October Origins

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

The Origins of Beer

In previous posts, I’ve talked about the legacy of Benedictine Monks in the history of beer which dates from the 5th century along with the great story of St. Brigid of Ireland.  This remarkable woman was a patron saint of several things, including dairymaids, cattle, midwives, and newborns. But there’s also evidence of an equal passion for beer.

“…..when the lepers she nursed implored her for beer, and there was none to be had, she changed the water, which was used for the bath, into an excellent beer, by the sheer strength of her blessing and dealt it out to the thirsty in plenty.”

Going back further, Wikipedia chronicles the earliest archaeological evidence of fermentation — 13,000-year-old residues of a beer near Israel.  The earliest clear chemical evidence of beer produced from barley dates to about 3500–3100 BC, in western Iran. 

“During the building of the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, each worker got a daily ration of four to five liters of beer, which served as both nutrition and refreshment that was crucial to the pyramids’ construction.”

Egyptian Worker Happy Hour…..*3

Well, my education on the history of beer was supplemented last week, when my good friend, “West Coast Dave Hicks,” a consultant with whom I worked at my law firm before I retired, sent me the following article, which of course, piqued my interest:

http://Ancient Poop Shows People In Austria Enjoyed Beer And Blue Cheese 2,700 Years Ago) 

Blue Cheese and Beer After Work…..*4

Dave is one of the smartest guys I know, having graduated first from Princeton (cum laude)  where he was also a bass in the famous Princeton acapella singing group, The Nassoons. and then from University of San Diego Law School – including a semester of study in Paris.

He then started his consulting career, which has taken him all over the world.  On his trips to Portland, there have been numerous memorable Beerchasing expeditions. 

The diverse watering holes we hit included the Horse Brass Pub, Sloan’s Tavern, the Double Barrel, Reel M Inn and Richmond Bar, to name just a few, where we have raised a mug and eaten unhealthy pub food.

The article relates how archeologists found evidence of what may have been the first cheeseburger and beer combo!

“Several thousand years ago, an Iron Age salt miner took a dump in what is now …… Austria. In all likelihood, the pooper never gave their little deposit a second thought.

He would be rather surprised to learn that it has now become a scientific artifact, enabling researchers to discover that Europeans ate blue cheese and drank beer 2,700 years ago.”

Thanks to Dave for keeping us informed and the next time he comes to Portland, I guess we need to come up with beer name to honor the ancient “dumpster.”  Since I don’t think either directly or indirectly referencing fecal matter in the name of a beer would fly, what about “Outhouse Ale?” 

But what brewery would take this on?  Fortunately, through research, I noticed that there is an Out.Haus Ale Brewery in Northwood, New Hampshire.  Perhaps they would brew this on as a seasonal basis.

The Origin of “Dirt”!

From Dirty Donnie to Dirty to Dirt…

I often get questions from those who view the header of Thebeerchaser (credit is due to my long-term friend, fraternity brother and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely) which has the moniker, “Don ‘Dirt’ Williams,” where this moniker originated.   Often, the questioner suspects it was based on some nefarious exploit from my college years.  

Well to set the record straight, it did emanate from college, but from my fraternity brothers at the SAE house at Oregon State University.   I was on an NROTC Scholarship and in my freshman year, decided that to get in shape and because I admired my fellow frat bro and NROTC, colleague, Walt Ebel, I joined the Army ROTC group named “Raiders.”  Walt had signed up previously.

In retrospect, it was kind of ludicrous.   On Saturday mornings, we would dress up in utilities, go down to the Armory on campus and then run several miles holding rifles, do the obstacle course and try to look cool.  Well, at that time, my height was 5’10” and I weighed about 120 pounds dripping wet.

There was an illustrator named “Hutch”, who made a decent living by doing cartoon caricatures of OSU students.  He would tour the dorms and fraternities and feed off the comments of colleagues of his subject to create his image.  Hutch was quite talented.

So when it was my time, there were about twenty of us in the SAE living room and my peers started yelling, “He’s a Raider.”  Well, below is the end product.

From “Dirty Donnie,” to “Dirty,” to “Dirt”!

And “Dirty Donnie” hit a chord.  It then mutated to “Dirty” and then just plain “Dirt.”  Although my time in Raiders was less than one year, that appellation has stuck for over fifty years.  And I love it!   

When my younger brother, Rick  also an NROTC midshipman, joined the SAE’s several years later, as one might predict, his nickname became “Dust.” 

Dust when he was not grimey….

An example was twenty-five years after OSU graduation, while I was working for the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm in the PacWest Center.   The Building Manger was Doug Bean and Associates, a high-end commercial real estate firm.

Doug Bean was a fraternity brother at OSU and transferred to the U of O where he graduated and then formed his very successful real estate and property management firm.  He had an office in the PacWest Center as did I. 

When Doug would see me in the lobby, he would yell across the space in a booming voice which caught the attention of other people in the lobby of the thirty-floor high-rise, “Hey Dirt. How’s it going?”

In retrospect, the original college label of “Dirt” has kept me grounded, let to many down-to- earth conversations and I’m proud to say that Dirt remains a part of my identity!

The Origin of Freeland Spirits – Part II

Why is Thebeerchaser Touting Bourbon? *11

In a recent Beerchaser post, I wrote about a relatively new distillery in NW Portland that is a great story.  I became aware of this enterprise when my son-in-law gave me a bottle of Freeland Spirits Bourbon a few months ago.  It was the best bourbon I’ve ever had and I researched the origination of the the business.

“Freeland Spirits celebrates the women of the craft. From the gals who grow the grain, to those who run the still, we’re creating superior spirits that celebrate all the Northwest has to offer.”

You should check out the story of how co-owners, Jill Kuehler and Molly Troupe demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, opened Freeland in 2017 and have never looked back – even during a pandemic.   Well, they are expanding and had the Grand Opening of their new Tasting Room on N. State Street on October 14th.  They’ll be open daily from noon to 6 PM.

The new tasting room in Lake Oswego *14

And Speaking of Outhouses….

With apologies for redundancy to regular followers of Thebeerchaser, but since I talked about poop in this post and it’s the month of Octoberfest, I feel it appropriate to restate one of my favorite lawyer stories from my post:  https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/05/27/lawyers-continued-summer-associates-part-i/

In this litigation – filed in the early ‘90’s, a Portland resident filed a $53,220 lawsuit against the Mount Angel Octoberfest claiming the portable toilet he entered was pushed over by unruly patrons. His lawyer claimed:

“Plaintiff was violently thrown around the inside of said portable toilet, became intimately mixed with the contents thereof, sustained a fracture of his right wrist as well as other contusions and abrasions.”

“Intimately mixed with the contents thereof…”

Unfortunately, I could not determine the result of this lawsuit and assume – just like the contents of the overturned chamber – it settled. Thus, a jury never had to contemplate either culpability or damages as a group exercise – one which might have proven to be an odorous task.

Cheers

*  External Photo Attribution

*1.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Olaf_Simony-Jensen_-_K%C3%A6lderinteri%C3%B8r_med_munke_i_festligt_lag_-_1904.png

*2.  Wikimedia Commons – Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic. Author: Wolfgang Sauber – 21 July 2011.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigid_of_Kildare#/media/File:Saint_Non’s_Chapel_-_Fenster_3_St.Bride.jpg)

*3  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EMS-89615-Rosecrucian-Egyptian-BeerMaking.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: E. Michael Smith Chiefio 12 May, 2007

*4  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Salzbergwerk,_Deutschen_Museum.JPG) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany license.   Author:  High Contrast – 2010

 *5  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Human_Feces.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.  Author:  Cacetudo 29 May 2006.

*6  Out.Haus Ales Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/Out.Haus/photos/10158449282739118).

*7  Wikimedia Commons (http://By U.S. Army – U.S. Army, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45595228) Source: US Army 2015

*8  Oregon State NROTC Alumni Website (https://www.osu-nrotc-alumni.org/) Courtesy Jud Blakely.  

*9  Doug Bean and Associates Website (http://dougbean.com/people-2/doug-bean/

*10  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – PacWest Center 

*11 – 14   Freeland Spirits Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/freelandspirits/photos/?ref=page_internal)

*15  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Outhouse,_Lake_Providence,_LA_IMG_7386.JPG) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Billy Hathorn – 17 May, 2013

Contemplating Life and Beer in the Fall

Contemplating Life and Beer in the Fall

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

As I’ve stated before – belabored if you will – in two previous blog posts, I’m not a connoisseur or beer technology guy and my palate is not nuanced enough to discern the subtleties of beer flavor and criteria used to evaluate them in competitions such as the Great American Beer Festivalhttps://thebeerchaser.com/tag/thebeerchaser-and-the-taste-of-beer/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/01/07/leaving-2020-in-good-taste/

I certainly respect those who do have a grasp on the different elements of flavor including brewers such as Fr. Martin at the Benedictine Brewery, Mark Becker from Flyboy Brewing and Andrew Lamont, the Head Brewer at Old Town Brewing.  

Andrew Lamont of Old Town Brewing *1

Another guy who is an expert and writes great reviews on Bavarian beers is Rich Carbonara, who has a great blog entitled “Beerwanderers.”  Rich, who lives in Munich, and I connected through our blogs and I would love to have him guide me on one of this noted Bavarian Beer Hikes which you can read about on his blog.  (There’s more than 300 in Bavaria.)

