The Independent – A Maverick Among Bars….

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I ‘ve been to a number of sports bars in the five and one-half years since starting Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  Some such as the historic Claudias in southeast Portland stand out and have some character and interesting sports memorabilia – like the picture of my Oregon City High School basketball coach, Dale Herron, who played for the legendary Claudia’s AAU team, after starring for the U of O Ducks in college.  (He played for Claudia’s from 1961-7 during which time they won three NW AAU Championships.)

No. 34 - third from the left in back row - former U of O basketball star, Dale Herron

No. 34 – third from the left in back row – former U of O basketball star, Dale Herron

But many others such as the Marathon Taverna, which purports to be a sports bar doesn’t live up to the label – just a number of big-screen TVs.  That was also the case with the On Deck (downtown location), the immediate predecessor of The Independent.  Prior to that, the Silver Dollar II, another sports bar occupied the space.

However, The Independent – on Broadway near the historic Benson Hotel, is a great sports bar with a theme dear to the heart of most Portlanders – the legendary Portland Mavericks Baseball Team.

Opening day for the Mavericks at Civic Stadium in 1973

The Portland Mavericks have a fabled history as documented in the award-winning documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, produced in 2014.

The team, formed in 1973 by Hollywood notable, Bing Russell, was the only independent baseball team in America at the time.  As described in the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) summary:

“Bing operated without a Major League affiliation while playing in a city that was considered a wasteland for professional baseball.  Tryouts for the Mavericks, which were open to the public, were filled with hopefuls who arrived in droves from every state in America, many of whom had been rejected by organized baseball. Skeptics agreed it would never work………

The Mavericks’ in your face attitude was contagious to fans, and during their short reign, they – and Bing Russell – basically held up their middle finger to the sports establishment and said we’re playing this game on our terms, not yours. They were the real life Bad News Bears.”

A rear view (and perhaps more photogenic one) of Faust at the Independent across from Alice, his wife, and lawyer Jim Westwood

Joining us for beers that day, wearing his Portland Mavericks jacket, was a man who was integrally involved in that history – Beerchaser regular and retired Portland appellate lawyer and broadcaster and most importantly, a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jack Faust. https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Faust with former Portland Maverick Manager, Frank “The Flake” Peters while Beerchasing at the Grand Cafe

Jack appears in the movie and you can read about his role as Bing Russell’s lawyer in the underdog legal victory in his suit against the Pacific Coast League in the Beerchaser post.(Russell was awarded $206,000 in a final arbitration – the League had made a final pre-arbitration offer of $5,000!):

Besides the interesting sports memorabilia, The Independent is spacious, has a cool wrap-around bar, a good selection of beers (20 on tap, which include five rotating and a $3.50 PBR Tall Boy) and a host of wide screen TVs (32) with various sporting events:

“Come catch a game on one of our 32 flat panel TV’s and a projection system for big games.  Your team will be on!

You’ll also find …..vintage hockey masks, boxing gloves, baseball bats ad a vertical collection of USA Men’s Soccer jerseys dating back to the ’70’s on loan from Nike.”

Corey, our jovial and helpful server

And we were fortunate to have an outstanding server that day.  Corey Lewis was personable, very helpful on beer selection and background of the bar while also having an interesting story (see below)

 The others enjoying The Independent’s beer and environment that day were Jack’s wife, Alice, son Charlie, his daughter, Amy, lawyer Jim Westwood, Denny Ferguson and Thebeerchaser’s spouse, Janet.  (Denny stuck to his values and ordered a cold Coors Light draft.)

Thebeerchasing crew with the traditional logo

As usual, the company on these Beerchasing events is always a highlight regardless of how good or bad the watering hole in which we raise a mug(s).  Such was the case at The Independent in which Jack Faust refreshed us with some Mavericks’ lore including the antics of his friend, Frank Peters.

Alice Faust – 1941 Adventure..

We also heard the amazing story of Alice Faust’s experience when she personally witnessed the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack.  As a 7-year-old living in Honolulu near Pearl Harbor, she heard and saw Japanese bombers and fighters flying over their house and heard the bomb blasts from the harbor as Japan launched World War Two in the Pacific. Her father, a naval reserve officer recently called to active duty, drove off in a Chevrolet to war at the base.

Raising the Grant High 2017 trophy (Alice is on the right)

And who could resist the dialogue between two of the smartest Constitutional experts I know – Faust and Westwood (the latter, also a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and a coach of this year’s Grant High School’s Oregon Constitution team on which Amy Faust’s daughter, Alice, is a member and will soon depart for the national competition in Washington, DC.)

Faust and Westwood – The beer sweetened the dialogue….

Their discussion focused on the next step and the likelihood that the White House would prevail after a federal district court and then the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Trump’s first travel ban.

(“The three judges from the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.”)

Note 1:  The President, learning from his first mistake and in an effort to have the “terrible judges” reconsider, issued a revised Executive Order in March, which just last week was also frozen by a Federal District Court Judge in Hawaii.

Note 2: Faust’s amazing legal career includes serving at Richard Nixon’s lawyer in Oregon for his 1972 re-election campaign.

Twenty draft beers including five rotating taps

Since it opened only in 2015, The Independent does not have scads of social media reviews, but most are very positive based on its location near Portland hotels, the food, the ambiance and the service.

As expected, there were some early negative reviews complaining about the service, but if our example was typical, they have addressed the issue.  And one thing that was impressive was the fact that the negative comments, when they were reasonable, often generated a response by Linda Addy, Director of Operations for Independent Restaurant Concepts, who either apologized or offered to rectify the problem if the complainant contacted her.  I also chatted with Linda by phone and she is a real pro, interested in providing a great experience at her firm’s venues.  

What is the appropriate male patron to urinal ratio in a sports bar???

 

As always, there were some interesting critical comments – ranging from the gratuitous such as the typical whiners who didn’t get to see their specific sports team or wanted every television in the place to broadcast the Duck’s game…. to the irritated (and probably older) guy who was irate: “Had to change the place to 1 start – a sports bar with 1 urinal!!!  What an oxymoron!!!” 

(At first, I laughed at this comment, but considering that many of the reviews talk about the great crowds at the bar, perhaps this is something that management  may need to address although there are two bathrooms in the bar.)

The bar is locally owned according to a June, 2016 announcement in Portland Eater: “Brandon and Brian Anderson own the 225 SW Broadway Building and  they’re teaming up with IRC – the restaurant group behind Produce Row Care, Circa 33 and others.”  (See Thebeerchaser review on the impressive resurrection of the historic Produce Row Cafe) https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/12/07/produce-row-cafe-take-a-hike-and-have-a-brewski/

The Man Cave

The menu is pretty typical with some good bargains at happy-hour which is 3:00 to 6:00 each weekday – a buck off on all beers,  a cheeseburger for $5 and both nachos and a Coney dog for $6 and a $2 salad which got a favorable review.

One 9/1/16 Yelp reviewer commented, “Much better food selection than your average sports bar.  Gluten-free options are always a plus.  Good service, clean dining areas.

I mentioned that Corey, our server, has as interesting story.  He is a native Montanan and trans-planted Texan who is both an actor and musician.  He told us about his four-piece rock band, The Misery Men, in which he plays a mean rhythm guitar and does vocals in addition to being  “Chairman of the Board. “

According to one 2016 reviewer: http://doomedandstoned.com/post/138441988863/themiserymen

The Misery Men with Corey in the center

“Corey G Lewis is a man of many names, A.K.A. “Mr. Misery,” “Vortex Conductor,” “Snakecharmer,” “The Magician,” and (my personal favorite) “Viking Jesus of the Utopia.” Corey claims responsibility for the band’s vocals, screams, growling, lyrics, and riffs. 

