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.

Lawyers Continued: Summer Associates – Part I

In an August 2020 blog post I did an initial tribute to attorneys naming them Beerchaser-of-the – Quarter – Part I.   This was based on my forty years working with them – not as a lawyer, but as a legal manager.  After working with lawyers at both Clackamas County and the Oregon State Bar, the last twenty-five years of my career were spent at the Northwest Regional law firm, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.

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While first serving as Business Manager, I retired after twelve years as the Chief Operating Officer of this 150 lawyer firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon which then had four branch offices, the primary one being in Seattle. (Oh yes, for awhile, we also had a lobbyist in Washington, DC. as well.) My beerchasing hobby started in August 2011, eight months after I retired.

Herding

Herding Cats – A retirement present – Look at the label on the bottles!

While most people really like their own lawyer, the group as a whole, seldom receives accolades and is often subject to stereo-typical and often pejorative labels.  

As is true in any profession, I know that a number of attorneys are egotistical jerks, flaunt the ethics of the profession and would not be good drinking companions.  That said, my 40+ years working with lawyers in three different organizations were rewarding and an opportunity to interact with ethical, smart, dedicated advocates who have amazing work ethics and elevated senses of humor.  Many cherished friendships resulted.

Wikipedia - Public Domain

“It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing and talk by the hour.” *1

(*1  Attribution for the photos not taken by Don Williams is at the end of this post.)

Below, you will glean some information about the amazing backgrounds, and without exaggeration, the incredible talents and abilities of the law students who would seek employment at Schwabe and other firms during the summers of their first two years at law school.  While we also hired both new lawyers and lateral attorneys who hadn’t gone through the summer associate program, it was the best source of new lawyers.

If they performed well during those summers and had positive personal interactions with attorneys and staff, they would be offered a job at the firm when they graduated contingent on their passage of the State Bar in their jurisdiction.

Competition among law firms was intense for the best students as these were the future of the firm.   And the law students also went into overdrive to get a cherished clerkship. A small number would eventually make it to partner – usually after about seven years – and others would enhance the economics of the firm and be esteemed colleagues until they moved on.  And while everyone worked hard, Schwabe was a very collegial firm with a great culture.

During the 1970’s and until economics and the changing practice of law dictated otherwise, we recruited by sending two of our lawyers to the top law schools to interview prospects on campus.  Most, besides Stanford, were on the east coast including the Ivy League Schools, the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan (shown in the photo above).

If they were selected and chose our firm, the law students would spend the next one or two summers in Portland or Seattle demonstrating that they could explain the nuances of such stimulating topics as the Rule of Perpetuities or the five factors considered under the Daubert Standard, work well with others and that they had the personality and drive to ultimately bring in new clients.

For the most part, we ended this expensive east coast recruiting  practice in the first decade of the new millennium, realizing that most of the top students at these schools would take clerkships at the Wall Street firms or the mega-firms on the east coast where beginning associates who essentially had very limited experience would be making well over $100,000 per year (+ bonuses) even then!

Concurrently, we realized that those who excelled at good law schools in the Northwest might not have the sterling academic pedigree, but were just as smart and motivated as Ivy League stock.  Besides, they often had relationships with people on the West Coast that could become good clients.

These “kids” had a good situation.  Once they got to the firm, they were wined and dined at lunch and dinner, participated in lawyer-league athletics, got a lot of hands-on mentoring and attended professional sporting events and concerts where they had great tickets.   They were also paid extremely well for their efforts which did not require inordinate working hours.  (They would encounter these if they became associates……)

Before they arrived, we had them complete detailed questionnaires on their interests, experience, talents, etc. – information which probably didn’t arise in the personal interviews on campus where they were selected.  This was so the people at the firm would be able to get acquainted more quickly.  When they arrived in early June, we also gave them an all-day orientation about what to expect and tips on how to be successful.

Based on assertion in the memorable epigraph by eighteenth century English essayist and poet, Charles Lamb, at the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird, I decided that for my thirty minute orientation spiel, rather than bore them talking about firm Management, I’d tell them a little about their summer associate colleagues – their lives and activities outside of law school and before they decided on that academic route.

 

Charles Lamb

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. *8

Who were these elite students sitting beside them (or on video link from Seattle) and what made them interesting and worth joining at a bar after work for a pint of IPA?  For many years during the heyday of legal economics, we would hire about fifteen clerks each summer.

Most of these wiz-kids did very well and unlike at some big firms where they would cull substantially, Schwabe made associate offers to about 85% of its summer clerks and our acceptance rate was very high.  (It should be added that law would be a second career for a number of these individuals or they had worked for a period between college and law school.)

(Note:  With the pandemic, most of the summer associate programs were temporarily discontinued and before that, law firm economics significantly reduced the number of summer clerks in many firms to single digits.)

Below, I have combined the data on the summer associate classes at Schwabe for a three-year span (2005 and 2007-8.  I either lost the file for 2006 or they were a boring class.)  I think this will demonstrate the exceptional nature of these young students. 

I have to add, that based on their accomplishments, while one might expect them to be very confident and brash, they as a group, were almost without exception, well-rounded, modest and very personable.

Languages besides English

Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Persian (just learning….), Basque and Pig Latin (we loved this guy!).

Previous summer jobs or occupations

Waiter/waitress, receptionist, paralegal, English teacher, reporter (once interviewed Toni Braxton and Santana), AV technician, college admission counselor, life insurance sales (80-hour weeks for twelve weeks with top sales awards), risk analyst, consultant, co-director of Victoria Secret store.

Manager, engineer, barista, quality assurance analyst (in a waste treatment plant?!), UPS worker, chauffer, church youth director, customs broker, computer network engineer, manager of a wilderness backpacking firm, semi-pro football player, survey researcher (tracked Wisconsin vendors who sold tobacco to minors), Russian interpreter (dealt with international trade and environmental matters), high school vice principal of discipline and supervision, business manager at Party City.

High school chemistry teacher, credit risk analyst, personal banker, grass seed farmer, jewelry salesperson, drugstore clerk, general manager of Fun-time Fireworks, fire prevention specialist (coordinated Smokey the Bear appearances).  Fortunately, there were no sparks and we did not have to mediate any disputes between the fire prevention specialist and the manager of the fireworks operation.  

This post is getting too long and the other categories for which I have data were also very interesting and I’ll cover these in my next post.  So stay tune.  They include sports in which they participated, hobbies and interests, past volunteer or civic activities, education besides law school and foods they liked – or wanted to avoid.  Remember, they got to dine out just about every day because it was a good chance for our lawyers to meet them and see how they acted in an informal setting.  

I want to conclude this post, however, with a letter from one law school student – not from the summer associate program but who applied for a job upon his future graduation from law school.   

He was from a very good law school in the Midwest and his letter was unforgettable – at least to me – which is why I’ve kept it in my archives for thirty years.  The internet is a marvelous research tool and I have to admit that I did a successful search for the author of this missive.

I’ve decided to black out his name and most of the details although my instinct is that this guy just had a dry sense of humor and was trying to remedy an embarrassing error with jocularity.  Unfortunately, he did not get hired.   

That said, he’s done well during the ensuing years.  After graduating from law school and passing the state and federal bars, he’s had an impressive career in legal education, legal professional associations and a stint as consultant for an international mega-firm.  He currently works at a university on the east coast.

After consulting with some of my attorney friends, I may actually call the guy, introduce myself and just ask him how this happened and his thoughts about this long-ago missive.   If he’s like most of the lawyers I know, he would laugh about it and we might ultimately end up having a beer together at some point.

Law clerk letter 1

Bad judgement or a dry sense of humor?

Photo Attributions

*1.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – Lady Justice 

*2.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – University of Michigan Law School

*3.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – PacWest Center 

*4. Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.- US Bank Centre Seattle – Author: Cumulus Cloud – 8/1/2008

*5.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – Willamette University College of Law

*6.  Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0Lewis and Clark Law School – Author: lbcstud – 6/3/2014

*7.  Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0University of Washington Law School – Author: Joe Mabel – 8/11/2009

*8.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – English Essayist and Poet Charles Lamb

*9.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – Smokey the Bear

*10.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – Fireworks show

Bar Culture – Part II

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_tube#/media/File:Two_small_test_tubes_held_in_spring_clamps.jpg

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

In the last post on this blog, I captured one of the five questions posed by Cassie Ruud, Editor of the Portland online newsletter Bridgeliner in a 4/23 article on bar culture

Check out the link below to see Thebeerchaser post on which it was based, which includes a lot of great pictures illustrating the eclectic elements of bar culture I’ve witnessed in reviewing almost 400 bars and breweries in the last ten years:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/05/03/a-petri-dish-bar-culture-part-i/

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This post will address the second question posed by Cassie in the Bridgeliner article entitled “The Foamy Culture of Portland Pubs with Beerchaser Don Williams.”

My major premise, based on personal experience, is that Portland bar culture doesn’t differ significantly from that of bars in Eastern Oregon, on the Oregon Coast, New England, Savannah or Charleston in the Southeastern US, or for that matter, Amsterdam or Venice.   

The pictures below illustrate my premise that while each bar has different and interesting external trappings, the overall culture of bars throughout the world – the abstract meld of all the elements ranging from furnishings to music to the unique blend of personalities of the staff and regulars – is shared in these establishments 

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Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine in 2018 where we entered Beer Heaven.

In the ten years I have been Beerchasing, I have been to almost 400 bars and breweries from my home in Portland, Oregon to watering holes throughout the state – the Eastern Oregon desert to the beautiful coast. 

I visited bars like Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, to those in the southeastern US from Charleston to Atlanta to Savannah, where at The Original Pinkie Masters bar shown in the picture below, the 3/4/13 edition of the Savannah Morning News reported:

“As the oldest running watering hole downtown and one made famous when President Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy while standing on the bar…..” 

I was welcomed in each and they all felt like home!

There is the dark ambiance of historic Durty Nelly’s in Boston, or the spacious charm of  the Horner Pub – surrounded by majestic peaks in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland – where tourists like us rubbed shoulders with the amazing “cliff divers” or the farmers, foresters or innkeepers who live in the village of  2,300 at the foot of 9,744 Mt. Schilthorn, where there is also a Taverne right near the summit.

But I can also experience the vibe by just driving twenty-five minutes to downtown Portland – only about seven blocks from the high-rise office building where I worked for twenty-five years – to the Yamhill Pub – one step below a dive, but a grunge bar that at one time sold more PBR than any watering hole in Oregon.

