About thebeerchaser

Retired Chief Operating Officer at a large Northwest regional law firm. Attended Oregon State University in the late '60's and went to Portland State University for graduate school. Have resided in Oregon since our family moved here in 1960.

Beechaser Miscellany –

The Origins of Dirt – Followers of this blog may remember reading about how the nickname “Dirt” was bestowed on me as a freshman at Oregon State University.  And when my younger brother, Rick, started at OSU living at the same fraternity two years after I graduated, they named him “Dust.”  To see the origin of the story, check this link about Cracker Jack’s Pub in Portland.

The Origin of Dirt

The moniker Dirt has stuck all these years as you may be able to discern from looking at the blog header above.  I therefore chuckled when I saw the truck above in Lincoln City from the Rogue Brewery a few weeks ago.  The length of the trailer had this phrase, “Beer begins in the dirt.”

It’s Rogue’s campaign to promote the agricultural component of their brewery ranging from growing hops, wheat and corn to raising free-range chickens and pot-bellied pigs. http://legacy.rogue.com/roguefarms/

Update on Brewing by the Monks at the Abbey in Mount Angel

The Benedictine Brewery is moving forward in anticipation of opening in late spring with the Taproom ready for visitors in June.  Stay tuned and come down to see us at the Mount Angel Abbey St. Benedictine Festival which will be held on the Abbey Hiltop on Saturday, July 7th.

It’s a beautiful and historical location and you can look forward to ” an afternoon of great food, drink and things to do that are inspirational, educational and just plain fun.”


Check the link above to read about the Benedictine Brewery’s  Head Brewer and mastermind of the project (in addition to being this blog’s Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter last summer – Father Martin Grassel.)

Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter Update

Followers of this blog also know about my effort to highlight one person or group each quarter by bestowing the “honor” of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter four times each year.

Past recipients of this award include authors, war heroes, athletes, media personalities and other interesting folk that may or may not have anything to do with bars and beers.  (See the tab at the header to see a list of all former B-O-Q’s and click on their names to see the entire story of the three featured below.)

Amy Faust (4/11/17) Amy and her co-host, Mike Chase who are on the air from 5:30 AM to 10:00 each weekday morning on KWJJ -The Wolf are award winners and I mean National Awards.  The duo was named the Country Music Association Major Market Personality of the Year.

“The CMA Broadcast Awards are among the most prestigious awards given out in the field of Country Radio…..

(They) are judged on air-check ratings, community involvement, format leadership and biographical information.”  (We don’t know if Amy’s ability to play the mandolin was a factor in the last category….)

They received the honor on stage in Nashville, Tennessee when the November ceremony was televised nationally on ABC.

Perhaps radio management realized this was another reason why replacing them with a syndicated robot DJ in 2012, after they had been on the air for thirteen years, was a mistake and reaffirmed the decision to bring the pair back to the air in 2014.

Jay in his earlier rugby years

Jay Waldron  ( 3/29/16)  Portland lawyer, Jay, was named to the US Rugby Association’s Hall of Fame at the 2017 induction ceremony in San Diego.  To see why this honor was well deserved, check out the link.

You can also find out why he will never receive the same award from the US Boxing Association even though his ring (and IM Football) name at the University of Virginia was, “The Dancing Bear.” 


The Dancing Bear



Dwight “The Godfather” Jaynes (12/13/16) Dwight and Aaron Fentress started a new talk show which is broadcast on both radio and television each weekday from noon until 3:00 PM on  “NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio”

They’re a good combination and their debates show some real knowledge of both current and past events and personalities in NW athletics that you won’t get on any other station.   Dwight also continues to serve as a regular panelist on “Talkin’ Ball” – broadcast after each Blazer game.







Put These on Your Book list

In an effort to expand my list of regularly read renowned authors such as Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Dostoevsky and ….David Balduci……, I successfully requested two new non-fiction works at Christmas.  They’re both excellent to this point although I’ve only read the first few chapters of each so far.

I first saw Drinking with the Saints – The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour by Michael Foley in the Mount Angel Abbey Bookstore when I was there working on the Benedictine Brewery.

The book has a Catholic focus although readers (like Thebeerchaser) who are not Catholic  will also find it educational and entertaining.

Just take a few examples in the first twenty + pages and you can see why I am using my yellow highlighter when I read it. (And any book which quotes G.K Chesterton is a must…)

“As our Episcopal brethren like to say, ‘Where two or three are gathered in His name, there is a fifth.”  (Forward – Page x)

G.K. Chesterton – poet, writer, theologian, etc. etc. etc.

“And I am in accord with G.K. Chesterton, who is said to have converted to Catholicism because it was the only religion that could reconcile the pipe, the pint and the Cross……..”   (Forward – Page iX)

“A Franciscan and a Jesuit, both fond of the drink, wanted to have a draught while they prayed the Breviary, and so they asked permission from their superiors.  The Franciscan was turned down because he asked if he could drink while he prayed, but the Jesuit’s request was granted because he asked if he could pray while he drank.”  (Introduction – Page xvii)

Foley has toasts, blessings, a glossary and how to make some great cocktails.  One of the first is the “Monk.”  (1 ½ oz. of gin, ¾ oz. of lemon juice and ¾ oz. of Benedictine)  “Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.” (Page 6)

The Beer Bible is written by author and blogger (Beervana), Jeff Alworth, a Northwest guy who has written about beer for over fifteen years including several books and whose blog has a national audience.

I am an expert on bars but not on beer, so I have eagerly become engrossed in the chapters detailing the different styles of beer, the history of the beverage and how to store, serve and taste beer like an expert.

The Military

We should all be thankful for the sacrifice and service of our military personnel.   There is no need to have a parade down Pennsylvania Ave in Washington D.C. for us and other nations to understand the might and toughness of our military infrastructure and the quality of the men and women who serve.

However, like any large bureaucracy, there are many mistakes, humorous stories and facts which are stranger than fiction that are part of the ongoing story of the United State’s fighting forces.

Brothers Garry and Don Williams

My two brothers and I are veterans and we encountered  these during both training and while on active duty.

The story of my late brother, Garry, calling home when he was singing at the White House in 1972 and stood next to President Nixon when he was there with the West Point Glee Club still makes our family chuckle.

Garry (3rd from left) and the West Point Glees Club at the White House with President Nixon in 1971

Youngest brother, Rick, who like Thebeerchaser, graduated from the OSU NROTC program, became an underwater hard-hat diver and ultimately the skipper of a nuclear submarine the USS Spadefish (SS 668). 

He surfaced through the ice at the North Pole a couple of times among other adventures when the Cold War was still frigid.   He also has many stories, but still maintains he would have to kill me if he related them to me.

Captain Rick Williams at Spadefish change-of-command ceremony

But a recent article from the 2/15/18 Washington Examiner entitled, “Navy Acknowledges Air Crew Drew Penis in the sky over Washington,” caught my attention.  It was a Northwest story about an electronic warfare plane based at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.  (The link above has a photo.)

The two-person crew was grounded pending an investigation after they, “….created skywriting in the shape of male genitals in the skies over Okanogan, Washington……Witnesses took photos and posted them on social media platforms (of course!) and they were widely viewed.”

The righteous indignation in the Navy’s response and apology statement is worth reading.  No word on whether the recalcitrant crew collected on a bet from their fellow pilots which might mitigate the effects of the punishment.  And how many discrete toasts to the pilot were there that night in the Officers’ Club for his creative use of the “joystick.”

And this one about the German Navy written by Tyler Rogoway December 23, 2017, in The Drive entitled, “The German Navy Decided to Return Their Bloated New Frigate to the Ship Store This Christmas,” makes one wonder when an exec from a military contractor will write a “tell-all” about some of the horror stories emanating from the manufacture of these technology-driven land, sea and air behemoths.

Another example – according to a 3/18/18 story in Seeking Alpha “The Pentagon estimates it will cost nearly $16B to modernize the fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets through 2024, including $10.8B for software development and $5.4B for deploying the updates.”

New German Frigate

The aforementioned German frigate (Baden-Wurttemburg class) which in size, although not armament and technology, is similar to the US Navy Destroyers – the “Tin Cans” which served heroically during World War II.  It was constructed by a three member consortium of German defense contractors.

Well this new ship because of its advanced technology including “an advanced command and control communications installation based around an open architecture concept and has a 360 degree surveillance and situational awareness system….,” is supposed to be able to have a crew component much smaller than ships of similar size and be able to deploy for a least two-years at a time i.e. it can sale very reliably.

However, during sea trials before commissioning of the ship, there were some real problems:  “A chronic list of 1.3 degrees to starboard…….(and) they are severely over weight.”  (like by about 356,000 pounds!)  And a few more technical problems like “There doesn’t seem to be enough internal volume to add a vertical launch system in the back of the ship’s main gun.”

The USS McGowan (DD 678) World War II Tin Can

Perhaps this account can make us feel a little less concerned when Vladimir Putin boasts about Russia’s capability to send nuclear missiles that could overcome any U.S. missile defense system – he used animated versions to illustrate the concept.

And it makes at least this guy have a renewed appreciation for the manner in which those World War II ships stayed in combat service.  For example, the Destroyer USS McGowan, which served valiantly in the South Pacific in World War II, with heroic engagements from Guadalcanal to Okinawa to the Leyte Gulf.


Since I use a lot of on-line resources to research and write this blog, I find it annoying when entering a brewery website and it has a question about whether the user is twenty-one years or over.  Of course, any enterprising minor regardless of how rules-oriented he or she is, probably won’t feel too guilty and “getting older,” to access the website.

Avery Brewery in Fort Collins

And ever wonder what happens if you answer that you are not of legal age.  I tried it with two of my favorite Colorado breweries – Avery and New Belgium – both in Fort Collins and also Oregon’s Rogue Brewery.

Avery takes a simplistic route and states piously and directly, “You must be new to the internet.”

