Reflecting on Oregon’s Urban-Rural Divide – The Embers Brew House in Joseph, Oregon

In the Heart of Joseph

The Embers Brew House

Thebeerchaser’s bar tour was in a slight rut.  Fascinated by the contention of Kip, owner of Bar of the God’s contention that his establishment was in the midst of Portland’s Barmuda Triangle, I realized I had been sucked into the vortex and had focused too much on SE Hawthorne establishments including:

      Bar of the Gods      Hawthorne Hideaway     Gold Dust Meridian 

Claudia’s   (visited but not yet posted)

As a result, in October I visited the Ship Tavern (not yet posted) in  Multnomah  Village and decided that an Eastern Oregon pub visited on a mini-road trip in late September should be included in my blog.  Thebeerchaser and spouse took a wonderful trip to Eastern Oregon and spent two nights at Wallowa Lake Lodge in Joseph, Oregon.

Wallowa Lake Summit Tramway – Notice the Haze from the Smoke

The scenery was wonderful  – the only problem was that the enormous brush fires in Eastern Oregon and Washington caused a haze which made beautiful Wallowa Lake gray rather than its normal crystal blue.  The smoke even made the view at the top of the Wallowa Lake Tramway impossible to see the other beautiful Eagle Cap peaks.

However, we had a wonderful time at the Embers Brew House (EBH) on a Saturday night in Joseph after dinner at the Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise.

Brew and Dinner at the Bar at Terminal Gravity Brewery and Pub

A Great Place to Visit in Enterprise, Oregon


It was after the tourist season in Joseph and on a Saturday night those at the EBH were mostly locals, hunters and a handful of tourists like us.   Why did we love the Embers?  A clue is in its website:

“The Embers past is firmly rooted in the history of early settlers, business people and today’s locals.  A fire at the present adjacent site of a local grocery store destroyed that property, but The Embers withstood any damage and remained intact, thus the name “The Embers” was born.”

What else made our visit to the EBH memorable?

  • It was the hot-spot in town and the local folk were lively and friendly – a close knit community.  This sign, shown below, posted by the bar embodies the philosophy:

    Not Just a Quote on the Wall…

  • The food was outstanding.  Teresa, the cordial owner and her crew, turned out an absolutely incredible number of pizzas and burgers for the large crowd.
  • Everyone was waiting to either see the Ducks vs. Arizona football game or listen to the Jimmy Bivans Band – a wonderful Boise country-western group that rocked the patio and beer garden area for several hours (you can hear them at three different McMenamin’s from January 12-14th, 2013).

Live Entertainment from Boise – Jimmy Bivins and Friends

  • Mike, a local guy I bonded with wearing a blue Notre Dame sweatshirt, was watching the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game which went down to the wire before the Irish won.  I had listened to the Beavs beat UCLA earlier that day and we talked about both of our alma maters’ undefeated seasons so far      – not realizing what was to come in the next weeks……

Mike, whose daughter also was a ND graduate, was a cool, rugged guy.  He had no airs and was drinking white wine with ice from a plastic cup!   The Notre Dame game ran over a few minutes into the Oregon game, but nobody was going to ask him to change the channel.

Some brief excerpts from reviews on Yelp give an idea why the Embers bustles:

“My husband and I spent the week in Joseph along with 4 other couples. We made it into Embers on 3 different occasions.  The food was excellent; the beer cold, but most of all we enjoyed the staff.”

“Eating a spectacular Greek classic pizza with fresh basil and kalamata olives, outdoors, with a view of the Eagle Cap mountains, while enjoying a beer. It doesn’t get better than that!”                                              

The Bar at the Embers

“We earned our Embers visit with a multi-day backpacking trip in Eagle Cap’s beautiful Lakes Basin. The pizza was a welcome relief after backcountry dehydrated meals. Embers offers plenty of options for the discriminating vegetarian. Their beer list is surprisingly extensive.”

We had eaten dinner earlier at the Terminal Gravity Brewery in nearby Enterprise, which also had a lot of character.  Try their macaroni and cheese and their ESG (Terminal Gravity’s Rye beer, “Extra Special Golden,” might be described as an American golden ale.)

Joseph has several other pubs and even its own brewery.  Take a look at the photos below::

The Hydrant — Where Beer Flows in Joseph



The Outlaw Saloon and Cafe – Another Joseph Bistro



The Stubborn Mule Saloon in Joseph

Mutiny Brewing in Joseph, Oregon

Elkhorn Saloon in Sumpter, Oregon


On our road trip to Wallowa Lake we also went by several old taverns in other Eastern Oregon towns, but did not have time to visit them.  For example, this picture above of The Elkhorn Saloon in Sumpter is a classic old saloon.

It enables one to envision the scene when one western bar patron, named Mike Fink, in the 1800’s unsuccessfully tried to shoot a tin cup of whiskey off the head of his friend – a guy named “Carpenter,” who ended up with a bullet in his head.  Fink became the master of understatement by stating, “Carpenter, you have spilled the whiskey!”      (“Legends of America” – Old West Legends)

Seeing the entrances of the establishments below convinced thebeerchaser that an Eastern Oregon segment of the Bar Tour should be on the agenda next year.

The Lostine Tavern in Lostine, Oregon

It also reminded me of the bar joke about the dog who limps into the bar in Wallowa and yells to the bartender and drinkers:

“I’m looking for the guy who shot my paw….”     


Leave a comment if you know of a bar in Central or Eastern Oregon that should be included in this future Beerchaser Tour.  Shown below are some of the other saloons that beckon:

The Oxbow Saloon in Prairie City

The Range Rider Tavern in Enterprise – Notice that Hunters are Welcome!




And let me conclude with my final western bar joke:

The sheriff bursts through the door of the western saloon and yells:  “I’m looking for Paper Bag Bill – he’s a wanted man.”

A guy at the bar says, “What’s he look like?’ The sheriff says, “Well he has paper bag mask, a newspaper shirt, a crepe paper scarf and a paper bag chaps.”

The bartender asks, “What’s he wanted for?”

The sheriff says, “Rustlin!”

Paper Bag Bill — A “Rustler”….

—————–Eastern Oregon was a great road trip and we will be back to visit the Embers Brew House.  Some people deabate Oregon’s Rural vs. Urban Divide.  Having a beer at a good tavern is just as good in Joseph or Enterprise as it is on SE Hawthorne!

The Embers Brew House    204 North Main Street     Joseph, Oregon

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on Oregon’s Urban-Rural Divide – The Embers Brew House in Joseph, Oregon

    • When we were there, we stayed at the Wallowa Lake Lodge which is an historic lodge on the National Historic Register and very neat. It is not immediately adjacent to the tram but very close to it. I hope this helps.
      Don TBC


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