Rich, in his narratives, evaluates each beer giving a summary of its taste, appearance, aroma and critical elements.  His descriptions are not so esoteric that they can’t be understood by someone who evaluates the quality of a beer by the way it tastes to them rather than a technocratic assessment. You will see more about Rich below. (* See end of post for external photo attribution)

And Then There’s Gimmicks

The typical beer-drinker doesn’t care whether the yeast is wild or domesticated, the type of hops, if it is barrel-aged or the attenuation percentage during fermentation. 

As I stated in my posts on the taste of beer, I’m also kind of a beer purist and have no use for beers which are brewed as a gimmick.  This bizarre trend was best summed up by a reviewer in his clip entitled, “Holiday Ale Festival Gone Amok” when he described a disturbing trend in the annual Portland event in 2018 as:

“The festival’s hallmark has always been wonderful strong, winter ales and cask conditioned brews. Just the thing to blast me out of my IPA rut. But this year the festival got too cutesy and lost its way. The so-called stouts all tasted like milkshakes or Snickers bars.  The ales were so fruity that a better name might be the Kool-Aid Festival.     

When creativity goes too far

And they’ve even tried to pollute ice cream with this misguided attempt at creativity. In an effusive July 2021 press releaseKraft Foods and van leeuwen Ice Cream reported that:

“We are releasing limited-edition, macaroni and cheese-flavored ice cream today. If you’re looking for a conversation starter to kick off a meeting…this could work well.”

Let’s all hope that the term “limited release” is meant literally.

Focus on the Basics

Although the term “style” can be subject to some debate as pointed out by one of the nation’s foremost beer experts.  Jeff Alworth is a Northwesterner living in Portland; however, his books on beer – most notably The Beer Bible and his blog “Beervana” are resources used by beer aficionado’s all over the country.  He also teaches at Portland State University.

His comments about styles in The Beer Bible are edifying:

“When people refer to style, they mean category of beers like stouts, dunkels, lagers or witbier.  The word is ubiquitous and spreads yearly like a fungus as new subcategories and sub-subcategories branch out from their root style…….

The one very important caveat to note is styles are constantly in flux.  The idea of style should be descriptive not prescriptive….Use the term, but don’t fix it in stasis.”

That said, the most critical factors to me (for totally different reasons) are ABV (Alcohol by Volume) and IBUs (International Bittering Unit).  Alworth defines ABV as:

“…expressed as a percentage.  A measure of the strength of of an alcoholic beverage, based on the volume of alcohol relative to total volume.”

*5

Knowing the ABV of your beer is critical if you are driving or plan to drink throughout the evening.  In Oregon, one is Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if the Blood-Alcohol-Content (BAC) is .08% or higher.  While disclaiming that the sentence below is definitely not legal advice, one credible source states:

“On any given day, considering your body size, weight, and several other internal factors, you may have two or three 12-ounce beers before reaching a BAC of .08.”

A few bars have even installed a coin-operated breathalyzer including these two which were provided by Portland’s Gil’s Speakeasy (home of  “the Nicest A-holes in Town…”) and Bottles

While it would not be advisable to depend on this machine (which may not have been calibrated for awhile and may not be advisable in a COVID environment anyway) it could be a good double check of one’s own common sense.

IBU’s are defined by Allworth as “the accepted system for describing the hop bitterness (hoppiness) of a beer.”  The higher the IBU, the hoppier the beer, although he again issues a disclaimer: 

“….many breweries don’t actually have the labs to measure the acids chemically and predict them using mathematical formulae (to call this prediction ‘inexact’ is kind)….while hoppiness is a combination of flavor, aroma and bitterness, IBU measures only the last.”

IBU’s – for many breweries — an inexact science *6

To provide some perspective, I’m showing the ABV of a few of my favorite NW beers (and also PBR) below.  The IBU is shown when available.  You will see that I am inclined to go with the less hoppy options:

More on ABV

Beer ABV IBU
Pfriem Brewing – IPA 6.8% 50
Migration Brewing – Pale Ale 5.8% 55
Benedictine Brewing – Black Habit 7.8% NA
Block 15 Brewing – Sticky Hands Double IPA 8.1% 110
Fort George Brewing – City of Dreams Pale Ale 5.5% 40
Pabst Brewing (SAB Miller) – Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) 4.7% NA
Flyboy Brewing – Fighting Redtails 9.0% 90
Sun River Brewing – Rippin NW Pale Ale 6.0% 50
Old Town Brewing – Paulie’s Not Irish Red Ale 5.60% 30

In reading Rich Carbonara’s aforementioned blog, I was interested in some of his comments about the ABV’s of various German beers he reviewed. He commented on one of the beers he reviewed: “The finish is clean and dry with a nice bitterness. Dangerous at 5.3%. (emphasis added)

Given the chart above, I was a little surprised by this characterization so I exchanged e-mails and he clarified with the following interesting perspective – another reason why I think Rich’s blog is worth following:

“Most beer here, hover around 5%. It’s always been the benchmark percentage. The feeling here is you want a beer you can drink a fair amount of without getting drunk. In Biergartens, you can only get liter mugs (at least at night) and obviously drinking stronger beer in that size vessel is dangerous.

I know, during Starkbierzeit (see note below) they serve 7-8% beers in such measures. So, you have you have some stronger beers (Bocks, Doppelbocks, Festbiers) but generally speaking, it’s about 5. If anything is really missing here, it’s lower octane offerings like Schankbier which is more in the 3-4% range.

In England, you still find things like Milds, though less so than in former times. It’s nice to be able to go out and drink 8-9 beers and not get really drunk. Have a look at my Beer Styles section, where you’ll get a feel for the ABV of various styles here.”  https://www.beerwanderers.com/beer-styles/

*7

Note:  “Starkbierfest is held for three weeks during Lent, between Carnival and Easter,[82] celebrating Munich’s ‘strong beer’. Starkbier was created in 1651 by the local Paulaner monks who drank this ‘Flüssiges Brot’, or ‘liquid bread’ to survive the fasting of Lent.[82] It became a public festival in 1751 and is now the second largest beer festival in Munich.”  Wikipedia

And Speaking of Giving Someone Else Your Keys…

I was, however, surprised to read recently that Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company) is going to break the mold, with this year’s release of its Utopias Beer as reported by CNN Business on 9/21.  Now, don’t try to get one of these 25.4 bottles in Oregon or ……

“The brewer releases a new version of its Utopias brand every two years, and the twelfth edition will be on shelves starting Oct. 11. But don’t bother looking for it in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont or West Virginia.

Utopias are illegal in those states because they contain 28% alcohol by volume, more than five times the potency of typical US brews.”

(These beers may be blissful, but not Utopia(s)!

And Finally….

Regardless of whether you make a point of checking out the ABV of your beer, be cautious driving when you are hitting your favorite bar or brewery – especially around Halloween and the forthcoming holidays.

When I started Beerchasing, I decided to be cautious and as an extra check, purchased my own breathalyzer.  The BAC Track S80 you see below now costs $130, but at that time was less expensive.  (I guess the demand became higher during the pandemic.)  

An Investment Worth Considering

I’ve never come close to the .08% threshold, but felt it was a good investment given my retirement hobby.  There are pros and cons to this idea and according to The Atlantic article, less than 1% of the US population has one.  If you do get one, be sure to have it calibrated or it may defeat the purpose.

In any event, drink responsibly and drive carefully.

Cheers

By the way, how about the Oregon State Beaver Football Team.  According to Oregon Live, “It’s not known the last time OSU had sole possession of first place in the conference standings, but it’s at least not since 1975.” 

Go Beavs! Beat the WSU Cougs.

External Photo Attribution

*1  Old Town Brewing Website (https://www.otbrewing.com/aboutus)

*2 – 4  Beerwanderers Website (https://www.beerwanderers.com/)

*5  Wikimedia Commons (http://By Lynnea Kleinschmidt – Digital photograph made by myself., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6091802

*6  Wikimedia Commons (http://By Schlemazl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22601592

*7  Wikimedia Commons (http://By holzijue – https://pixabay.com/de/menschen-oktoberfest-m%C3%BCnchen-3237513/ archive copy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69055677)

Autumn Musings – Motivation, Incentives and Nails?!

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

For Wont of a Nail…..

The proverb “For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.  And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” was included in Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1758, and came to my mind last weekend in a different context.

Followers of this blog know that I got involved in the planning and development of the Benedictine Brewery on the grounds of the beautiful Mount Angel Abbey in 2016 and have been thrilled at its success since it opened in the fall of 2018.

The Brewery – one of only three in the US which are owned and operated by Benedictine Monks – under the leadership of Head Brewer, Fr. Martin Grassel, has expanded its brewing capacity and the seating in the St. Michael Taproom’s adjacent patio.  Fr. Martin now has ten excellent beers on tap and they have garnered rave reviews and a regional following.

I always keep a few bottles around to give to friends, relatives and periodically, as a nice gesture and that opportunity occurred last week at our beach house in Lincoln City.   The foreman for our contractor who is remediating a dry-rot issue on the house which is twenty-three years old was working late on a Friday afternoon.   

I took an unopened bottle of Haustus (the most popular of the line-up according to Fr. Martin) out to him and expressed our appreciation.  About twenty minutes later he knocked on the door and the conversation went like this:

Foreman:  Hi Don, I just wanted to let you know that I’m taking off now.  And by the way, your were right.  That is really an excellent beer.

