Palomar!

Palomars teal illumination of the bar at night is _____

One of the joys of my Beerchasing hobby which started in the summer of 2011, and on which I have now visited and reviewed 285 bars, pubs and breweries – not only in Portland, but all over Oregon and the US and a small part of Europe – has been discovering out-of-the-way watering holes.

Appropriate for home office?? From the Bay Haven Inn in Newport

Many have been dive bars, but also include some small breweries in rural locales.   They have no pretension, usually have no website and always have PBR or Hamms on tap in addition to microbrews.

Dives and some small breweries also have great signs and tacky memorabilia that I really want to bring home for my personal office (Fortunately, I have a spouse who laid down the law on this issue early on.)

Sign behind the bar at Gils Speakeasy in Portland

Some of my favorites in Oregon include the Beavercreek Saloon (and its co-owners Patrick Whitmore and his partner Barbara), Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee and Yachats Brewing.

In Idaho, it’s the renowned Stanley Rod and Gun Saloon, Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage (owned by a former Oregon State alum), Pinky Master’s Lounge (unfortunately now permanently closed) in Savannah or even the Devils Forest Pub in Venice. (Click on the names of the bars above to see Thebeerchaser reviews.)

*1 See note at end of the post for another great sign in Spray, Oregon.

Pinky Masters RIP

Thus, when looking for a new bar in SE Portland, I originally demurred when I saw that Oregon Live had named Palomar as its 2018 Bar-of-the-Year.  After a little research, however, I changed my mind especially considering two factors:

  • Most of the SE bars I’ve visited are in Portland’s “famed” Barmuda Triangle (also known as “The Stumble Zone”) and are dives such as Bar-of-the-Gods and Tanker Bar.  I wanted something distinct.
  • I was accompanying two classy individuals – Teresa MacLean and Brad Creveling –  both of whom I knew from my work at the Schwabe Williamson law firm (see below) and might enjoy a more upscale environment offering beverages other than beer one can see through…..

And choosing Palomar was a great choice.  Realizing there are also bars with the same name in Phoenix, San Diego, Chicago and Washington D.C. (although all associated with Kimpton Hotels) London and Berlin, and not having tested the others, I would suggest that Portland’s Palomar has a good chance to surpass them.

Portland’s Palomar

And why did owner Ricky Gomez (see below) choose Portland rather than one of these other locations?  Check out this quote from him in the Oregon Live article:

“In Portland, you can geek out about anything culinarily….Coffee, beer, wine, spirits.  This is the place to be.”

Brad Crevling, Teresa MacLean and owner Ricky Gomez with the original Beerchaser logo designed by Teresa

As additional evidence, check out the review by Punch – an online magazine published in Brooklyn “(….Palomar is) about wine, spirits, cocktails and all of the late-night mischief in between.”   It lists Palomar in its “Most Notable New Bars in America (Spring-Summer 2018).”

So I got over my concern that going to Oregon Live’s Bar-of-the-Year would mean hordes of people at a somewhat upscale and pretentious establishment – many who would just be to brag they had been to one of Portland’s Best – be it a restaurant, tattoo parlor or yogurt stand.

Walking in, one immediately notices the spectacular backbar which is illuminated by neon-type teal lighting in the evening.  It adds to the dimly-lighted sleek, although not pretentious décor.

This is a nice contrast with the bar stools – “plush 1950’s style stools and chairs upholstered in ketchup and mustard-colored Naugahyde.”   The floor tile is also unusual with an appealing pattern and color scheme.

Window seating – a nice touch

The small table-bars along one of the windows allows one to check out happenings on busy SE Division and is also a nice touch.

And upstairs, it’s a real contrast -ordinary tables, a gray floor and a brightly illuminated wall on the east side with many photos of people in what appears to be Cuban surroundings.

A difference, but still quality ambiance, upstairs

A server confirmed that these are Gomez’s personal pictures of family and friends and is additional evidence that he is not trying to please others by his design – just do what is authentic to him.

And Ricky Gomez deserves additional discussion as the driving force behind this creative effort.  He is a charismatic guy who radiated friendly enthusiasm when we chatted with him that night.

He moved to Portland in 2000 and refined his craft with stints at the Teardrop Lounge, Ox and Riffle NW before moving back to New Orleans.  He studied at Holy Cross and Loyola University – New Orleans.

It’s hard to believe that this young entrepreneur, born in New Orleans with parents from Cuba, has the credentials he brings to his restaurant and bar.

They include Bartender-of-the-Year in 2012 in a national competition which brought twenty finalists to New York City.  After winning, he represented the US “in the world’s largest international cocktail program in Brazil.

In an interview where he described the intensity of the final US competition in New York City, he describes what he crafted for the Classic with a Twist category:

“I chose the Mai Tai, a classic American tiki cocktail and made a twist on it.  It’s a traditional rum-tiki cocktail; my variation was taking out the rum and using tequila and gin.”

Before discussing Palomar’s outstanding cocktail menu, I want to highlight my companions that evening.   Another one of the benefits of each Beerchasing event is the enjoyment from those who accompany me and Teresa MacLean and Brad Creveling were no exception.

Teresa now works in Administration at the Markowitz, Herbold law firm, but we worked together for over fifteen years – about three at the Oregon State Bar where I originally hired her and the remainder at Schwabe Williamson

At Schwabe, she was a Human Resources Assistant when I was the Business Manager and then COO.  Besides being a wonderful person and talented artist, she was the epitome of what one looks for and relies on in an assistant.  And as stated above, she designed the original Beerchaser logo.

Teresa and my now adult daughter, Laura, in the early days at Schwabe

During the time at Schwabe, we both worked with Brad who was an actuary for the Wyatt Company – they did the recordkeeping for the Schwabe Retirement Plan.  Brad graduated from Reed College in 1971 and eventually formed his own actuarial consulting company.

Now most people find actuaries to be erudite math whizzes, but not someone they would want to invite to have a beer – or for that matter a cup of coffee, or……

The meetings with Brad, however, were always not only educational but fun.  He would relate his experience serving as a life guard during the summers he attended college and even laugh at the actuary jokes I provided at each meeting.

For example:

“Actuaries are people who skipped the first six grades of school when all the other kids were learning short words.”

2003 CDC Mortality Table

“An actuary is someone who expects everyone to be dead on time.”

Okay… just one more (see Actuarialjokes.com)

“What do you call an actuary who is talking to someone?”  Answer: “Popular.”

Anyway, I hadn’t seen Brad in over ten years, so I asked him to join Teresa and me to try Palomar.

While this blog is called Thebeerchaser, I also relish bars that specialize in cocktails.  Examples where “Beerchasing” occurred include The Multnomah Whiskey Library, ZARZ on First, the Pope Bourbon House and Gold Dust Meridian.

Palomar, however, is the first I’ve visited to specialize in daiquiris.  And boy do they!  The impressive bound menu is eight pages long and the content is primarily beverages.  (Disclaimer: although Palomar advertises that it has a full-Cuban menu and serves lunch and dinner, we did not, except as mentioned below, explore the culinary options that night.

Brad and Teresa each had a picadillo (classic Cuban beef hash) with rice for an appetizer and they both liked it.  That said, the menu looked reasonably priced and gets good reviews in social media and print reviews.   Gomez hired the former sous chef from Interurban.

As Willamette Week theorized, “Classic Cuban diner food with comforting dished with a proven ability to soak up all that rum.”   (Thebeerchaser will return……)

Brad and Teresa trying the picadillo – the verdict was favorable.

One is faced with the difficult choice of trying to choose from daiquiris – page 2, Collins and coolers – page 3, swizzled and stirred e.g. martini or Manhattan – page 4, beer and wine – page 5 or spirits.

The latter on page 9 enumerates what looks to be over 200 varieties ranging from bourbon, tequila, Japanese whiskey, bitters and cordials – all available in two-ounce shots or “half-price for just a swallow…”   

So many choices and so little time

Now the selection might have been a challenge, but fortunately Ricky has hired a staff that takes pride in educating customers on the nuances of their cocktails.

Our initial server, Lorisa, who has worked there since the opening last year, explained the distinction between the Daquiri No. 1 (rum, lime and sugar – very moderate amounts) and Daquiri No. 3 (rum, lime, grapefruit and maraschino).

Before we ordered, Brad immediately wanted to know why there was no Daquiri No. 2 and hypothesized that aside from the initial offering, they only used prime numbers until I pointed out that there was, in fact, a Daiquiri No. 4 (the same as No. 3 but without the grapefruit.)

Our second server told us the cocktail menu was based on the menu of the famous El Floridita – a fish restaurant and bar in Havana which originally opened in 1817 and was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, who was purported to have said, “My mojito in La Bodequita and my daiquiri in El Floridita.”  (Wikipedia: Floridita Bar).

El Floridita Bar in Havana

That’s not the only item with Cuban roots:

“‘Palomar is slang for a pigeon coop in Cuba,” Gomez says. ‘That’s what my father called his first apartment. Well, this is my first bar.'”  (Willamette Week 9/26/17)

I want to return to the issue of Palomar’s staff again.  Ricky, when chatting with us, emphasized the importance of the employees to the establishment.  They are well-educated on offerings (see example below), friendly and efficient and give an appearance of really enjoying what they do.