He’s a jack of all trades, counting among his specialties: vortex conductor, time traveler, quantum theorist, worshiper of cats, crow whisperer, and aficionado the quantum world! A well-travelled dude, he’s called Missoula, Denver, NYC, NOLA, L.A., and Austin his home and, since 2011, Portland, Oregon.”

The Independent also has some interesting cocktails and this led to my only disappointment that afternoon.  I was anticipating with relish their “go to” cocktail – the Maverick  but was denied that experience because they actually ran out of Old Overholt:

“A shot of Old Overholt + icy-cold Rainier 8 (Old Overholt is the oldest of The Olds, a relic you can drink.  This famous Straight Rye Whiskey has a distinctive flavor and appeal that after Prohibition, made it the most popular spirit in the country…)”

Old Overholt – Rye Whiskey that demands a return to the bar….

Fortunately, I had a great Fort George Vortex IPA (this and the Breakside IPA are their most popular beers) which eased the psychological trauma.  More importantly, it gives me an excuse to make a another visit to The Independent – a sports bar that merits a return.  Besides, I want to check out the featured “Man Cave” (Leather couches, wingback chairs, and things like vintage medicine balls and a punching bag.)

And when you go, say “hello” to Corey and find out where his band is playing next.

The Independent      225 SW Broadway #100   


Note:  I paid another visit to The Independent on St. Patrick’s Day and it was rocking.   1080 – The Fan was broadcasting and the bar was filled with revelers.

And the Man Cave was impressive with the party in the picture above enjoying more nachos than I think I have ever seen in one confined space previously.

I still need to return for The Maverick Cocktail as I couldn’t resist having another Ft. George beer.

Dirt and Sprague from 1080 in broadcast mode…

 

Beerchaser Miscellany – First Quarter 2017

September Nuptials

September Nuptials

Thebeerchaser’s youngest daughter,Laura, married a great young man – Ryan Keene – last September 17th.  They have been on several Beerchasing expeditions previously such as Mad Son’s Pub, Stamtisch and Quincy’s (click on the name to get the link to the review), but they kept the Beerchasing tradition alive on their recent honeymoon to New Zealand.  beer-honeymoon

They kept the Beerchasing tradition alive on this two-week trip, which included a lot of hiking and stays in mountain huts.   The picture below is Laura toasting the sunset in the highlands.

And while Ryan did not have the traditional Beerchaser logo with him, he honored the tradition with this sign while he enjoyed a flight of six of the sixteen beers at the Montieth Brewery located at Greymouth,  West Coast, New Zealand.

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Ryan at the Montieth Brewery

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The Rippon Vineyard in Wanaka, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dive Bars in Murky Waters

In previous Beerchaser posts, I have presented the issue about the shaky ground occupied by some of the venerable dive bars in both Seattle and Portland.  While initially, I tried to take the optimistic approach and dismiss the concern as overblown, recent events are drowning that naiveté. 

The entrance to Joes Cellar

The entrance to Joes Cellar

Originally I tried to rationalize that some of the historic bars such as Portland’s Sandy Hut were being upgraded while still maintaining their character and others such as Produce Row and Joe’s Cellar, after being temporarily closed, rose again like the mythical Phoenix and have been successful in their reincarnation.

p1040372That said, the statistics are compelling and just looking at some of the closures makes one wonder about the long-term future of this — American institution.  For example, the New-Old Copper Penny is now a large vacant lot with bulldozers in the Lents District.

The Copper Penny "flipped"

The Copper Penny “flipped”

Slabtown, on the west edge of the Pearl District is long gone and the Grand Cafe with it’s idiosyncratic proprietor, Frank the Flake Peters, is now a generic and  sports bar (Pour Sports) lacking ambiance.

More recent closures are Tony’s Tavern on NW    and the iconic Club 21, which when the rumor surfaced two years ago that it would be sold to developers, was met with the assertion:  “Never!”

p1020501At least the owners will transfer the memorabilia to a new location, but the iconic structure, once the meeting place of a Greek Orthodox Church, will be lost to the wrecking ball.

A 2014 Willamette Week article entitled, “Closing Time- 2014 was Barmageddon in Portland” lists thirty-eight bar 2014 closures (that was three years ago…..) and asks perceptively, “Are these just the canary in the coal mine?”

Club 21 - memorabilia saved, but not the building

Club 21 – memorabilia saved, but not the building

And more recently, the Portland Mercury stated in a good article: http://www.portlandmercury.com/the-portland-dive-bar-preservation-society/2016/03/09/17741354/the-portland-dive-bar-preservation-society

“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.” 

 You’ve Got to Read this Book!!

While my literary pursuits are generally escapist-trash fiction, that genre was recently elevated with an outstanding non-fiction work by my good friend, Dr. Eric Hall, an Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

Eric and Cassie with Annabelle and

Eric and Cassie with Annabelle and

Eric and his wife, Cassie,  who is the College’s Registrar (she also graduated from Portland’s St. Mary’s Academy with my daughter, Lisa, and both went on to the University of Washington where Cassie played soccer for UW on a scholarship and graduated Phi Beta Kappa) accompanied us to two breweries – Blackfoot River Brewing Company and the Lewis and Clark Brewing Company, while we were in Helena on a Montana – Wyoming road trip one year ago  – https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/07/thebeerchaser-in-montana-and-wyoming-part-ii/

And his second book, Everything You Ever Needed to Know About the Almighty, is relevant to Beerchasing because it is one in a series published by Homebrewed Christianity.   Besides having a cool logo, HBC is the brainchild of Tripp Fuller, a Claremont College graduate student who in 2008 started a blog and community in which:

“You will find conversations between friends, theologians, philosophers, and scholars of all stripes…….a community of podcasts, bloggers, & Deacons (what we call our regular listeners) invested in expanding and deepening the conversation around faith and theology.  We hope you listen, question, think, and then share the Brew!”   homebrewed-2

I may be slightly biased because I love both Eric and his wife Cassie and their two wonderful children, Annabelle and Joe Lewis Hall, but Eric’s book is masterful.

His humor and intellect is described by one reviewer:

“Eric’s imaginative union of academia and spirituality is an inspiration to readers. He bonds great Christian thought with heart provoking spiritual growth with an engaging wit.”  (Doug Took)

2017-02-21-15-22-18For example take this quote from page 68:

We finite persons just don’t have the mental tools to know God in his full knowability, which is why Thomas Aquinas imagines in a way only possible for a philosopher-monk that heaven means standing around doing new syllogisms about God and trying to know cumulatively more about the One who is infinitely knowable.

Infinity’s a long time to write syllogisms, which I’ll only assent to because it sounds only slightly better than the vision some of your religious leaders may have given you: that heaven is something like a church service where we stand around singing praises of God’s glory eternally.   Eternity’s a long time to fake like I’m praying.” 

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The author and Annabelle…

Or check out this excerpt from page 79:

“Then again, some mystics describe the deep sorrow of seeing their true self within a context of divine luminosity.  Again, this idea makes sense as it’s kind of like seeing what a bar floor looks like when the lights come up: you didn’t know how many dirty old pork rinds were either on the ground or in your soul prior to the divine unveiling.”

