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.

Big Sky Preface – Part II

The 3,700 mile route of our fourteen-day trip through Oregon, Washington, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho

As I mentioned on the previous blog post, we recently completed a 3,700 mile trip through six states besides Oregon.  On the first six says, I drove solo – spending nights in Yaak (2), Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston before meeting my bride who flew into Billings.

The lobby of the historic Murray Hotel on Main Street in Livingston

From that point, we spent eight more days together hitting three National Parks, two National Monuments, two Memorials and one incredible State Park (Custer in South Dakota.)

On a walk next to the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park

While on my own, I visited twenty-three bars and seven breweries and Janet and I subsequently stopped in ten bars and nine breweries for a total of forty-nine memorable establishments where we met wonderful people, had outstanding beer and good food.  The scenery was varied and stunning.  The complete list and some additional background information on the trip can be found at:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/07/05/big-sky-beerchasing-the-preface/

In future blog posts, I will talk in detail about the watering holes and the people, however, I think it fitting to again preface those narratives with what constituted the highlights of our trip – one that we will remember as a memorable and cherished journey across a big slice of Western America.

Favorite National Park

Badlands National Park in South Dakota – The clear winner.  The carved landscape reflecting the incredible and unceasing power of nature was dramatic and humbling.

Favorite Breweries

We visited sixteen breweries or brewpubs during the trip and I’m compelled to name three which topped the list.

Bias Brewing in Kalispell – I spent an hour interviewing (before they opened for the day) Gabe Mariman the co-owner.   Bias was opened by Adam and Amanda Robertson in 2018 and Gabe joined them shorty after.  He and his family moved from Bend.

They have an amazing story and are true entrepreneurs and innovators, are environmentally progressive and actively support their community.

Bitter Root Brewing in Hamilton – Founded in 1998, it’s one of the oldest breweries in the State and a family-owned and operated business.   Sarah, the daughter of the owners who moved home from Arizona, spent time briefing me on the history and their operations while I had an excellent dinner.

Bitter Root has a wonderful and personable staff and it was obvious that they enjoyed their jobs and took pride in their company.   The manner in which Sarah interacted with customers and her staff was remarkable.

They are proud of their kitchen and “source local and organic whenever possible and love partnering with local providers.”

Rachael, Emile, Sarah and Miles – a personable staff

Smith Alley Brewing – Sheridan, Wyoming – It’s opening in January, 2019, made it the third brewery in Sheridan and after having some of their excellent beer we came back for dinner – another good decision.

The brewpub quarters have great ambiance – located in one of Sheridan’s historical buildings right on Main Street.   And we were particularly impressed with their new head brewer – Jason.

He stopped what he was doing in the brewery to talk with us, pour us a sample of a new beer which he was still in the process of refining the new brew so it was not yet available on tap – excellent taste and aroma.  Turns out, he recently moved from Oregon City, where I graduated from high school and plans to move his family to Sheridan in the next month.  

Favorite National Monument or Memorial 

While the Little Big Horn National Monument imbued a sense of being on hallowed ground, the visit to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial should be on every person’s bucket list.

Fortunately, due to the admonition of some good friends about crowds, we hit it early on a Monday morning.   There were few people at that time and being able to view this incredible sight from a distance and then walk up to see a close-up unobstructed perspective of these American icons left what will be a lasting and memorable impression.

And the background and story of sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and the 400 workers who worked on this fourteen-year project (1927-41) is fascinating.

Favorite Bars

This presents a dilemma because there were so many bars – many with rich histories, located in historic buildings and with wonderful bartenders.

The Dirty Shame Saloon – Yaak, Montana – Since meeting John Runkle and visiting the Dirty Shame was a primary motivation for the trip, and the time spent there exceeded my expectations, it is obviously first on the list.   Future posts will inform you why you should also visit this legendary bar.

John Runkle and the center of Yaak, Montana!

Montana Bar – Miles City – As Joan Melcher wrote in 1983 in her wonderful first book Watering Holes – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars:

“I wondered when I first walked into the Montana if I had not found a bar about as close to perfect as I was going to find….The Montana was built in 1902 by James Kenney and outside of a new coat of paint and new wallpaper, the bar has hardly changed.”

In 2019, this bar still exudes its rich and historic past and the effusive bartender, Blake, was friendly and helpful in telling us the story.

Blue Moon Saloon – Columbus Falls – Based on the aforementioned Joan Melchor’s book, I had to see the Blue Moon on my trip.  It’s in a rural area close to Kalispell and I stopped in mid-afternoon on the first Sunday of my trip.

A portion of what is purported to be the longest bar in Montana

It’s purported to have the longest bar in Montana and is know for its legendary taxidermy and the charisma of its owners, Dick and Charlotte Sapa, who bought the bar in 1973.   When I walked in, sat down in the middle of the bar and ordered a beer, I asked the bartender if the Sapas still owned it.

The amazing Sapas

She pointed to her right and said, that’s them sitting down at the end of the bar.  That began an extended conversation with this amazing couple who were not hesitant to regale me with stories.

Their son, Bill, after we talked awhile, offered to take me up to the fabled upper room – an honor – which is completely filled with additional trophies from the hunts all over the world.

Bill Sappa and part of the fabled “upper room.”

I am looking forward to telling a more complete story of this bar, but it was one of the highlights of my solo trip.

(You will love the true story of the guy who wanted to show off his new horse, shortly after they opened the bar.  Charlotte agreed and the entrance and exit of the rider and his steed is a perfect example of why I want to return to visit more Montana saloons.)

Favorite Bartenders

This is another category that given the warmth of the bartenders who greeted me and shared their own and their bar’s stories after I gave them my Beerchaser card, is a challenge to single out a few.  That said, here’s a valiant attempt and I will let you know about the others when I describe their bars in future posts:

Andre at the Little Missouri Saloon in Medora, North Dakota – We have found on three of our last major trips – Alaska, New England and this one, that a number of the bartenders and servers are natives of the Caucasus, Eastern, Southern or Central Europe.

They come over during the summers to work and return in the fall – often for continuing university study.  In general, they speak English quite well, are personable and enjoy sharing their story when you ask.

Such was the case with Andre’ from Macedonia, who had an infectious smile, a warm personality and joked with us notwithstanding a very busy bar.   We enjoyed him and wish Andre’  well.

Andre from Macedonia

Tom Davis – bartender and owner of the Wise River Club in Wise River, Montana – Wise River is really “in the sticks” (on the north edge of the Beaverhead National Forest and about 40 miles from the Antler Saloon in Wisdom so you will have some context…..)

I stopped in about noon and ordered a Miller High Life from Tom, who told me he and his wife are the owners of both the bar and the RV park behind it – they bought them eleven years ago – and his story. He emigrated from Scotland in 1964. “In those days if you had an accent and could sing, you could make some money.”

He formed a band and played lead guitar, and he and his group fronted and toured with Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and Papas and in the Northwest with Portland’s own Paul Revere and the Raiders.

I was sorry I didn’t hit Wise River on the weekends because Tom still plays and sings.  He was a great guy with a still wonderful accent and sparkling personality.

DarilynCook and bartendar at the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak – The story of the Dirty Shame and the background of its owner and staff will more than fill two future posts, but suffice to say that Darilyn – is a gem.

She and her family live in Troy and they come up to help John Runkle at various times of the year around the bar and at the Lodge.   She is soft spoken, but is an asset to John and probably manages him better than anyone except his wife!

John Runkle and Darilyn

Favorite Bar Regulars

There is no question on the two below although I met scores of great bar regulars.

Geoff at the Yaak River Tavern – There is some competition between the Dirty Shame and this bar right across the highway.  Also no question that the Dirty Shame has more character.  In John Runkle’s apt way of describing the distinction:

“Yaak River Tavern has an Ugly Sweater Contest.  The Dirty Shame has a Wet T-shirt Contest.”

Geoff – a character to remember

That said, I did go over there for about an hour on my first night in Yaak.   An affable old guy named Geoff was playing guitar and singing – right on a bar stool at the bar – nursing one of a number of beers he had that day/night and telling stories.

I told the owner that I was buying him a beer when he came in the next day to credit his account.   So he sang us his favorite song.  (When the lyrics have “palm trees,” “banana,” “beach” and “Montana” in the same verse, you know there’s creativity!)

(If you don’t see the arrow to play on the video below, tap on the photo and it will take you to the You Tube I posted on Geoff’s song.)

Fritz at the Antler Saloon in Wisdom, Montana –  The Antler is a picturesque and historic bar in Wisdom – also out in the Montana boonies – one which requires driving through some beautiful country.

“Bernie” was the bartender and also self-described herself as the “pizza maker” – the bar is known for that but I arrived there about 10:00 AM.  I had a very nice chat with her and one of the owners, Tom, who at one time worked at Oregon Steel in Portland and a good client of my former law firm.

That’s my Miller High Life on the bar at the bottom right.

A sign in the men’s john stated, ” Please spit chew in the garbage, not the urinal,” and another said, “This establishment serves no drinks with tiny umbrellas.”

But the biggest impact on me was Fritz – Bernie’s dog.  He epitomized a great bar regular and waved a paw from his bar stool as I left.

Fritz – a memorable regular

Favorite Lodging Options

We are loyal to the Marriott Hotel chain and like the different options presented with the mid-price options (or ability to use points) which always include a decent, if not enticing, breakfast option.   We stayed in a number – all after Janet joined the trip, because I tried to hit either historic or low budget, but interesting motels, when I drove solo.

From a price standpoint, at $55 per night, I might suggest Deffy’s Motel in Livingston, but it was borderline.   Although for that price, I got a couch, full kitchen, desk and even cable TV, Janet would have vetoed out of hand.

I noticed from both a sign and on-line that Deffy’s is for sale – price not disclosed – if anybody is interesting in relocating to Hamilton and taking over an “established” business.

The Murray Hotel in Hamilton –  I got in this historic hotel because of Janet’s checking after most of the lodging options when I checked, were unavailable because they were filming an episode of “Yellowstone” with Kevin Costner right outside the city.

A great bar

But this was a rustic gem, with a great bar and very comfortable room right on Main Street.  The clerk at the desk was Val – a former land-use planner who had worked for the City of Hillsboro and had some Oregon roots so we had a great conversation.

“Since its grand opening in 1904, the Murray Hotel’s guest registry has been more like a who’s who of history and Hollywood. Celebrities such as Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane have graced the threshold of what was once “the” elegant railroad hotel.”  (Murray Hotel website)

Will Rogers and his friend purportedly tried to use it to bring his favorite saddle horse to their  suite on the third floor at one time.

From the décor in the lobby, to the bar and overall ambiance, it was great.  I loved it and would strongly recommend.  And if you hit there at the right time, you might well run into a noted entertainer, artist or writer on vacation.

Marriott Element in Bozeman – A factor in this choice may be how much we liked Bozeman as a city and the hotel was about two blocks off the main street.  It had a great lobby, nice staff, a happy hour with complimentary beer and cheese and even tea at 8:00 as a nightcap besides a breakfast better than most Mariott options.

And because of our Mariott loyalty program, we got an upgrade to a suite, but the paramount element to making this list was the view from our room – just outstanding!  This was taken right from the window of our room.

Big Sky Country at its best..

Favorite Cities in Which I/We had an Overnight Stay

There was really only one city on the trip through seven states that I didn’t care for – Anaconda – and part of one afternoon and an hour the next morning, probably isn’t enough time to bond with a municipality.  That said, besides Yaak, there were no stays longer than one night.

I should also state, that while we really liked Teddy Roosevelt National Park and the bar and brewpub we went to, Medora, North Dakota had kind of a weird or unsettling vibe.

I might add that while the scenery, the people and the setting of many of the cities and towns we experienced, tempted one to say,  “I could definitely move here,” reality set in when we remembered the weather during the winter months.

Teddy Roosevelt National Park was great. Medora – not so much.

As stated in one website, “Winter sees some extremes in Montana weather.  During the winter, it is very common for the areas east of the Continental Divide to be in the deep-freeze of below zero temperatures.”

And besides 50 to 100 inches of snow, it is usually blowing snow.  This July night it is a pleasant 61 degrees, but if you plan to relocate, look at the full annual picture.

Hamilton, Montana – One thing that prompted me to check out Hamilton was an article in The Oregonian  the city on small western cities by David Lynch of The Washington Post.  Further research revealed this excerpt from The Oregonian in July 2014.

Hamilton, population 4,508,  is located near the center of the Bitterroot Valley, an 80-mile north-south valley tucked in on the east slope of the Bitterroot Mountains in far western Montana and about 50 miles south of Missoula. Blodgett Canyon, just five miles from the center of town, is nothing short of gorgeous.

Hamilton was a designed town, with planned street grids right from the beginning, unlike so many other Montana towns that grew up out of mining camps.”

Tree-lined streets..

Now I have to admit that driving in on State Highway 93, my first glimpse of Hamilton was very disappointing.  It was a commercial strip along the highway.  However, an evening walk and getting only a few blocks off the main drag revealed a charming town with the Bitter Root River flowing through the very impressive River Park.

The Park had a wonderful playground and river walk.  I then hit both of the breweries, which were great stories.

Higher Ground Brewing –  the story of “Two local boys (Jasper Miller and Fenn Nelson) who came home from college and launched a brewery (2011) that takes more than $1 million in annual sales.”  They became the youngest owner and head brewer in Montana. (Washington Post April 5, 2019.)

Part of River Park

Bitter Root Brewing – one of the oldest in the state (1998) and a family owned business as mentioned earlier in this post.

Right next to brewery, was an impressive baseball field and I watched several innings of American Legion Baseball and saw the first-place hometown Bitter Root Red Sox in the process of thrashing the Kalispell Lakers.

The Red Sox in their stadium next to Bitter Root Brewing

I was impressed by the Montana version of Big Green as the left-field fence.  On a Monday night, it was a well-attended family affair.

