The Standard – It Redefines the Meaning of the Term


You last read about one of Portland’s fabled bars in the most recent post of Thebeerchaser – that being The Dockside Saloon and Restaurant.   Located in an historic building, this classic bar has been owned by the same family since 1986.  Well, the following narrative will tell you about another legendary bar you should visit – this one a dive bar in Northeast Portland.

Now when you see the term The Standard, (I’m choosing to capitalize both words throughout the post) you might automatically assume it references the Portland-based life insurance company.  Indeed, “The Standard” is a marketing name for Portland’s own Standard Insurance Company, which was chartered in Oregon in 1906, now employs about 2,500 individuals and owns several high-rise buildings in downtown Portland.

Not a sparkling exterior

But The Standard you will read about below is a bar which, even with a great reputation, has been below the radar in an inconspicuous location on NE 22nd Avenue – just off Burnside.  And some might assert that with the dark wooden fence with a dumpster in the middle, fronting the bar, it looks like a recycling center.

Opened in 2007, it doesn’t have the long history of some other classic bars, but demands recognition.   Why would you travel here and struggle for parking rather than hit one of the city’s many sparkling breweries or taprooms – some relatively close by including Upright, Laurelwood, Alameda and Culmination?

A spacious interior

The 2018 Edition of “The Bar Guide.”

Well, one of Thebeerchaser’s trusted resources during the seven years of this tour of bars, taverns and breweries is Willamette Week’s Annual Bar Guide.   The 2018 Edition) “Portland Bars and Happy Hours – the 101 Best Bars in Portland,” sums it up succinctly in a wonderful review written by the weekly’s former Project Editor, Matthew Korfhage:

“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.”

And, in fact, going back and reviewing past issues of the Bar Guide, The Standard, unlike most Portland bars, has made the list of top bars – usually around 100 establishments – each of the last five years.   Now this may be in large part due to Korfhage’s long tenure at the weekly paper.

*Note:  Since he wrote a majority of the reviews in the Bar Guide, he is an expert and has written the piece on The Standard each year.   And you can see below that his favorable opinion has not changed.  Whether The Standard will hit a sixth consecutive year in 2019, may be in doubt since Korfhage wrote his last column for WW in April.

Korfhage – writing will be missed.

This reporter, who in 2017, was awarded first place for his columns on food writing by the American Association of Alternative Newspapers, has lived in St. Louis, Chicago, Munich and Bordeaux.

He just moved to Hampton Roads on the East coast to become the Food Editor for the Virginian Pilot. It’s Virginia’s largest daily newspaper.  His excellent writing will be missed in Portland. 

As can be seen by viewing his first two months of columns in Virginia, he continues his interesting and creative, if not somewhat unhealthy lifestyle, writing about bars and restaurants on the East coast. For example, his May 26th column was entitled and ends the first paragraph with this sentence.  “I sacrificed my own health to try hot wings at 22 spots all over Hampton Roads and picked the best.”

But you can see below, his praise of The Standard was unwavering through the years:

Bartender Tyler checks the reflection…

2014: “The Standard is what it says it is, ‘A neighborhood standard.’”

2015: “But The Standard is pure of heart, from its owner through its bar staff through the longtime patrons who took up a collection to buy a scooter for the retiring cook and bartender…” 

Friendly staff appreciated by the regulars.

2016: “It’s the best little bar in Portland, and I won’t hear otherwise.”

2017: “The bar is cheap, no-nonsense fun in a way that takes all comers and yet is loving towards its long-time regulars.  These days in Portland that makes The Standard not very standard at all.  It makes it a GD treasure.”

The Standard has a wide variety of games and was even recognized in the website “Four Square Lists” as one of “The Best Fifteen Places for Bar Games in Portland.”   And it has a bunch ranging from Big Buck Hunter to the traditional Pac Man to pool tables to classic pinball games including Terminator 3.

Classic pin-ball machines to Big Buck Hunter

Last Call – Not in the Top 50 but…..

