Beerchasing in the Desert – Part II

The OHSO Brewery Taproom in North Scottsdale

The initial post in this series, chronicled the first part of our week-long trip to Phoenix/Scottsdale in January.  Along with hiking and relaxing, we hit eleven breweries during the trip.  Arizona has stepped up its beer culture and the establishments were interesting, the people cordial and the beer very good although for the most part, the exteriors were largely a reflection of the strip-mall ambiance of this SW desert metropolis.

If one can handle the traffic and the visual blight from the sprawl, there is some nice weather if one hits Phoenix at the right time.  We did escape a week of rain in the Northwest.   Unfortunately, this year, we weren’t able to make it during Spring Training – something even marginal baseball fans tend to love.

The breweries we visited and the hikes we took the first few days of the trip are described in the first post:

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

Arizona has some interesting politics.  In the first post, we talked about a nice family brewery named Goldwater – for the late conservative Republican Senator, Barry Goldwater.  *1

Although the retired Air Force General had some strong beliefs on national defense that some thought too militant, he was admired for his integrity and service to his country.

But since this is a blog about bars, taverns, breweries and beer, let’s get back to the primary topic and leave comments about Arizona politics to the end of this narrative.

Two of the breweries that were repeatedly recommended by their competitors when we asked what other venues we should visit were Helton Brewing 

and

Wren House Brewing. 

Wren is a very small place – opened  a few years ago  in an historic home.  It evidently was originally named Westward Brewing “….until a pesky trademark lawsuit from a West Coast distillery forced the name change.”  (Draft Magazine)

“……the property we now call home at Wren House sat unoccupied and disused for decades. We fell in love with its character, rebuilt the old guest house and garage in the backyard into our brew-house, and converted the main 1920s bungalow house into our cozy taproom.”  

The woman with the laptop is second from the left.

Janet and I sat at the nice bar, which filled up in the late afternoon and shared a Wrenovation IPA – a good hoppy IPA with some citrus flavor.

The people at the bar were all conversing and a young woman who brought in her laptop and was doing some work while having a beer, joined the conversation.

We started comparing beer in the Northwest to Arizona and she mentioned that she had just been to Portland in June of 2017.  “My husband’s nephew graduated from Oregon City High School and we attended his graduation.” 

Of course, I told her that Thebeerchaser’s OCHS 50th high school reunion was held two months later.

George Hamilton stories and more…..at Sun Up Brewing

We have found that conversations while sitting at the bar are almost always interesting and establish linkages.  (Read about our conversation with the character on the right at Sun Up Brewing in the first Phoenix post and his tale about George Hamilton……)

Helton Brewing describes itself as “Your Neighborhood Brewery” although that seems contradicted to some extent by the fact that it is in a totally commercial and industrial area and located in a 10,000 square foot warehouse – formerly a radial tire operation.

Your “Neighborhood” Brewery???

The brewery and taphouse opened in 2016 and has expansive space adjoining the bar area for events and which houses pool tables and shuffleboard.

We were there in the mid-afternoon on a weekday and there was only one other person in the expansive space besides the staff.  (The yellow stools were kind of cool.)

Neat yellow stools.

We split their flagship beer – the Scottish Ale.   Since we had already had lunch, we did not ascertain whether their assertion that “It pairs well with robust foods like lamb, gruyere and beets,” was accurate. 

That said it was a good ale and the owner, Brian Helton, has an extensive background in brewing and according to Draft Magazine, has won several Great American Beer Festival awards when he brewed at Rock Bottom Brewing.

Spacious patio with games

Other breweries we hit included the larger Scottsdale Beer Company and OHSO – the latter also has a brew-pub at the Phoenix Airport.

Scottsdale Beer Company was hopping on a Monday night when we stopped in for beer and dinner.  We headed there after reading some great social media reviews on both their beer, the food and their large patio. 

And the reviews were accurate….They had about fifteen of their own beers on tap plus several guest taps.  I tried the Red Rocket Imperial Red IPA – partly because I was amused by the menu description:

The chewy maltiness….”  (One of my pet peeves is ridiculously contrived descriptions of beer to be creative.)

SBC – hopping on a Monday night

Janet, at the recommendation of our friendly server, Shalene, who had worked there 2.5 of the three years since they opened, recommended the Big Mouth Blonde, which also had an interesting description:

“It wouldn’t be Scottsdale without all of the nipped, tucked and chemically enhanced ladies that call it home……Perfect for a friend who always orders a Coors Light, yet flavorful enough to know its fresh and locally crafted.”

Taco Monday….!

We started what was superb food with two tacos – since it was Taco Monday – only $4 for two with your choice of meat.  Janet then had the fish and chips and I had one of their five “Large Plates” – the Protein Rice Bowl which was, in fact, large and a delicious combination of:

Fried brown rice, assorted fresh vegetables, Asian vinaigrette, fresh herbs, pickles, slow poached egg, sesame, your choice of chicken, salmon, or shrimp.  (We both took some food back to the hotel.)

The next day we stopped into Four Peaks Brewing – a large brewery in Tempe with a Taphouse and Grill in Scottsdale.  Nothing really special on the Scottsdale Brewpub – again in a strip mall (the address was 1340 E 8th Street #104)  but we had a good flight of their beer.  One of the four was creatively named Kilt Lifter – a robust Scottish Ale.

A flight at Four Peaks

The entrance to OHSO

Only one minute away by Google Maps and past a Home Depot, Safeway, Staples, Target and a mini-warehouse was OHSO Brewing and Distillery (“Outrageous Homebrewer’s Social Outpost” ) – I did not ask why the apostrophe was before the “s” since that would mean only one person hung out there….

But the place was kind of interesting with the brewery hardware visible, good accoutrements, a large distillery tasting room (it was empty although one can take a tour for two of the distillery for $28 which includes a bottle of their distilled spirits, except for barrel-aged ones….)

OHSO Patio

 

 

They also had a very large and brightly-lit patio area and a game room.

We decided on the way back to the hotel to hit one more brewery – Mesquite River – recommended by a few people, but again this little place that also advertises itself as “Your neighborhood craft brewery,” was in another strip mall and looked like a Petco from the outside.

MRB – lacking ambiance….