Unfortunately, my stay in Hamilton was limited to one night as I would have liked to take one of the hikes right outside town in the Bitter Root National Forest.

However, that would have meant another night in Deffy’s Motel….

The Bitter Root River right by River Park

Sheridan, Wyoming – This northern Wyoming city with a population of 17,500 and founded in 1882, is halfway between Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park.

The view of Sheridan and its surrounding scenery

Named for the legendary General Phil Sheridan, my attachment to this berg, may have been, in part, based on some family roots. My dad’s father Floyd Williams, was a US Postal Service Inspector and while traveling by train which stopped in Sheridan in 1912, he spotted the young Clara Sarah Willey on the platform at the station.

Sarah’s family ranched cattle (the Diamond Bar T brand) there for three quarters of a century.  Kings Saddlery, one of the largest tack stores (equestrian outfitting) in the US, also had a museum (through the rope store in back of the main saddlery) in addition to countless saddles and western gear and there were historic pictures from the Willey spread.

Kings Saddlery – the main building

Sheridan has some sprawl along the highways, but a picturesque and historic and thriving main street with fascinating shops and one of our favorite breweries – Smith Alley Brewing (see above)

There are great walking paths through the city, nice parks and notable outdoor art sculptures on almost every corner.  It is a picturesque and charming village.

 

Stayed tuned for future posts on Thebeerchaser which will tell you the stories of the forty-nine bars and breweries we visited on our route.

Cheers!

 

In the park along the walking path by Goose Creek in downtown Sheridan

 

 

 

 

B

Big Sky Beerchasing – The Preface

Just above Kootenai Falls near Libby, Montana

On a back road right outside Yaak, Montana

In June, we took a combined fourteen-day road trip through Montana with subsequent stops in North and South Dakota and Wyoming, before returning home through Montana, Idaho and Oregon’s Columbia Gorge.  The magnificence of the vistas we encountered each day is still ingrained in our minds.

I use the term “combined” because on the first six days of the trip, I soloed – driving slightly over 1,400 miles starting with two nights in Yaak, Montana (stay tuned to find out why I chose that destination) and with overnight stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston, before picking Janet up at the airport in Billings.

The Grand Hotel in downtown Kalispell – which was both historic and grand!

(I should add that the idea for the solo part of my trip for which I am indebted to my wife of 39 years, originated in 2004, when for ten days of my law firm sabbatical, I traveled 2,600 miles through Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Western Montana enjoying our beautiful Western scenery.)

This time a Prius instead of a Subaru….

The pictures show the difference between the first trip and this one – I look a lot older now and I wised up and even though it looked cool to carry a bike on the back of the car, my plan on this trip was to rent a cycle if I had the opportunity to work that in.

In the 2004 trip, because of two flat tires, I ended riding a total of four blocks while lugging the bike the entire way!

 

The day I left in 2004 – this time in a Subaru Forrester with a mountain bike (for decoration…)

On the earlier trip, I was still working and had not started my idiosyncratic retirement hobby of Beerchasing although a visit to one of the few bars at which I made stops – The Stanley Idaho Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon – was a key factor in germinating the idea for my Beerchasing Tour – started in August 2011. (My wife and I returned to the Rod and Gun on another road trip in 2016 after I started the blog.)

From Billings, the two of us then tacked on another 2,300 miles, visiting three National Parks (Teddy Roosevelt, Badlands and Wind Cave), one National Monument (Jewel Cave), two Memorials (Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial) and what has to be one of the most impressive and expansive state parks in the US – Custer State Park in South Dakota.

Badlands National Park

Now since this is a blog about bars, saloons and breweries, and in order not to disappoint Beerchaser followers, I have to add that the combined total of establishments visited (meaning having a drink or meal and interacting with the bartender or customers and not just making an entrance) was 49, of which 30, I enjoyed on my first six days.

Trappers’ Saloon in Eureka Montana – the third day on the way to Kalispell

The remaining nineteen saw both of us participating.  The picture of Trapper’s Saloon above in Eureka, Montana is a sample of the rich environment that characterized the great majority of the bars and breweries.

A bar with a rich history in the metropolis of Wise River…

I  have to add that some may think the statistics above demonstrate an unhealthy obsession with establishments operated primarily for the sale of intoxicating spirits.  In defense, I would suggest that the usually brief visits we paid are one of the best methods to meet new and interesting people, find out what should be seen in a new city and in the case of older bars, educate oneself on rich and fascinating history.

The Dewey Tavern

In addition, it spurred us to visit smaller cities such as Eureka, Troy, Miles City and Wise River that we otherwise would have just passed by.

We hit establishments in twenty-seven different bergs on the trip.  Stay tuned for the posts on this journey and you will have a better appreciation.

Note:  Since I started Beerchasing, I realized that it was imperative that I drink responsibly in visiting the bars/breweries and never get behind the wheel without being absolutely sober,.

So to allay any concern about that issue, while alone, I would space my visits throughout the day and usually consumed a single bottle of Miller High Life (by the way, an excellent brew and deserving of the label, “The Champagne of Beers” rather than a pint of microbrew.  My visits to most of the bars would last about 45 minutes to an hour.

Sometimes I would just have a soda water and when Janet and I were Beerchasing, we inevitably shared a pint or would have two or three four-ounce samplers between us.

Since I worked in legal management for over thirty years and a considerable part of my job was being immersed in statistics, I should point out the overall total would compute to one watering hole, for every 75.5 miles traveled.

The chart at the end of this post gives a complete listing including the name and location.   In several subsequent posts, I will highlight or at least offer some brief comments on each one, but this post is intended to set the stage.

Why Start and Spend Two Nights in Yaak?

For three years, visiting the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak – up near the Canadian border in NW Montana was a personal, if not peculiar, goal of mine.

John Runkle – owner of the Dirty Shame

Since talking to a bartender in Idaho, who used to work there and subsequently calling the owner, former Army paratrooper, John Runkle and doing a short post on his revival of the Dirty Shame when he purchased it out of foreclosure in 2013, visiting it has been on my bucket list.

Blueberry Pancake Breakfast in the Lodge

And the two nights I spent in the Moose Room of the outstanding Yaak River Lodge – John is also the owner – and my time spent hanging at the bar and interviewing John, were a wonderful start to my trip – one which you will be reading about in future posts. 

I presented him with two bottles of Benedictine Beer from the monk-owned brewery in Mount Angel, Oregon which now occupy a shelf in the Dirty Shame Saloon.

The Dirty Shame had the most stories of any of the 300 watering holes I’ve reviewed in over seven years — and they are all true!!

Thebeerchaser and John Runkle with the ceremonial presentation of Benedictine Beer

Janet was willing to go on a road trip through Montana but agreed to my six-day solo venture because although she likes breweries, she has an aversion to the dive bars I cherish.   She also thought the opportunity for me to read, reflect and see some wonderful scenery on my own would be enriching.

Ubiquitous!!

I use this term meaning “found everywhere” to recognize my long-term and cherished friendship with Oregon State SAE fraternity brother and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Craig – The Dude – Hanneman, for his legendary athletic, mountaineering and notable professional accomplishments. 

Back in the last ’60’s at OSU – Thebeerchaser and The Dude

Kirby Neuman-Rhea, the Editor of the Hood River News is also part of the tale. The story behind our attachment to this word is too long to relate the background, but it’s funny. 

There were certain features or characteristics that one encountered everywhere in Montana and, for the most part, added to its charm and distinction.

Big Sky Scenery – One was the beautiful and varied scenery – it made the miles of road never boring.  The stunning vistas made it difficult not to stop and take photos.  It became obvious why Montana is commonly referred to as “Big Sky Country.”

Straight Roads – Speaking of miles of roads, those roads were often long and straight – not only the Interstate, but the State highways we traveled.  Janet was driving when I took this picture.

And miles to go before I sleep….

Taxidermy – virtually every bar and many of the breweries had mounted wildlife as part of the bar’s décor.  In some cases it was overwhelming, but in most, it accurately reflected the culture of the state.

A little research revealed that there are 205 taxidermists registered in the state and Helena even has the Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning.   And this year’s annual convention of the Montana Taxidermists’ Association in Billings was the most well-attended ever according to the Billings Gazette.

Now one may disagree with the entire concept of hunting (I went hunting for deer one time in junior high and never had the desire to do it again…)  but it appears that taxidermists and most of hunters use the entire animal and don’t just kill for sport.   As evidence, the sign on this firm which I photographed in Anaconda.

Crosses Along the Highway – Montana has a very high rate of traffic fatalities.  It’s a combination of a high speed limit especially in rural areas, bad weather and road conditions in many months of the year and a high rate of alcohol consumption.  

In my first few days, I kept seeing crosses along the highways – even in very remote areas and wondered about the background. According to a  2004 article in the Billings Gazettethis program started in 1953 by the American Legion and is done solely by volunteers.

By 2015, there were more than 2,000 crosses erected.  Last year the 181 traffic fatalities was the third straight year the death toll dropped because of State programs to reduce car accidents.  And seeing those symbols is a sobering reminder to drive responsibly.

Casinos – Although many Oregon bars have video poker, the number of “casinos” in Montana and the signs advertising them is annoying – they are everywhere (or one might say, “ubiquitous…”).

The licenses for bars and restaurants are cheap and they can have up to 20 video games in the establishment although most bar “casinos” only had about five to ten.  There are also six tribal casinos.

Ubiquitous!

According to GamblingSites.com, there are “1.033 million people spread out across 147,000 square miles…. and Montana offers 292 different gambling establishments.”

Recreational Vehicles (RV’s) and Long-haul Truckers – I’m sure that the number on the road is similar to other states which have major Interstates.

I was amazed, however, at the quantity and diverse makes of RVs – usually with the male driving and the female in the co-pilot role.  I’m interested in how the economic analysis of RV travel verses lodging and eating in inexpensive or moderately priced motels and restaurants charts out…..

Class A RVs – the baby boomers’ luxury ride.

Long-haul trucks were an oft-repeated vehicle one passed on all of the Montana.  And I have the utmost respect for the long-haul owner/operators.  They have a tough job and are skilled drivers which make the highways safer for the rest of us.

They typically drive these 80,000 pound behemoths (a single rig) between 2,000 to 3,000 miles per week and are often away from family usually for two to three weeks at a time.

Sirius Satellite Radio –  I subscribe to Sirius Radio on our Prius.   And the low monthly price was well worth it during the days on the road when the AM and FM frequencies would be hard to receive.

Other than a very few remote locations, I got the Sirius signal clearly and besides two cable news channels which admittedly have a politically biased slant, I also listened to channels called Bluesville, Yacht Rock, Soul Town, Rockin’ Country BBQ and Forties Junction.

Sirius Satellite was good company….

My music tastes are eclectic and I roared down the road rocking to the TemptationsGeorge Benson, George Jones and Don Williams, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller and America and Phoebe Snow. (I must have heard “Sister Golden Hair” at least twenty times and loved it.)

It was only when Yacht Rock teed up “Muskrat Love” by the Captain and Tennille that I drew the line because I did not have a vomit bag.

Muskrat Love was not vomit proof….

 

Fox News – Without getting immersed in politics, I will state that I am not a fan of Fox News (although I admit to being a moderate Republican) and its political commentators.

While in most Oregon bars, one sees multiple screens with athletic events, it appeared to me that there were fewer big screen TVs, but they were almost always turned to Fox be it in bars, restaurants or hotels.

Montana Humor

Many native Montanans are not happy about the influx of people from other states – most notably Californians moving to the state and buying up land.

The sign below reminded me of Oregon during the Governor Tom McCall era when we wanted people to “visit but not stay.”

Although there are political divisions and critical economic and natural resources facing the state, I was still impressed with the good nature, welcoming conversation (especially the bartenders and bar regulars with whom we interacted) and indications of the positive outlook and sense of humor of Montanans.

Given all that Janet and I witnessed, it begs the question:  “Why would Montana Governor Steve Bullock ever want to win the Presidency and move to Washington DC?”

Subtle, but funny….

Stay tuned for the next several month’s post on Thebeerchaser where I will tell the rich story of not only The Dirty Shame Saloon, but convey the highlights of many of the other historic bars we hit in Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho.

Also the great breweries, especially in Montana that now rank it second per capita in the US on number of breweries according to Statistica.com – only Vermont exceeds it while Oregon comes in at #4, right behind Maine.

Another example of Montana humor – in a field by Yaak.

List of Bars and Breweries Visited on our Trip

(The first thirty were visited by Don and the remainder by Don and Janet)

Name of Establishment City State
Kootenai Brewing Bonners Ferry Idaho
Dirty Shame Saloon Yaak Montana
Yaak River Tavern Yaak Montana
Silver Spur Bar Troy Montana
Cabinet Mountain Brewing Libby Montana
Mint Bar Libby Montana
Trappers’ Saloon Eureka Montana
Bull Dog Saloon Whitefish Montana
Blue Moon Bar and Nite Club Columbia Falls Montana
VFW Bar Kalispell Montana
Moose Saloon Kalispell Montana
Bias Brewing Kalispell Montana
Del’s Bar Somers Montana
Higher Ground Brewing Hamilton Montana
Bitter Root Brewing Hamilton Montana
Sawmill Saloon Darby Montana
Antler Saloon Wisdom Montana
Wise River Club Wise River Montana
Dewey Dewey Montana
Club Moderne Anaconda Montana
Owl Bar Anaconda Montana
Katabatic Brewing Livingston Montana
Livingston Bar and Grille Livingston Montana
Neptune Brewing Livingston Montana
Murray Hotel Bar Livingston Montana
Mint Bar and Grill Livingston Montana
Stockman Bar Livingston Montana
Whiskey Creek Saloon Livingston Montana
Atlas Bar Columbus Montana
Caboose Saloon Laurel Montana
Angry Hanks Microbrewery Billings Montana
Montana Brewing Co. Billings Montana
Uberbrew Billings Montana
Montana Bar Miles City Montana
Tubbs Pub Miles City Montana
Little Missouri Saloon Medora North Dakota
Boots Bar and Grill Medora North Dakota
Wild Bill Bar Deadwood South Dakota
Zymurcracy Beer Co. Rapid City South Dakota
Firehouse Brewing Rapid City South Dakota
Tallie’s Silver Spoon Rapid City South Dakota
State Game Lodge Bar Custer South Dakota
Smith Alley Brewing Sheridan Wyoming
Black Tooth Brewing Sheridan Wyoming
Plonk Wine Bar Bozeman Montana
Outlaw Brewing Bozeman Montana
Bunkhouse Brewing Bozeman Montana
North Idaho Brewing Wallace Idaho

Bitter Root Brewing in Hamilton

 

Okay Beerchasers – This is No Bar Joke!!