New Belgium is more empathetic and states in large letters,Take Solace.”  It then goes on to console the minor that he or she will “someday be 21 years old,” and cites statutory prohibitions, but continues in the conciliatory vein by stating, “However, if you would like to learn more information about our brewery, our business practices or our Core Values…..contact us by phone or e-mail.” 

New Belgium Brewery

The e-mail address was not that of Shawn Hines who Janet met while he and his wife were touring a winery a few years ago on a visit to the Yamhill Valley.  He was high-up in the New Belgium exec ranks with a title of “Pharaoh of Phlow!”   Shawn invited us to tour the New Belgium facility when we were in Colorado – it was a wonderful tour.

The most innovative approach is that of Rogue which immediately upon the indication that the computer user is under age, redirects them to a website for Disneyland.   (Try it….) https://www.rogue.com/

This rant reminds me that another reason those warnings annoy me is that most have drop down menus for year of birth, and it takes me three “Page Downs” to get to mine!

And while on annoying  trends, how about the robo calls that start with a lifelike voice that states, “HI, I’m Kathy.  I hope you are having a good morning and just wanted to talk to you about your bathroom drains (Fill in the topic.)” About that time I interrupt Kathy (who keeps on talking) and tell her she should be in a holding cell because I realize it is a taped call.

Or how about those automated receptionists who answer your call with, “Please listen closely because our menu options have changed,” even though the last time they  modified them was in 1999.

This from a brief clip in The Week (a magazine which is a good source of news and irrelevant tidbits like this one) about Mya, an artificially intelligent “chatbot” who “can evaluate resumes, schedule and conduct applicant screenings and even congratulate you on your first day of work.”  If I had retired later, I might have avoided listening to all of those candidates reel off their boring strengths and weaknesses.


In my research (and since I’m retired) I save a lot of miscellaneous bits of information to share with others in the hope that they will appreciate my sometimes cynical sense of humor. They get thrown in a file folder or electronic file – sometimes without date or info to allow proper attribution, so please indulge me, but below are a few:

Has Mount Rushmore but evidently not enough micro-breweries

The Week (5/5/17) – “A South Dakota man was arrested after he pushed past police and firefighters and ran into his home to rescue his beer……..He emerged clutching two cans of Bud Ice Premium, but officers quickly cuffed him and charged him with obstruction. A police spokesman said (the guy) had demonstrated ‘poor judgment.’”  (At least there was no collusion.)

The Beer Celebrator(Fall 2017) – “America, it should be noted, has more breweries than colleges.” There is no source or data to back up this statistic, but perhaps they need more in South Dakota….)

Parade Magazine (no date) – Abe Lincoln, among his other qualifications, was a licensed bartender.

Concerned about a lot of trends…..

The Oregonian – George Will’s column – (1/3/16) – This conservative, but erudite columnist, railed against some trends in 2015 that he felt were ludicrous.  He was concerned that “The common thread is the collapse of judgment in, and the infantalization of society by government.” Below is one example:

“The University of Georgia said sexual consent must be ‘voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest.”

The Week (6/2/17) And finally, this one about the village of Wacken, Germany. They are “building a 4-mile network of pipes so that it can funnel beer to thirsty attendees at the world’s largest heavy-metal festival.  (75,000 attendees)  …….In previous years, tractor trailers have turned the fields into a giant mud pit…”

Pipeline Solution

This got me to ponder if corporate execs decided to change the focus of the much maligned and delayed Keystone Pipeline from carrying oil to beer, would they gain bi-partisan support and mitigate environmental concerns.  They wouldn’t even have to change the name…….


The Woodsman Tavern Strikes a Chord

Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs has resulted in visits and reviews of over 200 establishments since its inception in 2011 – not only in Portland, but all over Oregon, the US and even a few in Europe.   Therefore, its logical that the Woodsman Tavern – a Portland icon, of sorts, would make the list.

That said, I try to avoid venues that are primarily restaurants with a bar as kind of an ancillary feature.  It’s not that these establishments don’t have good beer or cocktails or attractive bars.  They just don’t have the character and ambiance of a stand-alone watering hole, especially that evidenced in dive bars!

The McMenamin’s bistros generally fall into the former category although I have made a few exceptions.  Beerchaser visits to The Fulton Pub, the White Eagle Saloon and the St. John’s Pub were splendid.  These all, however, had historical significance or distinguishing features.

For example, The Fulton was the site at which Hammerhead Ale was originated (and I consumed my first beer with the late NW author and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Brian Doyle) and the White Eagle is on the National Historic Register – its history is replete with tales such as a prostitute being murdered and it being haunted by ghost-like apparitions on the second floor.

Notwithstanding its title, the Woodsman Tavern is an example of the former category i.e. more restaurant than bar.   While our two visits were well rewarded, it had the look and feel of a high-end restaurant.  That said, let’s look at why it is getting great reviews – it has a new chef, an expansive menu of cocktails and whiskeys and the food – most notably, the fried chicken is superb.   (Note also that most taverns do not have a “chef” per se’.)

The Woodsman is also one of the few places that I’ve visited where the Oregonian’s food critic, Michael Russell has authored a detailed review.  (He’s probably never been in the Reel M’ Inn – twenty blocks down Division Street and also known throughout the Northwest for its fried chicken. According to one article, it fried up an estimated 52,000 pounds of chicken in 2016.  But it’s a completely different ambiance….)

The Woodsman is in an old building in Southeast Portland and has a bright and attractive entrance with classy dark wood interior.  When opened in 2011, it was evidently a hot spot in the Portland food culture – known for its high-end dishes such as roasted trout.

Eateries run in cycles.  Social media reviews until recently started trending negative on the food and service.   That appeared to change late last year evidently because one of Portland’s noted chefs, Doug Adams, temporarily took command of the kitchen and menu:

“Suddenly, the Woodsman Tavern is once-again among the hottest restuarants in town.”   (1/1/18 Review by Martin Cizmar of Willamette Week.) Adams made his mark at Paley’s Place among other restaurants and is waiting for a new restaurant in downtown Portland to open.

The Bar Itself

The dining room is separated into two large rooms with booths and tables.  The bar is a long L-shaped counter with about twelve stools at the back of the east section.

It has an impressive display of hard liquors and twelve cocktail options ($12) with names such as “Dog Will Hunt” and “Married in a Fever,” and includes their trademark “Old Fashioned.”

For the bourbon and whiskey connoisseurs, I counted 120 options on the menu ranging from a pour of Jim Beam for $7 to Wild Turkey Tribute 15-Year Bourbon that will set you back $180.  (Perhaps this is economic validation of the distillery’s 2011 ad campaign entitled, “Give’em The Bird.”)

They have a nice selection of wines and fifteen beers on tap including five by one of my favorite breweries – Block 15 in Corvallis.  On our first trip to the Woodsman when we had dinner, I had a pint of Block 15 Double IPA and on the second trip, where we just sat at the bar for drinks during Happy Hour, I could not resist a cold Rainier for $2.

The east side of the restuarant

Let’s get back to the food, which should be the guiding rationale for a visit.  I will talk more about the food critics’ reviews below, but The Oregonian stated, “For food fans, this might be Portland’s best sports bar.”

Since there are only two televisions over the bar – both with sporting events when we were there, I guess this is his subtle way of promoting the Woodsman’s Double Cheeseburger and implying that the food in most Portland sports bars, sucks! 

An outstanding starter

The side dishes are ala-carte and either $3 or $5 and the bucket of chicken was $19, so we started by splitting what is a boring option in most places – a wedge salad.  And while a little spendy at $11, it was wonderful (bacon, big croutons and superb blue cheese dressing!)

I love fried chicken – that’s how I persuaded my wife, Janet, to go with me to the Woodsman.  It was a late birthday present.   There was no question what I was going to order. And it’s a fantasy – your own metallic bucket filled with five large pieces.  I am appalled that I was so enthralled that I forgot to take a picture!

Now let’s look at how some experts describe this one of six entr’ees.  Martin Cizmar, who for the last seven years has been the Arts and Culture Editor at Willamette Week, is succinct, but on point.  (I am sad to see him leave the weekly this month.  He wrote great reviews of not only restaurants, but every kind of bar, tavern or brewery in Portland and always creatively captured the character of the place.  (He’s moving to Washington D.C. to write for an on-line publication.)

You should read his entire review of The Woodsman:  http://www.wweek.com/restaurants/reviews/2018/01/02/the-woodsman-tavern-is-entering-a-new-golden-age-under-chef-doug-adams/

Martin Cizmar – will be missed….but will still drink PBR (Photo courtesy of Willamette Week

He is a an outstanding writer and seems a lot less pretentious than his counterpart at The Oregonian:

“….the best fried chicken in town….(Adams’) ultra crispy recipe in which the honey is drizzled onto just out-of-the-fryer batter.”  (WW 1/1/18)

Now compare that to the more ostentatious description by Michael Russell:

“…..Adams’ fussed over bird , each crunchy piece wearing a shaggy brown coat reminiscent of a teddy bear’s fur, drizzled in honey and served with a clear glass bottle of hot sauce on the side.” (Emphasis supplied !??)

And not to get overly compulsive, but this one from a Thrillist ranking of the top 15 fried chicken places in Portland by Andy Cryza (9/2/15 – before Adams arrived…)  Woodsman was the top-rated option.  (Reel M Inn was #3.)

“…..Perfectly fried, with the juices locked into the premium bird, which is cut up into five generous pieces…..And the breading – occupying the zone between crisp and light – is kissed with a smack of honey which, when mixed with the salt, takes it into a danger zone hovering near meat-candy perfection.”

But if you don’t like chicken there are other worthy choices. I was able to persuade Janet, if I gave her a little bit of my chicken, to get the Double Cheeseburger ($16).  It was immense and the Canby, Oregon, Laney Family Farm’s beef scrumptious.  The fries were a perfect complement.

