Beerchasing in Corvallis – Part 1

As I stated in my last post on Thebeerchaser blog, with all Oregon and Washington watering holes closed except for takeout, I ‘m going to “catch up” on some great bars and breweries that I visited in the  last few years, but just didn’t write up because of my formidable Beerchasing agenda……

And what better place to start then two trips to Corvallis, Oregon – home of my undergraduate alma mater – Oregon State University.  The next Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter will also be introduced to Beerchaser followers in the following post and is part of an OSU legend.

Ariel view of the Memorial Union and the Quad

As a precursor, I can state that OSU was a wonderful place to live and learn for four years.  Although some refer to OSU as simply an aggie school, it has nationally recognized programs in Ocean Sciences, Engineering and Forestry. 

It was also one of the first colleges in the country to initiate a Fermentation Science degree in 1996, which still ranks among the best in the country – certainly dear to the heart of Thebeerchaser.  It comprises about 50% of the students who are pursuing a degree in Food Science and Technology.

West Coast IPA has been one of the fastest growing styles of craft beer and “the hop that launched this revolution was an Oregon-grown variety called Cascade, developed at Oregon State University by the USDA hop breeding program.”

Fermentation Science at OSU

The two Beerchaser posts on Corvallis will be on ventures back to my undergrad stomping grounds:

In October, 2018:  I accompanied my fraternity brother and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely and his friend, Dr. Bob Gill when we drove down to see the Beavers play the Washington State Cougars.

If you click on the link above you will also see the compelling story of my friend of 50 + years, Jud, ranging from his time – albeit abbreviated – as OSU Student Body President, to his heroic service during the Viet Nam War and beyond.

Dr. Bob Gill, Jud Blakely and Billy Main

Thanks to the generosity of former Beaver Giant Killer, Billy Main, who played running back on that fabled 1967 team, we also had 50-yard line complimentary tickets and attended a reception for alumni in which new Coach Jonathan Smith appeared about an hour before the game for a ten-minute inspirational briefing.

Coach Smith inspiring the alums right before the game with WSU

Indeed, Billy Main epitomized that Giant Killer football team which is one of the great sports stories – not only in Oregon, but in American college football lore.   For those who want to know more about that legendary team check out my own post:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/

Or for the most comprehensive and impressive chronology and documentation, check out the aforementioned, Jud Blakely’s website.  It is a labor of love by this OSU alum and I consider it the War and Peace equivalent of sports websites:  https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

I knew Billy as a fellow NROTC midshipman – one class ahead of mine.  His college football and subsequent professional career in the hospitality industry are stories that deserve to be told and are inspiring as you will learn in the next post.

On the first trip back – also in October one year earlier – I was privileged to be the overnight guests of former Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm colleague, Brian (Brain) King and his wife, Nancy.

Brian was an environmental litigator in the corporate sector and then with two large law firms.  Nancy King – also a lawyer – after her career in private practice – served as a professor at both Willamette University College of Law and in the Oregon State School of Business.

Gracious hosts in 2017 – Brian and Nancy King at the Block 15 Brewery

Before his retirement in 2016, he “anchored” Schwabe’s one-person Corvallis office. In the second post on Corvallis, you will learn more about Brian’s notable legal career and why I credit him as a primary inspiration for starting this blog in 2011.  Nancy also retired in 2016 although she taught during the summer at Aarhus University in Denmark in 2017.

Why Would One Go to College in Corvallis?

NROTC Class of 1970 at OSU

Not to belabor the point, but Corvallis is not only a wonderful community, but an ideal college town.  Now perhaps, I was slightly parochial in 1966, but as a recipient of the NROTC scholarship, I had the option to attend any of the fifty or so US universities that offered that program (and to which I could get admitted which, of course, narrowed the list quite a bit….) 

College recruitment and selection is a lot different these days (maybe not going forward) but I only visited OSU, loved the campus and also the opportunity to pledge the SAE fraternity.

Oregon State SAE House at 29th and Harrison

Corvallis has a population of 59,000 – 85 miles south of Portland, it was founded in 1845 and has the motto “Enhancing Community Livability.”   (We earnestly tried to live up to this standard while we were students….)