We walked inside MRB just to take a picture, but the combined ambiance of the parking lot and traffic noise argued against stopping and having a pint.

Our last night in Scottsdale, we decided to have dinner in other than a brewery and chose the excellent restaurant True Food Kitchen, where besides excellent and healthy food, they mix one of the best Citrus Skinny Margaritas I’ve had anywhere.  (Maybe it was “Skinny Citrus” but you get the point……..)

Citrus Skinny and smooooth…

Fortunately, the cell-phone charges I incurred when I inadvertently called a similarly named restaurant in Dublin, Ireland were only a little over $1.

I had called at about noon our time and told Janet, that although it was hard to understand the guy because of his accent, they didn’t have any tables left that evening – this seemed odd given the time – until I looked at the call record and saw “Dublin.”  I then tried to figure out whether the guy just had a brogue or was speaking Gaelic….

A great restaurant without having to travel internationally….

Earlier in the post I mentioned politics and the legacy of Barry Goldwater.  Arizona evidently does not see the same level of integrity in its latest candidate for the Republican nomination for the US Senate – former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Yes, the convicted felon, can run for office although only based on being pardoned earlier this year by the President.  To read an entertaining, albeit sobering article, from the Phoenix New Times entitled “10 Reasons Not to Vote for This Bloodsucker (You Want More?)” 

85-year old Republican candidate for Senate

The paper states, “…..we are publishing excerpts from 10 of our Worst of Sheriff Joe stories today, in honor of his decision to enter the ‘wackiest Senate race in the country.” (They have published Sheriff Joe exploits for years.)

*1  I was also surprised to see in light of events which transpired since we were in Phoenix, that the Goldwater Brewery still has its Machine Gun Teddy beer on tap – they advertise it as “cuddly.”

You might remember that the Brewery has a second place to drink sixteen feet below the main taproom – in the space which used to be Mandall’s Basement Shooting Range.   Three of the former shooting tunnels are filled with fermentation tanks! 

Oh well.  Notwithstanding some of its politics, the landscape and urban planning, by visiting the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, you can (if the right time of year) get some nice weather, take some good hikes and drink some excellent beer in interesting breweries – many of which have only opened in the last several years.  And you’ll be happy to return to your home afterwards – unless it’s Newark!

An OHSO Hoppy Beer from OHSO Brewery (7.1 ABV and 66 IBU)

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

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

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

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

Jessica – bouncing back from bad luck….

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

Note

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

What Tap Room is this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The taproom at Six Rivers

 

 

 

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

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

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

Humboldt Regeneration – a storage shed, but innovative brewing

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

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

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

The Turtle Rocks Inn Bed and Breakfast

 

 

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

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

Words are not necessary….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The pub at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka

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

 

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

Unimpressive exterior but good tap list

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

Redwood Curtain brewing and tasting room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Janet gets her “bearings”

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/13/beerchasing-on-the-south-oregon-coast-and-through-the-redwoods-part-i/

 

 

 

 

Beerchasing on the South Oregon Coast and through the Redwoods – Part I

The fall is a great time to see Oregon and Janet and I decided to hit the road for a few days driving down the coast through Redwood National Park as far as Eureka.   Along the way, we enjoyed a few superb hikes and marveled at the coastal scenery.  And, of course, in furtherance of Thebeerchasers Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs, we visited twelve breweries, one bar and one bottle shop along the way – all of which were either on Highway 101 or close by. 

And we were thankful for the efforts of the late Governor Tom McCall and his foresight in preserving the Oregon Coast and the numerous outstanding Oregon State Parks along the way he championed.

The breweries we visited included Yachats Brewing, Defeat River Brewing in Reedsport, Seven Devils Brewing in Coos Bay, and Bandon Brewing, the Beverage Barn (bottle shop) and the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon, Arch Rock Brewing and in North Bend Chetco Brewing in Brookings.

Into California, we hit  Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake, Six Rivers Brewing and Humboldt Regeneration in McKinleyville, Redwood Curtain Brewing in Arcata and finally, Lost Coast Brewing Co. in Eureka.  (See the links over the names for more info.)

We tasted some good beer and by always sitting at the bars, met great people.  While it is hard to compare, our favorite brewery was Mad River Brewing closely followed by Yachats Brewing and Farmstore as will be explained below.  And we loved the one bar visited – the Broken Anchor in Bandon.

We started on a positive note with the first stop being Yachats Brewing.  The quaint building right on Highway 101 with a great view, uses historic building materials in this reconditioned bank and at Tuesday lunch it was bustling.   A number of people were enjoying the patio, while choosing one of the thirty beers on tap. 

Jeremiah, our bartender and server, was a great guy, explaining the roots of this young enterprise going back to 2013.  Janet liked her Camp One IPA (an American IPA) while I downed a Thor’s Well India Pale Ale as we listened to Crosby Stills and Nash on their play list.  The food was great with a combo of quinoa soup and the barbecued chicken sandwich rating an A+.

My choice of beers was appropriate, because we then stopped to see the Thors Well sink hole, the Spouting Horn and the Devils Churn at Cape Perpetua on the highway, which was worth the stop.     

The Spouting Horn

 

We had read an article by Oregonian reporter, Jamie Hale on hikes along the southern Oregon Coast which was a great reference.  We stopped to see the beautiful Cape Blanco Lighthouse and then pushed on to Harris Beach and Cape Sebastian State Parks.

 

 

At Defeat River Brewing near Reedsport, our bartender, Jared, poured us  The Bravest, a pilsner inspired IPA, and we learned about another home-brewing effort by two partners which culminated in Reedsport’s first commercial brewery in 2016 in another reconditioned historic building.

Jared, a friendly and informative bartender

 

 

 

 

 

 A few more miles to a short stop at Arch Rock Brewing in Gold Beach – this time to a four-year old partnership after the co-owners converted their cabinet shop into a brewery. 

The brewer formerly worked at one of our favorite out-of-state breweries at which we tasted great beer – Grand Teton Brewing, which is actually in Idaho.  Arch River currently brews only three beers, is not fancy and has no real taproom, but the owner was very friendly and helpful.

 

The best hike of the trip – even better than the beautiful several mile stroll through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwoods National Park was our three-mile loop along the cliffs at Cape Sebastian – the highest point on the southern Oregon Coast.