Don:   Thanks Rich.  I’m sorry I didn’t bring it out opened.

Foreman:  Don, I’m a carpenter.  I learned early on in my career that there are multiple functions for a nail! 

Good point and I guess it makes a lot more sense than trying to use one’s teeth as we did in college…..

Motivations and Incentives in the COVID Era

* 2

In order to increase the COVID vaccination rate, there have been a plethora of incentives offered to get people to roll up their sleeves.   My initial thought was:

“Why do they have to give people something to do what could save their (and their loved ones) lives and has been approved by the FDA?  What happened to the good old days, when you took action because it was the right thing to do?”

Of course, the response to that rhetorical question would be:

“Beerchaser, when you were in grade school, they still taught cursive writing.  When you were in junior high (not middle school..) you were a member of the slide rule club and when you went to Oregon City High School, you could take your date to Dick’s Club 19 and get two burgers and cokes for ninety-nine cents!”

Incentives for vaccines have ranged from lottery tickets (an Oregon State University Student won $1 million in July); doughnuts from Krispy Creme; marijuana joints; 100 free target rounds for trap, skeet, or sporting clay shooting (in Southern Illinois) and dinner with the New Jersey Governor at his beach home on the Governor’s mansion. (The Intelligencer – updated May 27, 2021 – “Lotteries, Doughnuts, Joints – The Weird Incentives to Get People Vaccinated”)

Now speaking of New Jersey Governors, the incentive below (was it the “blubber”?) also made me think of Chris Christie:

“In New York American Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life offers 1,000 shots per day to eligible residents. While they’re getting inoculated, vaccine hopefuls can take in the ocean life exhibits beneath the institution’s iconic 94-foot-long model of a blue whale, which now has a bandage on its side.”

And finally, Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in Las Vegas gave customers who get jabbed at the local strip club, a special platinum membership card, a free bottle on the house, dances from a “vaccinated entertainer,” and other perks.  (There was no reporting on how they accomplished that and maintained social distancing.)

I was glad to see some of Portland’s bars and breweries were opting into this trend.  For example, one classic dive bar in downtown Portland that I reviewed in 2015 – Kelly’s Olympian – hosted a Portland cardiologist, Dr. Maureen Mays, who administered the shots which generated a free beer at the bar last May. Dr. Mays did not get compensated.  She described it as “a labor of love.”

Dr. Mays, who has practiced for 23 years offered the same program the day before at Portland’s Ecliptic Brewing as reported in the story entitled, “A Shot for a Beer – Doctor Administers Vaccine Doses at Portland Bars.”   It stated that “the line was out the door.”

While we should be encouraged and impressed with gains in medical technology, we can also ponder how much more progress can still be made in immunity efforts as echoed by Eno L. Camino, the main character in the great comic strip “The Duplex” . 

He remarks to his best friend – dog Fang – as shown by this dialogue from a recent strip as they are watching a television talk show:

Host: So Doctor, the vaccine for the virus must be injected?

Physician: That’s correct.  A shot in the arm is the most common method.

Enos:  We have the smartest scientists in the world and they can’t figure out a way to put vaccine into a can of beer?

No needle, no syringe, just pop-a-top!

The implications of the pandemic have generated additional incentive-related programs – most notably in the area of employment where the shortage of labor has resulted in needed increases in hourly salaries as well as recruiting bonuses.

The hospitality industry has been one of the sectors experiencing the greatest adverse impact of the dearth of available help.   Restaurants and bars have struggled to recruit and retain servers, dishwashers and cooks.   

For example, Pelican Brewing, with several locations on the Oregon Coast, still has hiring notices on its website offering $2,500  bonuses for new cooks, housekeepers and even dishwashers at its Pacific City location.

A View of the Ocean and a Hiring Bonus

And the Trend has Evolved to Sports Too

But perhaps my favorite recent incentive was that originated by Portland State University’s Football Coach, Bruce Barnum.  Portland State is a wonderful school, where both my wife and I received a superb graduate education. 

That said, as an urban university with a significant number, if not a majority, of its students commuting or attending night school while working, it has struggled to build a robust athletic program – especially in football.

And there’s some validity in the position that with OSU and Oregon and leading smaller college programs, PSU should not have a football team because of the practical realities of funding, recruiting, facilities, etc.  The University has never had its own football field, but at least was able to play until early 2019 in nearby Providence Park

Scheduling issues with the Portland Timbers and Thorns Soccer Teams forced a relocation to a field in Hillsboro.  It’s a nice facility, but thirteen miles away from campus and between a one-half hour to forty-five minute trip by car.

The remote stadium and the composition of the student body has meant getting spectators in seats for home games has been problematic – a morale issue for the team and added ammunition for those who think PSU should abandon football.

However, Barnum, is a fighter, besides being a good football coach and motivator of young men.  This former middle linebacker at Eastern Washington University became Head Coach at PSU in 2015 and after guiding his team to a 9-3 record, was named Big Sky Coach of the Year.   The team has been resilient during some bad seasons and the players do well academically.

Coach Bruce Barnum – a Strong Motivator *10

So Barnum, in an effort to get more butts in seats for the critical Western Washington game in Hillsboro, made an offer while appearing on a Portland sports talk-radio show the week of the game.  For every person attending the game of legal age, he would buy a beer.  As reported in Oregon Live:

Asked how many beers he would buy, Barnum told (the host) ‘All of them.’ (not just those who were vaccinated……) 

…..Three days after PSU topped the Division II Wolves 21-7 (their first victory of the season after two losses) in front of 3,124 fans, Barnum tweeted a photo representing the final tab he paid for fans’ beers: $14,448.  (The Barney’s Beer Garden receipt showed 786 Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPAs and 1,260 Coors Lights)”

A public employee for the State of Oregon – Barnum’s yearly base salary is $205,000 not including bonuses and incentives.  He said afterwards that the school’s Administration thought it was a great promotion and there was a rumor that the PSU Foundation might pick up half of tab. 

I personally think this was a classy move and give him a “Cheers!”  Undoubtedly there are those, who think it was foolish and I’m sure the University’s lawyers were shaking their heads, but sometimes one has to just “go for it.”

And at least, Barnum followed through – unlike a Miami bar as reported in The Week.  The American Social Bar, in 2019, offered free shots for every goal scored by the US Women’s World Cup Soccer Team’s match with Thailand. The bar cut off the program midway through the match, which ended with a 13 to 0 thrashing by the US:

“Our free shots’ program is not meant to be taken literally,” explained a bar spokesman. (I’m sure that their lawyers were relieved!)

I’ll have thirteen pours of Jose Cuervo…Hold the salt and the lime….*11

External Photo Attribution

*1  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clou_127.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Rolf Dietrich Brecher from Germany.  18 February, 2018

*2 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syringe2.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.  21 June 2006.

*3  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Looped_cursive_alphabet.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author:  Thincat.  24 January, 2015

*4  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skala_slide_rule.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: Adrian Tync.  15 August, 2018.

*5  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chris_Christie_by_Gage_Skidmore_3.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Gage Skidmore.  31 October, 2015.

*6  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Model_of_a_blue_whale_in_the_Museum_of_Natural_History,_New_York_2010.JPG)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author: Roland Arhelger.  13 July 2010

*7  Kelly’s Olympian website (https://kellysolympian.com/show/a-shot-for-a-shot/

*8  Dr. Maureen Mays website (https://www.maureenmays.com/)

*9  City of Hillsboro website (https://www.hillsboro-oregon.gov/departments/parks-recreation/our-facilities/gordon-faber-recreation-complex)

*10  Portland State University website (https://goviks.com/sports/football/roster/coaches/bruce-barnum/821)

*11   Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shot_glass#/media/File:Three_shotglasses.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.  Author: Kelly Martin 16 November 2006

Advancing Into Autumn Part II

Photo Jul 03, 9 18 14 PM

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

As September gallops along, it reminds me of the ambivalence we face each year with Autumn in the Northwest — do we stay home or go to the Oregon Coast and enjoy the wonderful weather before our eight months of daily drizzle commences?

OR

Do we journey to other parts of the country – either road trip or by air – and enjoy the less-crowded National Parks and scenic wonders in other parts of our wonderful country?

This year the decision is easy because of the renewed strength of COVID throughout the US and more importantly, the impending birth of our fourth grandchild in the second week of October.

But at the onset of this post, I want to depart from bars and breweries and relate a great story about a relatively young, but thriving distillery in Portland.   I’ll finish with another one of the innovations that Adam Milne of Portland’s Old Town Brewing has just sprung which will put additional fizzle into the fall……

Freeland Spirits of Northwest Portland 

While it’s probably obvious that I love to raise a mug of almost any malted brew whether it be an IPA, a lager, pilsner, etc. on occasion, I’m also very partial to distilled spirits – gin martinis (up with olives) — scotch and bourbon also periodically come to mind.

Thus when my son-in-law, Ryan, gave me a 750 milliliter bottle of Freeland Bourbon for my birthday in May, I was in for a wonderful surprise.  The bourbon superb – the best I’ve ever consumed in over seventy years on this earth (okay – during the fifty + years where I could imbibe legally….),

But it’s produced by two woman entrepreneurs who have a compelling story AND a high-quality product from the distillery they founded in 2017. (External photo attribution at end of post *)

As stated on their website:

“Freeland Spirits celebrates the women of the craft. From the gals who grow the grain, to those who run the still, we’re creating superior spirits that celebrate all the Northwest has to offer.