The importance of good staff is recognized.

As further evidence, an excerpt from a Gomez quote in a 2017 Willamette Week review:

“The cocktails are something that’s a driving force, but my staff is more important: The cocktails have to taste good—but who we have, building the energy and the culture is more important.”

About 80% of the social media reviews were in the top two categories and most were effusive, which is a good sign for a new business working out kinks which are inevitable.  As an aside, one of the relatively few negatives complained that her margarita was over-salted.

Margarita? Maybe not here…

So I thought I would test it myself and for my second drink ordered a margarita even though it wasn’t listed on the menu.  Lorisa, our server, very politely explained that she would recommend a drink other than a margarita.   I think the analogy might have been (although possibly overstated), if you are in a vegan restaurant, don’t order pot roast.

Palomar specializes in daiquiris and has numerous Cuban cocktails and other spirits available, so judge them in the main on that.  The margarita is primarily a Mexican and American drink while the daiquiri emanates from Cuba.

Thus, if I were in Havana, I’d emulate Papa Hemingway and drink a daiquiri (or a dry martini) and if visiting Pascagoula, Mississippi, the birthplace of Jimmy Buffett, I’d opt for a margarita – and get one with salt around the rim.

Papa – I’ll have a daquiri and a good cigar…..

Now, realizing in advance that it is a beer brewed in Mexico, I ended up enjoying a $2.00 Modelo instead and can see why, according to one source, its sales have doubled in the US since 2013.

In lieu of an over-salted Margarita!

So while we will have to wait for the next visit to judge the culinary category, we enjoyed all aspects of our trip to Palomar and would definitely recommend it.

If I had to offer some constructive criticism, it would be that improving their website and Facebook page to provide other information than just a menu and some photos would be informative to prospective customers.   Palomar is a great story and it deserves to be communicated.  It’s surprising that they have not done that.

And finally, the amazing and gigantic mural adjacent to the bar is part of the overall story.   Ricky Gomez did not commission the artwork, but the bird on the lady’s shoulder is a result of his request and a nice signature.  (According to Oregon Live, it’s the Cuban Trogon – the national bird of Cuba.)

Palomar                 959 SE Division 

*1  Craig “The Dude” Hanneman, Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in the summer of 2012,  responded to the comments about bar signs above and sent this photo of him and three SAE fraternity brothers – Kent Howard, Jay Pomeroy and Doug Hardesty with the barmaid outside a tavern in Spray, Oregon on their Eastern Oregon motorcycle trip to attend the Class of ’71 reunion earlier this summer.

Howard, Pomeroy, Hanneman and Hardesty in Spray

Courtesy of Teresa MacLean!

Books and Brew

Thebeerchaser’s home office and library  –  See narrative below

I have written about books devoted to beer and brewing in prior posts.  Examples include Jeff Alworth’s, The Beer Bible which Goodreads states, “….is the ultimate reader-and drinker-friendly guide to all the world’s beers.” 

Another volume I’ve mentioned and purchased from the Mount Angel Abbey Book StoreDrinking with the Saints – The Sinners’ Guide to a Holy Happy Hour is also a great reference “and a concoction that both sinner and saints will savor.” 

It’s a great collection of cocktails, toasts and anecdotes based on the Holy Days and saints.  For example: “As our Episcopal brethren like to say, ‘Where two or three are gathered in His name, there is a fifth.'”

And then there’s my friend, Dr, Eric Hall, who teaches theology and philosophy at Carrol College.  In his book, The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to God.  Eric integrates academia and spirituality with wit and wisdom.  For example:

“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.”

The Rose City Book Pub

The spark for the topic of this blog post emanated from the grand opening of The Rose City Book Pub on November 3rd. This new pub is located in the former NE Portland space of County Cork (see Beerchaser review in June 2012)  While I am sorry to see any bar bite the dust, it’s good news that a new watering hole filled the vacuum.

Reveling (rather than reading) at County Cork in 2012 with the Schwabe Williamson Environment Group

Portland Eater describes the new venture as “a bookstore-meets-bar-meets restaurant with beer, wine and comfy cafe-style menu..”

I’m just not sure if I am comfortable with a pub where regulars are sitting in comfy nooks in easy chairs rather than telling stories at the bar while raising mugs.  That said, I will make a trip and let you know what I think and I wish owner, Elise Schumock well.

However, the concept pervaded my consciousness with some other thoughts on books – including pondering my own reading habits after a visit to Powells City of Books – a Portland treasure which houses about one million books.

What I Should Read Versus What I Do Read 

While wondering through Powell’s, I saw some books on display with notations of “Staff Picks.”   These are works of both fiction and non-fiction that Powell’s staffers are evidently reading and have favorable reactions – they print a short synopsis on a note card by the tome so you can see why it is recommended.

Staff Picks at Powells

But I was struck by how cerebral and refined the majority of the books on these shelves  appeared to me – two in particular that made me think a little bit more:

Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens.   Now this novel did get five stars on Amazon but the staff account was “This story is a beautiful and mesmerizing coming-of-age saga featuring Kya – aka Marsh Girl.  Part mystery, part love story, this book will haunt me!” 

It was also a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Selection and Reese, who after all, went to Harvard Law in one of her movies, went so far as to say, “I can’t even express how much I love this book! I didn’t want this story to end!”   (Perhaps she was reading it while she was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail…) 

The New York Times describes it asPainfully Beautiful,” (emphasis supplied) which makes me wonder if it was one of those books where you’re half way through and hate it, but refuse to lose the investment of time by abandoning it.  You slog through it with discomfort and end up being glad you finished it afterwards.

Now the book above is a murder mystery and perhaps a good story, but The Vegetarian by Han Kang elicited this excerpted comment by the reviewer:  “Somewhere between the crossroads of obsession and mental illness, lust and betrayal, the Vegetarian exists.”

This novella, which was critically acclaimed internationally, takes place in South Korea and scored 3.6 out of 5.0 stars by Goodreads.   Their synopsis, in part, states, “In a country were societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more ‘plant-like’ existence is a shocking act of subversion.”

Potentially subversive??

Well anyway, it made me wonder what books are really on the bed stands of these reviewers.   Do they really devour these for enjoyment or is it just part of the job?

It’s the same concept when magazines ask celebrities what novel they are reading.  The answer is usually one by Dostoevsky, Jane Austen or F. Scott Fitzgerald or a four-hundred page non-fiction book on dialectical materialism rather than a thriller by Danielle Steele or James Patterson.

And then I remembered hearing about Oprah’s Book Club.  Maybe it differs from Reese’s in that those who indicate they like her selections get a free car.  Since I was reflecting, I then wondered why I had never heard any famous males who have national book clubs.

Buffet’s Book Club?

Although according to a New York Times article “Men Have Book Clubs Too,” why don’t famous guys like Warren Buffet, Tony Bennett or UCLA Coach Chip Kelly have national book clubs with recommended selections?  Maybe Chip’s would feature The Carnivore…..

 

The Annals of America – A compendium on the great story of America

So I started feeling guilty looking at my own library.  After having my own office on our dining room table for most of my career, in retirement I now have a wonderful library/office. Some of the collections are those my parents gave us in school.

These include the 54-volume “Great Books of the Western World” (1952) and the eighteen-volume Annals of America, both published by the Encyclopedia Britannica.  There’s a bunch of others that I enthusiastically accumulated over the years with the idea that I would read them when I had more leisure time.

Churchill – “Their Finest Hour” is still waiting to be read…

But I noted that although my intent has been to read Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War, all of the sixteen volumes in my set of “The Nobel Prize Library” and about 35 books on the Civil War and World War II, they sit largely untouched on the shelves.

I shouldn’t leave out the twelve of forty-one volumes in the Time/Life Collection of World War II, I bought at a used bookstore in Lincoln City a few year ago.  

Twelve of the forty-one in this great collection

Although I have read some great non-fiction books in the last two years (see below) my most recent reads (which I have really enjoyed) are the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, a slew of John Sandford paperbacks (which prey on you…) and almost all of the wonderful mysteries by Phillip Margolin.

Should my book time be devoted to more cerebral works?

Interesting, albeit tragic times in American history

But rationality prevailed and I realize that one of the reasons I have not read more highbrow volumes is because I have spent gads of time in the last seven years visiting about 250 bars, pubs and breweries (about half in Portland the rest throughout Oregon, the US and Europe) and then writing 200+ posts on Thebeerchaser.com – each averaging about 2,200 words.   I love this idiosyncratic hobby!

Joe R. Lansdale – unique dialogue and compelling.

And it can be asserted that what some would describe as escapist-trash fiction is really enjoyable.  If you look beyond the mainstream authors such as Sanford, Child, Ignatius, Turow and the aforementioned Phillip Margolin, you can find some treasures.

I’ve discovered some lesser known scribes such as Joe R. Lansdale, who has written forty-five novels.  (The one below is the first one I’ve read – I liked the cover art when I saw it in the Library).

I recently read Bad Chili, a “tongue-in-cheek” murder mystery in Texas.   The action is innovative e.g. an early encounter with a “vicious, angry, bloodthirsty, rabid squirrel.”  Lansdale’s dialogue is unique and  rich with quotes such as this one from Jim Bob Luke, a primary character:

“Life’s like a bowl of chili in a strange café.  Sometimes it’s pretty tasty and spicy.  Other times, it tastes like shit.”