(Cheers to my wonderful sister-in-law, Pam Williams, for doing the calligraphy and graphic above.)

Those who follow this blog, know that it started as a hobby after I retired in 2011 as the COO of Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt – a large Portland law firm where I had worked over twenty-five years.  The whim to visit and write about bars and breweries came after a lunchtime drop-in to Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee on the way to the Oregon coast.

While the plan was initially to confine my exploits to just Portland area establishments, our retirement travel combined with my wife, Janet’s, discovery that she liked IPA’s rather than confining her beverage selection to strictly Oregon Pinots, offered the opportunity to expand this “journey” to Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, many regions of the US and throughout Oregon – from the coast to the Cascades to Eastern Oregon.

Raising a mug at the historic Dirty Nelly’s Tavern in Boston

So at the end of 2018, my count of reviews – all of them except when traveling, consisting of at least two visits, was at 287.  Of these 111 were in the Portland metro area with the remaining 176 watering holes, scattered throughout the aforementioned localities.  The post below – published in January provides a complete list by year of those venues:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/

A week-long trip to Phoenix in March this year for Spring Training, hikes and Beerchasing upped that count by eight and reviews of four Oregon establishments, The Gemini in Lake Oswego, Old Town Brewing and the Bantam Tavern in Portland and Beachcrest Brewing on the Central Oregon Coast, raised the tally to 299.

The “living wall” at the unique Pigtails Bar in Scottsdale.

The threshold of this significant milestone, begged the question of the appropriate bar or brewery to “honor” as # 300 as well as which Beerchaser regular to ask to join me for that momentous occasion.

The Leaky Roof  (hereafter “The Roof”) – a wonderful and long-time SW Portland neighborhood bar or gastro pub – founded in 1947 – originally as a food cart and one that survived a devastating fire, seemed fitting.  It had been a convenient (two blocks away) and cherished gathering place for many after-work brewskis with my colleagues when I worked at the Oregon State Bar from 1979 through 1985.

I returned there after an absence of 33 years in June 2018, with Janet and some good friends and Beerchaser regulars (David and Kate Dickson and Roy Lambert and his spouse Mary Maxwell).  We had a great meal and sampled their good tap list and I vowed to return for my second review and subsequent blog post.

The 2018 return visit

That occurred on May 6th and it was absolutely appropriate that my long-time friend, Dennis B. Fergson accompanied me.   I first met Fergy in 1979, when I started at the Bar Association and the firm for which he was President and Chairman of the Board – JBL & K Insurance, served as the Bar’s benefits consultants.

After “retiring” from insurance and since he knows everyone in Portland, he has worked at Portland State University – first as Assistant Athletic Director and currently as Senior Philanthropic Advisor.  (That means he knows who to approach in the Rose City to donate to the City’s excellent university – of which both my wife and I are alums in the graduate Masters in Public Administration program.)

I will return to Denny later in the post, but we had a great lunch – Fergy had one of the many – perhaps hundreds – of cheeseburgers he has consumed during lunches over our forty-year friendship. I had a great Reuben sandwich, which rivaled what former Mayor Bud Clark’s Goose Hollow Inn down the street claims as the “Best Reuben on the Planet.”
I was surprised that The Roof has not been named as one of Portland’s go-to bars in Willamette Week’s Annual Bar Guide – an excellent and comprehensive resource for Thebeerchaser since starting this hobby in 2011.

2017 Willamette Week Annual Bar Guide

Other than a brief reference in one article on pub crawls  and a short review by legendary former WW Arts and Culture Editor, Mathew Korfhage in 2013, the only other hit from a Goggle search with WW and the name of the bar in the search terms is a 2017 WW article entitled:

“Portland Woman Sues State Senator Rod Monroe for $3 Million After a Leaky Roof in His East Portland Apartment Building Allegedly Left Her Disabled”.  (emphasis supplied)  It is unknown whether beer or any other alcohol was involved in this incident…..

Korfhage’s revew states, in part:

“The bar serves its once-blue-collar Goose Hollow crowd with triflingly cheap happy-hour food ($4.95 for a one-third-pound burger, 3-6 pm) and costlier dinners, including an excellent lamb shepherd’s pie ($14.50) so spiced it’s almost curried.

Great food besides good whiskey, beer and wine…

The website promises ‘the largest selection of Irish whiskey available in Portland,’and while we can’t verify the claim, the list doesn’t disappoint, with 24 marks and vintages of uisce beatha (the name for whiskey in Irish) in its tiny hearth-and-hardwood space. Dirt-cheap, triple-shot whiskey flights are available….”

 

I did not sample The Roof’s whiskey inventory – Irish, Scotch, Bourbon and Blended – extensive as you can see from their menu – and only had a few of the nine beers on tap – which I was glad to see included both Guiness and PBR

The picture below shows that they have a classic bar set-up which attractively houses the various hard liquors for which the bar has developed a reputation.  They also offer a nice selection of wines.

Another surprise in doing additional research on the bar, is the breadth and excellent quality of their menu – deserving of their claim to be a gastro pub.  It ranges from a robust weekend brunch menu, a good selection of lunch options, to standard starters, sandwiches, salads and seven very reasonably priced dinner entree’s ranging from fried chicken to Shepherds Pie (Korfhage raved about this) to Pecan Crusted Trout to Stuffed Meatloaf – which could be topped off by Crème Brule’e or fried ice cream for dessert.

Great dessert options as well!

Sabrina, our personable and competent server with Denny

And I am sorely tempted to return for their Happy Hour – during certain hours every day of the week in which you could get a bowl of Guinness Irish Stew for a mere $4 plus a buck off your alcohol preference.

I have to admit that as I stated in one previous bar review, having lunch (or breakfast at The Dockside) with Fergy is like winning the lottery, but notwithstanding the character and personality of this remarkable gentleman, it did not influence my positive reaction when reconnecting with The Roof.

Dennis Ferguson, who was one of the Few and The Proud, during his service with the US Marine Corps, is also an outstanding athlete and family man.

We still laugh about the time in the early 1990’s when I walked into a lunch at Huber’s during some stressful law firm merger negotiations.  After a few minutes of conversation, he said to me “Williams, you need to shape up.  Quit slouching and get rid of the monotone and be a leader.”

A few cheeseburgers back……

He has always been motivated, but I think his tendency to be a mentor was born when he was allegedly on a business trip to Keokuk, Iowa in 1985.  He left a message with the hotel front desk to give him a call at 6:30 and when he answered the next morning, the clerk said, “Mr. Ferguson, this is your wake-up call.  What are you going to do with the rest of  your life??”

When I told my wife that I was going to lunch at The Roof with Denny, she said, “Don, you better change.  Denny always looks so classy!”   To top that off, as we walked in, a well-known Portland investment adviser who knows both of us and walked in right before us and came over to our table, looked at Fergy and said, “You never age, do you?”

So to say the least, being around Dennis B. Ferguson ups one’s game, but regardless of whether you have the pleasure of his company in the future as I will, you should give the Leaky Roof a visit – and not just for a drink, but for lunch or dinner.

Perhaps it doesn’t get the publicity or accolades of The Goose because of the well-deserved fondness Portlanders have for Bud Clark, but it scores as one of the premium neighborhood gastro pubs in Portland.

The Leaky Roof       1538 SW Jefferson

 

Beerchaser Miscellany – Early Summer Edition

 

Taking in the Exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews

Approaching Watering Hole # 300

Those of you who follow Thebeerchaser blog might remember that at the end of 2018, my count of bars, breweries and taverns reviewed since I started this retirement hobby in August, 2011 was at 287 – 111 were in the Portland area and the remaining 176 in Europe, numerous parts of the US and throughout Oregon ranging from the beautiful Oregon Coast to Central and Eastern Oregon.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/

The Gemini – Bar # 288 – on Thebeerchaser’s Journey..

Since the beginning of 2019, I’ve added four more Oregon establishments – the Gemini Bar and Grill, Old Town Brewing, the Bantam Tavern and Beachcrest Brewing and eight bars/breweries on our weeklong trip to Phoenix for a grand total of 299.

And after ruminating on what an appropriate watering hole would be to celebrate reaching the 300 mark, I settled on a Portland establishment – one which I initially visited in my early professional career on a regular basis, returned with some friends who are Beerchasing regulars in 2018 and made my customary second visit a few weeks ago with one of the most loyal Beerchasers – Dennis B. Ferguson.

Denny Ferguson with  Kathy Peterson, the owner of The Dockside in 2017.  (See below)

I will be posting the review of that bar when I return from a road trip to Montana in the near future – six days solo starting with two nights in Yaak, Montana – home of the Dirty Shame Saloon.  Then with my wife, Janet, for the second leg of the journey.

I originally talked to owner, John Runkel, three years ago after an Idaho bartender at the Moose Saloon in Coeur d’aline told me that she had worked there and my blog should include a review of the Dirty Shame.

509th Airborne Infantry Logo

John and his partner, Ray Falzone, who are both former paratroopers in the Army’s 509 Airborne Infantry, bought the bar out of foreclosure in 2013.  John, who is a great guy and a true patriot, stated at the time:

“When we came up here, we had to pull bullet slugs out of the wall…One of the owners used to shoot pool balls off the table with his .357, you know.” (Daily Inter Lake, June 8, 2013)

I wrote up the following post at that time and made a vow to ultimately visit Yaak and meet John personally.

https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/john-runkle-owner-of-the-dirty-shame-saloon/

It turns out that he is also the owner of the Yaak River Lodge and I will be staying in the Wolf Room at that hostelry for two nights so I can spend adequate time checking out the bar and interviewing him.

Yaak River Lodge – a shuttle to the Dirty Shame…!

Then on to stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston before picking up my wonderful spouse who is flying into Billings. and is allowing me to make this trip – with the proviso that I reflect, read and get some exercise besides forays into the many historic bars and the new breweries in those and surrounding Montana bergs.

It will be a challenge to keep that pledge because I have spent hours pouring through the fascinating two books by Montana author Joan MelcherWatering Hole – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars (1980) and Montana Watering Holes – The Big Sky’s Best Bars (2009).   The latter was of significant benefit on our 2016 trip to Montana and Wyoming.

It is not surprising that the Dirty Shame is featured in both volumes – which chronicles the tales of many historic bars throughout the Big Sky.  She’s a great writer but I think I will definitely disagree with Joan’s initial statement in her 2009 book:

“I guess someone had to do it.  Someone bought the Dirty Shame and gave it a good cleaning.  More than that, they cleaned up its lifestyle – so much so that many locals won’t step foot in it anymore…..

What I learn is that the Dirty Shame died a raucous death and has been reborn as a law-abiding establishment that is really more of a coffeehouse….The Dirty Shame is dead.  Long live the Dirty Shame.” (Page 54 and 59)

My challenge to Joan’s assertion is based, in part, because times have changed in ten years – especially in Yaak!  Joan’s quote above was after a female stockbroker (Gloria – a sweet smiling non-drinker) who moved from New York’s Wall Street came to Yaak. She and her husband bought the bar in 2007 and cleaned it up – they even had some book readings and a lot of dances. They sold it after a few years to a former Episcopal priest who eventually failed financially trying to operate the bar.

Owner John Runkel and Cora

And yes, “Long live the Dirty Shame!”    I think the evidence will show when I visit that it is absolutely no Starbucks type of place.

For example, I submit the text message I got from John Runkel with the following link to a December, 2017 story in the Daily Missoulian entitled:   “Troy Man Charged Following Saturday Night Incident at Yaak’s Dirty Shame Saloon.

As John stated in his text:

 “Don, you will see an article where a guy went nuts in the Dirty Shame with an AR-15 and you will also see the video of me bear spraying him and his brother trying to fight their way back into the bar and another video embedded in that article showing him running around the parking lot trying to shoot me through the window and then almost shooting his brother in the head. 

It was a crazy night. The Dirty Shame is truly still the Wild Wild West!”

So coffee house or wilderness dive bar full of adventure?  Stay tuned for the verdict!

After Billings, we will drive to North and South Dakota to see the three National Parks and Mount Rushmore National Monument besides the Crazy Horse Memorial and the notable Custer State Park.   Then home while listening to audio books on the 1,200 mile drive back to Oregon.  Now I just need to get the gun rack installed on our Prius before I start the trip.

The Oregon Historical Society Beer Exhibit

Janet with David and Kate Dickson

The Oregon Historical Society is a treasure conveniently located in the Park Blocks in the heart of downtown Portland.   And Kerry Tymchuk, the Executive Director since 2011, has made amazing strides to both make OHS financially viable and a showpiece – a change because it had struggled in the prior years.

We joined our friends, Kate and David Dickson, primarily to see the exhibit  “Beer – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews – A Century of Oregon Beer” (ends on June 9th)

“The history of beer in Oregon and the passion Oregonians hold for beer and brewing extends back over two hundred years. This exhibition connects these moments in history, from the Lewis and Clark Expedition to early pioneer hop growers, from the nineteenth century European immigrants who established Oregon’s first breweries to the craft brewery revolution centered here today.” 