After COVID subsides and I can make on-site visits again, I hope to interview both CEO and Founder, Jill Keuhler and Master Distiller, Molly Troupe at their site and devote a full post to their vision for the future.

“Freeland Bourbon pays homage to the South, and to Grandma Freeland, the namesake of Freeland Spirits. Soft caramel, vanilla and spice dance into the whiskey from charred American oak barrels.

A final rest in Oregon’s Elk Cove Pinot Noir barrels adds an element of Pacific Northwest terroir. Blended with precision by our Master Distiller, Molly Troupe, to achieve balanced texture and harmony of flavors.

But I admit, I’ve become so fond of the bourbon, that I developed a routine of sorts during COVID, when I’ve become enamored with jigsaw puzzles – after all, I’ve got a lot more free time since I’m not making personal visits to watering holes at this time.

Before bed, I often spend a session at one of the 1000-piece puzzles accompanied by a “generous” pour of their bourbon.   When my wife saw how quickly the bottle had disappeared, she decided my shots would be less fulsome……although this led to a genteel debate about the term “generous.”

For example, according to Wikipedia, a small shot of liquor in the US ranges from 30 to 44 ml whereas a double will fill a glass with about 59 to 89 ml.  So if I had an average of 55 ml shot each session, the bourbon would have been consumed in only 14 sessions. 

Since I only spend about forty-five minutes each night, it certainly has taken me that long to get this far in one of the most challenging 1000-piece puzzles we have done to date (Galison Puzzles “A Day at the Bookstore.”)

And Speaking of Northwest Entrepreneurs…..

One of my favorite Portland breweries in the eleven years I’ve been Beerchasing is Old Town Brewing.  And only part of that sentiment is because of its great beer and pizza.   Like Freeland Spirits above, a major factor is the creativity and resourcefulness of the founder and owner, Adam Milne

He has demonstrated this entrepreneurial spirit, from the time he bought Old Town Pizza in 2004, when this Marcola, Oregon native was only thirty-three.  (He mortgaged the equity in his house and sold a rental unit to buy the establishment.)

The almost twenty-year history of this enterprise and Adam’s resilience, innovation and creativity is a remarkable story which took me two Beerchaser posts to chronicle: https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/26/new-energy-and-ideas-at-old-town-brewing/

And from my own experience meeting and interviewing him over beers at his Eastside brewery and pub in late 2018, Adam is also a great human being who is the epitome of an enlightened owner and manager.

Before telling you about Adam’s latest adventure, I will use the words of Carson Bowler his college Sigma Nu fraternity brother at the University of Oregon, and my colleague at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, (shown in the photo above) who has also represented Adam and Old Town on legal issues:

I’ve known Adam for more than twenty-five years.  We were in the Sigma Nu house and his reputation then was that he was the nicest guy in the fraternity.  Unfortunately, that reputation was accurate. 

One could never lie to, or ‘borrow’ from or prank Adam without the everlasting worry that God, Himself would punish any such shenanigans with eternal damnation. 

Adam always had one great idea too many until he didn’t and launched Old Town Brewing.  It was in this enterprise that his ambition, good taste, generosity and entrepreneurial spirit blissfully collided to produce pure-love in a pint.  Adam makes good beer because only good things come from Adam.”

Adam and Crew *8

Adam, like most small business owners has faced incredible challenges in the last two years.   At the height of COVID’s initial wave and when Portland was enmeshed in the lawless protests (a continuing saga), he was forced to shut his Old Town location down in July, 2020:

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

But he rebounded and in May of 2020, Old Town Brewing launched a Drive-Thru Brewer’s Market with seven different breweries and cideries. Every Saturday from 11am-4pm, Old Town’s parking lot off of Killingsworth in northeast Portland –  a contact free drive-up experience with rotating selections from local breweries is filled with enthusiastic patrons.

And in February, 2021, he purchased Baby Doll Pizza on Southeast Stark  – known for its’s New York style pizza.  He didn’t change the name although it now features a number of the excellent Old Town beers on tap.  

Well, the innovation continues and this time it’s “Out of the Barrel…”   As featured in Oregon Live’s Andre Meunier’s new column on beer and breweries (which is an excellent column you should check out) “Portland’s Old Town jumps into hard seltzer market with Upper Left”

“‘On Thursday (9/15/21) (Old Town Brewing) will release its Upper Left hard seltzer brand, becoming one of the first small breweries in the nation to do so,’ (Adam Milne) said. Old Town, no slouch when it comes to brewing awards, will continue to make its full line-up of craft beer, but it will augment that with an initial offering of two seltzers: Cotton Candy and Key Lime, with more flavors to be introduced.

‘The flavors are a throwback to the candies of the ‘70s,’ Milne said. He wanted to capture the retro flavors of confections like Now and Later, Laffy Taffy or Bazooka, or even the vibe of the corner pop shop or a saltwater taffy store. He wants the Upper Left brand to appeal not only to young adults but also to those who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”

Now, I loved Bazooka Bubble Gum when I was a kid and I’m going to give it a try, but I don’t know if a hard seltzer is going to replace my Freeland Bourbon when I embark on my next jigsaw puzzle.  

Cats in Positano, 1000 Pieces, eeBoo | Puzzle Warehouse

That said, I might substitute a mug of Old Town’s Paulie’s Not Irish (American Red) Ale which recently won a Bronze Medal at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival.

A good substitute! *14

External Photo Attribution

*1 – 3  Freeland Spirits Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/freelandspirits/photos/?ref=page_internal)

*4  Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shot_glass#/media/File:Three_shotglasses.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.  Author: Kelly Martin 16 November 2006

*5 – 9  Old Town Brewing Facebook Page  (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby%20Doll%20Pizza/1409561956008482/photos/)

*10 – 11  Baby Doll Pizza Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby%20Doll%20Pizza/1409561956008482/photos/)

*12 – 13  Upper Left Hard Seltzer Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/upperleftseltzer/photos/?ref=page_internal)

*14  Old Town Brewing Website (https://www.otbrewing.com/beer_pnir)

Beerchaser Miscellany – the Advent of Autumn

Steeplejack Brewing

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

As we move into autumn, my hopes of returning to full-fledged inside Beerchasing are temporarily delayed although my first visit to the new Steeplejack Brewing’s on NE Broadway a few weeks ago convinced me I need to return in the future.

My friend, John Limb, just retired Publisher of the Catholic Catholic Press and I had lunch there and marveled at what co-owners Brody Day and Dustin Harder had accomplished to save this wonderful 112-year-old historic church (which might have otherwise been developed into condominiums) and to refurbish and restore it into a great brewery and brewpub.  

Restored and refurbished

Since I have not a whit of architectural or interior design expertise or comprehension, I will not attempt to give any description other than to say that this church building, originally dedicated In 1909 by then President of the United States, William Howard Taft, as the First Universalist Church of Good Tidings, was breathtaking and impressive.

 The following article from the July 21st New School Beer and Cider article goes into more detail. (see link)  I have been impressed in two phone conversations with Brody’s upbeat, but modest persona – plus his vision including their plans for a second facility in Hillsboro outside Portland, which is now in the planning stages.

In fact on their website, the owners – college buddies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, omit any reference to their own impressive entrepreneurial experience and talk strictly about the excellent brewing, culinary and management staff they have assembled.

Now the menu appears to be somewhat limited at this point, but the Smash Burger and fries we had were excellent and the beer befitting of the experience of the two female Brewmasters, who are both industry veterans.  Anna Buxton was working on a batch on their impressive equipment a few yards from our table. (* external photo attribution at end of post.)

*1 Anna Buxton

I had a pint of the Hermit Kolsch, (5.2 ABV), a lemony, fermented ale with a nice taste and John had the Gravity IPA, for which there was no information on their website.  If these are representative, Steeplejack will not only become known for its architecture, but its suds! 

Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter Update

I have been remiss in 2021 in publishing one of my favorite features of this blog – the Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOQ) features an individual or group that may or may not have anything to do with bars or beers, but has made a contribution to society and has a good story. 

While past “honorees” have included war heroes, athletes, academicians, authors and media personalities – most of whom I’ve know personally, the only recognition bestowed this year was in another one of my posts on lawyers published in May based on my forty years working with these characters:  https://thebeerchaser.com/category/beerchaser-of-the-month-or-quarter/

That will change in the near future, but here’s an update on five past BOQ’s I’ve featured.

Dr. Sam Holloway

Those of you who bemoan the trend of the corporate brewery behemoths to acquire or absorb independent craft breweries will be encouraged to learn that Sam Holloway, who co-founded and is the President of Crafting a Strategy, entered a new partnership in August.  He is also an award-winning professor in the Pamplin School of Business at the University of Portland:

UniteCraft Corporation, a collaboration of three brewing industry veterans, launched UniteCraft.com. This new online platform of web based applications enables the highly fragmented craft beer industry to enjoy the economic benefits previously only experienced by large breweries and brewery collectives.

(UniteCraft) has partnered with Sam Holloway to level the playing field against “Big Beer”.  UniteCraft’s mission is to use its proprietary technology to organize the collective power of independent craft breweries, to expand market opportunities for any brewery, and to help small breweries create healthier businesses.”

