“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….)

2016-07-13 11.05.17

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.

 

———

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.

2016-07-13-17-44-18

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.

2016-07-13-18-24-38

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…!

Beerchasing in Idaho – Part I and The Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Mt.

2016-07-09 10.29.10

In July, we had a chance to hitchhike a road trip onto the wedding of my niece, Brooke, and her fiancé, Matt near Coeur d’aline (hereafter CDA), Idaho. The wedding, held at a beautiful, rural setting in Altho, was wonderful and it gave us a great opportunity to spend a day exploring CDA and then several days on a subsequent road trip through McCall and then Stanley, in the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains.

Pam Williams and Janet at the entrance to the historic depot

Pam Williams and Janet at the entrance to the historic depot

And, of course, Beerchasing was part of this trip. The first stop was for lunch at the Ice Harbor Brewery in Kennewick, Washington.   Sister-in-law, Pam Williams joined us on the trip to the wedding.

The brew pub at the marina on the Columbia River is much newer and we checked it out, but opted for the more historic downtown location.

2016-07-08 11.13.08

Adam and Angelique discuss lunch options with Janet and Pam

It’s in an old train depot where you could still see remnants of an old fire on the ceiling and where each time a train passes by, rattling the place to its foundation, patrons have a chance to get a discount on beer based on the result of a spinning wheel on the wall.

P1040458

The “Train Discount” Wheel

Staffers, Adam, who worked in the brewery and Angelique, who was our server, were very nice, talked about the history of the brewery – opened six years ago. I downed their good Tangerine ExBeerience – a gold medal winner at the North American Beer Awards in 2011.

P1040455

The brewery at Ice Harbor

Coeur d’aline

The famous Floating Green - I need a drink.....

The famous Floating Green – I need a drink…..

While there is no question that CDA is a tourist mecca, the downtown has a lot of character. There are a few good brewery/tavern options and one can understand based on the famous Floating Green at the Coeur d’aline Resort where countless golfers have dunked golf balls in the drink, why they want to discuss the experience over a beer.

2016-07-09 10.49.35

Décor’ consistent with the theme at Chained Up

Taphouse Unchained – this new bar with a cycling theme was spotless and sleek and had interesting décor’. It had not opened for the day but Tai and Sarah, who worked there, let me in to take some pictures.

According to some of the social media reviews on Yelp, they are still working out some of the customer service kinks.

The Moose Lounge – for Thebeerchaser, the best bar option because it reeked of character and Tara, the bartender, besides being a very interesting and attractive woman, was a wealth of information.

Bartender, Tara, at the Moose Lounge

Bartender, Tara, at the Moose Lounge

She was originally from Las Vegas, but does not like big cities.  On her journey, which eventually brought her to Idaho, she worked at the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana – a notable dive bar which will be visited on another road trip.  (see note and pictures at the end of this post for more  interesting info on the Dirty Shame)

The Moose Lounge has  animal heads (and skins….) and classic beer signs hanging from the walls, American flags, tons of old memorabilia and a large space where bands play on many evenings.  They also have karaoke and a great Trivia Night. 2016-07-09 11.08.56

While I drank a draft Blue Moon, Tara also showed me the “Moose Mug” – a 34 ounce monstrosity.  The social media reviews of this quaint place are good and unfortunately, we were not there for an evening visit, but it would definitely be worth a stop.

She also told me that the Corner Bar, although off the main drag, was a dive bar worth visiting.

2016-07-09 11.08.21

The “famous” 34 ounce Moose Mug next to my pint of Blue Moon.

2016-07-09 11.27.46

 

 

 

 

 

The Corner Bar  – We made a short visit to this classic dive and the second-hand smoke would hold up the ceilings if a load bearing beam ever collapsed.  Evidently Idaho law still allows smoking in some bars although I did not attempt to analyze the idiosyncratic regulations in detail.

A dive bar where you can smoke inside

A dive bar where you can smoke inside

2016-07-09 13.20.54

 

 

 

 

Crafted Taphouse and Kitchen – we had lunch at the very popular and relatively new pub, which has a spacious patio in front, fifty beers on tap and great gastro-pub food. The seafood chowder was incredible.   Crafted reminded me a bit of the Ecliptic Brewery in Portland.  Great beer selection and good food, but a little too sleek and glossier than the dark ambiance of the Moose Lounge or any dive bar for that matter.2016-07-09 10.21.41

That said, based on their website they do take pride in their venture and distinguishing their establishment from others.  “Each member of our bar staff has formal Cicerone training.” (that could be more marketing than substantive training….)

Outstanding!

Outstanding!

 

I appreciated the sign below at the front of the patio, but I guess they did not follow this warning literally as we did not see any amped up kids wandering around and Humane Society volunteers were nowhere to be seen.  It did, however, make me wonder about the converse of the statement on the sign…..2016-07-09 10.22.34

2016-07-09 12.14.54

Fifty Beers on Tap at Crafted

The CDA Hotel Bar

The CDA Hotel Bar

Finally, we strolled down to the Coeur d’aline  Resort – a luxury hotel on the water, with a great golf course and other amenities.  The bar looked pretty spiffy as well although I’m sure one would pay premium bucks for a draft beer…2016-07-09 11.52.08

 

 

 

McCall

We spent the first night in the historic Hotel McCall – opened in 1904.  McCall still maintains its charm although the city has grown tremendously as a year-round tourist mecca. Some of the best skiing in Idaho takes place at Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort.  McCall dubs itself “Ski Town – USA.”

Rachael - a future architect.

Rachael – a future architect.

We talked to Rachael, a server in the very cozy, nook bar at the hotel, who was a delightful and sharp young woman – a recent Washington State graduate who will start her Master’s in Architecture at the University of Oregon in the fall.

We drank one of the outstanding Grand Teton 208 beers that we first downed on our trip to Wyoming last year and learned that the beer is named after the Idaho Area Code 208.  Perhaps the brewery will develop another “numeric” beer soon, as Rachel reported that Idaho would soon get a second area code.

The Salmon River Brewery

The Salmon River Brewery

The Salmon River Brewery is one of three in McCall and although the space is limited, was a nice venue with some good beer and outstanding fish and chips. It is adjacent to the Hotel McCall.

Like the Ice Harbor Brewery in Kennewick (above), our server, Cynthia, told us that it’s housed in an old railroad depot – their second location for the pub.  Salmon River was hopping on that Sunday night .  The fire pit is a nice feature and I’m sure appreciated by skiers in the winter and their art is also eye-catching.2016-07-10 18.16.12

Innovative art - this is a salmon.....

Innovative art – this is a salmon…..

 

 

 

 

Their PFD Pale Ale was a silver medal winner at the 2013 North American Beer Awards.  They  have about thirteen of their own beers plus a few rotating taps which makes a nice selection of eighteen drafts.

SRB - good selection of beers

SRB – good selection of beers

SRB has an Oregon connection as explained on their website:

“Salmon River Brewery’s Co-founding owner/brewer, Matt Hurlbutt has a direct family connection to the hop fields of Oregon’s famed Willamette valley. Matt’s sister Kelly, and brother in-law Monty are the owners and operators of Weston Bend Farms. The farm is named for the location, which is situated on the most westerly bend of the Willamette river.”

The next morning we drove around Payette Lake and walked through the compact downtown area.   Janet dropped into the Country Treasures Store to browse and was a little surprised by the request made by the staff.   The propietor asked my wife, Janet, if she would mind the store for about ten minutes while she went to the grocery and bought toilet paper.   I then walked in and may not have looked as trustworthy, as proprietor then said that she would make the trip at noon!

P1040462

On the Idaho trip, we visited three good breweries, but our favorite was clearly the McCall Brewing Company.   Perhaps it was their outstanding second-floor patio overlooking Payette Lake or the more spacious quarters.  Those factors helped, but it was the graciousness and charisma of the staff and owner which sent it to the top.  P1040465

It started with Carl, the bartender, who patiently let us sample multiple beers of the twenty-four they had on tap (of which ten are their own brews) and explained each beer and the history of the brewery.