I described Michael Russell’s writing above as somewhat pretentious e.g. he started his review with the following: “…the restaurant has languished of late (last year) behind food that seemed to have lost its sense of place.” 

I changed my opinion – a little.  He was a little more down-to-earth when he wrote this about one of the Woodsman’s twelve starter options:

“Take the bologna sandwich.  It’s impressively thick cut of pink meat seared gently, surrounded by melted American cheese like fondant on a wedding cake and topped with sweet pickle on a sesame-seeded bun.  It’s a borderline obscene take on the classic….I’ve ordered it on every visit.” 

Fried chicken – “each piece wore a shaggy brown coat….”

At least he shied away from the toy creature analogy he made above with the fried chicken and didn’t compare the bologna to the Porky Pig stuffed animal he got at Disneyland……

And to affirm that this menu option may be worth the seemingly steep price ($12), let’s look at a non-foodie’s view – just your typical Yelp comment on 1/17/18:

“Now I know what you’re thinking, what the hell is in Bologna anyway, but this (sandwich) was freaking delicious.  I don’t know what’s in Bolgna, I probably don’t want to know.  But I’m on board.” 

Finally, while the bistro is also known for its chilled seafood and a seafood tower for $95 along with “Oyster Hours” all day Monday and from 5:00 to 6:00 on other weekdays, I loved our meal there because the food was good but also plentiful.  The picture below shows the box that we took home with our leftovers (It was filled and some of which survived to lunch the next day…) 

As another Yelp review who shares similar views succinctly stated:

“The food big.  Big food.  Platters….Reminds me of a place when I was a kid.  Logger means, man.”  (Yelp 1/15/18)

Most of the recent social media reviews are very positive although some question the prices especially since it is an ala-carte menus.  Another complaint which rang somewhat true with us on our first visit was the physical spacing:

“I don’t mind sitting at tables or booths, but why does anyone think that being 6 inches from a stranger is comfortable.”  (Yelp 1/14/18)

However, if someone is going to do a hatchet job on the Woodsman Tavern, they will have to come up with something of more substance than tables being a little too close.  Besides, you should check out their fried chicken……….

The Woodsman Tavern

4537 SE Division Street


Beerchasing in the Desert — Part I

The Oregon Coast in Road’s End at Lincoln City

How does one reinforce his or her appreciation for living in Oregon?  I started wondering this when I was only twelve after we moved here from Ohio – a courageous decision by my parents in 1960, since they were building a new house in Cincinnati and my dad had no job out here.

“FDW” on back road near John Day

He moved to Oregon City while my mom stayed back and sold the house and then she transported the four kids (ages 8 to 14) on a cross-country road trip.  They raised us to always look for the “Spirit of High Adventure” and we did repeatedly on his carpet sales territory in Eastern Oregon.

Janet is a native Oregonian, having been born and raised in McMinnville, where her dad, Joe Dancer, was the first City Manager and held the position for twenty-six years. (Joe Dancer Park in McMinnville is named in his honor.)

City of McMinnville Website

The opportunity, however, for  us to escape for a week in Arizona  in late January when it was dreary and KGW’s weather guru Matt Zafino was predicting “Significant precipitation for the next week,” sealed the deal along with a Companion Fare on Alaska Airlines.

“Let’s go to Phoenix/Scottsdale and sit in the sun, read, hike and Beerchase.” (not necessarily in that order) at a number of breweries and pubs.  We’d be there too early in the year to see Spring Training, a favorite pastime, but it would be a great respite.

Well the weather that week ended up being pretty reasonable although on the night we flew in, the server at our roadhouse (a very good Chelsea’s Kitchen) admonished us to “Stay warm!” as we left with strong desert winds whipping and temperatures in the mid-30’s.

The visits to the ten breweries and one taphouse/bottle shop were outstanding – superb beer, friendly and helpful bartenders and nice patrons who enjoyed chatting while sitting at the bars, in addition to one of the best pizzas we’ve consumed in years…..(See below)

A typical Phoenix intersection but less occupied because it was Saturday

However, the overall ambiance of this “disaster in urban planning,” made us immediately homesick for the concepts we take for granted – like trees, urban growth boundaries, good public transit, intersections which don’t require a ten-minute wait if you hit a red light, trails in Forest Park and, of course, the Oregon Coast.

While Portland breweries surpass every city on the globe, Phoenix and Scottsdale have made great progress and have a thriving beer culture with about thirty venues. We passed two brewpubs packed to capacity on the way to the baggage claim at Sky Harbor Airport O.H.S.O. Brewing and Four Peaks Brewing.  The acronym of the former stands for Outrageous Homebrewer’s Social Outpost.  

O.H.S.O. in the airport – great BLT sandwich!

We also visited O.H.S.O.’s Scottsdale brewery and stopped for a quick albeit delicious BLT sandwich at their airport pub while we were waiting for our return flight..

The fact that Four Peaks had been acquired by Anheuser Busch in late 2015 dampened our enthusiasm for visiting what is now a corporate extension although both Ten Barrel and Elysian in the Northwest have gone the same route.

The first night we started with what became our favorite and was also the most interesting – Goldwater Brewing Company.  It was named after the late Arizona icon, Barry Goldwater, a retired US Air Force pilot and Major General who served five terms in the US Senate and ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1964 against Nelson Rockefeller.

His campaign slogan was, “In your heart, you know he’s right.”  He was portrayed as a militant conservative who, if elected, would lead the US into a nuclear war with Russia.

Now there were no B-52 models hanging from the ceiling at the great family-owned brewery, but their flagship beer, which won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival, was “Machine Gun Teddy. While this might seem clever in Arizona, in light of recent events, it makes one wonder if they will still advertise it as “cuddly,” or in the interest of discretion, rename it.

Is this an appropriate name for a beer?

A warm and inviting bar at Goldwater

And besides the festive, warm taproom, which has twenty-four of their own beers, delicious free popcorn popped with Jalapeno peppers, Goldwater has a second space to drink beer sixteen feet below – in the space which used to be Mandall’s Basement Shooting Range.  They serve Goldwater’s specialty brews and it holds about twenty people – it’s opened limited hours on the weekend:

“Three 10-foot fermentation tanks fill three of the shooting tunnels.  One of the tunnels has been restored to what it likely looked like while in  operation; pulleys on the wall and top of the range, let the shooters move their targets down the tunnel.”

(This may be a good idea for conversion of shooting ranges around the country…..)

Next to Goldwater was an interesting place although it was closed when we went by – Sip Coffee and Beer House:

Sip Coffee and Beer House

“Sip’s coffee beans will be provided by Cartel Coffee Lab, a local roaster.  We will feature 19 rotating craft beers on draft and over 100 bottled beers.  We will also feature some very wild and unique liquor infused espresso/coffee drinks.”  

(This seems like a better idea than Starbuck’s mostly failed experiment of having one beer tap and trying to turn their stores into your neighborhood bar.)

Two Brothers Brewery and Taphouse – After Goldwater, this one was a disappointment although at least they were located in a renovated historic building and had a good line-up of beers although just five of their own. Two Brothers is a Midwest brewery based out of Chicago that opened a brewpub in Scottsdale (probably so the brothers could deduct their winter vacations……).

It’s like going into a Rock Bottom Pub – more restaurant than pub with some young and effusive woman out front who are eager to seat you and a bartender who would rather be watching one of the games on their many wide-screened TV’s than serving beer.

Although now that former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (October 2012) Coach Mike Riley is back at Oregon State as an assistant football coach, we wonder why anyone would bother, but Two Brothers is now an official University of Nebraska bar “where Husker fans can enjoy every game throughout the football season!”  (I didn’t ask what a venue has to do to become “official”...

Shaw Butte – an essentially urban hike

The next day, we hiked up Shaw Butte, which tops out at 1,380 feet and gives a nice view of the desert to the north and Phoenix to the South.

It was much better than our attempted hike the next morning in South Mountain Park – purported to be the third largest municipal park in the world with “miles of hiking trails.”    Now maybe we hit the wrong entrance, but all we saw on our abbreviated walk in the park was freeways that ran directly by high-rise buildings.

After the walk up Shaw Butte, we hit North Mountain Brewing, a microbrewery and gastropub where we talked to Bernie, the affable bartender, who had worked their five years and was spot on with his recommendation of the Sessions IPA.

Bernie at North Mountain

The brewery is in a strip mall and doesn’t have great ambiance but gets rave social media reviews for their food, which transcends just pub faire.

A few common themes emerged from the watering holes we visited.  First, the bartenders, almost without exception were great people.  They each let us sample their different beers – and even encouraged us to do so.  (Some misguided Portland brewpubs even charge for this courtesy, which is pretty short sighted.)  They were knowledgeable about beer.

Secondly, when we told them that were from Portland and about TheBeerchaser blog, almost all suggested competitors that we should visit to see the best Phoenix/Scottsdale breweries.   In fact, Bernie recommended our next stop – SunUp Brewing – as did just about every other bartender.

Phoenix parking

Another trend, albeit, negative, is that almost all the breweries and pubs (and just about every other commercial enterprise) was located in a strip mall surrounded by parking lots that are usually full.

The historic ambiance of Portland gems such as the White Eagle Cafe, Gil’s Speakeasy, The Rambler (all of which I have reviewed and could go on) not only have warm interiors, but very interesting or idiosyncratic exteriors which makes Beerchasing a lot more enjoyable.

The Historic White Eagle

Metropolitan Phoenix (The Valley of the Sun) has a population of 4.3 million and the City itself a density of 2,797 people per square mile.  That compares to Portland’s 4,537 and Portland is near the bottom in density for West coast cities.

The Valley of the Sun seems to be the epitome of urban sprawl.  While the road system is pretty good (I assume the Mexicans paid for it..) it takes a long, boring drive to get almost anyplace.