You will love the analogies and his insight on some interesting questions.  It’s available from Amazon or the Home Brewed Christianity web site for 14.99 (Kindle version – $9.99).  And note the response Eric had to a questioner at the end of a recent podcast who asked the good professor what words he would like to hear from St. Peter, if and when he got to the Pearly Gates.

Contemplating ethereal recreation

Contemplating ethereal and eternal recreation

He responded, “How about, ‘Eric, do you want to go jet-skiing?'” 

Regardless of your position on spiritual issues and/or beer, you should read this book.  You will enjoy it!

——————–

Sequencing the Beaver Genome!

And speaking of academia, you read the above caption correctly as reported in the Oregonian recently.  Yes, Beerchasers, scientists at my Oregon State University alma matter accomplished this scientific step through a $30,000 crowd-funding drive. 597px-american_beaver

“The project used a blood sample from the 5-year-old beaver, Filbert, who lives at the OSU zoo.   …..they discovered that beavers have 26,200 genes, or about 33 percent more than inheritable info. than humans do.”

Perhaps that research can be piggy-backed for use by the OSU Fermentation Science Program which has contributed nicely to the ranks of trained Oregon brewers and beer experts since its inception in 1995 and expanded with a $1.2 million grant in 2013. http://www.beavergenome.org/

Cheers for genomes....

Cheers for genomes and the joy of science!

 

 

Ancestry Brewing – “Anchoring” the Tualatin Beer Desert….

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After my two visits to this small brewery in Tualatin, which opened in March 2016, I was prepared to describe it as just another of the many similar suds-related start-ups in Portland.  In fact, the Portland metro area currently has 105 breweries.  http://oregoncraftbeer.org/facts/

complex-facebookThe brewery and taproom are located in a non-descript commercial complex on the Tualitan-Sherwood Highway in what Willamette Week described in 2016 as “the virtual beer desert of Tualatin.” It fits the description of one Trip Advisor reviewer who visited Ancestry within the last several weeks who stated:

“Weird location, meaning that if you didn’t know it was here, you wouldn’t know it was here, but you should stop by.”

The Sellwood Tap Room

The Sellwood Tap Room

My trip to what Ancestry labels its “Neighborhood Spot” in Sellwood – opened shortly after the brewery – presented a similar picture, at least externally. It’s housed on the first floor of a brick commercial building shared with a brokerage firm and space used for a yoga studio with condos in the several story structure above.

Sellwood "Neighborhood Spot"

Sellwood “Neighborhood Spot”

As an aside, the challenge for both new and existing breweries in Oregon is mounting according to an excellent February 15th Willamette Week article entitled, “Over a Barrel.”

“…..the number of Portland area breweries has nearly doubled during the past four years……’In the  past, there was enough growth to go around,’ says Brewers’ Association economist Bart Watson.  ‘Now we’re seeing competition for tap handles.  Growth of your own sales comes at the expense of other brewers.'”

Ancestry Brewing is both an interesting and heartening story and one which affirms the vitality and positive impact of micro-brewing on the Oregon economy and spirit.  I was personally interested based on its ties to both the US Navy and Oregon State University through the owner, family members (they describe their beer as “family-crafted”) and a number of the brewery personnel.

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Ancestry Logo

In fact, the Ancestry logo – an anchor and sextant on a signature blue color, are meant to pay tribute to Jerry, the brewery co-founder (father of Jeremy Turner, the General Manager’s and partner) in addition to Cellar Manager and brother-in-law, Mel Long, for their military time on the guided missile cruiser, Canberra and aircraft carrier, Coral Sea, respectively, during Viet Nam tours.   uss_canberra_cag-2_badg

You can also commemorate this service by ordering the USS Canberra Burger (“1/3 lb. burger……with house sauce, pickles, lettuce, tomato and thin-sliced red onions with Tillamook cheddar cheese.”) or the USS Coral Sea Burger (“1/3 lb. burger topped with melted Brie and our house-made tomato-artichoke relish.”) Both are $11 and are two of the seven burgers/sandwiches on the menu. 

The USS Coral Sea - big like the burger named after it at Ancestry

The USS Coral Sea – big like the burger named after it at Ancestry

Although the burgers looked delicious and tempting, my friend,  Walt Duddington (he also joined me on a previous Beerchaser trip to the Lutz Tavern – click on the name to see the review of this historic bar), opted for the Vegan Burger (“house-made vegan patty, grilled and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and house-made pesto served on local chibbata”).

Walt’s expression, shown in the picture when his food was delivered was just as happy after he finished this healthy option – okay, I guess he did have French fries….!  I had the same reaction to my Beer-battered Fish and Chips (the cod for $12 versus the $14 salmon option).  photo-feb-02-12-05-14-pm

Another reason for the smile on his face is that he is recently retired from telecommunications firm Level 3 Communications, after nearly forty years in similar sales and management positions at US West, Electric Lightwave and Integra.

I first met Walt in the late ’80’s when he was the US West project manager for the installation of a new telephone system at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm.  Neither Walt nor I had smiles on our faces at that time and we had a lot of sleepless nights when the hardware vendor under-configured the system which resulted in system crashes and disconnected calls.

New technology can also have its challenges....

Better than a rotary-dial phone, but new technology can also have its challenges….

Fortunately, lawyers (about 150 of them) are very patient and empathetic with management on technology issues………He and his team also provided excellent support ten years later when Walt coached the Integra team which installed a multi-office network connecting the firm’s offices.

 We also enjoyed the beer with lunch – an interesting and broad selection is available from what Ancestry describes as its “3 Pillars of beer – American, English, and Belgian.”

After sampling a few options – something which is appreciated at the brewpubs who provide this complimentary option – Walt chose the Seasonal IPA (A light bodied ale with orange peel and pine like qualities” – 35 IBUs-5.3% ABV) and this guy who is not often a fan of IPAs described it as having a robust, fresh aroma and chilled to the appropriate temperature – a nice complement to the meal.”

photo-feb-02-12-01-09-pmI had the Piney IPA (“Caramel and nutty undertones offset by solid hop  finish, red berry and pomegranate flavors with a strong piney aroma and undertones of tropical fruit” – 61 IBUs-7.1% ABV) – a good brew.

Given the robust list of beers, if you or your group can’t decide, they have flights:

Single 4 oz. taster: $2.00     Flight of four: $8.00     Flight of six: $10.00

The space at the Tualatin taproom is like a lot of small breweries – somewhat sparse or meager on ambiance, although it is easy to envision people enjoying their brews on a nice deck which overlooks a wetland behind the structure.

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photo-feb-02-12-00-57-pm

 

 

 

 

The Sellwood Taphouse, while very small, is a nice space that started filling up on the Friday afternoon that I visited and had a great conversation with AJ Cabrera – the genial Restaurant Operations Manager who has been with Ancestry since its inception.

Dean on the left) and Ops Manager, AJ at Sellwood

Dean on the left) and Ops Manager, AJ at Sellwood

He responded to my question about its heritage by affirming that it was the very space in which the legendary dive bar, Black Cat Tavern, served Sellwood regulars for decades before its demise for the current building as reported by an article in the Portland Tribune on 8/2/2013:

The historic Black Cat Tavern - gone but not forgotten. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Jean Beacuchamp

The historic Black Cat Tavern – gone but not forgotten. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Jean Beacuchamp

“After over 68 years, the Black Cat Tavern – a landmark in Sellwood, on S.E. 13th at Umatilla Street – will make its last call for beverages and spirits later this month, to the loyal customers who have patronized the establishment over the years.”