The exhibit is fascinating and does a remarkable job chronicling Oregon’s rich brewing history.  

For example, I learned that in the 1870’s the average US adult drank over 10 gallons of beer annually, which increased to 26 in the 1900’s, due in part to German immigration and the introduction of German lager.

Statistics vary, but at least in 2015, according to an article in USA Today, annual US consumption was 28 gallons with North Dakota, the highest per capita state for beer drinkers at 44 according to Beer Marketer’s Insight. (It should be noted that this statistic is not why Janet and I are traveling to North Dakota – it’s to see Teddy Roosevelt National Park….!)

I was also pleased that Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science Program was recognized.  In fact, Cascade Hops were developed in the 1960’s at OSU as part of a USDA breeding program.

The richness of OHS was demonstrated because supplementing the beer exhibit was another current exhibit – “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Beatles” (through November 19th) and the absolute highlight of the day for us – the permanent exhibit Experience Oregon – with multi-media displays and artifacts that will take your breath away.

Make a point of visiting – better yet joining OHS and while you’re there, say hello to Terry.

This native of Reedsport, educated at Willamette University and then Willamette U’s School of Law, absolutely radiates enthusiasm for his organization and a passion for history.

Kerry Tymchuk on the right

He was named 2018 Statesman of the Year by Oregon Business and Industries and also honored by the Portland Business Journal as the Most Admired Non-profit Executive in Portland.

And given OHS’s great location, plan to raise a mug afterwards at one of the many nearby establishments.  

We were rewarded with a terrific happy-hour food and beverage afterwards at the new (May 2018) Xport Bar and Lounge on the roof of the 16-story Porter Hotel with stunning views of downtown high-rises and the Willamette River.

A “Trek” Worth Making – and you don’t  have to Go to the South Pole to get There

The Dockside (reviewed by Thebeerchaser in 2018) is a remarkable Portland watering hole in North Portland owned by Kathy and Terry Peterson since 1986 – a bar with great character and regulars plus friendly staff.

It’s also known for its incredible breakfasts – most notably the hashbrowns:

“I know only one joint in Portland that consistently serves hash browns like you’ll find at any decent Waffle House. I’m not telling you where it is…You can’t have my hash browns.”  (Aaron Mesh – Willamette Week 11/28/2018)

From Thebeerchaser’s 2017 visit

It has now gained another distinction.  As stated in a 2/15/19 Willamette Week article entitled “31 Reasons to Love Portland,” it was singled out by endurance athlete and adventurer, Colin O’Brady.

On December 26, 2018, he completed the first unsupported and unaided solo crossing of Antarctica in 54 days.  It was a 932 journey – that’s an average of over 17 miles per day through the freezing ice and snow!

“I’d walk 932 miles for The Dockside’s hashbrowns..”

And The Dockside is his favorite:

“I live across the street from the greatest landmark in all of Portland – the Dockside….You have this old Portland relic combined with New Portland development.  They were like, ‘No, we’re not knocking down The Dockside to build condos, we can have both.'”

 

And Finally – To Dramatic for Words!!

On Memorial Day, I was going through my late brother, Garry’s files and found the picture at the end of this post.  Garry was a 1972 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and after graduation, one of his early duty posts was with the Armored Cavalry – that’s the Tank Corps – in Schweinfurt Germany.

My wonderful and talented brother had a rich and dry sense of humor which was demonstrated in our family’s Army vs. Navy rivalry since both my youngest brother, Rick and I were in NROTC and received our commissions in the latter.  (The picture below was a Christmas present Garry gave to me in 1970…)

From the West Point lingerie shop…

While at West Point, he had some remarkable experiences as a member of the West Point Glee Club, singing at various events, appearing on national television and even a gig at the White House in 1972, where his five-member combo – The Headliners got to pose with President Richard Nixon.

Garry (just to the left of Nixon) with the Headliners in 1972

Garry talked about some of the tank exercises they had in Germany and how the iron behemoth’s chewed up the fields and even roads as they maneuvered.   But this picture takes the cake – I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t one from his platoon, but maybe he kept it just to demonstrate the power and size of this weapon!  (I used this picture once before in the review of the Tanker Bar in Portland, but it is too good not to repeat.)

Hey Soldier – Haven’t you heard the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me….!”

Cheers and Stay Tuned for the 300th Beerchaser Bar

Arizona Beerchasing – Part II

A sunset cocktail at the Four Seasons Resort – Scottsdale at Troon North

This post is the second narrative on our weeklong  trip to Phoenix in March – a period of baseball, breweries and hiking.  The link below will take you to reviews of the first two breweries and two bars we visited – the most notable being Arizona Wilderness Brewery in Gilbert.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/05/14/arizona-beerchasing-the-second-chase/

I mentioned in the first post that we encountered great beer and nice people, but were disappointed by the “strip mall ambiance” of the exteriors of the establishments.   That’s also the case with two of the four breweries in this post.

For example, San Tan Brewing is a remarkable success story – founded in 2007 in Chandler and has had phenomenal growth and success with its craft beer and craft food.   In 2011, it was selected as the best brewery in Arizona by the Phoenix New TimesIt was the first brewery in Arizona to can their seasonal beers and this 2013 press release illustrates their growth pattern:

“On the heels of a $4M brewery additon at the current location, SanTan Brewing has continued to invest in its community and has added 125 new jobs to Chandler over the last 3 years. SanTan projects similar levels of growth for 2013 and 2014.”

We went to their Uptown Phoenix Brewpub – one weeknight for just a beer after dinner.  They now have three locations and this one was in a strip mall.

That said, it was hopping and our server, Brad, was another outstanding young man who was enthusiastic about  his employer.  He explained the good selection of 14 beers on tap.

We had a pint of the Sunspot Gold Ale and one of the Moon Juice IPA.  The good beer and Brad’s interpersonal skills negated the exterior blandness.

Moon Juice IPA and Sunspot Gold Ale

The next morning we went for another hike to supplement our arduous trek up Pinnacle Peak the day before.   The Ringtail Trail was far less strenuous – mostly level terrain – and this 2.4 mile loop allowed us to venture through some nice desert landscape.

 

That evening we had another Spring Training game – this one to see our Seattle Mariners play the SF Giants.  We were a definite minority in the stands in the field at Peoria Park.   We decided to have a pre-game brew and meal at Pedal Haus Brewing which is located in Tempe adjacent to the Arizona State University campus.

A rather unusual entrance to Pedal Haus Brewing just off the ASU campus

Although it was a weeknight and during Spring Break at the university – we were seniors, in fact and not in the university class context, at the pub in comparison to the average age of the clientele.   It had a nice and unique exterior – welcomed in light of what we had grown accustomed to in Phoenix and Scottsdale.    The interior was spacious and their patio was immense although the weather that evening ruled against enjoying it.

Pedal Haus was named one of the twelve best Tempe bars for ASU students in 2017 by Travel Pulse  (It made me wonder just how many total bars there were near my OSU campus and how the Corvallis waterhole inventory paled in comparison – both when I was there and even now…)

We had a good beer and the two salads for dinner – the Thai Peanut Steak Salad and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad were scrumptious but all their food and its presentation appeared to be excellent.   The following excerpt from Travel Pulse is descriptive:

“Mill Avenue’s hip brewery is ultra cyclist-friendly with ample bike racks. Pedal Haus went through a remodel and expansion in 2016, with bungalows and fire pits added to the spacious 6,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden. The patio surrounds the perimeter of the restaurant, with games like ping pong, cornhole and ladder ball. Look for more than 20 beers on tap, or try one of the signature cocktails.”

Conversely, this 3/7/19 Yelp reviewer was upset and probably why one should always regard Yelp reviews with healthy skepticism – especially when they are critical – usually for nitpicks:

“Only thing I don’t like about this place is the bathroom setup. The men and women’s restrooms are only for toileting. The handwashing station and vanity mirrors are communal and  located outside in the common area. Kind of a bummer when you have braces like me and need to pick at your teeth and swish/gargle in private – lol.”    (Perhaps his or her orthodontist should prescreen this misguided individual’s choice of bars……)

Although we wore multiple layers, with a brisk wind and temperature in the forties, we were definitely cold, but we got to see Ichiro in one of his last appearances at the plate.  He didn’t get on base but received standing ovations each time he came to bat and the Mariners beat the Giants soundly.

A young and somewhat intoxicated – although not obnoxiously drunk – Giants fan was aggressively trash talking the Mariners – our seats were close to the infield near first base and in about the fourth inning, he was unceremoniously removed by security.   It made me think how compared to the typical fan at Ebbets Field (Dodgers) or the Polo Grounds (Giants) in the old days, he was kicked out for a relatively tame dialogue.

The Polo Grounds in 1913 – Rowdier Fans???

The last day, we hit two breweries – one that was really average and not worth returning – the Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen – marketed as an innovative collaboration with a pizza entrepreneur which purports:

“……pairing them (the craft brews) with one-of-a-kind dishes that make guests wonder why they ever settled for traditional pub fare.” (emphasis added)

Orange Peel IPA and then dinner at the pasta restaurant next door!

Based on that description, we thought we would eat there, but I’m sorry – pizza, burgers, sandwiches and salads don’t fit my characterization of “one of a kind dishes.”   If you don’t believe me, take a look at their menu with this link.

You can see below that they had an interesting mix of beers on tap – we were curious but didn’t order the Beer Research Institute’s Morning Sex Stout but had an Orange Peel IPA.

So after splitting a pint – the good news was that during Hoppy Hour, pints were only $4 – we had a great meal of pasta at the Italian bistro next door!

Our final night in Phoenix, we went to our favorite brewery in the two trips to the desert – Craft 64:

30 Beers on Tap

“Craft 64 is Scottsdale’s premier venue for local craft beer, great wine and artisan wood-fired pizza…..We use local organic ingredients and make our own mozzarella from scratch every day. 

All our produce is from local farmers.  Our 100% wood oven heats to over 900 degrees.  We have 30 Tap handles featuring Arizona beer, extensive wine list and 50+ bottles for table-side use or to go!”

They have two locations – Chandler and Scottsdale – we went to the latter.  We loved Craft 64 – one factor was the exterior – it was in a picturesque building – standing alone not in a mall – and it had a nice patio.   Walking in on a Friday evening, there was a positive and upbeat murmur with patrons and staff all appearing happy to be there.

There was also a nice beer garden in the back. Most of the single tables inside were filled and we sat at a long table in front of the bar (we always try to do this anyway) and we met some interesting people – most from out of town who were there for Spring Training.

And their pizza lived up to its billing – outstanding in appearance and taste.

It can always be a little frustrating, trying to select from so many beer options, but I opted for what turned out to be the best pint I had in Phoenix that trip – Wheat the People, which also had one of the coolest labels.

Interestingly enough, it does not come close to a top mark in the beer rating services, but I thought it had a great appearance and taste. “Clean, American White Wheat Ale w/ Falconers Flight West Coast Hops and hint of citrus.” – 5.0 ABV – 15 IBU – (Untapped.com)

Craft 64 Brew

Also of interest is the fact that Portland’s Coalition Brewing has a Wheat the People – American Pale Wheat Ale – 4.4 ABV – 13 IBU (Untapped.com) too.

From Coalition Brewing in PDX

I have heard that there have been some intellectual property trademark battles because brewers are running out of names for their craft brews, but perhaps these have agreed to a peaceful coexistence……

Janet, who was a little burned out on IPA’s decided to have a glass of Reserve Pinot Noir – 2015 Santa Rita.

After dinner, we decided to hit Old Town – Scottsdale, but it was a real disappointment.  Besides having to look for a parking place for at least fifteen minutes, it was essentially touristy-type shops and had no character – unlike what one finds in San Diego’s Old Town.

We did see one bar that looked interesting and we ambled into the Rusty Spur Saloon.  It was totally jammed and reminded me of some of the much advertised watering holes “one just has to experience” such as the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau or the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Wyoming.

As with these two, we walked into the Rusty Spur, but did not stay for a brew – not the kind of ambiance suitable to Thebeerchaser’s taste…..:maybe because Jennifer wasn’t at the bar.  I also assume that she, like me, has an aversion to drinking beer in a plastic cup!

The Rusty Spur Saloon is a Scottsdale destination. Celebrities like Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Vince Vaughn, and Jennifer Anniston have walked through its swinging doors to take in the Old West décor and Scottsdale live country music. It’s located right on Main Street in Old Town Scottsdale. Look for the cowpoke in the red shirt with his lasso.”

Beer in plastic cups and no Jennifer….

 

 

 

 

 

So we stopped one night and I had an In-N-Out hamburger for $2.10 plus tax.

The chain was founded the same year I was born and although I waited almost 71 years to experience it, I was somewhat underwhelmed.

An Oregon corporation

In Oregon, I can have a much better Burgerville Original Cheeseburger for $1.75 without paying any sales tax.  I also know that I am patronizing a business founded in Oregon (1961) that has sustainability as a core value and partners with other great Oregon businesses. 

Another Burgerville fan..

It should also be noted that I am not the only one who came to this conclusion.  As reported by Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune in an interview with Klay Thompson, who spent some of his youth in Lake Oswego before becoming an NBA star with the Golden State Warriors: 

“Whenever Thompson visits the Portland area, ‘I try to hit Burgerville…’   Is Burgerville better than In-N-Out?  ‘Yeah, I like it better,’ Klay nods.”

Thunder Dan

Finally, those who have watched the NBA as long as I have will remember Phoenix Suns guard Dan Majerle.  He was a shooting guard who played 14 years in the NBA.

Majerle was on the US Olympic Gold Medal Team and was known as “Thunder Dan” and made one NBA All-Star Team (1992).  Upon retiring, he was an assistant coach for Phoenix, a broadcaster for TNT and ESPN and also a college head-coach for Grand Canyon University’s NCAA Division I Antelopes.