It even has a video puzzle arcade game named “Last Call.”  While not on the list of the Top 50 which includes classics such as Trash Panic, Tetris Attack and Super Scribblenauts, it will probably keep you interested and occupied??!!

Or you can pick one of the many “treasures” in a vending machine that has everything from old Playboy Magazines to heart-shaped sunglasses to Nutter Butter candy bars to a mystery package which says “Porn Pin – Probably.”  

(The only similar machine I’ve seen in eight years and visiting 120 Portland bars, was at Slab Town – a NW PDX dive bar with a once stellar reputation as an old-school rock and roll venue visited by Thebeerchaser in 2013).

Unfortunately, it became one of the classic Portland bars which poured its last PBR and hosted its last concert in 2017.  In the Slab Town vending machine, you could even buy guitar strings and drum sticks – not the kind you eat……!

On the left “Porn Pin – Probably”

You can also have your picture taken in one of those old-fashioned photo booths.

 

 

 

Visiting The Standard that day with me were Beerchasing regulars, Jack Faust and Jim Westwood, both former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter based on their compelling stories. They did outstanding appellate work during their careers at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and Stoel Rives respectively.

From left – Shannon, Charlie, Chuck Jack and Jim

In addition, three other friends added to the late afternoon gathering – Charlie Faust, a mortgage loan consultant and Jack’s son; Chuck Mitchell, another retired attorney and a trial lawyer who showed skill in the courtroom and Shannon Asato, who works in the Accounting Department at the Oregon Food Bank.

Shannon was the only Beerchasing neophyte and her good humor and competence when she worked with me for a number of years at the Schwabe law firm, made her a welcome addition to our crew.

“Standard” would not be an apt description for the exterior of the bar, and you might drive or walk right past it if you weren’t deliberately seeking it – in fact, Jack Faust was focused on joining us and drove past anyway.  He then called his son to find out where we were and took static for his lack of punctuality when he got there.  (Of course, he parked, before dialing his cell….)

A great covered patio for all seasons….

You walk in through the covered patio, which is vaguely reminiscent of the days before Oregon’s smoke-free legislation passed in 2008 and the interior of every dive bar had a hazy, smoke filled environment, which would be hazardous for anyone without pristine lungs. (The smoke was pretty minimal, however.)

Individuals and groups sit at the picnic tables chatting or working on computers – often accompanied by their dogs and drink cheap beers or stiff well drinks.

“Abbreviated” shuffleboard

The inside of the bar is also spacious and filled with the type of stuff which endears us to this type of venue.  Besides the old-style pinball machines and games, a pool table and a curiously-short shuffleboard, there are old beer signs, tacky art, an idiosyncratic (or bizarre) cracked mirror the full length of the bar behind it and, well, just a lot of stuff that makes you feel at home….

Careful – they sneak up on you….

There are too many features at The Standard to name them all including Jello Shots for $1, alcoholic Slushies, Sunday craft beers for $3, and a Crappy Book Club – “Bring your crappy books, and trade them for other crappy books!” 

And like a number of storied watering holes, the bar is a community unto itself.  For example, there’s traditional Christmas decorations in season (also Santa Claus horror movies), an annual Chili Cooking Contest – the proceeds in 2018 went to Friends of the Columbia River Gorge – a Kentucky Derby Party and occasional golf tournaments – the proceeds last year went to the Oregon Food Bank.

Call for schedule of Santa horror movies

Another distinguishing characteristic is a noticeable affinity for Hamm’s Beer.  This is manifested in its Wednesday all-day $1 Hamm’s pints, numerous logos and a notable stuffed “Hamms’ Bear” over the bar wearing a Portland Trailblazer jersey.

Trailblazer fan from Wisconsin

An affinity for Hamms

Don’t forget the sign on the two unisex bathrooms stating, “One at a Time,” possibly a concern that those imbibing in the $1 brews or jello shots may think they can join the “Mile High Club” without leaving terra firma. 

And I don’t think you will ever see The Standard take the appalling route of one of Portland’s other bars – Saraveza.  In 2015, perhaps to be trendy as quoted in New School Beer on 11/5/15:

“‘For seven years we have honored the world of domestic beer by always pouring a pint of Hamm’s alongside some of the best craft beers in the world.