Stunning views both north and south thrilled us as we walked through the waist high grass .  Make this an absolute must if you hit this part of the coast on a nice day. 

Coos Bay, is an interesting city that shows signs of having weathered some tough times in the new economy.   lt was interesting to see the full-size posters of Steve Prefontaine, the City’s most famous individual decorate the sides of two adjacent buildings harkening back to his high school days at Marshfield High School before he set records at the U of O.

Seven Devils Brewing in Coos Bay

Another Oregon grad who has helped the community is Annie Pollard, who did both undergrad and graduate work there before eventually partnering with Carmen Mathews to open the Seven Devils Brewing Co. in 2013.  They are now an important part of the community.

Only a block or two off 101, they have a very nice open patio and a quality taproom with a nice menu featuring locally-sourced food.  It is a family-friendly venue and they have free live music concerts every week featuring local and touring artists. 

A glass door reveals the sparkling brewing equipment, which is a nice touch.  The ambiance is also heightened by the hand-made furniture and fixtures and the paintings, which make the barrel room and tap house quaint and comfortable. 

An overnight stay in Bandon, – at first disappointing because the Bandon Brewery’s grand opening was delayed until the next day, but as a result, we met a wonderful person, Jessica, the young entrepreneur, who opened the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill almost next door, a little over a year ago.  

The place was packed on a weekday evening and she and her staff including a friendly waitress named Loofa, showed great customer service and their unique sauerkraut pizza was one of the hits of the trip.  They have an expansive menu including both pub food and seafood.  Their live music on weekends draws good crowds.

Friendly enterprenauer, Jessica

 

In spite of the full house, Jessica found time to chat while she was tending bar (and doing management stuff) and I found that she had worked at both Cracker Jack’s Pub and the Dixie Tavern in Portland -both prior stops on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bar, Taverns and Pubs. 

 Her bar’s social media reviews are very good on food, drinks and service.  Typical is this one from Yelp from July 18, 2017:

“Great place in Bandon. The fish tacos are breaded, plentiful and the aioli is perfect. If you like hot their jalapeños are fresh and hit the spot. My husband’s burger was great. Waitress was awesome and they have a great selection of local beers”

Crackerjack’s is one of the favorite neighborhood bars I’ve been to in the six years of this journey and Jessica even called the former manager, a charismatic lady named, Sam, while we were there and told her Thebeerchaser was in the house. 

Jessica, a Minnesotan, who after college and getting her teaching certification, started working in restaurants and bars (and according to the reviews, she knows how to make an outstanding cocktail) and is typical of the personable and enterprising people I have met since starting this hobby in 2011.

Another interesting stop in Bandon was the Beverage Barn, essentially a bottle shop and tobacco family business opened in 2015.  You can find forty beers on tap and four ciders as explained by Amy who helped us.  

Bandon Brewing – open for business!

 

Coming back through Bandon (this time on the return trip), we hit the Bandon Brewery on its second day of operation – for lunch.   Their wood-fired pizza was solid as was their grilled cheese sandwich and the friendly staff was ready for their first weekend.   

With a stay at the Bandon Inn, a nice motel with a great view of the town and the harbor, ended our first day on the road on this trip – a great combination of brews, bistros, beaches and …..coffee! 

Stay tuned for the rest of the Oregon and California part of this journey.  

 

 

Beerchasing in Wisconsin Part III – Water Street Bars and Lakefront Brewery

Impressive Milwaukee skyline along the shores of Lake Michigan

After a week of diverse natural sights, good restaurants, great beer at cool bars and breweries, our week in Wisconsin was drawing to a close.  We left Sister Bay in Door County on Lake Michigan and headed back for a final day in Milwaukee before catching a flight back to Portland out of O’Hare Airport.

A 90-minute boat tour on the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan was touristy, but a good way to see the some of the city and the shoreline.  The River is bordered by old industrial buildings which have either been converted or torn down to make way for toney condominiums in a city which is a great place for millennials.

A view overlooking the river for a cool $300 million….!

Our tour guide on the boat was a young graduate student from the University of Wisconsin campus near the city who read a script.  Janet asked her the average market price of a condo in one of the buildings lining the river.  Without hesitation, she responded, “$300 million,” which resulted in no additional questions and her sticking to the prepared script.  (I checked and one of units in a  newer condo building ranged from $175,000 to $1.1 million for the penthouse!)

The Milwaukee Brewers were in town that weekend and the city was just rocking.   We “Sought Asylum” for dinner with a good view of the river at the Ale Asylum River House, where we each enjoyed a great burger and one of their own beers – the Velveteen Habit-India Pale Ale, (7.5% ABV) and the Demento-Session Pale Ale (4.7% ABV).

Since we were on foot, we dropped into several nearby bars all on the same block of N. Water Street that were jammed with people enjoying the weekend.

BarNone is a very small bar which advertises, “Slip into the tightest hole in Milwaukee.” According to its website, “It opened  for business October 30, 2009. With an entirely remodeled interior and soon to be exterior, BarNone attracts an attractive young college crowd. Located on the corner of Water Street and Juneau Avenue, we are close to campus and the beat of everything that is happening nearby.”   It was so crowded and with two other options next door, we passed on having a beer.

The second bar in which we did have a beer was Pourman’s which is in a 125-year-old building and opened in 2012.  It has great old photos and impressive woodwork for the bar and tables and the top of the bar is filled with pennies.  Evidently they don’t have an equivalent to Oregon’s OLCC (Liquor Control) because at Pourman’s you could also pour your own beer if you sat in one of the booths.  Janet said that she would not tip me so we sat at the bar and our friendly bartender, John, poured the draft we split:

PourMans – Be your own bartender…..

“……..there are four tappers on each of three tables. Customers give the bartender an ID in exchange for a glass – one customer per group must provide a credit card – and can tap up to 32 ounces of beer per person right from their table.

If he or she wants to drink more after the 32 ounces, they check in with the bartender who assesses the patron’s sobriety and, if they’re not drunk, will program the tappers to dispense more beer.”   https://onmilwaukee.com/bars/articles/pourmansmilwaukee.html

Janet in front of McGillycuddys

Right next door was McGillycuddy’s Bar & Grill.  It is spacious and impressive and according to Thrill List “is an East Town watering hole that’s popular with Milwaukians for its cheap brews, generous pours, and low-key, locals-only attitude. The space features a long, oak bar and outdoor beer garden.”