Staying in Oregon, I can drive across the beautiful Cascade Mountains through the Central Oregon desert and visit one of the cowboy bars in Eastern Oregon such as the Long Branch in LaGrande – “well known for its home style cooking and the most reasonably priced food and drinks in town.”

Cassie’s second question in the Bridgeliner article was:

Has the culture gone through any observable changes from your perspective? If so, what kind?

It goes without saying, we have to separate pre and post pandemic.  I’ll base this on the nine years I’ve been Beerchasing prior to the pandemic.  During that time, I’ve witnessed minimal change in what we are describing as culture. 

That said, if one goes back further, there were some monumental changes affecting the character, operation and economics of bars and taverns. 

I’ll defer to my friend, author Matt Love, who for thirty years, studied and wrote about bars on the Oregon Coast. I originally met Matt through his blog – Let it Pour – (Thebeerchaser is modeled after it) where he wrote about his experiences and love for the dive bars up and down the coast.  

Matt is the owner of the Nestucca Spit Press – a small publishing house he formed in 2002, and you should check out its offerings.  In 2009, Love won the Oregon Literary Arts’ Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon history and literature.

He conveys the contrast between contemporary bars and those in the ’60’s – 70’s in the Introduction of his marvelous book-within-a magazine entitled, “Oregon Tavern Age”:

“It was the halcyon days of Oregon tavern life; no liquor, no craft beers, no meth, no video poker or slots, smoke-filled, and the classic cheap Pacific Northwest lagers brewed in the Pacific Northwest by union men reigned supreme….Customers watched Perry Mason on low volume and read mildewed Louis L’Amour titles from the lending libraries tucked away in dark corners.”

In a three and one-half day tour of bars and breweries on the Central Oregon Coast in 2014, I found that many of the dives Matt reviewed still maintained the atmosphere and character which captivated both of us in these “institutions.” 

The pictures below show some of the favorites: The Sportsman Pub and Grub in Pacific City, where Matt was the “Writer in Residence,” the Old Oregon Saloon (“The Old O”) and the Cruise Inn – right in the heart of Lincoln City.

Don’t forget the Bay Haven Inn that goes back to 1908 along the docks in Newport, or the Mad Dog Country Tavern up the Bay about a mile, where you could get some hardboiled eggs or Hot Mama pickled sausages both of which had been “fermenting” in large jars probably since the second FDR Administration….P1020651

And the unforgettable Tide Pool Pub in Depoe Bay, where Vicki, the owner, claimed (with some credibility) she made the best pizza on the Oregon Coast.  She also told us about how her dad took her to one of the first “Take Your Kids to Work Days” when she was in grade school in Chicago and her dad worked in a slaughter house!

One final note on the Tide Pool which will give you an idea of why Matt Love is such a good writer, is his description of the bar’s Tank of Death – a fascinating and bizarre “aquarium” which captures the attention of anyone entering the bar:

“……..a salt-water glass coffin called the Tank of Death.  It is packed with all manner of marine creatures caught by local fishermen who bucket in their curious finds and dump them in.  Eels, crabs, sea bass, perch, Dick Cheney, octipi and urchins all end up in the mix……….

According to the bartender, aquatic creatures regularly stage a battle royal to the death and the tank serves as a Roman arena of savagery and merciless predation  – with bets slapped down and accelerated drinking when the water turns a creamy, cloudy red.”   

Matt alludes to two monumental shifts altering bar culture – the advent of video poker – in the late 80’s and the end of smoking inside Oregon bars in 1984.   Why? Because much of the dialogue and story-telling disappeared. 

Instead of thick plumes of nicotine laden smoke from Camels, Winstons or Marlboros circling above the heads of those at the bar or at individual tables where they told tales, the smokers escaped frequently to the front or rear exits – maybe a small patio – where they puffed in solitude.

In fact, one wag stated that he was concerned about the end of smoking at Portland’s legendary Horse Brass Pub, not because of losing the clientele, but “we assumed its billowing, milkshake-thick clouds of cigarette smoke were load-bearing structural elements of the building without which the sprawling pub would collapse.” 

The ubiquitous video slots with their Siren Song began beckoning those who rationalize that they are helping to fund a playground or civic center with this “sin tax” on Oregon gamblers. (Twice, I have witnessed patrons frantically go through several hundred dollars while I was having a pint.)

While these two developments forever changed certain elements of bar culture not only in Oregon, but throughout the US and Europe, I am not as pessimistic as Matt Love appeared to be in the final entry to his blog in 2004.

Institutions adapt and while the advent of video poker altered the physical trappings and interpersonal interactions, watering holes acclimated and most survived – just as most will emerge from the pandemic as the familiar gathering place of regulars.

I’m looking forward to discussing this with Matt when we have a beer this summer!

Appendix by Matt Love from his blog – Let it Pour”

“I love these taverns, so much in fact, that six years ago I began writing about the ones on the Oregon Coast where I live.…(in his excellent blog Letitpour.net)  After all this exploration, doubtless I am an expert on Oregon taverns. Thus, it is with sadness that I declare the unique cultural institution of the independent Oregon tavern is dead.

The state of Oregon seriously wounded it with video poker, and more recently with the introduction of line games (slots), killed it altogether.….In 1991 when the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Lottery to allow video poker in taverns and bars…..it was a frenzy.

Then in 2005, line games were introduced into Oregon’s taverns and bars…..Sure, the pool and darts continue, but these taverns are not the same, and I know because I drank beer in them before they were enlisted by the state to raise revenue from the pockets of vulnerable, occasionally inebriated people.   What is especially sad is to have witnessed how video poker slowly transformed taverns from gritty bastions of independence into de-facto tax collectors for the state….Rest in peace Oregon tavern.”

A Petri Dish — Bar Culture Part I

 

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Books, articles and watering hole patrons often talk about “Bar Culture.”  But how does one define this abstract concept and how does one find it?  Recently, Bridgelinera Portland, Oregon online newsletter edited by Cassie Ruud (I’m proud to say – an Oregon State University grad) featured two interviews with yours truly – The Beerchaser.  

The link below will take you to the first interview – how the Beerchaser started and how it has changed during the pandemic.   https://bridgeliner.com/%f0%9f%8d%bb-portlander-don-williams-takes-us-beer-chasing/

And the following narrative is an expanded version of the second article entitled “The Foamy Culture.” The narrative below is my response to the first question Cassie asked with a lot of photos added from bars I’ve been to over the last ten years to illustrate the elements of bar culture.   

Most are from Portland watering holes and It saddens me to add that a number of bars are from some of my favorites which are no longer open. Future posts will address the other four questions on bar culture because it is a complex topic and needs a lot of photos to convey.

I’m saddened that the photos below are from a number including Club 21, Zarz, Crackerjacks, Mad Son’s, The Tanker all permanently closed – a loss to not only their patrons but Portland’s bar culture. And those are just ones represented in some of the photos in this blog post.  There are many more on the list.

Regardless of where you live, when it is again safe, get back out and support these small business people whose livelihoods have been decimated in the last eighteen months.  Try Kelly’s Olympian or……….

What are some key elements of pub and tavern culture (particularly in Portland) you’ve observed in your years of beerchasing?

That begs the question, “What is culture?” Let’s assume it’s a set of intangible aspects of social life – in this case in an individual bar or tavern – as contrasted to a brewpub or taproom – because there are some real differences.  One way I describe this is a watering hole’s “character.”  It’s really no different in Portland than elsewhere.

It can include more global items such as its location and the exterior, the regulars, the personality of the bartender and staff such as Phoebe, the charismatic bartender at the Brooklyn Park Pub – the first bar I hit in 2011.

Consider the style of the furniture (tables and/or booths) and how they’re set up. Take, for example, the unique Captains’ chairs at Claudia’s Sports Pub.

But it’s also a conglomeration of more mundane factors ranging from the lighting, the art (often nicotine-stained murals) or knickknacks such as old beer cans, bottles of MD 20-20, hats and mugs, and  team pictures and trophies from bar-sponsored teams,. 

Don’t forget the signs/posters with trite sayings such as “The consumption of alcohol may actually cause pregnancy. ”

The music (jukebox or live-streamed or live music) is also a factor and the number and types of beer on tap and the prices.  

The atmosphere is influenced by whether there are games such as pool and shuffleboard or pinball and Skee-ball   Don’t forget a favorite – Big Buck Hunter.  Are there TV’s and if so, how many and how big?  Is video poker pervasive?  Is there a smoking patio? 

Do they have weekly events or gatherings and are these karaoke or Naughty Bingo Nights?

Are there animals present.  Not just service animals that are required under Oregon law, but are pets (and kids) welcome in the bar and on the patio.

Are the critters alive or dead?! Consider the skilled work of taxidermists with their product hung on the walls with glassy stares?  And are these mounted trophies, deer and elk or more exotic critters such as the albino goat at the New Atlas Bar in Columbus, Montana or the ferocious stuffed alligator hanging over the bar at the Blue Moon Saloon near Kalispell.

It’s important not to overlook the bathrooms or heads.  Are they unisex and are there locks on the door (or doors at all)? Do the sanitary conditions (for example vomit-stained toilet seats) motivate you to drink your beer slowly so you can wait until you get home?

And where but in Whitefish, Montana, can you see a life-size image of former NBA star Kevin McHale say farewell as you exit the men’s head at the Bull Dog Saloon?

Is there food and what type (usually plentiful) and whether it’s cooked on site or prepackaged?    Some of the cooks at dives and neighborhood bars are really quite accomplished at their profession. 

I guess, however, it does not take a trained chef to prepare the fried ravioli – available for $5 at The Standard or the Chicken Gizards (only $2.75 when they are the special-of-the-day) at the Yukon Tavern.  And oh the Burgers!!!

Are the trappings dive bar vinyl booths and card tables or more refined dark wood with fire places (often in dive bars too)  with volumes of books (real not decorative).

Two more factors that are important are the bar counter and back bar.  Is your beer served on a Formica stand or a dark, classy wood counter with an attractive backbar filled with a multitude of attractive liquor bottles or knickknacks which evoke stories? 

The Gold Pan Saloon , an historic dive bar we visited on a road trip to Colorado that dates back to 1879, had an impressive long, rich mahogany bar in Breckenridge.

