Beerchasing in Idaho – Part I and The Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Mt.

2016-07-09 10.29.10

In July, we had a chance to hitchhike a road trip onto the wedding of my niece, Brooke, and her fiancé, Matt near Coeur d’aline (hereafter CDA), Idaho. The wedding, held at a beautiful, rural setting in Altho, was wonderful and it gave us a great opportunity to spend a day exploring CDA and then several days on a subsequent road trip through McCall and then Stanley, in the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains.

Pam Williams and Janet at the entrance to the historic depot

Pam Williams and Janet at the entrance to the historic depot

And, of course, Beerchasing was part of this trip. The first stop was for lunch at the Ice Harbor Brewery in Kennewick, Washington.   Sister-in-law, Pam Williams joined us on the trip to the wedding.

The brew pub at the marina on the Columbia River is much newer and we checked it out, but opted for the more historic downtown location.

2016-07-08 11.13.08

Adam and Angelique discuss lunch options with Janet and Pam

It’s in an old train depot where you could still see remnants of an old fire on the ceiling and where each time a train passes by, rattling the place to its foundation, patrons have a chance to get a discount on beer based on the result of a spinning wheel on the wall.

P1040458

The “Train Discount” Wheel

Staffers, Adam, who worked in the brewery and Angelique, who was our server, were very nice, talked about the history of the brewery – opened six years ago. I downed their good Tangerine ExBeerience – a gold medal winner at the North American Beer Awards in 2011.

P1040455

The brewery at Ice Harbor

Coeur d’aline

The famous Floating Green - I need a drink.....

The famous Floating Green – I need a drink…..

While there is no question that CDA is a tourist mecca, the downtown has a lot of character. There are a few good brewery/tavern options and one can understand based on the famous Floating Green at the Coeur d’aline Resort where countless golfers have dunked golf balls in the drink, why they want to discuss the experience over a beer.

2016-07-09 10.49.35

Décor’ consistent with the theme at Chained Up

Taphouse Unchained – this new bar with a cycling theme was spotless and sleek and had interesting décor’. It had not opened for the day but Tai and Sarah, who worked there, let me in to take some pictures.

According to some of the social media reviews on Yelp, they are still working out some of the customer service kinks.

The Moose Lounge – for Thebeerchaser, the best bar option because it reeked of character and Tara, the bartender, besides being a very interesting and attractive woman, was a wealth of information.

Bartender, Tara, at the Moose Lounge

Bartender, Tara, at the Moose Lounge

She was originally from Las Vegas, but does not like big cities.  On her journey, which eventually brought her to Idaho, she worked at the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana – a notable dive bar which will be visited on another road trip.  (see note and pictures at the end of this post for more  interesting info on the Dirty Shame)

The Moose Lounge has  animal heads (and skins….) and classic beer signs hanging from the walls, American flags, tons of old memorabilia and a large space where bands play on many evenings.  They also have karaoke and a great Trivia Night. 2016-07-09 11.08.56

While I drank a draft Blue Moon, Tara also showed me the “Moose Mug” – a 34 ounce monstrosity.  The social media reviews of this quaint place are good and unfortunately, we were not there for an evening visit, but it would definitely be worth a stop.

She also told me that the Corner Bar, although off the main drag, was a dive bar worth visiting.

2016-07-09 11.08.21

The “famous” 34 ounce Moose Mug next to my pint of Blue Moon.

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The Corner Bar  – We made a short visit to this classic dive and the second-hand smoke would hold up the ceilings if a load bearing beam ever collapsed.  Evidently Idaho law still allows smoking in some bars although I did not attempt to analyze the idiosyncratic regulations in detail.

A dive bar where you can smoke inside

A dive bar where you can smoke inside

2016-07-09 13.20.54

 

 

 

 

Crafted Taphouse and Kitchen – we had lunch at the very popular and relatively new pub, which has a spacious patio in front, fifty beers on tap and great gastro-pub food. The seafood chowder was incredible.   Crafted reminded me a bit of the Ecliptic Brewery in Portland.  Great beer selection and good food, but a little too sleek and glossier than the dark ambiance of the Moose Lounge or any dive bar for that matter.2016-07-09 10.21.41

That said, based on their website they do take pride in their venture and distinguishing their establishment from others.  “Each member of our bar staff has formal Cicerone training.” (that could be more marketing than substantive training….)

Outstanding!

Outstanding!

 

I appreciated the sign below at the front of the patio, but I guess they did not follow this warning literally as we did not see any amped up kids wandering around and Humane Society volunteers were nowhere to be seen.  It did, however, make me wonder about the converse of the statement on the sign…..2016-07-09 10.22.34

2016-07-09 12.14.54

Fifty Beers on Tap at Crafted

The CDA Hotel Bar

The CDA Hotel Bar

Finally, we strolled down to the Coeur d’aline  Resort – a luxury hotel on the water, with a great golf course and other amenities.  The bar looked pretty spiffy as well although I’m sure one would pay premium bucks for a draft beer…2016-07-09 11.52.08

 

 

 

McCall

We spent the first night in the historic Hotel McCall – opened in 1904.  McCall still maintains its charm although the city has grown tremendously as a year-round tourist mecca. Some of the best skiing in Idaho takes place at Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort.  McCall dubs itself “Ski Town – USA.”

Rachael - a future architect.

Rachael – a future architect.

We talked to Rachael, a server in the very cozy, nook bar at the hotel, who was a delightful and sharp young woman – a recent Washington State graduate who will start her Master’s in Architecture at the University of Oregon in the fall.

We drank one of the outstanding Grand Teton 208 beers that we first downed on our trip to Wyoming last year and learned that the beer is named after the Idaho Area Code 208.  Perhaps the brewery will develop another “numeric” beer soon, as Rachel reported that Idaho would soon get a second area code.

The Salmon River Brewery

The Salmon River Brewery

The Salmon River Brewery is one of three in McCall and although the space is limited, was a nice venue with some good beer and outstanding fish and chips. It is adjacent to the Hotel McCall.

Like the Ice Harbor Brewery in Kennewick (above), our server, Cynthia, told us that it’s housed in an old railroad depot – their second location for the pub.  Salmon River was hopping on that Sunday night .  The fire pit is a nice feature and I’m sure appreciated by skiers in the winter and their art is also eye-catching.2016-07-10 18.16.12

Innovative art - this is a salmon.....

Innovative art – this is a salmon…..

 

 

 

 

Their PFD Pale Ale was a silver medal winner at the 2013 North American Beer Awards.  They  have about thirteen of their own beers plus a few rotating taps which makes a nice selection of eighteen drafts.

SRB - good selection of beers

SRB – good selection of beers

SRB has an Oregon connection as explained on their website:

“Salmon River Brewery’s Co-founding owner/brewer, Matt Hurlbutt has a direct family connection to the hop fields of Oregon’s famed Willamette valley. Matt’s sister Kelly, and brother in-law Monty are the owners and operators of Weston Bend Farms. The farm is named for the location, which is situated on the most westerly bend of the Willamette river.”

The next morning we drove around Payette Lake and walked through the compact downtown area.   Janet dropped into the Country Treasures Store to browse and was a little surprised by the request made by the staff.   The propietor asked my wife, Janet, if she would mind the store for about ten minutes while she went to the grocery and bought toilet paper.   I then walked in and may not have looked as trustworthy, as proprietor then said that she would make the trip at noon!

P1040462

On the Idaho trip, we visited three good breweries, but our favorite was clearly the McCall Brewing Company.   Perhaps it was their outstanding second-floor patio overlooking Payette Lake or the more spacious quarters.  Those factors helped, but it was the graciousness and charisma of the staff and owner which sent it to the top.  P1040465

It started with Carl, the bartender, who patiently let us sample multiple beers of the twenty-four they had on tap (of which ten are their own brews) and explained each beer and the history of the brewery.

Carl, the helpful bartender

Carl, the helpful bartender

Edgar, the brewmaster, although busy, met with me and stopped so I could take pictures.  He also hailed the owner, Louie, who was a dead ringer for Sam at Cheers (Ted Danson) and they both gave a tour through the micro-brewery – right in the middle of the building and slated to expand.

Edgar - Shouldn't a good brewmaster contemplate his craft?!

Edgar – Shouldn’t a good brewmaster contemplate his craft?!

Although it had not opened for the day, he took us up to the patio and explained the interesting tail of how he became the owner in 1994.

And their beer was superb, most notably the Hippie Hopped Pale Ale which has as it’s logo a VW Bus – one that brought back memories of my dad’s red and white VW in which we toured the US in 1959 and resulted in us moving from Ohio to Oregon.

Louie on the patio - we looked for Shelley Long but she was out....

Louie on the patio – we looked for Shelley Long but she was out….

Hippie Hop Pale Ale

Hippie Hop Pale Ale next to the model of my dad’s VW

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Our last day and night 2016-07-11 19.28.49 in McCall was a real treat for both Janet and me.  My Oregon State SAE fraternity brother, Gary Barton and his wife, Kathy, live in Boise, where Gary is an investment consultant, but have a cabin just outside of McCall.   P1040474

(Gary and I sat up late reminiscing about house dances, keggers, the highlights of his time on the OSU football team under Coach Dee Andros and our college nicknames – his was “Golden Boy” and I was (and still am) “Dirt,” which may be some comment on our respective social strata in Corvallis……

They picked us up and Gary, Janet and I took a beautiful four mile hike to Boulder Lake.  Kathy cooked a wonderful dinner and we took off for Stanley in the Sawtooth Mountains – about 150 miles away, the next morning after breakfast.