Carl, the helpful bartender

Carl, the helpful bartender

Edgar, the brewmaster, although busy, met with me and stopped so I could take pictures.  He also hailed the owner, Louie, who was a dead ringer for Sam at Cheers (Ted Danson) and they both gave a tour through the micro-brewery – right in the middle of the building and slated to expand.

Edgar - Shouldn't a good brewmaster contemplate his craft?!

Edgar – Shouldn’t a good brewmaster contemplate his craft?!

Although it had not opened for the day, he took us up to the patio and explained the interesting tail of how he became the owner in 1994.

And their beer was superb, most notably the Hippie Hopped Pale Ale which has as it’s logo a VW Bus – one that brought back memories of my dad’s red and white VW in which we toured the US in 1959 and resulted in us moving from Ohio to Oregon.

Louie on the patio - we looked for Shelley Long but she was out....

Louie on the patio – we looked for Shelley Long but she was out….

Hippie Hop Pale Ale

Hippie Hop Pale Ale next to the model of my dad’s VW

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Our last day and night 2016-07-11 19.28.49 in McCall was a real treat for both Janet and me.  My Oregon State SAE fraternity brother, Gary Barton and his wife, Kathy, live in Boise, where Gary is an investment consultant, but have a cabin just outside of McCall.   P1040474

(Gary and I sat up late reminiscing about house dances, keggers, the highlights of his time on the OSU football team under Coach Dee Andros and our college nicknames – his was “Golden Boy” and I was (and still am) “Dirt,” which may be some comment on our respective social strata in Corvallis……

They picked us up and Gary, Janet and I took a beautiful four mile hike to Boulder Lake.  Kathy cooked a wonderful dinner and we took off for Stanley in the Sawtooth Mountains – about 150 miles away, the next morning after breakfast.

Trailhead to Boulder Lake

Trailhead to Boulder Lake

The scenery and the Barton hospitality were a treat.  2016-07-11 16.39.28-1

 

Supplemental Notes on the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana

dirty shame

One of the pleasures of my Beerchasing hobby, has been the people I’ve met and what should possibly be described as the “six ABV’s of separation” in what I will label the “beer and bar community.”  Examples abound – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dr. Sam Holloway from the University of Portland (see TheBeerchaser post on 8/25/15) an internationally traveled brewery consultant, is a good friend of The Beer Goddess – Lisa Morrison (see Thebeerchaser post on 4/9/15), also a prior Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  Another coincidence is that former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence and I all cherish $2 happy hour draft PBRs.

Those in the “fraternity,” appear to be collaborative and supportive rather than competitive to others in the business.  It may also give some insight why Thebeerchaser.com is primarily about bars – their history, the bartenders and the regulars – rather than a technical analysis of beer.

That was evident on the Idaho trip.  McCall Brewing Company’s owner and brewmaster (Louie and Edgar), both told me to look up their friend and former colleague, “Mikey,” when we went to Stanley, Idaho (my next Idaho post) where he now works in the Casino Club Saloon.  The McCall Brewing staff was also trained on their bottling machine by the staff at Ice Harbor Brewery (see above) in Kennewick, WA., home of the machine’s manufacturer.

Dirty shame 3Tara, the bartender at the Moose Lounge in Coeur d’aline told me she had worked in the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana (population 248 and the most northern community in Montana) and it was a wonderful dive bar.  When I finally got in touch by phone with John Runkle, the current owner, he remembered Tara and notwithstanding the fact that his cook was gone that day and he was manning the grill, spent time chatting about his bar.

And the Dirty Shame Saloon has an incredible history which may best be appreciated by reading the two articles from the links below:

“The Not-So-Dirty-Shame Saloon” by Bill Schneider from 8/17/09 Newwest.net

http://newwest.net/topic/article/the_not_so_dirty_shame_saloon/C41/L41/

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/members/biker-bar-bounces-back/article_8ee1d2a4-cfe6-11e2-9602-0019bb2963f4.html

Dirty shame logoJohn appeared to be a guy with whom anyone would love to raise a mug and he laughed when I told him that both the Dirty Shame bars in Garden Valley, Idaho and John Day, Oregon had identical names to the original Montana Dirty Shame establishment which has trademark and copyright protection.  The John Day version on the Facebook page labels itself as “It’s a Dirty Shame Saloon,” evidently in a misguided effort to get around the intellectual property legal issues, but still uses the abbreviated name on their building etc.

John, however, seemed to be the kind of guy who is more interested in preparing for the Yaak Crawdad Festival (which he originated), Yaak Attack and the Yaaktoberfest, than lawyering up. The Crawdad Fest was moved from the spring when John maintained it was “too butt-stinging cold…”

And you will see the Dirty Shame story continues to evolve.  In the first article, Bill Scheider talks about meeting the new owner, Don Belcher, and his wife of twenty-five years, Gloria, while on a Montana cycling trip.  It turns out that Belcher, who was 81 at the time of the article, was convicted in 2011 of molestation charges and sentenced to five years probation.  The bar went into foreclosure.

John, who also owns the Yaak River Lodge, and his former partner, Ray Falzone, both of whom were paratroopers in the Army’s 509th Airborne Infantry Battalion, invested a lot of capital to bring the bar’s plumbing and interior to par.  Dirty shame before remodel

“Over the years, the Dirty Shame earned a reputation as a tough biker bar……Locals said the most captivating stories about the Dirty Shame would be inappropriate for a family newspaper.  

 ‘When we came up here, we had to pull bullet slugs out of the wall,’ Runkle said. ‘One of the owners used to shoot pool balls off the table with his .357, you know.’”

I ended my phone call by stating that an ideal future Montana road trip would include a stay at his lodge (where you can get the Moose Room for $149 per night) during the Crawdad Fest and having a beer in the Dirty Shame after visiting the world famous Clinton Testicle Festival (“Testy Festy”)  which was August 3-6th this year. Or you could stay until Thanksgiving when veterans eat for free.

Of course, those events are in the summer and fall, but if the trip was in the spring, at least we could hit the Dirty Shame’s Adult Easter Egg Hunt.  Better get your reservations soon, however, Flathead Livng Magazine recently (6/10/16) named the Dirty Shame Saloon as a gem in its Brief manual for the off-the-beaten-path seeker of roadside burgers and beer!”  Dirty Shame easter egg

The World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon       Yaak, Montana

(Photos from Dirty Shame Facebook page used with permission of John Runkle)

 

Thebeerchaser in Montana and Wyoming – Part II

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Part I of our Montana and Wyoming trip in 2015 was posted on this blog this February.  It reviewed the wonderful bars in the city of Missoula – a great college town, but also one filled with bars laden with character and history among them Charlie B’s, the Oxford and the Stockman.

The Tetons

The Tetons

And don’t forget some outstanding breweries including Draught Works, Flathead Lakes and Kettle Mountain Breweries.  You can review the post by clicking on the following link: https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/02/12/thebeerchaser-does-montana-and-wyoming-part-1/

Eric, Cassie and Annabelle Hall

Eric, Cassie and Annabelle Hall

From Missoula we traveled southward to Helena on the way to Wyoming and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Helena is home to our friends, Dr. Eric Hall, his wife Cassie and her mom, Candy, and their wonderful little daughter, Annabelle.

Both work for Carroll College in Helena, which has an impressive campus.  Ph.D. Eric is an Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy and is working on his second book.

His first book, co-authored in 2014, was entitled: Groundless Gods: Post-Metaphysical Philosophy of Religion.  Dr. Hall is an extremely intelligent and learned guy and is also a great bar companion.  (I learned a lot about Thomas Aquinas and Rene Descartes when Eric linked the latter’s advocacy of dualism to an assertion that both Budweiser and micro-brews have redeeming social value).

Caroll has an outstanding academic program of which the football team can be proud…..It was ranked # 1 in Western Regional Colleges in the latest US News and World Report collegiate academic rankings.  Cassie, the college’s Registrar, also has an impressive background, having played soccer at the University of Washington where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and then earned her Master’s Degree at Claremont Graduate University. 

And the college has also had some notable football teams in the past:Carroll_College_Helena,_MT_Seal

The Carroll Fighting Saints football team began playing in 1920 and is one of the most successful programs in the NAIA division of college football. The program has won six NAIA Football National Championships and 40 conference championships, 14 while a member of the Montana Collegiate Conference and 26 as a member of the Frontier Conference.