More impressive than the interior of this bar was the patio or beer garden which was overflowing with suds and Saturday night revelers and had a long line waiting to get in.

The Beer Garden line at McGillycuddy’s

Lakefront Brewery “Thirty Years of Blood, Sweat and Beers!”

On Sunday morning, we had time for one more brewery tour before the flight and rather than try the big ones such as the historic Pabst or Miller-Coors, we headed to the Lakefront Brewery, which receives great social media reviews on brewery tours.  It’s  nationally recognized.

According to a 2015 ThrillList post, it’s:

“The tour by which all other tours are measured. Guides are informative and genuinely funny — though anyone talking about bungholes probably would be, especially after a few beers.” 

A brewery with history and personality….

We joined about twenty other people from all over the country who paid their $10 for the tour – it also includes tickets for four six-ounce pours and a Lakefront Brewery glass – the price for the tour is great even without the ancillary items.

Lakefront is another of the many stories of entrepreneurs who enjoy beer and are willing to devote their capital and time to building an organization.   Like a number of similar enterprises in Milwaukee, Portland, Denver and other major cities, the brewery is housed in historic trappings:

Justin, our erstwhile tour guide in historic setting

“……..the City of Milwaukee had a building to sell. In 1908, Lakefront Brewery’s current building housed the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company’s coal-fired power plant.

It was later sold to the City to house Milwaukee’s Forestry Department. But in 1998, the City was considering tearing down the old power plant to uphold a contract with a nearby apartment complex unless a local business was interested in the location.”

Justin was our tour guide – he could have been a stand-up comic given the humorous one-liners he worked into a nice educational briefing on the history of the brewery and some of its operations.   Justin would appreciate the stand-up comic comparison although he would assert that he wouldn’t qualify based on the amount of time he spends in a prone position after drinking free beer.

He did a great job covering the history of the brewery and briefly got into the mechanics of making beer and Lakefront’s approach to brewing and being an important member of the community.

We stopped strategically to see different brewery equipment which, of course, also provided the opportunity to sample another one of Lakefront’s good beers.  Of course, with his comedic wit, Justin placed special emphasis on the kegging function and exactly what was meant by the term “Bunghole.” 

The final part of the tour was viewing the bottling machine, which was an opportunity for Justin to work in a bit about Laverne and Shirley, the situation comedy legends from Happy Days (aired from 1976 to 1983) who lived and worked in Milwaukee.   He asked for two volunteers and Janet raised her hand.

“Laverne and Shirley” at the bottling machine

What followed was an old rendition of the “Happy Days” theme played on Justin’s cassette player while Janet and the other volunteer went through the bottling routine.

The brewery also offers a weekly 90-minute technical tour geared toward any home brewer or beer drinking aficionado led by one of their experts.  It concludes with a 90 minute food pairing featuring specific Lakefront beers which complement their chef’s selection of local and national cheese, meat, fruit, chocolate and coffee. (Although participants would miss Justin’s act…)

Lakefront is known for its innovative beers which  includes Organkica: “From the country’s first organic beer to the country’s first Gluten Free beer to be granted label approval by the U.S. Government, we have the perfect brew to fit your lifestyle.” 

After the tour we went into the spacious brew-pub and had the beers although I should have known better than to experiment by ordering a tea beer (Don’t remember the name….but I didn’t finish it).  That said, I really enjoyed their Imperial IPA/Red Ale which won an honorable mention at the United States Beer Tasting Championship and Janet loved the Riverwest Stein an excellent American Amber Ale.

I was disappointed that as with the case with the bars in Door County, we missed their traditional Friday Fish Fry, which at Lakefront includes a live polka-band and dancing…

The spacious tap room

We had a wonderful time during our eight days in Wisconsin and the Beerchasing stops which included those listed below were enjoyable and let us  enjoy new microbrews and a $1.00 Miller Genuine Draft (on tap)……We also liked the Goose Island beer:

Milwaukie:  Water Street Brewing, Scooters PubBar, Dukes on the Water, Pourman’s Bar, McGillycuddy’s and Bar None

Green Bay: Hinterland Brewing and Badger State Brewery

Door CountyDoor County Brewing, the Cornerstone Pub, AC Tap, Coyote Road House

You can see the reviews of these at the other two posts on Beerchasing in Wisconsin at the links below:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/07/07/beerchasing-in-wisconsin-part-i/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/08/10/beerchasing-in-wisconsin-part-ii-door-county/

 

 

 

 

 

Beerchasing in Wisconsin – Part II – Door County

We drove north from our first night in Wisconsin – in downtown Milwaukee – up the peninsula separating Lake Michigan and Green Bay into Door County.   What a beautiful drive – rolling farmland with historic barns, small communities and all one identifies with rural America.

And Door County – surrounded by water and with over 300 miles of shoreline has a Cape Cod-type ambiance in the heart of the Midwest.   We stayed with my sister-in-law, Pam, in Sister Bay, and toured nearby towns , the names and heritage which could be portrayed in Mark Twain’s or any novelist’s work who wrote about small-town values and culture.

Janet and Pam at sunset in the heart of Sister Bay

Bailey’s Harbor, Turtle Bay, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Gill’s Rock, Sturgeon Bay, Ephraim, etc.all of which beckon vacationers who want to relax in a scenic, welcoming environment – and oh yes, one in which there are some great bars and breweries.

There are also some small wineries, but based on our limited sampling, the grapes are such that the wines tend to be pretty sweet and make an IPA a much better bet.  We visited four watering holes on our Beerchasing tour.

Door County Brewery – this establishment was recommended by multiple parties as having great beer. Located in a small building outside the wonderful village of Bailey’s Harbor (“BH is…..truly a place where everyone knows your name—and then some. We like cool breezes, water sports and parades with a drumming rabbit who thinks he’s a chicken. And beer.  Lots of beer!”)

A cool logo

The enterprise was established in 2012 by four family members.  Brady, the bartender told us that the brewery specializes in Belgian beers although they have some other nice options available with the ten on tap.  We tried their Pallet Jack Cruiser which is a good Session IPA.