In talking to the bartender, she told us that the bar and the beautiful backbar were shipped around Cape Horn to its’ destination in Colorado during gold mining days. I couldn’t verify the story, but it would not surprise me.

You throw all these elements – abstract, tangible and then add the people and the staff together and the result is a “Community” – and each bar or tavern is its own unique community or cultural institution.

Stay tuned to Thebeerchaser.com for future posts with the remaining four questions in the Bridgeliner interview about Bar culture.

Cheers

Beerchasing Miscellany – Emerging!!

Cheers!

While the global pandemic still hangs over our collective heads, with the numbers vaccinated in the first several months, there is at least some emergence from the darkness.

However, in many localities case numbers are not getting better with the vaccines; they’re going up. With cases rising for seven straight weeks, the World Health Organization said Covid-19 is still spreading exponentially around the world.

One reason may be that, although the experts reminded all of us that the vaccines would not mean life would get back to normal right away, many people are still behaving as if they didn’t hear or believe a word of that warning. We still need to be mindful of social distancing and wear masks.

There are still lockdowns and restrictions in many locations – varied and nuanced from country-to-country, state-to-state in the US and even county-to-county based on examples in Oregon.

But at least headlines and broadcast media narratives are not ubiquitous reports of doom and gloom in which we have been immersed for the last year. And by using common sense and moderation, we can go forth – carefully……

Thebeerchaser Story – From the Beginning

I started this blog in 2011 when I retired from the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm where I worked for twenty-five years – the last twelve as the COO.   The story of this blog – Thebeerchaser.com was related – quite well recently – by Cassie Ruud, the talented Editor of Bridgeliner – an online newsletter in Portland, Oregon. delivered to your in-box from Tuesdays through Fridays.

See the article at this link: https://bridgeliner.com/%f0%9f%8d%bb-portlander-don-williams-takes-us-beer-chasing/

There was also a lesson for me.  I initially disagreed with an issue in the newsletter and was ready to rant and send a sarcastic response, but instead sent a diplomatic missive to Cassie.  To my surprise, she responded with a very cogent response which made me realize that I was incorrect, and also see that she has a great online source of information. 

We also found that we had something in common – a fondness for the Old Oregon Saloon in Lincoln City.  Cassie had been a reporter earlier in her career in this city on the Oregon Coast and had seen my review of the Old O posted in 2014.

Take a look at Bridgeliner Even if you are not a Portlander, it has some good features and articles and provides another great opportunity to support local journalism.

Beerchasing Resumes – One Year Later

My wife and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary with our first real venture away from the Portland area in almost a year with a day road-trip up the Columbia River Gorge and returned by the Mt. Hood Loop Road (Highway 35).   Not one of the long journeys we love through Montana and the West, New England or the Southwest, but a full day in our own beautiful state. 

The Columbia River Gorge

Heading east just out of Portland we marveled at the continuing distinctive panorama.  On our left – the varied barge traffic along the River with Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and even Mt. Rainer in the distant background. 

On the right – jagged cliffs, many with majestic cascading waterfalls and views of the mile-long freight trains starting or finishing their cross-country journeys.

We stopped for beers and lunch (see below) and walked the path along the Columbia through the picturesque village of Hood River.  On the return route we took in the orchards outside of the City, were captivated by the rugged Northeast side of 11,250 foot Mt. Hood *** and appreciated the lush old-growth timber that surrounds the highway. 

We’d made this trip before, but never after a year like 2020.  We were seeing the wonder anew!

It gave new meaning to the assertion of my favorite philosopher/writer/theologian –              G. K. Chesterton

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land: it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” (public domain)

Excuse the Digression…

You might wonder about the asterisks above – it was after the initial comments about marveling at the NE side of Oregon’s Mount Hood on the trip back home.   Well, that’s because I have a fondness for the Cooper Spur Trail which starts at timberline and proceeds along the impressive Eliot Glacier

The trail ascends – about 2,500 feet in elevation gain from the trailhead up the northeast route to the 8,500-foot level.

bo-bisa-cooper-spur-large-2

In the summer of 1990, when my oldest daughter was just seven, I wanted to expose her to the joys of backpacking.  So her Uncle Dick (a frequent hiking companion of mine) and I decided to take her on about a three-mile jaunt and camp for the night.  I had done the entire 36-mile Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood twice and thought a short section of the Trail would be perfect.

I looked in a NW backpacking book and remarkably failed to notice the elevation gain on the Cooper Spur hike.  We navigated the eleven-mile gravel road in and started the hike on a beautiful day. 

We soon rose above timberline and I realized from viewing the switchbacks ahead that it was going to be a challenge – not a level jaunt through the forest  – I would also have to carry Lisa’s backpack if she was going to make it.

But after several very strenuous hours, we reached the top of the trail as you can see from the picture of our green back-pack tent. 

20120601095619_00127A (2)

We camped right below Tie-in Rock – that’s where climbers rope up for the final ascent to the summit on this more rigorous route than the south-side – the most climbed.  The sunset was spectacular and the sunrise the next morning was glorious and capped an adventure young Lisa would never forget – nor would her dad and uncle.   

That said, when her mom asked her how she enjoyed hiking through the forest, Lisa responded, “Oh Mom, we were way above the trees almost the entire time.”  And when Janet saw the pictures, she admonished me, “If you ever take my baby on a hike like that again, &%$#!”

Lisa persevered that day in spite of her fatigue.  Today, she lives in Seattle with her husband, Jamie and two wonderful daughters.  She earned her Master’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Washington and is an oncology nurse.  And I’m thrilled that she and her family love to hike.

Beerchasing Resumes – In part!

At our stop in Hood River, while we didn’t go inside either Ferment Brewing or Pfriem Family Brewers, we had a great experience, especially at Ferment – founded in 2018.  It receives high praise in social media for its nice grounds and beautiful tasting room with large dark wooden tables on the second floor.  

Ferment Brewing Company

The expansive views of both the Columbia River and the brewery hardware on the ground floor through floor-to-ceiling windows make it an outstanding environment.  It’s a twenty-barrel craft brewery that self-distributes bottles and cans throughout NW Oregon and recently into Washington. 

We’ll look forward to taking in the tasting room when conditions are more “normal” – probably in the fall when on a brisk and windy Gorge afternoon, we can order one of their kombucha cocktails or their mint hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps topped with whipped cream.

An 8/29/2019 Oregonian article referenced plans for a “Portland public house and tasting room to open in 2019 on close-in East Burnside,” but that has not happened at this point.

It has a large deck on the second floor with plenty of large tables which enable social distancing without any problem.  The large open area with a nice lawn in back of the brewery with some picnic tables provides additional space in addition to area for dogs (and kids) to roam, play frisbee, etc.

Photo Mar 31, 1 59 26 PM

Ferment specializes in farmhouse and “traditional English style” ales.   You know you are going to get a quality beer.  The Brewery won a Bronze Medal at the 2020 Oregon Beer Awards for its Bier de Garde and more impressively, a Gold Medal at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival for their Pale Ale in the English-style category.  

The accolades for the Pale Ale continued in 2020 with a Silver Medal at the US Beer Open Championships (also one for the Pils Czech-Style Lager).  I had a Kolsch which was a very refreshing brew.   And we both had one of their cheeseburgers with fries – reasonably priced and delicious.

Dan Peterson, the head brewer who has degrees in microbiology and genetics at the University of Vermont was also head brewer at Pfriem down the street.  The owner’s interest in kombucha motivated him to explore and they offer three versions for those who prefer it to a pint of their good beer.

Pfriem Family Brewing

We visited Pfriem in 2016 and had lunch and beers on their great patio which has attractive and effective fire pits.  The views and the ambiance at Ferment are more noteworthy although Pfriem has a very nice taproom where you are surrounded by their impressive brewing equipment.

The menu at Pfriem is more expansive including roasted pork, quinoa and a couple of good salads besides the traditional pub faire avialable at Ferment.

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Pfriem in 2015

Pfriem has been making its award-winning beer since 2012 when it was created by three friends who became business partners with the motto “Proudly Crafted – Humbly Offered.”  

Their awards and featured articles are too numerous to mention from both regional and national publications (Draft Magazine, Forbes and Men’s Journal, etc.) including Brewery-of-the-Year, Best of Craft Beer and Best Brew Pub Experience.  And it’s a good place to work as evidenced by inclusion in the Portland Business Journal’s Most Admired Companies.

Both of these enterprises are sterling examples of Oregon’s independent craft breweries and make significant contributions to the region’s economy and the culture of their own community.  You can’t go wrong to take in some of Oregon’s finest scenery along with Oregon’s finest beers.

Cheers and Stay Safe!

Reflections on Western Towns and Cities – Part II

In the last post, I talked about both my 2,700 mile solo road trip for ten days through Oregon, Idaho and Montana in 2004 and also the fifteen-day journey through six western states in the fall of 2019 – this one 3,700 miles.

The treasured time on the road, brings to mind a superb quote on the topic from novelist, Lee Child, in his book, Never Go Back:

There were cities and there was countryside. There were mountains and there were valleys.  There were rivers.  There were museums and music and motels and clubs and diners and bars and buses.  There were battlefields and birthplaces and legends and roads.  There was company if I wanted it and there was solitude if I didn’t.”

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And most notably in Montana, one can see a heck of a lot of scenery rolling along on the good roads – usually at the 80 mph speed limit although that can have some disadvantages from a highway safety perspective as shown in the photo below. 

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 – that and a high rate of alcohol consumption.  

In my first few days in 2019, I kept seeing white crosses along the highways – both single and in some cases, groups of them – 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. Each signifies a death from an auto accident.

Let’s examine some of the items mentioned in Lee Child’s quote above. Idaho, Montana and Wyoming exemplified these and as you can see from the above photo, each day offered additional perfect panoramas. 

As he stated and as exemplified in the gallery below, there were “Cities, countryside. valleys and rivers.”

And continuing: “There were museums and music and motels and clubs and diners and bars.”  Yes, we saw all of these on the trip both on my six-day solo portion and when Janet joined me in Billings.

I even stayed at Deffy’s Motel in Hamilton, Montana for which $45 got a suite of sorts with a king bed, refrigerator, microwave, couch, desk and a shower that most people would not want to try unless they were dirtier than the tiled shower wall….(I wouldn’t have asked Janet to stay there, but it did have a certain type of character!)