Trailhead to Boulder Lake

Trailhead to Boulder Lake

The scenery and the Barton hospitality were a treat.  2016-07-11 16.39.28-1

 

Supplemental Notes on the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana

dirty shame

One of the pleasures of my Beerchasing hobby, has been the people I’ve met and what should possibly be described as the “six ABV’s of separation” in what I will label the “beer and bar community.”  Examples abound – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dr. Sam Holloway from the University of Portland (see TheBeerchaser post on 8/25/15) an internationally traveled brewery consultant, is a good friend of The Beer Goddess – Lisa Morrison (see Thebeerchaser post on 4/9/15), also a prior Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  Another coincidence is that former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence and I all cherish $2 happy hour draft PBRs.

Those in the “fraternity,” appear to be collaborative and supportive rather than competitive to others in the business.  It may also give some insight why Thebeerchaser.com is primarily about bars – their history, the bartenders and the regulars – rather than a technical analysis of beer.

That was evident on the Idaho trip.  McCall Brewing Company’s owner and brewmaster (Louie and Edgar), both told me to look up their friend and former colleague, “Mikey,” when we went to Stanley, Idaho (my next Idaho post) where he now works in the Casino Club Saloon.  The McCall Brewing staff was also trained on their bottling machine by the staff at Ice Harbor Brewery (see above) in Kennewick, WA., home of the machine’s manufacturer.

Dirty shame 3Tara, the bartender at the Moose Lounge in Coeur d’aline told me she had worked in the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana (population 248 and the most northern community in Montana) and it was a wonderful dive bar.  When I finally got in touch by phone with John Runkle, the current owner, he remembered Tara and notwithstanding the fact that his cook was gone that day and he was manning the grill, spent time chatting about his bar.

And the Dirty Shame Saloon has an incredible history which may best be appreciated by reading the two articles from the links below:

“The Not-So-Dirty-Shame Saloon” by Bill Schneider from 8/17/09 Newwest.net

http://newwest.net/topic/article/the_not_so_dirty_shame_saloon/C41/L41/

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/members/biker-bar-bounces-back/article_8ee1d2a4-cfe6-11e2-9602-0019bb2963f4.html

Dirty shame logoJohn appeared to be a guy with whom anyone would love to raise a mug and he laughed when I told him that both the Dirty Shame bars in Garden Valley, Idaho and John Day, Oregon had identical names to the original Montana Dirty Shame establishment which has trademark and copyright protection.  The John Day version on the Facebook page labels itself as “It’s a Dirty Shame Saloon,” evidently in a misguided effort to get around the intellectual property legal issues, but still uses the abbreviated name on their building etc.

John, however, seemed to be the kind of guy who is more interested in preparing for the Yaak Crawdad Festival (which he originated), Yaak Attack and the Yaaktoberfest, than lawyering up. The Crawdad Fest was moved from the spring when John maintained it was “too butt-stinging cold…”

And you will see the Dirty Shame story continues to evolve.  In the first article, Bill Scheider talks about meeting the new owner, Don Belcher, and his wife of twenty-five years, Gloria, while on a Montana cycling trip.  It turns out that Belcher, who was 81 at the time of the article, was convicted in 2011 of molestation charges and sentenced to five years probation.  The bar went into foreclosure.

John, who also owns the Yaak River Lodge, and his former partner, Ray Falzone, both of whom were paratroopers in the Army’s 509th Airborne Infantry Battalion, invested a lot of capital to bring the bar’s plumbing and interior to par.  Dirty shame before remodel

“Over the years, the Dirty Shame earned a reputation as a tough biker bar……Locals said the most captivating stories about the Dirty Shame would be inappropriate for a family newspaper.  

 ‘When we came up here, we had to pull bullet slugs out of the wall,’ Runkle said. ‘One of the owners used to shoot pool balls off the table with his .357, you know.’”

I ended my phone call by stating that an ideal future Montana road trip would include a stay at his lodge (where you can get the Moose Room for $149 per night) during the Crawdad Fest and having a beer in the Dirty Shame after visiting the world famous Clinton Testicle Festival (“Testy Festy”)  which was August 3-6th this year. Or you could stay until Thanksgiving when veterans eat for free.

Of course, those events are in the summer and fall, but if the trip was in the spring, at least we could hit the Dirty Shame’s Adult Easter Egg Hunt.  Better get your reservations soon, however, Flathead Livng Magazine recently (6/10/16) named the Dirty Shame Saloon as a gem in its Brief manual for the off-the-beaten-path seeker of roadside burgers and beer!”  Dirty Shame easter egg

The World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon       Yaak, Montana

(Photos from Dirty Shame Facebook page used with permission of John Runkle)

 

Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive

Thebeerchasing group - minus Cheryl Rath at Bill Rays on MLK Blvd.

Thebeerchasing group – minus Cheryl Rath at Bill Rays on MLK Blvd.

When I saw the March 9, 2016 Portland Mercury article entitled, “Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive: A Springboard for Bad Decisions,” I knew I had to make this great dive bar, the next stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs.

P1040531And one of the distinct pleasures of my Beerchasing hobby, has been sharing most visits with companions who like beer but perhaps concurrently have poor judgment as evidenced by the three gents in the picture above.  The photo also affirms the assertion of the Mercury reporter who also gave some evidence – the best example:

In ’47, two men hailed a Broadway Cab outside its doors, produced a revolver and submachine gun, and forced the young driver to whisk them to the hinterlands of SE 145th and Foster. They argued—drunkenly—about who should tie up the cabbie. They fled with the cab.

The trio in the photo above are Brian (Brain) King and Brien Flanagan, members of the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Natural Resources Group and John Mansfield, an intellectual property lawyer, who has his own firm – Mansfield Law is on the right.  Cheryl Rath, also a lawyer, joined us on the great patio in the back of the bar, but not in the picture is an Assistant Professor of business law, sports law and sports management in the Business School at Concordia University besides practicing law at her firm, Rath Legal.   More about this quartet after some of the scoop on Bill Ray’s:  P1040536

“Billy Ray’s has occupied that long, skinny building only since around the turn of the millennium….., but the ghosts of those past dives—of Marv’s, and the Montana, and who knows how many others—still clatter their empty mugs against the copper bar top. For me, it is the Portland dive bar…….

B. Ray’s is still maddeningly, charmingly a cash-only establishment that refuses to serve decent food (take your pick from an assortment of TV dinners, peanuts, or chips), although they welcome any outside fare you might bring in. The Medieval Madness pinball table upstairs is still somehow working. The re-entry policy—’You may re-enter Billy Ray’s once per day’—is still in force, and ‘Surfin’ Bird’ is still on the jukebox. The smell of stale beer still hits you well before you walk in.” (Excerpt from March 9, 2016 Portland Mercury article)

Having fought Portland’s ugly traffic, which redefined the meaning of gridlock (By the way, Mayor Hales, “Better Naito” doesn’t work…..) I was late.  Brian King, however, concerned about his carbon footprint and also based on his premise, “You meet very nice people on the bus after dark,” took the MLK Tri-Met Line 6 both to the bar and back to the firm late that evening.

An intellectual crew with Thebeerchaser logo.

An intellectual crew with Thebeerchaser logo.

After walking through the long, narrow and dark bar interior, I joined the others  on the patio. Brian and Cheryl were downing Tekate in cans, and I asked them why they didn’t try one of the four beers on tap (PBR, Jonny Utah Fresh Hops from Georgetown Brewing in Seattle, Lagunitas IPA and Worthy Easy Day Kolsch).

Only four beers on tap, but a lot of options in cans...

Only four beers on tap, but a lot of options in cans…

Brain responded for both of them:

“Based on the Presidential campaign, we empathize with our Mexican friends, and if Trump is going to build a wall, we think it should be with cans of our favorite Mexican beer. (empty cans I assume…)”

schwabe logo

Concern about Presidential candidate bias.......

Concern about Presidential candidate bias…….

 

 

I might add that all four lawyers were at Schwabe while I served as the Chief Operating Officer and the firm, besides having excellent lawyers, is known for its amiable culture and sense of humor.

For example, Mansfield, who last went Beerchasing with me at Church (where the bar’s motto is, “Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent”) suggested we again pin a copy of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses on the entrance to Billy Ray’s.  Not to be denied, he argued that since Billy Ray’s was on Martin Luther King Blvd. it would still be appropriate.  

"Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent and remember the 95 Theses

“Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent and remember the 95 Theses

Although many IP lawyers have undergraduate degrees in Physics, Mathematics, Chemical Engineering or other hard sciences, Mansfield is more culturally refined having received his degree at the U of O in Music (theory and composition) before earning his Masters in Political Science at Portland State and finishing his education with his law degree at Cornell where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

He tried to show his expertise in environmental topics by stating, “You know it’s not pollution or industry that is harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water.”

Spacious game room upstairs....

Spacious game room upstairs….

There were only a few people inside – more on the patio – but it’s small enough downstairs that it seemed reasonably busy.  No one was in the spacious game room upstairs with ping-pong, old fashioned pinball machines and a pool table.  Both of the bartenders I met, Mara and Tammy were friendly.

To keep things from becoming "shady

To keep things from becoming “shady

I asked Tammy the rationale for the sign about re-entry and she replied, “So we don’t have anything shady happen, although we rarely enforce it.”  I guess I’m still confused about the policy; however, I do understand why they have a cash-only policy.

Tammy - helpful and friendly

Tammy – helpful and friendly

This excerpt from the Willamette Week 2016 Bar Guide, like the Mercury article, paints a great image:

“Like Benjamin Button, Johnny Cash and Greg Oden, Billy Ray’s was born old…….. the place looks like it was left abandoned on the side of a rural highway in the 1950s and reopened by squatters who have yet to figure out how a card reader is supposed to work. In truth, its current incarnation has only been around for about a decade. ……..