While the Sellwood spot doesn’t have the character of an historic dive bar, it’s a nice addition to the neighborhood.  Although it is not as big as nearby Sellwood Public House, the space is a lot brighter and more inviting.  Ancestry has discussed future plans to open two similar operations – one in St. John’s and one on SE Division.

Choosing from their twenty-five beers was a challenge, but I sampled both their flagship beer – the Best Coast IPA (77 IBUs  – 7.0% ABV) and a  Irish Red (21 IBUs – 5.4% ABV), I had a pint of the latter although either would have been a good choice.  photo-feb-17-3-50-52-pm

The commitment of the family, a good business plan and fortuitous timing have all contributed to Ancestry’s success to this point:  “But while the midsized craft breweries are squeezed by both the new brewers and large distributors, there remains a bright spot.  Portland brewpubs are still doing very well….” (Willamette Week 2/15)

Sam Holloway - Professor and micro-brew industry expert

Sam Holloway – Professor and micro-brew industry expert

One of Thebeerchaser’s resources is Dr. Sam Holloway, University of Portland Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and consultant to the brewery industry (also one of three principals in the brewery consulting and educational firm Crafting a Strategy)

He was also Thebeerchaser-of-the-Quarter in August, 2015 https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/08/25/sam-holloway-educator-craftsman-and-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/  logo_vertical

When asked about Ancestry, Sam’s comments were as follows (he disclaimed that Ancestry is a member-client-of Crafting a Strategy):

I really like Ancestry brewing…….their beer and business model is rock solid. They’ve even done a few innovations in growlers, filling them in advance of the beer being ordered and utilizing a better seal/cap system……..Their business model is actually as creative and well executed as their beers. Both very good.”

Nice view of the brewery in operation in Tualatin

Nice view of the brewery in operation in Tualatin

I would suggest that one of the reasons that there are many positive comments on the beer is Head Brewer, Trevor Laumann, who took his passion for home-brewing to the next step and graduated in 2015 from the Oregon State University Fermentation Science program.

Pints are a reasonable $5.  The brewery and taprooms are open every day but Monday and minors are permitted from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

Ancestry Brewing and Taprooms

                Tualatin – 20585 SW 115th Ave.                 Sellwood – 8268 SE 13th Ave

 

Buffalo Bill’s Saloon – A Haven in the Hamlet

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Buffalo Bill’s

While there have been very few bars I’ve visited which have been disappointing in the five and one-half years on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns or Pubs, there are less than a handful in which a visit and the experience transcend that above all the others.

Lunch at the Central Pastime

Lunch at the Central Pastime in Burns

They simply radiate charisma and character – maybe it’s the combined personality of the regulars, the bar’s story or history, the tales of the staff and the bartenders along with the trappings that convey an ambiance that one wants to bottle.

Whatever the composition, it is an abstract presence that draws one in and makes you want to stay.

The Embers - on Main Street in Joseph..

The Embers – on Main Street in Joseph..

Such was the case with the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns, the Embers Brew Pub in Joseph and Charlie B’s – an historic  Missoula, Montana bar and finally, the Stanley Idaho Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon.  (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/)

Charlie B's in Missoula

Charlie B’s in Missoula

You will note that these all are located away from the major metropolitan centers of the US.

They tend to be in the rural or  “frontier” regions and reflect what noted historian Frederick Jackson Turner articulated in his essay “The Significance of the Frontier on American History” – the Frontier Thesis.  More on this below…..

Well, I have good news for my Beerchasing friends in Portland.  You can experience this type of venue without packing up and embarking on a road trip to another western state or even having to head east across the Cascade range.

Jackson Street - great in th 60s

Jackson Street – great in the 60s

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The entrance to the Beavercreek campus…

Thebeerchaser’s high school alma mater is Oregon City High School – now located on S. Beavercreek Road in the more rural area south of Oregon City and only 18.3 miles from the Tugboat Brewery – one of my favorite pubs in the heart of downtown Portland.  (Okay, when I attended OCHS in the ’60’s, it was on Jackson Street right in OC proper)

—————–

If one then continues south on this rural road another 2.9 miles – only about five minutes – you arrive in the Hamlet of Beavercreek  one of only four such jurisdictions in Oregon.  And at intersection of Leland and S Beavercreek Road,  you will come across the bar called Buffalo Bill’s (hereafter BB’s)  Note:  As will be referenced below, the bar has recently returned to its roots and is now officially named the Beavercreek Saloon.

1966 Oregon City Classmate at the entrance for lunch

1966 Oregon City Classmate, Dave Larson, at the entrance for lunch

In the 2010 census, Beavercreek had a population of 4,485 and consists of:

“……a small grocery store, post office, café, tavern, hair salon, drive up coffee, veterinary clinic, automotive shop, gas station, well drilling business, a grange hall and a newer fire department not far down the road.” (Yelp 4/16/15)

“In the summer of 2006, the citizens of Beavercreek voted to become Oregon’s first hamlet, a system of quasi-government which exists in Oregon. A final hearing by the board of county commissioners on the formation of the hamlet took place in September 2006, and officially recognized the community as the Hamlet of Beavercreek.”       (Wikipedia)beavercreek-hamlet

Now admittedly, on the outside, BB’s is nothing special.  It’s entrance is nondescript and it’s surrounded by a very large parking lot with scads of pick-ups and large SUVs – most of which are work vehicles rather than just recreational.

photo-jan-26-12-09-05-pmBut a step through the door is transformational.  You will see buffalo head and trophies from hunts of elk, antelope and deer hanging from the wall plus the skilled taxidermy of bobcat and brown bear along with interesting western memorabilia and farm equipment ranging from traps, old whiskey bottles, cowboy gear and numerous western pictures including one of  the namesake, Buffalo Bill Cody.   photo-jan-26-1-32-28-pm-2

And these items are not tacky knockoffs.  They are spaced to enhance the ample spaces which house a number of larger tables and booths.  For the sports-minded, they have a number of wide-screen TVs – including the NFL Ticket – but these don’t interfere with the ambiance. There is also a cool horseshoe bar immediately in front of the entrance which is where they have thirteen beers on tap.   photo-jan-26-1-32-41-pm

Although the lunch crowd was more staid, this Friday night was rockin’ and there were groups playing pool at the two pool tables, couples sitting at the bar and almost every table was occupied by the end of the evening – everyone appeared to having a good time.

Frederick Jackson Turner -

Frederick Jackson Turner –

Now as mentioned above, Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis asserted that:

“….the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character…..This  produced a new type of citizen – one with the power to tame the wild and one upon whom the wild had conferred strength and individuality.  The forging of the unique and rugged American identity.”  (Wikipedia)

That night, I had the pleasure, at dinner, of spending two hours talking to a fascinating guy – the owner – Patrick Whitmore.   I think JF Turner would have enjoyed meeting Whitmore too – born and raised in Beavercreek – and hearing about his life since graduation from Molalla High School in 1957 since he epitomizes the individual embodied in Turner’s work.  More about him below.

Our crew that Friday night.

Our crew that Friday night.

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

One of the great attributes of BB’s is the food – quality, quantity and price and perhaps a quote that night from Patrick, reaffirming my sentiments about his character.