It was important to me to acknowledge the industry that created a springboard for our recent craft beer revolution,’ said Sarah Pederson, owner of Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern. ‘Breakside’s Wisco Tavern Beer does the same thing for us, but with a new twist that we are proud to stand behind.’” (emphasis supplied)

Really???  (Maybe you want to change, Sarah, but don’t suggest that Breakside can replace Hamms!)

Founded in 1865 as compared to 2010….

The last time, I had a draft Hamm’s on tap was at a wonderful bar – The Coyote Road House, in Door County, Wisconsin.  That’s right next to the “Land of Sky-Blue Water” which is home to the Hamm Brewery, founded in 1865 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Another place to get Hamms on Tap

Now, when Faust and Westwood first got to The Standard, the practice ingrained in them for so many years — each worked in  different high-rises owned by Standard Insurance — got the best of them.  Both took out legal pads and started billing time as they drank their $1 Hamm’s.

The Standard Insurance Center – home for Westwood at Stoel Rives

Since Chuck Mitchell worked in a small plaintiff’s firm in Clackamas County, he took a more relaxed approach and talked the other two into just considering this a pro-bono engagement.

Mitchell on the left advocates pro-bono

And Jack always gets a kick each time the famous French opera bearing his name comes to Portland.  This time it was Portland Opera’s three and one-half hour rendition of French composer, Charles Gounod’s, “Faust,” in June.

In a deal with Mephistophele’s – the Devil, (a baritone in the opera), the protagonist, Faust, trades his soul for a chance at a second youth and the prospect of seducing a beautiful young maiden,

Mephistopheles is a baritone…

Charlie Faust became worried when he heard his father, quoting some lines from the opera, to wit:

“When will death free me from this burden?  I curse happiness and knowledge, prayer and faith.“ 

We had to convince the younger Faust that his dad was not depressed, but just showing his erudition and cultural refinement in addition to his tendency to share his philosophy on the human condition, temptation, redemption, Goethe and the Oregon Supreme Court’s latest opinion on the Gun Control Initiative.

But we digress….The Standard is not going to be your go-to place for quality pub food.  It’s line-up is limited and confined to items such as chips and salsa, a few sandwiches, mini-corndogs and fried ravioli(?)

Limited but cheap selections

They also have a drink special every day which includes the aforementioned Hamms’ special on Wednesdays.

Daily Drink Specials

The Standard was a great addition to the bars I have visited and all of us gave it a thumbs- up.

And you have to look hard for a social media review which is critical.  Almost all reviewers love the character, sense of humor and charitable heart of this saloon.  The few critical ones seem to be malcontents who didn’t like the service – kind of an anomaly when it is a self-service bar or maybe a bartender wasn’t as friendly as they would have liked.  Or take this one going back to 2012.  (I guess that’s not too bad…..):

“I have a hard time with this review. The location is really good and the people seem really cool. On the other hand their well rum was by far the worst rum that I have been in near proximity with.”  (Yelp – 4/9/12)

Now Portland has over 700 bars, breweries and taverns, but if you haven’t been to The Standard, you should remedy that.  And it does redefine the meaning of the word “standard” as there is nothing ordinary or typical about it.

While they have some good craft beer on tap, in the interest of history and honoring the character of this bar, belly up to the bar and ask Tyler for a draft Hamms’.   If it’s Wednesday, it will only set you back $2 – a buck for the beer and a buck for Tyler. 

The Standard         14 NE 22nd Ave.     Portland

Jello Shots – Even better with pop rocks on top…

 

Tie Up at the Dockside……

The Dockside – a Portland Classic

The number of new breweries and pubs making the scene in Portland is remarkable.  Although it probably lags the proliferation of cannabis shops, each week Willamette Week or The Mercury will feature either a totally new brewery or another brewpub for an existing establishment.