The sign out front reading ‘tavern’ seems permanently on the blink, the restrooms are a scared-straight program for anyone nervous about peeing in prison, and if you order food, it’s time to seriously re-evaluate some things. All this, of course, is part of the ramshackle charm…..”

P1040538The bar is owned by Portlander, Billy Ray Lenz, and although his picture hangs in the doorway, it is not named for former Portland Trailblazer, Billy Ray Bates.

The bar actually has some interesting art, most notably, the wood mural upstairs – a map of the US which was a collaboration of fifty employees, patrons and friends and for a period hung in former Mayor Sam Adams office.

Original and collaborative art

Original and collaborative art

Now back to my companions – Brien Flanagan, although he looks very youthful, has fifteen years of experience and is the Practice Group Leader for Schwabe’s Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources Practice Group.

Given his surname, you will not be surprised that his undergraduate degree was at Notre Dame and he went on to graduate from the prestigious Georgetown Law School, where he met his wife, Nooby,

Flanagan resumeHe is a skilled litigator with a great sense of humor as you will see below.  Brien has handled all aspects of the development process including permitting; investigation and remediation of contaminated property; environmental compliance, including hazardous waste management and stormwater regulations. He knows environmental regs very well and is even working on permitting a gold mine and representing a coal mine owner in federal litigation.

At firm retreats, I used to make an award for the best e-mail each year and Brien won it in 2009 after he sent an inquiry to firm personnel for a referral to help him remove two trees at his house.   His response to the inquiries was as follows:

“Because of the number of responses I got regarding the importance of trees to the environment, please be assured that I am removing his tree purely because it disturbs the view from my living room window and it drops berries onto our patio that I find annoying.

I will be replacing it with a paved impermeable cement surface and invasive non-indigenous plants that I will treat with outdated and generally illegal pesticides.”

One would think Brien would be less naïve about asking for referrals after that although I guess he thought firm management was above some of the juvenile humor when he acted upon a facetious recommendation I gave him in 2010. He had been having some concerns with his heart and asked if anyone could recommend a Portland cardiologist.

Careful on what referral you accept on this.....

Careful on what referral you accept on this…..

As background, Portlanders (at least most who followed the news) were amazed at the media frenzy on Dr. Jayant Patel, a Kaiser physician who was labeled by the media as Dr. Death because of repeatedly botching operations and performing surgeries he was not qualified to handle.

He had previous trouble in New York and “Kaiser banned him from liver and pancreatic surgeries in 1998 after reviewing 79 complaints.  The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners later cited him for ‘gross or repeated acts of negligence.”  He was extradited to Australia where he went on trial and received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to fraud.

Brien’s e-mail to me after he called Kaiser cardiology to set up an appointment with Dr. Patel stated,”The receptionist asked me if I was trying to be funny….”

2016-07-28 20.25.12Brien redeemed himself that night by recommending that we eat at Russell’s Barbecue, less than a block away from Billy Ray’s.  We had PBR in old-fashioned bottles and each of us loved the food served by our friendly waitress, Heidi Mae seen in the picture below.

2016-07-28 20.26.57I might add that I was curious about a line of about 200 people across the street from Russell’s which appeared to be outside Bunk Bar.   John Mansfield, who represents some marijuana enteprenuers, however, informed us that they were lined up to get into the Wonder Ballroom for the free concert on the Leafly Comedy Tour.   P1040542

Cheryl Rath, the other person at Billy Ray’s although she opted to “see history being made,” when rather than joining us at Russell’s, she watched Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination.

Hillary in acceptance speech while Milania in the hat listens along with Cheryl....

Hillary in acceptance speech while Milania in the hat listens along with Cheryl….

Cheryl, besides being a great lawyer and a talented professor is also an amazing athlete.  Both she and Donald Trump are graduates of the University of Pennsylvania and then she earned her Master’s Degree in Sports Management at the University of Massachusetts before graduating from law school at the U of O.

An outstanding jump shot....

An outstanding jump shot….

——-

 

 

She was named the outstanding female athlete at Penn in 1989, where she played lacrosse and basketball and had stints as Assistant Basketball Coach at both Penn and Lewis and Clark before starting law school.

And finally, just a few words about “Brain” King, who deserves more and will be addressed in a forthcoming Beerchaser post about the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Idaho.  Brian played a key role in  my two visits to that fabled dive bar.

But he is an excellent attorney in all aspects of environmental law.  As has been implied by this post, he also has an advanced, albeit irreverent, sense of humor.  If you want a great example, read the essay he wrote that was published in Oregon Live in 2009, when he and his wife were in Denmark http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2009/12/only_the_strong_survive_julefr.html

It’s about Julefrokost, a Christmas lunch normally held in December with traditional Danish foods and lots of alcohol.   It will make you laugh in your aquavit or Tekate. For example: “One of my Danish friends told me that one of his favorite Julefrokosts,  featured a tank of helium and a karaoke machine.”  

Aquavit - Skoal!

Aquavit – Skoal!

Brian “anchors” the firm’s Corvallis office – his wife is a full professor at Oregon State University where she teaches Business Law.  He went to undergraduate school at Colorado State in Fort Collins, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa notwithstanding his propensity for frequenting the same bars that Thebeerchaser found compelling when we spent ten days in Colorado.  https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/the-town-pump-fort-collins/

His law degree is from the University of Colorado and Brian’s practice focuses on environmental and worker safety law.

Brain King offers a prayer up to his favorite beverage

Brain King offers a prayer up to his favorite beverage and the gods of Julefrokost.

And Brain likes beer, admitting that he and his wife occasionally like to drink wine, but to avoid the impression that he is not loyal to the malty brew, he often puts his empty wine bottles in his neighbor’s glass recycling bin in order not to give the wrong impression.

Upon reflection, perhaps my thirty plus years working with attorneys emanated from my experience in second grade at Miami Hills Grade School in Madeira, Ohio.   I told Miss Whipple, the teacher, that I thought the characters in our reading primer – Ted and Sally and their pets, Boots and Tuffy were boring and acted like wimps, whereupon she yelled at me, “May your life be filled with lawyers!”  

That turned out to be true and has worked out pretty well.  At least she didn’t utter the curse, “May you have visions of narcissists with orange hair…..”  I think that would have made me move to Canada……

P1040533The robust juke box added to the ambiance of Billy Ray’s and overall, The Beerchaser concurs with the premise advanced by the Mercury reporter: “Billy Ray’s is a hell of a dive!”  You should find out yourself.

Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar     

2216 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.

Beerchaser Miscellany – Five Years of Thebeerchaser

The first bar on Thebeerchaser Tour in August, 2011

The first bar on Thebeerchaser Tour in August, 2011

The Bars in Portland

Measuring Up Against a Standard

My retirement hobby – Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs started in August 2011.  The original intent was to restrict my visits and review of watering holes to Portland venues (after all, there are over 750 establishments and more breweries per capita than any other city in the world) but retirement travel opened new options.

Thebeerchaser with Janet - a supportive spouse.....

Thebeerchaser with Janet – a supportive spouse…..

The hobby is successful, in part, because of my wonderful and supportive spouse, Janet, especially when we have traveled.  Posts on Thebeerchaser include saloons in Europe, Alaska and Hawaii and many other states within the Continental US and, of course, some great bars in Central and Eastern Oregon plus those on the Oregon Coast.

After five years, the count of Portland bars is 78 and those outside of Portland number 97 for a grand total of 175.

An invaluable Beerchaser resource - the Annual Willamette Week Bar Guide

An invaluable Beerchaser resource – the Annual Willamette Week Bar Guide

 

The annual Willamette Week Bar Guide has been an invaluable resource and to demonstrate the potential future grist for this blog, I have compared the Portland venues in the 2016 WW Bar Guide to those I have reviewed in the last five years.  Keep in mind that each review requires at least two visits in addition to my on-line research before the blog posts (150 to this point) are published.

The 2016 Bar Guide has brief descriptions of the reporters’ 167 favorite Portland bars.  I adjusted downward to eliminate strip clubs, wine and cider bars, and restaurants that have bars such as Higgins – none of which I include when I select bars (exceptions were made for two of the McMenamin establishments with historic bars – the White Eagle Saloon and the St. John’s Pub and the memorable Buffalo Gap Saloon) Thus, the 2016 net figure of potential Beerchaser options in the Bar Guide was 135.

Exception made to recognize historic establishments

Exception made to recognize historic establishments

Of the 78 Portland area bars I have reviewed, there are very few I did not like or wouldn’t recommend e.g. The Yardhouse in Pioneer Place (for a host of reasons, it didn’t ‘measure up….”) and the Pearl District’s Low Brow Lounge, which had a surly staff.  Yet only 57.7% of my bars made the Willamette Week list.

The Yard House - Ambiance of an Olive Garden......

The Yard House – Ambiance of an Olive Garden……

Perhaps I need to accelerate my visits in the second five years.  It is obvious that there are still plenty of opportunities for Beerchasing without return visits to those seen from 2011 to 2016!

To see the list of bars featured  both in Portland and outside the Rose City, check out the tab entitled “List of Bars” in the header at the top of this page. There is one post for bars outside of Portland and another for those in the Portland metro area.

Are Dive Bars Disappearing?

Seattle dive bars bookIn an April 15, 2016 article in the Seattle Times, reporter, Bob Young, asserts: “Seattle’s dive bars are becoming an endangered species.”  He justifies his premise by citing the fact that, “Thirty-one of the 100 in Mike Seely’s ‘Seattle’s Best Dive Bars’ have shuttered since the book’s 2009 publication.” 