He is also an entrepreneur.  When only 27 and playing basketball, he started his own line of clothing including underwear – he modeled his own product.  In retirement he founded his own small chain of sports bars. 

Majerle’s Sports Grill has four locations, one of which was in the Desert Ridge Mall close to our hotelSo while we did not eat there, I had to go in and take a look.

The sports bar appeared to be an attractive venue and is evidently popular.  I used to enjoy watching Thunder Dan play hoop and am glad to see that he has moved from underwear to the bar scene! 

It’s also nice to know that he is one former pro athlete who did not squander his substantial earnings after his athletic prime.

Arizona Beerchasing – The Second Chase


In early March, 2019, Janet and I spent a week in Phoenix with three primary objectives – baseball, hikes and breweries.

What’s this drizzle stuff??

And while we encountered atypical Arizona weather – we were cold even with multiple layers at one of the night Spring Training games and had to wear rain gear at the other – it was a chance for a few great sunny days and an opportunity to escape the daily NW spring drizzle and clouds.

Spring Training is always a wonderful experience allowing close encounters with the players,  inexpensive tickets and a chance to meet great fans from all over the United States.

A drizzly night at Sloan Park (described as Wrigley Field West) to see the Cubs and the Reds.

That said, Phoenix is probably my least favorite major urban center in the US.  Admittedly, I’m not a great fan of the desert climate or environment, but the sprawl in the metro area is unappealing (to be extremely restrained).  Suffice to say, it always makes me feel blessed to return to the Rose City.

Our last trip to Phoenix was in January 2018 so we did not have Spring Training options, but enjoyed visiting ten breweries and one taphouse.  In the first of two posts on this prior adventure, however, I summed it up as follows:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/02/19/beerchasing-in-the-desert-part-i/

“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.”

The typical Phoenix intersection

Our Beer-chasing ex-perience this year visiting two bars and six breweries or brewpubs was also very positive in most respects – excellent beer, nice people and cordial and helpful staff. 

That said, as in 2018, the exteriors of the establishments we visited were largely a reflection of the strip-mall ambiance of this SW desert metropolis.  With the exception of one (maybe two to be liberal in interpretation), they were all in shopping mall settings and the entrances were not inviting and for the most part dull and repetitious.

The first stop – Helio Basin Brewing Company

As evidence, compare the entrance of our first brewery above – Helio Basin Brewing – with the exteriors (shown below) of the last two Oregon watering holes reviewed by ThebeerchaserBantam Tavern in NW Portland and Beachcrest Brewing – a new venture on the Central Oregon Coast.

The Deck at Beachcrest Brewing

In a Portland urban setting, but with an inviting exterior

Helio Basin did have a good selection of beers – most notably, the award-winning Fayuca Rizing Xtra Pale Ale (we split a pint) and a great burger.  The brewery has been a successful fulfillment of the dreams of the young co-founders fifteen years ago.

 

 

 

 

On a warm Sunday after-noon, we hit our only day game of the three Spring Training contests we attended.  We decided to hit the ‘cheap seats” – on the grass terrace in left field at Salt River Fields where we saw the Colorado Rockies beat the LA Dodgers.

The lawn terrace seats are a good experience although it is difficult to really feel (and see) the pulse of the game given the distance from the action.

Watching the LA Dodgers play the Colorado Rockies at Peoria Field on the terrace.

After the game, we hit the only two bars on the trip which were in the Desert Ridge Mall near our hotel the Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge north of Phoenix.

The Whining Pig was an interesting bar – essentially underground with 125 beers and a slew of wines on tap. 

And as a “secret sister” to the Pig, we found – Pigtails – after looking for the entrance for a bit, a speakeasy of sorts – a craft cocktail bar with an amazing selection of hard alcohol and mixologists that know their stuff and the most interesting egress I’ve seen of all the bars visited while Beerchasing – one that would make James Bond proud.  It was through a large bookcase on hinges….!

As described in this 3/7/19 Yelp review:

“Dim lights, vibey music, a great cocktail menu, and a backbar that blew me away. ….It is a little hard to find, but I personally enjoy the speakeasy aspect to keep the vodka (and) red bull drinkers of Scottsdale away.”

The “Living Wall” and a back-bar which blows the mind….

The bartenders get uniform outstanding reviews on social media and the high ceiling, “living wall” and the ambiance is in stark contrast to most of what you see in Phoenix watering holes.

The next day, we hit the trail driving about twenty-five miles farther north to Pinnacle Peak a little over 3.5 miles of strictly up and then the reverse but some great views.   I will have to say from both our past trip and this one, that there are some very good hiking options available in the desert landscape outside the City.

Pinnacle Peak – A great hike north of Phoenix

Located in a strip mall, but Arizona Wilderness Brewing at least has some exterior ambiance….

And before our game that night to see the Chicago Cubs play “my” Cincinnati Reds at Sloan Park,  we stopped at one of the two best breweries on the trip.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing (AWB) has two locations – a Downtown Phoenix Beer Garden and the Gilbert Brewpub which is south of town.

(I say “my Reds” because I lived in Cincy from my fourth birthday – I remember because I got to sit on the lap of the stewardess as we landed because I was the birthday boy…. until we moved to Oregon when I was twelve.  That stewardess would now be over ninety if she were still living……)

They were renamed the Redlegs in 1952 during that period because it was during the Cold War and nobody was supposed to be cheering any Reds on….!

Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson, Rocky Bridges, Johnny Temple, Gus Bell, Smokey Burgess and youngster pitcher Joe Nuxhall – who came to the Majors when he was 15 and Manager Birdie Tebbetts, gave us a number of thrilling seasons.

The Reds didn’t disappoint that night and although it was a bit rainy, they prevailed.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Facebook Profile Picture

But I digress….anyway the interesting story of AWB is related in a 2014 Esquire article entitled “The World’s Best New Brewery is Located in a Strip Mall in Phoenix.”

It conveys the story of how after being founded in 2013, the owners were struggling and about to go down.  According to Jonathan Buford, one of three bearded partners, who sold his window washing business to start the venture:

“Foreclosure and all that stuff looming. We were just taking money wherever we could get it, same for Brett and Patrick. We were all in—100 percent. If we’d been delayed another month, I would’ve been bankrupt. My wife and I would have filed bankruptcy, and she would have kicked my ass…..

In 2014 RateBeer.com, the authoritative and exhaustively comprehensi e craft-beer site, named the ten best new breweries in the world (out of 2,600 that opened in 2013)  The Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. was ranked number 1.”

Stephen was a great young man

The award changed the picture and today they are thriving – before the award 17 employees and now 39 with two locations.   One of these was our server – a wonderful young man named Stephen.

There was a waiting line that weekend afternoon and the place was bustling and notwithstanding his shift having just ended, he patiently went through the incredibly interesting selection of brews – Buford and his partners go up into the wilderness and write beer recipes and the original idea for the brewery was developed while they were backpacking.

There were so many good options that we ordered a flight of five – from left to right below:

March for Orange, La Ciudad IPA, Suit n Tie IPA, Tranquility Tree Blonde and Aravaipa Abbey Dubbel (“This beer was spontaneously fermented and laid to rest for over 2 years in French oak before being conditioned in bottles for an additional 7 months.”)

They had a good pub menu and we were also impressed with their efforts to be sustainable:

“In our efforts to become a more cognizant and sustainable business, we’ve partnered with Recycled City, whose vision of ‘Farmland for the Future’ is something we passionately support!  100% of the food waste collected by Recycled City goes towards building local-fertile farmland.

So ended our first weekend in Phoenix.  Stay tuned for the next post for the remaining breweries and Spring Training game we hit during our week in the desert.

 

 

 

 

 

Ride a Wave to Beachcrest Brewing

A great logo – created on a crowd sourcing site called “Design Crowd.” The designer was from Bulgaria!

In seven years of Beerchasing, I have been impressed with the number of brewery owners who started homebrewing as a hobby and ultimately became micro-craft entrepreneurs after diverting from their original career paths.  They have ranged from lawyers, teachers, accountants, contractors and public servants to former bartenders.

Our recent visit to the new (December, 2018) Beachcrest Brewery and Pub was the first time that I’ve met two college music majors and former musicians who decided to partner with another couple and embark on a suds-oriented business venture.

And based on a number of factors such as the quality of their beer, the location and both the internal and external ambiance of their facility, they have great potential for this new endeavor on the Central Oregon Coast just south of Lincoln City.

I might add that some of my favorite Beerchasing exploits have been on the Oregon Coast – first in the fall of 2014 for a three-day jaunt from Pacific City to Newport including Lincoln City and Depoe Bay.

A classic dive – the Old Oregon Saloon

This jaunt with my brother-in-law, Dave Booher and friend, Steve Larson covered such wonderful bars as the Old Oregon Saloon in Lincoln City.

Then on to the unforgettable Tide Pool in Depoe Bay and Newport’s historic Bay Haven Inn in addition to two breweries – Pelican and Rusty Truckhttps://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/

A trip on the southern part of the coast down into California in 2018 with my wife, reconfirmed our love of the Pacific Coast scenery.  It again demonstrated the number of options for good beer on a multi-day jaunt as far south as the beautiful Redwoods.

Mugs were raised in Oregon breweries from Yachats Brewing to Defeat River Brewing in Reedsport down to Chetco Brewing in Brookings and also one of our favorite bars – the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon. https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/13/beerchasing-on-the-south-oregon-coast-and-through-the-redwoods-part-i/

Now while it is obvious that there is a lot of choice for brewpubs and taprooms on the Oregon Coast, Beachcrest is in a great location – just across from the newly revitalized Salishan Resort

After its opening in 1965 by Oregon icon, John Gray, Salishan became one of Oregon’s premier destination lodges known for its superb architecture and artwork.  After the Grays sold it in 1996, it failed to be viable under multiple owners.

It was purchased in November 2017, at a foreclosure auction by a private equity investment company…..and is now managed by Alpha Wave Investors hospitality company, Soul Community Planet.  CEO Ken Cruse believes they can return what is arguably one of the state’s most treasured lodges to its old glory.   (Oregon Live – January 31, 2019) 

The Brewery

Amy White and her husband Matt, are both graduates of the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.   Amy plays the piano and is a vocalist and her husband is a sax player in addition to other woodwinds.   They lived in Denver and two years ago decided to move to Oregon.

The four talented and adventurous entrepreneurs

“Beachcrest Brewing Co. started as the dream of lifelong musicians Matt and Amy White who spent many summers visiting the enchanting Oregon Coast.  After years of dreaming of living on the coast the duo made the plunge and relocated to the central coast to follow their passion of combining beach life, craft beer and great music.”  

They partnered with Megan Leesley – a CPA who does the Brewery’s accounting and Sean Sissel, a contractor, who spent five months in 2018 building out the brewery.  Both still live in Colorado and will be working in the brewery periodically.

Amy, who was our bartender that Saturday afternoon, exuded enthusiasm for their project and I was impressed with the couple’s initial efforts to interact and become part of the micro-brewing community since they started planning and after opening.

They have visited the Benedictine Brewery in Mt. Angel – I’m biased about that one.  They know and expressed support for their competitors up and down the coast ranging from Rusty Truck to Wolf Tree Brewing, which now has a taphouse in Newport, among others.

For a small brewery (3.5 barrel), they have an impressive line-up with eleven craft beers, wine (cans) and draft hard cider and draft Kombucha.

————-

Only $3 for this delight……

They also have eleven marvelous – from the appearance and the way several kids were delightfully “attacking” them – Italian cream sodas for $3 (I was sorely tempted….)

She offered a good explanation of their tap list and let us sample a number before we ordered a flight – they allow the patron to “build your own” flight with each 4-ounce sampler costing only $2.  You can “take off” with anywhere from two to eleven beers in your flight.

We opted for a tray of four consisting of their best seller – the Siletz Bay Hazy IPA – 6.1% ABV (also our favorite) two other IPAs – the Backbeat Brut 6.0% and the South Pacific 7.4% – plus the Common Time Kolsch 4.2%.  The IPA’s all had nice hoppy taste and good aroma, but the Kolsch seemed somewhat bland – maybe because we liked the others so well.

Build your own flight…..

Sean did a great job in his build out of what used to be a coffee shop.  The space has great internal and external lighting and long community-type tables.  While we were there, a number of families with kids drinking Italian cream sodas, dogs and just tourists doing the coast were enjoying the pub.
But wait until a sunny day later in the spring and this summer, not to mention Oregon’s wonderful fall weather.  The deck area is going to fill up with people “drinking” in the coast air, the trees, the manicured golf course and the adjacent creek which bubbles.   I can’t think of a comparable scenic vista from a brewery deck that combines all of these elements.

Beachcrest, besides Bavarian pretzels, pita chips and hummus and marinated olives, has no food at the brewpub; however, the Mangia Italian Deli right next door has pasta, cheeses and sandwiches and their food can be brought in.  Food carts will probably also be part of the plan.

And while Beachcrest will be a draw on its own, a factor in their success will be the result of efforts to revitalize the Salishan Marketplace.

We remember taking our family there years ago for the good restaurant and the diverse shops which included a bookstore, specialty grocery, an impressive gallery, toy store, a candy shop (with outstanding caramel corn) and other interesting boutiques.

Unfortunately, that changed given both Salishan Resort’s troubles and the economy.   The contrast is conveyed well by this Facebook post last year by JB Hunter before revitalization efforts

“After an absence of 12 years, my wife and I stopped in there in August 2017. The once-dynamic and bustling place was a ghost town with all the former wonderful shop tenants booted and brown packing paper plastered all over the storefront windows. Saying we were stunned was an understatement although we understood after checking into the downward spiral that Salishan had undergone.”