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It did, however, rate four out of five stars on Trip Advisor and as one reviewer stated “If you want Hilton finishes and amenities this is NOT your place.”  But I guess it depends on your benchmark because the next review asserted:

Yes, it was clean but in need of some attention. There was a hole in the wall where the door knob hit it, plastered over in spackle, neither primed nor painted. The throw rug in front of the futon and the carpet in the bedroom were spotted with who-knows-what and in need of a good shampooing.

The vinyl on both kitchen chairs was torn and there was a huge gap under the front door, letting in all the exhaust from the construction crew’s pick-ups warming up at 6:30 a.m. The soap holder in the shower was rusted and loose.”

By the way, for anyone interested in relocating to Montana, Deffy’s is for sale….

Now I don’t envision myself as a Jack Reacher type – Lee Child’s inimitable character of grit and integrity – after all, instead of hitchhiking and taking Greyhound buses, I cruised along in my Prius – but Child goes on with his itemization in the road-trip description which does a superb job of describing the variety:

“There were battlefields….and legends and roads.” 

And he finishes with the truism which I experienced.  That’s because I did part of this trip alone and enjoyed the solitude of the Big Sky open road, but then realized that I was missing something. 

So when my sweetheart of 41 years joined me after flying into Billings for the remaining nine days. “There was company if I wanted it and there was solitude if I didn’t.”

I mentioned in an earlier Beerchaser post, that there were some favorite cities and towns in those six western states. Those that captivated me and then us for the latter part of the trip with their charm, scenic beauty and character – oh yes, don’t forget the notable bars and breweries. Bozeman, Livingston and Hamilton, Montana; and Sheridan, Wyoming are highlighted below.

Bozeman Montana

This beautiful city in the southwest corner of the state with a population of just under 50,000 is the fourth largest city in Montana  Now admittedly, the paragraph below is from the Montana Visitors’ Bureau, but I think it is an accurate depiction:

“Bozeman is called ‘the most livable place’ for good reason. Enjoy world-renowned fly fishing, dramatic mountains for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, hunting, and backcountry exploring, Yellowstone National Park and impressive wildlife.

When you are ready for a more city experience, dive into Bozeman’s thriving arts and culture communities, ranging from main street festivals, farmers markets, cultural centers and museums to symphonies, theaters, and art galleries.”

It’s also a university city – the home of Montana State University.  Now admittedly, visiting a city is different than living there and a reporter for the High Country News enumerated the Top Ten Reasons Not to Move to Bozeman in a 2013 article, but they are somewhat lame.   

For example, he asserts that the name of the town sucks, you’re isolated, the weather during much of the year is bad and there’s a nearby inactive super-volcano which “underlies Yellowstone National Park, generating the heat for all the geysers and hotpots, and….could erupt at any time and some experts say this is ‘overdue’ – it will obliterate Bozeman, along with ruining the whole planet’s atmosphere.”  

Of course, I’m a Pacific Northwest resident with an active volcano (St. Helens) in our “backyard” which killed fifty-seven people and thousands of animals when it erupted in 1980.  And in Oregon, we live on a major earthquake fault which is overdue for seismic pandemonium.

Don’t forget the wildfires this summer and our rainy season which lasts about eight months of the year.  We’re also named Portland rather than Boston because one of the two guys deciding, lost a coinflip in 1845.   And yet, I would not move anyplace else.

Livingston Montana

Livingston is a quaint and historical town sometimes known as the Gateway to Yellowstone National Park. As stated in a blog on Yellowstone:

The quaint town of Livingston, Mont., has attracted cowboys, ranchers, the rich and famous and artists enamored by the scenery for more than 100 years. It’s also been featured in ‘A River Runs Through It,’ ‘The Horse Whisperer’ and Marlboro advertisements.”

And I was almost not able to get a hotel reservation because they were filming an episode in Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone series. I absolutely loved staying at the Murray Hotel which not only has a great bar but as the photo below shows, one could just sit in the lobby for hours and drink up the ambiance.   

Given the size of the town, the bars and breweries are plentiful ranging from the historic Mint and Stockman (built in 1895 and recently sold for $595,000) bars to the Katabatic and Neptune Breweries.   The Livingston Bar and Grille offered what was one of the best dinners I had during the entire trip.

It also enhanced the mood of adventure remembering a fact from at least some reliable sources 

“Singer Jimmy Buffett also wrote the hit song ‘Livingston Saturday Night’ about this town’s raucous night-life. And judging by the number of bars, saloons, and casinos within a 3-block radius – more than a dozen in all – you can see why.  You could do your own kind of pub crawl, moving from the old timer’s cowboy clique at the Stockman, to the rowdy biker sanctum of the Hyatt House or to the sound of blues at the Murray.”
(Source: “Yellowstone and Grand Teton” by Brian Hurlbut) Google Books

And just walking through the neighborhoods, one block off the main drag, shows that Livingston has the feel of a town that would be nice to call home.

Hamilton Montana

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People from throughout the country are becoming aware of this small city on the eastern side of Montana.  For example, an article in The Oregonian in July 2014 “  aptly entitled, “Hamilton in Montana right up there among best small American mountain towns, with brewery, ballpark,” states:

“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.”

My curiosity was also piqued by another April, 2019 article I read in the Washington Post entitled, Small towns are dying everywhere but here.”  Included in the article was a sentence about two local boys coming home from college and launching a microbrewery which now generates more than $1 million in annual sales.   (How could Thebeerchaser resist that lead….”)

While I wasn’t there long enough to interview co-owners, Fenn Nelson and Jasper Miller, I had one of their thirst quenching IPAs. The two, who after graduating from the University of Montana, returned to their hometown and took a big risk. Employing used equipment – including some scavenged from an aircraft carrier – they leased a former natural foods emporium and converted it into Higherground Brewing,” 

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The good beer was consumed while I had a great conversation with a teacher on summer vacation who was bartending and told me the story of the enterprise, before I went to dinner at the town’s other memorable brewery – Bitterroot Brewing – another impressive watering hole. 

Right next to Bitterroot was a baseball diamond in which 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.

I finished with the evening with a delightful, long walk along the Bitterroot River, through a beautiful park and the neighborhoods before returning to Deffy’s Motel – for a restful night’s sleep – I woke up before the exhaust fumes were noticeable.

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.  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 young Clara Sarah Willey on the platform at the station.

Clara’s family ranched cattle (the Diamond Bar T brand) there for three quarters of a century.  Kings Saddlery, (see photo below) 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.

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

Well, as you can tell by this and previous posts (and a few more to come) I’m enamored with the western frontier states – especially Montana and could continue writing about them. That said, since this is a blog primarily about bars and breweries, some of you may be impatient with the digression although for the last year, it was due to a global pandemic.

So I am pleased to report that on Wednesday, March 31st for our 41st wedding anniversary, we traveled from Portland up the Columbia River Gorge to another outstanding western city – Hood River, Oregon and had our first beer (sitting outside) at a brewery or bar in over one year.

We had been to the Pfriem Brewery once before, but this was our first encounter with Ferment Brewing where we had first-rate cheeseburgers and beer worth making a return trip. Stay tuned!

Cheers and Be Safe!

Reflections on Western Towns and Cities – Part 1

I’ve mentioned in prior posts, our September 2019, fifteen-day 3,700-mile road trip through six western states.

And those who follow Thebeerchaser know that besides touring a number of fantastic National Parks and Monuments as well as the impressive Custer State Park, we visited wonderful bars and breweries – 29 of which I hit on my first six days (23 bars and 6 breweries).   After my first two nights in the village of Yaak, I stayed in scenic Montana cities of Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston.

A field at the city limits of Hamilton

The idea for this road journey emanated from the ten-day solo road trip I took through Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana in 2004 during part of a law firm sabbatical.  In that 2,600-mile journey in which I carried my Trek bicycle on our Subaru Forester and essentially had no planned itinerary except to explore and discover – also to escape my Blackberry….

Oh, to be 56 again — my 2004 Road Trip

A number of those miles were on gravel Forest Service roads – including the challenging Trail Creek Road out of Ketchum, Idaho shown in the photo with the cattle I saw along the way.

After staying at Oregon’s beautiful Wallowa Lake, and lodging for two nights nights in Stanley, Idaho,I stayed in Salmon, Idaho – right on the west border of Montana – and joined  a lot of folk rocking out to a country-western group at the Lantern Bar on Saturday night.

There was no room except one seat at the bar and I started talking to a construction worker about where I should head.   He was very helpful and I asked him if I could buy him a drink.  He responded “No.  But you can dance with my girlfriend.”  (Sitting next to him.)  She then made a valiant effort to teach me how to do the Cowboy Two Step.  (I was about the only guy in the bar without cowboy boots…)

The next morning I attended church at Salmon’s United Methodist Church where I enjoyed the sermon and talking with friendly members of the congregation at the coffee-hour afterwards. 

I then headed for Butte and marveled at the Big Sky Country and camped near Wisdom before staying my last night in Missoula.

Historical sites such as the Big Hole National Battlefield and the Historic Montana State Prison and Auto Museum at Deer Lodge took an entire day to adequately appreciate.

Of course, I also hit several of the “ghost towns” – all of which were fascinating, especially Bannack, Bonanza – home of the now restored Yankee Fork Dredge and nearby Custer, which has many of the historic structures preserved – founded in 1879 by a Harvard Law School graduate who gave up his law career to become a prospector.

Looking down from Boot Hill in Bannack

The seeds of Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars and Taverns which commenced upon retirement seven years later, were sown on that 2004 trip based on my initial visit to the legendary Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley, Idaho and the the Dewey Bar in Wise River, Montana..

The Dewey Bar in Wise River, Montana

The narrative on those two bars can be viewed at:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/

and

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/08/19/pondering-during-the-pandemic-1/

Downtown Stanley

The Rod and Gun was operated from 1971 until his death in 1990, by the singer and songwriter Cassanova Jack.  It’s located just east of the corner of Ace of Diamonds and Wall Streets in Stanley.

Located in Custer County, the town has a population of a little less than 100 and winter temperatures that made it once, the coldest place in North America. It’s in the heart of the wonderous Sawtooth Mountains and the gateway to the Idaho backcountry.

I returned – this time with my wife in 2016, and Cassanova Jack’s brother and fellow musician, Jonny Ray, was an engaging host and full of stories on their days touring and captivating bar stories.