The team is currently coached by Mike Van Diest who in his 12 seasons at Carroll, has compiled a career record of 144–20. His winning percentage of.878 is the third highest of any head coach with at least ten seasons of experience in college football history…”

St. Charles Hall at Carroll College

St. Charles Hall at Carroll College

It certainly bears noting that on the way to Helena, along US Highway 12, we passed through Clinton and I was captivated by the signs advertising  the Annual Testicle Festival, the World’s  largest.  It attracts 15,000 people each  year and as you might expect, it is not considered to be a family-type outing.

Rock Creek Lodge, just outside of Clinton, is the home of the Testy Festy where a $20 general admission ticket will gain you entrance to:

“………the world’s largest testicle festival every fall attracting more than 15,000 fans annually to its five day event.  Tossing around its motto, ‘I had a ball at the Testicle Festival,’ the festival feeds over 2 ½ tons of bull balls to its many hungry revelers. 

Not only can you get a taste of these yummy delicious deep-fried bull’s testicles, but while you’re there, you’ll no doubt want to participate in the bull-chip throwing contest, the wet t-shirt or hairy chest competitions, and bull-shit bingo.”

Rocky Mountain Oysters -- Really!!

Rocky Mountain Oysters — Really!!

And in case you thought that Rocky Mountain Oysters were shipped in from the coast after being harvested from the Pacific Ocean, this item on the menu consists of:

“USDA approved bull testicles(used) in preparing the delicacy……also known as Rocky Mountain Oysters. The membrane is peeled, marinated in beer, breaded four times, and deep fried to result in what appears to be a fat breaded pork tenderloin.”

While attendance at this “seminal” event will have to wait for another Beerchaser road trip, we pushed on to Helena where we toured the city and visited two breweries/pubs with Eric and Cassie:

Blackfoot River Brewing Company

http://blackfootriverbrewing.com

and

Lewis and Clark Brewing Company

About Lewis and Clark Brewing Company

P1030613Blackfoot River Brewing Company and Tap Room is right in the heart of Helena and its two levels with a nice second-floor patio add to the enjoyment. The idiosyncratic Montana alcohol laws again were apparent by the sign stating:  “Montana law does however, limit consumption to 48 ounces per person, per day and only until 8pm,”

That means 8:00 PM even on weekends and meant we had to buy a ticket first and then obediently hand it to the bartender to get a twelve-ounce glass – you can’t even get a pint!   It makes one wonder why a state known for its rugged individualism and independence (which undoubtedly saw a lot of bar fights and cowboys throwing down shots at 3 AM in the past) allows a paternal regulation which doesn’t make a lot of sense. (I neglected to ask Eric what John Locke, the Father of Liberalism would think about this situation.)

Montana Tap Rooms Black River) - no tickee, no brewie....

Montana Tap Rooms Black River) – no tickee, no brewie….

Black River was founded in 1998 by three home brewers (a story Thebeerchaser has founded repeatedly in his five-year journey). It is another case of successful planning and growth as evidenced by this exerpt from their website:

“In May of 1998 the dreams of a brewery were coming to fruition in a recently vacated garage building located next door to Miller’s Crossing.

Given the bank loan, lots of creativity, loads of hard work, and help and encouragement from many friends, Blackfoot River Brewing Company became a functional brewery.   In October of 2008, after eight years of thriving in the cozy environment of the original building, the brewery moved into a wonderful new facility built on what used to be a parking lot next to the old brewery.”

 The Lewis and Clark Brewery

House in an historic building

Housed in an historic building

It is housed in a very cool, historic and expansive structure with great ambiance (considerably better than Black River if you only have time to visit one in Helena).  Part of the structure dates back 125 years.  And at least it’s open until 10 PM Sunday – Tuesday and 11:00 the remainder of the week.

“The oldest building is the Stone ‘Smokehouse’ which was built by T.C. Power in 1885 to smoke meats. Shortly thereafter the ‘Packing & Provisions’ building was built and was used as a 3 story ‘Ice-House’ with ice removed from the lakes in the winter then transported up the pass by rail and stored in caves until brought back down in the summer and hoisted up to the third floor to cool the entire building  P1030620

Montana Packing & Provisions Company closed the property (and it) could have been used as a jail (although no historical records support this so maybe the bars were installed for security), then a seed warehouse. Later it became the birthplace of Columbia Paint.”

P1030693From Helena we traveled southward to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. As a side note, since we are retired, we usually visit our wonderful National Parks while school is in session, but other travel plans precluded it and we wondered what the crowds would be like in the middle of July.     P1030694

We were pleased, however, that although there were a lot more people, it never seemed overwhelming – even at destinations such as Old Faithful. It did require, however, making reservations well in advance and we stayed in West Yellowstone at a somewhat dilapidated old motel that cost a lot more than it should have for two nights, because we could not get lodging in the Park.

Yellowstone Falls - may look like a painting but the real thing!

Yellowstone Falls – may look like a painting but the real thing!

And the first National Park in the US (dedicated by President Grant in 1872) was spectacular.   I had not visited since my family camped there during the earthquake in 1959.  (I still remember the shaking and the animals howling in the middle of the night from this 7.5 magnitude quake which killed twenty-eight people not too far from our campground.)

The scenery is dynamic – from bubbling muddy pools to Old Faithful to Yellowstone Falls to the wild animals – including the bison which roam freely and don’t seem to care about the highways and vehicles which invade their domain as the picture below shows.

This is MY territory...

This is MY territory…

And oh yes, while it was not a highlight, since this is a blog about bars and taverns, our beer at the Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon in West Yellowstone, is worth at least a mention.

It had a bunch of Harleys out front and one young guy in the saloon said to the bartender:

“I want to thank you for kicking me out of here last night which kept me from getting the crap beat out of me a few minutes later.”

P1030640You know when the men’s john has the label seen in the picture below, that this watering hole, which has live music four nights per week in the bar, has some character.  P1030639

Their pepperoni and sausage pizza was also recently named the best in Northwest (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Colorado) in the International Pizza Competition in Las Vegas.  Had we known, we would have definitely had a pizza there!

 

2015-07-24 10.15.29While Grand Teton is less expansive than its neighboring park only twelve miles to the north, the spectacular view of this forty-mile long mountain range (without foothills because of the geological origination) rising abruptly from the prairie, has to rival Grand Canyon for its breathtaking beauty.

Jackson Lake Lodge - Amazing!!

Jackson Lake Lodge – Amazing!!

And better planning allowed a two-night stay in the Park at the marvelous Jackson Lake Lodge. Staring at the peaks while drinking a cold micro-brew and devouring a great burger in the Lodge bar, while listening to a performer’s impressive version of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” now makes me wonder why candidate Trump harps on the slogan “Make America Great Again.”       

Van Morrison would approve

Van Morrison would approve

Not that we don’t have significant challenges which need strong direction and discipline to overcome, but failure to recognize the nation’s blessings as evidenced by such visionary accomplishments as the National Park System and focusing on the negative is not the kind of leadership we need.

A raft trip down the Snake River in which we saw eagles, moose and elk, and a four-mile hike to Taggart Lake were highlights of our second day in the Park and then a stay in nearby Jackson (formerly known as Jackson Hole) was our final night before starting the journey back to Oregon. (Solitude Float Trips and our guide, Justine Evans were A+)

2015-07-24 10.59.23

Janet Williams on the Snake River

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And Jackson was hopping and home to many restaurants and bars we unfortunately did not get to visit because of time constraints.   That said we did enjoy our time at a few venues in this tourist town.

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Although we stopped in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar because we had heard a lot about it, we didn’t have a beer.  First, there was a cover charge (although it is not advertised on their website) and secondly, it reminded us of the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau that we visited in 2012.  P1030733

Kind of garish and with little character – just a lot of bucks spent on touristy décor and an emphasis on their retail sales although it does have live music and dancing and they brag about authentic western memorabilia and features such as real saddles for bar stools…..