Jay Waldron (and Shane)

I featured my former colleague at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, Jay Waldron, as my BOQ in March 2016.    https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/03/29/jay-waldron-rugger-rafter-rider-and-lawyer-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/ 

It was to convey not only his public service contributions including Chair of the Oregon Health Sciences University Board, President of the Port of Portland and Chair of Metro’s Transportation Committee or his accomplishments as a trial lawyer, but his athletic achievements. 

These include induction into the US Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017.  Oh yeah, then there’s his rafting adventures on the Upper Yangtze and his motorcycle racing and treks. As pointed out in a January 2021 article on NBC Northwest in January by another BOQ, Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes:  

“But (Jay) is not the most famous person in the family these days — at least since last week, when his son, Shane, was named offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks……

After growing up on five acres in the family log home in Carver, Shane played football at LaSalle High School, Phillips Academy Andover and Tufts University in Massachusetts. After his playing career as a tight end and long-snapper at Tufts, he caught on as an operations intern with the New England Patriots, launching a career that carried him all the way to the Seahawks

…..with stops at Notre Dame, New England (again), U-Mass, the Washington Football team, Eventually he was hired by the Rams as a tight ends coach, then became passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach under head coach Sean McVay.”

As an aggressive litigator, it would not be surprising if Jay, based on his rugby exploits, tried to persuade Shane to toughen up his players by eliminating helmets and implementing a “scrum-type” offensive strategy.  Fortunately, his son will be getting his direction from Seahawk Head Coach Pete Carroll.

John Terry

A superb historian and writer

Former Oregonian long-time history columnist, John Terry was one of my first BOQ’s. Many of us looked forward to his superb and interesting weekly accounts of Portland’s fascinating and colorful heritage and were aghast when first, the Oregonian reduced it to a monthly gig and followed by discontinuing it permanently.

As another BOQ, Portland attorney, Jim Westwood lamented:

“When The Sunday Oregonian discontinued John Terry’s weekly articles on Oregon history, I sighed and told myself I’d get used to turning to something else first thing every Sunday morning. How wrong I was. How long has it been now, a couple of months? It’s an eternity. I miss John Terry’s lively, superbly researched articles.

I miss them desperately. I’m frustrated and angry that The Oregonian could have taken them away without considering making them at least a monthly feature. Sunday will never be the same, and it hit me again this morning…..The Oregonian (should) resurrect John Terry and his wonderful works on the history of our state and its people.”

I sought John’s advice in 2012, shortly after I started this blog for resources on historic bars in Portland.  In his quiet and unassuming manner, he gave me a wealth of advice.  This lunch was followed by a Beerchasing event with the aforementioned Jim Westwood at the legendary Goose Hollow Inn (reviewed 1n 2012) owned by Portland’s former and most charismatic Mayor, Bud Clark.

Mayor Clark spent ninety minutes enthralling us with stories ranging from the political campaign in which he pulled off a stunning upset of the incumbent, to the unbelievable tale of how what was supposed to be a photo highlighting a campaign to combat venereal disease (“Zap the Clap”), became an internationally famous poster which still hangs in the Smithsonian Institute entitled (as will be obvious from the photo below) “Expose Yourself to Art!”

“Zap the Clap didn’t “fly”…….

We were saddened to hear that John passed away unexpectedly after a short hospitalization on March 8th.  His legacy will live on.

Jack and Jan McGowan

Oregon Environmental, Sustainability and Public Service Icons

This dynamic couple whose contributions to Oregon’s environmental health and public awareness, spanned eighteen years as founders and co-directors of SOLV (Stop Oregon Littering and Vandalism.)   (The non-profit dropped the words from its name to just the acronym in 1998 and added the E in 2012 to reflect its expanded mission in the community and environment.)

When I interviewed them in 2020 at their ranch in Sisters, Oregon, Jack smiled when he stated, “When I started SOLV had no staff, no office, no phone, 100 sheets of letterhead and $12,000 in a checking account.” The office for the first five yeas, was in the family room of their house in Helvetia.   

And from that staff of one and a budget of $12,000 to the time of their retirement in 2008 (Jan still has a thriving non-profit consulting firm) , it grew to a staff of twenty-six (now 32) and a budget of $2.6 million and tens of thousands of volunteers.

September 11, 2021 is the twentieth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as summarized in this excerpt from History.com:

“On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States.

Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defined the presidency of George W. Bush.”

No caption is required for this photo…….* 11

So how does the anniversary of this catastrophe relate to Jack McGowan and his actions along with almost 1,000 intrepid Oregonians about one month after the attack? 

And in our current time of a pandemic, multiple crises ranging from wildfires to tropical storms and national controversies that have polarized our country, how can the actions of this group in 2011 be an example of attitudes and actions which can help heal the divide.  Read about the remarkable Oregon Flight for Freedom:

The following is an excerpt from Thebeerchaser.com post on Jack and Jan McGowan.

 “In 2001, we were all stunned by the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.   But Jack, having grown up there (Jackson Heights) said, ‘When I saw the Towers go down, it affected me viscerally.’

Portland travel agency icon, Sho Dozono, his wife Loen, the late Commissioner Nick Fish and Oregon Congressman David Wu, John Ray along with Portland influencers, Len Bergstein and Elaine Franklin collectively began orchestrating the concept in the lobby of KGW television studios shortly after the attack on NYC.

At the time, Jack was co-hosting the local part of a national broadcast and pledge drive for the rescue workers.  Elaine Franklin originated the name “Flight for Freedom” and Loen Dozono came up with the vision of a “Reverse Oregon Wagon Train” – only by air.

When New York City was struggling with the aftermath and people were avoiding airline flights as being too hazardous, they decided let’s get a group of Oregonians and “Fly to New York City, look terrorism in the face and not blink!”  *12

Jack and John Ray went three days early as an advance party to pave the way for the official flight, which included Oregon dignitaries including Mayor Vera Katz.

The unique group of about 500 flew into Manhattan where the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel was virtually empty.  (Delta Airlines gave a great deal on cost of the flight.) Few people were going to Manhattan unless they absolutely had to – especially tourists. 

The Oregonians filled the hotel –  the only cost was for the room tax.  All other lodging expense was gladly absorbed by hotel management.  The Flight was covered by national and international print and broadcast media. And according to Jack:

‘New York City went crazy!  Cops hugged us.  We went to a restaurant and when the maitre’d announced that we were the group from Oregon, we got a standing ovation and multiple parties debated as to whom would pick up the bill for the meal.

We met with Rudy Guliani and Governor Pataki and had appearances on Good Morning America and Today.'”

This post is already too long and I won’t include one of the best Jack McGowan stories I’ve heard – and there are many – (It brought tears to my eyes when he told it.)   

The picture above shows when Jack and several of the Oregon delegation rang the traditional opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange with Richard (Richie) Grasso the President of the New York Stock Exchange in their midst.  (Check this link so you don’t miss it….)

And in Closing……

Stay safe, get vaccinated, wear a mask, help your neighbor, patronize your local restaurants, bars and breweries – even if it’s eating outside or getting take-out and pray for our health-care workers, emergency responders and teachers.

*17

External Photo Attribution

*1-3  Steeplejack Brewing Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos)

*4-6 Crafting a Strategy Website (https://craftingastrategy.com/users/sam-holloway) and Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/craftingastrategy)

*7-8 Shane Waldron Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/shane.waldron.14/photos)

*9 Oregon Business Magazine – December 2003 Issue https://www.oregonbusiness.com/component/search/? searchword

*10  SOLVE Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SOLVEOregon/photos/?ref=page_internal

*11 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_face_south_tower_

(This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Robert on Flickr

13-16 Oregon Flight for Freedom Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/Flight-For-Freedom-191666124219332/photos 

*17  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syringe2.jpg)  

 Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

Summer Beerchasing Miscellany – Continued

The Challenges Continue……

Just when it seemed like some semblance of normalcy (when did that word become part of our vocabulary) would return, the Delta Variant throws a wrench into our lives.  And after months of challenges with lockdowns, restrictions and uncertainty, the small business people who own the bars and independent breweries are again faced with necessary restrictions and reluctance of many people to eat or drink inside.

And since reopening during the summer, they’ve faced additional hurdles such as availability of servers and kitchen help and even supplies.

For example, the situation which one of my favorite bar owners, Jessica Neal, the owner of the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon on the Southern Oregon Coast, faced recently where she could not get French fries because of supply chain issues. 

The Broken Anchor is a wonderful establishment with a good selection of taps, great cocktails, superb food and a dedicated staff.

We had dinner and drinks there in 2017 on the way back from a trip to the Redwoods up through the Oregon Coast.  We met and had a great conversation with Jessica, originally from Minnesota, who has developed a loyal clientele at her establishment.

A smart and savvy enterprenaeur

Another of my favorite entrepreneurs is John Lyons.  He and Alan Blackwell are the co-owner of the Salty Rhino, a small and very hospitable watering hole right in my own community of West Linn – a burb, twelve miles south of Portland.

John and his partner have been agile, expanded their capacity outdoors and reached out to the community during the disjointed and inconsistent communication over the last eighteen months from the State of Oregon about when they could open and under what guidelines.

These two are typical of the thousands of hospitality owners throughout the US and the world, for that matter, who have pushed on through adversity.  So what can we do for Jessica, John and their colleagues? 

Patronize them!   If you can’t go in person or may be reluctant to eat on site, then order take-out.  And just express your appreciation and encouragement for the efforts they have made even if you don’t patronize them on a regular basis.