 

Two of our party ordered salads rather than the hamburgers which captivated the rest of us.   We had already made comments about the prices being so reasonable – for example, a 1/3 pound cheeseburger with a bunch of fries for $9.00 – (A happy-hour – burger is $4.50……)

But then our server, Christal, brought the salads – one was a cobb and the other a chef and a collective gasp broke out – literally! They were gigantic and filled with good stuff – all for the price of $10.50 and 9.95 respectively.  One of the guys in our party who is a small businessman, asked Patrick rhetorically, “How can you make any money when your prices are so low and your food so plentiful and good??”

Enough for a convention of vegetarians....

Enough for a convention of vegetarians….

Patrick’s immediate rejoinder was, “Well, we may not be making a lot of money, but we’re making a lot of friends.!”  (He was correct about making friends that evening and I think beyond that Friday and he is also a savvy businessman).

The enthusiasm for the new venture was pervasive with staff as well.   We had excellent service by Christal and the bartender.

People enjoyed the French fries and Patrick commented about how he personally inspects the potatoes based on his farming experience to ensure the quality.

And what did our host have that evening?  One of the new specials on the menu – steak and lobster – that and prime rib are Friday and Saturday night specials along with “all-you-can-eat catfish” every other Thursday for $9.95.  The other Thursdays feature bacon-wrapped meatloaf for $14.95.  I noted that when it was time to settle up, Patrick paid for his dinner rather than have it “on the house.”  His cousin, Jerry, told me that this was to be fair to his partner in the venture.

Steak and lobster - but not on the house....

Steak and lobster – but not on the house….

Now, you can also choose to have breakfast or lunch at Kissin Kate’s Cafe, adjacent to and connected with BBS.  The corned beef and hash looked pretty inviting and the breakfasts get very good reviews:

“Homemade breakfast, my husband loves their Corn beef hash. Denver omelet, light and fluffy. Great food and a must try.”  (Trip Advisor – 1/23/16)

Power breakfasts....

Power breakfasts….

As I mentioned previously, I had lunch there the same week with three of my classmates from Oregon City High School – the class of 1966.   All of us also were pleased with the reuben, turkey wrap and burgers we devoured – and the French fries still passed the test with flying colors.

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation - Larson, Benski and Daiker

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation – Larson, Benski and Daiker

The aforementioned also gives me a chance for a quick “shout out” to OCHS for it’s 94% on-time graduation rate last year – top in the state.

A follow-up story by the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond, entitled, “At Oregon City High School, teachers showing students they care has made a huge difference – When Actions Equal Words” also told a compelling story about the community of teachers and students led by Principal, Tom Lovell.  

Principal Tom Lovell

Principal Tom Love

“Oregon City’s on-time graduation rate rose by 5 percentage points to reach 94 percent, including 91 percent among low-income students. That’s an accomplishment unmatched by the 40 other big high schools in the Portland area.”

I met Tom last summer when he agreed to meet with me to provide some statistics about the school that I could use for our 50th reunion – a great and charismatic guy – I can understand why he and his team have achieved the results. 

Kelly and Patrick - plans for the future..

Barbara and Patrick – plans for the future..

Besides making major changes to the menu, they have also updated their computer system and it was interesting hearing Patrick and his friend, Barbara Brooke, who is the General Manager, talk about some of their future dreams for the place.

 

These include having an expanded selection of beers on tap, a new web-site, remodeling and changing the name back to the original “Beavercreek Saloon.”  (I have a feeling that the photo of Buffalo Bill will still be present……).

A permanent fixture.....

A permanent fixture…..

And since it is a compelling story, a little bit more about Patrick Whitmore.   After high school graduation, he completed an apprentice course in sheet metal work and left the family farm to work for Boeing in Seattle.

Seeing the manner that many of the workers were treated by the big corporation when the economy went south, after twenty years, he decided he wanted more control over his own destiny.   He and a friend returned to Beavercreek and grew potatoes (one reason he takes particular interest in the quality of BB’s French fries.)

They soon needed a structure to house their product so they built a pole barn with a sheet metal roof – one that Patrick’s neighbor wanted replicated on his property.  He and his partner formed a successful construction company and did work for Clackamas County.   The scope of their work expanded and ultimately led to the formation of Morrison Construction which does residential and commercial construction including apartments and condominiums.

Jerry Calahan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

Jerry Calavan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

This Beavercreek native, turned entrepreneur, has also been involved in a number of other enterprises and is active in civic affairs as well.  You will also be able to find him and Barbara on the slopes of Mt. Hood during ski season in their “spare time.”

photo-feb-03-7-50-45-pmThey have enthusiastically set a course for their new vision and take a drive in the country to check them out.  I typically quote from some of the more interesting reviews and comments on social media when writing these narratives, but given the changes that have occurred in the last six months, they will be largely omitted this time due to the short transition. Let’s finish with the two below which I think sum up the situation aptly:

“If you make it out to Beavercreek stop in – the food’s really good, service was excellent with a friendly atmosphere… I heard that it was under new management and wow it really shows.”  (Facebook 10/22/16)

“Great place. Super fun. The new owners are a breath of fresh air. Ill be back !!”  (Google two months ago)

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Unfortunately, we left before the karaoke started at 9:00 (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), but it was a great cap to the evening to hear the disc jockey warming the crowd up with Alabama’s “Down Home”   BB’s also periodically features local country-western groups with live music.

photo-feb-03-9-19-40-pm

—————-

Buffalo Bill’s Saloon and Kissing Kate’s Cafe

The Beavercreek Saloon

21950 S Beavercreek Rd           Beavercreek, OR 97004

 

There’s No Prohibition — Visit the Nineteen 33 Taproom

1933-81933-9

 

 

 

 

 

The Nineteen 33 Taproom is a nice little bar in the historic Willamette section of West Linn, with an impressive selection of beers on tap, a nice menu including Happy Hour specials and live music once each week.

Now, you could also hit bars with the same name (or at least built around the “1933” title) in Bakersfield, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Dallas, Clearwater Florida, Ruleville Mississippi, Cantonville Maryland and even Utica New York.

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Police raid at Elk Lake (albeit in Canada, you get the idea….)

So why do so many US bars adopt this moniker?  It’s not their address.  1933 (December 15th specifically) is, however, a reference to an important year in US history, especially in the chronology of distilled spirits.

That’s because it was the year in which the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution – the legal basis for Prohibition adopted in 1919 – was repealed and replaced (those words have a new connotation…) by the 21st Amendment.  The latter is the only one of twenty-seven to be ratified for the specific purpose of repealing another amendment.  And most people think this grand social scheme was a failure including the infamous, Al Capone, who opined – probably while in prison…:

“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.”

And Oregon was even more conservative than the rest of the country…….

“On November 3, 1914, the Temperance League won their victory—Oregon voters passed a state amendment prohibiting the sale, manufacture, or advertisement of alcohol in the state. On January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment went into effect and the rest of the country joined Oregon in restless temperance.” (Portland Mercury 1/22/09)

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Historic Gerbers 1933 in Utica

Historic Gerbers 1933 in Utica

Probably, the most notable of the 1933 bars in the list of cities above is Utica’s Gerber’s 1933 Tavern, which:

“…. is an historic speak easy restored to its original luster. The tavern was vacant for nearly 40 years before it reopened in April 2013. We strive to operate the tavern as it would have been nearly a century ago. The building that houses Gerber’s has a rich and varied history. It’s been a Tobacco shop, produce store, café, fish fry, saloon and more.”