“Density” must be a pejorative term as evidenced by even one of their athletic teams “The Phoenix Sprawl” Okay, it’s an Ultimate Frisbee Team, and I guess that’s better than the San Diego Wild Fire in the same league, but don’t embrace the concept!

Janet enters SunUp

Sarah, our bartender, at SunUp Brewing, (she  was a gem) told us that it was the oldest brewery in Phoenix although their website states they opened in 2001 which made the claim a little dubious.  It was a great place, however, from the logo to the expansive patio to the cool historic building and their lineup of beers, which has gained popularity.  (Another source stated that the oldest brewery in Arizona, is Gentle Ben’s in Tuscon which opened in 1971.)

George Hamilton stories and more…..

One of the more interesting chaps we met that week was sitting at the bar at SunUp – an old guy with a considerable white beard who was friendly but full of baloney – to be polite – and talked loudly.

While drinking a porter, he went on for about forty-five minutes with stories on his exploits around the world including the one where he served as a doorman in an exclusive Park Avenue apartment in New York City in which B-list star and artificially tanned raconteur, George Hamilton lived.  (He told this story because he asked where I was born and I told him Long Island, New York.)

Perhaps he got sloshed remembering his start on Rin Tin Tin and the Donna Reed Show

The bearded one told us how Hamilton came in early one morning sloppy drunk and he aided the actor to his room and into bed.  He was purportedly awarded with a generous tip at the end of the month.   We left when he started the story about trekking in the Khumbu region on the way to climb Annapurna in Nepal……Oh well, we agreed that this encounter is one of the reasons that sitting at the bar is fun and interesting.

SunUp, like a number of the breweries we visited, has expanded as the beer culture in the desert has intensified.  For example in 2014, they produced 800 barrels, but after expansion, rolled out 3,000 the next year.

An example of mead – A Polish mead using two units of water for each unit of honey.

We demurred this time, but will have to try mead at another venue.  SunUP had twelve different meads.  Their flyer described mead as,

“A beverage as old as the hills and as new as a shiny penny….a delicious honey wine enjoyed for centuries with evidence of mead dating back to 700 BC.”  

They ranged in price from $10 to $16 for a 5 ounce glass – not only expensive but the ABV averaged 13.5% which explains the small glass size.

McFate Brewing

That night, again based on recommendations, we had beers and dinner at McFate Brewing.   Ryan was our favorite bartender in Arizona. 

He was outgoing, generous with samples and we ended up with a flight of three 4 oz. pours for $6 (No-Nelson Pale Ale, False Promises IPA and Fateful IPA were super.)

But the real prize that night was McFate’s pizza.   We had a Truff Diver and Janet asked and they honored her request for extra arugula on her half.  This review from Trip Advisor (3/24) summed it up well 

“The real star of the evening was the Truff Diver pizza. It was topped with olive oil, mozzarella, parmesan, mushrooms, truffle oil and an egg, and finished off with fresh arugula before serving. Hands down one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had – it even tasted good 2 days later as a leftover!”  

It’s the first pizza I’ve had with an egg (over easy) on the top.  Notwithstanding its good size, we did not take any back to the hotel like the reviewer above.

Ryan – an outstanding bartender

McFate’s, opened by a former financial exec in 2010, could not meet the demand for their beer and expanded in 2015 with another location in South Scottsdale and now has a 15 barrel capacity.

We were at the original brewpub which is not a large space, but it has a good vibe, friendly staff, robust selection of good beer and great food.  – What more can you ask for??

Stay tuned for the reviews of the other Phoenix and Scottsdale breweries in Part II of Beerchasing in the Desert.” 


Mark Edlen – Beerchaser of the Quarter

Mark Edlen outside his favorite beer place

“I briefly met Mark Edlen when we were both on the U of O Daily Emerald board together. Flash forward forty-five years, his firm Gerding Edlen has had a profound impact on our city, with the Brewery Blocks standing out among many great projects.

Mark and his firm led the way in sustainable development, making LEED a standard for our city. Serving on the Portland Development Commission with Mark, I saw him utilize his smarts and knowledge to protect the taxpayers’ interest as well as could be done. His civic contribution is as good as it gets.”

Tom Kelly

The above narrative was the response I received from Tom Kelly, President of Neil Kelly Company when I asked him to summarize Mark Edlen’s contribution to Portland.   Tom is another Portland civic icon and corporate leader and their relationship goes back to college days.

Gerding Edlen halls during Civil War….

It was fall in 1985.  Besides having just gotten engaged, I’d just started a new job as the Business Manager at the Oregon State Bar.  That’s right – The Lawyers’ Trade Union – as some of my attorney friends kidded me.   The administrative, financial and support functions in the organization all needed some rethinking – my predecessor had been fired and decided to go to seminary……

The Bar was in some respects a publishing house – it produced several Continuing Legal Education books each year written by dedicated Bar volunteer lawyers to help educate their peers on such stimulating topics as Creditors’ Rights and Remedies, The Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct (Annotated), Contract Law including a stimulating chapter on “admissibility of extrinsic evidence to establish ambiguity in a contract term,” and of course, Torts.  

The current CLE library is more stimulating given recent changes in Oregon law and for $165, one can buy the Bar appropriate titled book on marijuana law – Joint Oregon and Washington Cannabis Codebook. (Emphasis supplied)

So the first time I met Mark was when as a Xerox salesman, he and his partner, Joe DeJager, convinced me (in what was a great long-term decision) to buy a $30,000 copier with all the bells and whistles that would improve efficiency while lowering the cost of Bar productions.

That began a long-term relationship since Mark and Joe both soon went to work for Cushman & Wakefield.  They represented the Bar in its successful efforts to sell its current building and move to a newly constructed headquarters on Kruse Way in SW Portland. 

Having been extremely pleased with the effectiveness and energy they exhibited at the Bar, we continued to have them represent us when I moved to the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm as the Business Manager.  They were the firm’s leasing representatives when we renegotiated our lease for 100,000 + square feet in the PacWest Center.

Moving to the present – I was certainly aware of his success in the Gerding Edlen development firm and his charitable and civic efforts, but had not been face-to-face with Mark for a number of years when I asked him to join me for a beer at McMenamin’s Zeus Cafe (his favorite beer pub) so I could interview him as this blog’s newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  (We both drank a pint of Hammerhead Ale….)

The last time I sat across from him had been about ten years ago when I was raising money for the City Club of Portland’s Research Endowment Fund.  I met Mark in his office and began my pitch by reminding him that twenty years prior, I bought a $30,000 copier from him when he was a young Xerox salesman.  He immediately pulled out his checkbook and I left smiling.

Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter – Although this is a blog about bars and beer, each quarter I try to recognize an outstanding individual or group.  A number of these have nothing to do with my favorite beverage – they are just interesting individuals who have made worthwhile contributions to society and have a good story which should be told.

Craig (The Dude) Hanneman (right) on Mt. Everest climb

Past recipients include authors such as the late Brian Doyle (Mink River and The Plover), athletes such as former All-coast and then NFL tackle, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman and media personalities such as Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes and Amy Faust of KWJJ, the Wolf. (To see their stories, click the links on their names.)

The most recent was Father Martin Grassel, the Procurator at the Mount Angel Abbey and also the Head Brewer for the Benedictine Brewery.

Father Martin Grassel

Now most people in the Northwest know of Mark through his success and the environmental values of Gerding Edlen Development Inc. or his civic efforts such as serving on the Portland Development Commission.  But Mark Edlen has a much broader story than these accomplishments.  He is also a wonderful family man, outdoorsman and athlete.  You will see why below.

The Honda 750 – his original high school motorcycle

To better understand this guy, we should go back to high school at Sunset High in Beaverton – he graduated in 1971.  His activities in high school gave a good indication of what was to come…..He worked at Safeway on the night crew and concurrently had a landscaping business during the day.

These jobs paid for the motorcycle he bought – a Honda 750, which he then sold to pay for his freshman tuition at U of O.

Gerding Edlen halls during Civil War….A life-long Duck..

“I then stumbled into the University of Oregon,” Mark states, and his remaining earnings from high school diminished to zero about six months after he made the scene in Eugene.  His delayed college education eventually continued at Portland State University for two terms before he returned to Eugene graduating in 1975 and earning his MBA in 1976.

His first job was with Xerox Corporation and he started his years at Cushman & Wakefield in 1980.  His legendary work ethic was evident according to Tom Usher, the Managing Partner at the office.  

I have known Mark for over 37 years, and I have never, and I mean never, ever met anyone in the real estate industry that has his energy and drive.  Emails at 3 A.M, meetings at 6:30 A.M.  (And on his Xerox sales skills) ‘I think he wrote the course for Xerox.  His favorite question was always, ‘So shall we meet tomorrow morning or in the afternoon?”

Mark Edlen was consistently one of the highest commercial real estate producers in Portland during his career at C/W and Tom Usher adds that part of his energy may have due to the daily ration of Diet Pepsi and maple bars he consumed.  (Mark asserted he gave up the maple bars about thirty years ago.)

The late Bob Gerding

He met long-time partner Bob Gerding in Portland in the late ’80’s when both were involved in a property transaction.  “Bob was very liberal and since I was a “Certified Lefty, we hit it off.”  He describes Gerding as brilliant with a PhD in biochemistry and “The best big thinker I have ever met.”  They cofounded the Gerding Edlen Development Inc. (hereafter GEDI) in 1996.

The Oregon State Bar building was the firm’s first build-to-suit project, followed by work for Key Bank.  Now from this point, I could describe in great detail the amazing accomplishments of GEDI – starting with their groundbreaking work in what was to become Portland’s Pearl District in what was both fortuitous and visionary.   (Stroh Brewing bought Blitz Weinhard and Olympia Brewing and GEDI had the opportunity in 2000 to buy the Blitz Brewery in what Mark described as “An action that was so far beyond our skis, it was ridiculous.”