In doing some research for this post, I did find one interesting statistic (and perspective) from a real estate blog: (https://www.estately.com/blog/2016/06/15-things-you-should-know-before-moving-to-corvallis-oregon/

“Corvallis has the lowest percentage of children of any of the 20 largest cities in Oregon. This is great news for those of you don’t enjoy the sounds of screaming children while dining out, seeing a movie, riding public transport, meditating in the park, or playing video games at an arcade. On the other hand, if you have small children the city might feel a little devoid of other youngsters.”

Now during my college years (1966-70), there were no breweries and just a few notable bars – classics if you will including the SAE’s favorite – Price’s Tavern.  Also Don’s Den and The Peacock Bar and Grill.   The Peacock and it’s iconic rooftop pavilion – “The Top of the Cock” – is the only one surviving to this day.

Corvallis now offers a great variety of bars – including nine sports bars, breweries , distilleries and even a meadery to suit just about anyone’s preference.   In fact, the Corvallis Visitors’ Bureau offers a brochure entitled the Mid-Valley-Sip Trip listing seventeen establishments – all within the City limits.

On my two trips, I hit the following:

2018:  The Angry Beaver

2017:  Block 15 Brewing, Caves, Squirrels, Cloud and Kelly’s, Flat Tail Brewing and The Peacock

What you Should Know about Bob Gill

The trip to Corvallis was the first time I met Dr. Bob Gill – who attended and played football at both OSU and then Portland State after starring at Jefferson High School his senior season in 1953.   He was selected for the Shrine All-Star game and got a scholarship to OSU.

All-star Quarterback

He was a successful Portland dentist for many years.  But like many of Jud’s friends (other than Thebeerchaser), Bob also has an outstanding Oregon legacy as both an athlete and in the annals of athletics for the State of Oregon.

Click on the link to read his full bio when he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame  in 2019 along with two former Beaver Basketball players from the ’80’s Mark Radford and Ray Blume.

Among his achievements to garner this honor:

  • Bob’s research led to the publication of “It’s in Their Blood,” a history and legacies of 53 Oregon football coaches.
  • As a historian, Bob successfully nominated Tommy Prothro, Neil Lomax and Ad Rutschman into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. For 14 years, he presented the “Walk of Champions” award to champion high school coaches.

  • In 1998, Bob Gill provided the early leadership to return the North-South All-Star Football Game to Portland establishing the Les Schwab Bowl.
  • In 2010, Bob offered to write the story of Oregon and NFL legend, Mel Renfro. After 5 years of research and writing, he authored the biography “Mel Renfro: Forever A Cowboy.”

And from spending a day with him, I can also state that he an amazingly humble and classy gentleman.

When we got to Corvallis, we had lunch at the Angry Beaver Grill where we met Billy and were also joined by Giant Killer Quarterback, Steve Preece and his wife, Karen.

After college, Steve played in the NFL for nine seasons – as a defensive back and his last year, in 1977, he started for the Seattle Seahawks.  After football, he has been a successful Portland commercial real estate broker and developer and is a member of the Beavers’ radio broadcasting crew.

From left – Billy Main, Jud Blakely, Don Williams, Karen Preece, Steve Preece, Dr. Bob Gill

The Angry Beaver Grill is a bastion of Oregon State sports history, co-owned by former Beaver football running back Randy Holmes (#31) who averaged 3.7 yards per carry during his four years at OSU.  Randy was a great host to our group and is a wonderful story teller.

Holmes – an expert in the kitchen

He was also known for catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Beav quarterback, Ed Singler to make the score 28-14 against Fresno State in the 1981 season.   The Beavers after being behind 28 to 0 in the first half, won 31 to 28 and ended a 14 game losing streak.

According to Wikipedia, “With the win, Oregon State had set the record for the biggest comeback (28 points) in major college football history at that time.”

And the Angry Beaver is a great venue – especially on game day although according to the OSU student newspaper – The Barometer – it was the best live music venue in Corvallis in 2020.