John in his Ugly Christmas Sweater

In fact, I think John and Jessica, would appreciate an attaboy/girl in a quick message on Facebook even if you are one of the many followers of this blog who live in other parts of the US or Europe. Their Facebook sites are below: 

https://www.facebook.com/thesaltyrhino

Broken Anchor Bar & Grill | Facebook

Or you could even give them a call. It’s one little thing we can all do to encourage others during this pandemic.  Their numbers are on the Facebook pages.

Portland Bar Owners Step Up to the Plate!

One of the most discouraging issues during this pandemic has been how public health and safety have become inextricably intertwined with politics.  While I will not get into my thoughts about why, the statistics show that masks and vaccinations are key methods to beat this scourge and return to normal.  *1 (External photo attribution below)

800px-Syringe2

It is thus encouraging that in Portland, a group of bar owners have taken the initiative to help – not through a government mandate – but because of their own concern about their patrons and being business smart and following the advice of scientists and public health experts rather than ****%%%$$##.

An August 5th Willamette Week article entitled “Portland Bars Plan a ‘Vaxx Coalition’to Uniformly Require Proof of COVID 19 Vaccination for Entry.” tells the story.

They are following the lead of about 300 bars and restaurants in San Francisco and over 100 in Seattle who implemented the policies earlier.  In SF, the Bar Owners’ Alliance does not require vaccination proof for outdoor seating and lets the allied bar enforce what required proof of vaccination on their terms. 

Interestingly enough: “Seattle and San Francisco bars have reported backlash, not from patrons, but from online anti-vaxx trolls, who, hearing about the vaccination-for-entry mandate, have inundated participating businesses with one-star reviews.”  Go figure!

I’m pleased that the Portland list includes some of my favorite haunts ranging from dive bars like the Yukon Tavern to the upscale and exclusive Multnomah Whiskey Library.

Help Save the Earth – Ridwell can Help

Many of us who are trying to be good stewards of the earth, grow frustrated that although we try to conscientiously recycle, a lot of our waste still goes to landfills or it is just difficult to find options.  Janet and I are pleased with our new option.

Ridwell is a Seattle-based start-up founded in their home in 2018 by a father-son team – the son only six years old (Ryan and Owen Metzger). For a fee of $10 to $14 per month, they pick-up at your home (or condo) or company twice each month, the items that the standard recyclers won’t take – batteries, plastic film, threads (clothes and shoes or glasses which they will provide to non-profit partners), light bulbs and a rotating category.

In our first pick-up, the rotating category was devices – old cellphone, remote control devices, hard-drives, GPS devices, etc.  And for a nominal fee ($1) when you have enough to justify a stop, they will take those ubiquitous clamshell containers or Styrofoam or even things like wine corks, electrical cords or Christmas lights and old computer equipment etc.  They work with non-profit partners to re-use items like old glasses.

I was impressed with the Ridwell website with explanatory videos and links to clarify what can and cannot be included in categories.  And they have responded promptly a few times by e-mail when I had a question not found there.

Ridwell needs a threshold of clients in each city to provide their coverage, but it’s not inordinate and based on favorable reviews, more people are adding to the nucleus.  Besides a sizeable base in Seattle, they now have about 6,000 in Portland and its burbs.  Janet and I are delighted we can add this small step to expand our environmental efforts. 

Check it out.  https://www.ridwell.com/  You may have a Ridwell-type option in your area that’s worth exploring.

*5

Another Small Business Success…

Valerie Bowler is the wife of my former colleague, Carson (CBO) Bowler, an outstanding environmental and natural resources partner at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.  Valerie and Carson are also wonderful parents and human beings who live in Portland although unfortunately, both, like my wife, are University of Oregon grads and ardent Duck supporters. Carson even went to U of O Law School where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.

fd66b8_03ec63d5edbd4a86b07fe9a2b173f44a_mv2

One of Val’s joys is baking, something which in 2019, she decided to turn into a business working from their residence.  As she states on her website  https://www.valscakespdx.com/about :

“When my boys no longer needed (as much) holding, I tried my hand at baking. That’s where I found joy, in scoops of flour, cups of sugar, and teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Baking is now my happy place. I love that moment when I can smell that the cake is ready to come out of the oven. I love the peaceful process of spreading delicious frosting. And I love collaborating with you to design the perfect cake for your special occasion.”

I wanted to surprise my wife on her recent birthday, so I ordered one of Val’s cakes – a lemon poppy-seed beauty with cream cheese icing.   We picked it up and it was our dessert at our younger daughter’s house where she and her husband watched their 2 1/2 year daughter devour it.   It was a hit with everyone else as well. 

Val is taking a slight break during August, but if you live in Portland or the surrounding area, you can order one of her works of art at her website or see the info at her instagram account http://@valscakespdx

By the way, Val’s husband also bears a striking resemblance to former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Art Vandelay who you can check out by clicking on the link. 

Photo Attribution

*1   (Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syringe2.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.  21 June 2006.

*2- 5  https://www.facebook.com/getridwell

2021 Summer Beerchasing Miscellany – Part II

A Gathering of Oregon City Boys

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

In a few recent posts, I have mentioned my years in Oregon City – my youth including graduation from Oregon City High School in 1966 (Go Pioneers!) and my experience as a young adult in this historic community.

The last Beerchaser post was a review of the impressive new (February, 2021) community gathering place named Corner 14.  It was featured along with some of the City’s rich history – the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains. 

The co-owners of this collection of twelve food carts, 24 taps and cocktails (“Great Food, Spirits and Brew”) are former Oregon City Mayor, Dan Fowler and his daughter, entrepreneur, Cherisse Reilly – a 1997 OCHS grad. 

An earlier post during the pandemic entitled “Beerchasing Miscellany – Looking Back” also talked about memories of life in this bustling suburb a few miles south of Portland, Oregon.

Well, I had a wonderful afternoon Beerchasing recently with two other good friends – both OC Pioneers.  I’m somewhat surprised that I had never been to the Falls View Tavern – a classic dive bar that is located right on Highway 99E – and as you might expect – right across from the historic Willamette Falls.  I’ll be writing about the tavern’s story in the next month. 

Jim Westwood, a 1962 graduate, is a retired Oregon appellate lawyer, who along with his Portland State College teammates, made history in 1965 with their unexpected, underdog run on the nationally televised GE College Bowl program.

Jim is also a frequent Beerchasing companion and his story is conveyed in my blog post in which he was a Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2013.  Jim and I also cherish our conversations over single-malt beverages in Portland. 

But we’ve had equally lively, diverse and sometime heated dialogue over beer in some great Portland dives, which have included The Tanker, Belmont Station, Kelly’s Olympian ,The Standard, TC O’Leary’s,  the Yard House and more.

I was interested in a Portland State University Facebook post recently which read, in part:

““One of the College Bowl trivia whiz kids who helped put Portland State College on the map was reunited with an old friend recently.  PSC alum, Jim Westwood, captain of the 1965 National Champion GE College Bowl Team dropped by Smith Hall (named after Mike Smith, a deceased member of the same team) to pose with the trophy the team won for its undefeated run on national TV.  ‘It’s the first time I’ve held it since 1965, he said.’ 

The silver bowl features the names – Westwood, Robin Freeman, Larry Smith, Michael Smith and coach, Ben Padrow – and is stamped March 7, 1965, the date of the 415-60 victory over Birmingham Southern in the final match.  It’s been ….on display…for decades.”

As if Westwood isn’t enough grist for a robust chat, our other companion was Matt Love, who lived in Oregon City during his junior high and high school years and graduated from OCHS in 1982.  He relates this story in one of his excellent books Pioneer Pride, which I read with continuous fits of laughter and nostalgia.

You see, Matt is a prolific author (nineteen books) who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a small publishing company.  His repertoire, to name a few I’ve read, includes Oregon Tavern Age – an exploration of dive bars on the Oregon Coast – something Thebeerchaser relished.

Add to this list, The Bonnie and Clyde Files – How Two Senior Dogs Saved a Middle-aged Man.  In 2009, he won the prestigious Oregon Literary Arts’ Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon history and literature. 

And although I have communicated with Matt multiple times over the last eighteen months by phone, e-mail and ZOOM, the Falls View was the first time I had the privilege of meeting him in person – one that I’ve been anticipating since 2011.  That’s because Matt was a key factor in my decision to launch “Thebeerchaser.com” that year.

It was appropriate that we meet in a dive bar because my first “contact” with Matt was through his blog “Let it Pour.net.” – a colorful and well researched account of his visits to historic dive bars along the Oregon coast from 1999 to 2011, when he discontinued it.

I was so enthralled with his stories and the vivid descriptions of the bars’ history, regulars, staff and stories that I decided that a similar tour of watering holes would be a wonderful retirement hobby to pursue in Portland. 

That goal expanded to include saloons all over Oregon – including some of Matt’s great haunts like the Old O in Lincoln City and the Sportsman Pub and Grub in Pacific City – both on the Central Oregon Coast. Oh yes, there’s also Newport’s Bay Haven Inn, the Mad Dog Country Tavern, the Tide Pool in Depot Bay and……. 

That seemed like a good pursuit, so I embarked on visits to bars and breweries throughout the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) and even a few in Europe. The total before the pandemic approached 400.

Of Dogs and Meaning – and He Really Does Mean it!

And while I’m slightly biased based on my friendship with Matt, I have to rave about his most recent book – one that garners my whole-hearted endorsement even though I’m only 64 pages through the 102-page work entitled Of Dogs and Meaning.

