker, it’s a clean and drinkable lager that doesn’t taste overly boozy or hoppy.”)

A strategic and smart growth plan

A strategic and smart growth plan

It seems like this brewery has followed a very smart and strategic growth plan in the last twenty years.  They were the first craft brewery in Oregon to brew and can their own beer (their capacity is now 1,200 cans per minute) and currently ship their cans and bottles to seventeen states and six countries including the Netherlands, Malaysia, South Korea, Brazil and Japan.  And check out the graphics on their cans – they are superb and creative.

Cans shipped all over the world

Cans shipped all over the world and 100% recyclable….

They age some of their beer in Kentucky bourbon barrels.   Oh, and don’t forget their non-alcoholic soda and teas – root beer, ginger ale, craft soda and “hibiscus rose petal” iced tea.

Their sustainability policy appears substantive and thorough with detailed information about practices in food and brewery operations plus building and brewery design.

And if our example on a weekday evening was typical, their staff people are solid representatives of the company.   Our bartender was friendly and knowledgeable and when I showed Restaurant and Bar Manager, Savannah, my card and told her about Thebeerchaser blog, she gave me a personal tour of the brewery, which was an impressive physical layout.

Savannah - the Restaurant Manager on our tour of the "back office."

Savannah – the Restaurant Manager on our tour of the “back office.”

 

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As MSN stated in their article, “The Best Breweries Across the Fifty States,”

“Caldera is a small yet revolutionary brewery. In 2005 they became the very first brewery on the West Coast to both brew and can their own beers. They have a little something for everyone, from those who love to stick with traditional and familiar brews to those who want to branch out and try unusual flavors like smoke or red roses.” 

Jim Mills is the owner of Caldera and its former head brewer and his story is one that will be in the annals of Oregon Brewery history when the last mug is raised – maybe after the Cascadia Faultline decides to finally have its due.  His passion for beer emanates from an early age:

“So I just started homebrewing and kept bugging the old manager here at the old Rogue brewery (formerly on the current Caldera site) to give me a job. I finally got a job bartending and working in the kitchen. Then I started washing kegs for free just  to learn how to brew, get in there. I was brewer’s assistant for a while. Then I was head brewer here in ’94-’95. Then in 1995, I started my business plan.”  BrewPublic 9/23/2009

2016-09-27-21-27-05William Shakespeare once wrote “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.”  Perhaps this quote describes Caldera Brewing’s almost twenty-year history although Mills is not afraid to take a risk in his creative approach to brewing.

The next time you pass Exit 14 on I-5, stop and have one of their excellent beers, see the bottle collection and judge for yourself.

Caldera Brewing        590 Clover Street      Ashland, Oregon

The Fulton Pub — “Home” of Hammerhead

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One of the general guidelines established when I commenced Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs five years ago was that I would focus on the aforementioned watering holes and not cover restaurants that may also have good bars.   The only exceptions – now added to by the Fulton – have been two McMenamin establishments.

white-eagleBoth the White Eagle Saloon (post on11/14/12)  and the St. John’s Pub (post on 11/2/15) are part of the McMenamin restaurant chain, but deserved a place in this blog for three reasons: 

(1)  They have great bars with rich histories.  (2)  The McMenamin Brothers are a key part of the Oregon Beer industry and culture.  (3)  It’s my blog and I make the choices!   st-johns

With that preface, I have to disclaim that it has taken me over two years to finally tell you about the Fulton Pub, which I visited two more times after my memorable first trip for drinks with prolific Portland author, Brian Doyle.  He suggested The Fulton as one of “my regular watering holes” and had even written a wonderful essay about the pub entitled “An Ale Tale.”  (see below). 

Author and wine drinker, Brian Doyle

Author and wine drinker, Brian Doyle

The last two visits were with my spouse, Janet, my sister, Lynne and her husband, Dave – one of the more notable Beerchaser regulars having accompanied me on Beerchasing trips through Central and Eastern Oregon (see post on 11/4/13) and the Central Oregon Coast – a three day trip in which we visited fifteen unforgettable saloons in Lincoln City, Newport, Depoe Bay and Pacific City. (see post on 9/23/14)

The Fulton epitomizes the image of an intimate neighborhood pub.  It’s a half block off Macadam Ave on Nebraska Avenue not too far from John’s Landing and:

“…..dates back to 1926, when it was a Prohibition-era hangout serving home-cooked meals, pinball games, stogies, candy and ice cream. Speculation says that during Prohibition the pub might even have provided patrons the odd pint as an unadvertised special.”  (McMenamin’s website ) 

p1030976After being known as the Home Tavern for a number of years, The McM Brothers opened it as the Fulton in 1988.  You can order any of the McMenamin microbrews and munch on one of their good burgers with plentiful fries or other items on a good pub-faire menu.   And it does have a great patio – filled with drinkers of good cheer during the few non-dripping months in Oregon.  So what distinguishes it from any of the other McMenamin venues?  