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We then hit a neat little brewery, however – Melvin Brewery.  It actually shares space with a Thai restaurant (Thai Me Up).  The bartender was friendly, offered a lot of samples and they had good beer – an impressive nineteen on tap.

Their Indian Pale Ale won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup earlier this year.

Melvin - impressive beer for a small operation

Melvin – impressive beer for a small operation

And dinner at Gather, a superb restaurant where, as is our custom, we ate at the bar and met some people from Boston who were in Jackson for one of the many business conventions that come to town.

Fortunately, we got there late for their “reverse happy hour” (from 9 PM till close) and I had the best gin martini on the trip.

P1030731

We left Jackson heading east for the two-day drip home to Portland.

Shortly after we left town, we passed Grand Teton Brewing Company.  Although closed, it was nice to see the home of outstanding beer we had enjoyed throughout the trip.

Two of the outstanding beers from Grand Teton

Two of the outstanding beers from Grand Teton

This brewery which claims to be, “…….the original brewery of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We have been brewing our handcrafted beers at the base of the Tetons since 1988,” is actually located in Teton Valley, Idaho which is on the west side of the mountain range.

And the narrative from their website, although fairly bold and which might be challenged by some Oregon brewers, seemed to be validated by the excellence of their beer – even though only bottled where we could get it – especially two of their signature brews – 208 and the Sweetgrass American Pale Ale.

“Our water is glacial run-off, filtered over 300-500 years by Teton Mountain granite and limestone before it surfaces at a spring a half mile from the brewery. Teton Valley grows the world’s best malting barley, and Southern Idaho includes some of the finest hop farms in the world.”

Janet and the Bartons

Janet and the Bartons

We spent the last night in Boise, where after forty-five years, I reunited with Gary “Golden Boy” Barton, who also was an SAE at Oregon State and is an investment consultant in Boise.  We had a great dinner with Gary and his wife, Kathy.

Our ten-day trip covered a lot of miles, but the clarion call from Montana and Wyoming to return for the majestic scenery and great bars and breweries will lure Thebeerchaser back for another road trip.

Cheers to Montana and Wyoming

Cheers to Montana and Wyoming

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Beerchasing in Hawaii – Primo, Microbrews and Cocktails with Little Umbrellas!

P1040325

The beautiful Napili Coast on the northwest side of Kauai

After a great week on Oahu at Koalina with some of our family, Thebeerchaser and spouse moved to an island we hadn’t visited before.   Our week in Lihue, Kauai was wonderful  – outstanding scenery, easy to navigate and memorable food and drink.

The cocktails were better than the b-ball in the first two games

The cocktails were better than the b-ball in the first two games

While still in Oahu, watching the first two Blazer playoffs losses against the Clippers was mitigated by sipping a Mai Tai while my daughter downed a Lava Flow.

Unfortunately, the little umbrellas from the drinks won’t work for future rainy seasons in Portland.

And I was reintroduced to Primo Beer – “Hawaii’s orginal beer…” – the first time since a 3/c NROTC midshipman cruise that took me to Pearl Harbor after my freshman year at Oregon State.

In this summer of 1967, an evening yacht cruise along Waikiki Beach with steaks and Primo is a vague recollection because many of the brain cells retaining the memory were destroyed.   But an offer of a free hat with the purchase of one beer was irresistible.   There was a little disappointment to see that Primo is now owned and operated by Pabst Brewing Company.

Moving to Kauai, we had a wonderful ocean-view room in Lihue and a two-minute walk to Duke’s – great dinners in both the bar and the restaurant upstairs.

Primo - Hawaii's original beer - now courtesy of Pabst Inc.

Primo – Hawaii’s original beer – now courtesy of Pabst Inc.

And Dukes - only a stones throw away...

And Duke’s – only a stone throw away…

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Knowing that we were going to ultimately visit the two breweries on Kauai – I restricted my initial alcohol intake to cocktails – one fit for the Gods – a Mango Martini and one called a Tropical Itch – passion fruit juice, orange curacao and vodka with a dark rum float

The Bar at Dukes

The Bar at Duke’s

Duke’s, besides their legendary salad-bar buffet, also had great fish and a beet and kale salad with shrimp and goat cheese that was our entrée’ on one evening.

 

 

An scrumptious combination of beets, kale and shrimp

A scrumptious combination of beets, kale and shrimp

Lest you think we spent the entire time eating and drinking, we hit the both sides of the island in addition to having an unforgettable sunset cruise through Blue Dolphin Charters along the Napili Shore on northwest Kauai – magnificent waterfalls (although one can see comparable sights only an hour from Portland…), a pod of dolphins and a stunning sunset capped off by a champagne toast.

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Blue Dolphin Charters lived up to its name with this escort of our boat.

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P1040331Since this is a blog about bars and beers, I should return to that topic and mention our visit to Kauai’s two breweries – yes that’s right.  Seems stunning that the island landmass of 562.3 square miles has only two.

Not just eating and drinking...

Not just eating and drinking…

In contrast, Portland’s area of 145 square miles boasts 61 breweries in the city limits although the comparison may not be valid since Portland is not an island in the Pacific and it has more breweries than any city in the world.

For you statistical geeks, that’s one brewery for every 33,500 people on the island versus a per capita of 10,150 in Portland.  Perhaps we should toast to that fact.

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Kauai Island Brewing Company (KIBC) – We heard that  KIBC was located on the historic Waimea Plantations, but found an empty building and were directed to an industrial complex in the City of Port Allen where it moved two years ago. 

On their website, they promote this space stating:

(We have) an industrial theme to go along with both (the) surroundings and purpose of crafting quality beers. (Our) 35-foot high corrugated metal ceilings and walls give an open and spacious feel. (Experience) the retro atmosphere with chandelier lights hanging from the ceiling, a catwalk leading to the second story mezzanine over the entrance, and picture perfect views of the sunset over Port Allen bay.”   

A bit stark and industrial

A bit stark and industrial


 

However, KIBC has very little ambiance and seems pretty stark in spite of their spin.  That said, Fred the bartender was very friendly and helpful in our selection of one of their ten beers including letting us sample several.  P1040289

We chose the Cane Fire Red (“a full bodied ale has a deep red hue with a distinctive malty character”) and the Westside Wheat (“brewed with equal amounts of malted barley and wheat….and just a touch of caramel malt for color and body”) which we enjoyed.  The five wide-screen TVs do not add to the charm although at least Boston won the NBA playoff game we watched.

P1040348Kauai Beer Company (KBC) – We really liked this small brewery although perhaps the fact that the general manager and head brewer, Justin, and his girlfriend, Kim, are both Oregon State grads, created an inherent bias.

They purchased equipment from other breweries and showed initiative:

“Once the equipment arrived, they were faced with the impossible task of putting together tanks and pipes and pumps without any instructions at all, not to mention vital pieces that were missing. Justin had to become an expert welder in this do it yourself arrangement.”  

Justin, an OSU grad with good management instincts and learned how to weld.....

Justin, an OSU grad with good management instincts and learned how to weld…..

They opened in fall of 2013 and are currently open Wednesday through Saturday.

Like its competitor brewery on Kauai, the external trappings are plain and anything but exciting, but one walks into a bright and comfortable environment.   And young  Jessie, the bartender was one of the most personable chaps we met in Hawaii.

Charisma behind the bar

Charisma behind the bar

 

Because KBC is one of only two breweries on Kauai, the management is being prudent in their business planning and growth.  They currently do not distribute although they are researching the possibility of making their beer available in cans.

KBC has a nice, but to a certain extent, limited menu with very reasonable pricing.  The reviews of the beer and food on social media are positive. Perhaps my favorite was by Marissa, interestingly enough, a Californian, who stated on Yelp:

“Tasty brews, and like walking into Portland, Oregon in the middle of Lihue.”

P1040347There was hearty endorsement of their six-beer sampler flights And KBC’s Truck-Stop Thursday, at which two food trucks park on the sidewalk in front of the brewpub at 5:00 PM and people bring their food. into the bar.

They also host a variety of other events such as Kauai Brew Club and Beer for a Cause, in which $1 from every beer purchased is donated to a designated non-profit organization.

