Last year, Thebeerchaser, joined by friends Dave Booher and Steve Larson, toured Eastern Oregon for four days visiting bars, taverns and pubs from Madras and Prineville to Baker City, LaGrande to Burns – our favorite on the trip was the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns. (the link is to the review in 2013)
Although Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs was originally confined to just the City of Roses, it has evolved — there have been posts on venues in Alaska, Europe and Eastern Oregon. We decided to tour the Central Oregon Coast (Pacific City to Newport) where we visited thirteen wonderful watering holes in 3.5 days.
Note: To digress slightly, I am pleased to report that Thebeerchaser Blog on September 19th surpassed 35,000 views since its inception in August 2011. Views in the last several months have averaged 1,500 and twice exceeded 2,000 and those interested in bars visit this site from countries all over the world.
For example, stats for the last two days show visitors from ten countries outside of the US including Brazil, the Russian Federation, New Zealand, Columbia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Lebanon, etc. Perhaps future Beerchaser visits will hit watering holes in all of those countries! These are not spam, but people doing Google searches about bars, Bad Frog Beer, Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter such as author Brian Doyle, Mayor of the Dalles, Steve Lawrence and appellate lawyer, Jack Faust, etc.
On the way to the coast, we stopped for lunch and a brewski at Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee – the bar that spurred the idea for Thebeerchaser Tour four years ago when I decided to have nachos and a PBR with the locals.
I left pondering the premise — each bar has its own ambiance, history and regulars that deserve narration. Lumpy’s – known for its clever signs (see below), its burgers, live weekend music and colorful locals as evidenced by the dialogue we heard from two of them while we drank our $2.50 PBR Tall-boys and chowed down delicious burgers and hot dogs (they ran out of sauerkraut..).
Local No. 1: “I’m really dragging today – just worn out.”
Local No. 2 – “You can’t stay here all day – you need some exercise. You need to get up and go to another bar.”
We added another stop on the way to Lincoln City – the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville – and if you have never visited that incredible display of aviation history – you should do so before the bankruptcy of Evergreen International Inc. results in changes.
Our three hours there were magnificent, including an iMax screening of a D-Day movie. Hundreds of planes from early gliders to a B-17 Flying Fortress, to jets, to a Titan II booster rocket and historical exhibits which will enthrall you.
We hit Lincoln City in the early evening and our first visit was right in Lincoln City on Highway 101 – the Old Oregon Tavern. Now before we start relating our adventures in this pub, Thebeerchaser needs to give credit to a comrade-in-arms, of sorts.
That would be Matt Love, a former Lincoln City teacher, who for a number of years had a wonderful blog about bars on the Oregon coast – a Beerchaser-on-the-Shore. He now lives in Astoria and discontinued his blog in 2004, but has written several books. You should check out “Let it Pour” with the link since a number of venues are still active and he has great reviews.
I came across his blog when researching our trip and his descriptions of many of the places we hit are wonderful and compelling. For example, this excerpt from his post on The Old Oregon Tavern:
“(It’s) a damn fine gritty place to drink beer – a lot of beer….The regulars call it The Old O and after spending time there over the years, I feel it is not too outrageous to suggest the nickname stands not only for The Old Oregon Tavern in Lincoln City — which it does — but really some of the patrons’ last long ago orgasm. Maybe the Johnson Administration.
The interior of the Old O reflects the taste of the owners and its rich history as a tavern. According to one patron who smoked cigarettes (Matt wrote this before the 2009 law banning smoking) and drank beer while attached to a portable oxygen tank, the joint dates to World War II, but maybe earlier.”
Nancy, the bartender who has worked there for two years, told us that they had thirteen beers on tap. She also said the building was once Johnson’s Ice Cream Parlor. It has regulars playing pool, all of the great signs and mementoes that make a great old bar including some old peace signs – also from the Johnson era – and if you visit, make it on Tye Dye Tuesday.
And we noticed the planned wake for one of the regulars, Rod Dollar, who Nancy said had died suddenly of a heart attack. The sign beckoned his friends to “Come in and have a drink on Ron,” which we assumed was not to be taken literally since he had been buried the week before.
We met our first regular when a burly old guy with a white beard limped in and sat in the back. Nancy told us he was “Irish Mike McKenna,” and he was the “Local Ambassador,” for the Old O.
Irish Mike ordered a beer and just sat back and observed. I was wandering around and taking a bunch of pictures after we ordered our Rusty Truck IPA (very good – see below).
I looked back and Irish Mike was motioning for me to come see him which made me very nervous since I thought he was going to either yell at me or kick me out for taking pictures
As I headed back, he took a few bucks out of his wallet and handed me $2 when I got to him. He smiled and said, “It’s your turn to pick the song on the juke-box — Don’t screw it up!”
Now a number of the bars we would visit in the next few days would have music collections that made one cringe.
As one crime novelist wrote, “You could chose between bad songs and terrible songs on the jukebox – a breathtaking array of pop hits, from the seventies, such as ‘Muskrat Love,’ that burrowed into you like a tick…” And selecting a Captain and Tenille song at the Old O might have caused a ruckus.
But the Old O’s music locker rocked…..My first pick was Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” followed by the Eagles, “Take it Easy.” Irish Mike seemed to approve (which pleased me a lot) and we left The Old O and its appropriate motto – “Where friends and family meet,” and headed south on 101.
Tune in to Part II of the coastal journey as we hit Road House 101 – also in Lincoln City and home to the Rusty Truck Brewery which makes some good beers and a pub that has some great grub.