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But back to the 1933 Taproom in West Linn.   Owned by Vince and Lisa Strafford, who evidently also own two Portland pizza restaurants, it is in a non-descript block in which one almost doesn’t notice that it is a bar.

It has a nice dark and quiet interior – this is not a bar where you are going to see a jovial and raucous group of regulars, but just friends sitting at a few tables having one of their thirty-three beers and two ciders on tap, a glass of wine or some interesting craft cocktails.

You can also listen to tunes by local musicians each Thursday from 6:00 to 9:00.img_20160804_192351

Happy-hour is from 4:00 to 5:00 each week day, 2:00 to 5:00 on Saturdays and all day on Sunday.

They have some great happy-hour small plates and the best option appeared to be the 1/3 pound burger at $6 with a heaping batch of fries for another $2.  You can also take a buck of your beer or glass of wine – beer ranges from $5 to $7 for a pint at regular pricing.

Superb burgers

Signature burgers…

We missed happy hour and the food is a tad bit expensive, but of notable quality and presentation.  Jamie Magnusson had an outstanding $12 Prohibition Burger (“local certified Angus beef, caramelized onions, aged cheddar, peppercorn dijonnaise, pancetta, tomato.  Served with fries.”

Ryan Keene had the Romano Burger – also $12 (“local certified Angus beef glazed with balsamic, basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella and roasted tomato aioli. Served with fries.”

macaroni-2

A lot of crab with the mac & cheese

My macaroni and cheese with white cheddar and crab for $14 was the best dish of its kind I had in 2016.

And we should talk about their beers because the selection is robust and the staff is both friendly and knowledgeable and more than willing to let you sample until you hit the one you want – an option missing in many bars these days.

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Ryan, Madeline (a great server) and Jamie

“The waitress offered fantastic suggestions for the numerous local beers on draft.  She knew every detail about each beer and offered to let us try multiple samples.”  (Yelp 11/6/16)

On my second trip, my old friend and retired investment guru, Chet Dato, rode up to meet me on his Harley.  When drinking beer, Chet is a stout fan (his favorite is Avery Brewing’s Tweak (16% ABV) and Uncle Jacob (17.1% ABV), both of which are not generally available in Oregon (and two pints of which would put you under the table…….!)

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Chet telling stories to a captivated Kevin……

So after talking to our amiable and helpful bartender, Kevin, he decided on the Top O’ the Feckin Morning from nearby Feckin Brewing in Oregon City.  He thought it was a very good stout although at 8.5%, pretty tame in comparison with the Avery brews.

Nineteen 33’s diverse tap list allowed me to try a Sun River Brewing Vicious Mosquito IPA, (7% ABV and 70 IBU)which since I was current on my inoculations, I did without reservation.  (“This hop attack is coming at you like the vicious mosquitos at our nearby Cascade Mountains.”)

photo-jan-26-4-25-40-pmBy the way, Chet’s bike is a Harley Davidson 2001 FatBoy, which he points out is the bike that Arnold Schwarzenegger rode in Terminator 2.
He and his wife average about 15,000 miles a year (national average is 3,000) and have ridden as far east as Detroit Michigan and south to Tombstone and all the states in-between.
Chet and wife on road trip

Chet and wife on road trip

And you will see why from the photo below, Chet reminds me of one of the other quality biker guys I met while Beerchasing – this one in Lincoln City at the Old Oregon Saloon.
 ————–
On that summer day in 2014  when he walked in after his bike trip up from San Francisco,  the Old O bartender told me that Irish Mike McKenna is the bar’s “Local Ambassador.”  For the full story, which is kind of amusing, see the post below:
Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/

The Nineteen 33 Taproom scores very well in social media reviews.  For example, this excerpt from a very long, but well written Yelp review on 9/6/16:

“Do not go to the Nineteen 33 Taproom.  Seriously, I want this place all to myself.  Comofortable old English style taproom with a bit of whimsy.  A class act bartender that was down to earth, professional and could make a mean dirty martini.

The small menu leaves you wanting to order everything off of it.  The person who designed the menu loves food with a passion.  It is a wisp of Italian, southern comfort and an obvious fetish for tasty treasures from the sea.  I did not hesitate on the prices once I tasted the food….The food was excellent.

Tapping a keg

There is a secret to this taproom.  Everything seems perfectly placed, the food seems perfectly prepared, the staff seems perfectly charming, the beer seems perfectly organized and this taproom is now perfectly my number one destination in West Linn.”
 ————————
One notable exception to the positive reviews was from this curmudgeon from Oregon City.  And I will quote part of his 2/6/16 review only to demonstrate that some people appear to have no sense of perspective when they get on the internet.   (As you read this, keep in mind that this same guy, gave only one or two stars – out of five – to six of the last nine Yelp reviews he auhored):
photo-jan-26-4-26-18-pm

Out of context????

“Then I started picking up on things. If you are going to go for a 30’s theme, how about some consistency? I think the digital boards take away from the look. The theme they use for these boards make them nearly worthless anyhow. Very basic. If you are going to use digital boards…..use the system everyone else seems to have. It is interactive and friendly on the eyes. (Note: Their system was fine and helpful in selecting a beer.)

Now, another ‘Why?’ If you are a ‘Taproom’ why do you have liquor? I can understand a couple types of wine on hand. But a basic bar is just confusing. You don’t have a taproom, you have a bar. (Note: “Confusing” – Are you kidding me???)

Then the music keeps changing over to different genres, or categories. Adult contemporary, 90’s? and some other basic non-offensive channels. But again, it is digital. Maybe I am too stuck on the decor/theme aspect, but it was just segmented and awkward. Then to top it off, a Kramer poster in the restroom. Not a painting, but a framed Seinfeld poster. 
(Note: Perhaps this guy needs to have a serious face-to-face chat with Chet or Irish Mike to gain some perspective.”)

img_20160804_192149Now people are entitled to their own opinions, but in light of that absurd, fastidious diatribe, I’ll end this post with what I consider a more valid description from a Nineteen 33 “regular.”

“We have gone to Nineteen 33 more than a dozen times, Food is always great and drinks are prefect, service is a 10+. We go here once a week and have never been disappointed. Great tap selection too.”   (Yelp 6/5/16)  

There’s no Prohibition to stop you.  Visit Nineteen 33 soon and tell them Thebeerchaser sent you  — and try not to be disappointed with the Seinfeld poster.  It was placed there in honor of Art Vandely

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Nineteen 33 Taproom     1873 Willamette Falls Drive        West Linn

“Tails” of the Nauti Mermaid Beach Club

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Lincoln City is a great beach community with a number of memorable bars ranging from classic dives such as the Old Oregon Saloon, the Cruise Inn and the Nauti Mermaid Bar and Bistro, to more upscale watering holes such as the Snug Harbor Bar and Grill and Road House 101 Rusty Truck Brewery.  These were covered in several prior posts during a three-day journey on the Central Oregon Coast in which we visited fifteen establishments in three and one-half days in the coastal towns of Pacific City, Depoe Bay and Newport besides the aforementioned Lincoln City.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/            rusty-truck

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/10/20/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-ii-lincoln-city-and-pacific-city/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/11/13/the-finale-part-iv-of-thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast/

p1020711The original Nauti Mermaid Bar and Bistro, opened in 2011, was covered in the third post above and I was pleased to see and then visit the “new” (opened in July, 2016) Nauti Mermaid Beach House – an annex, of sorts only about one-half mile south of the original on Highway 101 – right by the D River – which is purportedly the “shortest river in the world.”