Just a few examples from a January, 2018 posting of Newschoolbeer.com are Great Notion Brewing (NW), Migration Brewing (Gresham), Modern Times Brewing (SE), Ruse (SE), Stormbreaker Brewing (St. Johns) and Thirsty Monk (SE).  My wife and I did like the sign below in front of the Thirsty Monk Pub and Brewery when we visited Asheville, North Carolina – it’s home base.  It conveys a certain wisdom!

Speaking of monks, don’t forget the much-anticipated Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey which should brew its first batch on site in the next three weeks with Grand Opening of the St. Michael Taproom on September 22nd.

While the Thirsty Monk Brewery is an Asheville, North Carolina corporation, the ownership and brewing at the Benedictine will be by actual monks including General Manager Fr. Martin Grassel and Head Brewer, Fr. Jacob.  It will be one of only three such brotherly enterprises in the United States.

Installing brewery equipment at The Benedictine Brewery earlier this month.

But to experience one of Portland’s classic establishments, you should follow my lead and by the end of the summer, travel north on Naito Parkway (fighting backed up traffic to accommodate the ill-advised “Better Naito” Bikeway) then on to NW Front Avenue to the Dockside Salon and Restaurant.

And make a point of personally thanking the owners Terry and Kathy Peterson for their initial entrepreneurial spirit in 1986 and the perseverance and courage to maintain this great saloon in the face of surrounding  development.

In the good old days…

Like many of the classic bars in Portland, The Dockside and its domain have historic roots as well-stated on their website:

“The Dockside Saloon & Restaurant opened its doors on September 15, 1986. Prior to that, the restaurant, What’s Up Doc occupied the building and before that it was home to Dot’s Sternwheeler.   It has always been some sort of restaurant and in the early years served as a commissary for the train workers. By our best guess, the building was built around 1925.” 

When construction was beginning..

The Dockside doesn’t have the most robust tap list – seven draft beers including three rotating seasonal on tap, but it carries about fifteen different bottled beers plus a good selection of wines and a full cocktail menu.

Happy Hour is from 4:30 to 7:30 Monday-Friday and rotating craft beers – normally $4.50 are $1.00 off as is the case with LagunitasCoors Light is also $1 off from the regular $3.75 but you can get a PBR for $2.75 instead of the regular $3.50.

And well drinks – normally $4 are $3.25 with wine reduced by $1 from the regular price of $6.25.

They also have an outstanding Sunset Menu with six options including a burger, bowl of clam chowder, chicken quesadilla, Caesar salad, beef tostada or three sliders – each for an astounding price of $3.95.  That means you can have a burger, chips and a pint of PBR for $6.70!

Entering The Dockside is like stepping into an old neighborhood diner – others in Portland visited previously by Thebeerchaser are Sloan’s Tavern and Crackerjack’s Pub.

Historic pictures, old beer signs and memorabilia adorn the walls.  You immediately feel welcome and the staff greet you like you are family.  And they are family themselves. For example, Karen, the lead server has worked there for 27 years and Angel, the chief cook, for 22.

So why is the ambiance so good and the employees so hospitable?  Perhaps other hospitality owners should take a lesson in management perspective from Kathy Peterson who wrote me:

“I am very proud of my staff.  Angel and Karen have been with us for many years and I am thankful for their dedication and devotion to making the Dockside what it is today.  In addition the entire staff works hard at making us successful.”

Of course, it helps when you accompany a regular – on all my visits of the last several years, I have joined Dennis B. Ferguson for breakfast.  And breakfast is one of many reasons you should visit The Dockside.  Denny, who initially retired after a very successful career as an insurance executive, is now the Senior Philanthropic Advisor for the Portland State University Foundation.

Besides knowing everyone in Portland, he is the most optimistic and cheerful person I have ever known.  (He has such a positive viewpoint that each time he makes a withdrawal from the ATM, when the cash is delivered,  he shouts, “I won!  I won!”).

On my most recent visit, I got there a little earlier than Denny – parking is somewhat of a challenge – and told Karen, when she came with coffee, I was meeting “Fergy.”  She immediately responded, “He’s coming in today.  That’s like winning the lottery.”  (Karen is one of the most personable servers I’ve met in the seven years of Thebeerchaser Tour.) 