However, the impetus is already present and the groundwork laid to change that imag.  Besides the Deli and the Brewery, the Marketplace now has a fitness center, an upscale gallery and an appointment-only barber shop.

The interesting and quality wares from Java Depot…

And we were delighted that long-time Lincoln City small business the Java Depot and Culinary Corner – a wonderful specialty coffee and kitchen and gourmet food shop is moving from the strip mall by Safeway to the Marketplace.

In fact, that’s how we learned about the Brewery.  The owner of Java excitedly told us about their forthcoming move and to check out Beachcrest.  As stated on their Facebook page:

“As most of you know we’re moving to Salishan Marketplace. Expanding our meats & Cheese selection and adding food items and hand dipped Tillamook Ice Cream.”

Matt and Amy are also trying to attract people and build a community with events including the “Geeks Who Drink Trivia” broadcast every Wednesday night, live music and an innovative idea named “Pints and Poses.”

“Enjoy a rejuvenating yoga flow at the new Salishan Yoga Studio followed by a refreshing brew at Beachcrest.  Class is $15 and includes your first post class beverage of choice.  Meet 15 minutes before class to register in the Salishan hotel lobby.   Next classes will meet on April 14 & 28.” 

Note: I don’t know what a yoga flow is, but if there is a free brewski and tap flow afterwards, I am willing to assume the position…”

Lincoln City and the surrounding coastal communities are Oregon treasures.   They rely heavily on the support of tourism for their economic livelihood.

So when you are passing through Lincoln City on the way to Newport or just hitting Lincoln City itself, make a point of stopping at Beachcrest Brewery to have a beer, sit on the deck and say hello to Amy and Matt. Then get an expresso to-go at Java Depot.

Take the words of this Yelp review as recently as April 5th to see what awaits:

“Gem on the Coast!   Wonderful selection of unique craft beers, friendly atmosphere, Beachcrest Brewing is truly a splendid destination for Ale aficionados and casual beer drinkers alike.  Do yourself a favor, try a soft pretzel with the stone ground mustard…. Magnifique.”

Beachcrest Brewing     7755 N Highway 101
Gleneden Beach

 

The Bantam Tavern – Something to Crow* About


Many traditional dives and neighborhood taverns have disappeared from the Portland bar scene and those remaining are at risk given the economy and the tendency to transition the space into higher paying commercial tenants such as condos.  It’s  thus refreshing that a number of Portland entrepreneurs are willing to invest in both traditional and new watering holes.

Rather than the corporate franchises who offer sterile environments such as the Yard House, one can still find quaint environments reflecting individual character thanks, in part, to the efforts of two partnerships – Dan Hart and Chris Navarra and there’s also Warren Boothby and Marcus Archambeault.

A Boothby and Archambeault bar in SE

The latter are responsible for establishments such as Gold Dust Meridian, the rejuvenated Sandy Hut, the Lay Low Tavern and the recently opened Vern, which saved the former Hannigan’s from oblivion.  (the latter two, not yet reviewed by Thebeerchaser.)

Hart and Navarra are co-owners of some of my favorite Beerchasing experiences over the last seven years including Prost, Stammtisch and Interurban, all of which had great beer, outstanding food, wonderful bartenders and servers and an environment that makes one want to return on a regular basis.

Getting the Boot at Prost

They have done it again with the opening of the Bantam Tavern on NW 21st.   Other than to a limited extent in the Pearl District, the concentration of bars – especially good traditional bars – in the NW quadrant, pales in comparison to the Eastside.

The space, formerly occupied by one of the Laughing Planet healthy-food restaurants, which moved across the street, is small and appropriately named as stated by Hart:

“It comes from a bantam, like a small bird or chicken,” he says.  “It’s that ‘small in stature but big in heart’ kind of idea.”

And the Bantam may be diminutive in total size, but packed with the kind of stuff that draws you to a bar.   First, the building in which it’s located is an attractive brick building with an engaging entrance.

Typical Phoenix Brewery – good beer, but strip mall ambiance at Helio Basin.

After recently spending a week in Phoenix in which it seems that about 90% of the bars and breweries – although they had good beer – are located in strip malls and have the ambiance – well….of Phoenix!

The  interior of the Bantam is attractive with only a few tables/booths, but a great bar and backbar. The art and interior décor is distinctive and there’s one TV that is tucked in a back corner, so not overly distracting.  

The idea to hit the Bantam emanated from my friend Steve Oltman, who works only a block away at Sealy Mattress and had said we should make a visit.

In doing preliminary research before the visit, I saw quite a number of really bad social media comments such as this one from Yelp:  “I keep wanting to love it and make it my local bar of choice.  Unfortunately, every experience I have had is just mediocre.”

Steve is a classy guy and I was incredulous that he was so positive — then I realized — I was looking at reviews for the Bantam Pub in Atlanta!

This was Steve’s second Beerchasing event after hitting the Salty Rhino last December, which is a new bar in West Linn that is close to both of our homes.   He’s, a Minnesota native and Moorhead State grad, has a contagious grin and is a good drinking buddy – besides his other great traits!

Besides being a great mixologist, Ollie Gahlsdorf (right) is a very amiable person

They have robust Happy Hour options and each of us had a good Flensburger Pilsner for $4.50 – the first time I have tried this authentic German beer – a good option.   Otherwise, they have eight taps – with some excellent Northwest microbrews including Newburg’s Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery’s Helder and a cider tap.

Also ten diverse bottled beers, including Ranier and Budweiser for traditionalists and more esoteric options such as Tillamook brewery de Garde’s Framboise at $29 for a 750 ml bottle – “an average age of approximately 18 months, and refermented the blend with fresh Oregon red raspberries.”  (Untapped)  There are also eight wine options.

Ollie Gahlsdorf, who previously managed Interurban, is the bar manager and stated that he loves the neighborhood and the patrons trying out the new establishment and “business since we opened has been great.”   He garnered great reviews for his cocktails at Interurban and now has “designed the house cocktails, including the Lions,Tigers and Bears, a Jamaican rum sour with apricot syrup and allspice dram.”  (Oregon Live 10/19/18).

“Oh My!!” Jamaican rum sour with apricot syrup and allspice dram.

There are fifteen interesting options – helpfully broken into sections such as “Strong,”  “Not Too Sweet,” (includes a jell-O-shot, “Hot Drinks” and “Sweet.”  They range from $10 – $12 with steep discounts for the Happy Hour options such as an Old Fashioned.

We did not have time to eat, but the menu is typical of Dan Hart’s establishments and food presentations we saw looked really good:

“Stammtisch chef Grahman Chaney plays more towards the sensibilities at Interurban than those at his day job.

Salty drinking snacks like jerk-seasoned chicken thighs and a Dungeness crab dip with friend wonton chips (both $9 during happy hour) star alongside hearty, meal-sized sandwiches, like a prime rib dip ($15) and a tavern burger ($14) so juicy the first bites caused it to ooze like a punctured water balloon.”   Willamette Week review 11/21/18

And where can you find a bar menu that allows you to have an entrée like Steak Diane for $18 and yet try a Spam Slammer (grilled Spam with teriyaki, mustard, pineapple, hoisin aioli & shaved cabbage on a sweet Hawaiian bun) for $4.   Ollie said the slammers are “a real adventure.”

Both Steve and I are ready to try it when we return – probably in good weather so we can enjoy the nice patio and assuming our wives don’t accompany us….By the way, they also have a worthy assortment of munchies such as olives, popcorn (dressed in Parmesan & espelette pepper) and chicken legs that almost had me reaching over to the plate of the guy next to me at the bar for a sample.

The fourth of Dan Hart’s establishments I’ve visited lived up to the experiences of the others and this bright, attractive bar has everything you want for either a casual beer or a night out.  Steve’s recommendation was spot on.

Both the print and socal media reviews are virtually all positive and I was impressed that Dan Hart personally responded to the one Yelp review that was negative.  Perhaps the best summary is:

“Outstanding happy hour dinner and drinks tonight!.  Great cozy atmosphere, engaging staff, really excellent food (don’t miss the chicken confit, standout fries and a burger, a perfect Old Fashioned and well-curated draft list.  Highly recommend.”  (Yelp 11/14/18)

Bantam Tavern Logo

Bantam Tavern          922 NW 21st 

*   And by the way, Bantam chickens do crow……

Terry “Spike” McKinsey – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter


“I met Terry ‘Spike’ McKinsey in 1966.  The country was chaotic and would get worse.  But for Terry, the choices were always clear.  He was guided by his love of God, family, good friends, and country.   He didn’t have to tell you about it, he lived it!”

(Larry Walters, classmate from the Class of 1970 at the United States Naval Academy and long-time friend.)

(Welcome to Thebeerchaser blog.  If you are seeing this on your mobile phone, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link which is embedded in the title above.)

On a cloudy afternoon in January earlier this year, the three-volley rifle salute of the full military honor guard echoed at Willamette National Cemetery and a Marine Corps officer handed Anna McKinsey a flag which had draped the casket of her husband, Colonel Terry (Spike) McKinsey USMC (Retired).   With a sudden roar, multiple fighter jets from the Portland Air Base flew over those of us gathered for our final farewell to this remarkable man.

The service at the cemetery followed a wonderful memorial mass at The Madeline Parish in NE Portland.  It  was filled with family and friends, including United States Naval Academy classmates who had traveled from all over the county to be there, members of the Oregon Air National Guard who served with him, pilots from Horizon Airlines where Terry served as Assistant Chief Pilot and just a slew of friends, who treasured their relationships with this family man born in Oregon City on September 11, 1946.

The gathering reflected the impact Spike had on all he met whether through family relationships, the Naval Academy, his professional life or the charitable work he avidly pursued in retirement.

The latter included work for Habitat for Humanity, Medical Teams International and serving as Vice President of Operation Healing – a non-profit that provides wounded veterans with outdoor experiences to aid in their rehabilitation.  He also counseled troubled veterans in the Oregon State Prison system.

Midshipman Terry McKinsey

Midshipman Larry Walters

I first met Terry and his long-time friend and class-mate, Larry Walters,  when we were on a 3/c mid-shipman (in Academy lingo “youngster”) cruise in the summer of 1967 between my freshman and sophomore year.   Terry and Larry were also shipmates on their first-class midshipman cruise in the Mediterranean Sea on the USS Allagash -AO 97.

Larry flew out from South Carolina and was a pall bearer at the memorial service.

USS John R. Craig (DD-885)

They were midshipmen from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, while I was in the Naval ROTC program at Oregon State and we were on the same Navy destroyer – the USS John R. Craig (DD 885) a WW II vintage “tin can.”

Thirty midshipman spent about eight weeks as the lowest status crew members, wearing our sailor dixie-cups with a blue band around them – swabbing decks, sweating on midnight watches in the boiler and engine rooms, standing watch as lookouts on the ship’s bridge and to the amusement of the crew, learning naval terminology – the walls are “bulkheads” and the stairs between deck levels are “ladders” which take you “topside” or “down below.”

We quickly discovered that Terry and I graduated from cross-town high school rivals – he West Linn High School and me Oregon City High School.  Although he was two years older, I knew of Terry based on his athletic accomplishments at WLHS where he was an outstanding catcher on the baseball team.

WLHS Graduation Photo

He earned multiple letters by serving as the catcher for his cousin, Ed Danill, one of the best young pitchers in Oregon and known for his knuckleball which was not only incredibly difficult to hit, but also to catch.

According to his son, Mike, when Terry would periodically signal for a fast ball, Ed would “mess with his head” by throwing a wicked knuckleball, laughing as Terry struggled to contain it. Terry also played varsity baseball at the Academy.

As a result of that connection, we bonded, and the three of us and another midshipman from the University of Kansas named Ken Guest, hung out when we had liberty in San Diego – our home port – in Hawaii while docked at Pearl Harbor and in San Francisco while making a three-day port call.

Before continuing with Spike’s story, I should let you know why he garnered the title – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.   Besides visiting and reviewing bars, pubs and breweries, each quarter on this blog, I “honor” an individual who may or may not have anything to do with bars or beers.

Past recipients- almost all of whom I have known personally –  have included authors, athletes, media personalities, academicians and military veterans.  They all have interesting stories, have notable achievements in their careers and deserve recognition for their contributions to make it a better world.

2nd Lt. Jud Blakely

Four in the last category, who like Terry, distinguished themselves in their military service, include George GM “Jud” Blakely, my SAE fraternity brother at Oregon State who was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, while serving as a USMC 2nd Lt. platoon commander in Viet Nam in 1966-7.

Doug Bomarito as Lt. j.g.)

Ensign Doug Bomarito, who like Spike, graduated from the Naval Academy although earlier in the class of 1968, received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving as patrol officer attached to Patrol Boats River (PBR) of a River Division near the Cambodian border in 1970.

Lt. Steve Lawrence

Steve Lawrence, who while serving as an Army Second Lt. in Viet Nam received both a Silver Star (1968) and Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster in 1969.

And finally, my youngest brother, Retired Captain Rick Williams USN, who, after commissioning as an ensign, first served as a Navy hard-hat diver and concluded his twenty-five year career as  skipper of the nuclear sub USS Spadefish (SSN-668).

Captain Rick Williams

The links embedded in their names above, will take you to their stories as related on Thebeerchaser.com.

But now back to Spike McKinsey with an important note before you read the remainder of this account – admittedly long, but required to adequately reflect the venerable life of this native Oregonian.

Note:  At the end of this post, are two narratives – the first entitled “The Steamroller Escapade,” written by high school classmates and lifelong friends, Dave Lofgren and Mike Martindale in February 2019 to memorialize this incredible story when Terry was home on summer leave from Annapolis.

Regardless of whether you knew Spike personally, you will want to read the adventure involving the hi-jacked steamroller.  It lends insightful credence to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s assertion:  “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them!”