Nice patio - when it is not raining...

Nice patio – when it is not raining…

For a brief explanation, I defer to my friend, Brian, who in this excerpt from his essay on the Fulton hits the mark. (And for the full version, which is worth reading, check out the link at the end of this post which I found on-line in the inaugural issue of the University of Texas at El Paso’s literary magazine, Quicksilver.)  

Since Brian is the Editor of the University of Portland’s award-winning quarterly magazine – Portland – this begs the question why his essay was one of three featured at an academic institution in the state in which Rick Perry is the former governor…….(By the way, the other two essays in this issue of Quicksilver are entitled “Farm Machines” and “2.4 Miles.” and are very good.

I think the answer is best found in the UTEP magazine’s mission statement:

“Quicksilver has many connotations, both literal–the mineral was mined in Terlingua, south of El Paso–and figurative–the word means erratic, malleable. Quicksilver also equals charged writing: the best content we can find.(emphasis supplied)

From Brian’s essay entitled, “An Ale Tale”:

p1030979“It’s unpretentious, friendly, liable to laughter.  There are babies and dogs and mismatched chairs.  There’s world-class stuff made there but there’s no preening or wheedling.  The pub and the ale were created here by people here for people here.  When it rains everyone crowds inside, including the dogs.  When the sun comes out everyone sprawls outside, including the babies. 

On the hottest hot days, the guy making ales in the back throws open the screen door and out writhes the most redolent funky bready earthy dense smell you ever smelled, which is the smell of Hammerhead being born.”

Note:  According to the McMenamin’s website, “…..legend has it that the brew’s  hallowed recipe (Hammerhead) was perfected here.”

the-grailEach of my three visits to the Fulton made me leave promising to return.  At the first one, I interviewed Brian to glean the background for his Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter “honor”  (see post dated 2/14/14).   I had a Hammerhead and was surprised that he drank wine rather than beer.  I guess that’s explained by his book The Grail  – a 2006 work in which he chronicles his “….year ambling and shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wide world.”

Since that Fulton visit in 2014, he has authored three additional novels: The Plover, Marten Martin and Chicago and five collections of essays.

On our last two visits my companions and I dined, and both times found that the usual ponderous McMenamin’s turn-around time on meals was not the case at the Fulton and the servers were wonderful.  I might add that the combined experience of drinking with Brian Doyle and then my sister and her husband, imparted a connection with those who are artisans of the English language.

Dave and Lynne Booher chuckling as they remember my meager attempts to write at a graduate level...

Dave and Lynne Booher chuckling as they remember my meager attempts to write at a graduate level…

Lynne and Dave are retired school administrators and both at one time during their careers taught Literary Arts and Writing at the high school level and taught education courses at Lewis and Clark College.

They both served as loyal editors/proofreaders on all of my papers written during my seven-year journey to get my Masters Degree at Portland State.  (My adviser finally admonished me that if I did not finish in the next six months, they would start deducting credits.)

floorers_removing_the_hides_usy_chicago_front_tiff

Chicago meatpacking plant near the turn of the century

thejunglesinclair

 

 

 

 

 

My sister and her spouse were extremely helpful although not gentle in their critiques and notations on these documents – done in red pen.

In fact, there was so much crimson on some of the papers that Upton Sinclair would have been inspired to write a sequel to The Jungle if he were still alive.  (They would be proud of me for my literary reference to this 1906 novel on the meatpacking industry in Chicago which was instrumental in the creation of the Federal Food and Drug Administration.)

Yes, their critical remarks were as numerous as Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen’s comments during the last two years leaving the door open for a future hike in interest rates:

“Just because we removed the word ‘patient’ doesn’t mean we’re going to be impatient.” 

It was so red........

It was so red……..

After their review, the papers were as scarlet-filled as the organic ketchup produced by Portland Ketchup Company that McMenamins uses (sorry – I got carried away with repressed images) and is great on their fries.  (It’s good to know that even though the fries may kill you that the garnish won’t…)

And that thankfully brings us back to the Fulton.  Each time I visit this wonderful bistro, I am impressed by its character and the regulars who consider it “my pub.”  The last time I ran into an Oregon State fraternity brother, Doug Hardesty, who was there for one of his regular stops for a beer and burger.

Doug Hardesty - a Fulton regular

Doug Hardesty – a Fulton regular

 

Take a look at Brian Doyle’s essay with the link below, and plan to make a visit to this venerable Portland establishment:

https://academics.utep.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=56351

The Fulton Pub               0618 SW Nebraska

 

 

 

 

Mad Sons (Pub) with Happy Daughters…

A resurrected venue in Southeast Portland

A resurrected venue in Southeast Portland

You won’t find Madison’s Bar and Grill in any of the past Willamette Week Bar Guides even though it operated from 1997 until February 2014.  The Bar Guide is the weekly paper’s annual review of about 100 favorite Portland bars and one of the ongoing resources for this blog.