Angel, Karen and Denny

The sixteen primary breakfast options are all named after Portland-area bridges and the prices are very reasonable and the food plentiful and delicious. 

The choices range from the Burnside Bridge (2 eggs, hashbrowns and toast for $8.25) to the robust St. John’s (7 oz. ribeye steak, 2 eggs with hashbrowns and toast for $14.75). 

Legendary breakfasts – especially the hashbrowns..

Or try my favorite – the West Linn Bridge (2 small cakes, 2 eggs & 2 sausage links or 2 pieces of (superb) bacon for only $7.75)

And the hashbrowns are legendary as evidenced in this quote from Oregon Live’s 2018 “Ultimate Guide to Portland’s 50 Best Inexpensive Restuarants,”

“….making some of the city’s best hashbrowns….Those hashbrowns are a wonder with preposterously ideal crispness.  $3 on their own or a bit more with eggs or other things in one of the Dockside’s bridge-themed breakfasts.”

Coffee and a side order of hashbrowns

Or a 12/4/ 2017 Yelp review – just one of the many mentioning this dish:  “They’re buttery crispy, golden brown and cooked all the way through.   They’ve ruined me for hash browns at any other place.”

For lunch and dinner, they also have a multitude of sandwiches, soups and salads.  Oh yes!  If you hit The Dockside on Tuesdays between 4:00 and 7:30, you can get three tacos for 1.50!

Any review or article on the Dockside will inevitably mention the connection with Portland’s infamous “celebrity,” former Olympic ice-skater Tonya Harding.  Although she had not been to the Dockside, her then husband, Jeff Gillooly, purportedly got rid of a bunch of trash including papers in the Dockside dumpster in 1994.  Notes in an envelope appeared to provide evidence of her complicity in the ill-fated attack on Nancy Kerrigan.

Tonya – Added new meaning to the term “Dumpster ‘fire'”

The Dockside’s website and the back page of their menu tell the story – Kathy Peterson found the documents and called the FBI.  She and The Dockside were interviewed by broadcast and print media from all over the world.  A good summary of the story is on this YouTube of the KOIN newscast of the story.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuD2kDC-Szw

Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune also wrote a good story on Harding’s recent emergence in the movie and on Dancing with the Stars.  (Notice in the article that she said about her TV appearance, “My knees were shaking,” rather than “knocking.”   Go figure!)

Server, Ashley; Denny and co-owner, Kathy Peterson

Karen confirmed the accuracy of a Willamette Week article on February 10, 2016, where you can find out about the commercial project which surrounds the eatery.  The original developer tried twice to buy out The Dockside, but Terry and Kathy gave them the thumbs down.

The project named “Field Office” – a six-story two-building $100 million sustainable office and retail complex, which literally envelops the saloon, was then acquired by Portland developer Project^, working with Hacker Architects.  They were cooperative:

“The development will horseshoe around the 90-year-old building housing longshoreman’s hang-out Dockside Saloon as if the Dockside had a forcefield around it.  ‘The Dockside will stay exactly how they are,’ says lead architect Stefee Knudsen.  ‘We’re not touching it, we’re staying away from it to the best of our ability, to accommodate this historic pub.’ 

‘The Dockside was not on the table,’  says Jonathan Ledsma a developer for Project^. ‘I wasn’t interested in purchasing it.  Ledesma says they carved out extra space along the lot line to give the bar some breathing room, and have been in constant contact with Kathy and Terry Peterson, Dockside’s owners.

‘It reminds me a little of the skyscrapers built around the little house in (the movie) Up,’ Knudsen says. ‘But I hope we’re accommodating it better with the design.‘”

Reminiscent of “Up.:

Now if you want to go to an establishment named The Dockside, you can also choose very upscale options in Wilmington, N. Carolina; in North Tonawanda, New York – along the Erie Canal; on the shore of Lake Michigan in Oconto, Wisconsin, on York Harbor in Maine or for delicious ribs and lobsters, in Hyannis Harbor on Cape Cod.