A novel of suspense (and spice….)

Or the following from protagonist, Hap Collins, a working-man, turned private detective:

“His mother, a harried woman in lace-up shoes designed by the Inquisition, a long black dress, and a Pentecostal hairdo – which was a mound of brown hair tied up in a bun that looked as if it had been baked into place to contain an alien life form – was pretending to be asleep.”

I should also state that I have read some very good historical works in the last two years – among them Ike’s Spies  and the Path Between the Seas – The Creation of the Panama Canal, both by Stephen Ambrose

Add to that River of Doubt (Teddy Roosevelt’s exploration of the Amazon River) and Destiny of the Republic – A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (about the assassination of President James Garfield) both by Candice Millard.  All read like novels.

And I’m half way through an insightful and thought provoking work by David Brooks entitled The Road to Character – a timely topic these days….. I would heartily recommend all of the above – just do 25 pages in one of these non-fiction works and then 100 in a Jack Reacher tale before you fall asleep.

Odysseus – his exploits make Jack Reachers look tame!

I’ll keep devouring the paperback spy adventure or murder mystery without guilt and just enjoy looking at the volumes while I’m in my office with the thought that I will at some point read another Nobel Prize author besides Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea) read last year.

Oh, and I forgot that I studied a Great Book selection – Homer’s The Odyssey with my youngest daughter when it was a selection she studied in her senior year at high school.  (I guess that was about ten years ago come to think of it…)

A Story about the Northwest’s Lawyer Novelist

Speaking of Phillip Margolin, let me introduce you to another long-time Portland lawyer.  Mike Greene is a Stanford Law graduate and practiced law in Portland for many years.   He is now basically retired although he still serves in an “Of Counsel” capacity to a small law firm.

Portland Lawyer and sometime Sr. Deputy District Attorney, Mike Greene

Since I worked at the Oregon State Bar and in Portland’s second largest law firm for a combined total of over thirty years, I know and have a lot of attorney friends.  Mike is one of my favorites.

After graduating from Stanford, he was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1972, and became a highly respected trial lawyer – Oregon Super Lawyer six times – among other peer review honors. Like many of the counselors I know he has also devoted a considerable time to civic and professional endeavors.

Mike’s resume of these goes beyond most and he has been involved in American Diabetes Association work since 1982 and was Chair of the National Board of Directors from 1994 to 1995.  He also created a legal advocacy program to fight discrimination on behalf of people with diabetes.

Recently I read one of Phillip Margolin’s earlier novels that I had inadvertently skipped, since I have read and enjoyed almost all of his twenty-three books, all of which have been in the New York Times best-seller list.   In Fugitive, one of the primary characters is a senior deputy district attorney, named Mike Greene – the boyfriend of protagonist, Amanda Jaffe, a criminal defense lawyer.

I thought that I remembered this character from a few of the other Margolin mysteries.   Now the Portland Bar is a “small community” and Mike is about the same vintage as Phillip Margolin.   So I e-mailed Mike and wrote:

“I know that a number of novelists name characters after friends and/or colleagues and this seemed to be more than a coincidence.”

Mike responded:

”Phil has been a friend for decades. I purchased at a Diabetes Auction, the privilege of Phil using my name.  He liked the name and character he created to use the name.  I am now in five of his books.  What a purchase?  A piece of immortality?  It’s fun.  I have been asked about this by many people over the years.” 

Portland Lawyer and Author, Phillip Margolin

Mike and I go to the same church and last Sunday when we chatted, he agreed to send me the names of the novels in which Mike Greene makes his appearance.  He added that the topic has helped break-the–ice in some tense legal negotiations over the years.

I told him that I assumed the Oregon State Bar could not prosecute him for any disciplinary issues that might arise from his conduct in the novels.

If you are reading any of the following Margolin novels, look for Mike Greene:  Wild Justice (2000), Ties that Bind (2003), Proof Positive (2006), Fugitive (2009) and Violent Crimes (2016).

As an aside, besides his writing career – he began writing full-time in 1996 – Phillip Margolin had a distinguished legal career as well.  After graduating from NYU School of Law in 1970, he started by clerking for the Chief Judge of the Oregon the Court of Appeals.   As an appellate lawyer, he has appeared in the US Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and both the Oregon Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Frequent speaker

As a trial lawyer, he represented about thirty people charged with homicide, including several who faced the death penalty.  His service to others began with a two-year stint in the Peace Corps after college graduation and he taught junior high in the South Bronx during his last two years of law school.

He was Chair of the Board for Chess for Success from 1996 to 2009, a non-profit that uses chess to teach elementary and middle school children in Title I schools study skills.   He was also on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards from 2007 to 2013.

I regret that I never got to see either Mike Greene or Phillip Margolin in the courtroom!

Farewell Tom

Tom Dulcich

Another notable Portland lawyer was Tom Dulcich, who I knew from working with him for twenty-five years at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.  Tom passed away in July at the age of 65 from a rare form of cancer.

The Astoria native besides being a wonderful human being was the consummate lawyer.   He was a Phi Beta Kappa grad at the U of O and one of two Rhodes Scholar finalists in 1976.  He attended one of the nation’s leading law schools – the University of Chicago and started his 38-year career as a Schwabe trial lawyer soon afterwards.

He was a fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, served on the Schwabe Board of Directors and as a member and Chair of the Board of the Columbia Maritime Museum.   He was a man of faith and family.

Justice Scalia – Fishing partner…..

One of his passions was fishing and he took pride in operating the family’s gillnet boat.  In fact, a number of years ago, when the late Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia was in Oregon for a speech, he asked Tom to be his guide in a successful fishing trip on the Columbia River.

“Dry Humor”

Earlier in the post, I mentioned some good brew-related books and I remembered one other mentioned in the The Week magazine.  The Wet and the Dry: a Drinker’s Journey relates a pub crawl, of sorts, that author, Lawrence Osborne, took through the Middle East and Southern Asia.

Now I have read (and used as a resource) some similar books including Colorado – A Liquid History & Tavern Guide to the Highest State by Dr. Thomas J. Noel, a professor at the University of Colorado, who visited every bar in Colorado for a doctoral thesis.

And don’t forget Joan Melcher, who essentially made the same journey (50 watering holes) in Montana as documented in Montana Watering Holes – The Big Sky’s Best Bars

It seems a little unusual to undertake this type of study in some countries where alcohol is illegal, but as the reviewer states, “If you are looking for ‘an entertaining romp through half the bars in the Middle East” The Wet and the Dry will not disappoint.”

Cheers!

Beerchasing in Maine (continued), Boston and then Home….

The Penobsot Narrows Bridge – the tallest bridge observatory in the world!

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this on your phone, click  on the caption at the top to access the blog.)

After our three and one-half days in New York City, two days on the lake in Bridgton, Maine and then another two at Acadia National Park (click on the links to see the blog posts), we took a day and one-half driving down the beautiful coastline of Maine before spending an afternoon and evening in Portland. And the final night was in Boston.

(See the end of the post for some interesting info. on Samuel Adams Beer and a fascinating legal issue involving both coasts of the USA.)

It would have been nice to have more time in the “right-coast” Portland, but we had to drive to Boston for our flight home to the “left-coast” PDX.

On the morning drive we visited the Marshall Wharf Brewery in quaint Belfast.  The town of a little less than 7,000 was founded in 1770 and like our Portland, the name (derived from the Northern Ireland city) was determined by a coin toss.

A shipbuilding seaport

It’s a charming shipbuilding community built on commerce. In the early ’90’s:

“USA Today named Belfast as one of America’s culturally cool communities. Today, Belfast is that rare combination of quiet small town with an active social and cultural life that is attractive to residents and visitors alike.”  Belfast website.

The eleven-year old brewery that specializes in German beer was in a shack, of sorts, but had eight of their seventeen own beers on tap.  Kathryn, the bartender was very helpful and personable.

Janet had a Tug Pale Ale (5.0%), but I couldn’t resist and had my first German Rauchbier – a smoked malt beer – Marshall’s Deep Purple Rauchbier (6.0%). 

Beer Advocate described it as:

“Smoke on the water!  This Bamberg (Germany) inspired smoked ale is Bacon in a Glass (emphasis added).  Very polarizing beer – you either like the style and taste or you never want to drink it again…..”   

Kathryn – one of our favorite bartenders on the trip.

I loved it, but what bacon-stuff wouldn’t I savor – especially in the morning!

Lunch was in Camden, also on Penobscot Bay settled in the 1790’s and with a  population of about 5,000:

“more than triples during the summer months, due to tourists and summer residents (and) ……….is well known for its summer community of wealthy Northeasterners, mostly from Boston, New York and Philadelphia.”  Wikipedia

Another of the Sea Dog Brewpubs, offered a beautiful view from the patio.

The Ledges by the Bay – on Highway1 just outside of Rockland, Maine and right on Penobscot Bay was reminiscent of summer vacation lodging as youngsters.  Although around for a long time, it was very clean, cheap – about $115 including taxes – and had a beautiful view from the balcony of our room.

A long rock-top walk, but worth it…

Before heading into Rockland, we took a hike at the Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light House – the long rock breakwater is slightly over a mile to this still active navigation aid which was established in 1902. (It’s worth the walk to see up close.)