An outstanding read even if you don’t own a dog

I grew to really appreciate Matt’s writing style, his humor and rich descriptions from reading the aforementioned “Pioneer Pride” and his booklet “Oregon Tavern Age,” but his tome on dogs (and life) is absolutely captivating – and I make that assertion even though Janet and I have never had a dog during our 41 years of marriage.

That said, we love our grand-puppy Sullivan in Seattle and sobbed when our other five-year old golden retriever, Wesley Walter (who our 2 ½ year old granddaughter referred to as “Dog Dog,”) succumbed to a heart-attack in April at just 5 1/2 years old.

Matt, at times can be cynical, but his keen insight on both the human and canine condition – often using well-placed rhetorical questions – is overlaid with rich humor and erudition:

“What’s with the phrase, ‘dogging it?’  Football and basketball coaches from my youth always screamed about not ‘dogging it’ during practice.  Was the implication that dogs loaf and humans shouldn’t follow suit when competing at sports?  It makes little sense, but then again it does, because human insults that reference dogs are legion in American speech. 

For example, ‘hot dogger,’ is a derogatory phrase applied to a basketball player who plays with a certain panache and executes theatrical dribble drives, behind-the-back passes and balletic fade-away jumpers.  Pete Maravich was the greatest hot dog basketball player in the history of the sport.  Who wouldn’t want to play basketball like Pete?”

In sixty-four pages in his yarns and anecdotes about canines, I’ve seen references to works by Lord Byron, Ring Lardner, John Steinbeck, Eugene O’Neill, John Irving and Shakespeare.

Besides Matt;s own heart-warming stories from athletics, teaching and most notably, of his own dogs – Sonny, Bonnie and Clyde, and Tex.  He relates canine tales ranging from those involving George Washington, James Madison, John Kennedy, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill and WC Fields.

And of course, his years in dive bars yield a few good anecdotes:

“I met a dog in an Oregon Tavern who fetched cans of Hamm’s for humans from behind the bar, but only Hamm’s. Budweiser was out.”

And to illustrate his points, he uses song titles and lyrics from country legend George Jones, the Monkees, Harry Nilsson, Blake Shelton and the Beatles as well as his own musical piece, which has not yet made the Country Hit Parade:  “I Had to Put My Dog Down. Wish it Had Been My Ex-girlfriend.”

I’ll finish with a long excerpt (but one worth reading in its entirety) from page 16 which made me laugh out loud – one of many times

“In third grade, I fell off a shed and broke my left wrist.  As some sort of therapy, my parents surprised me with a beagle.  I named him Tex and he became my best friend, boon companion….

My most indelible memory of Tex involves leaves and and football.  I would spend hours raking leaves into giant piles that I arranged to resemble an offensive line in football.  Tex would stand on the opposite side of the piles. 

I would toss him a hamburger chew toy, he would snag it with his teech, then bolt back through the piles like the fat fullback he was. I would play middle linebacker and meet him in the hole, tackle him and boy and dog would roll and roll on the grass, and the leaves would fly and fly. He never fumbled……

Tex, the fullback….

We played this game for years.  He knew it was coming when I started raking and waited with the hamburger in his mouth.  When he died my freshman year in college, he was buried in the yard with that hamburger. Raking hasn’t been the same since.

I once told a woman I was dating that I grieved more over the death of Tex than my grandfather.  She later cited that as the moment she knew she was going to dump me.  Another woman I dated suggested that my three dogs sleep in my truck outside her home.  It was over right there.  Another woman I dated told me it would never work because I had three big dogs.”

You can order this book for only $20 from the Nestucca Spit Press.  I guarantee that you will become a fan of this talented writer.

:

Photo Attribution

Multiple photos courtesy of Matt Love and the Nestucca Spit Press, the City of Oregon City, Corner 14 and Portland State University

*1.  Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare#/media/File:Shakespeare.jpg

*2.  Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hamms_Logo.jpg

2021 Summer Beerchasing Miscellany – Part I

Now That Really is a Dirty Shame!

While I’m happy for my friend, John Runkle, the owner of the World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana, I lament for the rich history of legendary dive bars, that John has sold the bar – the new owners take over in late August.  Originally there was talk that they would change the name, but that appears to be a false rumor.

After reading about the history of the bar in Joan Melchers’ two books “Montana Watering Holes,” I called John and arranged a visit and stay in 2019 at the Yaak River Lodge, which John also owns – located on 7.5 acres along the beautiful Yaak River.

I stayed for two nights in the Moose Room (the Wolf Room was already occupied) – waking to John’s home-cooked breakfasts of bacon, hashbrowns and blueberry pancakes.  In the near term, He will continue to operate the Lodge – a rustic retreat shown below which is about one mile from the Saloon.

My enthusiasm for the Bar, John and his staff as well as the entire Yaak community of about 250 people, is evidenced by the four blog posts I wrote – necessary to adequately convey John’s and the “Shame’s” amazing stories. 

The last one entitled “Thebeerchaser’s Final Thoughts on the Dirty Shame Saloon,” published in October 2019, contains only some of the tales I heard there.  Check it out and the others to understand some of the reasons why this remains my favorite bar in ten years of Beerchasing.

So what’s in store for this soon to be father of three kids under six after his wife Dallas Runkle’s projected delivery date in September.  They live much of the time in the Tri-City area in Washington where Dallas is completing her graduate studies in education and counseling.

A conversation this week with John went like this:

Beerchaser: “Are you going to sell the Lodge at some point?”

Runkle: “Yes, we’ve temporarily taken it off the market, but when Dallas finishes her educational requirements in about a year, we’ll probably move to Texas.”

Beerchaser:  “What are you going to do, John – Run another saloon, run for office, run a marathon…” (John is a staunch conservative and we had some great debates about politics and life during my two days in Yaak while we drank beer.)

Runkle:  “Since Dallas will be working and at sixty, I’ll be the oldest dad in the world with three kids under six, I’ll probably be taking care of my offspring.  (Laughing) Joe Biden’s child-care credits will help me do that!”

John hasn’t met the new owners of the Dirty Shame yet, but they are a group of radiologists from San Luis Obispo, California, who also bought the Yaak River Tavern across the street from the Dirty Shame and evidently acquired the nearby  Overdale Lodge as well.  Does this seem a little like the premise of the series “Yellowstone?”

Regardless of the name change, the bar will not have the same character as when John was the owner and what he has made of this legendary watering hole since he bought it out of foreclosure in 2013. 

John’s humor, great heart and sense of community, have made this a focal point for the community and miles around for events such as the Sasquatch Festival, the Crawfish Festival, the Adult Easter Egg Hunt or the “Yaak Attack.”  After the two previous owners failed, John’s business acumen prevailed and the saloon has increased revenue every year except in 2020 with COVID.  It has never been more profitable.

He ended our phone call by saying, “Don, don’t forget that on July 31st, we will have the last staging of Female Cream Wrestling (last year it was canceled because of COVID) and the farewell party with live music will be on August 28th.”  

Let’s see – it’s 520 miles or 8 hours and 29 minutes from my house to Yaak.  And, if I hurry, I might be able to get a reservation in the Moose Room again…..(See the end of this post for another photo album of my visit to the Dirty Shame.)

Back to Beerchasing but Farewell to Some Favorite Haunts

With vaccination rates at a good level and restrictions lifted in Oregon, Thebeerchaser is back in business – visiting new bars and breweries to add to the total – now approaching 400 – since starting this retirement hobby in August 2011.  My most recent post related my four great visits to Corner 14 – a wonderful community watering hole in Oregon City which opened in February of 2020.  Stay tuned…..

That said, the pandemic and lockdown were brutal to hospitality establishments and some of my favorite bars and a few breweries didn’t make it.  And while we lost a number during the pandemic, it exacerbated an already tough economic environment.   An 4/4/21 Oregon Live article entitled, “Brewers Were Soaked by the Pandemic” stated in part:

“Oregon breweries were already undergoing a generational transition in the months before the pandemic hit.  In 2018 and 2019, Lompoc, Bridgeport, Portland Brewing and Widmer Brewing all closed restaurants and/or bars.  Alameda Brewhouse, Columbia River Brewing and Burnside Brewing shut their doors too.”  (Click on the links to see Thebeerchaser reviews.)

“Oregon breweries shed 1,000 jobs between the summer of 2019 and the pandemic, nearly 12% of the sector’s employment.  Then 3,500 jobs vanished in the spring of 2020.

Employment….tumbled 43% in the first months of the pandemic.   While many of those jobs bounced back over the summer as the state gradually reopened, brewery jobs remained down nearly 29% — a greater fall than at restaurants and bars, overall.”

Ironically, liquor sales jumped 20%, last April, during the first month of the pandemic to a record high. But there is good news on the brewery front. 

A number are expanding their locations including Pelican Brewing in Lincoln City, Lake Oswego’s Stickman Brewing and Baerlic Brewing in NE Portland.  Chuckanut Brewing of Bellingham, known for its lagers, has filed to open a SE Portland beer hall.

I’m very excited to check out a new Portland brewery.  Steeplejack Brewing is scheduled to open in an historic church building (112 years old) in July.  (Soft opening on 7/16 and grand opening on 7/31.) .  Two University of California – Santa Cruz college buddies – Brody Day and Dustin Harder are partnering to restore this wonderful NE Portland landmark  (Willamette Week 2/20/21)

Demolition and rebuilding is underway as crews are digging up a section of the main hall of worship for a sunken brewery, but Steeplejack plans to keep many of the most iconic and timeless elements of the building intact.