WW described the predecessor, Madison’s B & G, in their review of its resurrection, of sorts, Mad Sons Pub, in its 8/26/14 review of the remade bar: “(Madison’s Bar and Grill was) a bar that looked like a Denny’s in West Virginia and attracted the same clientele.”

The sign with a minor change

The sign with a minor change

The most noticeable change is on the bland exterior of the bar  – the large neon sign near the entrance now has the “I” taped over, purportedly so it would not shine at night although some say that it just burned out and the name change then saved the owners money on signage. The real story is below.

2016-08-15-17-02-34I definitely liked the décor of the remade bar on our recent Beerchasing trip to its location at 1109 SE Madison. The large lot with free parking in an area where vehicle resting spots are at a premium was another plus.

WW speaks favorably of the new bar including the capital invested by the new owners:

2016-09-06-15-55-44“The new Revolutionary War-themed bar is a beautiful hardwood affair complete with 13-star flags, a hearth, a giant blue-felt billiards table and a picture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence burned into the wood of the bar’s service gate.” 2016-08-15-17-05-31

And like some of the other “treasures” – bars or pubs I have discovered in the five-year Beerchaser Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs, I would not have had the pleasure of raising a mug – this time with great companions – if I had not initiated this idiosyncratic but interesting retirement hobby.

Jack Faust contemplates the beer menu

Jack Faust contemplates the beer menu

Joining me was one of the most frequent Beerchaser “regulars,” Portland appellate lawyer and former moderator of the award-winning public affairs program, Town Hall.

Jack Faust has joined me at visits to The Buffalo Gap, Bailey’s Tap House, the Rookery, Kelly’s Olympian, the Marathon Taverna and the lackluster Yard House. (use Thebeerchaser search function above to read reviews of these bars).  He was also one of the more colorful Beerchaser-of-the-Quarters , which highlighted his notable legal (mostly at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt) , broadcasting and civic career (see post on 9/2/14)

Jack Faust

Jack Faust

Speaking of the Schwabe firm, where I spent twenty-five years of my legal management career, Faust, a Portland native, joins two other former Schwabe partners as three of the Jefferson High School’s “Outstanding 100” – their most distinguished alums named at the school’s Centennial in 2009.

Retired US District Court Judge and decorated Viet Nam Veteran, Ancer Haggerty, and the late Congressman, Wendell Wyatt were also honored.ancer

 

The late Congressman, Wendell Wyatt

The late Congressman, Wendell Wyatt

Faust maintains he garnered the honor based on his accomplishments playing quarterback on the Democrat’s six-man football team, but I countered that it was the notoriety achieved by his home-brewed “Raspberry Red Ale” which contributed to Portland’s designation as a SuperFund site by the EPA.

As has been the case on several previous bar visits, members of the Faust clan – in this case son, Charlie, and daughter, Amy, were Beerchasing with us in addition to Charlie’s wife, Kristen, a first-time Beerchaser.

2016-08-15-17-59-11The final two companions that afternoon were the youngest – my daughter, Laura and her fiancé, Ryan Keene, slated for September 17th nuptials at Vista Hills Vineyard and Winery west of Dundee – the home of one of my favorite dive bars – Lumpy’s Landing.

While we did not spend too much time trying to mentor and advise the young bride and groom to-be, they couldn’t go wrong listening to some words of wisdom, given that the cumulative total years of marriage for their elders was an astounding 139 years as follows:

An amazing couple

An amazing couple

Jack and Alice Faust                         60 years

Don and Janet Williams                     36 years

Amy Faust and husband, Kevin        24 years

Charlie Faust and wife, Kristen         19  years

Charlie Faust, being a numbers guy, pointed out to Ryan and Laura that since the average time of marriage for those above has been 34.8 years while the median is still an impressive 30 years, they would do well to invite members of this group out for beers in the future to seek advice on marital bliss…..

Thebeerchaser with his daughter and soon to be son-in-law

Thebeerchaser with his daughter and soon to be son-in-law

Although Charlie and his dad have a great relationship, they agreed to pose while I took the picture below in an effort to get the pub’s owners to adopt it as a logo for their new moniker. In fact, in a moment of sentimentality, Charlie gushed:

“You know, I owe a lot to my parents – especially my Mom and Dad.”

It should also be noted that both my daughter, Laura, and Jack’s daughter, Amy, seemed to be pretty happy with their dads that afternoon and not just because we paid for the beers (I think….)

A new logo for Mad Sons??

A new logo for Mad Sons??

Not only does Mad Sons have some interesting décor including multiple US Presidential portraits but the spacious game-room upstairs includes a billiard table racked for free pool, some nice booths to relax and some additional historical memorabilia.