Kyle, the brewer, was in and we had a nice conversation and learned that they will expand this summer to new quarters in the heart of Bailey’s Harbor.  We felt like we were regulars and met a wonderful guy named Buzz a high school coach who regularly vacations in Door County.

Janet with our new friend and coach, Buzz.

Besides having a great logo, the attitude reflected on their website is evidence of why they have won the hearts of their community:

We value family, friendships and community above all else and create one-of-a-kind craft beers to bring these all together…..The root of our brand is the authentic story of a small community who cares about the passion, hard work and significance of every day.….So welcome. We are glad you came and hope that you enjoy our community of friends, family and beers. Now let’s have some fun!”

Now in expanded space although this was quaint….

They moved to a larger building on July1st which will have a nice beer garden and more room for the crowds attending their Saturday night entertainment. Typical of the reviews was this one on Yelp – a couple visiting a little over a month after we did:

“We stopped in during a walk……The staff was very friendly.  A great atmosphere and vibe makes the patrons happy.  Might have something to do with excellent, easy flowing craft beer also. “

What better place for a dive bar???

AC Tap this was my personal favorite and a great dive bar.  Half way between Sister Bay and Bailey’s Harbor in the middle of some farmland on Hgwy 57, the setting of this bar drew me like a magnet and we were not disappointed.

Now one typically does not hit a dive for the food – it’s the cheap beer, the signs on the wall, the crusty regulars and pool (darts also at AC Tap).

And what a great sign!!!

Well, AC Tap has all of these and food that could shame some of the established bistros – in a kitchen that could fit in a closet.   Because of limited time, we did not have a chance to partake of the food, but let’s look at the reviews starting with this summary from a 9/9/15 Yelp reviewer:

“The Tap is an amazing place because they serve food all day everyday until bar close! The kitchen is always open until last call and the Tap does bar food the right way. They have a two-page menu along with a homemade special and soup each day. Mondays they do 50 cent wings and a beer special.

Tuesdays they do homemade sushi rolls. In the winter, Thursday nights are usually all you can eat homemade spaghetti. Friday of course they have fish fry specials– perch or shrimp (sometimes lawyer or blue gill) and Sunday nights they do 1/4 baked chicken and dumplings.”

And almost every review raved about a different food item:

“……you can’t go wrong with anything on their menu (and) great wimpy burgers,” “a juicy hamburger and delicious homemade French fries,” “tastiest fried perch ever,” “The fish and chips were good, the fish cakes were great,” “Best bar food around.”

There was a friendly group of guys who the bartender said were visitors from Illinois on a male-bonding golf trip who were totally immersed in a dice game which I later found out after a little research, is a staple at Wisconsin Bars – “Shake of the Day.”  No, it’s not an ice cream drink, but a fun opportunity to slam a cup with five dice down on the bar and take a chance on either winning a free drink or having to buy the entire bar a drink.  The following description is apt:

Who buys the drinks in Shake of the Day?

“This game can get pricey. The loser has to buy a round of shots for everyone playing, and if any player gets five aces, they’re buying a round for the bar. Them’s the rules…

..Of course, the rules tend to shift slightly from bar to bar. But one thing remains consistent — when the bartender loses, the bar buys all. It’s a big part of why people play; the odds of scoring a free drink are pretty high.” (On Milwaukee.com 2/12/09 by Julie Lawrence)  

Dive bar ambiance…

About the only complaints about AC Tap was that it was cash only, but get a clue.  If you cannot afford to throw down a twenty for several $2 PBRs (they have five beers on tap) and your dinner plus a nice tip for the bartender, you shouldn’t be frequenting dive bars.

By the way, the guys from Illinois, who had been there for quite awhile, left and said to the bartender, “We’ll be back in 90 minutes.  Keep the tab open.”   She did without hesitation.    We will definitely be back to AC Tap the next time we are in Door County – and for sure on a Wednesday night when we can taste what our bartender described as the owners personal  sauce he cooks for spaghetti night:  “Thick, spicey meat sauce with mushrooms.”

And the staff and owners are very nice people.

Coyote Road HouseI loved the name of this watering hole on the shore of Kangaroo Lake on County Road E. a few miles outside Baily’s Harbor.   (We should have asked how the lake got its name….)  It was another quaint building and more of a neighborhood-type establishment than a dive bar:

 “We offer one of those everybody-knows-your-name atmospheres. Friendly service and tasty twists on traditional fare will win you over inside. 

We offer over 30 different bottled beer and about 10 on tap, from Guinness to Fat Tire, and a martini is not an unusual order here. If you like onion rings, check out our ‘heaping loaf’ of thin, delicately french-fried strands that practically melt in your mouth.” 

Outstanding and plentiful onion rings

Their claim on the onion rings is accurate and unfortunately, we did not get a chance to taste their specialty – the Kanga Reuben, which has corned beef cooked for six hours and the following mouth-watering ingredients:

2 Slices of Dark Pumpernickel Rye Bread,

2 to 4 Slices of Swiss cheese,

4 oz. of 1/8 inch Cut Slices of Corned Beef,

2 oz. of Sauerkraut,

1 oz. of Thousand Island Dressing.

And I celebrated our visit with a rare Hamms on tap while Janet and Pam had a Summer Shandy from Jacob Leinenkugal Brewing.  The Coyote has a great patio adjacent to the lake with a volleyball court and would be a great place to hang out any afternoon. 

The view from the patio

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cornerstone Pubour final venue in Door County was this neighborhood-type bar right in the heart of Bailey’s Harbor on the shore of Lake Michigan, which also gave Janet a chance to dunk her feet in this famous body of water for the first time. 

The Cornerstone in Baileys Harbor

A nice selection of beer included Spotted Cow a cloudy farmhouse ale from New Glarus Brewing which is only sold in Wisconsin according to Matt our bartender – a nice guy.   Reviews of this place are good as typified by this 2/27/17 Yelp submission:

“The Cornerstone is solid as a rock.  Happy folks serving really good quality pub fare. Clean and cozy. Partial views of Lake Michigan – outdoor summer seating. Locals and visitors love it. Can’t go wrong.”

And while you are in Door County, you have to experience a fish fry, for which almost every bar or restaurant takes pride and asserts that theirs is the best.   People liked the Cornerstone’s:

Matt talks about Spotted Cow beer

“Perch on the porch – look at Lake Michigan.” – “Man oh man… tonight I had the Whitefish Basket and it was great.  I never saw so much of the fish I love on one order.” 