And we met two very interesting and friendly people on the small dock immediately below the lighthouse.

One was Amelia Magjik, who serves on the Rockland City Council:

“She came from a small coastal town in Washington state to be closer to her family in New York. Amelia comes from a professional background in community mental health….. Amelia’s personal interests include art, yoga, running, hiking, gardening, and anything involving the ocean.”

Amelia introduced her male friend to us as “John Jenkins – the next Governor of Maine.” And John, who was born in 1952, is a very interesting and charismatic individual, besides being a notable athlete:  (Wikipedia)   

Motivational Speaker….

“(he) is an American community organizer and politician who served as the first African American Mayor of Lewiston, Maine from 1994 to 1998, a Member of the Maine Senate from 1996 to 1998 and the Mayor of Auburn, Maine from 2007 to 2009.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Jenkins graduated from Bates College in 1974. While at college, he excelled in martial arts and upon graduating toured Japan competing in the Karate World Championships.  He won the 1977 Championships in karate and won three other mixed martial arts championships in karate and ju-jitsu.”

Elected official and small businessman

Besides his political career, he is a small businessman and motivational speaker who declared as an Independent write-in candidate for Governor in 2018.   Check out his website.  It’s very interesting.  http://peptalk.com/about-the-honorable-john-jenkins/

And I intend to take him up on his offer for a reserved seat in the gallery at his first State-of-the-State address!  Meeting interesting people like Amelia and John is one of our motivations for traveling and visiting breweries!

Before dinner, the Rock Harbor Brewery and Pub, right on Main Street of this city of 7,300 beckoned.

The Pub had sixteen beers on tap and about half are brewed in-house.  We split an outstanding pint of their Copperhouse ESB (6.0%) and we could understand why it is their flagship beer:

“…. roasted malt notes and middle-of-the-road, balanced flavor.  Easy transition from Red Ales, Brown ales and some darker lagers.”  It had great color and taste.  

A few blocks away, an excellent dinner awaited us at Cafe Miranda  (“funky, edgy and eclectic – this is not your white table cloth sort of place.  We want you to laugh out loud, enjoy, engage and leave with a belly full of food that has comforted your soul.”)

And after an absolutely superb breakfast (I realize I’m using that type of adjective to describe most of our meals on the trip) at Home Kitchen Cafe (“Remember, when you’re hungry…come HOME.”) we spent two fascinating hours in the Farnsworth Art Museum.

It houses a nationally recognized collection of over 15,000 works from America’s noted artists in an expansive and beautiful space of more than 20,000 square feet.

I will be the first to admit that I am much more at home in a brewery than an art museum, but this one was captivating.

The most outstanding aspect of this attraction was the Wyeth Center located in a beautiful church across the street.

“Exhibits focusing primarily on James Wyeth and N. C. Wyeth are presented at the ‘church’ building on Union Street, an example of adaptive re-use of the United Methodist Church, one of Rockland’s most prominent and venerable structures dating from the last quarter of the 19th century.”

The Wyeth Center of the Farnsworth Museum of Art

We then drove the three-hours to Portland and what a change in this city from the last time we visited about seven years ago – or maybe it was just because we had great weather this time and it was a Friday night. We stayed on the harbor, which had an eclectic assortment of restaurants, galleries, bars and pubs, and nautical-related attractions.

Although we had only an afternoon and the next morning in Portland, thanks to the blog National Parks USA – a tour of Public Lands and National Parks with T – we knew we wanted to see the Portland Observatory.

On our walk to the Portland Observatory, we stopped at Rising Tide Brewery and Tasting Room.  This is a family-owned business founded in 2010 by co-owners Nathan and Heather Sanborn.

This bottling machine is a good gig!

I loved the fact that Heather is a lawyer and also serves in the Maine Legislature and is Past President of the Maine Brewers’ Guild.

Perhaps it was the Friday ambiance, but the patio and tasting room were rocking and the employees including those who were operating the bottling machine all appeared to be delighted to work there.

And they have a robust selection of very good unpasteurized and unfiltered beers using local ingredients. Their Ishmael Copper Ale (4.9%) with both Mt. Hood and Cascade hops reminded us that we would be back in the Northwest in 48 hours….

The Portland Observatory

Erected in 1807 it’s located at the highest elevation in Portland, thereby presenting incredible views.   The formidable structure is the only remaining historic maritime signal station in the United States. 

While we listened to our guide’s fascinating briefing on both the history and the structural aspects, we climbed to the top for a magnificent 360 degree view.

 

On the walk back to the hotel, we passed another brew pub – Sebago Brewing – which had an attractive brewpub, but the fact that it was in the ground floor of an Embassy Suites Hotel shot the ambiance.

Ambiance was missing….

This locally-owned brewery is twenty years old and crafts about eleven beers which are served in its four brewpubs and tasting room at the brewery in Gorham, Maine.

Since the last Rising Tide beer we had was only 4.9 ABV and we were walking, we each had a pint with Janet downing a Frye’s Leap IPA (6.0%) – “golden color and unique and intense aroma dry-hopped of pine and grapefruit.”

Bright interior was far better..

The beer was named for the cliff which legend has Captain Joseph Frye jumped off in an 1785 effort to escape Native Americans chasing him.  He swam across the channel to what became known as Frye Island.

I wanted to try a red ale so I had a pint of Runabout Red (4.4%).  It was good and perhaps the hops did “glide on my palate with every sip!”

The next morning we drove to Cape Elizabeth on the southern tip of Portland to visit the stunning Portland Head Light – one of three lighthouses in Portland. It was foggy, but a breathtaking sight.

Our final stop before leaving Portland was just to check out Shipyard Brewing, also a family owned brewery in Portland – and another of the tasting rooms or brewpubs within a few blocks of our hotel.  

Shipyard brews over twenty different craft beers and their facility was classy.

After the two-hour drive to our hotel near Boston’s Logan Airport, we took an afternoon T (Massachusetts Bay Transportation System) into the North Side to our favorite Boston restaurant – Giacomo’s Ristorante – which is only a block away from the historic Old North Church.

Historic and still iconic…

We got there before it opened at 5:00 – no reservations and already a waiting line – but the wait was only 45 minutes rather than the 60 to 90 which is customary.  The hostess was still like the drill sergeant as we remembered

Giacomos – a waiting line before it opens…

It’s a cracker-box but we lucked out (as we did the last time a few years ago) and got to sit at the two places at the corner of the serving bar so we could see the kitchen and get a better view of the enthused customers feasting on Italian food.

And I might add, there is nothing better when in Boston than downing a Sam Adams Octoberfest (5.3%) – even if it is bottled – especially when you are having Linguini with Scallops. 

The trek back to the T took us by the bustling  Haymarket Public Market  and a stop for one last brewski on our trip before we headed back.

Like just about any institution in Boston, the Market has historic roots:

 ” Although sellers of fresh produce have clustered in the current-day Haymarket location since around 1830, merchants of various sorts started congregating in the general vicinity as early as the 1600’s.”

And what better way to toast what had been a wonderful trip than having another Samuel Adams – draft this time – at Durty Nelly’s. 

This notable watering hole, right next to the Market and which asserts it was established about 1850 also claims to be “Boston’s friendliest dive bar.” (It may well be.)

Not a micro-brew, but still great beer.

Now you purists who might scoff at quaffing two beers produced by Boston Beer Co. after we spent the prior ten days drinking local Maine micro-brews.

According to Craft Beer.com, Boston Beer Co. is the second largest craft brewery in the US and Samuel Adams Beer is distributed in all 50 states.  At least it was a start-up in 1984, still makes efforts to assist small businesses and they make great beer…..

How about an “Old North Church Lager” or “Midnight Ride IPA” ?

Besides, drinking Samuel Adams in Boston seems patriotic to me.  If there were a macro-brewery named Paul Revere, I would be drinking their beer too.

Interestingly enough, one of Boston Beer’s controversies involved Portland, Oregon Radio Station KEX and my friend and former Mayor Sam Adams in a 2007 dispute that the Wall Street Journal labeled “Sam Adams v Sam Adams.” 

https://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/10/25/trademark-dispute-of-the-day-sam-adams-v-sam-adams/

Sam Adams outside the now-closed Tugboat Brewery

Note: Sam, the former Mayor has a Beerchasing history.  First, in 2013 we visited Portland’s Tug Boat Brewery (Unfortunately after operating for twenty-eight years, Tugboat was forced to close in 2017 because of incidents related to a fire in the hotel above the brewery.)

Then in 2014, we hit Beer Mongers.  (See reviews by clicking on the links)

Sam and Jim, the bartender at Beer Mongers, with Thebeerchaser logo

The lawsuit evidently settled and although it did not set new precedents in Intellectual Property case law, it is interesting to look back:

“……the Boston Beer Company demanded that control of the domain names “samadamsformayor.com” and “mayorsamadams.com” be turned over to the company.

The domains had been purchased by an employee of the Portland, Oregon radio station NewsRadio 1190 KEX for the campaign of Portland mayoral candidate, Sam Adams.  In a cease-and-desist letter, the company (Boston Beer) expressed concern that consumers might confuse the mayoral candidate with their beer.