Bartender and owner, Tom Dreiske

Bartender and owner, Tom Dreiske, at the Beach House

Tom Dreiske, the owner and a transplanted Californian who now lives in the Roads End section of Lincoln City, told us when we visited the Beach House on a rainy December weekend that the space, which has a great view of the beach and formerly occupied by Wine 101, was just too good a deal to pass up.  He was pleased that during the winter months he is breaking even.

photo-jan-17-5-14-05-pmAnd there seems to be little question that with the ocean view, a robust tap list, a nice menu, a cool sunroom, and a sand-filled patio (14 yards hauled in) with another good mountain view to the east and which will have games such as cornhole, that his business should prosper — oh that’s right — don’t forget Dave, the canine mascot who keeps customers company.

The spacious sun room

The spacious Beach House sun room

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Now the original Nauti Mermaid is very “quaint” and has an interesting and idiosyncratic décor typical of any dive bar.

For example, the doors to the restroom!

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There are old 33  PM album covers hanging on the wall by the stage on what used to sit an old and valuable grand piano – a possession of the former owner who used to come in on the mornings and play classical nocturnes.2014-08-23-17-33-56

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Artistic Beach House counters

 

But back to The Beach House….It’s a very open and bright (when storms are not saturating the coast) and the counter tops have class, having been handcrafted by local artist and musician, Bryan Nichols who also owns the nearby Zuhg Life Surf Shop, where one can get surfing or guitar lessons and some neat custom apparel.

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Beach House Bar

Tom was very hospitable and offered us several samples to help us choose the right beer which we picked from about ten on tap.

I had a new one for me – a Red Seal Ale (winner of multiple medals in various brew competitions) from North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg, CA –  an interesting brewery operating since 1988 and whose flagship beer, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, has garnered its share of awards.  I would like to drink Red Seal again.  Janet tried her favorite – a Breakside IPA.

photo-jan-17-4-58-43-pmHe also was very accommodating and willing to share the story of both the original Nauti Mermaid and the Beach House, besides giving me a tour and explaining his vision for the bar.

Now all of the reviews in social media are for the original bar and confined to Yelp, but one common theme was Dave, the bar’s dog – owned by Tom and who frequents  both bars.

Dave!!!

Dave!!!

When we first saw him, he wandered up to us in a friendly and curious manner.  We asked Tom who owned the dog and with a straight face he stated, “He’s  just a local mutt who wandered in…”  We did a double take and Tom laughed and said that Dave was his companion.

And with one minor exception, people were positive about Dave, who evidently is a Bernese.  It’s worth noting, that a majority of the Yelp reviews mentioned this well-mannered canine:

“Great pub.  Friendly bartender,  good beer,  tasty nachos and a friendly local crowd.  The bar dog was not aggressive at all, just looking for treats not pets. Overall a good experience.”  (12/28/2016)

“The bartender (and owner, I presume?) was a nice guy with a dry sense of humor and a somewhat gruff personality…… Also, he brings his dog to work with him (the pup gave me a “kiss” on the cheek in exchange for a dog treat–aww)!”   (8/2/2016)

photo-jan-17-5-52-43-pmWe have been here several times and every time is wonderful. The locals are cool. The bartender brings his really cute (super chill) pup.” (6/8/2016)   photo-jan-17-5-52-33-pm

“Upon arrival we noticed the bar dog was part bernese (which is a breed we owened – sic) very aggressive and barked at several patrons plus us (out of towners) we found this to be a turn off along with the fact that the owner/Bar tender seemed to not care so good luck with that, I hope you have a strong local following!” (10/17/2015)

Now it is interesting that the reviewer above asserts that he “owens” a Bernese and that Dave was very aggressive.   Wikipedia describes this breed:  “dogs should not be “aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy”, but rather should be “good-natured”, “self-assured”, “placid towards strangers”, and “docile. “Affectionate, Faithful, Intelligent, Loyal.” 

Well maybe Dave had a bad day that October, but the preponderance of the evidence for an amiable countenance, including our experience, rests with the dog. 

“David, was such a sweet dog and we loved loving on him all weekend.  If you aren’t a fan of dogs, then maybe call ahead to see if it’s going to be there.” (2/28/15)

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The Beach House also has live music periodically and a good juke box.  When you’re in Lincoln City, drop by and then go up the street and visit the Nauti Mermaid Bar and Bistro, go across the street to the Cruise Inn, walk a few short blocks up 101 and have a $1.50 PBR at the Old Oregon Saloon and then take a taxi back to your hotel!

But before you leave the Nauti Mermaid Beach House say “hello” and come forth with a doggie treat for Dave.

 Nauti Mermaid Beach House          220 SE HIghway 101        Lincoln City

 

You’re Overdue! (For a Visit to the Multnomah Whiskey Library)

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Followers of this blog know that the title – Thebeerchaser – is a misnomer of sorts.  While it mentions good lagers we taste at various watering holes, the focus is on the bars as an institution – the history, the character, the regulars and the staff.   That said, of the eighty-three Portland bars, taverns and breweries visited and reviewed since August, 2011, only one – the Pope Bourbon House – has focused on hard liquor or distilled spirits.

That is until the first Beerchasing event in 2017 – the Multnomah Whiskey Library (hereafter MWL), which Beerchasing regulars, Dan Eller, Michael Jones and I visited on January 4th (more about those two fellows below).

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Eller and Jones

In the three + years since opened by owners, Greg Goodman and Alan Davis, this unique gathering place has taken Portland by a storm and received national attention.  For example, Thrilllist includes it in its 2014 list of the “Twenty-one Best Whiskey Bars in America.”  (“MWL ia about as close as you can get feeling like part of the 1% without going broke.”)

The MWL on its website lists forty-five links to newspaper and magazine articles ranging from the New York Times to the United Airlines Hemisphere to Travel and Leisure to Portland Monthly.  (Click on the links to see the articles)  An article in Paste Magazine was entitled “This May Be the Greatest Whiskey Bar in the World “ https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/07/this-might-be-the-greatest-whiskey-bar-in-the-worl.html

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Inconspicuous entrance

And while the reviews (including this one) have been overwhelmingly positive, there are some who feel it is not consistent with Portland values and culture:  “…..The pretentious vibe, however, was a bit much…” (Yelp 12/3/16).   Most of the negative comments relate to the doorman and staff at the vestibule – they check-in every person entering the bar – it’s in an old building (formerly a piano warehouse) on SW Alder Street.  You’ll have to look for a small sign above the door, overshadowed by the sign for Chizu – a sushi bar for cheese in the space next door.

There is a sound rationale for the check-in staff and procedure set forth below based on the MWL business model.  Those who simply drop in can expect to wait from forty-five minutes to two hours or more (on weekends) in the Green Room – the smaller bar on the ground floor, before being ushered up to the spacious and ornate lounge above.