“There were several fish fry options to choose from, including perch, haddock, whitefish, shrimp, or the Door County Fry which include a piece of perch, haddock, and whitefish…..The fish was all cooked perfectly and appropriately seasoned. “  

And by the way, you should also add fried cheese curds to your list of consumables – maybe not the same night as the fish fry, but while you’re in the Badger State.

Eagle Bluff Lighthouse

The next day it was a hike in Peninsula State Park to work off the beer and onion rings – a nice jaunt through wooded splendor, a stop at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and then a meal at the “famous”  Al Jonhson’s Swedish Restaurant in downtown Sister Bay, which was okay but when we return will be far behind AC Tap on our preferred list.

As we were walking down the main street of Sister Bay to the restaurant, we turned a corner and there was former Portland Trailblazer, Joe Pryzbylla and his wife walking by.  Pam is a season ticket holder and Blazer Ambassador and she and I immediately recognized him (hard to miss at 7 feet one inch).   She said “Hi” and thanked him for being the enforcer during his seven seasons with the Blazers.

Former Portland Trailblazer, Joe Pryzbylla

The one thing that was interesting about Earl Anderson’s  was their sod roof, which had a goat chomping on it.  (There was an explanation of how they get the creatures up there in the restaurant.)

Cheap labor for lawn maintenance at Al Johnson’s

Our week in Door County was superb and we headed back for a final night in Milwaukee before returned to O’Hare for the flight home.  Next up –“Beerchasing in Wisconsin – Part III.”

Americana at its best…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beerchasing in Wisconsin – Part I

The sunset in Sister Bay, Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a beautiful state, most notably Door County, which is in the northeast part of the state and borders both Lake Michigan and Green Bay.  My wife and I were fortunate to spend a week there with my sister-in-law, Pam, in June – in Sister Bay, a charming little burg of 876 residents, but which hosts year-round tourism in what some refer to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” 

The Cape Cod of the Midwest…

It is the land of bays, beer, brats, churches and cheese.   I can’t understand why Hillary Clinton was reluctant to return during the 2017 Presidential campaign, but that’s another story and one left best ignored when chronicling Beerchasing exploits.

Milwaukee – historic ambiance with modern energy

After a smooth flight from Portland to O’Hare, we rented a car and drove from Chicago to downtown Milwaukee the first night – Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

And the city, which we both really liked, has a lot of historic ambiance, but bustling energy and was hopping that weekend. Milwaukie is an  old and renowned beer town – for many years touted as “The beer capital of the world.”

According to Beerhistory.com, “……indeed, the city has been home to some of America’s largest brewers — Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, Blatz.” 

The historic Pabst Theater

The website states that factors such as abundant water, availability of raw materials such as hops and barley, cheap labor and even loads of ice from Lake Michigan were not responsible for the City’s preeminence in the sudsy brew.  Rather, it was a combination of factors including savvy business people with a vision and who expanded sales to outside markets and this very interesting bit of information:

This fire helped make Milwaukee the beer capital of the world

“Proximity to the large beer-consuming population of Chicago — and the easy and inexpensive lake transportation thereto — was always a boon to Milwaukee’s brewing industry.

For example, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 boosted sales of Milwaukee breweries enormously. Schlitz’s frequent shipments of beer to the devastated city earned it the slogan, ‘The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous.’ Schlitz enjoyed a 100 percent jump in sales immediately after the Chicago fire.” 

First Brewery in the city

We arrived in the early evening and scouted Water Street – adjacent to the Milwaukee River for a good place to eat and a craft beer although some Northwest skeptics warned us that craft beer in Milwaukee is a “mug of PBR with an orange slice adorning it…..”

The Water Street Brewery was our first stop and one that was interesting for its history and its beer memorabilia – including collections of beer cans (50,000 of which 6,000 are featured in 25 displays), 1,400 tap knobs, 2,300 coasters, 825 bottle and can openers, etc.)

One of twenty-five displays of beer cans

The micro-brewery, opened in 1987, was Milwaukee’s first according to the “Water Street Journal”:

The bottle opener collection – all 825 of them

“The city’s first modern “brew-pub” – with six gleaming copper vats to brew beer for tavern patrons opened Wednesday…..the building dates back to 1898…..

Demand for Water Street Brewery beer was so strong that in the first six months, brewing capacity was increased by 50%…..At the time there were only 16 brew pubs across the US…”

We had excellent beers and great food – bratwurst and spaetzle dumplings included.

My affinity for dive bars was accommodated by walking only one-half block from the brewery with two adjoining bars – Scooter’s Pub and Duke’s on the Water.  Janet is not a fan of dive bars although she acquiesced when I told her I had to take advantage of Scooter’s special – drafts of Miller Genuine Draft in a large plastic cup for a buck!

Perhaps because of the weekend, the bars were more genteel and had an enthusiastic diverse crowd that night unlike this Yelp review (2/3/16):

“Aside from a hot bartender there were no women on this side of this odd bar connected to another bar on the other side which is called Dukes.

Responding to the demand for $1 draft beers…..

That side had many more people and few women ventured to Scooters and from judging and looking at the bro’ crowd I could see why. the dudes in here were both drunk and dumb and rude. The place seemed pretty shabby and the lone bartender was overworked providing fair service.”

—–

The crowd was fine and I downed my MGD and we were  on our way.

A lively crowd at Duke’s

Lambeau Field – Home of the Green Bay Packers


The next day, we decided to take a short side trip on the way to Sister Bay, so we could see Lambeau Field in Green Bay – the famous home of the Packers.  Now Green Bay, with a population of a little over 100,000 is known as Title Town USA in light of the thirteen NFL championships, the most of any NFL city.

Toilet Paper Capital of the World – the other title Green Bay has under its belt…….

And Green Bay, does not have much else besides football, except for a few meatpacking plants and it probably doesn’t brag about the city’s other title – “The Toilet Paper Capital of the World”:

“…..Green Bay, home to the Quilted Northern brand. In 1901, Northern Paper Co. produced its first tissue. Named Northern Tissue in 1902, the product became splinter-free in the 1930s, two-ply in the 1960s and quilted in the 1990s.” (American Profile 1/14/2007)

Hinterland Brewery – almost across the street from Lambeau

And as expected, there were two breweries within a short radius of the stadium.  The first, Hinterland Brewery had just relocated to a sparkling new building across the street from the stadium although it does have an older gastro-pub in Milwaukee. The brewery originally opened in 1995 in an old meat-packing facility.

Twelve of Hinterland’s own and twelve guest taps

It has a gleaming interior with a display kitchen, two large wood-burning fireplaces for those cold Wisconsin days and a great patio. We tried two of the twenty-four beers on tap –  Hinterland’s own Cherry Wheat Ale and the Nitro IPA  which the bartender told us was brewed with Oregon Simcoe hops.

A short drive down Vince Lombardi Ave. to the corner of Holmgren and Reggie White Ways….and we hit the massive parking lot for the Badger State Brewery.   On game days, the parking spots are only $20 if one patronizes the brewery – a great deal!

Our bartender, Josh, was friendly – as were all the staff we talked to in the Wisconsin bars and breweries – and recommended the On Wisconsin Red Ale

(“This red ale has a beautiful color given by the various caramel malts which also contribute a nice sweetness. All-American hops add light flavors of orange zest to the beer. Sweet – Fresh – Rustic – Hoppy.”)  Since we had just partaken at Hinterland, we split this one and liked the color and taste.

Josh reviewing the beers on tap with Janet

We drove the ninety miles to Sister Bay through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside – the flat terrain was a real contrast to our mountainous Oregon topography.

Water Street Brewery     1101 N. Water Str.  Milwaukee

Scooters Pub      158 East Juneau Ave.    Milwaukee

Dukes on the Water    158 East Juneau Ave.  Milwaukee

Hinterland Brewing    1001 Vince Lombardi Ave.   Green Bay

Badger State Brewing      990 Tony Canadeo Run   Green Bay

Buffalo Bill’s Saloon – A Haven in the Hamlet

photo-jan-26-1-46-07-pm

photo-jan-26-12-08-50-pm

Buffalo Bill’s

While there have been very few bars I’ve visited which have been disappointing in the five and one-half years on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns or Pubs, there are less than a handful in which a visit and the experience transcend that above all the others.

Lunch at the Central Pastime

Lunch at the Central Pastime in Burns

They simply radiate charisma and character – maybe it’s the combined personality of the regulars, the bar’s story or history, the tales of the staff and the bartenders along with the trappings that convey an ambiance that one wants to bottle.

Whatever the composition, it is an abstract presence that draws one in and makes you want to stay.

The Embers - on Main Street in Joseph..

The Embers – on Main Street in Joseph..

Such was the case with the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns, the Embers Brew Pub in Joseph and Charlie B’s – an historic  Missoula, Montana bar and finally, the Stanley Idaho Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon.  (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/)

Charlie B's in Missoula

Charlie B’s in Missoula

You will note that these all are located away from the major metropolitan centers of the US.

They tend to be in the rural or  “frontier” regions and reflect what noted historian Frederick Jackson Turner articulated in his essay “The Significance of the Frontier on American History” – the Frontier Thesis.  More on this below…..

Well, I have good news for my Beerchasing friends in Portland.  You can experience this type of venue without packing up and embarking on a road trip to another western state or even having to head east across the Cascade range.

Jackson Street - great in th 60s

Jackson Street – great in the 60s

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The entrance to the Beavercreek campus…

Thebeerchaser’s high school alma mater is Oregon City High School – now located on S. Beavercreek Road in the more rural area south of Oregon City and only 18.3 miles from the Tugboat Brewery – one of my favorite pubs in the heart of downtown Portland.  (Okay, when I attended OCHS in the ’60’s, it was on Jackson Street right in OC proper)

—————–

If one then continues south on this rural road another 2.9 miles – only about five minutes – you arrive in the Hamlet of Beavercreek  one of only four such jurisdictions in Oregon.  And at intersection of Leland and S Beavercreek Road,  you will come across the bar called Buffalo Bill’s (hereafter BB’s)  Note:  As will be referenced below, the bar has recently returned to its roots and is now officially named the Beavercreek Saloon.

1966 Oregon City Classmate at the entrance for lunch

1966 Oregon City Classmate, Dave Larson, at the entrance for lunch

In the 2010 census, Beavercreek had a population of 4,485 and consists of:

“……a small grocery store, post office, café, tavern, hair salon, drive up coffee, veterinary clinic, automotive shop, gas station, well drilling business, a grange hall and a newer fire department not far down the road.” (Yelp 4/16/15)

“In the summer of 2006, the citizens of Beavercreek voted to become Oregon’s first hamlet, a system of quasi-government which exists in Oregon. A final hearing by the board of county commissioners on the formation of the hamlet took place in September 2006, and officially recognized the community as the Hamlet of Beavercreek.”       (Wikipedia)beavercreek-hamlet

Now admittedly, on the outside, BB’s is nothing special.  It’s entrance is nondescript and it’s surrounded by a very large parking lot with scads of pick-ups and large SUVs – most of which are work vehicles rather than just recreational.

photo-jan-26-12-09-05-pmBut a step through the door is transformational.  You will see buffalo head and trophies from hunts of elk, antelope and deer hanging from the wall plus the skilled taxidermy of bobcat and brown bear along with interesting western memorabilia and farm equipment ranging from traps, old whiskey bottles, cowboy gear and numerous western pictures including one of  the namesake, Buffalo Bill Cody.   photo-jan-26-1-32-28-pm-2

And these items are not tacky knockoffs.  They are spaced to enhance the ample spaces which house a number of larger tables and booths.  For the sports-minded, they have a number of wide-screen TVs – including the NFL Ticket – but these don’t interfere with the ambiance. There is also a cool horseshoe bar immediately in front of the entrance which is where they have thirteen beers on tap.   photo-jan-26-1-32-41-pm

Although the lunch crowd was more staid, this Friday night was rockin’ and there were groups playing pool at the two pool tables, couples sitting at the bar and almost every table was occupied by the end of the evening – everyone appeared to having a good time.

Frederick Jackson Turner -

Frederick Jackson Turner –

Now as mentioned above, Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis asserted that:

“….the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character…..This  produced a new type of citizen – one with the power to tame the wild and one upon whom the wild had conferred strength and individuality.  The forging of the unique and rugged American identity.”  (Wikipedia)

That night, I had the pleasure, at dinner, of spending two hours talking to a fascinating guy – the owner – Patrick Whitmore.   I think JF Turner would have enjoyed meeting Whitmore too – born and raised in Beavercreek – and hearing about his life since graduation from Molalla High School in 1957 since he epitomizes the individual embodied in Turner’s work.  More about him below.

Our crew that Friday night.

Our crew that Friday night.

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

One of the great attributes of BB’s is the food – quality, quantity and price and perhaps a quote that night from Patrick, reaffirming my sentiments about his character.

 

Two of our party ordered salads rather than the hamburgers which captivated the rest of us.   We had already made comments about the prices being so reasonable – for example, a 1/3 pound cheeseburger with a bunch of fries for $9.00 – (A happy-hour – burger is $4.50……)

But then our server, Christal, brought the salads – one was a cobb and the other a chef and a collective gasp broke out – literally! They were gigantic and filled with good stuff – all for the price of $10.50 and 9.95 respectively.  One of the guys in our party who is a small businessman, asked Patrick rhetorically, “How can you make any money when your prices are so low and your food so plentiful and good??”

Enough for a convention of vegetarians....

Enough for a convention of vegetarians….

Patrick’s immediate rejoinder was, “Well, we may not be making a lot of money, but we’re making a lot of friends.!”  (He was correct about making friends that evening and I think beyond that Friday and he is also a savvy businessman).

The enthusiasm for the new venture was pervasive with staff as well.   We had excellent service by Christal and the bartender.

People enjoyed the French fries and Patrick commented about how he personally inspects the potatoes based on his farming experience to ensure the quality.

And what did our host have that evening?  One of the new specials on the menu – steak and lobster – that and prime rib are Friday and Saturday night specials along with “all-you-can-eat catfish” every other Thursday for $9.95.  The other Thursdays feature bacon-wrapped meatloaf for $14.95.  I noted that when it was time to settle up, Patrick paid for his dinner rather than have it “on the house.”  His cousin, Jerry, told me that this was to be fair to his partner in the venture.

Steak and lobster - but not on the house....

Steak and lobster – but not on the house….

Now, you can also choose to have breakfast or lunch at Kissin Kate’s Cafe, adjacent to and connected with BBS.  The corned beef and hash looked pretty inviting and the breakfasts get very good reviews:

“Homemade breakfast, my husband loves their Corn beef hash. Denver omelet, light and fluffy. Great food and a must try.”  (Trip Advisor – 1/23/16)

Power breakfasts....

Power breakfasts….

As I mentioned previously, I had lunch there the same week with three of my classmates from Oregon City High School – the class of 1966.   All of us also were pleased with the reuben, turkey wrap and burgers we devoured – and the French fries still passed the test with flying colors.

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation - Larson, Benski and Daiker

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation – Larson, Benski and Daiker

The aforementioned also gives me a chance for a quick “shout out” to OCHS for it’s 94% on-time graduation rate last year – top in the state.

A follow-up story by the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond, entitled, “At Oregon City High School, teachers showing students they care has made a huge difference – When Actions Equal Words” also told a compelling story about the community of teachers and students led by Principal, Tom Lovell.  

Principal Tom Lovell

Principal Tom Love

“Oregon City’s on-time graduation rate rose by 5 percentage points to reach 94 percent, including 91 percent among low-income students. That’s an accomplishment unmatched by the 40 other big high schools in the Portland area.”

I met Tom last summer when he agreed to meet with me to provide some statistics about the school that I could use for our 50th reunion – a great and charismatic guy – I can understand why he and his team have achieved the results. 

Kelly and Patrick - plans for the future..

Barbara and Patrick – plans for the future..

Besides making major changes to the menu, they have also updated their computer system and it was interesting hearing Patrick and his friend, Barbara Brooke, who is the General Manager, talk about some of their future dreams for the place.

 

These include having an expanded selection of beers on tap, a new web-site, remodeling and changing the name back to the original “Beavercreek Saloon.”  (I have a feeling that the photo of Buffalo Bill will still be present……).

A permanent fixture.....

A permanent fixture…..

And since it is a compelling story, a little bit more about Patrick Whitmore.   After high school graduation, he completed an apprentice course in sheet metal work and left the family farm to work for Boeing in Seattle.

Seeing the manner that many of the workers were treated by the big corporation when the economy went south, after twenty years, he decided he wanted more control over his own destiny.   He and a friend returned to Beavercreek and grew potatoes (one reason he takes particular interest in the quality of BB’s French fries.)

They soon needed a structure to house their product so they built a pole barn with a sheet metal roof – one that Patrick’s neighbor wanted replicated on his property.  He and his partner formed a successful construction company and did work for Clackamas County.   The scope of their work expanded and ultimately led to the formation of Morrison Construction which does residential and commercial construction including apartments and condominiums.

Jerry Calahan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

Jerry Calavan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

This Beavercreek native, turned entrepreneur, has also been involved in a number of other enterprises and is active in civic affairs as well.  You will also be able to find him and Barbara on the slopes of Mt. Hood during ski season in their “spare time.”

photo-feb-03-7-50-45-pmThey have enthusiastically set a course for their new vision and take a drive in the country to check them out.  I typically quote from some of the more interesting reviews and comments on social media when writing these narratives, but given the changes that have occurred in the last six months, they will be largely omitted this time due to the short transition. Let’s finish with the two below which I think sum up the situation aptly:

“If you make it out to Beavercreek stop in – the food’s really good, service was excellent with a friendly atmosphere… I heard that it was under new management and wow it really shows.”  (Facebook 10/22/16)

“Great place. Super fun. The new owners are a breath of fresh air. Ill be back !!”  (Google two months ago)

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Unfortunately, we left before the karaoke started at 9:00 (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), but it was a great cap to the evening to hear the disc jockey warming the crowd up with Alabama’s “Down Home”   BB’s also periodically features local country-western groups with live music.

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Buffalo Bill’s Saloon and Kissing Kate’s Cafe

The Beavercreek Saloon

21950 S Beavercreek Rd           Beavercreek, OR 97004