The Armory was transformed into the Gerding Theater, home of Portland Center Stage

The Weiden and Kennedy  firm moved into their Pearl District building and the renovated Portland Armory became the first LEED Platinum building on the National Historic Register.

It became the home of Portland Center Stage and in 2006 was re-named The Gerding Theater at the Armory “….the first renovation of a performing arts venue in the world…it has drawn groups of people interested in sustainable design from across the country as well as international delegations from Russia, Belgium and Hungary.”  https://pcs.org/about-the-armory/  Historic preservation is another hallmark of the firm.

Then came the public-private partnerships and GEDI developed drug clinics, affordable housing and university facilities and schools.

The firm eventually evolved from Portland to other markets including Seattle, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles – another example of willingness to take on risk as “We never really planned to develop outside Oregon.”   They established investment funds in 2009 and the GEDI investment portfolio now involves management of over $1 billion in real estate assets.

Still involved with firm after retirement.

Mark after his “retirement” in early 2017 and handing the reins of the firm to Molly Bordonaro and Kelly Saito as co-managing partners, still remains chair of the firm’s Investment Committee and Chairman of the Board.

As an example of the firm’s standing, Bloomberg summarizes its description as:

“GEDI is internationally recognized for its expertise and success in creating mixed-use commercial, residential, educational, and retail developments. (They have) overseen the development of 56 projects totaling approximately $4.8 billion since the inception of GEDI.

And as an example of their acclaimed environmental work, let’s look at the highlights of one of their recent buildings – The Indigo@12 West – a 22-floor mixed use office, apartment and retail located at 12th and SW Washington in Portland.  “(A) laboratory for cutting-edge, sustainable design strategies,” (Downtown Development Group LLC)

  • Four rooftop wind turbines generate renewable energy on-site.
  • Solar hot water and high-efficiency windows that let in natural light.
  • Rainwater is harvested and reused, and an eco-roof helps to mitigate stormwater runoff.
  • High quality, sustainable finishes include renewable bamboo hardwood floors and cabinets and wool carpets.

“Gerding Edlen originated the 20-minute living concept and established a set of criteria called Principles of Place—where community plays a pivotal role alongside design and technology in the success of their properties.

GEDI is committed to developing buildings that attain net-zero energy use and embrace the fundamental philosophy of community that integrates neighborhoods, educational institutions and builds strong business, government and community partnerships.”  (From the Bullitt Foundation website)

And if you think that Mark’s intelligence, work ethic and interpersonal skills make this success come easily – Think Again!  He talks about the sleepless nights and pervasive concern about cash-flow during the recession in 2008, when interest rates skyrocketed and vacancies in condos and commercial real estate were staggering.

Fortunately, he has had a life-partner to help in his endeavors – Ann, his wife of thirty-eight years, who he met when she came to Oregon on a trip from her native New Jersey.   Ann moved to Oregon and became the Vice President and Marketing Director at First Interstate Bank.

She eventually resigned from the bank to raise their three kids – at that time, there was no parental leave to mitigate the demands of parenting…..She started her own strategic marketing firm, Think Joule about eight years ago.

A dynamic woman who graduated in the first class of women at the University of Notre Dame, her contributions to civic endeavors are exceptional  – under her leadership as former chair of the Pacific Northwest College of the Arts Board, she and current chair, Aric Wood, raised $4 million for the school’s capital campaign.

The PNCA Building

She is still a member of the PNCA Creative Leaders Council.  The Ann Edlen Creative Corridor at the school was named in her honor.  Ann currently chairs the OHSU Foundation.

She is an athlete in her own right and in addition to being an avid skier, many of the cycling expeditions involve both of them as riders.

Rather than continue with what could be three blog posts on the accomplishments of Gerding Edlen Development Inc., let’s now focus on Mark’s personal life.

If you look on his Facebook page, you primarily see pictures of their grandchildren and family gatherings, posts about environmental issues and descriptions of their cycling adventures or skiing at their Sun Valley home.

Mark asserts that he learned as much from his outdoor endeavors as he did in Business School – those being camping, kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, hiking and most notably cycling.

His cycling days go back to his youth and although much more strenuous, probably safer than his U of O ski racing days and his several years racing motorcycles. (“You know you’re alive when you hit 150 mph on a Ducati”)   It doesn’t surprise those who know him to hear him state, “I love the hills and get my best ideas riding up Terwilliger Blvd.!“  

He estimated that last year he rode about 7,000 miles which is a typical annual regimen in trips ranging from riding in the Columbia River Gorge, “gravel grinders” in Idaho to a trek down the Oregon coast to Central Oregon loops to the couple’s multiple international trips through programs by inGamba. (France, Portugal, Italy, etc.)

To get a better indication of the combined challenge and joy in these journeys, I have excerpted some of the journal entries Mark posted on Facebook during their ride from Portland to San Francisco about four years ago. They are shown at the end of this post and are worth reading.

Each day his journal entry ends with the phrase, “Best Day of the Year,” – because Mark is not only a certified Lefty, but also a certified optimist.

And although it may be challenging to comprehend given his business and outdoor pursuits, Mark Edlen has made his mark in the community through civic, charitable and public service activities.  The latest has been his four-year term on the Portland Development CommissionBoard service on Eco Trust, Portland Center Stage and the Bullet Foundation are a few of his other pursuits which are too many to list.

“Mark and his wife, Ann are actively involved in the Portland community and are deeply committed to education, healthcare, the arts, sustainability and the built environment. They believe that as engaged citizens we must always be asking, how can we add to our community, what is our  what is our responsibility to the livability of the built environment and how can we help less fortunate Oregonians attain their dreams.”  (From Bullitt Foundation website)

The Northwest is fortunate to have Ann and Mark Edlen living and working here.  They are both role models and whether one looks at their contributions to public service or reflects on the urban landscape that has been shaped by Gerding Edlen Development Inc. their impact is lasting and remarkable.

Mark is a still a young man and I have an inclination that the future plans of this newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter might be accurately reflected in the picture below with these quotes from American author and essayist Edward Abbey, who was noted for his advocacy of environmental issues:

“It’s all still there in heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure – they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days and years to come………May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”

Excerpts from the 2014 Ride from Portland to San Francisco 

Summary:  Nine days, 860 miles, 69,000 feet of climbing, an unbelievable number of calories consumed and burned, enough water drank to float a boat and what at times seemed like endless saddle time all mixed in with some of the best scenery of mountains and the Pacific Ocean anywhere, great support personnel and most of all fun, world class riding companions from across the US, Australia, Canada and Germany.

But the climb turned out to be the easy part. The descents all through the day were absolutely nothing short of brutal. We were on old county roads that are only used by farmers and loggers for the most part. The roads were full of pot holes, ruts and many times turned to nothing more than dirt and gravel.

And to add to the fun, often they were in the shade which meant you couldn’t see the ruts etc so we were often caught by surprise and thus jarring our entire body as the bike dove into yet another hole in the road. I really think that my collar bones and shoulder blades are now fused to my skull and I am hoping that feeling comes back into my hands before the morning.

But that was only the first climb. The second was even more exciting. While it was only 1,000 feet, the grades were in excess of 20% and probably averaged well over 13%. I was out of the saddle giving it everything I had more than I was in the saddle. I would look for the grade to drop down to maybe 10-11% so that I could sit and get my heart rate down to a tolerable level……..

Just when we thought this might go on for a long stretch the route turned inland and back uphill once again and the furnace came on with the inland heat. Wow, you couldn’t drink or eat enough the rest of the day. It probably approached the mid 90’s and we baked. Everyone was caked in body salt and we were draining our water bottles quickly no matter that the fluids we were drinking were just short of being hot due to the temperatures, it was still wet and helped replace the fluids we were quickly shedding.

We crossed a lot of classic Northern CA rolling brown hills with oaks and struggled up and down the rollers heading for the “queen” hill climb of the day which was 3,000 feet up spread out over about a 7 mile stretch following a 10 mile roller approach. Fortunately the grades were more moderate at 7-11% but it was still a struggle for everyone…….

And once again, the descent was nothing short of brutal with pot holes, gravel, ruts and other fun obstacles……But the brutal descent led us back into the Redwoods Park and paradise where traversed the Avenue of the Giants and a truly world class experience. If you had any doubt about saving such miraculous splendor you need to visit this park. It is almost spiritual.

At one point we stopped, were silent and all you could hear was the whisper of the wind through these magnificent giants.

Unbelievable!   Today’s stats were 97 miles and 11,250 feet of climbing, by far the toughest, most challenging and perhaps brutal day that I have spent on a bike yet absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and satisfying at the same time.

The last two days were pretty challenging for me as I developed a respiratory issue that prevented me from being able to take in sufficient air so I simply eased off the gas and enjoyed a more moderate pace. During those two days we encountered some pretty significant coastal head…..several inland turns where we tackled various climbs of 1,000 to 2,000 feet at a time just for good measure…..

Most assuredly everyone was glad to be finished knowing that they didn’t have to mount up again the next day and I’m sure everyone was pleased with their accomplishment as it is amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind and energy to it…..I may not elect that mode of transportation tomorrow or even the next day!  But after a few days of rest and catching up at home and the office it will be time to start dreaming up the next adventure, but this time with Ann who is always the best companion…….



Thebeerchaser goes to Market – John’s Marketplace

My first step inside John’s Marketplace – a Multnomah Village institution took me back to youthful days and the old hobby shops.   One would step inside and see Lionel Trains, baseball cards, model airplanes and every conceivable diversion a young kid could imagine.  Or perhaps a better analogy by one reviewer on Facebook: “This place makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.”

One-half of a delicious Killer Turkey

And this deli/market/bar/beer shop and seller of wines is similar.  At the Deli, try an excellent “Killer Turkey” sandwich or their $2.99 Single Deluxe Burger (yeah, that price is correct and the Double Deluxe with Bacon is only $5.39).  Kids can also get a grilled-cheese sandwich.