In an interview with the Associated Press the company said it was willing to discuss Adams’ use of his name on his Web sites, “probably for the length of the time the election is being held.”

Brouhaha Involving Two Elected Officials!

Sam Adams v Samuel Adams 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam, the then mayoral candidate, is now Director of US Climate Initiatives at the World Resources Institute .

According to a 10/23/2007 Oregonian article entitled “A Battle Brews,” reported: “Commissioner Sam Adams is bemused. ‘They say they’ve been using this trademark since 1984. I’ve been using it since 1963.”‘ (Sam is 55 years old….)

One wonders how the 18th century statesman and Founding Father would view this frivolous legal maneuver by his namesake Brewery given his concern over more weighty issues such as the Boston Massacre, the Stamp Act and drafting the Articles of Confederation.

And so our eleven-day trip to the East Coast ended.  We reflected back on the great people we met, the marvelous scenery, the phenomenal food and, of course, the splendid beer in diverse bars and breweries with character and spirit.

Now it’s back to Portland, Oregon’s abundant Beerchasing (and Oregon micro-brews) establishments which need to be explored…..

Beerchasing (and Ubiquity *1) in Maine

Stormy seas along the Acadia Park Loop Road

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this on your phone, click  on the caption at the top to access the blog.)

After three-days in New York City and then a short two-day stay in rural Bridgton, Maine, we spent three days exploring Acadia National Park.  

We stayed in Sourthwest Harbor – population 1,778a little village about fourteen miles from Bar Harbor – population 5,394 – a larger burg, but the former has far fewer people and is not a docking point for cruise ships and SW Harbor still offers some nice amenities and great access to the Park.

Bar Harbor

(The two previous posts of Thebeerchaser related our stay in New York City and then Bridgton, Maine before going to Arcadia – see links)

Maine is a wonderful state – a lot like our Oregon.  The cities of Portland in each state are both jewels and are worth visiting or residing!  (However, different outer garments, are recommended….)

Before the narrative below on sights and breweries/bars we visited in Maine, let’s talk ubiquity (*1)  – six categories that are emblematic of “The Pine Tree State” – most of which we repeatedly witnessed on our delightful trip throughout the state.

Beals” Lobster Shack in SW Harbor

Lobster Shacks – Maine is the largest producer of lobster in the US with 130 million pounds of lobster valued at $533 million in 2016.   The eateries are everywhere you look.  (Portland Press Herald

Dunkin Donut Shops – There are about 150 of these shops in Maine – one for every 8,276 people.   Their coffee is excellent and more available than Starbucks.  (Lewiston Sun Journal)

Self-service Wood Sales  It seems that most rural residents make some extra income by selling bundles of firewood to campers or winter vacationers.   These little structures dot the road. 

Most are $3 (on the honor system) and we got a kick out of the sales pitch of one: “Organic Wood.”  We didn’t check to see how that was certified.

Portland Head Lighthouse

Lighthouses – While Michigan has the most, Maine has over sixty and we saw three beautiful structures close-up including Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and the Portland Head Light.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

 

Lakes – There are apparently 6,000 water bodies in Maine greater than an acre in size and approximately 2,200 of these are named lakes. (“Science Answers”).

Eagle Lake in the heart of Acadia National Park – our favorite lake

We rode the 6.1 miles around Eagle Lake on one of the Carriage Roads.  There are fifty-seven miles of Carriage Roads that weave through Acadia National Park and are open to hikers, bicyclists and horses.

One travels through great scenery with no autos.  They are a wonderful legacy to John D. Rockefeller who gave millions to build these paths from 1913 to 1940.  They also have some beautiful stone bridges along the way. 

Scene along the Carriage Roads

Moose – well although Maine is supposed to have scads of them, we talked to a lot of people including locals and none had ever seen one.  According to: https://visitmaine.com/things-to-do/wildlife-watching/moose-watching

“Maine is lucky enough to be one of only a few states in the U.S. that has a sizeable moose population.  State biologists estimate that the Maine moose population to be around 75,000 – that’s the largest concentration of moose in the country next to Alaska.”

Okay, we weren’t in exactly wild areas, but  I was determined to have an “encounter.”   So I eventually brought one back to Oregon  – now a favorite coffee mug along with my Benedictine Brewery stein……I got the former at the Stow Corner Store in Stow, Maine – population 425. 

Favorite coffee mug…

 

 

 

 

 

And as you might expect, the last category of ubiquitous Maine features, but very important:

Breweries – While not getting bogged down in a myriad of statistics, suffice to say that the micro-craft industry is thriving in Maine.

According to one portal on national brewery figures, the leading brewery states – per capita in ranked order are Vermont, Montana, Maine, Oregon and Colorado.  Vermont has 11.5 per 100,000 people with Maine at 9.6 and Oregon at 8.5)

Significant economic impact….

The Maine Brewers Guild states that Maine has 89 breweries whereas, according to Oregon Craft Beer, our state has “281 breweries operated by 228 companies in 79 cities across Oregon with 77 people in Portland and 117 in the Portland Metro area.” (6/30/18)

As stated in another website – maybe not the most authoritative –  but this is not a graduate thesis:

“So the overall economic value of Maine beer to the state economy is between that of potatoes and lobster……..over one-third of overnight visitors to Maine (like Thebeerchaser and his wife…) report that going to local brewpubs or craft breweries was a major interest for their Maine trip.”

The afternoon, after our Oli’s Trolley tour of the Loop Road, we visited Atlantic Brewing right in downtown Bar Harbor.  We liked the modern lines of the tasting room and met two nice couples sitting at the bar – from North Carolina and Tennessee – extending their visit until Hurricane Florence had dissipated.

The bartender, although he only had worked there for a few months was very knowledgeable about their beer and the brewing process besides being generous in letting us sample their beers.

All of those we sampled were very good and we solved the problem by getting their five-beer sampler – a very colorful  lineup with our two favorites the Marko Polo  Red Ale (5.4%) and Lil Guy IPA (5.4%) a session IPA with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. (the second and fourth from the left respectively,)  

Atlantic – founded as Acadia Brewing in 1990, has expanded twice and now has two locations – the primary brewery is on a ten-acre farm a few minutes from Bar Harbor.

The tasting room we visited is “a site to develop new and exciting small batch beers only seven barrels at a time. This pilot facility allows fellow brewers from around the state, country, and world to collaborate on unique recipes and formulations in a shared environment.” (Atlantic Brewing Co. website)

Back in SW Harbor for dinner, I said to Janet that it had been quite a few years since I had tried lobster in Maine – Janet doesn’t like it – so we tried Beal’s Lobster Pier – only a few hundred yards from our bed and breakfast.   I tried a formidable, but not the largest lobster, with an Allagash White Ale.  My dinner without the beer set us back about $38.

Based on the taste and the challenge to eat it, I’m glad I tried it again, but after the two experiences, I will always opt for a steak or other seafood in the future or maybe get lobster roll instead of doing all the work myself.

I might add that I did not have guilt over the fate of the lobster although if I had known about Bale’s competitor down the street as featured in a Maine Press report after we returned, we might have gone to Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound.

Lobster “Pot”

“Charlotte Gill (owner) ….. told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald that she had been looking for a way to reduce the suffering of her signature menu item. 

She experimented with blowing marijuana smoke into a tank……to sedate her crustaceans before cooking them – granting them, she says a blissfully humane death.”

As one might expect:

“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which once tried to erect a gravestone for lobsters killed in a truck crash, is opposed to boiling lobsters alive under any circumstances.  ‘It is highly unlikely that getting a lobster high would make a lick of difference when it comes to the full-blown agony of being boiled or steamed alive, PETA said…..”

That afternoon, we strolled through “downtown” Bar Harbor and stopped at the quaint Cottage Street Pub.

We enjoyed sitting on the patio overlooking one of the main streets and split a Maine Brewery – Woods and Water IPA  (6.2%) – appropriately named!    They had a number of good Maine beers on tap.

September after Labor Day and before the “foliage peepers” who invade New England from late September through most of October is the best time to visit Maine.

While Bar Harbor was still bustling, the crowds there and in the park were not bad. Sitting on the patio overlooking one of the main streets was a treat.

The Cottage Street Pub – right in the heart of Bar Harbor and with good beer on tap

 

That night we ate dinner at the bar of one of our favorite restaurants on the trip – Sips in Southwest Harbor.   While Janet had an excellent pasta dish, I decided after my ill-fated encounter with the crustacean the night before, to have a hanger steak – a good choice.

However, the highlight for me was a Happy Hour Bloody Mary.  For $5 I relished the best looking cocktail, I’ve had in a long time.  Multiple olives, lemon, lime and bacon!

For a nightcap, we hit the Island Bar, a cubbyhole down the street with some great signs and some cordial regulars.  It had one side open to the street with a portable heater supplying the warmth. 

They talked about how the town and the surrounding communities would lose most of their tourists and many of their residents and the year-rounders hunkered down for the harsh Maine winters.  (The bartender was headed for Colorado to snowboard, while Hank, our driver/guide on Oli’s Trolley and his girlfriend were heading to Florida.)

We split an Atlantic Brewery Bar Harbor Pale Ale and skipped the bar’s “Margarita-of-the-Month – a blueberry mango.”