However, Thebeerchaser will lay odds that the best option is Portland’s own Dockside Saloon and Restaurant – and ours is not even actually on the water…..On weekdays they are open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM.  And when you enter, say hello to Karen, Angel, Ashley and owners Kathy and Terry.

I will conclude with the words of one of the many positive reviews on social media which sums it up quite well – Trip Advisor: 11/16/17:

“OK, this is SO Portland…this little gem of a restaurant is hidden in a sea of condos, apartments and commercial buildings along Front Avenue.  It has been a restaurant since the 1930’s and must NOT be overlooked.  Owned and operated by a local Portland family for over 30 years (who can say that?). 

The food is down home.  Scratch biscuits, home made hollandaise sauce, daily soup, eggs cooked to perfection and THE BEST hashbrowns and bacon anywhere!  All at very reasonable prices…..

They have the friendliest wait staff anywhere and they quickly learn what your favorites are…..Hands down, its just the best in casual dining.”  

Of course, if you really want to make it a winning day, call Fergy and invite him to come with you.  Then go out and buy a Megabucks ticket!

Fergy – Like winning the lottery!

The Dockside     2047 NW Front Avenue

You’re Overdue! (For a Visit to the Multnomah Whiskey Library)

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Followers of this blog know that the title – Thebeerchaser – is a misnomer of sorts.  While it mentions good lagers we taste at various watering holes, the focus is on the bars as an institution – the history, the character, the regulars and the staff.   That said, of the eighty-three Portland bars, taverns and breweries visited and reviewed since August, 2011, only one – the Pope Bourbon House – has focused on hard liquor or distilled spirits.

That is until the first Beerchasing event in 2017 – the Multnomah Whiskey Library (hereafter MWL), which Beerchasing regulars, Dan Eller, Michael Jones and I visited on January 4th (more about those two fellows below).

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Eller and Jones

In the three + years since opened by owners, Greg Goodman and Alan Davis, this unique gathering place has taken Portland by a storm and received national attention.  For example, Thrilllist includes it in its 2014 list of the “Twenty-one Best Whiskey Bars in America.”  (“MWL ia about as close as you can get feeling like part of the 1% without going broke.”)

The MWL on its website lists forty-five links to newspaper and magazine articles ranging from the New York Times to the United Airlines Hemisphere to Travel and Leisure to Portland Monthly.  (Click on the links to see the articles)  An article in Paste Magazine was entitled “This May Be the Greatest Whiskey Bar in the World “ https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/07/this-might-be-the-greatest-whiskey-bar-in-the-worl.html

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Inconspicuous entrance

And while the reviews (including this one) have been overwhelmingly positive, there are some who feel it is not consistent with Portland values and culture:  “…..The pretentious vibe, however, was a bit much…” (Yelp 12/3/16).   Most of the negative comments relate to the doorman and staff at the vestibule – they check-in every person entering the bar – it’s in an old building (formerly a piano warehouse) on SW Alder Street.  You’ll have to look for a small sign above the door, overshadowed by the sign for Chizu – a sushi bar for cheese in the space next door.

There is a sound rationale for the check-in staff and procedure set forth below based on the MWL business model.  Those who simply drop in can expect to wait from forty-five minutes to two hours or more (on weekends) in the Green Room – the smaller bar on the ground floor, before being ushered up to the spacious and ornate lounge above.

The Green Room downstairs

The Green Room downstairs

Because many don’t want to hear the hostesses’ message or resent having to wait, the recipients of their ire are the ones who convey the message.  For example:

“The hostess at the front repeats an automated, pretentious, stone-cold response to stomp the hopes out of every potential patron…..”  (Yelp 11/7/16)

“The waitress (in the Green Room) was standing behind the bar ignoring us. She was rude and hostile the entire time.” (Yelp 9/28/16)

“My guest and I were greeted by a pretentious lackey masquerading as a        maître d’…with the ferociousness of an angry kitty, this bow-tied fella who I suspect was the victim of bullying as a child has embraced his role as a table Nazi by taking tremendous pleasure in turning people away…..”  (Yelp 5/6/15)

photo-jan-04-6-46-30-pm-2You see, the MWL is primarily a member-based bar with 600 of Portland’s power-crowd paying the $600 annual fee which allows them unfettered access during normal  operating hours and preferred reservations to special and educational events – and don’t forget a “Set of the Library’s custom tasting glassware”!?!.   Although that same amount could buy you 400 Happy-hour draft PBRs at the Yamhill Pub, there are more than 600 people on the waiting list. 