Or you can go a few aisles over and get a frozen pizza or a dozen eggs or candy bars, a broom and dust pan or a Portland Timber’s extra-large sweatshirt.





Of course, Thebeerchaser was primarily attracted by the beer.  While there is no irrefutable statistic, there were multiple comments on social media – many by beer geeks – that John’s is the bottle shop in Oregon with the largest inventory of bottled and canned beer and cider — an estimated combined total of approximately 6,000.

Reviewing the inventory of beer labels reminded me of the Saturday Night Live skit where a guy would go into a hardware store and ask for a “left-handed flange adherence tool.”  The clerk would  immediately state, “That’s aisle 2D on the third shelf on the right.”  

At John’s, the equivalent might be asking manager, Paul Petros where you can get a six-pack of Bavarian Weizen Bock beer?  He might respond:

“Take the first aisle and then go left where the shark with the beer bottle in his mouth sticking his head through the inner tube is hanging down.

Turn right by the inflatable Samuel Adams mug.

Then continue until you see the Schneider Weisse banner.   It’s on the lower right shelf.  If you hit the Budweiser poster with the girl in the bikini, you’ve gone too far…..” 

Some people might think this kind of dive-bar brick-a-brick is tacky.  Paul states, “We try to assault your senses.  Be cool and everything will be okay.”



From Wolves and Farmhouse Brewing in Newberg

For example, while walking up the beer aisles – arranged geographically – you could pull the Instinctive Travels – a straw-hued saison, from nearby Wolves and People Farmhouse Brewery in Newberg.

Or take a global perspective and pick up a six-pack of Skull Splitter from England’s Orkney Brewing.  (This one almost begs for more research as the name and logo seem a little incongruent with the description.

Skull Splitter – satiny smooth with light character??

Skull Splitter is one of their strongest beers named after a Viking, but described as:  “A (beer with a) rich fruity wine-like complexity on the palate…….warm exotic spice…. Sophisticated, satiny smooth with a deceptively light character.”  (Emphasis supplied).

That right – 9.5 ABV!

Then again, you might just want to go long but stay within the confines of the US, which might make Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing’s Golden Monkey a good option to take home and luxuriate while drinking a bottle of this beer (“Banana, clove, isoamyl”).   I said “take home” because it has an ABV of 9.5%.

I could go on about the beer, but before I tell you about the deli and the wine, a little about Paul Petros and his brother, Rob.  (Rob was on a trip to Mexico, so I didn’t get to meet him.)  They started managing for owner, Dave Percival with eventual plans to become co-owners.

Paul is a charismatic guy with a history and interest in beer.  He went to high school in Medford where he was an “aggressive” offensive lineman on the St. Mary’s of Medford Single A football team.

St. Mary’s is a 153 year-old independent, co-ed, college prep school, now with slightly over 400 students and 70% of them participate in athletics.   (The 2017 football team – now 3A) had a good record, but missed the State playoffs when they were thrashed 70 to 14 by eventual State Champion and Medford cross-town rival Cascade Christian.

He graduated from the University of Portland and worked in landscaping and then the grocery business – Zupan’s on Burnside and Fred Meyer.  Beer came into the picture in the early ’90’s  when he started work at Columbia Distributing.

He spent fourteen years at Columbia, the last half of which was with their Specialty Beer Team and John’s Marketplace was his primary account.

Paul, on the left with friends from the beer community – Keenan Delehanty and Michelle Faubion

“I’m a beer nerd.  Beer is personal to me,” stated Paul who is a Certified Cicerone – solid evidence.  It requires paying the fee and passing a four-hour exam including written, tasting, and demonstration portions.

John’s has a very popular and reasonably priced Kegs-2-Go program, where you can order on-line from an extensive list (400 beers on 21 pages ) but don’t do crowlers or growlers because Paul feels that every time you change the environment or beer container, it degrades the product.

Winston at the lower right, draws an admiring crowd

It’s easy to see why Paul says of his job, “I love being here.”  On my two visits, he received ongoing inquires from his eleven employees about merchandise, but spent a lot of his time mingling with customers – primarily in the Deli area.

The picture shows Winston, one of the regular canine visitors to John’s.  “There are a number of dogs we call by name, but haven’t learned the name of the owners yet,” he stated half jokingly. 

And observing the deli and small beer bar, is like viewing a community meeting place.  There were high-school kids eating burgers at a table next to a road crew scarfing down Killer Turkeys and the $6.00 Dirty Cheesesteak Sandwich.

A couple of people were seated at the adjacent bar downing one of the eight $5 drafts which to my delight, included Pliny the Elder and Corvallis brewer, Block 15’s Cosmic Cold Brew Maple Cream.

A hard to find Pliny the Elder from Russian River

And I was kind of curious about one guy who sat at the bar eating lunch and then lingering over his beer .  He was in work clothes and absorbed in a book that had an interesting cover.

I got curious and edged over so I could see the title.  It was Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite by Anthony Trollope. Subsequent research (usually required by any visit to one of my bars or breweries…) revealed that Trollope was an English novelist of the Victorian Era.

Author Anthony Trollope

The book according to one literature website is an Incisive, unconventional psychological study of a conflict between a wealthy baronet, his idealistic daughter and their scapegrace cousin. A compelling story that discloses how an individual destiny is as unpredictable as life itself.”  

And more fascinating is its main character, the indomitable Sir Harry, who according to my trusty Wikipedia reference is based on Sir Harry Percy a fourteenth century “……English nobleman. He was a significant captain during the Anglo-Scottish Wars. He later led successive rebellions against Henry the IV of England

Engrossed in his novel and Total Domination

Not to dwell, but my research gave some insight on why the guy was so engrossed in the book. You see Percy was slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403:

“When rumors circulated that Percy was still alive, the king ‘had the corpse exhumed and displayed it’……That done, the king dispatched Percy’s head to York, where it was impaled on Micklegate Bar, whereas his four quarters were sent to…his widow. (She buried him and he was posthumously declared a traitor and his lands forfeited to the crown.)”

Neither Hemingway’s protagonist, Jake Barnes or Steinbeck’s, Tom Joad, had such an ignominious end and it may explain why the guy was drinking a bottle of Ninkasi Total Domination

The deli at noon

Now even though this blog is more about the character of the bar than focusing on beer, we digress.   John’s also has an excellent selection of ciders, but also about 1,300 wine labels, managed by Dave Kaplan.

Beer guy – Paul and Wine guy – Dave

Dave has been in the wine business for just shy of forty years as a sommelier, bartender and in retail and wholesale.  He has a great philosophy on wine which my wife, Janet, found out talking to him for twenty minutes before she bought two bottles of wine.

Dave states, “No matter how many wine publications people read, nothing is better than tasting it yourself.  Let your taste buds do the talking.  Don’t think you won’t like a wine because of its label or words you don’t understand.  My goal is to find a wine you don’t think you like and you’re surprised how good it is.”  

Dave educating Janet on a bottle of ______ – she bought it!

And you have your chance to find this out every Friday from 5:00 until 7:00 and most Saturdays when they have two wine tastings from 2:00 to 5:00 for a $5 fee.  The one this week was on Friday and featured six different labels.  They also have beer tastings on most Fridays, the next one featuring Old Town Brewing and Boulevard Brewing.

Dont think you won’t like a bottle of wine because of its labe….

How does he manage an inventory of that magnitude?  Paul stated that it’s mostly by instinct although they are installing a computerized system.

Extensive inventory

Each beer has a different pull-date depending on the hop profile and other factors, and I tell my staff, “Turn the bottle on the shelf and look at the date.”  He also works closely with his distributors to arrive at a fair arrangement when inventory gets overstocked.

Most of the comments on social media were very positive.  The only negative one I saw was reviewer complained about the dust when he picked up the bottle.  Paul stated that when they first took over, the main complaint on social media was that there was old beer.  “We have remedied that by taking a lot of old product off the shelves and cleaning ductwork and shelves.  We took about 40 pounds of dust and dirt out of here.”

And like two of the other iconic Multnomah Village bars reviewed previously, the Ship Tavern and Renners, the building and site of John’s has an interesting history. 

The site was a substation on the old Union Pacific Electric rail line and the original owner, John Feuz (the John of John’s Marketplace) had a butcher shop and meat market (You can still see meat hooks and rails for sliding meat in their cooler.)

Dave Percival, who took over the store in the mid-90’s was fascinated by what used to be the beer and wine selection at the old Burlingame Grocery (before it was destroyed in what investigators thought was an arson fire) and saw the trend coming with the growing Oregon micro-brew industry.

He started the deli when there was roadwork through Multnomah Village and began selling the construction workers burgers.  Now, I have reviewed several excellent bottle shops previously including Beer Goddess Lisa Morrison’s wonderful Belmont Station (2013), 1856 (2012) and Bottles (2012), Beer Mongers (2014) and most recently Bandon’s Beverage Barn.

Beer Mongers – okay, but no comparison….

There is a good chance you can find the beer you want in any of them.  But none compares with the idiosyncratic charm, the friendly and knowledgeable staff and the rich history of John’s Marketplace.   I will finish with two recent Yelp reviews which are typical and also explain why Thebeerchaser will return to what they self-describe as “Portland’s Beer Mecca” – and justifiably.

“If there’s a better beer selection anywhere, I haven’t seen it. And believe me, I’ve looked all over the country. The amount and variety of beer on the shelves here is simply breathtaking.