Some have expressed the same sentiment about Portland.  For example, a December 2014 article in Willamette Week entitled, “Closing Time” with a subheading,2014 Was Barmageddon in Portland.”  The article maintained that the closing of the historic bars such as Slab TownTiga, the Matador and others is the “canary in the coal mine.”  It quoted one bartender as stating, Every good bar, everything you see is going under. Everything is going straight to shi%#.”

Slabtown - gone but not forgotten....

Slabtown – gone but not forgotten….

The Portland Mercury also did an article on March 9, 2016 entitled “The Portland Dive Bar Preservation Society.” on the same theme and summarized brilliantly with this excerpt:

“Portland’s lost a bunch of dive bars recently. A few were absolute shitholes that deserved to disappear, but most were victims of circumstance and change. A number of other bars have changed ownership and been fancied up to suit the modern market. Dive bars, if not endangered, are at the very least under threat.” 

The article lists thirty-eight bar 2014 closures including institutions such as Slab Town,  the Grand Café (Frank Peters’ former establishment), the East Bank Saloon, Tiga, Pal’s Shanty and the Matador.  Although it was more of a restaurant than a bar, the picture below shows what is left of the long-term establishment the Macadam Bar and Grill which closed last year and was razed last week.   

The Grand Café is gone but back as Pour Sports Bar

The Grand Café is gone but back as Pour Sports Bar

(I mention this one only because it used to be a Mazzi’s Restaurant and my wife and I went there for our first dinner date in 1979!)

Macadam Bar and Grill - the remnants.....

Macadam Bar and Grill – the remnants…..

However, I would suggest that the concern is not as dire as it appears.  In Portland, we are fortunate to have entrepreneur’s such as Marcus Archambault and Warren Boothby who have totally renovated the historic Sandy Hut (or Handy Slut if you are a regular) and the Double Barrel.

There was concern that the wonderful Skyline Tavern would be razed and replaced by condos, but fortunately the owner invested additional capital and it was Willamette Week’s 2016 Bar of the Year.

Produce Row closed for about a year, but reopened and is thriving in the Eastside Industrial District.  Joe’s Cellar, one of my favorite NW dive bars, closed and like the proverbial Phoenix, rose again the next year and is pumping out draft PBRs like there is no tomorrow.  Both the Grand Café and Eastbank Saloon reopened as new bars (Pour Sports and the Bit House Saloon, respectively.)

New Copper Penny will turn into apartments....

New Copper Penny will turn into apartments….

But consider the recent loss of the venerable New Copper Penny in Lents, which after many years is closing as part of the Portland Development Commission’s ambitious goal to make Lents into a thriving mixed-use community.

New Copper Penny - history goes to auction

New Copper Penny – history goes to auction

What can you do?  Continue to patronize the many establishments which are truly bars and avoid the “fashionable” trend to get a beer at Starbucks or retail establishments ranging from ski shops to bicycle stores which put in a tap or two and attempt to reinvent themselves as a watering hole —-They’re Not!

Similarly, if you fly on one of the airlines now offering microbrews such as Virgin America (San Francisco’s 21st Amendment BreweryDelta (Sam Adams) or Southwest (New Belgium’s Fat Tire) and have a beer, you don’t have to tell your spouse that you stopped at a bar on your way home.

Not to be considered a dive bar or a pub......

Not to be considered a dive bar or a pub……

That said, don’t make the mistake of one Luke Thomas Watts (27) who on an Alaska Airlines flight from Sacramento to Seattle, locked himself in the bathroom and threatened to become violent if the flight attendants did not serve him a beer. The plane landed in Portland and Luke was removed.  He was indicted and went to trial in July!)  http://koin.com/2016/05/11/feds-man-locks-himself-in-airplane-bathroom-after-he-wasnt-served-alcohol/

These Brews Made the Cut….

While this blog, notwithstanding the name, is primarily about bars rather than trying to articulate the subtle taste differences between the hundreds of IPAs or analyze how hoppy a microbrew with an IBU (international bittering unit) of 60 is compared to a similar beer ten units lower, I do periodically mention beers.

Ryan popped the question - and a bottle of champagne at the summit of the South Sister in 2015

Ryan popped the question – and a bottle of champagne at the summit of the South Sister in 2015

My youngest daughter, Laura, and her fiancé’, Ryan Keene, are tying the knot on September 17th at Vista Hills Winery, right outside of Dundee. (My suggestion that the reception be held at one of my favorite Dundee dives – Lumpy’s Landing – was understandably rejected.) 

Rejected as wedding reception site....

Rejected as wedding reception site….

 

While Vista Hills has wonderful wine, there will be a few canned beers available and some family members recently got together for dinner and a blind tasting test to determine which brews would be offered during that celebration.  We tasted about ten beers that night and the following made the cut:

Oakshire Watershed IPA       Worthy Easy-Day Kolsch    Good Life Sweet As Pacific Ale

There will also be one cider – that being Portland Cider Co.’s “Hop’rageous.”

The tasting group and Wesley - making critical wedding decisions!

The tasting group and Wesley – making critical wedding decisions!

I told Ryan that his favorite professor at the University of Portland (where both of them graduated), Dr. Sam Holloway would be pleased since he sits on the Board of Eugene’s Oakshire Brewery.  Sam is also an internationally known expert on the business of brewing as documented when he was named Beerchaser of the Quarter for this blog – see link)

            ——————

What Would George Washington Think?

Thebeerchaser generally stays away from politics although the 2016 election cycle has made that more difficult.  Suffice to say that because of Beerchasing in Europe, at least unlike the Republican Presidential Nominee, I know that Belgium is a country and not “a beautiful city…..

But regardless of how tiresome the political rhetoric becomes, nothing will irritate me more than the opinion piece in Oregon Live on 2/26/16 written by the Executive Directors of the Oregon Student Association and the Bus Project entitled, Buying Postage is a Burden for Many Would-be Voters.” (click on link to see the narrative)

Usps-vanMario Parker-Milligan and Nikki Fisher, in their youthful wisdom and with righteous indignity, assert that voting by mail, “……assumes ample free time and a drawer full of stamps to get that ballot turned in….But there is a real – sometimes prohibitive (emphasis supplied)  cost getting to a post office during regular business hours….the last thing you should have to do is sacrifice needed income or time with your children to vote.”

Well Mario and Nikki, Thebeerchaser also doesn’t accept the premise that this situation is tantamount to a poll tax and suggests that rather than having urged the 2016 Oregon Legislature to enact Senate Bill 1586 to provide return postage for your ballots, that you just take your completed ballot and WALK to your nearest library or City Hall where you can return it without charge.

Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_by_Emanuel_Leutze,_MMA-NYC,_1851

Washington crossing the Delaware. They were concerned about a Stamp Act far more significant than Senate Bill 1586!

And while you are in the Library, you might want to check out a book (it’s free unless you don’t have time to return it before the due date) and read about the sacrifices that George Washington and his Revolutionary Army made when they were fighting the British from 1775 – 1783.  I’m not sure they would have agreed with you on the definition of “burden.”

(It appears that SB 1586 was enacted on 4/4/2016 with an emergency clause, although according to the Secretary of State’s Election Division, the provision for postage was deleted from the final bill.)  Since the financial impact was estimated at $1.2 million annually if every registered voter took advantage (would obviously not be the case) that is fortunate.  Perhaps these funds can be diverted to civics education in the high schools!

And Finally Since we are Talking About Elections….

Thebeerchaser’s first full-time job in 1974 after naval service was as a clerk in the Clackamas County Elections Department, where we administered and conducted both the Primary and General elections in addition to numerous school and special district elections for bond issues, levies and board-of-director contests.

Although Mario and Nikki would be appalled at how onerous the burden, that was before Vote-by-Mail and each voter, unless they cast an absentee ballot, would vote at one of the approximately 120 polling places throughout the county.

Obsolete in Oregon, but not in many states

Obsolete in Oregon, but not in many states

Each location was staffed from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM by four very dedicated and hardworking poll workers and one lead person who collectively reviewed the voter’s eligibility, had them sign the poll book and handed them the appropriate ballot.

They were generally retired ladies who worked for less than minimum wage and these great citizens were also responsible for ballot security since they returned the ballots and supplies to the Data Center in Oregon City after the polls closed.

Poll workers in an election polling location

Poll workers in an election polling location

In reviewing (and recycling based on the mandate by my spouse to “get rid of some of those outdated and unnecessary documents you have in multiple file cabinets in our garage,”) I came across one that also showed how conscientious these ladies were.

The letter below was written by Alta Bluhm, lead poll worker, at Clackamas High School during the Special School District Election on July 27, 1976 and signed by her co-workers:  Dora Burnwalt, Priscilla Coffa, Barbara Aldrich and Betty Jo Partridge:

Opal  L. Johnson (not her real name) entered Clackamas High School, became antagonistic toward the board, signed poll book  #1409, looked through poll book, received ballot #73, asked how to vote but was told we didn’t give out that information.  She hesitated a minute and then tried to leave building with (the) ballot in hand.

Our fourth clerk tried to stop her from taking the ballot from the building.  Opal Johnson then attacked her by striking her with her purse and transistor radio.  Ballot was retrieved and marked spoiled or void.”

I have a feeling that George Washington and other Founding Fathers would be justifiably proud of these five ladies and perhaps even Mario and Nikki would also share that sentiment….