The other is a heartfelt tribute written by close friend and fellow aviator, Lyle Cabe, describing Terry’s background and leadership as a fighter pilot when they flew together in the Air National Guard.  Both narratives are superbly written and I hope you read them to get more insight into why Spike McKinsey is held in such high esteem by all who knew him.  I guarantee that you will enjoy them.

Newly minted pilot McKinsey – before he earned the name, “Spike.”

Terry and Larry both graduated from the USNA in 1970 and both took the Marine Corps option – Larry become a Marine infantry officer and Terry a Marine jet pilot after completing flight school in Pensacola.

After the 1967 cruise, I reconnected two years later when I visited both of them at the Academy while I was on a trip to Washington DC for the Reserve Officers’ Association National Convention my senior year in college.

USNA Campus at Annapolis, Maryland

Prepped for the Midshipman Ball at the St. Francis Hotel – Ken Guest is on the right

We laughed on that visit as we recounted stories from the 3/c cruise, most notably, the illustrious, but misguided adventures we had in San Francisco.

After the formal Midshipman Ball at the St. Francis Hotel which we attended in dress whites, we changed into civilian clothes and rented a room in a cheap, high-rise hotel right in the heart of the City.

Since Terry was almost 21 and looked older because of his formidable physique, he bought the beverages which “nourished” us that evening and resulted in massive hangovers the next day – most notably for me since I had a morning watch and had to take a taxi back to the ship at the crack of dawn while the other three recovered until the noon checkout time.

Terry and Larry also chuckled at my naiveté for signing for the room at check-in and providing my VISA card.  (I still can’t figure out why the hotel didn’t subsequently bill me for the desk lamp that we broke when one of us – I think Larry – stumbled into the table and it crashed to the floor.)

Spike McKinsey flying in formation of A-4’s.  He’s  No. 303 – Notice the handwritten note – at the upper left corner – to his friend, Dave Lofgren.

Anna and Terry at USNA graduation

After his USMC service, in which Terry distinguished himself as a fighter pilot ( he earned the nickname “Spike” from his reputation for “hard” runway landings) he returned to Oregon in 1978 with his sweetheart, and now wife, Anna Kucynda, who he married right after graduation in the USNA Chapel.

He flew for the Oregon Air National Guard and as a result of his charismatic leadership skills, became the Base Commander from 1989 to 1985.  (See Lyle’s commentary for a detailed description of that service.)

Flash forward to 1985 – almost twenty years since our summer on the John R. Craig.  The four cruise buddies, after military service and being immersed in separate careers, had lost touch (except Larry who regularly visited with Terry and his family).

Larry Walters – friend for over fifty years

Larry served his six-year obligation in the Marine Corps.  Two years after that, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve and also went on to retire as a colonel and served in Desert Storm.

It is easy to see how Larry and Terry’s friendship was so strong and lasted more than fifty years.  They epitomized “The Few and the Proud.”  Larry Walters has the same solid and outstanding character that personified his Academy classmate and friend.

Classmates and shipmates on first-class midshipman cruise in the Med

I was working as the Business Manager at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm in downtown Portland.   We were hiring an executive assistant and one of the applicants was a young man who worked in an administrative capacity at the Air Base.

One of his references was a Colonel Terry McKinsey and in the interview, I asked him if his commanding officer was a tall, blond guy who had flown fighters for the Marine Corps.   He responded in the affirmative.  I called the Air Base and asked the receptionist to connect me with Colonel McKinsey.

I identified myself only as Mr. Williams, but told Spike that I was checking references on one of his employees – we’ll call him John Doe, who had applied for a job at the law firm.   Terry said he would be glad to respond and that John was a very good employee.  The conversation then went like this:

Williams:   “Colonel, while one of the reasons for this call is to check a reference on John Doe, I have concerns about using the information you provide based on lingering concerns about questionable activities during your 3/c midshipman cruise while on liberty in San Francisco. 

Isn’t it true that you purchased hard liquor while you were still a minor and that you and your shipmates broke a hotel room lamp, left the room in a mess when you left, and didn’t even leave the maid a tip for cleaning it up?

Thirty seconds of silence followed.

McKinsey:  “Don Williams, you SOB!  How have you been after all these years?   When are we going to get together?”

Spike in front of an F-15 at Kingsley Field

Well, we did get together for a subsequent lunch which was incredibly meaningful for all of us there.   As background, Terry after graduating from West Linn HS, enlisted in the Army but had the dream of attending one of the military academies.   He ended up receiving appointments from Congressman Wendell Wyatt to both West Point and Annapolis, but chose the latter.

The late Congressman Wendell Wyatt – an outstanding Representative and attorney

He had never met the Congressman, who became a named partner at the law firm after he retired from Congress.

Larry Paulson and I asked Wendell if he would join us for lunch with his former Academy appointee.   Larry, another partner in the law firm who was a Brigadier General and the Chief of Staff for the Air National Guard, worked with Terry in the Guard before retiring.  Before being promoted to General, he was the lead Staff Judge Advocate.   After Schwabe, he became the Executive Director of the Port of Vancouver before retiring in 2012.

General Paulson – another Spike McKinsey fan and colleague.

We had a wonderful lunch and it was memorable hearing Terry express his appreciation to the Congressman and Wendell reciprocating by telling Spike how his outstanding service and patriotism had totally affirmed Wyatt’s decision to make the appointment in 1965.  The conversation  was particularly poignant since Wendell was also a fighter pilot – in the South Pacific during WW II.

It would be easy to go on – and I will with two final examples which help convey Terry’s personality, his zest for life and his impact on all he met.  But perhaps this excerpt from his obituary sums it up the most eloquently:

“During his 72 years, Spike’s undeniable strength, unconditional kindness, and unquestionable integrity made a lasting impact on his friends, colleagues, and family….. Spike lived a life true to his values. He stood for what is right and didn’t hesitate to step in when he saw injustice in action. He loved fishing, baseball, ice cream, 1950s pop music, and the country he served with all his heart.”

My wife and I recently returned from a week in Phoenix and sat behind an off-duty Horizon Airlines pilot who was flying back to Portland with his family. Terry had served as Assistant Chief Pilot and voluntarily retired in 2010 to prevent a young pilot from losing his job due to budget cuts.

Since the pilot in front of us was about my vintage, I asked him if he knew Terry McKinsey.   His immediate reply:  “I along with all the other pilots, loved Spike McKinsey and I was terribly saddened that I could not attend his memorial service because I was flying.”

Classmates from the USNA who flew in from all parts of the country. This picture is at the evening reception and celebration of life. Larry Walters is second from the right.

And finally, the story I referenced earlier as eloquently written by Terry’s close high school friends, Dave Lofgren and Mike Martindale, entitled “The Steamroller Escapade.”  The caper involved Terry, Dave and Mike – all former WLHS classmates.  I remember hearing Spike relate it on our summer cruise and every time I now read it, I can’t help but laugh again at the multiple images it evokes.

(By the way, Dave could not remember the name of the Police Chief who made the decision you will read about below in 1968, but thanks to Cheryl at the West Linn Library Research Desk, I learned that it was the late Chief John Stephens.  He deserves credit for his judgment and common sense which could have otherwise jeopardized Terry’s graduation from USNA and a stellar career in the military afterwards.)

Anna and Spike

Terry passed away after a short illness which he handled with the grace and courage that characterized his life.  Spike’s surviving family includes Anna and his sister, Julie.

———–

Spike with daughter Krista

Also his daughter and son, who are a wonderful credit to the family life and the values he and Anna instilled – Krista (husband Mike) and Michael.  Terry and Anna’s three grandsons, Ezra, Eli and Leo also participated in the Mass of Christian Burial at The Madeline Parish.

You can honor Spike’s memory with a gift to the Coastal Conservation Association of Washington to support salmon conservation work.

 

 

 

And as aside, the moving service and celebration of Spike’s life reminded me not to procrastinate when things seem busy and to make past, but cherished relationships, a priority.  I had skimmed over Spike’s number in my i-Phone multiple times during the last few years with the intention to call him and schedule another lunch or a beer.   That opportunity was lost when Larry called and told me that he was flying out for our friend’s memorial service.

And as a result, after some on-line research and a number of phone calls, reconnected with Ken Guest – the fourth midshipman who none of us had seen or talked to since disembarking from the John R. Craig for the last time at the end of the summer in 1967.

Ken Guest during his active naval service

Ken, served four years active duty as a naval surface line officer and had a successful thirty-five year career as a dentist in Salina, Kansas before retiring.

Besides a long phone call I had with him, we reconnected with Larry by e-mails and relived old memories, all of them involving Terry McKinsey.

We also lamented the fact that our first ship was decommissioned on 27 July 1979 and the John R. Craig was ignominiously sunk as a target in naval war exercises off the coast of California on 6 June 1980.  And by the way, neither Ken nor Larry admitted to being the one responsible for the broken lamp……!

The Steamroller Escapade

(By Dave Lofgren and Mike Martindale – February 2019)

West Linn High School – site of the steam roller

Terry McKinsey had come home to Gladstone, Oregon following his plebe year at the United States Naval Academy. It was summer and Terry (who had not yet been christened “Spike”), our friend  Mike Martindale and I went into Portland on Friday night to hit a few night clubs and bars.

We drove past our alma mater, West Linn High School, on the way and we noticed a steamroller parked in a gravel lot near the school.

The steamroller reminded us of the time our friend Billy Wrigglesworth’s older brother Jim had gotten drunk and stolen an army tank from the Lake Oswego Oregon National Guard Armory. He drove the tank three miles to the Marylhurst University campus and pointed the tank gun at the administrative building before being arrested and thrown in jail. The story of the stolen tank became a legend known to young and old as the most incredibly brazen and stupid stunt anyone had ever heard of.

Marylhurst Administration Building surrenders to inebriated tank commander……..

Marylhurst University was a few miles past the high school and when we drove by we couldn’t stop laughing about someone stealing a tank. By the time we got to Portland our minds were fully consumed with the tank and Billy’s brother’s heroics and we began thinking…

…..Bolstered by a few beers, but intoxicated with the vision of the tank legend and feeling very brazen and stupid ourselves, we decided to create our own legend. We left Portland and headed for the steamroller.

When we got to the high school the steamroller was still sitting there. It was a big, diesel-powered compaction roller with a huge front drum and giant rear wheels beckoning us to jump on and start it up. Mike Martindale had a gorgeous cousin named “Teri” who lived up the hill behind the school and we decided the only proper course of action at that point was to steal the steamroller and drive it up the hill to Teri’s house.

“Damn the Torpedoes!”

We parked our car near the steamroller and climbed up into the cab and discovered to our great (mis)fortune a key in the ignition. We turned the key to “on” and “VARROOOM” the big diesel-powered beast started up!  It was about 1:30 in the morning and as dark and quiet as night in the suburbs should be when we jammed it into gear.

Admiral Farragut – Spike’s mentor….

McKinsey, in the best naval tradition of Admiral David Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, shouted, “DAMN THE  TORPEDOES – FULL SPEED AHEAD!” and the big machine started lurching across the parking lot with a loud “CHUG-CHUG, CRUNCH-CRUNCH, RUMBLE-RUMBLE, GRIND-GRIND” sound that must have been heard several blocks away.

We got to the road in a couple minutes and when we tried to turn the machine onto the road and up the hill toward Teri’s it just kept crawling straight ahead, across the road and into someone’s back yard.

We were hollering and whooping it up and headed straight for a tall hedge when suddenly flashing lights appeared from the road below the high school. Martindale saw the lights first and yelled “SHIT! – COPS!” and we killed the engine and bailed out of the cab onto the neighbor’s yard. We all ran off in different directions and hid behind bushes but it didn’t take long to get caught.

The officer parked his patrol car next to ours and then sat there and waited us out, knowing we eventually had to come back to our car. We tried sneaking back to the car one at a time but the officer spotted us easily and invited us to join him in the back of his car. It was very late and the officer was very pissed off. He gave us a lecture about waking up the entire neighborhood on a joyride with a steamroller that didn’t belong to us and told us we were in deep shit.

He told us he should take us to jail but since it was the middle of the night he would let us go on our own recognizance if we promised to appear in front of the West Linn Police Chief at 8:00 AM the next morning. This was, of course, promised.

We got home about 3:00 AM. At 7:00 AM the next morning we told our parents we were going to play tennis. They knew that was BS from our obvious hangovers and the fact that casual slacks and button-down shirts weren’t exactly tennis attire but that was our story when we left with tennis rackets in hand for the West Linn Police Department.

When we arrived at the police department, a not-so-friendly female officer told us the police chief would see us in a few minutes. The chief let us sit there for a good fifteen or twenty minutes wondering what our punishment would be. Then he summoned us into his office.

The chief told us to sit down. He asked us a few questions about driving a steam roller that didn’t belong to us in the middle of the night in a quiet neighborhood and “read us the riot act” for our behavior. He said the resident who called the police on us and whose yard we had driven onto wasn’t going to press charges because we hadn’t destroyed his hedge or done major damage to his yard.

The chief was looking at the report the officer who captured us had filed and seemed to be trying to decide what kind of punishment would be appropriate when he suddenly asked, “Which one of you is from the U. S. Naval Academy?” Terry was sitting between Mike and me and he jumped to his feet and shouted, “Me Sir!”

The chief told Terry to approach his desk and Terry snapped to attention in front of him. He asked Terry a few questions about the Naval Academy to which Terry barked out replies and then the chief said, “Mr. McKinsey do you think taking a steam roller for a drunken joy ride onto someone’s yard in the middle of the night would be looked upon favorably by your commanding officer at the Academy?”  Terry was standing stiff as a stone statue and loudly replied “No sir! He would not, sir!” to the chief’s question.

After a few more questions that elicited similar sharp responses from Terry the chief told him he could sit back down. He asked Mike and me a few perfunctory questions about our joy ride. Then he informed us in his most authoritative manner that he admired Mr. McKinsey’s patriotism and desire to become a naval officer.