Our final morning in the Park was spent driving to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  While the elevation of this peak pales in comparison to the mountains we see in the Pacific Northwest, it is noteworthy:

“It’s the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6…”

The view is outstanding and there is a walkway that provides vistas in every direction of the Park.

We made a quick trip to another pristine lake – Echo Lake, just before leaving the park .

We then were on our way down the Maine coast- south on US Highway 1 – the Coastal Route through Camden and to our next destination Rockland, Maine.

As an aside, a wonderful resource we used to help plan our trip both in Acadia National Park and in Portland Maine afterwards is the blog National Parks USA – A Tour of Public Lands and National Parks with T.

Theresa, the author, gives useful tips, historical background and has stunning photos on many of the National Parks and Monuments and related public lands – treasures we should not take for granted.  You should check out her blog!

https://nationalparkswitht.com/exploring-the-nps-with-t/

My intention is for this blog to serve as a resource for people with the same passion for the parks as me by tagging the units I review by state and including any off-the-beaten-path recommendations I have to offer.  At the very least, it will serve as a travelogue, a remembrance of where I’ve been and a reminder of where I still need to go.

(*1) The use of the word “ubiquity” is meant as a tribute to both my SAE fraternity brother and college roommate, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in August, 2012 and Kirby Neuman-Rea, News Editor of the Hood River News.

New York City and On to Beerchasing in Maine


We started our ten-day trip to the East Coast with three-days in New York City.  (See the last post of Thebeerchaser for the initial glimpse of our time in NYC).

My only regret is I didn’t get a sausage too…

The last of three and one-half in the City was filled.   After starting with an excellent Apple Fritter at one of the many street carts, we boarded the subway for the ride to the 911 Memorial and Museum.

Words are not adequate to describe the emotions one experiences when walking through the museum after entering through the magnificent rebuilt One World Trade Center.

I remember that morning listening to NBC News seventeen years ago as I was getting ready for work, but to view the pictures and videos, hear the 911 calls, see material such as stationery and calendars pulled from the wreckage and witness the former foundational structure conveys new meaning.  

 

That afternoon, we walked around Midtown and before our Broadway play that Friday evening, stopped and had a pint at the excellent District Tap House – it’s actually two bars.

In the heart of the Garment District on Friday night

The smaller rear bar at the back.

They have an extensive tap list with over fifty beers.

Over 50 Draft Beers to selec

Given our initial encounter at our hotel the day before, we split another Brooklyn Brewing Defender IPA.

It was a friendly place with a Friday vibe as you can see from this picture of Janet and the “bouncer” at the entrance.

We then walked up Broadway to our theater to see the highly recommended play – “Once on This Island.”

“Revised and Ravishing…! Winner of 2018 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical

Part of our interest was the lead – a young woman, Haily Kilgore, who attended Clackamas High School in Oregon for two years and was a star in the Portland theater scene before furthering her education in New York and being cast as Ti Moune  in this Broadway revival. She was nominated for a 2018 Tony Award.

An Oregon transplant..

The theater-in-the-round experience was delightful, and Kilgore and the cast outstanding as evidenced by this excerpt from the 12/17/17 New York Times review entitled “Revived and Ravishing:”

“….and Mr. Arden’s (Director) staging serves his top-to-bottom terrific cast of black, and Hispanic and Asian actors beautifully.”  

On the morning of our fourth day, we took the morning Amtrak to Boston.  Although we had some great food in the City, my favorite meal was the lox and cream-cheese bagel I ate on my lap in the Penn Station waiting area.

Nice train ride….

The view from the window of our coach as we departed on d the four-hour trip to Boston was outstanding.  The coach-bus for the additional hour ride to Portland, Maine and the Amtrak ride were both clean and pleasant.

We picked up our rental car for the next week at the Portland Airport – a trusty Volkswagen Beetle This one was an automatic not like the stick shift on my college-era Beetle that had no gas gauge and a one-gallon reserve tank you switched on manually.   (This one may be the last time in a Beetle since VW is discontinuing the line.)

We stayed at a nearby hotel after dinner at the Sea Dog Brewery by the airport – one of nine locations in Maine, New Hampshire and Florida for this brewery founded in 1993.

Not much ambiance in this brewpub – kind of reminded me of the Portland (or Denver or Chicago or …..) version of the Rock Bottom Brewery franchise. 

That said, the staff was courteous and they had sixteen beers on tap.   I really enjoyed Sea Dog’s award-winning Windjammer Blonde Ale (4.8%) and Janet’s Deep Stowage IPA (6.14%) a dry-hopped cask ale, which is not itemized on their website, also got a good rating. 

We drove through rural areas about forty miles north to Bridgton, Maine, where our Oregon friends, Roy Lambert and Mary Maxwell – frequent Beerchasers in Oregon, have a picturesque home named “Pinehaven” on one of Maine’s many beautiful lakes.

Our two-day stay with them was filled with hikes, kayaking on the lake and hitting some great nearby pubs.  They have both been very active in the Lakes Environmental Association – an important initiative to preserve the pristine nature of this natural resource throughout Maine.

Two of the interesting pubs we visited were Ebenezer’s in the historical town of Lovell, settled during the Revolutionary War and incorporated in 1800.  Ebenezer’s adjoins a golf course and is in an old house which includes a wonderful screened porch where we ate and also has a beautiful inside bar.

Picturesque lighted screened porch

The pub has won a number of awards and asserts it’s the “17-Time # 1 Best Beer Destination in the World.”   I didn’t inquire the source of this rating, but their incredible selection of beers is notable as described in this excerpt from a review on Thrillist:

“With more than 700 bottles available and a huge tap selction of Belgian rarities and favorites, Ebenezers has about 1.5 different beers stocked for each of its tiny hometown’s residents.”

That’s where I had my first of many Alagash White Ales (5.0%) on the trip – one of the most popular beers in Maine.  It’s cloudy and white with coriander and orange and was outstanding.

Outstanding Belgian White

Alagash Brewing, founded in Portland, Maine in 1995 now distributes its Belgian-inspired brews to seventeen states.

Ebeneezer’s also had outstanding food including our Reubens and Quesadillas.  This Trip Advisor (7/9/18) review describes it aptly:

Fantastic Food and Beer. This eclectic restaurant is a hidden gem. There is an amazing selection of beer and the menu was vast and most delicious.”

It was definitely one of the best establishments of the many we visited on the trip.

1.5 kinds of beer for every resident….

The next day we took a healthy jaunt on a 2.3 mile trail through Pondicherry Park – a 68 acre gem in the heart of downtown Bridgton  -population 5,384!

Roy and Mary have contributed time and money to improve and maintain it and there are streams, woodlands and abundant wildlife in this family-oriented park..

There are a number of small but innovative obstacles courses along the Pinehaven Trail – gifts of the Lambert-Maxwell family. One of the entrances is through a memorial covered bridge.

The next day after touring rural Maine, we hit an idiosyncratic but cool pub for dinner – the Standard Gastropub right on Main Street in Bridgton. 

This former gas station and mini-market was converted into a gas station and pub which is know for good comfort food and a large selection of beers – both bottled and on tap. 

That’s where we first tried the Kresge Kolsch (4.8%) from Cushnoc Brewing in Augusta, Maine and Bissel Brothers’ Brewing of Portland Maine flagship beer – Substance Ale (6.6%).

We love trying “local” beers and supporting small breweries – a good choice on both beers that night.  Bissel Brothers was founded in 2013 and has already expanded while Cushnoc was founded in 2017.

Nothing fancy – but good food and a LOT of beer options!

Early on Monday, we set out and drove north to Bar Habor and Acadia National Park“Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.” 

We checked into our quaint bed-and-breakfast – the Harbor Cottage Inn in SW Harbor and took Oli’s Trolley for a 2.5 hour tour of the Acadia Park Loop Road – the best way to get an overview of the park and avoid traffic problems. 

The weather was a bit stormy and windy which made the view along the coastline that much better.

The next post will narrate what we saw in the Park and some of the watering holes in both SW Harbor and Bar Harbor – two wonderful Maine Villages.

 

 

 

Autumn (and Beerchasing) in New York….

New York City from Brooklyn

Since the commencement of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs in 2011, I have visited and reviewed upwards of 250 establishments – initially just in the Portland area.   Our retirement travel, however, prompted expanding the “journey” to bars in other locations ranging from those in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii and many regions of the US to those throughout the State of Oregon including the coast and Eastern Oregon.

Outside the Ed Sullivan Theater

My wife, Janet, although not accompanying me to dive bars, has enjoyed finding new breweries and neighborhood pubs on these trips. She has developed a fondness for IPA’s – a different route than her previous preference for only wine.

On our most recent trip to New York City, Maine and Boston, we saw breathtaking scenery, explored another one of our wonderful National Parks (Acadia), toured interesting museums, went to a Broadway play, attended the Stephen Colbert Show, took some great hikes/bicycle rides and had some great food in both urban and rural eateries.

During this time, we also raised a mug in five establishments in New York City, fifteen in Maine and one in Boston.

(To allay any concern about the amount of alcohol consumed, it should be noted that our standard practice when visiting bars or breweries is to split a pint of beer or have a 4 ounce sampler so we can both check out the watering hole and sample the beer.   It’s usually only when we have dinner that we each have our own drink.)