The Green Room downstairs

The Green Room downstairs

Because many don’t want to hear the hostesses’ message or resent having to wait, the recipients of their ire are the ones who convey the message.  For example:

“The hostess at the front repeats an automated, pretentious, stone-cold response to stomp the hopes out of every potential patron…..”  (Yelp 11/7/16)

“The waitress (in the Green Room) was standing behind the bar ignoring us. She was rude and hostile the entire time.” (Yelp 9/28/16)

“My guest and I were greeted by a pretentious lackey masquerading as a        maître d’…with the ferociousness of an angry kitty, this bow-tied fella who I suspect was the victim of bullying as a child has embraced his role as a table Nazi by taking tremendous pleasure in turning people away…..”  (Yelp 5/6/15)

photo-jan-04-6-46-30-pm-2You see, the MWL is primarily a member-based bar with 600 of Portland’s power-crowd paying the $600 annual fee which allows them unfettered access during normal  operating hours and preferred reservations to special and educational events – and don’t forget a “Set of the Library’s custom tasting glassware”!?!.   Although that same amount could buy you 400 Happy-hour draft PBRs at the Yamhill Pub, there are more than 600 people on the waiting list. 

So maybe it was appropriate that my companions were Eller and Jones, since Dan is a tax and estate-planning lawyer at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and Jones is an investment counselor/financial adviser with Merrill-Lynch.   Given the increased scrutiny the IRS gives to meals and entertainment expenses, Eller would be able to advise to ensure maximum deductibility and Jones could develop a financial strategy so you could experience at least most of the 1,500 different labels (a total inventory of 1,900 bottles) well into retirement.

Eller on Cycle Oregon trip

Eller on Cycle Oregon ride

These two gents have accompanied me on two other Beerchasing events – the Oregon Public House, the Pope Bourbon House.  Both fit the profile of successful young, civically- involved Portlanders the MWL would want on its roster.  Eller, besides his Masters in Finance at Portland State and law degree, has an LLM (Masters in Taxation) from the University of Washington.  He’s is on the board of Cycle Oregon and past chair of the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society besides being an adjunct professor at both Northwestern Law School at Lewis and Clark and Portland State in his spare time….                                  

Jones in his favorite non-bar environment

Jones in his favorite non-bar environment

Jones after his undergraduate degree at Marylhurst University earned his MBA, is a US Army veteran, and worked in management positions in Japan before returning to the states.   He has been on the City Club of Portland Board and chairs the annual Alzheimer Walk for the Oregon Alzheimer Association.  Mike is a skilled woodworker as well as an avid hunter and outdoorsman as you might deduce from this picture.  Both of these gents are also great family men.

Dan made sure that our group had a “Hall Pass,” so we did not have to wait to get in.  This entry fee for non-members at the MWL costs $25 per person.  The fee seemed inordinate since my only other experience with a hall pass was in grade school.  Then you could secure one at no cost by just raising your hand and looking at the teacher with an imploring and strained look on your face.  But in both instances, it’s a great way to avoid a wait.

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Antibiotic and janitorial resistant……

Upon entering, I was struck by the stark contrast with the one “grunge bar” visited on my Beerchasing journey (three times…) – the Yamhill Pub where one almost expected an inspection by the Oregon Health Division in order to get out of this bar – the toilets may be a breeding ground for hostile invasive species in all likelihood immune to antibiotics.

The stairs at the Whiskey Library lead up to a spacious dimly-lit room with what was described by one Trip Advisor reviewer as “an absolutely dazzling selection” (8/16) and the MWL website proudly asserts is “…an exhaustive collection representing all major and lesser styles of distilled spirits known to the modern world.”  

There are a number of twelve-foot ladders which the staff use to retrieve many of the bottles – “organized categorically by region, ingredient and distilleries’ production practices. In short, this is a whiskey lover’s paradise.”  (PDX Eater  6/4/14)

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Fear of heights might be a problem when dusting the bottles

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Indeed, the collection is so extensive that the new employees each take part in the ongoing cycle of “dusting” the bottles.  Our server, Jason, confirmed this informing us that the dusting shifts for new employees also help them learn the names of the brands served.

The ornate framed portraits lining the walls stand out.  These are “the most important people in whiskey, all done by local artists. They include Jack Daniels, Mary the Jewess (‘the first true alchemist of the Western world’), George Washington, and Shinjiro Torii (the founder of Suntory whiskey).  (Munchies Magazine 5/7/15)  

Portraits of Whiskey Icons

Portraits of Whiskey Icons

And one’s initial exposure to the stained-glass skylights, the dark wood tables and long wrap-around bar, leather chairs and over-stuffed couches, exposed brick, twenty-foot ceilings, chandeliers and the hushed efficiency of the vested and tie-wearing servers, may be responsible for multiple ethereal references:

“I feel that this is what man heaven must be like.” (Yelp 5/4/16)

“(I thought) I died and went to whiskey heaven.” (Yelp 8/24/16)

“The host checking people in…pretends to be the gatekeeper to heaven.” (  5/29/16)

The scope of this review doesn’t provide space to amplify on the Green Room, but it also reeks of class and evidently has a nice selection of spirits.  Similarly, I will not address the food served at the MWL which has been described as good and reasonably priced.

And lest you think that the sophisticated ambiance and upscale trappings mean a stuffy or staid group of patrons, there was a nice energy in both bars and the crowd was diverse in demographics as one reviewer described it:

“(The crowd was) also classy, buzzing with conversation.  It feels like people here are talking about culture and worldly experiences vs. whose sports team is better or the Kardashians.”  (Yelp 12/23/16)  (not that the latter should be a standard…..)

Jason, our personal bartender

Jason, our personal bartender

Jason, our bartender/server, as reflected in most of the reviews on the staff, was knowledgeable, very helpful and a nice person.  Having worked there for eighteen months, he loves his job and answered our ongoing stream of questions about the bar and the selection of whiskeys as he prepared our cocktails at his rolling cart by our table.

Notwithstanding some stories about the extravagant tabs run up by some high-rollers (one rumored at $15,000 over two nights), the prices are pretty reasonable and we sampled a broad range of libations without requiring bank financing.  For example, I had an Old Fashioned, their “go to” drink,  while Eller had a Manhattan and Jones a Cadet (40 creek barrel select, fundador, nocino, house spirits coffee) and the round cost under $30 without tip.  They also have three beers on tap as well as a number of bottled beers for those with a myopic perspective.

The Room

The Private Tasting Room

I had a friend who went there on business who told me that he shared the most expensive bottle of scotch he’d ever drunk costing $350 (bought by the other party…) and MWL’s most expensive offering is a single-malt Macallan Royal Marriage, with a price tag of $1,785 a shot. according to Munchies Magazine.  You have to shell out $1,250 to procure your own “spirit locker.”

Our visit was a great experience and I don’t expect to visit another bar where the head bartender has the title of “Librarian” or “Curator” and where “Membership cards are personalized with your name laser etched into cherry wood…. making them, quite possibly, the coolest library card in the word.” (Montecristo Mag 9/30/14).  My only comparable experience was in my junior year at Oregon State when NROTC midshipmen Mulvey, Riley and I sneaked a pint of Wild Turkey into the William Jasper Kerr Library to help us study for a final exam in our navigation course.

While one can sympathize to a certain extent with those who encounter an unexpected and very long wait, it’s only requires a modicum of common sense to do a little research before going to a high-profile bar of this type rather than just dropping in.  A hall pass can eliminate the wait and is well worth the price.  The Multnomah Whiskey Library fills a good niche in the Portland food and beverage sector.

The Multnomah Whiskey Library         1124 SW Alder Street

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Two high rollers and Thebeerchaser…..