Jack’s band was named the Stardusters and Jonny Ray (who still is known as the “Singing Bartender“) subsequent band was named JR & Cheap-N-Easy

Johnny Ray at the Rod and Gun in 2016

The Dewey Bar, is really in a remote area – in Wise River, Montana, along the Big Hole River.  I camped that night in a Forest Service Campground.   I naively walked into what came close to being the first bar fight I witnessed.

Due to the mediating skill of a retired attorney from Seattle, the fracas was avoided when he admonished the two guys on the brink of fisticuffs in a commanding voice, “If you two will sit down and shut up, I’ll buy everybody in the house a drink.” 

This was followed by rousing cheers and a fairly hefty bar bill which he gladly dispatched.  I then spent the next hour sharing lawyer stories and a few drinks with this former counselor, which was the last time I’ve ever seen him. (I checked with the regulars to see if he was still around when I went back in 2019.)

Telling law firm stories in 2004

Just as in the fall 2019 trip, in my earlier road journey, besides the magnificent scenery, I was captivated by the rich history and most notably, the character and heritage of some of the smaller cities such as Stanley and Salmon, Idaho; Darby and Missoula, Montana; and Joseph and Baker Oregon. 

American Historian

This journey reaffirmed Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis”:

“….the American character was decisively shaped by conditions on the frontier, in particular the abundance of free land, the settling of which engendered such traits as self-reliance, individualism, inventiveness, restless energy, mobility, materialism, and optimism.” (Britannica.com)

The Sawtooth Range from the outskirts of Stanley

On the 2019 trip, I also discovered that Turner’s premise shapes the political philosophy of Montana residents but more about that in Part II.

My trip in 2004 was ten unforgettable days of adventure and gaining an appreciation for the rustic western countryside.

Janet – “Don’t Even Think About It!”

Runkle – An invitation for a bucket list item….

When we discussed the 2019 proposed route for our trip, my wonderful spouse of 40 years, informed me in unequivocal terms that she was not going to take a several hundred mile side trip to the far NW corner of Montana so I could visit the World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak.

This storied bar had been a bucket list item since shortly after I started this blog in 2011 and had talked to the owner, John Runkle.  He  extended an invitation to visit him and stay in Yaak.  I was therefore downcast with the ultimatum….

But through the negotiating process, refined over those four decades, she then generously agreed to my spending the first six days sans companion and picking her up when she flew into Billings, Montana to complete the rest of our trek.  Now you know why I honored Janet with Thebeerchaser-of-the-Year title in 2015.

In South Dakota’s Badlands National Park

So like a little kid on Christmas Eve, I drove the 520 miles from our residence in West Linn – a burb of Portland – to Yaak where I stayed for two nights in the Wolf Room of the Yaak River Lodge – it’s also owned by John Runkle – and about a mile down the highway from his saloon.

Yaak, with a year-round population of about 250 is an unincorporated community with minimal commercial operations and on which the “Welcome To” and “Come Again” signs could theoretically be placed on the same telephone pole.  It’s thirty miles west of Route 2 in the heart of the Kootenai National Forest on the Yaak River Road.

The Yaak River

But it was a wonderful start to the trip.  John was an outstanding host and I loved the people I met those two days on which I will expand in my next blog post.

On the remaining four days before I picked up Janet, I drove our Prius (sans gun rack) while being enthralled with the sights from Flathead Lake to the 585 foot Anaconda Smelter Stack.   My companion, of sorts, was Sirius Satellite Radio and I rotated through the channels from Jazz, to classical to Big Band, while always returning to Classic Country.

A plethora of styles on Sirius

That’s because these tunes helped capture the mood while visiting bars such as the historic Montana Bar in Miles City – serving folk since 1908 – shown below.  Each watering hole was filled with friendly bartenders and regulars, wild animal trophies, spittoons (a few) and juke boxes.

And they didn’t play the new pseudo country rock tunes – but the old-time vocalists I love, most notably, George Jones, Don Williams, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and more recent crooners like Alan Jackson and Dan Seals.

Unfortunately, I never heard the tune I longed for “She Was a Bootlegger’s Daughter and I Loved Her Still.” 

(Maybe that one was a figment of my imagination and I made up the title while downing a Miller High Life at the Antlers Saloon in Wisdom.

The Champagne of Bottled Beers

Now with the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, I’ve had a lot more time to reflect – rather than visit new bars.  And what brought back the best memories were some of the towns and smaller cities which just seemed like great communities to live, work and raise a family.

I’ll talk about that in my next post, but since I mentioned Dan Seals, it’s fitting – at least in my view – to end with some of the lyrics of his song, “God Must be a Cowboy at Heart” which perfectly captures the sentiment engrained on that trip.

Sleepin’ in the moonlight
A blanket for my bed
Leaves a peaceful feelin’ in my mind…
Wakin’ up in the mornin’
With an eagle overhead
Makes me want to fly away before my time

And I think God must be a cowboy at heart
He made wide open spaces from the start…
He made grass and trees and mountains
And a horse to be a friend
And trails to lead old cowboys home a-gain…

Along Montana Highway 43 near Wisdom

A Plea for Common “Cents” …..$

A  number of recent Beerchaser posts have chronicled the challenges faced by Oregon bars and breweries over the last year because of the pandemic.  Demonstrations/riots in the City of Portland, which have made national news and wildfires which ravaged the State, exacerbated the virus-caused lockdowns – all economically adverse.

Another unfortunate victim – closed indefinitely

Then most recently, a once-in-a-lifetime ice storm caused widespread power outages and again shut down business just as many had gotten the green-light to reopen.

For example, the innovative Oregon Public House closed its doors in November and the excerpt from its website is typical:

“This choice, made by our Board of Directors, reflects the reality of where we are after many months of reduced sales and related challenges….In this moment of ‘freezing’ restaurants and other businesses, we hope that you choose to support small and local businesses in whatever way that you can, because many of them have been struggling in the same way that the pub has.”

Well, I’m amazed and appalled to report that a new – avoidable specter – now rears its ugly head.  It’s one that could throw another wrench into the efforts of the beverage and hospitality industry to survive.  This one was originated by some sorely misguided, myopic and, quite frankly, apparently mindless individuals – mindless at least given the economic context.

Just as the virus has invaded our daily existence, it seems like common sense has often concurrently evaporated.  A number of times during the pandemic, I have uttered the phrase, “What were they thinking?” – the most recent involving a Cancun getaway, but there have been many others and not just those which make us laugh when we read the annual Darwin Awards.

Even those with a net worth of $87 billion sometimes make crazy financial decisions….

Like Philadelphia Eagles Coach Doug Pederson’s decision to give a third-string quarterback playing time in a game with playoff implications for other teams.  Then there was Vice President, Mike Pence visiting the Mayo Clinic without a mask in May 2020 and Mayo Clinic officials not challenging this action.

A leading stock market newsletter even questioned the legendary investment guru recently with an article entitled, “Berkshire Hathaway: Respectfully, Mr. Warren Buffett, What Were You Thinking? “(BRK.A) | Seeking Alpha

This time – and in one of the most egregious – it’s several Oregon Legislators (Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) and Rep. Rachel Prusak ( D-West Linn) and an Oregon non-profit – Oregon Recovers – led by its Executive Director, Mike Marshall – who are proposing an extreme increase in alcohol taxes.

“Marshall said businesses could pass the increase in cost to consumers, arguing that the tax hike is the only way to curb harmful consumption and binge drinking.”  (emphasis added)  (KOIN.com 3/2/21)

As reported in this Fortune.com article article excerpt, they are proposing to raise $293 million over the next two years by this tax increase.

“Oregon brewers and vintners could see a dramatic rise in the cost of doing business if a new bill making its way through the state legislature passes. Oregon House Bill 3296 seeks to increase the state’s beer tax by 2,800% and wine tax by 1,700%.

Officials in Oregon’s wine industry say the bill would result in a $2 or more price increase on every bottle of wine sold in the state. Beer and cider could see even bigger jumps.”

Beer tax – from $2.60 per barrel to $72.60 in one fell swoop

Currently the Oregon tax on each barrel of beer is $2.60.  House Bill 3296 would increase that tax by $70 to an astounding $72.60 a barrel.  For beer, this would amount to about thirty-one cents per pint.

Michaeal LaLonde, the President and CEO of Bend’s Deschutes Brewery, stated;

“Unfortunately, a recent economic report from the Beer Institute and Brewers Association estimates 25% of those Oregon beer jobs will be lost by the end of 2020 because of the COVID-19 recession.” 

His 10/12/20 guest editorial in the Bend Bulletin responding to the proposal also asserted:

“Oregon is proposing to kick you when you’re down. COVID-19 has hit the restaurant, food, and beverage industry hard. In order to shore up state coffers, the Oregon Health Authority has released a proposal to raise $293 million by increasing the tax on beer, wine, and cider by 800%.  Not staggered, not stepped, but an instant 800% increase. The consequences would be simply devastating.” *

* Evidently the original Oregon Health Authority proposal in Gov. Kate Brown’s budget last October was for the 800% proposal and the more draconian increase followed in February by the Legislators in HB 3296.

Portland’s renowned Oregon Brewers’ Festival

As an example of the hardships, it was announced just this week that for the second year in a row, the Oregon Brewers’ Festival – Oregon’s largest and one of the longest-running in the nation – according to Willamette Week  is canceled this summer – again!

“Recovers” is a relative term…..

It is ironic when small business owners are wondering if they will survive and how they are going to recover after what they’ve faced in last year, that the Co-chair of Oregon Recovers stated:

“As we recover from the pandemic, it’s critical that we adopt strategies to protect our families and increase prosperity.” (emphasis added)

To ensure that those promoting the idea get the point, one more recent statistic – this one from Guy Tauer, an economist in the Oregon State Employment Division:

“Leisure and hospitality had 211,000 jobs in December of 2019 and by December 2020 employment fell to 129,400, essentially erasing the industry’s previous 25 years of job gains,” Tauer writes. “Of the 178,200 payroll jobs Oregon lost during that time, 81,600 of those, or 46.9%, were in the leisure and hospitality sector.”

There have been debates over the years about sin taxes – on alcohol, tobacco, gambling and more recently, sugary drinks, and there are pros and cons. There’s essentially a consensus, however, that sin taxes are regressive and the heaviest burden is on lower income individuals.