Janet at the bar in historic Durty Nelly’s in the North End of Boston

Another tip for travelers who want to have a similar experience – always sit at the bar if stools are open.  This provides the best chance to talk to a bartender and meet locals or strangers and share their experiences.

The following are the bars, breweries and restaurants we visited on our twelve-day trip:

New York City

Patio Bar – Marriott Pulse Hotel

Rooftop Bar – Marriott Pulse Hotel

The District Tap House

The District Tap House in the Garment District

Bryant Park Bar and Grill

Butter Restaurant

Heartland Brewery

A thriving Heartland Brewing near Times Square on a Thursday night

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maine

Sea Dog Brewery  – Portland, Maine

Ebenezers Restaurant and Pub –Lovell, Maine

Standard Gastropub – Bridgton, Maine

The delightful brewpub at Atlantic Brewing in Bar Harbor

Atlantic Brewery – Bar Harbor, Maine

Cottage Street Pub – Bar Harbor, Maine

Sips Restuarant – Southwest Harbor, Maine

The Island Bar in Southwest Harbor

Island Bar – Southwest Harbor,Maine

Marshall Wharf Brewery –   Belfast Harbor, Maine

Shipyard Brewing – Portland, Maine

Sebago Brewing – Portland, Maine

Rock Harbor Pub and Brewery – Rockland, Maine

Rising Tide Brewery – Portland, Maine

Boston

Giaccommos – Boston, Massachusetts

Durty Nelly’s – Boston, Massachusetts

Legal Sea Food – Boston, Massachusetts

This post will relate most of our three and one-half day stay in New York City, with two follow-up posts covering the final day in NYC, Maine and Boston.   Although this blog is about bars and beer, given the sights seen and the cultural experiences, I ask your indulgence to expand the narrative to be a Travelogue, of sorts, including pictures which made this a vacation we will long remember.

It should be noted for those who remember one of the late John Candy’s best films, this was a trip that involved planes, trains, subway, automobiles, buses, trolley, bicycles and even kayaks.

Penn Station

We flew into the Newark Airport and took the train into Penn Station, which was only about one-half mile from our hotel downtown on West 37th Street between 5th Ave. and the Avenue of the Amercas.  A great location in the heart of the City.

We split a beer on the patio bar outside the Marriott Pulse Hotel with two other couples.   One of them was an electronic engineer – he and his wife were from Australia.

He had an impressive academic  background and he pointed to the “Columbia” on my sport shirt and told me that he thought it was an impressive Ivy League University.  While Oregon State needs no apology, I simply informed him that Columbia was an Oregon sportswear company.

Brooklyn Brewing’s Defender IPA

We both had a new beer Brooklyn Brewing’s Defender IPA brewed with Cascade Hops.  (I wish I had known at the time that these Oregon hops which are the most widely used hops by craft breweries in the US and were “developed in the USDA breeding program at Oregon State University in the 1960’s.” Wikipedia).

Not the Ivy League, but a great aggie school! 

The brevity of our stay precluded visiting the brewery itself, but it has an interesting history starting with its roots in 1988.  It’s founder, Steve Hindy, is a former AP correspondent who covered the Middle East during a war-torn period.   When his Beirut hotel was hit by a mortar shell, he decided he and his family should return to New York.

“Steve befriended diplomats based in Saudi Arabia, where Islamic law prohibits alcoholic beverages.  The envoys were avid homebrewers and happily plied Steve with their flavorful beers.  Returning to live in Brooklyn and editing foreign news for Newsday, Steve started brewing at home.”  (Brooklyn Brewing website)

The history is very interesting including a glimpse at the grand opening of their Brooklyn Brewing brewhouse, tasting room and offices in 1996.  New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, foreshadowed his current role as a “TV lawyer” as follows:

Steve introduced Guiliani to about 100 reporters assembled in the street in front of the brewery’s towering front doors. The mayor, who had a combative relationship with New York City’s notoriously prickly press corps, pulled Steve up next to him and said, ‘I want all you journalists to look at this man. He used to be a reporter, but now he is making an honest living.'”  (Brooklyn Brewing website)

Since we got to the hotel in the late afternoon, we had an early dinner after walking through Midtown.  The ubiquitous sirens and horns create an underlying clamer which residents ignore.  I was struck by the sense of purpose reflected by pedestrians – also the incredible diversity. 

Take a look at this 7th Ave. intersection near Penn Station.  It aptly demonstrates the mix of nationalities and demographics that make New York City such an interesting and cultural melting pot — a good thing and one that is reflected in the amazing assortment of restaurants, shops and neighborhoods.

Although some might question the substance of my claim, I felt it was a homecoming, of sorts, since I was born in Mineola, New York when we lived in Merrick, Long Island.   We moved to Philadelphia when I was eighteen-months old and other than my brother, Garry’s graduation from West Point, I had only visited the City once before this trip.

Mineola, New York Town Hall and Community Center in Nassau County

(Note:  I might add that Janet fortunately persuaded me not to take a cab or rent a car and fight traffic to Mineola to see the hospital where I think I came into the world – NYU Winthrop Hospital.)

I agreed that the doctors and nurses who would have attended me would now be in either their late nineties or past the century mark.

This hospital also rates only three out of five stars on Yelp (if that’s where you look to choose a medical facility….)  One reviewer called it a “third-world facility” while another said her father “walked out and said he would rather die than continue the ER visit.”  (I’m sure it was better than in the late ’40’s).

Since Frank Sinatra hit the charts with it in 1949, the year after Thebeerchaser’s birth, nostalgia prompted me to excerpt a few verses from the classic – “Autumn in New York.”

Autumn in New York
The gleaming rooftops at sundown
Oh, autumn in New York
It lifts you up when you run down

Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds
In canyons of steel
They’re making me feel I’m home

The view of the Empire State Building from our hotel’s rooftop bar.

Our restaurant that night was Butter – we had an excellent meal and we ate in the dining room although it also had a beautiful bar that was filled.  That night we capped off our evening with a drink on the open-air rooftop bar of the hotel.  It was notable for its impressive and unforgettable view of the Empire State Building.  The American Pilsner that we split was also very good and from another Brooklyn brewery – War Flag Brewing.

The walk across The Brooklyn Bridge

The next morning was a 3 ½ hour walking tour across the Brooklyn Bridge and through Brooklyn by Free Tours by Foot, an organization that has proven great for us in both Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.

The fee for the tour is totally up to the generosity of participants who  provide a gratuity at the end.  Our guide was knowledgeable and articulate.  The only negative factor was the 104 degree temperature. (As in the previous tours, one wonders about the humanity of those few who eagerly participate in these tours and then walk away without tipping!)

We were impressed by the subway system and used it each day we were in the City.  People were very helpful and besides hopping on a train after the Walking Tour that took us farther into Brooklyn rather than Uptown to Manhattan – it was great.   The problem was easily resolved by getting out at the first station and did not require an additional fare.

It is interesting to see the sizeable percentage of commuters who are “buried” in their cell phones during the ride.  I guess that aside from the medium, this is no different than in the old days when people spread out copies of the New York Times, the New York Post of the Wall Street Journal.  (It’s also probably a lot less annoying to seatmates.)

That evening was one of the highlights of the visit – VIP tickets to the Stephen Colbert show on Thursday thanks to my oboe instructor, Kelly Gronli, whose brother-in-law, Gabe, is a writer on the show.   Unlike most of the audience who had to wait from late morning until the 4:30 admission time at the Ed Sullivan Theater, we got in line at 4:00 and had great seats in the first row of the balcony.

Given the 104 degree heat outside, I “froze” in the air-conditioned studio while we waited for Stephen to appear and during the taping – two nights on that Thursday which allowed us to see two monologues.   It was a memorable experience.

There are no pictures from the inside of the theater because their policy on cell phones and photos was similar to that at the Vatican in the Sistine Chapel.   If they even viewed a cell phone or i-Pad, you would be extricated from the Theater, prevented from attending the show forever and presumably reported to the appropriate federal and state authorities or ex-communicated!

The Colbert band was amazing, Stephen was funny and candid when he spontaneously answered questsions from the audience before the show, his interviews of his guests – Emma Thompson and Troye Sivan (South African singer and actor) were superb.

Since we got out of the theater so late, rather than a restaurant, we went to the attractive open air bar at Bryant Park where we had an expensive and disappointing quesadilla.   We split a pint of Blue Moon Belgian White Ale because we were craving an orange….

It had been a long day, we walked back and stopped, but did not have a beer in to the Times Square brewpub of employee-owned Heartland Brewery – one of three downtown locations of this craft brewery that opened in 1995.  It looked interesting and was packed.

The next post will cover our final day in New York City and the first part of our trip to Maine.

 

Bar 33 (Brooklyn) and Then???


What draws a person to watering hole?   Having visited over 250 bars, taverns and breweries in the last seven years of which about one-half were in the Portland area, I feel reasonably qualified to opine…..

Multnomah Whiskey Library

In some cases, it might be the extensive tap list or whiskey labels.  Examples might be Bailey’s Tap House (24 rotating taps) or the Multnomah Whiskey Library (1,500 different labels) both in downtown Portland. (Click on the link to see Thebeerchaser review of all bars mentioned in this post.)