Tons of Oregon beer, sure, but also plenty of other regions and even rare stuff. They also have a handful of rotating beers in tap and serve food. The people here are extremely friendly and helpful as well. If you can’t find some beer here that you love, you don’t really love beer. “ 3/23/17

“I love this place! Such a gem, totally unassuming. Just good food and great selection of beer and wine. I always grab a killer turkey sandwich if I’m in the area.  For $5.50 it’s a steal  I’ve had all their sandwiches- which are all tasty and great, but a classic turkey sandwich done well is my go to order.”  9/21/17

John’s Marketplace   –  3535 SW Multnomah Blvd.    Portland









How does he manage an inventory of beer and wine of that magnitude.




Thebeerchaser’s 2017 Annual Report

Cheers from Thebeerchaser

I would suggest that 2017 was a year of good cheer – but isn’t that what you would expect from the author of a blog entitled “Thebeerchaser.”  While there were national and international events which make me shudder, the following speaks strictly to my idiosyncratic retirement hobby i.e. visiting bars, taverns and pubs and then blogging about them.  The following is my rationale for asserting, “It was a very good year.”

Buffalo Bill’s Saloon in rural Beavercreek

Blog Statistics – while I would still pursue this hobby even if the only people reading my posts were family members (out of a sense of obligation), it is gratifying to see that the number visiting the blog has increased – a lot – each year from my first full year in 2012. 

The chart below shows the total number of views with the darker blue being the number of visitors each year.  

The unique Multnomah Whiskey Bar

For example in 2017, I had 24,577 views from 18,623 visitors – meaning each visitor looked at an average of 1.32 different posts.

This compares to 2013 when the views rang in at 15,223 by 10,031 people – a 60% increase in views over that four year period. My first full year, only 6,704 ventured in, so the increase has been gratifying.

Thebeerchaser’s Statistics from 2012 – 2017

Since its inception in August, 2011, I have published 189 posts – each one averaging about 1,500 words.  In 2017, followers of the blog saw twenty-nine posts, which is pretty close to the annual average over the six full years I have been on this “Tour.”   But in 2017, since we were on the road more, we visited more different public houses than in any prior year.

Wonderful scenery (and breweries) along the S. Oregon Coast

When we travel, I describe multiple bars and breweries in each post.  For example, in September we headed down the Southern Oregon Coast through Redwood National Park to Eureka.

In three different posts, I described eleven breweries, one bar and one bottle shop that we visited on that trip including our favorite, Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake California.

Drinking with the friendly staff of Mad River Brewing

And I am always amazed to see the locations at which the visitors to Thebeerchaser are doing their Google searches which bring them to my domain.

For example, in 2017, 85% of the views were from the US, but 3% were from India, followed by 1.8% from Canada and even ten views from Saudi Arabia.

Known to roam both New Guinea and Khazakstan

Perhaps that’s some people getting vicarious thrills from reading about watering holes because Saudi Arabia has a complete ban on alcohol – it is illegal to produce it, import it, or consume it.

In fact, in 2017 I even had two visitors from New Guinea and one from Khazakstan.  Perhaps they got to my blog by mistake and they meant to do a search for The boar chaser……

Thebeerchasing Itinerary

At the wonderful dive bar AC Tap outside Sister Bay in Door County, Wisconsin

My practice when Beerchasing in the Portland area is to generally visit an establishment at least twice – that gives me a better feel for the place and more opportunity to meet patrons and talk to the bartenders or staff about the bar or brewery’s history and distinguishing characteristics.

Now 2017 set a record for the most venues visited.   Although the Portland area total was lower than most years at fifteen bars and breweries, this number was supplemented by twenty-seven outside Portland including multiple entries in Wisconsin, California and the Oregon Coast.

Lakefront Brewing in Milwaukee

You can see the list for both categories at the end of this post.  And one brewery is in a special category – the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel which will be discussed below.

Friendly owner Tom O’Leary


For Portland establishments, I devote the entire post to one venue.  For example, my favorite bar in 2017 of the nine Portland area watering holes, was TC O’Leary’s Irish Pub where I got to know the owner, Tom, a former star from Ireland’s most popular soap opera.

And the brewery which captured my imagination of the five Portland area enterprises reviewed was Tigard’s Flyboy Brewing.  The outstanding people in these establishments gave them the nod plus you haven’t lived until you have tasted their Pilot’s Peach Pale Ale.

Michelle Faubion and Mark Becker of Flyboy Brewing


Each quarter I also write about an individual or group for which I bestow the “honor” Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOTQ).  In the past, these have included authors, athletes, war heroes, media personalities and even my graduate school Professor of Public Finance, Portland State’s Dr. John Walker.

The only Beerchaser-of-the-Year was named in 2016 – my wife of thirty-eight years, Janet, who has shown the patience and given her support for the time I spend checking out these colorful and many times historic, public houses.

The only Beerchaser-of-the-Year

Fortunately, she has grown to have a fondness for IPAs (Buoy Brewing’s of Astoria is her favorite) – a change from generally consuming an Oregon Pinot when we dined out in prior years.

Amy Faust of 99.5 – The Wolf




I was somewhat remiss this year and only named three BOTQ – Portland radio personality, Amy Faust, of the Mike and Amy Show and then a  tribute to the late author and my friend (as a result of this blog) Brian Doyle.

And then there’s Father Martin Grassel, who is the head brewer at the Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey (in addition to being the Procurator for the Abbey – a very big responsibility.) He is a wonderful man with a fascinating background.

Father Martin of the Benedictine Brewery

Stay tuned for a catch-up effort in 2018, when my first BOTQ will be Portland developer and civic leader, Mark Edlen.

For a list of past recipients of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, see the tab so designated on the header at the top of this post.  These people are interesting and have compelling stories and you probably know some of them.

Looking Back and Reflecting……

Dave Booher and Steve Larson at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns

Since my visit to the Brooklyn Park Pub in August, 2011, my first bar on what has been a six and one-half year journey, I have visited and reviewed a total of 257 different watering holes.

While my initial intent was to restrict these visits to Portland locations, our retirement travel was conducive to telling you about bars in Europe and Alaska, Hawaii,  Montana and a bunch of other states in addition to saloons all over the state of Oregon – from the coast to John Day and Baker.

The personable Phoebe of the Brooklyn Park Pub

By the way, I was very happy that I returned to the Brooklyn this summer and had a visit with their wonderful bartender Phoebe Newcombe, one of my favorite of many dynamic personalities (also third place in Willamette Week’s Best- of-Portland Bartenders) I have had the pleasure of interviewing since 2011.

Darwin’s Theory – An OSU Beaver in Anchorage

So of that total (257) 114 have been in Portland and 143 in the aforementioned other geographical locales.  (Sometime if we have a beer, I will tell you about our visit to the bar right below the summit of  top of Mt. Schilthorn in Switzerland – at an altitude of 9,744 feet.)

Or there was my favorite dive bar of all time – Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska – owned by an Oregon State University alum.

The Schilthorn Taverne in Switzerland







You’ve got to be kidding? Beer at 9,500 feet!

The List of 2017 Venues

The charts below show the name, location type of establishment and date of the post for each place reviewed in 2017 – separated by those in the Portland metropolitan area and those outside the Rose City.

Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
Multnomah Whiskey Library Downtown Whiskey Bar January
Nineteen 33 Taproom West Linn Neighborhood February
Buffalo Bill’s Saloon Beavercreek Neighborhood February
Ancestry Brewing Tualatin Brewery February
The Independent Downtown Sports Bar March
NEPO 42 Northeast Neighborhood April
Burnside Brewing East Brewery April
Gil’s Speakeasy Southeast Dive Bar May
Flyboy Brewing Tigard Brewery May
Cascade Brewing Barrel House Southeast Brewpub June
Labrewatory North Brewery June
Renners Multnomah Village Dive Bar August
Slow Bar Southeast Neighborhood October
TC O’Leary’s Irish Pub Northeast Neighborhood October
ZARZ Downtown Whiskey Bar December

Wisconsin Beerchasing

On the Oregon Coast


Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
Nauti Mermaid Beach Club Lincoln City, OR Neighborhood July
Scooters Pub Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood July
Dukes on the Water Milwaukee, Wisc. Dive July
Water Street Brewery Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery July
Badger State Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
Hinterland Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
Door County Brewing Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Brewery August
AC Tap Sister Bay, Wisc Dive August
Coyote Road House Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
Cornerstone Pub Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
Pourman’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
Lake Front Brewing Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery September
McGillycuddy’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
Bar None Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
The Aly Asylum Riverhouse Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewpub September
Yachats Brewing Yachats, OR Brewery November
Defeat River Brewing Reedsport, OR Brewery November
Seven Devils Brewing Coos Bay, OR Brewery November
Bandon Brewery Bandon, OR Brewery November
Broken Anchor Bar and Grill Bandon, OR Neighborhood November
The Beverage Barn Bandon, OR Bottle Shop November
Arch Rock Brewing Gold Beach, OR Brewery November
Chetco Brewing Brookings, OR Brewery November
Six Rivers Brewing McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
Humboldt Regeneration McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka, CA Brewery December
Mad River Brewery Blue Lake, CA Brewery December
Benedictine Brewery Mount Angel, OR Brewery November

The Benedictine Brewery

Sign designed and created by Brother Andre’ Love

Fans of great beer and the rich history of brewing can look forward to the opening of the Benedictine Brewery and Taproom in mid-2018.   After an incredible community timber raising on November 11th, the Brewery is now framed and its flagship beer, Black Habit got a wonderful review at this link in Willamette Week.  http://www.wweek.com/bars/beer/2017/12/12/in-a-bavarian-village-in-oregon-you-can-drink-beer-brewed-by-benedictine-monks/  

I have been working as a volunteer on this project for the last fifteen months – it’s a vision of Father Martin Grassel.  When completed, it will be the only brewery west of the Mississippi in which the ownership and brewing is by monks – in this case those at the Mount Angel Abbey, established in 1882.

To see some videos which will amaze you and give you an idea of the energy and spirit shown at the timber raising at which about 100 monks, seminarians and friends from the Mt. Angel community worked as a team all day,  check out the following link from my post on 11/21.