We enjoyed the Lihue Lager (“malty German-style pale lager, a blend of traditional and tropical flavored hops”) and a friendly guy we sat next to at the bar, named Sim, who is an electrician and at one time lived in Tigard, raved about the taste of the KoKoBoPo (“a seasonal robust porter, made with chocolatemalt, aged on toasted oakchips soaked with bourbon and whiskey.”)They have eight of their own beers on tap and a selection of wine and ciders.

I was somewhat chagrinned at how rapidly our time in Hawaii had passed and the little time remaining when I remembered Edgar Allan Poe’s reflection, “Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today.” 

A shirt to supplement the Primo hat...

A shirt to supplement the Primo hat…

And touring the island precluded visiting any other bars although one on the same block as our hotel, will be worth exploring upon our return.

The Nawiliwili Tavern, located in an historic building and on a site dating back to the late 1800’s.  According to a 2011 article in The Garden Island – Kauai’s newspaper:

“The site where the Tavern operated was originally occupied by the Hotel Hayashi, built in the late 1890s. Katsuyuki Kuboyama purchased the building in 1925, demolished the weathered structure and built a new hotel four years later, called Hotel Kuboyama……..Hotel Kuboyama survived landslides and two hurricanes, but it wasn’t a match for termites and was demolished in 1994…”

The Naw Tavern - Interesting past and present...

The Naw Tavern – Interesting past and present…

 When I stopped in to take a few pictures, there were only a few patrons, but the bar has an interesting history and a was the topic of a recent Hawaii Supreme Court decision in

According to the aforementioned newspaper on April 8, 2011:

“Kaua‘i Police Department used a Taser and pepper spray to subdue four men involved in two fights that broke out early Friday morning in front of the Nawiliwili Tavern.”

The bar closed in July 2011, in part, because of litigation commencing in 2006 resulting from a dispute over disclosure regarding sewer access and maintenance fees.  It finally appears to be resolved when in a fascinating 63-page 2015 opinion the Hawaii Supreme Court (Santiago v. Tanaka)   P1040363

“…. vacated the judgments of the lower courts (circuit and interim appellate courts), holding (1) Seller’s failure to disclose certain facts regarding the property’s sewer system was actionable under the nondisclosure and misrepresentation causes of action; and (2) Seller’s nonjudicial foreclosure of the property and ejectment of Buyers was wrongful.”

It evidently reopened sometime in 2015 and would be worth a visit if you don’t expect a warm welcome from the staff – at least based on two recent Yelp reviews:P1040362

1/11/2016 –“Seemingly nice bar set up, but the bartender was annoyed we didn’t immediately have our minds made up – did nothing to help us decide.”

12/19/2015 – Tall blonde bartender is insanely rude. If you’re not a local you will be waiting forever.”

2016-04-27 19.46.07Oh well, that will have to wait for our next trip and the memories of my birthday lava cake at Duke’s.  And memories of how little umbrellas have a function other than to shield us from rain will sustain us until the next voyage.   P1040385

P1040328

Thebeerchaser Does Montana and Wyoming – Part 1

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park

In a blog post dated January 14, 2016, I included a list of the ninety-six bars, taverns and pubs outside the city of Portland that Thebeerchaser (and in many cases, my wife Janet) has visited during the last five years.   Included in that list were a number in Montana and Wyoming we hit during our road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks last August.

Due to other priorities (and procrastination) those were not timely reviewed and the next two posts will attempt to remedy that because Missoula, Helena and Jackson, Wyoming all had wonderful establishments with colorful people and there was majestic scenery to be described.

Looking down on Missoula and the University of Montana campus

Looking down on Missoula and the University of Montana campus from Mt. Sentinel

We drove from Portland to Missoula in one long day and arrived in time to have a great burger (okay, Janet had a Cobb Salad) and brew at the Tamarack Brewery.

Missoula is a picturesque and fascinating city of about 70,000 with a rich history, a very nice campus (the University of Montana) and more interesting bars and brewpubs than we could visit in one and one-half days.

P1030572After dinner, we walked through downtown stopping at the Stockman’s Bar (“Liquor up front – poker in the rear..”) and subsequently hit the Oxford Saloon, an historic bar and one in which the bartender, Beth, reacted enthusiastically when I explained my hobby of visiting and blogging about bars.

Beth, bartender and expert on "The Ox."

Beth, bartender and expert on “The Ox.”

“Well, you need to buy the book, Montana Watering Holes, because I’m quoted and Joan Meltzer, the author, does a great job describing the “Ox”Missoula’s oldest bar.” (either 1883 or 1888)   Since I had already had success using excerpts from the book “Colorado – A Liquid History and Tavern Guide to the Highest State,”  after I contacted the author, the University of Colorado’s Dr. Tom Noel, I stopped in the next book store and purchased Joan’s book as Beth had insisted.

The Ox - the oldest bar in Montana

The Ox – the oldest bar in Montana

 

And Joan was also gracious in responding to my e-mail request and in a subsequent phone call with her permission to quote some examples of her “(celebration of) more than fifty of the most iconic, eccentric, and entertaining saloons scattered across Montana……” 

She wrote the book in the early 1980’s, when she was in her twenties, and updated it by visiting all the bars in the original volume and adding a few others in 2009.  2016-02-08 16.02.35

Her quest (one which I think is inspired and admirable) was to find “the perfect Montana bar.” Joan’s book is fascinating and this quote at the end of her introduction will demonstrate that those who enjoy Beerchasing will savor it:

“Today, many years removed from Prohibition, the Montana bar has retained its function as the social sanctuary of the West: a place to buy supplies, fill up the gas tank, eat dinner or end a long night of good-timing. 

A place where lifelong plans and promises are made, and just as quickly broken.  A place to cry in your beer over life’s inherent injustice—before you laugh in abandonment in the glow of one too many beers.  A place to dance when the jukebox’s western tawny becomes too melancholy or too exuberant for a body’s rhythm to ignore.  More than anything a place to gather. “  (Introduction – page XXVI)

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The Oxford is like being in an Old-West museum – look at the rifles above the bar

And her description of the Oxford, which includes the fact that after the bar was moved from its original to its present location in 1955, “It’s never been closed.  Open twenty-four hours.  There are no locks for its doors.”  (Page 134).  And the Ox oozes history with its dark wood floors, amazing back-bar, black and white historic photos and collection of old rifles above the bar – a museum in itself.

Not much has changed over the years in the bar aside from addition of a vast array of video poker machines in one room of the bar — oh, and the discontinuation of the once popular “brains and eggs breakfast,”.   The menu item was purportedly discontinued during the scare over mad-cow disease which swept the West about fifteen years ago although the Ox’s menu is still extensive.                                    P1030609

And according to their website, “We have served over 200,000 orders of chicken fried steak with JJ’s special gravy since we introduced it on our menu in 1986.”  (Assuming the website has current figures, this is about 20 per day – every day for the last 29 years, according to Thebeerchaser’s calculation!)  The clientele includes, ranchers, Missoula business people, tourists and college students and the legacy of live poker games continues every night of the week.

Charlie B's - no sign - but amazing interior

Charlie B’s – no sign – but amazing interior

The number of great bars in Missoula requires a longer visit, but there were a few others, most notably Charlie B’s, the idiosyncratic favorite of noted Montana crime novelist, James Crumley (he was also Beerchaser of the Month on this blog in September, 2011 – see link).   Crumley was a curmudgeon who started his crime novel, The Last Good Kisswith what many reviewers have described as the best opening line of the genre’:

2015-07-17 18.27.03

A long table at Charlie B’s and the light in the back is the order window for the Dino Cafe

“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”  

The bar is to some extent beyond description except to say that notwithstanding its fabled lack of any external identification and not being listed in the phone book, it’s jammed every night of the week and known for its cheap beer, stiff drinks, young female bartenders, portraits of old (and now mostly dead) regulars and the small Dinosaur Café in the back of the bar renowned for its great Cajun food – you order it yourself.

2015-07-16 20.28.18An article from the Missoula Independent on March 6, 2008, quotes Crumley on Charlie B’s:

“’This is my home bar,’ Crumley says. ‘Home bars can change. They can move around. But when you find a home bar, you stick with it. Charlie knows what he’s doing…I like it in the afternoons. I usually try and get out before the kids come in. The kids today, I don’t know. They bump into you and don’t know, like I do, that you’re supposed to say ‘excuse me.’ I leave before they come in.’”          