Cheers - a Moretti at the Devil's Forest Pub in Venice in 2012

Cheers – a Moretti at the Devil’s Forest Pub in Venice in 2012

 

Pausing for a MoMo of Reflection……

P1040442

My recent visit to MoMo – a bar right in the heart of downtown Portland (on SW 10th Avenue one block north of the Library) made me and quite possibly, my friend, Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood, who joined me, reflect on why we didn’t make more time for this type of cultural pursuit during the earlier years of our careers.

Counselor Westwood

Counselor Westwood

Both of us worked (Jim is still billing hours as an appellate lawyer on a part-time basis at the Stoel Rives law firm) more than twenty-five years at our downtown law firms in high-rise office buildings, yet July was the first time we graced the premises of MoMo Maximo bar.  (There is disagreement on the origination of the name of this dive which has been around since 2002 and was previously a tea house.)

And the same is true for me regarding some other wonderful downtown bars within walking distance of the PacWest Center including the Tugboat Brewery, Kelly’s Olympian, Bailey’s Tap Room and the Yamhill Pub.  Thebeerchaser has reviewed all of these long-term establishments since starting this “journey” in August 2011. (The links over the names will take you to Thebeerchaser reviews)

P1040446MoMo’s is a fascinating venue, which gets mixed reviews in social media – a few very critical of staff and service levels – mostly because of its popularity and the large crowds in the bar especially on weekends.

That said, most are effusive about the expansive back patio which Willamette Week recently even included in its “Best Portland Patio Bars That Are Also Pokéstops”  – 7/12/16 W Week.  (In my mind this is tantamount to getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick…..)

Some who don’t remember the days when the interior of any bar had enough second-hand smoke to fully populate an emphysema ward, criticize the patio for the heavy concentration of smokers:P1040444

“The outdoor seating area is great, but the sheer number of smokers out there keeps me from loving this place. The patio (is) pretty large, but with so many people smoking it just fills the area and there’s no escaping it.”  Yelp 4/10/16.  We thought it was fine, however, and were sorry that we neglected to bring cigars for the occasion (see below).

Dating back to 1794

Dating back to 1794

We began with shots of one of the world’s quality scotch whiskeys – Oban.  This fourteen-year old whiskey was described in a review by the Scotch Noob blog as:

“A satisfying dessert dram. Honeyed and full-bodied, it reminds me a lot of white port, but with more bite. It’s hard to imagine anyone not loving Oban 14.”  

And it has a great tradition with the distillery in the West Scottish Highlands dating back to 1794. The rationale for the fine whiskey was to toast the memory of our mutual friend, and my colleague for many years at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, Tim Haslach, who on July 6th lost his long and heroic battle with cancer.

Tim and Sara

Tim and Sara

An apt description of Tim as a person is the following: “He had a HUGE heart, was insanely loyal, loved his two kids completely and would have given anyone here, the shirt off his back if needed.”

Tim was also an outstanding attorney and partner:

“…an AV rated lawyer with Martindale-Hubbell, a testament to the fact that his peers considered him at the highest level of professional excellent.  He was a pioneer and giant in his field (consortia model for technology standards), known and respected internationally.  Equally important to him was his work for non-profits such as the Black Parent Initiative, Oregon Sports Authority and Jamii Moja.”  Haslach-Timothy Schwabe

But besides being a wonderful family man and a respected lawyer, his athletic achievements were notable:

“Tim was an accomplished athlete, having been an Oregon High School State Swimming Champion, an All-American Swimmer, United States Masters Swimmer, and a rugby player at Santa Clara. After graduating law school, Tim added sailing, skiing, body boarding, and golfing to his athletic pursuits.

1937257_1164769799603_7033498_nIn 1991, Tim found his way back to the pool and was part of a successful English Channel Relay Swim. He crossed the channel again in 2001 as part of the Team Gaffney Relay, which raised money for The Karen Gaffney Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and dedicated to championing the full inclusion of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.” 

The Gaffney Team after the successful swim of the English Channel.  Tim first in the back row and Karen Gaffney in the front.

TeamGaffney after the successful swim of the English Channel. Tim first in the back row and Karen Gaffney in the front.

 

13557897_1086988388016951_6531069354180020794_n

http://www.riverviewcemeteryfuneralhome.com/obituary/Timothy-Tim-Francis-Haslach/Portland-OR/1637990

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/some-reflections-tim-haslachs-professional-brad-biddle

Now while the loss of our friend was a time for reflection and toasting Tim’s memory, we also had an opportunity to celebrate a significant achievement by Jim’s son, David.

David followed his dad’s Ivy League graduate school footsteps (Jim graduated from law school at Columbia) The afternoon we met at MoMo’s, David’s defense of his Ph.D. dissertation was formally approved at Harvard Univeristy.  His area of study – Chemical Biology.

David at Brookhaven

Dr. David Westwood at Brookhaven National Lab

No, that’s not biochemistry, but try out this explanation from the Harvard website:

Chemical biology is a rapidly growing field that combines the rigor and quantitative aspects of traditional chemistry and biochemistry programs with the excitement and medical relevance of modern molecular, cellular, organismic, and human biology.”

This above photo is David at the Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, standing by the huge X-ray machine that’s about to bombard (and destroy) a microscopic protein crystal he has carefully prepared. The aim is to determine the structure of the protein from the scatter image, the better to use it for application in attacking diseased or pathogenic cells.

Now our toast to David was with PBR-filled mugs; however, I am sure that as his career progresses, he will rate an Oban salute too.

___ the friendly bartender at work

Aaron, the cordial and helpful bartender at work

Mo Mo Maximo was a good stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Pubs and Taverns.   Aaron, the bartender, was a friendly guy, the deck was superb and the maroon interior with spacious booths, pool tables and an interesting bar added to the dive-bar ambiance.

Notwithstanding the fact that Jim and I both partially rely on Medicare as our healthcare delivery system, we were not disappointed in our reception even after the admonition by this October, 2010 reviewer in Portland Barfly:

P1040448

“This place is just fine to go to if you are in your 20’s or 30’s……Anyone over 40 will probably not be wanting to come here cause its a little young.”

Perhaps this emphasis on the younger crowd explains the puzzling assertion by City Search in its description and reviews of MoMo, that “persons who like MoMo might also enjoy the Sylvan Learning Center.….??!”

And I don’t think our acceptance by the regulars was based on recognition of Jim’s celebrity status from his 1965 gig as captain of the notable Portland State College GE College Bowl team which set records on the nationally-televised program or celebrity-struck deference to his stint as a weatherman for KGW in non-prime time slots during the same era.

A young Jim Westwood with College Bowl teammates and coach Ben Padrow

A young Jim Westwood with College Bowl teammates and coach Ben Padrow (Portland State Magazine, May 2, 2005)

And if I might digress for a moment since this is a time for reflection, the accomplishents of the PSC team were notable as documented in this excerpt from the PSU archives:

“The final (championship match) score, 415 – 60 (against Birmingham Southern U.), marked only the second time a team had broken the 400 mark. Along the way to five straight wins, PSC set several College Bowl records:

Most total points scored in five games; most points scored in a single game; lowest total points scored by opponents; and most games in a row over 300. The producer of the GE College Bowl program told team members they had shown “the greatest team effort” he ever had witnessed during the more than 220 previous shows. (“Portland State and the GE College Bowl” by Clarence Hein – PDX Scholar)

Although a lot of the Mo Mo clientele are millennials, the patrons we saw appeared to personify the eclectic description way back when it opened in the fall of 2002 as described by a reporter from the Portland Tribune: “……(the lunch hour when) librarians from the downtown library come in on a break, is busy, too. Early in the evening, happy hour attracts area workers, and later in the night employees from nearby Jake’s Grill stop in for a nightcap.”

Jim used public transportation to make the return trip to his NE Portland home and assured me that he was not going to further his alcohol consumption while making part of the trip by Streetcar, thereby taking advantage of information conveyed in an August 8, 2015 Willamette Week article entitled, “Take the Portland Streetcar drinking tour. (Trolley Drunk)”.  

Portland Streetcar - A Drunk Delivery Device??

Portland Streetcar – A Drunk Delivery Device??

The journey “…..on the slow-moving, easy-riding streetcar is the perfect drunk-delivery device,” and the weekly paper’s recommended eleven stops included Mo Mo and former Beerchaser Pearl District bars Life of Riley (March 2016 review) and the Low Brow Lounge (June 2015 review).

To conclude, while the number has increased, there is still a paucity of good bars in the core downtown area and MoMo’s dark and spacious interior (described in this Portland Barfly summary) complemented by the bright and expansive patio along with friendly bartenders are a winning combination and merit a visit:

Grotto like with spacious booths

Grotto like with spacious booths

“A wondrous, jarring, thoroughly misplaced grotto remains from the former tea house, and Momo’s wisely……. left things alone beyond a few strands of Christmas lights less tacky than rakish given the context – Easter Island lounge as abandoned evidence of a once great culture utterly ignored by the natives currently in residence.”

And if you do drop by, raise a mug (or a shot glass) to the memory of Tim Haslach.

final picture of Tim

MoMo Bar Maximo        NW 10th Avenue  Portland

Thebeerchaser in Montana and Wyoming – Part II

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Part I of our Montana and Wyoming trip in 2015 was posted on this blog this February.  It reviewed the wonderful bars in the city of Missoula – a great college town, but also one filled with bars laden with character and history among them Charlie B’s, the Oxford and the Stockman.

The Tetons

The Tetons

And don’t forget some outstanding breweries including Draught Works, Flathead Lakes and Kettle Mountain Breweries.  You can review the post by clicking on the following link: https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/02/12/thebeerchaser-does-montana-and-wyoming-part-1/

Eric, Cassie and Annabelle Hall

Eric, Cassie and Annabelle Hall

From Missoula we traveled southward to Helena on the way to Wyoming and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Helena is home to our friends, Dr. Eric Hall, his wife Cassie and her mom, Candy, and their wonderful little daughter, Annabelle.