Will it accomplish its purpose in reducing addiction and underage drinking or just reduce consumption generally and hurt small businesses?  And how effective have Oregon’s addiction and recovery programs been to this point without adding substantial millions – especially since there is no infrastructure to handle the increased funding.

From the Oregon Recovers web page:

“Build A New System of Intervention:  ACRA will shift the burden of engagement and/or intervention in an individual’s substance use from the criminal justice system to the healthcare system by providing healthcare, social service, education and criminal justice professionals with the education and tools needed to engage patients earlier in their addiction.” (emphasis added)

It’s true that Oregon businesses have a stake in reducing alcohol addiction which is a drain on productivity and increases the cost of operations. I notice, however, that with one exception (Andrew Rowe) no one on the Oregon Recovers Steering Committee (Board) indicates having worked in the private sector or having a business background – nor does its Executive Director.

And the people of Oregon have been very generous in approving taxes for social causes – most notably in Portland where in May – during the height of the pandemic – a nationally innovative homeless service tax measure was approved.

It will raise $250 million annually for ten years towards funding behavioral health services, job training and other services for homeless people.

While it is true that the current tax on beer in Oregon is one of the lowest in the country and has not been raised since 1977, the approach in this legislation (HB 3296) is clearly not the way to accomplish it.  Oregonians are empathetic and will endorse reasonable ideas to address alcohol addiction and underage drinking.

The Oregon Beverage Alliance has started a petition drive entitled “Don’t Tax My Drink” to ask local Oregon lawmakers to oppose tax increases on Oregon breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, restaurants, bars and their customers.

To this observer, the tax proposal is brazen and arrogant.  Remember the pandemic slogan, “We’re all in this together?”  So I hope people will write to Mike Marshall and Reps Sanchez and Prusak.   You might start your communication by asking, “What were you thinking?”  And let’s hope that at least a modicum of common “cents” will prevail.

And Cheers to the Oregon Brewers’ Guild!

Analysis Paralysis and Efforts to “Be Better”

Well Beerchasers, you will have to excuse the lack of news about bars and breweries in this post.   And the image above (thanks to my sister-in-law, Pam Williams) and the pre-pandemic photo below from the gone but not forgotten Club 21 in Portland are the only pictures related to beer reminding us of what we are missing,. 

Chatting with a fascinating group of Club 21 regulars in 2014

My rationalization is that I still cannot really follow my protocol of going inside to new establishments and interviewing bartenders and regulars.   In addition, this platform is one where I can fret about annoyances and pet peeves and get them off my chest – even if I’m the only one who reads them…..So be forewarned, however, some of you may have the same frustration with the issue below.

The pandemic and events leading up to it, have made me a lot more conscious about statistics.   And it’s not that I was oblivious to numbers and trends previously.   In my twenty-five years in management at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm in Portland – first as Business Manager and then for the last twelve as  COO – analyzing and interpreting data and trends on collections, billings, hours worked and expenses were an ongoing priority.

Originator of the lamppost analogy…

In fact, Dave Bartz, our Co-managing Partner and now Chair – Emeritus at the firm, loved to quote Scottish poet and literary critic Andrew Lang who asserted:  “Most people use statistics like a drunk man uses a lamppost; more for support than illumination” 

And when we were trying to motivate lawyers to pay more attention to the business of law so both attorneys and the staff could get paid, we didn’t hesitate to use that maxim – especially at year-end!

Of course, lawyers were aware of efforts to frame the key statistics to enhance our position and one of them would inevitably respond with Mark Twain’s assertion:  “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”

“Don’t bullshit me with figures…..”

Now – to digress – and  speaking of drawing a conclusion after analyzing, let’s use the example from Wikipedia when citing the source of the photo of Lang above.

The disclaimer states, “The copyright situation of this work is theoretically uncertain, because in the country of origin, copyright lasts 70 years after the death of the author, and the date of the author’s death is unknown.”

Then in an incredibly dry and understated manner it adds:

However, the date of creation of this work was over 120 years ago, and it is thus a reasonable assumption that the copyright has expired.”   Since it also stated that Lang died in 1914, I felt reasonably reassured that I could use this photo with the public domain attribution.

In 1980, I also had the experience of taking two terms of Data Analysis in graduate school with my new wife – her first two courses in the MPA Program at Portland State University – and my last two.

There was no on-line personal computer capability then and it was a real strain on our new marriage.  We’d negotiate on who got to go down and stand in line at Shattuck Hall on Saturday morning to run the punch-cards to get the report we had to analyze and who got to clean the bathrooms at our house. (The loser had to drive to Portland State!)

But over those months, we grudgingly learned Regression Analysis and stat concepts such as Hypothesis Testing and Statistical Significance, and Central Tendency.

Shattuck Hall – It looks so welcoming now, but in 1980??

The last year makes us realize more than ever before that data can be manipulated, interpreted differently or even blatantly distorted to promote a position.   It seems that ethical and rational conclusions have been discarded at will – and it’s bipartisan practice.

Whether it was Donald Trump’s infamous assertion on February 26, 2020 about COVID 19:  “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,”

Signing the Congressional Funding Bill for Coronavirus Response on March 2020 – it didn’t work……..

Andrew Cuomo

But the Dems reinforce the practice whether it be New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo’s manipulation of nursing home deaths due to COVID

or

Kate Brown

Oregon’s own Kate Brown’s (D) administration’s alleged “massage” of COVID statistics to reinforce the rationale for Oregon’s policy.  The Oregon Health Authority – up until a KGW television reporter pointed out the flaw – also skewed the data on the number of Oregon COVID cases:

“OHA counted only ‘new’ people who got tested. If someone got a test in June and was negative, then returned for another test in July and was negative, that second test would not be counted as part of that July day’s total of tests given…..Not counting all the return people getting tested increased the positivity rate because it created a smaller denominator in the equation.”

While this approach may have been an honest mistake in uncharted territory, some would assert that it was a deliberate and nefarious attempt to increase case data to justify Oregon’s stricter lockdown policies.  And it was statistically significant……

The State has also exhibited it’s abhorrence to data transparency until objections by the media and constituents forced a turnaround on work-place outbreaks in May, 2020.

So what can each of us do in these times where mutual trust is as scarce as a glass of fine Pinot in a dive bar.  As rare as an NFL lineman who has never undergone concussion protocol or as infrequent as….. – sorry, I got carried away.

Statistics – not very attractive as a course offering

Broadcast and print news media now often have a political slant and newspapers struggle to provide investigative reporting staff.

Statistical Analysis tends to be a course  avoided in both high school and college – especially when one can, as an example, get three hours of credit at Michigan State University for “Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse—Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior.”  Go Figure – so to speak…

And, of course, social media (like this blog….) is not exactly the most appropriate repository of veracity.

Some tips on how to mitigate this issue.

Read your paper – be informed and support it!

  • Support your local newspaper to help promote independent journalism in the future.
  • Employ some journalistic standards on your own e.g. checking multiple sources to verify what is stated as fact in articles – especially those on social media.

A timely (2/28) letter from Editor, Therese Bottomly, in The Oregonian entitled  “Yes, you should read us but please read lots of other sources, too,”  eloquently affirms my advice:

“Pew’s new analysis is a reminder that we should all broaden our media diet…..I encourage you to read widely. It’s worthwhile for those on the left and on the right to consume news from a broad spectrum….And it is wise to keep in mind the differences between fact-based news and straight-up opinion writing.” 

  • Challenge – through letters-to-the-editor and ongoing dialogue – baseless assertions made by those who are not well informed or conversely, those who are well informed and deliberately offer falsehoods.

Yes Virginia, there are THREE branches in the US Government and the Judicial Branch is one

  • Promote civic education in your local high school.  These courses are increasingly absent from curricula.   A 6/4/20 Brookings Institute report quoted a 2016 survey led by Annenberg Public Policy Center citing the “limited civic knowledge of the American public, 1 in 4 of whom, are unable to name the three branches of government. 
  • And for those with students in the house, engage in dinner-table discussion (also becoming more infrequent) about current events and what they garner from school and the internet on the issues.

Perhaps working with lawyers for over thirty years, taught me (the hard way….) the discipline to question rather than blithely accept claims without examining underlying assumptions for validity or context.  Let’s take one example.

Be Better – A Case Study??!!

For the last few years, the NBA Portland Trailblazers and Moda Health Systems, as part of their partnership, have had a program entitled Moda Assist Program.  Television announcers at every game describe with exuberance the arrangement.

As stated in the Moda Website:

“For every Trail Blazers assist on the court during the regular season, Moda Health and the Blazers each donate $10 dollars (that’s a total of $20 per assist!) to the Trail Blazers Foundation.

At the end of each season, the money goes towards building a new all-abilities playground in a deserving Oregon community.”  The Blazer website states, the amount per assist was doubled from last year.

Naming Rights — $40 million over ten years……

My instincts compelled me to analyze this program.   For background, it was reported by an article in a 2013 Lund Report entitled,  “Moda’s Vast Pool of Resources Makes the Rose Garden Affordable:”

“Moda expects to pay out $40 million for those naming rights.  Moda paid the Blazers approximately $40 million over a ten-year period for the naming rights” to the former Portland Rose Garden.

While the exact terms were not disclosed, Moda did not challenge the above estimate and it was similar to other stadium or arena naming deals in the NFL and NBA. Also see 8/13/2013 Blazer’sEdge.com.  Note:  Moda is classified by the IRS as a non-profit service provider.

Some Moda subscribers, at a time when premiums were rising and claims receiving additional scrutiny (and rejection) were also not happy as set forth in this 8/23/13 Oregonian article:  Moda Health Subscribers Express Frustration With Rose Garden Naming Rights Deal

“I am a terminal cancer patient. My insurance company, formerly ODS, is now Moda. Last week I received notice that Moda would no longer pay for one of my prescriptions on the same day I read that it reportedly paid $40 million to have its name on the Rose Garden. I just hope the company doesn’t decide it needs more advertising.”

Let’s analyze what this means for the sponsoring organizations and Oregon communities.  The program sets out the metric – “for every assist on the court” which could just mean the home court, but let’s be generous and assume it’s on the basketball court – home or away.  So they pony up $20 collectively.   Remember, it’s just during the regular season and not during playoffs.

A normal season would mean eighty total games.  The Blazers, according to teamrankings.com for the 2020 season, ranked last among all NBA teams in assists per game with 19.9. (They were also last in 2019 with 20.4 – maybe this is why Moda selected this performance metric…..)