I would suggest, however, that when one confronts more than fifteen or so drafts or ten labels of Scotch, the incremental magnitude of the drink menu becomes somewhat irrelevant (as long as PBR is one of the drafts….).

Bailey’s Tap List – how many drafts does one need?

In other cases, it might simply be economics.  A good Happy Hour with $1.50 PBRs or cheap but strong cocktails can garner a loyal group of regulars.

At Gil’s Speakeasy, their claim to be “The Nicest A-holes in Town,” might just be correct, and the cheap beer is supplemented by a daily food special such as a $3 chili dog (Saturdays) or three tacos for a buck on Mondays — that’s also Dirty Bingo Night!.

Or maybe it’s just the attraction of an ice-cold Hamms on tap for a buck  – all day each Wednesday.  That’s the case at The Standard.  It’s a NE dive bar which Mathew Korfhage, the fabled (and now former) bar reviewer at Willamette Week in the WW 2017 Portland Bar Guide described as:

“….cheap, no-nonsense fun in a way that takes all comers and yet is loving towards its long-time regulars.  These days in Portland that makes The Standard not very standard at all.  It makes it a GD treasure.”

The Standard – “A GD Treasure.”

While I could go on for pages on other criteria drawing one to a bar, I will complete this list by adding the critical factor of ambiance or character.  It’s where an establishment as you walk by beckons you – like the Sirens in Homer’s Odyssey.

Odysseus and the Sirens from Homer – tied to the mast…..

Maybe it’s the engaging and cordial staff or the friendly regulars that radiate a welcoming atmosphere that pervades the place like smoke from the Taylor Wild Fire in the City of Grants Pass.  (And before Oregon’s Smoke Free law passed in 1981, most dive bars had the same Air Quality Index reading…)

My favorite Portland examples are the Dockside along the Willamette River in North Portland or Cracker Jack’s Pub in NW.  As you walk out the door, you are already planning your next return trip…..

The Dockside – a hidden gem

Or perhaps its the idiosyncratic layout with an eclectic mix of red booths and scattered tables, classic pinball games and memorabilia including old beer signs, deer antlers, tacky but “timeless” art and placards with quotes such as these two from the historic Bay Haven Inn in Newport:

“I’ve been fishing so long, my worm is getting Social Security.”      

“Soup of the Day — Whiskey”  

The Bar at the Bay Haven Inn – established in 1908

One of the most memorable examples is the Tank of Death at the Tide Pool Pub in Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast where Vicki, the owner, will tell you about going to “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” in Iowa, when her dad worked in a slaughterhouse and meat-packing plant.

Vicki and Thebeerchasing crew in 2014 – she also makes the best pizza on the coast

The Tank of Death is graphically described by former coastal bar blogger, (“Letitpour.net”) Matt Love, as:

“A salt-water glass coffin called the Tank of Death.  It is packed with all manner of marine creatures caught by local fishermen who bucket in their curious finds and dump them in.  Eels, crabs, sea bass, perch, Dick Cheney, octopi and urchins all end up in the mix……….

The Tank of Death – a “Roman arena of savagery and merciless predation….

According to the bartender, aquatic creatures regularly stage a battle royal to the death and the tank serves as a Roman arena of savagery and merciless predation  – with bets slapped down and accelerated drinking when the water turns a creamy, cloudy red.”   

But I digress (considerably) with this 700 word introduction to Bar 33 – Brooklyn.  Perhaps, it’s my frustration with a bar that looked like it might be a very interesting site to meet some new people and experience the engaging climate that has typified a majority of the barrooms I have frequented on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs.

However after three separate visits, I left with the sentiment:

“Visit it for a mug of one of the ten drafts and to hear a good Van Morrison song from a decent juke box.  But then move on to an establishment where you will want to return – maybe even invite your mom to visit.”  (And a number are not far from Bar 33 – see below) 

Now it’s not because of lack of amenities – the bar is pretty spacious and has an attractive back bar.

There are a number of games such as Big Buck Hunter and even two Skee Balls, an electronic juke box, a number of big screen TVs, a pool table and an expansive albeit unspectacular patio with a fire pit that would be nice for a summer afternoon – dogs are welcome.  There’s also a large parking lot.

Most of the social media comments are above average although there are not that many reviews.  But on my visits, the bar had no vibe or energy – admittedly a subjective judgment and I might make a return trip on a weekend night to see if that helps.

Part of the problem is they have no web site – nor does their sister establishment Bar 33 – Gresham.   And their Facebook page has very intermittent material.  For example, besides a post on September 2nd announcing, “Thursday Night Football is Back,” the most current posts were on June 20th and April 18th – both for free comedy line-ups.

And evidently they have Karoke on Saturday nights and Trivia Nights, but unless you are a regular or see their sign, that information probably passes you by.

The last “events” advertised on Facebook were from December 15, 2017 launching their new menu and happy hour (no details were included) and live music by the Still River Drifters on October 14th. (The last entry on Bar 33 – Gresham Facebook page was posted on 2/27/17.)

A person answering the phone on 9/3/18 said, “We don’t have live music any more, but we’re looking into it.”   Since they had an empty popcorn machine in the bar, I also asked about this and he responded, “We no longer have free popcorn.”

The bartender on my visits was efficient, but preoccupied even though there were few people in the bar (you order food and drink at the bar).

The background info I got on the bar came from on-line research where I learned that the building’s predecessors were a Chinese restaurant named Yummy Garden  and more recently a Salvador Molly’s. (Sellwood Bee 12/24/18)

I assume that like the Nineteen 33 Taproom in the Willamette section of West Linn – a great pub Thebeerchaser reviewed in February 2017 – the name of Bar 33 is derived from the monumental year in US history, when Prohibition – the 18th Amendment was repealed and replaced by the 21st Amendment after a failed fourteen year fiasco.  However, one would never know otherwise the derivation of the name.

And the co-owners evidently have a hospitality background:

“After years of working in the bar, brewery and restaurant industry, Owners Jeff Pochop and Jake Whitney decided to work for themselves. 

Opening Bar 33 Gresham in 2011, Jeff and Jake are now on their fourth location.  Including Pastimes Sports Bar & Pizza in Fairview, Oregon and a small deli in Lebanon, Oregon.”

Besides the good Backwoods Copperline Amber I had, the other redeeming factor on one of my visits to Bar 33, was raising a mug with Larry Frank.

Larry Frank – outstanding lawyer and great guy…

Larry is a recently retired VP and Associate Legal Counsel for Standard Insurance.  A Lewis and Clark Law grad and University of Iowa alumnus, he is an outstanding lawyer and a great guy.

We can applaud Pochop and Whitney as entrepreneurs, but Bar 33 – Brooklyn has a lot of unrealized potential in Thebeerchaser’s humble opinion.   If you want to check it out it’s located at 4729 SE Milwaukie Ave – just north of Sellwood.

And maybe you will find a different environment than id did; however, I would suggest that after a quick beer there or one of their cocktails which seemed reasonably interesting, you spend the bulk of your time at one of the following:

The Brooklyn Park Pub, (2 minutes or .7miles) the first stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour in 2011, where one of Portland’s best bartenders, Phoebe Newcombe will serve you beer in a Mason jar and make you feel very welcome.  You can also ask her about the Brooklyn’s iconic Whiskey Club.

Phoebe at the Brooklyn Park Pub – a class act..

Or you could check out The Muddy Rudder (6 minutes or 2.1 miles) on the east side of the Sellwood Bridge, which definitely does have live music and a great environment.

Chart a course to the Muddy Rudder

 

 

Then there’s the Ancestry Brewery’s Taphouse (5 minutes or 1.9 miles) at 8268 SE 13th Ave where you can have a pint of their flagship beer – Best Coast IPA and some outstanding beer-battered fish and chips.

Ancestry Tap House

 

And if you want some exercise, just south of Bar 33, you can take the trail for 1.1 miles along the Oaks Bottom Wild Life Refuge to the Lompoc Brewing’s Oaks Bottom Public House.

You will walk through an urban wetland popular with bird watchers and full of other critters including beavers, otters and cranes (not the construction kind although there are plenty of those in Sellwood lately.)

Urban Wetlands in the Oak Bottom Wildlife Refuge

A “must” at the Oaks Bottom Pub

In the living room environment of the Pub, you can have a fantastic Cobb salad and a pint of their outstanding Proletariat Red Ale.

Now, there’s even a new brewery only 3.3 miles away – Ruse Brewing, whose co-owners and brewers, Shaun Kalis and Devin Benware, at least from their website and some early reviews, seem to have the passion which appears to be missing from the aforementioned co-owners:

“We brew small batch, flavorful, and thoughtfully-crafted beers. We work with local artists and musicians to design beers paired with their art for concept events and beer releases. Our community is a major inspiration for our company vision, we will do what it takes to be involved and support other businesses and organizations.”

Ruse will be a stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour in the next few months.

Now this is the first review of over 200 blog entries, in which I have set forth more words talking about other establishments than the focus of the post.   I can defend that, however, because all of the others mentioned above, captivated the imagination regardless of what time the visit or how many people were in the bar – not the case with Bar 33.

Bar 33 pool table and games

Bar 33 Brooklyn      4729 SE Milwaukie     Portlan