Both work for Carroll College in Helena, which has an impressive campus.  Ph.D. Eric is an Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy and is working on his second book.

His first book, co-authored in 2014, was entitled: Groundless Gods: Post-Metaphysical Philosophy of Religion.  Dr. Hall is an extremely intelligent and learned guy and is also a great bar companion.  (I learned a lot about Thomas Aquinas and Rene Descartes when Eric linked the latter’s advocacy of dualism to an assertion that both Budweiser and micro-brews have redeeming social value).

Caroll has an outstanding academic program of which the football team can be proud…..It was ranked # 1 in Western Regional Colleges in the latest US News and World Report collegiate academic rankings.  Cassie, the college’s Registrar, also has an impressive background, having played soccer at the University of Washington where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and then earned her Master’s Degree at Claremont Graduate University. 

And the college has also had some notable football teams in the past:Carroll_College_Helena,_MT_Seal

The Carroll Fighting Saints football team began playing in 1920 and is one of the most successful programs in the NAIA division of college football. The program has won six NAIA Football National Championships and 40 conference championships, 14 while a member of the Montana Collegiate Conference and 26 as a member of the Frontier Conference.

The team is currently coached by Mike Van Diest who in his 12 seasons at Carroll, has compiled a career record of 144–20. His winning percentage of.878 is the third highest of any head coach with at least ten seasons of experience in college football history…”

St. Charles Hall at Carroll College

St. Charles Hall at Carroll College

It certainly bears noting that on the way to Helena, along US Highway 12, we passed through Clinton and I was captivated by the signs advertising  the Annual Testicle Festival, the World’s  largest.  It attracts 15,000 people each  year and as you might expect, it is not considered to be a family-type outing.

Rock Creek Lodge, just outside of Clinton, is the home of the Testy Festy where a $20 general admission ticket will gain you entrance to:

“………the world’s largest testicle festival every fall attracting more than 15,000 fans annually to its five day event.  Tossing around its motto, ‘I had a ball at the Testicle Festival,’ the festival feeds over 2 ½ tons of bull balls to its many hungry revelers. 

Not only can you get a taste of these yummy delicious deep-fried bull’s testicles, but while you’re there, you’ll no doubt want to participate in the bull-chip throwing contest, the wet t-shirt or hairy chest competitions, and bull-shit bingo.”

Rocky Mountain Oysters -- Really!!

Rocky Mountain Oysters — Really!!

And in case you thought that Rocky Mountain Oysters were shipped in from the coast after being harvested from the Pacific Ocean, this item on the menu consists of:

“USDA approved bull testicles(used) in preparing the delicacy……also known as Rocky Mountain Oysters. The membrane is peeled, marinated in beer, breaded four times, and deep fried to result in what appears to be a fat breaded pork tenderloin.”

While attendance at this “seminal” event will have to wait for another Beerchaser road trip, we pushed on to Helena where we toured the city and visited two breweries/pubs with Eric and Cassie:

Blackfoot River Brewing Company

http://blackfootriverbrewing.com

and

Lewis and Clark Brewing Company

http://lewisandclarkbrewing.com/brewery/

P1030613Blackfoot River Brewing Company and Tap Room is right in the heart of Helena and its two levels with a nice second-floor patio add to the enjoyment. The idiosyncratic Montana alcohol laws again were apparent by the sign stating:  “Montana law does however, limit consumption to 48 ounces per person, per day and only until 8pm,”

That means 8:00 PM even on weekends and meant we had to buy a ticket first and then obediently hand it to the bartender to get a twelve-ounce glass – you can’t even get a pint!   It makes one wonder why a state known for its rugged individualism and independence (which undoubtedly saw a lot of bar fights and cowboys throwing down shots at 3 AM in the past) allows a paternal regulation which doesn’t make a lot of sense. (I neglected to ask Eric what John Locke, the Father of Liberalism would think about this situation.)

Montana Tap Rooms Black River) - no tickee, no brewie....

Montana Tap Rooms Black River) – no tickee, no brewie….

Black River was founded in 1998 by three home brewers (a story Thebeerchaser has founded repeatedly in his five-year journey). It is another case of successful planning and growth as evidenced by this exerpt from their website:

“In May of 1998 the dreams of a brewery were coming to fruition in a recently vacated garage building located next door to Miller’s Crossing.

Given the bank loan, lots of creativity, loads of hard work, and help and encouragement from many friends, Blackfoot River Brewing Company became a functional brewery.   In October of 2008, after eight years of thriving in the cozy environment of the original building, the brewery moved into a wonderful new facility built on what used to be a parking lot next to the old brewery.”

 The Lewis and Clark Brewery

House in an historic building

Housed in an historic building

It is housed in a very cool, historic and expansive structure with great ambiance (considerably better than Black River if you only have time to visit one in Helena).  Part of the structure dates back 125 years.  And at least it’s open until 10 PM Sunday – Tuesday and 11:00 the remainder of the week.

“The oldest building is the Stone ‘Smokehouse’ which was built by T.C. Power in 1885 to smoke meats. Shortly thereafter the ‘Packing & Provisions’ building was built and was used as a 3 story ‘Ice-House’ with ice removed from the lakes in the winter then transported up the pass by rail and stored in caves until brought back down in the summer and hoisted up to the third floor to cool the entire building  P1030620

Montana Packing & Provisions Company closed the property (and it) could have been used as a jail (although no historical records support this so maybe the bars were installed for security), then a seed warehouse. Later it became the birthplace of Columbia Paint.”

P1030693From Helena we traveled southward to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. As a side note, since we are retired, we usually visit our wonderful National Parks while school is in session, but other travel plans precluded it and we wondered what the crowds would be like in the middle of July.     P1030694

We were pleased, however, that although there were a lot more people, it never seemed overwhelming – even at destinations such as Old Faithful. It did require, however, making reservations well in advance and we stayed in West Yellowstone at a somewhat dilapidated old motel that cost a lot more than it should have for two nights, because we could not get lodging in the Park.

Yellowstone Falls - may look like a painting but the real thing!

Yellowstone Falls – may look like a painting but the real thing!

And the first National Park in the US (dedicated by President Grant in 1872) was spectacular.   I had not visited since my family camped there during the earthquake in 1959.  (I still remember the shaking and the animals howling in the middle of the night from this 7.5 magnitude quake which killed twenty-eight people not too far from our campground.)

The scenery is dynamic – from bubbling muddy pools to Old Faithful to Yellowstone Falls to the wild animals – including the bison which roam freely and don’t seem to care about the highways and vehicles which invade their domain as the picture below shows.

This is MY territory...

This is MY territory…

And oh yes, while it was not a highlight, since this is a blog about bars and taverns, our beer at the Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon in West Yellowstone, is worth at least a mention.

It had a bunch of Harleys out front and one young guy in the saloon said to the bartender:

“I want to thank you for kicking me out of here last night which kept me from getting the crap beat out of me a few minutes later.”

P1030640You know when the men’s john has the label seen in the picture below, that this watering hole, which has live music four nights per week in the bar, has some character.  P1030639

Their pepperoni and sausage pizza was also recently named the best in Northwest (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Colorado) in the International Pizza Competition in Las Vegas.  Had we known, we would have definitely had a pizza there!

 

2015-07-24 10.15.29While Grand Teton is less expansive than its neighboring park only twelve miles to the north, the spectacular view of this forty-mile long mountain range (without foothills because of the geological origination) rising abruptly from the prairie, has to rival Grand Canyon for its breathtaking beauty.

Jackson Lake Lodge - Amazing!!

Jackson Lake Lodge – Amazing!!

And better planning allowed a two-night stay in the Park at the marvelous Jackson Lake Lodge. Staring at the peaks while drinking a cold micro-brew and devouring a great burger in the Lodge bar, while listening to a performer’s impressive version of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” now makes me wonder why candidate Trump harps on the slogan “Make America Great Again.”       

Van Morrison would approve

Van Morrison would approve

Not that we don’t have significant challenges which need strong direction and discipline to overcome, but failure to recognize the nation’s blessings as evidenced by such visionary accomplishments as the National Park System and focusing on the negative is not the kind of leadership we need.

A raft trip down the Snake River in which we saw eagles, moose and elk, and a four-mile hike to Taggart Lake were highlights of our second day in the Park and then a stay in nearby Jackson (formerly known as Jackson Hole) was our final night before starting the journey back to Oregon. (Solitude Float Trips and our guide, Justine Evans were A+)

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Janet Williams on the Snake River

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And Jackson was hopping and home to many restaurants and bars we unfortunately did not get to visit because of time constraints.   That said we did enjoy our time at a few venues in this tourist town.

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Although we stopped in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar because we had heard a lot about it, we didn’t have a beer.  First, there was a cover charge (although it is not advertised on their website) and secondly, it reminded us of the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau that we visited in 2012.  P1030733

Kind of garish and with little character – just a lot of bucks spent on touristy décor and an emphasis on their retail sales although it does have live music and dancing and they brag about authentic western memorabilia and features such as real saddles for bar stools…..

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We then hit a neat little brewery, however – Melvin Brewery.  It actually shares space with a Thai restaurant (Thai Me Up).  The bartender was friendly, offered a lot of samples and they had good beer – an impressive nineteen on tap.

Their Indian Pale Ale won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup earlier this year.

Melvin - impressive beer for a small operation

Melvin – impressive beer for a small operation

And dinner at Gather, a superb restaurant where, as is our custom, we ate at the bar and met some people from Boston who were in Jackson for one of the many business conventions that come to town.