William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, actually laid the cornerstone of the church at a ceremony in front of thousands of onlookers back in the day. But the primary feature is the 65’ ft. high steeple and bell tower from which the brewery gets it’s name.”  (“Steeplejack Brewing drafts All-Star Team for upcoming Portland brewpub in restored church.”  (The New School 4/20/21)

I  had a good telephone conversation with co-owner Brody Day and challenged him on the headline of the second article above asking, “What makes your team of the All-Star caliber?”  His response was good.

Steeplejack’s Head Brewer and Lead Brewer, Anna Buxton and Anne Aviles both have extensive experience in the brewing industry.    Anna at the  innovative Modern Times Brewing and Anne in the Experimental Brewing aspect at both DeGarde Brewing on the Oregon coast and Portland’s award-winning Breakside Brewing.  

The pent up desire to socialize with friends and family over a good beer portends a robust summer and fall for Northwest watering holes – that is if they can find adequate help.  The new Pelican pub in Lincoln City advertised a $2,500 signing bonus for cooking staff.

A late June visit one of our favorites on the Central Oregon coast – Depoe Bay’s Horn Public House and Brewery – had a big crowd, but the upstairs section of the pub was closed because they didn’t have enough kitchen help to accommodate the demand.

I’m also pleased to see the ill-conceived recent plan of a few Oregon Legislators in House Bill 3296 to raise the Oregon beer and wine tax by 2,600% and 1,400% respectively according to Willamette Week, died a well-deserved death before it even got out of Committee during the 2021 Session.

That said, I was saddened to see in a visit to Lincoln City that a favorite community dive bar for decades – the Cruise Inn, which I reviewed in 2014, appears to have closed its doors. Although I haven’t found any formal notice, the furniture, equipment and “library,” including the complete set of American Jurisprudence Legal Forms are gone and the phone disconnected.  

Check out a few photos from my posts on the Dirty Shame Saloon.

Photo Credits 

*1. Pelican Brewing Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/PelicanBrewingCompany/photos/10158384649633435

*2. Stickman Brewing Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/stickmenbeer/photos/a.254878121231579/

*3.  Baerlic Brewing Facebook Page  https://www.facebook.com/baerlicbrewing/photos/1360228664170193

*4.  Steeplejack Brewing Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos/106659551525747)

*5.  Steeplejack Brewing Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos/a.107641808094188/

*6. The Horn Public House and Brewery Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/thehornpublichouse/photos/878078125931167

*7.  The Horn Public House and Brewery Facebook Page   https://www.facebook.com/thehornpublichouse/photos/a.221404098265243/

Bar Culture – Part III

The topic of bar culture is one close to my heart – reinforced by my Beerchasing hobby started shortly after retirement ten years ago. This is the third post about the elements of “bar culture” excerpted and expanded from my article for Bridgeliner – a wonderful on-line newsletter in Portland, Oregon.

Cassie Rudd, the Editor, asked me five related questions. The first was addressed in the post entitled “A Petri Dish – Bar Culture Part I” and the second in a less elegantly titled post – “Bar Culture – Part II.”

In the narrative below, you will see responses to the final three questions including the last which describes the three Portland watering holes which I think best embody the elements of bar culture described in the article.

Now get out there with your friends and help those bars and breweries to continue their important role in the economy and community!

Support Your Local Watering Hole *1

What direction do you see Portland’s pub and tavern culture heading and what are some of the pros and cons?

I’m very optimistic that Portlanders will again head to bars and restaurants to mingle with friends now that vaccination rates make such gatherings safe. The same  is true for watering holes throughout the US and globally for that matter. 

And the character or culture will quickly be restored if operational constraints aren’t too strict – like not allowing seating at the bar – an important part of the ambiance in every bar. 

It’s important to support these establishments after the severe economic constraints they have faced in the last eighteen months.  And the financial hardship is not new.

Even twelve years ago, author Mike Seely in his book, Seattle’s Best Dive Bars, stated his concern that the dive bars in his city were swiftly disappearing and might be an endangered species.  

Photo Jun 14, 12 33 02 PM

A wonderful book

The Portland Mercury also did an article on March 9, 2016, entitled “The Portland Dive Bar Preservation Society,” stating, in part:

“Portland’s lost a bunch of dive bars recently. A few were absolute shitholes that deserved to disappear, but most were victims of circumstance and change.

A number of other bars have changed ownership and been fancied up to suit the modern market. Dive bars, if not endangered, are at the very least under threat.” 

The pandemic and lockdowns have not been kind to some of my favorite bars reviewed since I started my blog.  Gone but not forgotten are Sidecar 11, Bailey’s Taproom Crackerjacks Pub, The Tanker and the Tugboat Brewery.  (Click on the links to see the reviews.)

With the forced closures and the riots in Portland, the concern now transcends just dive bars.  Any small, independent watering hole faces economic challenges. 

It’s up to Portlanders to support these establishments unless they want to see more sterile, boring and insipid establishments devoid of personality such as the Yard House (see my 2016 review entitled “The Yard House – Does it Measure Up?”) in downtown Portland.   It’s owned by the same corporation that owns the Olive Gardens

P1040027

The Yard House – where you are met by a hostess who seats you in the bar and they contract with a commissioned artist who does all of their artwork nationally – does not measure up in my opinion.

What do you think will always stay consistent with Portland’s pub and tavern culture?

This answer may alienate those who think Portland’s own culture is unique, but I will respond with the same answer whether describing a bar in Portland, the Oregon Coast, Montana, New England or Amsterdam.

Besides my own experience, the evidence is derived from resources I’ve used in my blog from Matt Love’s “Oregon Tavern Age,” to author Joan Melcher’s two books, “Montana Watering Holes”, to Dr. Tom Noel’s wonderful and appropriately titled book, “Colorado – A Liquid History and Tavern Guide to the Highest State.”

I’ve talked by phone with each of these writers and in the last month even started an e-mail dialogue with a fellow blogger – Rich Carbonara – who lives in Munich, Germany and publishes a blog entitled “The Beer Wanderers.” (Rumor has it that we have at least one interest in common – validated when I purchased his excellent book  Beer Hiking in Bavaria.)

Photo Jun 15, 1 01 16 PM

As long as we don’t capitulate to the corporate chains who want to open their aseptic, suave drinking venues, the ancient tradition of a gathering place where one can raise a mug with friends will continue without much evolution.  That’s a good thing!

All the authors above, I’m sure agree, as I do, with English poet and essayist, Samuel Johnson’s assertion:

There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.”  *2

Obviously, I can’t speak for him, but I also concur with the twelfth century poet who stated:

“When the hour is nigh me,

Let me in a tavern die

With a tankard by me!”  *3

What is one of Portland’s quintessential pubs you feel is emblematic of that culture?

This is a hard question to answer because there are so many good bars.   When a bar is good, it’s fantastic.  And even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good!  However, I will suggest three rather than one – all on the Portland’s east side. 

Gil’s Speakeasy whose owners self-describe as “The nicest assholes in town,” have a wonderful dark, spacious bar with no sign on the exterior and great cheap daily specials ranging from $3 chili dogs to $1 sloppy Joes. 

They even have a coin-operated breathalyzer – an option if you’re not sure.  It states, “Blow before you go.  Profits to local charities.”

It is the epitome of a good neighborhood dive bar from the exterior, to the ambiance once you walk in. The owners are, in fact, “nice” but definitely not assholes! The food, music, games, barstools, backbar and furnishings demonstrate the bar culture I’ve described.

Don’t overlook Mad Hanna – a wonderful bar community – has transformed itself during the pandemic into a general store (“part indie boutique, craft fair and whimsically curated market”). 

Besides, there aren’t too many saloons where you can chow down a $4.50 peanut butter and jelly sandwich while guzzling your $2 Happy Hour PBR.

But the bar or pub that epitomizes the culture discussed above is The Standard.  This dive opened in 2007 at NE 22nd and Broadway and was perfectly described by Mathew Korfhage in the “Willamette Week 2018 Bar Guide”:

“But the thing that made me treat this bar as an extension of my living room for seven years, what makes it different from every other bar with cheap drinks and a pool table and a covered patio in winter, is the simple decency of the place.  

The Standard is one of Portland’s last true neighborhood bars, a ramshackle version of Penny Lane decorated in shattered CDs and corrugated metal……More than any other bar I know in Portland, it is a sodden vision of an ideal society.”

While I’ve named three of my favorite bars in Portland with great character, one can do the same, to a greater or lesser extent, in every community in the US and every other nation. 

Perhaps if we had friendly discussion and debate over a cheap Happy Hour brew, we could iron out the polarization characterizing such dialogue during the pandemic.

Cheers and Amen!

And thanks again to Cassie and Bridgeliner for making it possible for me to contribute the articles.

Photo Credits

*1.  Public Domain – File:Dollar.PNG – Wikimedia Commons

2.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds – Samuel Johnson – Wikipedia) National Gallery

*3.  Image courtesy of Pam Williams

Bar Culture – Part II

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

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

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

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

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

28952038_177555996198699_7202016393145866019_n

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

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

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

2018-09-09 18.16.07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cassie’s second question in the Bridgeliner article was:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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