Both of the last two years have had abbreviated schedules, but for the sake of discussion let’s assume the typical 80-game regular NBA season.  With the 2020-21 season about half over, the Blazer website states that the number of assists to this point is 636.

So this means for a normal NBA season, Moda would shell out about $16,000 and the Blazers about the same amount – it will again be less this year since the regular season is only 70 games because of the pandemic.

Now to provide some context, it is intuitively believed that health insurers (as contrasted to hospitals) did pretty well financially during COVID 19 last year because so many elective surgeries were postponed and people shied away from trips to the ERs or hospitals for non-COVID issues because of fear of contracting the virus.

The Kaiser Family Foundation newsletter on 12/16/20 on “Health Insurer Financial Performance Through September 2020” stated, in part:

“By the end of September, average (profit) margins across these four markets (Medicare, Medicaid, group and individual private insurance) remained relatively high and loss ratios relatively low or flat compared to the same point in recent years.

These findings suggest that many insurers have remained profitable even as both COVID-related and non-COVID care increased in the third quarter of 2020.”

There has been no slide in health insurer profits…..

To conclude, I’ll leave you with what kind of playground $32,000 would provide.  According to Gametime.com which designs and manufactures commercial playground equipment for schools and communities and why the Moda website in some subtle wordsmithing statestowards building” rather than buying and installing the entire structure(s).

“You should budget around $1,000 per child. That makes the average cost of playground equipment between $15,000 and $50,000. If you are looking for a larger play structure with inclusive (accessible) features or a custom design, set a budget closer to $150,000.”  (Emphasis providedMar 12, 2020)

So when I hear Blazer players and announcers enthusiastically proclaim the Moda slogan “Be Better” and look at an excerpt from Moda’s mission statement: “Be outstanding community citizens through gifts of our time and resources,”  I ask for a little corporate introspection.  Not to be a wet blanket and admitting the program conceptually is to be lauded       

BUT

Given the need to promote outdoor recreation at schools as the pandemic continues and given the number of Oregon communities decimated by wildfires, ice storms (and in Portland) vandalism to public facilities, could both Moda and the Blazers be better in this program without causing much internal organizational distress?  Rather than have three communities vie for the funds with one “winning”  how about awarding all three or more?

Cheers and Be Better by Getting Your Vaccination!

Beerchaser Miscellany – The Bad, the Unfortunate and the Good!

In one of my last posts entitled “Destiny of the Dives,” I listed a number of Portland bars and breweries that had closed based on the pandemic and resulting lockdowns and the civil disorder that was rampant in Portland last year.  Unfortunately, there’s a couple more, both of which I had hoped might reopen, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Bailey’s Tap Room – right on Broadway in downtown Portland and known since 2007 for its robust tap list (its twenty-six rotating taps were displayed electronically) will definitely not reopen although that was the intent when it first closed.

Unfortunately, the Upper Lip – a great lounge on the upper floor of the same building – is also gone.  The building was quickly sold and who knows if another watering hole will eventually take over the space.  An article in Brewpublic.com echoed the same pessimistic outlook.

One of the first electronic displays of its kind

Willamette Week reported in a  January article headlined  An Oregon economist could not think of another example of ‘an area that has so quickly fallen into disfavor.’”:

“Portland plunged from one of the most desirable cities for real estate investors to 66th among 80 cities (Urban Land Institute)….The reputational damage is what’s going to exacerbate or prolong what we saw unfold in 2020.”

Grixen Brewing – my former neighbor was one of the partners in this brewery opened in 2013 in SE Portland that featured a spacious taproom and good beer.

Great taproom and quality beer…

Grixen — Sorry to see them go…..

It was announced in August that they would temporarily close although their website now states:

“We have permanently closed.   We are still navigating a way to keep the beer alive.  Follow us on social channels for announcements.” 

Well, there is nothing in social media or on the internet that updates that info except a piece in NewSchoolBeer.com in October stating “Lease the Former Grixen Brewery.”  I hope I’m wrong, but don’t count on seeing them again.

Tax and Legislative Changes and Lifting of Restrictions

Fortunately, at least in Oregon, there are some positive developments which will now help bars and breweries after a tumultuous year.

Oregon Craft Brewers avoided what would have been a 100% tax increase:  “The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress Dec. 21 includes a set of tax breaks that offer substantial relief for Oregon craft brewers, distillers, winemakers and cider makers, who are among the small businesses hit hard during the pandemic.” 

As an example, a brewery that produces 10,000 barrels a year would have jumped from paying $35,000 a year to $70,000 a year in excise taxes

My favorite cocktail — gin – up with olives

  At the end of 2020, Oregon Legislators passed a bill that allows bars and restaurants to sell mixed drinks for offsite consumption – something the industry has been seeking for the last year statewide.  It requires food with the drink order, but that’s a start.

Well, it took long enough, but at least they got this one right!

  Because of falling COVID rates, “For the first time since November, restaurants, bars and brewpubs in the Portland metro area will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining rooms at a limited capacity at the end of the week.”  (2/12)

So on 2/12, Portland area Beerchasers, while still practicing social distancing and wearing masks, could go out and support their local watering holes and not just  sit in the cold with portable heaters.

And to show how it goes, just when the COVID restrictions were loosened, Portland and the burbs got hit with an incredible ice storm that closed roads, led to hundreds of thousands losing power and trees either coming down altogether or large limbs breaking under the weight.

Matchsticks….! My sidewalk and street

I’ll take a pint over push-ups or pilates…..

Our own street and sidewalk looked like a behemoth tossed limbs like match-sticks.

But I’m confident normality will resume In Oregon.  It’s just a matter of when and how one defines “normality!”

After all, it was reported by Willamette Week, that a recent national survey by the American Addiction Centers revealed that bars won out over gyms on which adults missed most.  In Oregon bars won by a decent margin: 59% to 41%.  Go figure!

The Evolution of Darwin’s Theory and a Sad Farewell..

Followers of this blog know that one of my favorite dives outside Oregon is Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage Alaska.  I first came across this unique watering hole in 2014 and it has been serving beers (not on tap – just bottles and cans) for over forty years.

I always look forward to their pithy and biting quarterly newsletter – until I can return, but was glad to see in the latest edition that they reopened in late January:

“Several establishments won’t be opening at all.  Some were old, established icons around town.   (We will reopen) with the same wonderful staff that are known and loved – some as long as twenty six years.  Some minor tweaks were done during the shutdown, but the same free popcorn and free Jukebox will still be there too…..So get vaccinated and let’s end this crap.” 

My last mention of Darwin’s was to post a picture sent by Jon Magnusson’s – father-in-law to our older daughter when he and his wife, Nancy and two good friends, Dr. Bob and Stephanie Thompson visited Anchorage on a trip to see the Northern Lights in February, 2020.

I told them they had to check out Darwin’s and I got a text from Jon with the picture below and the comment, “Exploring Darwin’s – Great Place.”

From left – Jon and Nancy Magnusson and Stephanie and Dr. Bob Thompson at Darwin’s Theory in February 2020.

We were shocked and saddened to learn that Dr. Bob passed away last week following a heart attack while swimming.   He practiced Family Medicine in Seattle and was loved and respected by patients, colleagues and all who knew him.

In 2013, he was honored as the Outstanding Health Care Practitioner in Washington State and as stated by the CEO of the Valley Medical Center where he practiced for over thirty years:

“Dr. Bob, as he is fondly known, has worked at Valley for over 25 years and he is an emblem of what it truly means to be a tireless and compassionate care giver, committed to helping people in need.”

Dr. Bob Thompson was an outstanding person-of-faith who worked on many volunteer medical missions including Belize in Central America and Albania.  He was active in numerous charitable organizations and a loving husband, father and grandfather.  We will miss him.

New Times for Old Town

In an 8/16/20 Beerchaser post, I mentioned how entrepreneur, Adam Milne, the founder of the iconic Old Town Pizza in 2003 and his later expansion to Old Town Brewing, faced challenges during COVID and the riots/protests in Portland this summer.

Adam Milne – a bright and creative businessman

They caused him to temporarily close one of his his two establishments – the downtown location as reported in a July 12 Willamette Week:

“‘The moment of a temporary closure became, sadly, clear on Thursday when our revenue for the day was $18.75,’ he says….. ‘We really need help from the city. Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard with the high density, vandalism and tents in front of our business.'”

While Old Town Pizza is still closed, he has not been sitting idle and will expand with another eastside location besides the Northeast Brewery.

Just this month, he purchased Baby Doll Pizza on Southeast Stark – he won’t change the name although it will now feature a number of the excellent Old Town beers on tap.  Baby Doll is known for its’s New York style pizza.

Congratulations Adam.

Parting with Encouraging Words

In my recent post, Destiny of the Dives, I bemoaned the loss of some historic Portland watering holes, but parted with a hint of optimism – that during and after the pandemic – required restrictions, a number of establishments have either expanded or innovated to stay open and in some cases, grow and prosper.  The pent-up demand caused by isolation would be a beacon to Beerchasing…..

And then I came across an outstanding January 12th article from New School Beer.com that was stunning in the expansiveness of such plans in 2021 —  The Most Anticipated Upcoming Oregon Breweries and Taprooms of 2021 — New School Beer + Cider

The most exciting news is the info about Steeplejack Brewing – plans to open this summer – a heartening story not only because of the spirit of the co-partners (Brody Day and Dustin Harder) who are two college buddies, but because their partnership and cooperative efforts with the Metropolitan Community Church.

Portland’s Metropolitan Community Church

The result – a wonderful historic landmark will be saved and still serve as a community gathering place.  This is an incredibly ambitious project. Stay tuned and Godspeed!

“The church at NE 24th and Broadway is a landmark of Portland’s Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood known for it’s ornate steeple and long history.

The building’s most recent owners Metropolitan Community Church left the building in 2019 and it narrowly avoided being demolished. Turning down competing bids, the MCC leaders chose to sell the space to two homebrewers who wanted to keep the building intact and as a central hub or the community.”

Conceptual photo of the planned brewpub

Amen!!

 

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter —Moving and Shaking

In a recent post on Thebeerchaser, entitled “Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (Who?  What? Why?)”,  I listed the thirty-five individuals I’ve named in the almost ten years since this blog started.  These “honorees” may or may not have anything to do with bars, breweries or beer, but have interesting stories and have made their marks in both their personal and professional lives.