A retroactive thanks to Chief Stephens and the “arresting” officer….

He said he did not want to jeopardize Terry’s future as an officer and he would not be pressing charges against us or informing the Naval Academy of Mr. McKinsey’s behavior.

He told us that Mr. McKinsey had saved our asses and we had him and ONLY him to thank for not receiving punishments. Then he told us we were free to go but if he ever saw us in his office again he would “throw the book at us”.

That, as Mike Martindale and I recall, was the “The Steamroller Escapade”. We never did see Mike’s cousin Teri which in hindsight was probably a good thing. We did manage to play tennis later that morning with splitting headaches.

Mike and I still owe our pal Terry (“Spike”) McKinsey a beer for saving our asses that day and I can still see the flashing lights coming over the hill and hear the “chug-chug, crunch-crunch, rumble-rumble, grind-grind” of the steamroller as it traveled across the gravel parking lot.

I’ll bet Terry can still hear it, too.

Cheers, Spike!

Dave Lofgren

Mike Martindale

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tribute to Spike McKinsey

by Lyle Cabe

Forty years of being friends and comrades in arms provides many stories and characterizations to draw from to describe Terry “Spike” McKinsey.  Spike [the flying call-sign for how he landed airplanes], was unique in many ways, one of which is that he served in all four branches of the service – Army, Navy, Marines and he finished his military career flying F-15 Eagles for the Air Force.

Climbing aboard a trainer jet – the T45 Goshhawk

Spike’s character and integrity are what really sets him apart.  I have described him as John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger all wrapped up into one fine gentleman.  There are stories to support each personification, but not enough room in this writing to describe each.  

I first got to know Spike in the late 1970s as he segued from flying A4s and F4s in the Marines to, where he was an easy fit, to flying F-101B Voodoos in the Oregon Air National Guard. 

A few years later, as the 142d Fighter Wing transitioned to the F4 Phantom, because of Spike’s Marine F4 experience, he was made an Instructor Pilot.  This began his supervisory role in the unit which led him all the way to a seven-year stint as the Commander of the Wing.

Spike with crewmates from Air National Guard. Back row L-R: Bill DeJager, Steve Allison [deceased], Dick Peterson [deceased], Spike [deceased], Carl Hellis. Kneeling: Ron Moore, Larry Kemp [deceased], Ray Pilcher, Scott Powell and Dennis Anderson.

Throughout the years of our friendship, we learned that we both loved beer.  I am a self-proclaimed IPA snob; however, Spike had a propensity towards German Lager.  This is most likely because in the mid-1980s he was selected to be the Flying Operations supervisor for the first ever Air National Guard, Air Sovereignty Alert in Western Germany. 

The Air Force unit was upgrading to a newer jet and the ANG was tasked to set up, train and execute Alert for six months on the East/West border of Germany.  This was the tip of the sword and if it wasn’t done right it was an international incident.  Spike was tasked with ensuring that aircrew on alert were trained and up to the task.  The day came for the ANG to start alert and Spike was the flight lead for the armed F4 alert aircraft that were to ensure the sovereignty of West Germany air space. 

Spike with fellow German and Air National Guard F-4 pilots after successful Air Sovereignty Alert in Germany

Within a couple hours of starting the alert, the Scramble Klaxon went off with the warning that MIGs were heading toward them.  The F4s scrambled flawlessly and the MIGs were turned around, returning to their base.  They were testing the changeover of Alert responsibility — Spike and the Air National Guard stood tall in the big spot light.

Spike and Anna in front of an A-4.

I think Spike loved fishing more than flying as we have spent many a day together, wetting lines.  We’ve had days where we have caught fish and we’ve had days when we were blanked, yet the fellowship of being together was always the high point of the day.

We always toasted each other, at the end of the day, with a victory or defeat beer.  The toast was always, clinking our beers together, “to a gentleman and a scholar” to which Spike would always retort “and damn few of us left”.  Well there are even fewer now that he is gone.

A Mug of German Bitburger Lager – Cheers to Spike!

 (Lyle Cabe, after Basic Training, was first an Admin. Specialist in the 123d Fighter Squadron, received a direct commission, went to pilot training and retired as the Commander of the 142d Fighter Wing where he flew with Spike.  His last temporary duty assignment was commanding 400 OreANG members in Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia – flying combat missions into Iraq.) 

Lyle Cabe in Fall 2000 at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia during Southern Comfort protecting Iraq South of 34th parallel from Saddam Hussein forces.

 

Old Town Brewing – Part II


In Thebeerchaser’s first post on Old Town Brewing, (hereafter OTB) I sketched the story of the founder and owner, Adam Milne and his vision which has become a reality.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/26/new-energy-and-ideas-at-old-town-brewing/

The Old Town Brewing Trademark

(Note:  This is a long post and even if you don’t peruse it in its entirety, be sure to check out the videos towards the end of the post.  But to check them out, you will need to click on the blog site rather than look at it through e-mail.  Just click on the title in your e-mail. You will be glad that you did…)

The prior post elaborated on the great ambiance and rustic environment, the team concept Adam espouses and briefly touched on the unfortunate legal battle with the City of Portland over the iconic OTB trademark in which Adam and his team prevailed after years of litigation.

But, the story is not complete without a detailed discussion of the beer and the creative marketing which goes into making it a gem in the NW micro-craft industry.  The list of awards for OTB beer is extensive and the styles of beer garnering awards diverse as can be seen from this link below:

https://www.otbrewing.com/dock-sales

Gold Medal Winners – Pilsner and Shanghai’d IPA

For example in 2018, there were two Gold Medals – – OTB’s Pilsner and Shanghai’d IPA – at the World Beer Cup in Nashville – Adam described this as the “Olympics of beer competition.”

And at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014 – the “Academy Awards of beer” according to Adam – they brought home a silver medal – Sun Dazed Kolsch – following by a gold in 2015 for Shanghai’d IPA.

The honors continued in 2019 with three medals at the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Bend where brewers from 33 states compete.   Shanghai’d won again with a bronze – also one for Paulie’s Not Irish Red and a silver for Dark Helmet.  I was impressed that besides the reaffirmation of Shanghai’d IPA quality, that OTB has garnered medals for a diverse group of brews.

Head Brewer – Adam Lamont – educated in his craft

Adam credits a lot of this to the fortuitous hiring of Andrew Lamont.  He had spent about eight years with the Boston Beer Company two and one-half of which were as brewer for Samuel Adams Research and Development Brewery.

Adam was looking for a brewer in late 2014 and thought, “There’s no way he will work for me.”  Fortunately, Andrew, who was pursuing a PhD, decided he wanted to relocate to Portland.  This was after Lamont had earned his Master’s in Polymer Science at Southern Mississippi and his Master Brewer at UC Davis.

But it’s a team approach that Adam credits for their success as can be seen from this photo from the OTB website and his statement:

“”We feel our biggest strength in brewing quality beer is creating a team approach that feeds all of our passion and excitement,’ he says. ‘It was important for [head brewer] Andrew [Lamont] and I to create atmosphere that allows our management crew to lead and have a voice in the beer creation process.’”

Adam Milne and his team – creativity can be fun…….

While it would be easy to do an entire post on the following issue, we should touch on  the trademark battle with City of Portland – an example of bad judgment on the part of the City – an ill-advised bureaucratic foray which drew the ire of the micro-craft community, business groups and those who value common sense…..

Many citizens wondered why Portland was taking on this small business when OTB had applied and been granted the image for its logo by the US Patent Office.  Moreover, Milne had come to the City offering to compromise before the fight escalated.

For those interested, a detailed account of the fascinating legal issues involved, check out Jeff Alworth’s blog Beervana:

https://www.beervanablog.com/beervana/2017/11/13/the-city-of-portland-versus-old-town-brewing

Now, Intellectual Property law can be very technical, but if you want to see a summary of the settlement use this link from an article in Craftbeer.com

https://www.craftbeer.com/editors-picks/old-town-brewing-portland-end-lengthy-trademark-dispute

Carson Bowler

Brien Flanagan

As I mentioned in the first OTB post, on both of my two visits I was accompanied by two very skilled lawyers who are also both wonderful human beings – some may think the categories are mutually exclusive.

Carson Bowler, a fraternity brother of Adam from U of O days in the ’90’s, and Brien Flanagan were in our group.

On the second visit, Carson, Adam and I got two flights of eight – a good idea given the variety of good beers and a very reasonable $10 – only a buck more than a flight of four.  My favorites on that visit were the Sun Dazed (German-style Kolsch) and the Belgian Tripel – a collaboration with Rogue Brewing with an ABV of 9.8%!

The three of us – based on the experience Carson and I had on our first visit, got another of the House Special PizzaThe shop favorite since 1974. A combination of pepperoni, salami, mushroom, black olive, bell pepper, and homemade Italian sausage.”

On the flight path….with Carson and Adam

On the first visit I got a pint of their award-winning Paulie’s Not Irish Red Ale.  As a fan of red ales, I can state that it lived up to the description: “Impeccably balanced and malt-driven with notes of sweet bread and caramel, partnered with a medium hop bite and soft finish.”

While having a reputation for great pizza, OTB also has some other good eats including five different salads, pasta and six toasted subs of which the Meatball is the house favorite “Sliced meatballs covering a garlic buttered roll, mozzarella, cheese and house-made marinara dusted with Reggiano cheese and fresh basil.”  

The first trip to OTB was a belated 70th birthday present from Carson and Brien and they paid deference to their elder by letting me have the extra slice of the House Special Pizza we split.

Belated birthday present – as you can see from this picture and the last, Carson when being photographed holds his head at an angle and adopts an intellectual pose

Brien is also a Beerchasing regular and, in fact, his last foray on this blog was right in the same neighborhood at Billy Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar. You should stop by this great dive bar on a trip to OTB.

Flanagan (in the center) in a visit to BRNDB

One of the more impressive aspects to this enterprise is their creativity, which is demonstrated in the development and production of new beers – for example their Mushroom Ale – which some purists pan, but has gotten some good reviews.  Hiring a scientist as your head brewer allows adventures like this one that Andrew first tried as an experimental beer in 2015:

For example, this 11/29/17 review from Ratebeer.com:

“Not only does this beer give you an experience that I can guarantee you’ve never had, it also tastes amazing. Like drinking carbonated maple syrup with a touch of umami character. Amazing.”

https://www.pdxmonthly.com/articles/2015/8/5/old-town-brewing-mushrooming

Experimentation yields results….

But also the display of their product in the cans which commenced in 2018 (as evidenced by the pictures below and this statement on their website:

“There’s much to be appreciated about beer cans. We trust these sealed vessels with the momentous task of transporting our precious cargo safely. We outfit them in our finest digs to help celebrate and convey our stories about who we are and what we stand for.”

Another innovation was the delivery of beer by bicycle, which started in 2012 – perhaps you will soon be getting a Glow Torch IPA by drone in the near future….

Although they don’t still deliver beer by bike, Adam says:

“We were the first brewery in America to do that based on our research.. I had the idea and called the OLCC who expressed doubt it was legal. They called back and said they all met and couldn’t find a reason it was illegal.”

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/portland-brewery-delivering-beer-on-bikes-149010975.html

One of the most innovative Brewery advertising methods I’ve witnessed since starting Thebeerchaser in 2017 is their video series. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but I thought these great ads were somewhat under the radar – “Beers in Paradise.”

They feature OTB’s Sales Director, Joe Sanders.  This four-part video series is extremely well done, humorous and shows what having an in-house creative artist and media expert can develop.  I asked Adam how this idea germinate:

“We decided to do something that spoke to our audience and communicated our seriousness for making beer in a really fun way. Once we made our first video, with Joe as our front-man…. the snowball started to roll. People loved them and we had so much fun making them.”

https://www.otbrewing.com/latest-news/2018/4/3/weekly-beer-hunting-beers-of-paradise.

My favorite was the Pillow Fist IPA although you should check all of them out.  (They’re slightly hidden on the Website under the drop-down “Latest News.”)  And for a fascinating article – again on Jeff Alworth’s Beervana blog, read about the process as described by Creative Director, Jordan Wilson.

Creative Director, Jordan Wilson

The process starts with naming of the beer, the context and set for the videos and is followed by evaluating the effectiveness of the videos through metrics.

“It’s total DIY….this feels like a unique strength for Old Town – we keep everything in house and avoid the high cost of creative overhead. And because of our lower investment, we can play with it more. Throw things at the wall, see what sticks.….(the videos have) become an extension of our brand and how we tell our stories.” 

https://www.beervanablog.com/beervana/2019/1/30/how-we-use-video

They also use videos to announce new releases.  Take a look at this one that announced Figaro Imperial Stout  – brilliant!

As you can see below, Adam gives his staff credit for their success – one of his core values.  For example, this notice on their website about Staff Appreciation Day.

“2018 was incredibly fun and certainly the most memorable year for us to date. We kicked off with a major rebrand of our company, canned our first brews, made it through a dispute that brought our community together and forever changed the way we hold our love and admiration for this industry, we started our videos series, collaborated with some of the most amazing and talented people, drank amazing beer, celebrated more“

Team values reinforced!

Another example was during the 2012 fire, when the Brewery and pub were closed for three weeks.  The staff’s pay was continued during the closure.

There’s no question that those who want a good brewpub experience have a multitude of options in Portland, but this 12/7/18 Yelp review summarizes the composite experience well and illustrates why you should drop by and say “hello” to Adam and his team:

“Delicious brews and FIRE pizza! The space is large but cozy. I was recently there for a work event and the food was AMAZING plus the service was top notch. Their bartender Tony got our 20+ person party drinks quickly and he was SO FRIENDLY – not the usual response to large parties in PDX. The vibes were great! Of course, I’ll be back!”

Old Town Brewing                   5201 NE MLK BLVD