The Angry Beaver Reuben

For lunch we had burgers and their outstanding Reuben sandwich, but Randy made his mark for years as a chef and according to a 2/2/18 story in the Corvallis Gazette Times

“………..resurrected a bit of Corvallis’ culinary history with the Angry Beaver, which opened in January 2018. For more than a decade, Holmes was the chef at The Gables, which was known as Corvallis’ premier restaurant for years before it closed.

‘I literally made the croutons and chicken bisque soup every day,’ Holmes said. Angry Beaver chef Mike Adams also worked at the Gables.  Naturally, that signature chicken bisque soup with croutons is featured on the menu, as is a prime rib with Danish whipped potatoes special on Friday nights, and that also was a Gables’ staple.” 

Retired Coach Jimmy Anderson

After lunch, Jud wanted to stop by former OSU Head Basketball Coach, Jimmy Anderson’s (from 1989-95) house.   Jimmy was coach of the freshman basketball team in 1961 and Jud got cut in the final round of tryouts.

They ended up playing together on the Truax Oilers AAU team and have maintained a friendship since.  (Of course, Jud told Jimmy he made the wrong decision by cutting him.)

The Beavs on their way to the locker room before the game.

Then we moved on to Reser Stadium for the early evening game.   However, Billy insisted that we be his guests at the Alumni Reception – and it was in the beautiful quarters above the north endzone.   Bob, Jud and I joined about 150 people and soon realized that they were all former OSU athletes and their guests.

And among them were a number of former Pac (8-10-12) all stars and a both current and former pro-athletes – which made me feel a little out-of-place although my size when compared to most of them meant that my presence was not conspicuous.

Scott Barnes OSU AD

We heard the great talk by Coach Jon Smith and then affable OSU Athletic Director, Scott Barnes, closed the affair and understandably started making the rounds shaking hands with those who attended.  He stuck out his hand to me and said, “Thanks for coming back.”   Given the presence of all the other athletes, I almost could not resist responding to his greeting with “Don Williams, SAE Intramural Basketball 1966 – 70.”

Well, although it was a pretty good game for three quarters, Oregon State lost 56 – 37. In retrospect, sitting there in a crowded stadium on a lovely fall night even when your team loses, seems like a wonderful future scenario.

Go Beavs!!

And although the Angry Beaver Grill is now closed during the pandemic, when bars and restaurants reopen, be sure to stop in and say “hello” to Randy and his friendly and effective staff.   You will enjoy the great atmosphere, the good tap list and the great food.

5 thoughts on “Beerchasing in Corvallis – Part 1

  1. Where is Jan? Your editor fell down on this issue–punctuation and spelling errors abound. ROTFL OK, not abound… maybe 3-4 or so. LOL

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    *R. W. Ziegler Jr.MESA CONSULTING LLC315 Meigs Road, Suite A-355Santa Barbara CA 93109415.290.9570 (Direct dial-cell)805.965.0109 (Office)* – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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    • I knew there would be some lawyers who picked up my lack of proofreading, but I have a good excuse. I wanted to post this before leaving for Lincoln City where we don’t have good internet. Corrections are now made although they may still not pass the Carnegie Mellon standard……(At least I spelled your undergrad alma mater correctly.)

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  2. Gosh, Don, this was so much fun! Before the lock down we frequented Squirrels, but I can see there are other fine options we haven’t discovered yet.

    We did Thanksgiving at the Peacock (don’t ask) but it’s not the old Peacock of my graduate days in the late 90s. Great music, always jammed, and aging “bikers” at the bar. My cowgirl boots fit right in, and one night the singer – a great blues guy from Portland – dedicated a song to me, “Good Golly Miss Molly!”

    I was working in the Development office at OSU at the time while getting my MA and one day, one of the women took me aside and said, “You’re getting a reputation spending so much time at the Peacock.” I laughed and said, “Yes!” You know how rowdy writers can be.

    Anyway, Corvallis has changed some since I lived here then, but basically it’s the same great place, and I’m happy to be home. Let me know next time you’re coming down.
    Miss Molly Cook

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    • Another of the always great and interesting Jazz Cookie stories and we’re glad that you’re back in Corvallis where you made your mark years ago. Will look forward to seeing you when things return to normal.

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