Fortunately, we got there late for their “reverse happy hour” (from 9 PM till close) and I had the best gin martini on the trip.

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We left Jackson heading east for the two-day drip home to Portland.

Shortly after we left town, we passed Grand Teton Brewing Company.  Although closed, it was nice to see the home of outstanding beer we had enjoyed throughout the trip.

Two of the outstanding beers from Grand Teton

Two of the outstanding beers from Grand Teton

This brewery which claims to be, “…….the original brewery of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We have been brewing our handcrafted beers at the base of the Tetons since 1988,” is actually located in Teton Valley, Idaho which is on the west side of the mountain range.

And the narrative from their website, although fairly bold and which might be challenged by some Oregon brewers, seemed to be validated by the excellence of their beer – even though only bottled where we could get it – especially two of their signature brews – 208 and the Sweetgrass American Pale Ale.

“Our water is glacial run-off, filtered over 300-500 years by Teton Mountain granite and limestone before it surfaces at a spring a half mile from the brewery. Teton Valley grows the world’s best malting barley, and Southern Idaho includes some of the finest hop farms in the world.”

Janet and the Bartons

Janet and the Bartons

We spent the last night in Boise, where after forty-five years, I reunited with Gary “Golden Boy” Barton, who also was an SAE at Oregon State and is an investment consultant in Boise.  We had a great dinner with Gary and his wife, Kathy.

Our ten-day trip covered a lot of miles, but the clarion call from Montana and Wyoming to return for the majestic scenery and great bars and breweries will lure Thebeerchaser back for another road trip.

Cheers to Montana and Wyoming

Cheers to Montana and Wyoming

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June 2016 Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter — Oboist Kelly Gronli

Kelly Gronli

Kelly Gronli is a wonderful mom and a professional musician who has assiduously worked on her craft since she was ten – she’s also a superb music teacher and the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  See her remarkable story below.

800px-Oboe_modernI was privileged to first meet her four years ago – about one year after I retired.   I played the oboe for three years in junior high, but gave it up because of the conflict with high school athletics.   At the Marylhurst University Annual Dinner in 2012, I asked Dr. John Paul, Director of Music, if they had any adjunct faculty members who were oboe instructors.

Thus began my relationship with this extraordinary musician who is the Principal Oboe for the Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre and the Eugene Symphony and frequently plays in Oregon Symphony appearances.

After Kelly switched from piano to oboe

After Kelly switched from piano to oboe

Her musical talents first surfaced when she was three and asserted, “Mom, it’s about time we girls started playing the piano!”  Those lessons started the musical journey that saw her Advanced Band instructor relent after he initially said, “No you didn’t!” Kelly showed him that she had, in fact, memorized the complete major and minor scales.  

Kelly’s mom was her mentor and manager and found both the orchestras and bands in which Kelly played through junior high and high school.  She started going to summer music camp at age 11 at the Sewanee Music Festival on the campus of University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee – her summer routine for five years.

I have learned in my lessons when Kelly hums or sings an excerpt in dulcet tones from a piece I am trying to learn, that she also has a strong and beautiful singing voice.  Perhaps this was honed by her youthful roles in such productions as “The Music Man” when she was in grade school as illustrated below.

A leading role in "The Music Man" while in middle school.

A leading role in “The Music Man” while in grade school.

Her music instructors opened doors and she graduated from high school one year early so she could go to music conservatory at Harid Conservatory – at age 16.  Tuition was by scholarship and the only cost was for housing.

She was the youngest of about 60 students of which about 80% were gifted foreign students.  She lived on campus in Boca Raton, Florida, a distance from her home in Vienna, Virginia. (Harid is now a school of ballet.)  She majored in Music Performance and during the summers she performed at embassies in the Washington DC area.

A "young" Kelly at a recital while at Hared Conservatory

A “young” Kelly at a recital while at Sewanee – University of the South

Next came graduate school in the Chicago area (Evanston) at Northwestern University where she worked on her Master’s Degree in Music:

“The woodwinds program of Northwestern University has a long and distinguished history – it combines the study of performance, pedagogy, music theory, music history, and scholarly research and writing.”

She achieved this goal in one year when she was just over twenty (while part-time waitressing) and her Master’s recital featured the challenging Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss (Concerto in D major for Oboe and Small Orchestra).  The video below is the First Movement in Saint Saen’s Oboe Sonata – one of the other pieces played in that recital.  (You may have to turn your volume up slightly for this first video. The videos below are YouTube and you may have to left-click on the square to engage the video)

Another example of her ability to make beautiful music with the oboe is exemplified by one of my favorite hymns I asked her to play spontaneously at one of my lessons:

A weekend trip with a friend to the University of Wisconsin at Madison is where she first laid eyes on Patrick, the guy who would become her future spouse (now of twelve years).  

Kelly and Patrick (he also plays the drums)

Kelly and Patrick (he also plays the drums)

While living in Evanston, she decided to audition for Second Oboe in the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra – a part-time position in which she competed with nineteen other people to win the chair.

I was curious about what constitutes an audition for such a position so I asked Kelly about the typical audition experience she labels as “expensive, stressful and difficult.”

“An audition is run in rounds. The first round or preliminary round is always blind or behind a curtain. Each candidate is assigned a number and everyone plays the same pieces usually comprised of a portion of a solo work (almost always the exposition of the Mozart oboe concerto, for an oboe audition) and a few excerpts from orchestral works.

People usually play for about 10 minutes. The audition committee will then make cuts and decide who they want to hear again. If there aren’t many candidates to begin with the second round could end up being the final round or the committee can decide to hear just a couple of candidates again. Sometimes candidates will be asked questions during the finals, usually inquiring about moving to a new city or something on their resume. An audition can last 1 day or a few days depending on the number of candidates.  

Tacoma Symphony Orchestra

Tacoma Symphony Orchestra

Well, she was awarded the position and she and Patrick moved to Tacoma where Kelly also became the Principal Oboe in the Bellvue Philharmonic Orchestra.  Waitressing duties at  a Ruby Tuesday restaurant  also were on the agenda and meant she was able to spend time around people besides musicians….

A move to Portland came next to balance the distance between Tacoma and Eugene after Kelly, in a competition with twenty-five people, became  Principal Oboe in the Eugene Symphony.  By that time she was giving oboe lessons to about fifteen adult and younger students.  While in Portland, Kelly soon began to sub in the Oregon Ballet under Director and Conductor, Neil De Pointe.

The English Horn - larger than an oboe but still double reed

The English Horn – neither English nor a horn….

Adding to her resume were some appearances as a sub in the Oregon Symphony under new Musical Director Karlos Calmar, playing the English Horn – another instrument in the Kelly Gronli arsenal……(You will hear her play it in two of the duets below.)  She also became a good friend with Oregon Symphony Assistant Principal Oboe, Karen Wagner.

Meanwhile, Patrick graduated magna cum laude in Geography from Portland State University and the couple got married in 2004 – five years and one day after they met in Madison.  He now works for Northwest Natural Gas Co.

Another successful audition and Kelly’s resume now included Principal Oboe for the Portland Opera in addition to continuing similar positions with the Eugene Symphony and the Oregon Ballet – while still teaching.  In her “spare time” she was elected as a Director on the Executive Board of Musician’s Union Local 99.

12313527_10153164283550658_365572813242749224_nIn 2011, Kelly and Patrick welcomed their first child, Dane, who I know from my interactions with him during the last four years as a delightful and personable five-year old, who loves his new sister, Piper, their daughter who just turned one-year old in May.

Piper - one year old

Piper – one year old

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Kelly with Yitzhak Perlman

It is a privilege to have an instructor, who is not only a gifted communicator, but also has such extensive experience ranging from playing under Director John Williams on multiple occasions, but has also appeared with such luminaries as the world’s pre-eminent violinist, Yitzhak Perlman (three times); cellist, Yo Yo Ma, Marvin Hamlisch in addition to playing in the orchestra during appearances by Roberta Flack, Ray Charles and Debbie Reynolds.

Another highlight was playing with Phish’s  (Patrick’s favorite rock band) guitarist, composer and vocalist, Trey Anastasio, when he played at the Oregon Symphony.  Patrick also plays the drums in his own band.

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Kelly with Trey Anastasio of Phish

And while Kelly’s musical career has been noteworthy, balancing her part-time positions in different cities, motivating her students with continued admonitions – if I’m typical…… (“sit up straight, breathe from your diaphragm, look ahead at the notes in the music, fix your embouchure, sit up straight…..”) and being a good parent is a continuing balancing act.

Asked to identify her most stressful moments, she immediately offered two – Playing a concert with the Eugene Symphony while suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy.  After the performance she burst into tears and went to the Emergency Room.

  • Playing a concert in Eugene while she was nine-months pregnant because there was no back-up oboe in the Eugene Symphony at that time (the baby was delivered the next day).

The most traumatic occurrence dates back to Feburary 11, 2007 when she and two Eugene Symphony colleagues (Kjersten Oquist and Angela Svendsen) were commuting back to Portland late one Sunday evening after a rehearsal in Eugene.  A woman, who was later convicted of manslaughter, DUI and assault, collided head-on with their vehicle near Albany after the woman drove the wrong direction in the northbound lane of I-5.   Kelly’s two colleagues were both killed in the resulting collision. The driver received a sixteen-year prison sentence.

Kelly the craftsperson at work on a reed..

Kelly the craftsperson at work on a reed..

Kelly also is a craftsperson, of sorts, since she makes oboe reeds for her own use and that of her students.  The oboe is one of the few woodwinds (besides the bassoon and the English horn) that employs a double reed.