I had a nice conversation by telephone with General Manager, Lavender Davis, who is one of five partners in Mad Sons.  The remodeling took six months and was done by craftsman with the historic items throughout the bar coming from a variety of sources including estate sales.   Some of the drapes are from her living room…..

She stated that the reason for the name change and blacking out the “I” in the Madison’s on the sign, was because of restrictions imposed by Portland’s Sign Ordinance (Perhaps a skilled lawyer could have overcome that challenge but the name change is a good thing.)

2016-09-06-15-56-45

Blue felt and free

The upstairs has a long shelves filled with impressive volumes ranging from philosophical classics such as Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, Milton’s Paradise Lost  and perhaps appropriately, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King  to novels by Nobel Prize winners such as Steinbeck and Hemingway.  Don’t plan to use the space as a reading room while you’re enjoying a mug, however.

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The expansive volumes on the shelves are all firmly glued together. This is too bad because there was some fine literature on these shelves.

An impressive faux library...

An impressive faux library…

Realizing these books were glued together and untouched, along with the thought of beer readily available, also brought back some unpleasant and possibly repressed memories from my freshman year at Oregon State.

The freedom to have an under-aged brewski at Price’s Tavern with the bros in Corvallis was like a Siren call while my freshman physics and calculus texts sat essentially glued together.   Although they might have indicated an impressive academic regimen, at least part of the quarter, they mostly gathered dust.

Fortunately, my Navy ROTC advisor informed me in a direct manner that if I did not start putting some wear on the pages, I would not only lose my scholarship, but the Navy’s travel agent would be happy to book a free flight on one of its planes headed for the other side of the International Dateline.  The motivational speech worked.

Limited but adequate patio

Limited but adequate patio

Mad Sons is a spacious, interesting and warm space to gather with friends on a fall or winter day – you might also want to take advantage of the limited but adequate patio during the spring and summer months.

The afternoon we were there, the bar was not hopping with patrons and WW alluded to the same situation in their multiple visits. And that’s too bad because Mad Sons also has a good selection of beers and a robust and very reasonably priced food menu described by the Oregonian  shortly after it opened in 2014:

“A little New England, a little Old England with sandwiches, stews and other hearty plates of varying quality.”  Oregonian 10/31/14

A nice selection of beers

A nice selection of beers

There are eleven beers on tap, a rotating seasonal and nitro and a local craft draft root beer. (Our party had Priem IPA, Double Mountain IRA and Upright Pilsner.)

Kristin had a Grapefruit Shandy, which Thebeerchaser had never been exposed to previously.  I learned that a Shandy is a combination of beer and either a soft drink or juice in approximately a 50/50 mix.  Kristin approved of the Mad Son’s version.

Recent Yelp reviews looked very positive including these two:

“Clean with great vibes and plenty of space! Awesome selection of booze with excellent service at Mad Sons Pub. Free pool, pinball, games and a huge outdoor patio – (Thebeerchaser does not agree with this description) for summer! Definitely check this place out! No kids and parking for all. Love it!!!”  7/2/2016

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and

“This place is quality.  Super chill, nice staff, good food and drink, their brisket is awesome.  I really appreciate the ambiance here, they’re always playing good music, it’s nice and dark with the look of an old style pub, but a more modern vibe.” 7/23/2016

Also good comments on their Saturday and Sunday brunch (from 11 AM to 3 PM), which according to Lavender is “very popular” and one where those who prefer not to have children affecting the ambiance, can gather.  The Chicken and Waffles looked promising as did the Beef Brisket Hash as well as the “You Build It” combinations.

2016-08-15-17-00-25This sign describes Mad Son’s pretty well.  They have a DJ every Friday night and a nice Pandora selection otherwise.

As a departing note, Laura and Ryan’s wedding at Vista Hills near Dundee was a wonderful event, notwithstanding this particular Saturday being the only day with precipitation in the ten-day period preceding it. And was it rainy – which can be problematic in an outdoor venue.  Fortunately, we had tents and a crowd with a great NW attitude.

Now while my wife may not think that it is appropriate to post some of the first photos of their wedding in a blog about bars and beer, I think after 36 years, she will probably let the proud Father-of-the-Bride go with this indulgence, given how much I love this young couple and want to show them off.

Rainy but a wonderful occasion

Rainy but a wonderful occasion

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The old marrieds there that day talked to Laura and Ryan about the importance of good communication and listening, which opened the door to some of Thebeerchaser’s favorite quotes on that general topic:

“Don’t speak, unless you can improve the silence.”

“Light travels faster than sound.  This is why some people appear bright until they open their mouths.”

“A single fact can spoil a good argument.”

vista-hills

The beautiful Vista Hills setting

Mad Sons Pub              1109 SE Madison