Plonk Wine Bar - sleek and classy

Plonk Wine Bar – refined and urbane

And talk about a contrast….after a beer at Charlie B’s, we walked a short distance down the street and had a great dinner and martini at Plonk – a wine bar and “an environment designed to engage the senses in an uncompromised celebration of the beauty of life.”

While Thebeerchaser is more comfortable in a dive-bar environment, Plonk was classy, the food was good and the gin martini  (up with olives) was superb.

Plonk - sleek and modern bar

Plonk –  a sleek bar

 

Plonk - Classy toilets....

Plonk – Classy toilets….

 

 

 

 

 

One reason that we always sit at the bar in restaurants and bars while traveling is to meet people and our experience at the KettleHouse Brewery on the second day in Missoula was no exception.

Beer and conversation at the Kettlehouse Brewery

Beer and conversation at the KettleHouse Brewery

We stopped in for a late afternoon beer and sat next to two women (Cynthia and Lisa) – one a retired teacher at an elite private school in Nashville,Tennessee (tuition is $18,000 per year!) and the other still working there as a PE instructor and coordinating the outdoor school.

The Airstream Ladies..

The Airstream Ladies..

A cross-country road trip

A cross-country road trip

Our conversation revealed that they were “camping” in their Airstream Trailer – pulled by a pick-up truck and fly-fishing their way across the US.

After we talked for about 30 minutes, they insisted that we come out and tour the Airstream.  Great people and typical of those you meet in a new bar on the road.

A highlight was cycling a few miles up the Clark Fork River, riding back along the river through the middle of town (on great bike paths) and then having a noon brewski at the Draught Works Brewery.   P1030594

It’s a captivating little brewery opened in 2011 on the outskirts of the city. The liquor laws in Montana are very idiosyncratic as our bartender explained.  Microbreweries cannot brew more than 10,000 gallons annually if they sell beer on site and Draught Works sells all of its beer on premises.

Why should this brew-pub be limited to hours of 10 to 8 in a college town?

Why should this brew-pub be limited to hours of 10 to 8 in a college town?

 

If beer is sold on site, the hours of operation can only be from 10:00 AM until 8:00 PM and the amount is limited to 48 ounces per person daily in “sample rooms” – a reason that we were given a ticket when we purchased our pints (and also something that I’m sure that University of Montana students are clever enough to get around).  And I thought the Oregon Liquor Control Commission rules are onerous at times.

James Crumley had a reserved seat in this bar

James Crumley had a reserved seat in this bar

Now there were quite a few bars in Missoula that really looked interesting, but our time there precluded visiting until next trip.  These included the Depot Bar – another favorite of James Crumley, the Silver Dollar (an eighty-year old institution), James Bar, Flathead Lake Brewpub and others.

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The University of Montana dominates Missoula – a scenic and historical university town and the UM Grizzly Football Team is legendary.

P1030590The stadium is impressive and the city supports its team with passion.  John Krakauer’s 2015 book  Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town  provides a viewpoint (disputed by many Missoulans) on how that devotion can go to far.

Krakauer

A recommended read on a topic which is a national issue

He chronicles some of the court trials and legal issues based on sexual assaults by members of the football team and the division in the community over the prosecution which ultimately resulted in a Department of Justice investigation.  The book is controversial but a recommended read.

On to Helena, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons.

Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone Falls

 

 

 

 

The Grand Tetons

The Grand Tetons

 

 

Savannah – Thebeerchaser Does the South – Part III

The Georgia State Capitol

Savannah City Hall

 

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We had visited Atlanta, Asheville and Charleston on our tour of the Southeast in the late spring of 2015. Our final stop was Thebeerchaser’s favorite city of the four – Savannah. And not just because it had the best bars and restaurants on the trip!

The oldest city in Georgia was founded by 114 colonists on February 12, 1733 led by James Oglethorpe.   He laid out the design of the city – still intact today and prohibited rum, slaves and lawyers – banned from 1733 to 1755. “Georgia was to be “free from that pest and scourge of mankind called lawyers.”  (Visit Historic Savannah.com)

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Confederate Polish soldier who fought “for American Liberty in the Siege of Savannah.” 1779

Savannah’s population has grown to 144,000 and it’s the fourth largest container port in North America. It has twenty-two stunning parks in squares on the streets scattered throughout the city with historic fountains and monuments

We saw many of them on our “Free Tours by Foot” – another 90 minute journey through history by our able guide.   As was the case in Charleston, it was well worth the tip at the end and one of the best ways to get an overview of the city.  Someone once said that the following description distinguishes three of the southern cities we visited:

If you’re from Atlanta, the first thing locals ask you is your business; while in Charleston, they ask your mother’s maiden name; and in Savannah, they ask what you want to drink.

Moon River Brewing - "A definitive

Moon River Brewing –

This premise may have been affirmed to some extent when on our first day in Savannah, we were having a beer during happy hour at the Moon River Brew Pub on West Bay Street, one of the main thoroughfares and near the state capitol.  We saw quite a few people walking down the street while drinking beer.

Upon inquiring, we found that Savannah has an ordinance that allows open containers in the Savannah Historic District near downtown.  Drinks must be in open plastic containers and no more than 16 ounces.   P1030411

Moon River Brewery was founded in 1999 “….in one of the oldest, most historic and genuinely haunted buildings in Savannah, Moon River Brewing Company invites you to experience this history and our delicious food and hand-crafted beers first hand.”     

And they had great hamburgers.

Courtney, with the Noppers and Janet Williams

Courtney, at Moon River with the Noppers and Janet Williams

——

Another one of the many bars and brewpubs on West Bay Street was J.J. Bonerz Sports Bar (Official Green Bay Packers Bar of Savannah):

“Cold beer and friendly service. This is also the only Packers themed bar in Savannah, since I am a Packers fan, it was right up my alley. I love this atmosphere.” Trip Advisor 4/10/15).

J.J.'s - Mixed reviews unless you like the Packers....

J.J.’s – Mixed reviews unless you like the Packers….

The bartender, Troy, who had worked at the bar for seven years told me that their specialty is Bloody Mary’s with beer.

I liked J.J.’s the afternoon I went but the reviews were mixed including one Trip Advisor in February 2015, that described a fight between a couple (“A drunk customer who had mauled his girlfriend to the point they both abruptly fell from their bar stools approached me and brazenly ate from my meal.”)

And an incredible August 2014 Yelp account of a “a very cute, petite waitress with tattoos walks up to the table of a 60-70 yr old man drinking by himself.”  The guy then purportedly proceeds to suck her toes……?!

Bartender Troy at J.J.'s

Bartender Troy at J.J.’s

And the reviews of the food were pretty negative so if you go to J.J.’s hit it in the afternoon and stick to beer – try a Green Man IPA from Asheville which I liked.

If you visit Savannah, a must-see is the wonderfully impressive Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which rivaled many of the grand cathedrals we saw during our Rick Steve’s Best of Europe Tour in 2014. ( See the six posts in  “Thebeerchaser Goes International.”)

A parishioner gave us a tour of this magnificent structure, constructed in 1850 and which survived an earthquake in 1898 and two fires – one in 1898, the other in 2003, when an arsonist tried to destroy the church.

The baptismal fond weight ----
The baptismal font weighs 8,000 pounds

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The highlights of this magnificent structure are:

The main altar, carved in Italy of Carrara Marble weighing 9,000 pounds

The marble baptismal font weighs 8.000 pounds.

The pipe organ in the rear balcony with 34 ranks and 2,308 pipes.    P1030427

A 207 foot high steeple with a bell weighing 4,730 pounds and approximately 5 feet in diameter.

The roof with 45,000 slates and 90,000 copper nails.

Pinkies Master - A Dive with a rich history

Pinkies Master – A Dive with a rich history

While walking to the Cathedral, we passed what appeared to be a dive bar (Pinkie Master’s Lounge) in a small, non-descript building and, of course, I returned the next day to check it out.