This idiosyncratic mouthpiece “consists of two pieces of cane fastened together with an opening at the tip (which are) fastened to a metal tube, the lower half of which is normally surrounded by a piece of piece of cork.”   (The tube is inserted into small opening at the top of the instrument.)  WikipediaOboe_Reed

Oboe reeds are only 7 millimeters in width and very fragile and temperamental leading to the joke: “How may oboists does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Twenty, because they will have to try that many to find one that works for them.” 

How many oboists to screw in a light-bulb...?

How many oboists to screw in a light-bulb…?

The “temperament” of the oboe reed and the very specific structure of the “embouchure” (the way in which a player holds the reed in his or her mouth) may be one reason why learning to play an oboe is so difficult and the sound emanating can range from “horrific to hand sculpted by an angelwith no middle ground whatsoever.”

While at times Thebeerchaser has reflected that trying to re-learn the oboe in retirement is a fool’s errand, it has been a worthwhile experience.  After all, I met an inspirational instructor, friend and superb professional musician in Kelly Gronli.

The highlights were appearances in the last two years at the Pittock Mansion during the Christmas holidays, when at Kelly’s urging, four of us (Pianist, Faith Carter; Flutist, Sarah Rose and Kelly and I on oboe) played one of the two-hour gigs the Mansion offers to volunteer musicians while visitors are touring the impressive dwelling.

From l to r - Sarah Rose, Santa, Don Williams, Faith Carter and Kelly Gronli

From l to r – Sarah Rose, Santa, Don Williams, Faith Carter and Kelly Gronli

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Before the first appearance in 2014, Kelly advised me that eating a banana would help with nerves.  She was correct although I have to admit to supplementing that fruit with a shot of vodka before I left the house (I wanted a vegetable extract too…..)

To listen to one of the lighter numbers we played at the Pittock during our last practice session, click on the video below:

And finally, two short duets (oboe and English horn) with Kelly and one of her students………..whose motivation to re-learn the oboe has significantly increased his affinity to drink beer!

You will see and hear more from Kelly Gronli as she continues to teach and entertain classical musical fans throughout the Northwest in the coming years.  Raise a mug to the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter!

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Look-out for the Ranger Station

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There are a number of classic dive bars in Portland’s noted Barmuda Triangle in southeast Portland.  Thebeerchaser has enjoyed a number of these including the Bar of the Gods and Tanker Bar (see posts on 10/3/12 and 4/29/13).  It was therefore a nice surprise to discover a relatively new neighborhood bar at 42nd and SE Hawthorne.

P1040389The Ranger Station has only been around for a little over two years and its previous incarnations during the last ten years were also bars – Vertigo (closed in 2012) and then the Thorne Lounge.

Consultant, Dave Hicks

Consultant, Dave Hicks

My first of two visits to the Ranger Station was with San Franciscan, Dave Hicks.  “West Coast Dave” gets to Portland regularly on consulting trips and besides being my favorite Princeton graduate, is a Beerchaser regular, having visited the Double Barrel, Sloans’ Tavern and Crackerjacks among others on prior Beerchasing ventures.

The Ranger Station is a quaint a low-key bar, but has some limitations – the primary one being space. “There’s probably at least one snow-bound Alaskan ranger with a larger liquor cabinet than this pub..” (2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide)  It’s essentially a one-room rectangle with a small patio area adjoining and this may be one of the reasons that the duration of the prior two bars in this space is comparable to the half-life of a college education.

Small patio area

Small patio area

The room fills up quickly, especially since they have live entertainment most evenings and there are only a limited number of booths and tables.

The weeknight we were there, people were standing in rows between tables waiting for seats to open since the entry area is also pretty small.

Live entertainment in close proximity......

Live entertainment in close proximity……

Given acoustical and space limitations, it’s almost too small to have live music – the night we were there, a four- piece blue grass group played and in addition to not being overly talented, they eliminated the ability to have any ongoing conversation.

Dave Hicks savors his

Dave Hicks savors his “Half Bird”

That said, the food at the Ranger Station is a strength – particularly the elk burger ($12), which I devoured and the venison stew ($8) with meat purchased at Nicky USA Farms in Aurora and the Bucker’s Brussels ($7) – deep fried and slow seared with bacon, carmelized onion and a mustard vinaigrette sauce.

I chatted with Coltonan amiable part-time chef, and he expressed pride in the menu  and their skill with the grill.  Reviews of the food on social media are generally positive including this one from Dude on Yelp last November, which might be a tad over-stated:

“The food here is so good it makes me wanna climb the highest peak and punch the face of God.”  Perhaps this guy had too many Campfire Coffees (coffee with Makers Mark bourbon and cream and sugar)!

And the prices are pretty reasonable: for example you can get a happy-hour Ranger Burger for $6.50 or Tacos for $5 and try the chef’s choice of flavored pop-corn for only a buck.  Colton emphasized the reliance on local vendors such as Sheridan FruitGrand Central Bakery and Newman’s Fish Market.

TJ, the bartender, serving "Murph: - a Ranger Station regular

TJ, the bartender, serving “Murph: – a Ranger Station regular

Another limitation, however, appears to be lack of staffing especially given the bar’s popularity.  You order both your drinks and food at the bar and the night we were there the only individual taking orders and making drinks was quite harried and spent a lot of time in the kitchen which created a line waiting to order.

Servers bring the food, but the expectation appears to be that you bus your own dishes after your finish. “There is also a dish bin conveniently located for customers to bus their own tables and a tipping option – before the food is prepared.”  (Yelp 6/6/16)

Low-key decor

Low-key décor

The décor is cool and understated.  According to TJ, the bartender I talked to on my second visit and who has worked there since the opening, the owner did all the work on the knotty-pine bar and booths, himself.

There are items such as shovels, axes, lanterns, cross country skis, etc.  hanging on the wall to convey a forest-type environment.

“If you somehow woke up inside the Ranger Station, it would be easy to believe you were actually inside a ranger station. The tiny and rustic Hawthorne District bar looks very much like a Roosevelt-era public works cabin, from the picnic-table-style wooden benches to slatted lawn chairs.

Framed topographic maps and acoustic guitars hang from the walls, and a malfunctioning stove hood provides a cool draft from the kitchen. It’s a decidedly simple place.”  (2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide)

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The Hug Point

Hicks raved over the Hug Point (Hornitos tequila, grapefruit and cranberry) one of five cocktails they serve, and on my first visit, I downed a strong Czech Pilsner from Bouy Beer Company in Astoria  (6.2 ABV – 35 IBU), one of the seven draft beers and one cider available.  My next visit, I attacked a good Hood River beer – a Double Mountain Kolisch (5.2 ABV – 40 IBU)

And perhaps I digress, but as long as the subject is ranger stations and a forest-type environment, it provides an opportunity to praise an absolutely marvelous book by New York Times columnist and author, Timothy Egan –  The Big Burn – which weaves a fascinating narrative on two topics:

  • Teddy Roosevelt’s and Gifford Pinchot’s efforts to fight the robber barons of the timber and mining companies and the railroads to preserve the public lands as a national treasure for every citizen.
  • The fire which started in August 20, 1910 that moved through the parched forests of Oregon, Idaho and Montana in a raging inferno, killing many and devouring towns:

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“Forest rangers had assembled nearly 10,000 men – college boys, day-workers, immigrants from the mining camps – to fight the fire.  But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers or anyone else knew how to subdue them……

….The Big Burn saved the forests even as it destroyed them: the heroism shown by the rangers turned public opinion permanently in their favor and became the creation myth that droved the Forest Service….”

And since I opened the door with a small side trip about Tim Egan’s book, to give you another sample of his colorful writing, check out his New York Times opinion piece on 6/9/16 entitled, “Lord of Lies.”  While Thebeerchaser does not usually venture into the political realm, this one is too relevant and noteworthy to ignore:

I no more expect CNN to set Wolf Blitzer’s beard on fire than to instantly call out the Mount Everest of liars. Trump lies about big things (there is no drought in California) and small things (his hair spray could not affect the ozone layer because it’s sealed within Trump Tower). He lies about himself, and the fake self he invented to talk about himself. He’s been shown to lie more than 70 times in a single event.

Professional truth-seekers have never seen anything like Trump, surely the most compulsive liar to seek high office. To date, the nonpartisan PolitiFact has rated 76 percent of his statements lies — 57 percent false or mostly false, and another 19 percent ‘Pants on Fire’ fabrications. Only 2 percent — 2 percent! — of his assertions were rated true, and another 6 percent mostly true. Hillary Clinton, who is not exactly known for fealty to the facts, had a 28 percent total lie score including a mere 1 percent Pants on Fire.

But back to the Ranger Station bar……..

A small but diverse group of micro-brews on tap

A small but diverse group of micro-brews on tap

There are a slew of good bars in the Barmuda Triangle – sometimes known as the Stumble Zone in southeast Portland.

While the Ranger Station space has limitations which may ultimately have led to the demise of its forerunners, it still has a good vibe and some loyal regulars who enjoy the music and the opportunity to have a drink and some good food close to home.

Before the crowds arrive

Before the crowds arrive

 

But you may want to get there early, so you can then move on to some other watering holes that are more expansive in both their space and their vision.

Of course, if the owners have a strong perspective and want to promote their venture, they would be smart to negotiate with the owner of the adjacent space which is even connected to the Ranger Station by a hallway – they also use common restrooms.

P1030925While some of the neighbors in the area might not want to lose the Fat Straw, (coffee, bubble tea and sandwiches), it could provide the room for the Ranger Station to adequately fit the bands, bar regulars and even some mountain men from the forest that might amble in searching for a good mug!

The Ranger Station  4260 SE Hawthorne