And their stories continue so I decided to give you an update on what five (or maybe six) of them have done recently – even during the pandemic to continue their legacies.  To see their stories in the original posts, click on the link that highlights their names.

Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (December 2016)

The Godfather

Besides his blog, this Oregon Sports Hall of Fame journalist (also five-time Oregon Sportswriter of the Year) and broadcaster, works for NBC Sports NW.

Since the start of the NBA Season, he and Chad Doing, co-anchor of Rip City Drive on Portland’s Rip City Radio, do a one-half hour segment before every Portland Trailblazer game.

Chad Doing

This “Blazer Warmup” is entertaining and informative.   They play well off each other and Dwight’s knowledge, both of the history of the Portland team and his analytical insight make this a show worth watching.

Chad is a delightful radio personality and unlike some talk-show hosts, he doesn’t take himself too seriously although he’s very knowledgeable and provides good commentary.

Jay Waldon – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (March 2016)

This Portland attorney and former colleague at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt has an active Energy and Environmental Law practice.  Since being named a BOQ in 2016, Jay has continued moving and shaking.

In 2017, he was admitted to the US Rugby Hall of Fame.  He is now Chair of the US Rugby Foundation’s fundraising and has served as a Director.  A 2017 article in the Providence College News (his undergrad alma mater) stated:

“(His contributions span) nearly five decades as a player, coach, TV broadcaster, and ambassador of the sport. He began his rugby career in 1968 as a University of Virginia graduate student, where he received his master’s degree, worked on his Ph.D., and then received his juris doctorate while serving as a player, president, and captain. Waldron played on numerous rugby representative teams and won the university boxing championship.”

The Dancing Bear spars with Ray Lampkin

(The story of the UV Boxing Championship is worth a glance alone and explains how he acquired the moniker “The Dancing Bear.”)

As you will see if you check the original blog post, Jay’s yearning for adventure (possibly caused by some of the blows to the head on the rugby field or sparring with pro-boxer Ray Lampkin) have led him to extreme adventures.

Death Wish? (This is Waldron)

Among these are river rafting including a 1996 China trip down the Upper Yangtze, in addition to motorcycle racing and well over twenty road trips on his motorcycle throughout the US, New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

Jay still practices law and continues riding his motorcycle – he favors BMW’s or Ducati’s (“Harleys are too slow, too clumsy, too noisy.”) which was the cause of a recent concussion and broken clavicle – but that’s another story.

And speaking of Dwight Jaynes, you can read The Godfather’s recent column about both Jay and his son, Shane, at the link below.

Shane was just announced as the new Offensive Coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. He evidently inherited some of his parents’ work ethic and athleticism.

Karen and Jay have been married for fifty-two  years (they met at a bar when Jay was a bouncer – but that’s another story…) and both have won decathlons for their age group at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

https://www.nbcsports.com/northwest/seahawks/father-seahawks-new-oc-shane-waldron-hard-work-can-do-amazing-things-people

Karen and Jay Waldron (Did not wear a bow tie when he was a bouncer….)

Shane was most recently the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Los Angles Rams.

This followed assistant coaching gigs at Notre Dame, the New England Patriots, the University of Massachusetts and the

Shane Waldron in earlier coaching days

Washington Football Team (formerly Redskins).  He played football at Tufts University where he was a tight-end and long snapper.

Amy Faust – Beerchasr-of-the- Quarter (April 2017)

Amy had a very successful career as the co-host of the award-winning Mike and Amy Show on KWJJ – the Wolf, which ended in 2018 after almost twenty years.

Not a long-term career option

Upon graduation from Scripps College, she realized (rather quickly) that she was not going to make a living as a professional mandolin player and singer in a New York City group called The Bushmills.

Her fascinating career through 2020 includes stints in documentary film production, freelance writing, authoring advertising copy, producing TV commercials, television production and as location manager for the show Portlandia.

Amy’s journey continues to be fascinating, having attended a eight-day Clear Lake, Iowa school in 2018 at the World Wide College of Auctioneering where she was certified to be a benefit auctioneer.   In addition to her other work, she now emcees/auctioneers fundraising events.

Program Host at Portland Classical 89.9 FM

Then her background in writing and broadcasting led to her two current roles – copywriting for national brands and, most recently, as contributing host and producer of On Deck with Young Musicians for Portland’s All Classical Radio (89.9 FM) each Saturday at 5:00 PM.

Lunch with Amy in 2016

A Portland native, Amy has lived in New York, LA, Dublin, Paris, and DC, but I’m glad that this truly captivating individual continues to call the Rose City, her home.

Jack Faust – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (September 2014)

In a recent (February 1) article in the Portland Oregonian on the late actor Bing Russell, Jack, who was a very good friend and played a key role in the wonderful story of The Battered Bastards of Baseball, was quoted on his friend and client:

“’The world was his stage,’ says the retired lawyer and former Portland TV personality. ‘He was the most unforgettable character I ever met. Bigger than life.’”

Jack Faust in 2012 Beerchasing at the Buffalo Gap

The article mentions Jack’s recollection of the arbitration in which he was the lawyer in the litigation against Major League Baseball and stated of his star witness:

“’He (Bing) was Jimmy Stewart playing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’ Faust, his lawyer, wrote years later in a remembrance of his friend. ‘This was not about money, Bing said, it was about the soul of a city.  The testimony ended with Major League Baseball’s lawyer answering ‘God, no,’ when he was asked, ‘Any more questions?’”

Jack Faust at a 2014 Beerchasing event in Frank Peters’ Grand Cafe.  Frank “The Flake” was the legendary Manager of the Battered Bastards. (Faust’s Oregon State jersey was at the cleaners.)

Russel was offered $20,000 to settle, but refused and “Bing won — he was awarded a staggering $206,000, an amount he had suggested.”  And to read more about the incredible story of another character – Frank Peters – in that saga read: https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/01/23/a-frank-conversation-about-the-grand-cafe/

And for those wondering, Jack and Amy Faust are the only father-daughter Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter and are well deserving of the “honor.”

John Runkle – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (August 2019)

Those who follow this blog know that my favorite watering hole of the almost 400 visited in ten years of Beerchasing is the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, the Montana village, where I  stayed for two nights on a 2019 Montana road trip.

That’s where I met one of the most charismatic Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, John Runkle – besides owning the Saloon he owns the Yaak River Lodge – a mile down Yaak River Road.

Notwithstanding our divergent political views, John and I had great conversations while I was there getting information for the blog and we have stayed in touch electronically since that time.

Thebeerchaser and John in 2019 – notice whose on the right…..

You should read John’s story in my August 2019 post and his interesting background growing up in Orange County, CA, his military service as a paratrooper, his success in real estate and how he ended up in Yaak in 2004 after first purchasing the Lodge and then The Shame in 2013 – out of foreclosure.

Since I fell in love with Montana on this six-day solo road trip before I picked up my wife who flew into Billings for the remainder of our fifteen-day journey, I’ve subsequently read a number of books about Montana history – particularly on its early mining industry, the outlaws, vigilantes and the efforts of early law enforcement to enforce justice in the raucous frontier environment.

And I can just picture John as a larger-than-life sheriff in one of those historic towns such as Virginia City, Lewiston or Fort Benton.

And being a sheriff, might have come in handy when he encountered a crazy guy with an A/R 15 who John bear-sprayed after he tried to get back in the bar after Runkle kicked him out.  (See this story in the Daily Missoulian entitled:   “Troy Man Charged Following Saturday Night Incident at Yaak’s Dirty Shame Saloon.)

The Dirty Shame is not only a great and historic dive bar, but a cultural phenomenon and John, through his dynamic style of communication, entrepreneurial spirit, story telling and splendid sense of humor, maintains the spark even on cold Big Sky nights.

Part of John’s story is how he met his wife, Dallas, about five years ago when she applied for a job at the bar while on break from getting her Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at Arizona State University.  She is now a teacher and tutor.

Their adorable older daughter was two and one-half years old when I was there and Dallas was nine months pregnant with their second daughter.

The Proud Papa with “The cutest little girls in the World.”

In a January 16, 2021 Facebook post, John wrote:

“So my wife is pregnant again.  Can someone explain to me how a 60 year old man
keeps getting his wife pregnant?”

Well, the 131 comments responding to his rhetorical question are entertaining as you might imagine.  So what’s ahead for this guy?   Well, if you check out the info in the link from Yaak River Realty, you will see the opportunity to purchase the Dirty Shame for $349,900.

In a telephone conversation with John today, he said that the Lodge is also for sale. “When I was younger, I didn’t mind the snow and cold weather. Now I do.”

The family will be moving to Yakima for about a year where Dallas is teaching and then ultimately to Texas where most of their families live. I asked if he was going to own a bar in Texas and he said, “If I do, it will not be a seasonal one like the Shame.”

We ended the conversation with him asking me if I was going to be in Yaak on Saturday night.  “Don, it’s the first time male strippers will be appearing at the Dirty Shame.” 

I told him that I’d wait for the Adult Easter Egg Hunt in April when it’s warmer. Go Figure…

Art Vandelay – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (January 2014)

I’ve known most of the BOQ’s personally, but never had the opportunity to meet this titan of the latex industry.  Notwithstanding the fact that Vandelay Industries flourished supplying PPE during the pandemic, Art became depressed and out of sorts.

During the lockdowns, he was consumed with watching old Seinfeld reruns, binge rubber bridge matches and recording the whale migration along the California coast.  However, after recollecting old memories such as his two-year tenure as president of his eighth-grade class and the thrill of being voted “Most Likely” his senior year in high school, he got inspired.

Ensconced at corporate headquarters

Thus, his malaise ended and with the election of Joe Biden, he took action notwithstanding his one-time admonition at a corporate retreat, “Annoy a liberal – Work – Succeed – Be Happy!!”

Drain the Swamp???

Art started lobbying for the Secretary of Labor position until a White House official phoned him and stated, “The closest you are going to get to a Cabinet position is to enroll in a woodworking class at Community College.”

So while Art is temporarily stymied, stay tuned for continuing exploits and the future Work of Art.”  *

* Thanks to Carson Bowler – a Vandelay understudy and mentee and his assistant, Doreen Winterbottom for their cooperation.

 

Cheers and Stay Safe!