It was late morning and the only person in the bar besides me was, Francine, the bartender, a nice woman who briefed me on the rich history of this watering hole and also the incredible amount of Pabst Blue Ribbon customers consume.  P1030438

 

  SavannahBest.com states, “If you love authentic personalities and blemished history, there is no better spot than Pinkie Master’s.”   I was delighted to discover this bar on my own without prior knowledge of Pinkie’s gravitas!  Continually rated as the best dive bar in Savannah, Pinkie’s Master Lounge has held this mantra for decades. Most recently, in March of last year, it was voted the third best bar in the South by Southern Living Magazine.

"Classic" art work and other memorabilia.....
“Classic” art work and other memorabilia…..

“They haven’t changed the price of the drinks in more than seven years, the Stars and Bars has been draped over the alcohol since the 1960s, the walls are lined with memorabilia that’s been added and left to gather dust for decades, the bar has duct tape covering holes — and the patrons wouldn’t have it any other way.” (At least in April, the Confederate flag still hung above the bar.)

As I was having a very cheap PBR (the bar’s beer-of- choice and talking to Francine, I looked down and saw the following metallic plaque on the bar where I just happened to sit:

President Carter - personal friend of Pinkie's

President Carter – personal friend of Pinkie’s

Our walking-tour guide had told us that Savannah has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the US – it is a big holiday with the schools dismissed.  According to Francine, on March 17, 1978, President Carter during his first term, was in the city and came to see Pinkie – a long-term friend and major supporter during his campaign.  He sat in that very seat although she didn’t know if he had a beer.

And it may be legend rather than fact, but the 3/4/13 edition Savannah Morning News also reported:

2015-04-29 11.34.48
Picture of Jimmy Carter including Pinkie hanging in the bar

 

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

Another historic landmark to see (and tour) in Savannah is the Green-Meldrum House.  Built in 1853, the impressive American black walnut in the entry area is supplemented by silver-plated doorknobs, hinges, keyhole escutcheons and covers.  There is an amazing spiral stairway to the second floor and each room has ornate chandeliers, marble mantles and large mirrors.

Green-Meldrum House - headquarters of General Sherman

Green-Meldrum House – headquarters of General Sherman

The original owner of the mansion invited General William Tecumseh Sherman to use the mansion as his headquarters in 1864 on his “March Through the South” and from the house in December, 1864, he sent President Lincoln a telegram offering the City of Savannah as a Christmas gift.

Our second night, we had dinner at another historic establishment (the building was built in the early 1800’s as a cotton warehouse) – The Boar’s Head Grill and Tavern – right on the Savannah River.  They had an excellent menu including black-eyed pea and ham soup, steaks, shrimp and grits.  After reading a “Daily Meal” description of my go-to breakfast during the trip – biscuits and gravy, I decided I needed to be a little more healthy, although we did hit the gym earlier that day:                                      P1030412

“…….a biscuit topped with cream gravy, usually flecked with chunks of sausage, is basically a heart attack waiting to happen…….Biscuits are usually made with shortening in order to make them light and flaky, which is a major source of trans fat, and cream gravy is basically all fat….. Cream gravy is also a common topping for country-fried steak, resulting in one of the unhealthiest foods man has ever produced.”

Perhaps this was a masthead from an old Savannah River steamer...

Perhaps this was a masthead from an old Savannah River steamer…

The Boars Head bar

The Boars Head bar

 

 

 

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And we had an after-dinner drink at another nice bar/restaurant in the Historic District – Churchill’s Pub – a nice selection of beers and British ambiance.

P1030406If you are planning to visit Savannah, be certain to rent the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” – filmed on location in Savannah in the early 1990’s.   Kevin Spacey does a superb job in one of the lead roles and as stated by “Rotten Tomatoes”:

“a tale of murder in high society….. it brings to life the setting, the rich assortment of characters and the atmosphere of modern Savannah.”

On our last day, we walked around the city and were drawn into one of the two Savannah Rae’s Gourmet Popcorn stores – over 250 flavors of popcorn.  We split a small bag of the most popular one – Caramel Sea Salt, having passed on the Oreo Cheese Cake and the Loaded Baked Potato Popcorn.

250 popcorn options....!

250 popcorn options….!

(I guess I was still harkening back to biscuits and gravy and remembering): “…..popcorn (is) coated in preservatives, salt, and partially hydrogenated oils (also known as trans fats) masquerading as butter…” (The Daily Meal)

And to quench our thirst after ingesting all of that salt, we made our last watering- hole stop in Savannah – The Savannah Distillery Ale House  – “Savannah’s Only Craft Beer Bar,” an advertising claim they make that doesn’t seem credible…although they do have twenty-one craft beers on tap and ninety-nine bottled beers.

P1030419It was reestablished in 2008 and has quite an interesting history as can be seen from this excerpt from their website:

… The great building…….was once a very reputable distilling establishment. The Kentucky Distilling Co. opened in 1904 and as the Temperance Movement gained steam, the company changed ownership and became The Louisville Distilling Co. , which served the Savannah community until 1907. By 1920, Georgia joined the nation in the prohibition of alcohol. Our country saw over 1100 operating distilleries dwindle to a mere 33, producing alcohol for medical purposes only.

With the Distillery Ale House’s closing, the building became Freich’s Pharmacy, operating as a drug store, soda fountain and lunch counter until 1940. Rumor has it that our 2nd floor produced bathtub gin and homemade beer throughout Prohibition years.                                           P1030421

In 2008 the Volen Family resurrected Distillery Ale House…..The mahogany topped bar and oak back-bar were crafted, and now features an antique copper still. During construction, various artifacts were unearthed dating back to the American Revolution, including musket balls, bones, dishware, clay pipes and liquor bottles.

Savannah was a fitting final destination to a great trip to the Southeast – a region to which we will return for the history, the culture, the hospitality, the food and, of course, the beer!

Ninety-nine bottled beers...
Ninety-nine bottled beers. at the Distillery

Charleston – Thebeerchaser Does the South – Part II

The Charleston ___ Bridge

The cable-stayed Ravenal Bridge

After spending three days in both Atlanta and then Asheville, North Carolina, the third stop on our tour of the Southeast late last Spring had us taking in the Southern charm and pervasive historic flavor of Charleston. The city, which played a key role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars was founded in 1670 – oldest in South Carolina and now is the fastest growing in the state.

Fort Sumter - site of the opening salvos of the Civil War

Fort Sumter – the opening salvos of the Civil War

The venerable Fort Sumter, scene of the opening shots of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, still guards the entrance to Charleston Harbor, and the National Park Service sponsored boat ride out and tour was a highlight.

One can imagine the Confederate shells streaming down on the orders of the legendary Brig. General Pierre G.T. Beauregard with the surrender of the fort by the Union officers two days later.                                                                       P1030391

Notice - no Confederate flag flying in this group...

No Confederate Stars and Bars, but some Civil War Replicas which have now been taken down.

The next four years, in spite of Union artillery attacks including one ten-day continuous bombardment, it stayed in Confederate hands until General Sherman’s march forced its evacuation.  The Union flag was raised again in 1865.

 

(Note – in July 2015)

“The U.S. National Park Service ordered all flags except the U.S. flag to be taken down at the Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston Harbor.  The banners that were removed are not the traditional Confederate flag that’s most typically displayed by individuals…….

Instead, the flags taken down were the less frequently seen national banners of the Confederacy.” (USA Today 7/29/15)

Charleston is a city of tourism and commerce – its port is part of the fourth largest container seaport on the East Coast.  Charming historic houses surrounding beautiful Waterfront Park overlook Charleston Harbor and offer views of Fort Sumter and the Ravenel Bridge.   And an outstanding array of restaurants, bars and museums and the open-air Charleston Market reflect the current role of tourism on the city’s economy.

Historic houses along the Bay front

Historic houses along the Harbor front

We signed up for a Free Tours by Foot strongly recommended and repeated with equally good results in Savannah – our next stop. The 90-minute tours, facilitated by young guides with encyclopedic knowledge of the history and culture of the cities are well worth the tip at the conclusion.

We learned that South Carolina was the first Confederate state to secede – leading the South in defense of the rights of slaveholders and was quickly followed within six weeks by five other states.

First Scots) Presbyterian Church of Charleston

First Scots) Presbyterian Church of Charleston

And the role of religion in Charleston – labeled by some as “The Holy City” – is apparent by the number of churches still thriving.  We attended church at the First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, founded in 1731.

2015-04-26 09.54.25

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While the charm of the South is evident throughout the city, the lingering effects of the conflict at the root of the War Between the States still lingers – we felt it in Charleston and later in Savannah.

Emanuel African Methodist Church - scene of a tragedy

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal  Church – scene of a tragedy

The museums and tour guides do a good job addressing the terrible treatment of Black people during the Civil War era.    Current events such as the controversy over the Confederate flag and the July 17, 2015 murder of nine citizens at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church the oldest church of that denomination in the South, only eleven weeks after we attended First Scots Presbyterian Church on April 26th – attest to the reality of deep and lingering racial and cultural issues.  No words can capture the tragedy of that event.

The Old Slave Mart Museum

The Old Slave Mart Museum

We visited the Old Slave Mart Museum downtown and the Boone Hall Plantation – right outside Charleston to better comprehend the hardships African Americans endured.

Charleston Museum founded in 1773 and commonly regarded as “America’s First Museum” was a compelling exhibition, capturing the record of slavery and the War’s terrible toll. The visits were an emotional perience.

The mansion at Boone Hall

The mansion at Boone Hall

The slave quarters - quite a contrast.....

The slave quarters – quite a contrast…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps this quote by President Woodrow Wilson – a man who cherished his own southern roots, best captures the sentiment:

“I yield to no one precedence in love for the South, but because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy.  We cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that slavery was enervating our Southern society and exhausting Southern society.”

**************

The call of Southern fried chicken beckoned and we dined our first night at the Hominy Grill, where our waitress, KJ, was the epitome of Southern charm.  Their James Beard Award-winning chef lived up to his reputation with my fried chicken and the others in our party feasted on shrimp and grits and she-crab soup.

She-crab soup
She-crab soup

 

The Historic Blind Tiger Pub

P1030378

The Historic Blind Tiger Pub

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The historic Blind Tiger Pub was a great place for a night cap.  This pub,  “built in 1803, is a safe bet when you’re in the mood to enjoy a cold beer in a cozy indoor tavern atmosphere or hidden garden courtyard patio.

The Blind Tiger’s shady brick courtyard has ties to certain illegal operations and Prohibition era secrecy at the turn of the century.”  (www.10best.com Charleston Travel Guide

Raising a Mug at the Blind Tiger

Raising a Mug at the Blind Tiger

—————–

After visiting Fort Sumter the next day, we toured the open-air Charleston Market and then met friends from Oregon who were also in Charleston at the South End Brewery and Smokehouse – in another historic Charleston building

 

The South End Brewery and Smokery

The South End Brewery and Smokery

“A three-story atrium houses large copper and stainless steel brew tanks in which we brew eight craft beers…….The building has a long, interesting history since 1880 that continues on. Southend Brewery has a haunted past, featured on many local ghost tours as one of Charleston’s most haunted places.”  (Southend Brewery website)   2015-04-24 16.43.37

Still not having my fill of southern fried chicken, I imbibed again that night at the Low Country Bistro – although this time I had waffles with my chicken dinner – the best of the trip especially when you consider that the entrée was garnished with a big slab of pecan (“pacaan” the firsta” is long) butter.

Need More be Said???

Need More be Said???

And Sam, our waiter, also earned accolades by recommending a White Thai Beer from Westbrook Brewing in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina:

An Outstanding Choice of Beers

An Outstanding Choice of Beers

 

 

 

“Instead of the traditional coriander and orange peel spicing regimen, we add fresh lemongrass, ginger root, and a dash of Sorachi Ace hops. The result is a wonderfully refreshing ale with notes of lemon candy, citrus fruit, and a slight spiciness from the ginger.”  (Westbrook Brewing website)

A Southern Institution

A Southern Institution

Waffles – Permit me to jump ahead to our last day on the trip because the culinary topic above is a great segue to a Southern (and for that matter East Coast) institution –  Waffle Houses

On the early morning drive from Savannah (see my next post) to Atlanta International, we decided we were both hungry and had to have at least one Waffle House experience – that being along the freeway in Metter, Georgia – a city of around 4,100 residents just off I-16 and sixty-three miles from Savannah.  It’s the county seat of Candler County…..

The Waffle House chain was started in 1955 and now comprises more than 2,100 restaurants – it served its one billionth waffle on September 8, 2015 in Atlanta.  (Unfortunately, the closest one to Portland is in Colorado.)  Having made a regular routine of biscuits and gravy with irregular exercise during the twelve-day trip, I chose one of the traditional options off the “Breakfast Favorites” menu as did the others.

And our waitress, a young woman of about 20 from Metter, named Wanda Mae, made us realize why we would miss the almost uniform friendliness and charm we experienced in our interaction with Southerners we met.     310px-Waffle_House_Logo_svg

As background, Beerchaser Spouse, Janet, is a confirmed Starbucks Latte drinker.  At stops like this, she usually takes sips out of my mug, which she did and the following dialogue ensued:

Janet:  “That coffee is really good and strong, Wanda Mae.  I think I will also have a cup.”

Wanda Mae“Well, my mamma always said that it’s not coffee unless it’s strong enough to crawl down your throat!”

We (Jeff and Susan Nopper, our companions) ate at many wonderful bistros in the South, but our breakfast at the WH was memorable.  The menu stated that waffles were only 410 calories – considerably less than our standard of biscuits and gravy during the trip, so Jeff and I attacked our waffles, eggs (over easy) and hash browns with the fervor of a an SEC middle linebacker blitzing a Big Twelve quarterback.

The Waffle House experience came at the time that Hillary Clinton was being excoriated in her campaign for waffling and Mike Huckabee was promoting his book on Southern living – God, Guns, Grits and Gravy and that culinary integration with politics was about the extent of our conversation on the affairs of state on this trip.

Back to Charleston: We visited a few other restaurants and bars in Charleston which because of space constraints, are described very briefly below:

The Gin Joint - Creative Cocktails

The Gin Joint – Creative Cocktails

The Gin Joint –  we just popped into this place because it looked interesting and had a great sign – affirmed by various reviews including these excerpts from Charleston Magazine:

 “…..can now be called the original vestige of numerous Charleston establishments dedicated to the far-reaching influence of cocktail culture and its potential longevity as a culinary trend.” (2/14)

Trip Advisor 1/28/15 – They make the best crafted cocktails in South Carolina. Best drink menu in SC guides you to ‘choose your own adventure in a cocktail. Visitors choose their favorite adjectives from a list, and the bartenders work their magic. Go for it!”

The CBE - not just another bottle shop...

The CBE – not just another bottle shop…

The Charleston Beer Exchange – It seems appropriate to end this post with a something positive about beer and this establishment – in another historic Charleston building, has been around for seven-one half years.  It draws rave reviews for its 900-1,000 different brews in stock and its creativity in sponsoring tastings and other events.  

Growler station at the Beer Exchange

Growler station at the Beer Exchange

One example:

“You cannot overstate the importance of the owners of this place to the awesome Charleston beer culture. Charleston was a beer wasteland before CBX and Coast brewing changed everything. This place is not only the best beer store in “Chucktown”, they are also a part of Charleston history.”  Trip Advisor – 5/5/15

Inventory is plentiful at the Beer Exchange

Inventory is plentiful at the Beer Exchange

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And of course, how can we ignore the excerpt from the review below by a transplanted Portlander:

As we’ve recently relocated to Charleston from Beervana (that is, Portland, Oregon), we needed a great source for our growler habit. We patronize many of the local breweries, but this is our go-to source for beer from outside Charleston (they also have Charleston beers at competitive prices) Trip Advisor – 2/25/15

The famous Angel Tree outside Charleston

The famous Angel Oak Tree outside Charleston

Charleston was a wonderful stop on the trip, however, my favorite city was across a state line, but only a little over 100 miles south by I-95 – Savannah.