Updated picture from 1/4/18







Happy New Year!

Beerchasing on the S. Oregon and N. California Coasts – Part II

The winter months are a good time to finish narrating (and remembering…) our three and one-half day journey down the southern Oregon coast and through the beautiful Redwoods as far as Eureka in mid-September.  Beautiful scenery in the state parks, some great hikes and twelve breweries, one bar (and a bottle shop) in which we raised a shared-mug (most times) along the way made it a trip to remember.

We left off the last post telling you about the personable and entrepreneurial owner of the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon where we stayed our first night.   We enjoyed outstanding food, a good tap list and our conversation with Jessica Neal.

We were sorry to hear that shortly after our trip, she ran into a few strokes of bad luck with both a fire which destroyed her liquor inventory and her walk-in freezer malfunctioning – the latter resulting in a significant loss not covered by insurance.

Jessica – bouncing back from bad luck….

Not surprisingly, in a recent phone call to see how she had recovered, she was upbeat and positive.  Jessica was enthused about  moving forward into the holidays and thankful for her loyal customers.   When you are in Bandon, you should stop at this quality bar, partake of the great food and say hello to Jessica.


This is a long post although it is hard to be concise when visiting so many quality breweries and witnessing the beautiful scenery.  But to see our favorite brewery of the entire trip, you have to either read or move down to the end of this post.   Here’s a picture of their taproom and if you are in Northern California, stop and visit this wonderful brewery.

What Tap Room is this?

Our last bar in Oregon before we hit the California border was in Brookings where we visited the Chetco Brewery – a brewery with a simple philosophy – “Small town brewing – world class beer.”  

The community had been decimated by the Chetco Bar Fire, which was started by lightning in July and burned almost 200,000 acres before it was contained, including severely damaging one of Oregon’s last redwood groves.

Businesses in that area including the brewery, were severely stressed by the haze and distinct possibility of evacuation during the zenith of the tourist season.  Just visiting the brewery’s small taproom with sixteen of their own vegan beers on tap, however, gave an indication how the community rallied.

It was appropriate that we shared a pint of their “Evacuation Ale”:

” With the ash falling around us, still sipping the morning coffee, it clicked. Smoked, Coffee, Porter. Pure delight amongst the panic. Just a little caffeine to settle the nerves. Smooth, complex, and interesting enough to take your mind off of your impending doom.”

Chetco Taproom – not fancy, but a community gathering place.

And it is not surprising to see how this enterprise is thriving.  Their website gives the story entitled, “Much to be Thankful For.”  It relates how they are “revitalizing” a much bigger building down the highway and moving the taproom and brewery in a project that will be incrementally completed next March.

Just over the California border, we made a short stop at Six Rivers Brewery in McKinleyville.  The “Brew with a View” – overlooking the Pacific on Hghway 101, opened in 2008 by Talia and Meredith became the second all-woman-owned brewery in California and has also expanded with success.   The pub has a good menu and eleven of their beers on tap. 

We shared a half-flight of five 4-ounce samples for only $6 after our helpful servers, Erin and Rebecca let us sample a few to narrow our choices and especially enjoyed their Bluff Creek Pale Ale.

The taproom at Six Rivers




Another quick stop in McKinleyville was on the agenda. The taproom is essentially a small square room in a storage shed, but we wanted to see Humboldt Rengeration, because of its innovative and sustainable approach to brewing as evidenced by the three quotes below – the first from their webpage and the second two from Yelp.

“It’s a sustainable Farmhouse Brewery which means we are growing our own grains and hops. The barley and wheat are floor-malted on site.”

“A true heirloom Brewer – using cutting edge technology and methodology with old school craftsmanship…..A recent stop in Humboldt Regeneration had me sampling seven (7) different offerings the day of my visit – the brew master (Jacob) had produced 200+ different styles of brews in the past year.  His unassuming 2 1/2 year old nano brewery has been taking the northwest brewery scene by storm – voted one of the top nano breweries of 2014 in an industry paper.” (Yelp – 1/7/15) 

Humboldt Regeneration – a storage shed, but innovative brewing

“Sure, the atmosphere is a nano brewery (read: storage shed) but what you may lose in surroundings is more than made up for in the beer. Every beer I tried was complex and refreshing. The Faro Red– if you like sours– holy taste explosion.” (Yelp – 8/16/17)

We had a nice chat with Jacob the brewmaster and shared a good Whiskey Barrel Pilsner.

That night we stayed in Trinidad, California at the Turtle Rocks Inn, a picturesque bed and breakfast where we sat on our private deck and enjoyed a beautiful sunset dinner while listening to the sea lions bark on the rocks below. One of the joys of road trips is discovering places off the beaten path – and there are many on the coast.

The Turtle Rocks Inn Bed and Breakfast



Lest you think this trip was only about beer, the next day was our favorite – a day spent touring and hiking in Redwood National Park.  A hike through the Lady Bird Johnson grove led by a Forest Service ranger, giving the history and interesting facts about the flora and fauna made this a highlight of the trip.

John Steinbeck’s quote on the Redwoods cannot help but ring true when you are standing in this magnificent grove gazing up at these trees which often grow over 300 feet and are hundreds of years old – the oldest purportedly were saplings before the birth of Christ.

Words are not necessary….

““The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable.

From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”

And fortunately, because of bi-partisan effort  evidenced in that very spot when President Richard Nixon dedicated the park in 1969  and named the grove after Lady Bird Johnson – wife of his predecessor of the other political party – the Redwoods were saved from developers although many of the massive trees were logged before protection through park designation.

Keep this in mind and realize the current “occupant” of the White House on December 4th proudly announced in Salt Lake City that he was drastically scaling back two national monuments (Baby Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante) established in Utah by his Democratic predecessors.  It was the largest reduction of public-lands protection in U.S. history.

I guess when Nixon’s legacy (and demeanor) start appearing to be positive from a relative perspective, it is understandable why even blogs about bars and breweries have to digress (or regress) to political commentary to vent righteous indignation and disgust.

We finished that day with the Trillium Falls trail – a wonderful 3-mile loop through more majestic old-growth timber.

For dinner, we drove down to Eureka where we dined at the Lost Coast Brewery Restaurant, located in a 100-year old building in the heart of the city.  It’s another brewery started by a woman, Barbara Groom, and has grown and expanded to become the largest brewery we visited on our trip.


The restaurant was packed and has an expansive menu.  Janet had their flagship beer, the Great White – their original and a Belgian-style white, while I had the Tangerine Wheat. 

The pub at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka

We sampled this good beer on a trip a few years back and liked it so well, we stopped at a bottle shop and brought a six-pack home. The Lost Coast logo and artwork is wonderfully creative and distinct.


That night we stayed in charming Arcata and hit two last California breweries:

Unimpressive exterior but good tap list

Redwood Curtain Brewing – another unimpressive location – brewery and tasting room in a non-descript strip mall, but an impressive selection of beers on tap (24 of their own beers) in a nice tasting room.

Redwood Curtain brewing and tasting room

It was a Friday night and overflowing with students from nearby Humboldt State College, anticipating the live entertainment. Chris, the friendly bartender, gave us a good recommendation – their flagship Golden Ale.  We were going to stay for dinner, but Chris told us that a semi-truck had recently wiped out their food cart in the parking lot…..!

Mad River Brewery – okay, I told you I saved the best for last.  We tasted a lot of excellent beer and met wonderful people in breweries down the coast into Northern California, but our favorite in either state by far — Mad River.

Was it the charming and well-designed tasting room and patio?  Or was it the great logo and artwork on their bottles?  That was part of it, but we loved their beer – stopped and picked up a half-case to take home – and the staff we met that afternoon, that distinguished them.

Mad River, started in 1989 and has been going strong ever since, brewing with skill and pride:

“Our most prestigious awards include four Gold Medals, four Silver Medals and one Bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival. Two Bronze awards from the World Beer Cup and 2010 Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year award from the Great American Beer Festival.”

And perhaps we hit the Taproom at just the right time – there were six employees sitting at the bar after they had finished their work day and were enjoying a fringe benefit – an after-shift beer with their personal mug – each one hanging on a prominent display to the side of the bar – a creative and positive gesture by management. 

A look at their website is ample evidence that they are a team-oriented enterprise.  All of the guys we met while sitting at the bar were very friendly and one could tell by their comments that they loved their jobs and appreciated their brewing company.   While we liked all of them – Sean, Nate et.al., our favorite was Zeke Branca(the first guy on the left in the picture) a big guy who is the Cellar Master and who stated on their website:

“I am a seventeen year MRBCo employee, with 35 years brewing experience as an award-winning homebrewer at both national and state competitions. Native Californian, married and father of two. Other interests include; officiating soccer, watching international futbol and Saturday night poker club….CHEERS”

And our half-case was a variety pack because we couldn’t decide on our favorite.  We especially enjoyed the Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, the Mad River IPA and the Jamaica Red Ale was one of the best I’ve tasted and lived up to its 2011 Silver Medal at the Great American Beer Festival

You could also get a delicious burger or sandwich in the taproom.


Well, early the next morning, we left and made the long drive to our beach house in Lincoln City, but of course, we made one stop that harkened both of us back to family vacations before we hit our teens.  In fact, with me, it was when our family made a 6,500 three-month camping trip in the summer and fall of 1962.

We lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and after that trip, my dad quit his job and my wonderful parents told us, “We’re moving to Oregon!”

“Nice shoes, Tommy! Where are you from?”

And just like Janet, I remember the Trees of Mystery on 101 although they now don’t have the guy who sat hidden in the bottom of the giant logger and fascinated young kids by talking to each one personally when they came up for a picture.

Janet gets her “bearings”






And thanks to Duane (FDW) and Frannie Williams for having the pioneer spirit and courage to move their family to a better life on the West Coast

To see Part I of the trip along the coast, click on the following link: