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.”

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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

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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)

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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

 

There’s No Prohibition — Visit the Nineteen 33 Taproom

1933-81933-9

 

 

 

 

 

The Nineteen 33 Taproom is a nice little bar in the historic Willamette section of West Linn, with an impressive selection of beers on tap, a nice menu including Happy Hour specials and live music once each week.

Now, you could also hit bars with the same name (or at least built around the “1933” title) in Bakersfield, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Dallas, Clearwater Florida, Ruleville Mississippi, Cantonville Maryland and even Utica New York.

raid_at_elk_lake

Police raid at Elk Lake (albeit in Canada, you get the idea….)

So why do so many US bars adopt this moniker?  It’s not their address.  1933 (December 15th specifically) is, however, a reference to an important year in US history, especially in the chronology of distilled spirits.

That’s because it was the year in which the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution – the legal basis for Prohibition adopted in 1919 – was repealed and replaced (those words have a new connotation…) by the 21st Amendment.  The latter is the only one of twenty-seven to be ratified for the specific purpose of repealing another amendment.  And most people think this grand social scheme was a failure including the infamous, Al Capone, who opined – probably while in prison…:

“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.”

And Oregon was even more conservative than the rest of the country…….

“On November 3, 1914, the Temperance League won their victory—Oregon voters passed a state amendment prohibiting the sale, manufacture, or advertisement of alcohol in the state. On January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment went into effect and the rest of the country joined Oregon in restless temperance.” (Portland Mercury 1/22/09)

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Historic Gerbers 1933 in Utica

Historic Gerbers 1933 in Utica

Probably, the most notable of the 1933 bars in the list of cities above is Utica’s Gerber’s 1933 Tavern, which:

“…. is an historic speak easy restored to its original luster. The tavern was vacant for nearly 40 years before it reopened in April 2013. We strive to operate the tavern as it would have been nearly a century ago. The building that houses Gerber’s has a rich and varied history. It’s been a Tobacco shop, produce store, café, fish fry, saloon and more.”

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But back to the 1933 Taproom in West Linn.   Owned by Vince and Lisa Strafford, who evidently also own two Portland pizza restaurants, it is in a non-descript block in which one almost doesn’t notice that it is a bar.

It has a nice dark and quiet interior – this is not a bar where you are going to see a jovial and raucous group of regulars, but just friends sitting at a few tables having one of their thirty-three beers and two ciders on tap, a glass of wine or some interesting craft cocktails.

You can also listen to tunes by local musicians each Thursday from 6:00 to 9:00.img_20160804_192351

Happy-hour is from 4:00 to 5:00 each week day, 2:00 to 5:00 on Saturdays and all day on Sunday.

They have some great happy-hour small plates and the best option appeared to be the 1/3 pound burger at $6 with a heaping batch of fries for another $2.  You can also take a buck of your beer or glass of wine – beer ranges from $5 to $7 for a pint at regular pricing.

Superb burgers

Signature burgers…

We missed happy hour and the food is a tad bit expensive, but of notable quality and presentation.  Jamie Magnusson had an outstanding $12 Prohibition Burger (“local certified Angus beef, caramelized onions, aged cheddar, peppercorn dijonnaise, pancetta, tomato.  Served with fries.”

Ryan Keene had the Romano Burger – also $12 (“local certified Angus beef glazed with balsamic, basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella and roasted tomato aioli. Served with fries.”

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A lot of crab with the mac & cheese

My macaroni and cheese with white cheddar and crab for $14 was the best dish of its kind I had in 2016.

And we should talk about their beers because the selection is robust and the staff is both friendly and knowledgeable and more than willing to let you sample until you hit the one you want – an option missing in many bars these days.

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Ryan, Madeline (a great server) and Jamie

“The waitress offered fantastic suggestions for the numerous local beers on draft.  She knew every detail about each beer and offered to let us try multiple samples.”  (Yelp 11/6/16)

On my second trip, my old friend and retired investment guru, Chet Dato, rode up to meet me on his Harley.  When drinking beer, Chet is a stout fan (his favorite is Avery Brewing’s Tweak (16% ABV) and Uncle Jacob (17.1% ABV), both of which are not generally available in Oregon (and two pints of which would put you under the table…….!)

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Chet telling stories to a captivated Kevin……

So after talking to our amiable and helpful bartender, Kevin, he decided on the Top O’ the Feckin Morning from nearby Feckin Brewing in Oregon City.  He thought it was a very good stout although at 8.5%, pretty tame in comparison with the Avery brews.

Nineteen 33’s diverse tap list allowed me to try a Sun River Brewing Vicious Mosquito IPA, (7% ABV and 70 IBU)which since I was current on my inoculations, I did without reservation.  (“This hop attack is coming at you like the vicious mosquitos at our nearby Cascade Mountains.”)

photo-jan-26-4-25-40-pmBy the way, Chet’s bike is a Harley Davidson 2001 FatBoy, which he points out is the bike that Arnold Schwarzenegger rode in Terminator 2.
He and his wife average about 15,000 miles a year (national average is 3,000) and have ridden as far east as Detroit Michigan and south to Tombstone and all the states in-between.
Chet and wife on road trip

Chet and wife on road trip

And you will see why from the photo below, Chet reminds me of one of the other quality biker guys I met while Beerchasing – this one in Lincoln City at the Old Oregon Saloon.
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On that summer day in 2014  when he walked in after his bike trip up from San Francisco,  the Old O bartender told me that Irish Mike McKenna is the bar’s “Local Ambassador.”  For the full story, which is kind of amusing, see the post below:
Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/

The Nineteen 33 Taproom scores very well in social media reviews.  For example, this excerpt from a very long, but well written Yelp review on 9/6/16:

“Do not go to the Nineteen 33 Taproom.  Seriously, I want this place all to myself.  Comofortable old English style taproom with a bit of whimsy.  A class act bartender that was down to earth, professional and could make a mean dirty martini.

The small menu leaves you wanting to order everything off of it.  The person who designed the menu loves food with a passion.  It is a wisp of Italian, southern comfort and an obvious fetish for tasty treasures from the sea.  I did not hesitate on the prices once I tasted the food….The food was excellent.

Tapping a keg

There is a secret to this taproom.  Everything seems perfectly placed, the food seems perfectly prepared, the staff seems perfectly charming, the beer seems perfectly organized and this taproom is now perfectly my number one destination in West Linn.”
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One notable exception to the positive reviews was from this curmudgeon from Oregon City.  And I will quote part of his 2/6/16 review only to demonstrate that some people appear to have no sense of perspective when they get on the internet.   (As you read this, keep in mind that this same guy, gave only one or two stars – out of five – to six of the last nine Yelp reviews he auhored):
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Out of context????

“Then I started picking up on things. If you are going to go for a 30’s theme, how about some consistency? I think the digital boards take away from the look. The theme they use for these boards make them nearly worthless anyhow. Very basic. If you are going to use digital boards…..use the system everyone else seems to have. It is interactive and friendly on the eyes. (Note: Their system was fine and helpful in selecting a beer.)

Now, another ‘Why?’ If you are a ‘Taproom’ why do you have liquor? I can understand a couple types of wine on hand. But a basic bar is just confusing. You don’t have a taproom, you have a bar. (Note: “Confusing” – Are you kidding me???)

Then the music keeps changing over to different genres, or categories. Adult contemporary, 90’s? and some other basic non-offensive channels. But again, it is digital. Maybe I am too stuck on the decor/theme aspect, but it was just segmented and awkward. Then to top it off, a Kramer poster in the restroom. Not a painting, but a framed Seinfeld poster. 
(Note: Perhaps this guy needs to have a serious face-to-face chat with Chet or Irish Mike to gain some perspective.”)

img_20160804_192149Now people are entitled to their own opinions, but in light of that absurd, fastidious diatribe, I’ll end this post with what I consider a more valid description from a Nineteen 33 “regular.”

“We have gone to Nineteen 33 more than a dozen times, Food is always great and drinks are prefect, service is a 10+. We go here once a week and have never been disappointed. Great tap selection too.”   (Yelp 6/5/16)  

There’s no Prohibition to stop you.  Visit Nineteen 33 soon and tell them Thebeerchaser sent you  — and try not to be disappointed with the Seinfeld poster.  It was placed there in honor of Art Vandely

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Nineteen 33 Taproom     1873 Willamette Falls Drive        West Linn

“Tails” of the Nauti Mermaid Beach Club

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Lincoln City is a great beach community with a number of memorable bars ranging from classic dives such as the Old Oregon Saloon, the Cruise Inn and the Nauti Mermaid Bar and Bistro, to more upscale watering holes such as the Snug Harbor Bar and Grill and Road House 101 Rusty Truck Brewery.  These were covered in several prior posts during a three-day journey on the Central Oregon Coast in which we visited fifteen establishments in three and one-half days in the coastal towns of Pacific City, Depoe Bay and Newport besides the aforementioned Lincoln City.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/            rusty-truck

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/10/20/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-ii-lincoln-city-and-pacific-city/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/11/13/the-finale-part-iv-of-thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast/

p1020711The original Nauti Mermaid Bar and Bistro, opened in 2011, was covered in the third post above and I was pleased to see and then visit the “new” (opened in July, 2016) Nauti Mermaid Beach House – an annex, of sorts only about one-half mile south of the original on Highway 101 – right by the D River – which is purportedly the “shortest river in the world.”

Bartender and owner, Tom Dreiske

Bartender and owner, Tom Dreiske, at the Beach House

Tom Dreiske, the owner and a transplanted Californian who now lives in the Roads End section of Lincoln City, told us when we visited the Beach House on a rainy December weekend that the space, which has a great view of the beach and formerly occupied by Wine 101, was just too good a deal to pass up.  He was pleased that during the winter months he is breaking even.

photo-jan-17-5-14-05-pmAnd there seems to be little question that with the ocean view, a robust tap list, a nice menu, a cool sunroom, and a sand-filled patio (14 yards hauled in) with another good mountain view to the east and which will have games such as cornhole, that his business should prosper — oh that’s right — don’t forget Dave, the canine mascot who keeps customers company.

The spacious sun room

The spacious Beach House sun room

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Now the original Nauti Mermaid is very “quaint” and has an interesting and idiosyncratic décor typical of any dive bar.

For example, the doors to the restroom!

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There are old 33  PM album covers hanging on the wall by the stage on what used to sit an old and valuable grand piano – a possession of the former owner who used to come in on the mornings and play classical nocturnes.2014-08-23-17-33-56

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Artistic Beach House counters

 

But back to The Beach House….It’s a very open and bright (when storms are not saturating the coast) and the counter tops have class, having been handcrafted by local artist and musician, Bryan Nichols who also owns the nearby Zuhg Life Surf Shop, where one can get surfing or guitar lessons and some neat custom apparel.

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Beach House Bar

Tom was very hospitable and offered us several samples to help us choose the right beer which we picked from about ten on tap.

I had a new one for me – a Red Seal Ale (winner of multiple medals in various brew competitions) from North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg, CA –  an interesting brewery operating since 1988 and whose flagship beer, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, has garnered its share of awards.  I would like to drink Red Seal again.  Janet tried her favorite – a Breakside IPA.

photo-jan-17-4-58-43-pmHe also was very accommodating and willing to share the story of both the original Nauti Mermaid and the Beach House, besides giving me a tour and explaining his vision for the bar.

Now all of the reviews in social media are for the original bar and confined to Yelp, but one common theme was Dave, the bar’s dog – owned by Tom and who frequents  both bars.

Dave!!!

Dave!!!

When we first saw him, he wandered up to us in a friendly and curious manner.  We asked Tom who owned the dog and with a straight face he stated, “He’s  just a local mutt who wandered in…”  We did a double take and Tom laughed and said that Dave was his companion.

And with one minor exception, people were positive about Dave, who evidently is a Bernese.  It’s worth noting, that a majority of the Yelp reviews mentioned this well-mannered canine:

“Great pub.  Friendly bartender,  good beer,  tasty nachos and a friendly local crowd.  The bar dog was not aggressive at all, just looking for treats not pets. Overall a good experience.”  (12/28/2016)

“The bartender (and owner, I presume?) was a nice guy with a dry sense of humor and a somewhat gruff personality…… Also, he brings his dog to work with him (the pup gave me a “kiss” on the cheek in exchange for a dog treat–aww)!”   (8/2/2016)

photo-jan-17-5-52-43-pmWe have been here several times and every time is wonderful. The locals are cool. The bartender brings his really cute (super chill) pup.” (6/8/2016)   photo-jan-17-5-52-33-pm

“Upon arrival we noticed the bar dog was part bernese (which is a breed we owened – sic) very aggressive and barked at several patrons plus us (out of towners) we found this to be a turn off along with the fact that the owner/Bar tender seemed to not care so good luck with that, I hope you have a strong local following!” (10/17/2015)

Now it is interesting that the reviewer above asserts that he “owens” a Bernese and that Dave was very aggressive.   Wikipedia describes this breed:  “dogs should not be “aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy”, but rather should be “good-natured”, “self-assured”, “placid towards strangers”, and “docile. “Affectionate, Faithful, Intelligent, Loyal.” 

Well maybe Dave had a bad day that October, but the preponderance of the evidence for an amiable countenance, including our experience, rests with the dog. 

“David, was such a sweet dog and we loved loving on him all weekend.  If you aren’t a fan of dogs, then maybe call ahead to see if it’s going to be there.” (2/28/15)

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The Beach House also has live music periodically and a good juke box.  When you’re in Lincoln City, drop by and then go up the street and visit the Nauti Mermaid Bar and Bistro, go across the street to the Cruise Inn, walk a few short blocks up 101 and have a $1.50 PBR at the Old Oregon Saloon and then take a taxi back to your hotel!

But before you leave the Nauti Mermaid Beach House say “hello” and come forth with a doggie treat for Dave.

 Nauti Mermaid Beach House          220 SE HIghway 101        Lincoln City

 

Beerchasing in California Part II – On to Yosemite….and then Murphys!

The awesome Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

The awesome Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Before driving our second day on the trip from Portland to Yosemite National Park, we stayed at the Sacramento Marriott Residence Inn on a Wednesday evening and as we walked into the lobby, we saw quite a few people with “Blue Angels” insignia on their apparel.   Sacramento was having an air show that weekend and the Blue Angels were obviously, the featured flyers.

Prestigious, but worth the cost??

Prestigious, but worth the cost??

Given the number of Navy personnel in the hotel associated with the prestigious military program (logistics, mechanics, flight and maintenance and marketing besides the five pilots),  it prompted me to check out the estimated cost to taxpayers each year for this group.  And it ranges from $40 million to $120 million assuming no aircraft is lost.

And flying for the Blue Angels can be a hazardous occupation. According to a June 27, 2016 opinion piece in the Pensacola News Journal http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2016/06/26/viewpoint-cut-blue-angels-federal-budget/86404042/.

They have lost 66 pilots/crew in training, air shows or transport accidents since inception in 1946, the last of which was this year.  Notwithstanding all the positive aspects of their performances and that of the Thunderbirds, their Air Force counterpart, it does raise some interesting policy questions about whether this part of the national defense budget could be more effectively deployed.

Rush Creek Lodge just outside the east entrance to Yosemite

Rush Creek Lodge just outside the east entrance to Yosemite

On to Yosemite through some beautiful country. Once we left I-5 in Corning and traveled the 256 miles to Rush Creek Lodge – not actually in the Park because all of those options were filled even though it was after school had started in September – but a beautiful new lodge just outside the west entrance.

Even with the throngs of tourists and Yosemite being in the midst of a road construction process that required multiple detours, seeing the majestic natural beauty was memorable.   In our two and one-half days there, we hit most of the highlights, El Capitan, the Half Dome and a hike down to the Tuolumne Sequoia Grove.

photo-sep-30-9-52-22-amThen another two-mile hike up (that’s no exaggeration) to the beautiful Vernal Falls.  We did that after our hike to the Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls revealed that during the summer and fall, these beautiful cascading waterfalls captured in many of Ray Atkinson’s beautiful photos dry up!

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Vernal Falls – spectacular and worth the hike!

We also enjoyed eating twice in the Rush Creek Lodge Bar where based on the bartender’s recommendation I tried two pilsners – one from California’s Firestone-Walker Brewery which was watery and very disappointing and the second, which was excellent, from the nearby Dust Bowl Brewery.

The Rush Creek Lodge bar

The Rush Creek Lodge bar

This picture of the famous Yosemite Majestic Lodge is evidence that the name is justified and they also have a very nice bar.

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Yosemite Majestic Lodge

 

 

 

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The Majestic bar

 

 

 

The upscale interior of the Majestic Lodge

The upscale interior of the Majestic Lodge

Janet acceded to my plea that even though the scenery had been beautiful , that we travel a different route to return to I-5 and the long drive north to Portland.   That proved to be a great decision.   We drove California Route 4 through what has been described as “The Next Napa” – numerous vinyards and wineries in a beautiful rural setting.

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

And then we went through Angels’ Camp, a little burg of 3,835 and the only incorporated city in Calaveras County, CA.

It’s where Mark Twain resided temporarily in 1865 when he wrote the short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calevaras County,” his first success as a writer.

A few miles farther and we came to Murphys California, another small town (or according to the Census Bureau, a CDP or “Census Designated Place”) with only 2,200 permanent residents.   Our timing was fortuitous, because it was the first Saturday in October and that means thousands of people converge on this colorful little town for the 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp.

Perhaps rather than moving to Canada, an option is to secede from California...

Perhaps rather than moving to Canada, an option is to secede from California…

Main Street was closed down and the throng inspected the booths lining both sides of the street ranging from artists and craftspeople, to wineries to advocates for the State of Jefferson – right across the street from a booth housing the Calaveras County Democratic Central Committee.  Jefferson seeks to form a new identity for northern California and southern Oregon.

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A stop in the historic Murphys Hotel and Saloon – first opened as a stagecoach stop in 1856 – and the Murphys Irish Pub – just opened in 2016 – showed that they were filled to capacity with those celebrating this festival which was the epitome of Americana.

Murphys Irish Pub

Murphys Irish Pub

Of course, the City of Murphys would have an Irish Pub....

Of course, the City of Murphys would have an Irish Pub….

 

 

 

We had lunch at Murphys’ Pour House and tried our second Dust Bowl Brewery – the Son of Wrath Double IPA, which as was the Dust Bowl Pilsner the night before, a good beer and one of sixteen the Pour House had on tap.

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Good lunch and beer at Murphys Pour House

Good lunch and beer at Murphys Pour House

 

Check out this link which gives background and history of the Grape Stomp  (http://www.calaverasgrapestomp.com/) and plan to make this a stop on a future road trip.  You won’t be disappointed……

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photo-oct-01-6-57-28-pmOur stay in Redding, Ca. capped out our last night on the road trip and a visit to another venue which typifies how microbreweries have become thriving enterprises and assets to their communities.

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Janet and our great server, Naomi

This one was Woody’s Brewing Company and our server, Naomi, although she had only worked there for about six months, was a wealth of information about their sixteen beers on tap (five of which are brewed in their 10 barrel operation on site at the brew-pub) and the history of the brewery.

The bar at Woodys was hopping....

The bar at Woodys was hopping….

Woody’s is another of the examples Thebeerchaser has chronicled and never tires of – a family (three brothers – Pat, Scott and Andrew Wlodarczyk) who fulfilled their dream:

Woody’s Brewing Co. is a dream of many decades that finally evolved from a love to consume and brew beer, to all other activities involved with it. We are a brewery that started out with three men’s passion to deliver good beer in a great atmosphere. We are believers of the do it yourself attitude and feel that mantra shines through in our high quality and artfully perfected ales.”

They started brewing in 1984 and although still a small operation, from what we saw, they’re still going strong and do good work helping Redding non-profit organizations.

Woody's has sixteen beers on tap.

Woody’s has sixteen beers on tap.

I had an Asian chicken salad and Janet had fish and chips – both of which got very good ratings.  And we definitely liked our beers – mine was Woody’s Apricot Wheat Ale and Janet tried their Teacher’s Aide – a robust amber ale.

Their food gets great ratings on social media and we echoed the sentiments of these two recent Yelp reviews:

“Good beer, quick friendly service, bar style food.
Nice “hidden gem” of a brewery”.
(September 29, 2016)

“Wonderful local brewery and eatery.  IPA is awesome! Great atmosphere downtown Redding and wonderful staff. A Redding must visit.”  (October 21, 2016)

After the drive through Shasta country, the Siskiyou Mountains and up I-5 with a short stop for a large ice-cream cone ((although now somewhat diminished and more expensive than what we remembered on long ago road trips) at the infamous K & R Drive Inn at the Rice Hill I-5 exit in southern Oregon, we made it back home.       601px-i-5_svg

And while Thebeerchaser is officially done with political campaigns and election results, I feel compelled to offer my own comment about our road trip in response to those who rile people up by denigrating America with negative bloviating about how we need to remake the US.

The Majestic Hotel in Yosemite

The Majestic Hotel in Yosemite

“While the US has many challenges and has not done an effective job in resolving a number of problems, we traveled more than 2,500 miles in five and one-half days through incredibly beautiful countryside on both interstate highways (with clean and impressive rest stops) and well-maintained state roads and county by-ways. 

We visited another one of our renowned National Parks – one of sixty-one in the Park system’s Centennial Year, a national treasure and where we interacted with citizens from many countries there to gasp at the splendid scenery.  

photo-sep-30-10-19-06-amWe marveled (in Yosemite and the other National Parks we have visited in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Montana, South Carolina and Washington in the last three years) at the the vision of leaders, politicians and citizens to preserve this bounty for future generations.  We even saw a pay-telephone in Yosemite.

Nostalgia reigns...

Nostalgia reigns…

Caldera Brewery

Caldera Brewery

 

Mugs were raised at small breweries – the end result of the  dreams of young entrepreneurs that grew into thriving businesses through hard work and business acumen.  We ate at bars and restaurants which demonstrated the enterprising talent and creativity of their owners and which employed hardworking and friendly people dedicated to serving the clientele.

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

 Wineries, rice and wheat fields,  dairy and beef cattle ranches, and orchards stretched for miles outside well-designed cities with urban growth boundaries preserving this agricultural resource.  We joined about 10,000 other people in a showing of pure Americana as we celebrated a local festival in a rural California community.        

Savannah - on our tour of Caldera Brewery in Ashland

Savannah – on our tour of Caldera Brewery in Ashland

And, of course, we cannot forget the wonderful people we met from Savannah, the restaurant manager at Caldera Brewery, to the National Park rangers, to the couple visiting from the United Kingdom who raved about the beauty of Yosemite, to Amanda, our outstanding server at Woody’s Brewery in Redding.” 

Cheers!

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Beerchasing in California – Part I – Sacramento

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A somewhat spontaneous trip to Yosemite National Park gave us the chance to visit a few interesting bars to add the Thebeerchaser’s inventory.   Our first night in Ashland, Oregon – near the California border- gave us the opportunity to check out what turned out to be one of Oregon’s finest micro-breweries – the Caldera Brewing Co.   Check out the post dated 10/24/16 for a full review which this outstanding Oregon business deserves.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/10/24/ashlands-caldera-brewery-now-thats-a-fine-kettle-of-beers/

The next day we stayed in Sacramento – right in the downtown core near the California State Capitol Building and a mall-type development which is in full swing and will enhance the Central Business District.

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name......

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name……

On a walk to explore the area and pick a restaurant for dinner, we came across “Dive Bar” on K Street.   Now Thebeerchaser loves watering holes with this description although my spouse, Janet, has an aversion to this type of bar.  2016-09-28-19-47-01

 

 

That said, it became obvious that Dive Bar had none of the characteristics of saloons in this hallowed category.  This quote from a Thrillist.com article entitled, “Signs You’re in a Fake Dive Bar” is worth considering:

“If a place is actually calling itself a dive by name, that’s a surefire sign that some hipster who’s never been in a real hole wanted to open a bar, but didn’t want to invest in a vacuum or nice lights. Lots of ferns, though. There’s always money for ferns. Most light should be provided by slightly broken neon signs, not something weird like an Edison bulb or, ugh, a window.”

Nor your standard dive-bar taps.....

Nor your standard dive-bar taps…..

This “dive” bar had only four beers on tap – all micro-brews with one from Oregon……but none of which bore the moniker PBR or Budweiser – standard brews for dive bar regulars. (I tried the tangy Otra Vex by Sierra Nevada Brewing and Janet, the Falcon Lagger  and we were pleased with both brews although more expensive than a PBR….

So I asked bartender,Jason, how the title of the bar was derived.   He immediately responded, “Take a glance upward.  You see that 7,800 gallon aquarium.  (To put in perspective, that would be about 1,006 kegs of beers…..) A few nights each week, we also have “mermaids” swimming in that tank.  Now do you understand how we got our name.?” 

When I say "dive", I mean literally.....

When I say “dive”, I mean literally…..

As further evidence their website states, “A typical dive bar denotes a few things in one’s mind: no frills, approachable, slightly dangerous, and a leftover relic from another era.

This version has refurbished brick walls, dark wood and upholstery and is a version of a bar from a different era: but with all brand new accoutrements.

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs...

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs…

 

Dive Bar’s lighting consists of Dimmable White LED flex tape, installed on each shelf, lighting the natural brick on the walls. The lighting systems were designed by Anthony Aristo of Lumatech Architectural.” 

Dive Bar also has an Executive Chef and you can pay extra for VIP privileges…..Case closed!!

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

There were no mermaids swimming that evening and it was a quirky but somewhat sterile, bar although based on social media, it is a hot spot in Sacramento night life.

Dive Bar has a head mermaid and mermaid trainer and you can even hire the  mermaids for your own party:

“Stunning Professional Mermaids and Mermen with years of swimming and underwater performance experience are available to enchant your guests with their playful spirits, beautiful a capella siren songs, water performance, prop work and so much more!”       Check out their website: https://www.gigsalad.com/dive_bar_mermaids_sacramento1

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Non-descript and boring exterior, but worth going inside..

Dinner that night was at Blackbird Kitchen and Bar a small restaurant/bar with a non-descript exterior, but with fifty beers on tap and a happy-hour fried chicken special that was outstanding.

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

We sat at the bar and our friendly server,  Dave, explained that they focus on local beers with 20 of these on tap.

Janet drank wine and I had a memorable  Double Down Imperial Red from Wildcard Brewing in Redding, California.

Then an after-dinner drink at Craft HF (Hock Farm Craft and Provisions) – one of the Paragary Restaurant Group’s establishment. (Fourteen in Sacramento)  This was a spacious bar with modern décor and an ample up-scale restaurant area adjoining.   Bartender, Blake, served us as we sat at the bar and was quite a marketing asset for the venue.   He was enthusiastic about their inventory of beer which we were surprised did not include any draft beers although they had a very robust collection of bottled and canned brews – most notably from California breweries.

2016-09-28-17-05-15He also talked about their specialty gin drinks and exotic cocktails, but we stuck to beer and had an “interesting” bottle of Briny Mountain Gose from  Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA:  “………boasts a thirst-quenching tartness that is perfectly balanced by subtle watermelon flavors and aromas.  Gentle additions of sea salt create a refreshing harmony between the acidity and fruity sweetness leading to clean, dry finish.”  (Who writes this stuff????)

Slick, but no beers on tap!

Slick, but no beers on tap!

In response to our question, “Why don’t you have any beers on tap?”   Blake replied very assertively,

“We believe in highlighting the unique taste of each beer.  The brewers specify the CO2 line pressure which should be maintained from the keg to the tap and it varies for each beer.  

Rather than compromise the taste by maintaining the same pressure for each draft beer, we opted to abandon drafts and offer bottles and cans.  We do have wine on tap directly from kegs because we go through enough wine each day in order not to compromise the product.”

Blake - nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

Blake – nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

(I checked with a reliable source who is an expert on breweries and he debunked that explanation as “blowing hot air.”

“After a short distance through the hose, drinkers cannot discern any difference based on the C02 pressure employed.”

Then back to the Marriott for the night before driving the rest of the way to Yosemite.  We did not have a drink there, but the hotel bar looked kind of interesting – at least as far as hotel bars go…… 2016-09-28-20-16-40

 

 

And one other interesting sidelight.  We were struck by the number of persons who had parkas or insignia with the Navy’s Blue  Angels in the hotel lobby.  Being a Navy veteran and having seen the Blue Angels fly when I was a NROTC midshipman in college, I was interested.

And we discovered on that Wednesday night that the prestigious aviation group was performing at an air show in Sacramento that weekend.  The Navy personnel were all very polite and looked sharp and they had designations ranging from “Maintenance” to “Air Frame” to “Logistics,” etc. (we did not see the actual pilots).  Given the large number of both male and female personnel who were obviously part of the contingent, made me curious and I did a little more research.

The Blue Angels - awe inspiring but raise some questions...

The Blue Angels – awe inspiring but raise some questions…

In these days of federal budget constraints, it’s probably fair to raise the question as to whether the annual budget outlay is worthwhile in light of other priorities.   According to Wikipedia (which admittedly may not be the most reliable source, but okay for a blog about bars…) the annual budget is $37 million although it begs the question, what does include or not include.

For example, a thought-provoking opinion piece from the Pensacola New Journal, entitled “Cut the Blue Angels from Federal Budget” authored by the son of a Navy captain who is also the brother of a naval aviator, asserted that based on the cost, the safety record and the environmental issues, the program should be discontinued.  He estimates that if accounting for all costs and amortizing lost aircraft over the years, the true figure approximates $200 million annually.

Wikipedia states that as of 2006, twenty-seven of the 262 Blue Angel pilots have died in air show crashes or training accidents.   The opinion piece above was prompted, in part, by the June, 2016 Blue Angel crash and death of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, in an airshow.

Something to consider, but we left Sacramento before the air show and headed for Yosemite National Park.  Stay tuned……

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The Half Dome at Yosemite

The Half Dome at Yosemite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beerchasing in Idaho – Part II – Stanley and the Sawtooths

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While those of us who live in Oregon are enamored with the beauty and variety of scenery in our state, a six-day summer road trip from Coeur d’aline to McCall and then to Stanley, Idaho convinced us that Idaho is not far behind.   2016-07-12-16-18-52

And Thebeerchaser was pleased that Idaho has some excellent and colorful bars, taverns and brew pubs that warrant visits by those traveling in the state – it’s nickname is the Gem State  more on that below……

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Our  initial stops in Coeur d’aline and McCall were documented in the last post dated 8/26/16 see the link: https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/08/26/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-i-and-the-dirty-shame-saloon-in-yaak-mt/

We followed the beautiful Payette River Scenic Byway much of the way from McCall to be greeted by the breathtaking Sawtooth Mountains surrounding Stanley.

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The Stanley Post Office

Our two and one-half day stay at the Redfish Lake Lodge – six miles south of  Stanley  –  was far too short.  Stanley, with a robust year-round population of 63 according to the 2010 US Census (down from 100 in 2000) is still a bustling community that describes itself as “A Playground for All Seasons.” 

Stanley has a colorful history as described in a Winter – 2010 Sun Valley Guide article entitled, “The Spirit of Stanley:”

“Every resident over 70 remembers by lore or memory when the main street offered gambling, fighting and dancing every night of the week in three clubs within 200 stumbling feet of each other.”

Outdoor enthusiasts in the spring and summer take advantage of hiking, kayaking climbing, cycling and boating.  The fall and early winter months host hunters, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers – that is until the weather becomes “extreme” given what the year-round residents assert is the coldest location in the U.S. I wanted to see how much of this was true and some basic research revealed it is no exaggeration.  Frosts can occur at any time of the year. There are on average 290 mornings in the year with frost (10 of them in July) and 60 nights that reach 0° centigrade. (Wikipedia)

According to a website https://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/coldest.php the statements are not puffery.   For example, “On any single day, the mountain town of Stanley, Idaho is most often the coldest place in the states outside of Alaska.”  From 1995 to 2005, it was the coldest place in the US outside of Alaska for 398 days – more than any other location.

As the young (25 years old), female Mayor, Hannah Stauts stated:

“Last winter (2009), it was 35 below for 39 hours…..Those without a wood stove or propane heat watched their toilets freeze and crack.” (“The Spirit of Stanley”)

The center of town.....

The center of town…..

And if one stands at the corner of Wall Street and Ace of Diamonds, Stanley’s main intersection, you won’t observe stock brokers heading for skyscrapers, but a bunch of Suburus, pick-ups and jeeps parked in front of the several bars, restaurants and hotels which were all bustling when we were there.  2016-07-12-20-18-01

 

 

I was enthused that Janet could join me on this return trip – the first visit was thirteen years ago on part of my sabbatical from the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, when I took  an unforgettable road trip through Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana.   And thanks to Brian “Brain” King, one of my Schwabe colleagues, who urged me to spend time at the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon (SRAGWS)  – one of the two dive bars that inspired me to start Thebeerchaser blog when I retired in 2011.   garth-randgun

Brain King in his Idaho duds......

Brain King in his Idaho duds……

Brian, when he served as corporate counsel in Boise, spent time in Stanley and told me on my 2003 trip, “You need to stop at the Rod and Gun Club Saloon and say hello to the owner and notable musician, Casanova Jack,”  And Jack did have a reputation throughout the west having at one time sung with Marty Robbins and his band.  And the bar has a colorful history: “Tall Mary, at 6-foot-4, ran the Rod and Gun Club with Casanova Jack, and a French woman served whiskey and great hot sandwiches all night long at the Kasino Club.”  (Winter 2010 Sun Valley Guide)

While visiting Stanley years ago, Brian even took the stage and was lead vocal on “Blue Suede Shoes” with Jack.  Of course Brian’s perfect pitch on such country–western classics as “She was a Bootlegger’s Daughter and I Love Her Still,” or one that is a favorite of legal clients everywhere, “If the Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know it was Me,” made him a natural to accompany Jack on stage at the bar.

brain-and-cheryl

Brain and colleague, Cheryl Rath, drinking Tecate at Billy Rays

I’m sure that Casanova Jack did not care that Brian was a lawyer  or that he would eventually co-author a scholarly environmental law book entitled Fundamentals of Environmental Management with stimulating chapters such as “Air Emission Inventory and Analysis” or “Ozone-Depleting Chemicals (ODCs).” (Environmental lawyers are not a real popular group in Idaho….)

No, notwithstanding his legal skills and erudition, Brain is a down-home – dive bar kind of guy.  I found that out in our last Beerchasing journey when he was downing Tecate Beers in cans at Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar in NE Portland.  (See post dated 8/9/16 https://thebeerchaser.com/category/uncategorized/dive-bars/.

Brian would not reveal the details of how he was refused service in one Stanley bar when knowing the state nickname, he innocently asked the bartender to “Show me your gems…..”

Thebeerchaser at the entrance to the Rod and Gun

Thebeerchaser at the entrance to the Rod and Gun

When I was first at the bar on Karaoke Night in 2003, I did ask if Casanova Jack was in and the manager told me that Jack had died in 1990.   The bar is now owned by his brother, Johnny Ray and his wife of thirty-eight years, Eve, who was also bartending while we were there.  Johnny Ray played the bass guitar and sang in Jack’s group and spent a good amount of time filling me in on his story and that of the bar.

Johnny Ray was born in Ogden and besides his musical and bartending career, was a truck driver for many years.   Fortunately, we did not visit in 2015, because they closed the bar for a good part of the year, while Johnny Ray “got a personal 100,000 mile maintenance check.”  He then quit cigarettes and also ended smoking at the bar – “I’m glad I made the decision rather than the government doing it for me.”   

A new friend and talented bartender.....

Johnny Ray – A new friend and talented musician and bartender…..

The( SRGWS) has a long bar and large room with a stage for entertainers and karoke. Johnny Ray is known as “Idaho’s Singing Bartender” and puts on a headset with a microphone so he can harmonize with the entertainers while he is bartending.

2016-07-12-18-52-22While Janet and I listened to wonderful  stories from Johnny Ray, a group of regulars that afternoon were sitting at one end of the bar talking with Eve and echoing similar disdain for the political establishment.  They were discussing the inability to purchase 22 caliber shells because the government is secretly stockpiling them at an unknown location.

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Instructions to one elected leader at the lower left….

The walls of the bar are filled with hundreds, if not thousands of one-dollar bills which patrons sign and are hung on the wall – I did one thirteen years ago and on this trip, stapled Thebeerchaser’s card onto another one which Johnny Ray promptly tacked to the wall.   One in particular I noticed would make both Republicans and Democrats blush at least a little.

We came back the next morning after having breakfast at the legendary Stanley Baking Company and Café because I needed some additional pictures and the bar was closed.

The bar is closed, but.... come on in!

The bar is closed, but…. come on in!

But after I knocked on the door, Johnny Ray, who was talking to one of his bartenders, let us in and chatted some more.   He is a down-to-earth and colorful guy and Eve, is also a fine lady.  If you visit Stanley drop in and say “hello,” with greetings from Thebeerchaser and look for my card on the wall.

We also dropped into the other bar in ‘downtown” Stanley – the Kasino Club, which was also a good looking and well-frequented bar with ample space for evening entertainment.   We wanted to say “hello” to Mikey – the friend of McCall Brewing Company’s Edgar and Louis, who we had met a few days before.  He is a bartender there, but both times we dropped by, he was not working.

The second hot-spot in Stanley

Kasino Club – the second hot-spot in Stanley

I also wanted to see it because I had heard that former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jay Waldron  on one of his rafting trips on the Salmon River ended up on the dance floor with no shirt and no shoes some years ago.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/03/29/jay-waldron-rugger-rafter-rider-and-lawyer-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Revelry at the Kasino Club

Revelry at the Kasino Club

After he realized his fellow rafters had abandoned him, Jay experienced one of the 0 centigrade nights on his mile and one-half trek back to their motel.  (He doesn’t remember why he ended shirtless and without footwear although it may have been because the bartender asked him to show her his gems….)

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The lines for the Stanley Baking Company and Cafe always start before it’s 7:00 AM opening and as we do at most bars, cafés and diners when we are traveling, we sat at the bar or counter because it is a great way to meet people.

This was no exception as we started chatting with personable, Becky Cron, the co-owner with her husband Tim, who we also met and was cooking their outstanding pancakes and waffles.

Becky, talking with Janet about her Oregon roots..

Becky, talking with Janet about her Oregon roots..

Becky, as did another person we met whose story is below, has an Oregon connection. She was from Eugene and started skiing as a teenager at Sun Valley.  In 1989, she decided to move to Idaho for the skiing and the outdoors and never returned.

She met her husband and they own the Bakery and are co-owners of the nearby Sawtooth Hotel – both very successful enterprises.   The hotel was built in 1931 and they renovated and reopened it in 2010.  In spite of how busy she was, Becky was very friendly and willing to chat with some visiting Oregonians.

Pancakes overflowing.....

Pancakes overflowing…..

And there was no question, the wait for their food was worth it.

The first evening in Stanley, we dined at the Redd Restaurant, a quaint diner – also with a small waiting line and Janet enjoyed a pasta dish while I  downed a scrumptious  bowl of lamb stew.

Redfish Lake Lodge

Redfish Lake Lodge

 

We stayed at the Lodge, built in 1929, for two nights, which had great rates and is in a beautiful setting.  It’s essentially a log cabin, has a spacious and popular dining room and a small, but very interesting bar.

2016-07-13-12-38-39 The next day, we took a boat ride to the end of Redfish Lake and went on a several mile hike along the ice-cold snow-fed streams running by the Lodge.   2016-07-13-13-30-44-hdr-2

Jen - in full control of her bar.

Jen – in full control of her bar.

 

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We met another colorful and unforgettable Stanley full-time resident – Jen Hettum – she referred to herself as “Crazy Jen.”  And Jen, a charismatic,  attractive and competent bartender, had that bustling bar under her thumb – she joked and chided each of the customers in a friendly manner and they loved it.  She was like a school-marm with a revolving classroom of hyperactive kids, who knew they better behave or Jen would rein them in.

Since the bar was so crowded the afternoon we first visited, I came back at 10:30 in the evening on a week night when the setting was more restrained and had a great chat when Jen after she poured me a Scotch and water.   When I gave her Thebeerchaser card and told her we were on a road trip from Portland, she immediately related her Oregon connection.

Former Portland Rose Festival Princess - now a Stanley resident

Former Portland Rose Festival Princess – now a Stanley resident

“I was a Rose Festival Princess from Franklin high school.   I came to work at the Lodge about twelve years ago and never left.”

She now has a ten-year old daughter and is active in Stanley civic affairs and takes her profession seriously.  In fact, the next week, she was attending a five-day national convention of “mixologists” in New Orleans, (Tales of the Cocktail) to which Jeff, the manager of the Lodge, was paying her way.

The bar was a reflection of Jen’s magnetic personality and as I sat at the bar, I watched a guy who was with several friends come over and compliment Jen and then ask her to come to a party with him after she got off after midnight. “Ain’t going to happen, Sweetie, but I’m flattered you asked,” she responded and then went to the other end of the bar to serve another party.

Of course, Jen, Johnny Ray, Becky and Tim all knew each other and probably socialize in mid-winter when Stanley essentially shuts down because of the cold weather.

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Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

2016-07-13-17-14-18To cap it off, we had an absolutely great dinner at the beautiful Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch (IMRM) about fifteen miles south of Stanley.   While waiting for dinner, we sat in rocking chairs on the expansive front porch with cocktails, admiring the beautiful mountains and forest.

We even got a bonus with a reading by Idaho author and Stanley native, John Rember, who read from his  memoir, Traplines – Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley.    Our server at dinner was one of the many wonderful young people hired at IRMR from all over the country.  She was from Boston and was starting college at the University of Chicago in the fall.

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Idaho author John Rember gives a reading

On my maiden trip to Stanley, I stayed at the Ranch and when I asked for directions to the SRAGWS, they replied, “We’re all going after dinner is done.  It’s Karaoke Night, why don’t you come with us.”   I told them that they didn’t want an old guy to bog them down and I would meet them there. When we later met, I bought the first round which loosened everybody up for a spirited talent night (even without Brian King…..)

The dining room

The dining room

After lamenting the brevity of our stay in Stanley, we left early the next morning after picking up two of Stanley Baking’s scrumptious and thankfully oversized cinnamon rolls.

We made the 552 mile trip home from Stanley in eleven hours with great Idaho memories.  Thanks, Becky, Tim, Johnny Ray, Eve and Jen.  We hope you have a great winter and will see you on the next trip.

Farewell Stanley...!

Farewell Stanley…!