So maybe it was appropriate that my companions were Eller and Jones, since Dan is a tax and estate-planning lawyer at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and Jones is an investment counselor/financial adviser with Merrill-Lynch.   Given the increased scrutiny the IRS gives to meals and entertainment expenses, Eller would be able to advise to ensure maximum deductibility and Jones could develop a financial strategy so you could experience at least most of the 1,500 different labels (a total inventory of 1,900 bottles) well into retirement.

Eller on Cycle Oregon trip

Eller on Cycle Oregon ride

These two gents have accompanied me on two other Beerchasing events – the Oregon Public House, the Pope Bourbon House.  Both fit the profile of successful young, civically- involved Portlanders the MWL would want on its roster.  Eller, besides his Masters in Finance at Portland State and law degree, has an LLM (Masters in Taxation) from the University of Washington.  He’s is on the board of Cycle Oregon and past chair of the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society besides being an adjunct professor at both Northwestern Law School at Lewis and Clark and Portland State in his spare time….                                  

Jones in his favorite non-bar environment

Jones in his favorite non-bar environment

Jones after his undergraduate degree at Marylhurst University earned his MBA, is a US Army veteran, and worked in management positions in Japan before returning to the states.   He has been on the City Club of Portland Board and chairs the annual Alzheimer Walk for the Oregon Alzheimer Association.  Mike is a skilled woodworker as well as an avid hunter and outdoorsman as you might deduce from this picture.  Both of these gents are also great family men.

Dan made sure that our group had a “Hall Pass,” so we did not have to wait to get in.  This entry fee for non-members at the MWL costs $25 per person.  The fee seemed inordinate since my only other experience with a hall pass was in grade school.  Then you could secure one at no cost by just raising your hand and looking at the teacher with an imploring and strained look on your face.  But in both instances, it’s a great way to avoid a wait.

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Antibiotic and janitorial resistant……

Upon entering, I was struck by the stark contrast with the one “grunge bar” visited on my Beerchasing journey (three times…) – the Yamhill Pub where one almost expected an inspection by the Oregon Health Division in order to get out of this bar – the toilets may be a breeding ground for hostile invasive species in all likelihood immune to antibiotics.

The stairs at the Whiskey Library lead up to a spacious dimly-lit room with what was described by one Trip Advisor reviewer as “an absolutely dazzling selection” (8/16) and the MWL website proudly asserts is “…an exhaustive collection representing all major and lesser styles of distilled spirits known to the modern world.”  

There are a number of twelve-foot ladders which the staff use to retrieve many of the bottles – “organized categorically by region, ingredient and distilleries’ production practices. In short, this is a whiskey lover’s paradise.”  (PDX Eater  6/4/14)

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Fear of heights might be a problem when dusting the bottles

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Indeed, the collection is so extensive that the new employees each take part in the ongoing cycle of “dusting” the bottles.  Our server, Jason, confirmed this informing us that the dusting shifts for new employees also help them learn the names of the brands served.

The ornate framed portraits lining the walls stand out.  These are “the most important people in whiskey, all done by local artists. They include Jack Daniels, Mary the Jewess (‘the first true alchemist of the Western world’), George Washington, and Shinjiro Torii (the founder of Suntory whiskey).  (Munchies Magazine 5/7/15)  

Portraits of Whiskey Icons

Portraits of Whiskey Icons

And one’s initial exposure to the stained-glass skylights, the dark wood tables and long wrap-around bar, leather chairs and over-stuffed couches, exposed brick, twenty-foot ceilings, chandeliers and the hushed efficiency of the vested and tie-wearing servers, may be responsible for multiple ethereal references:

“I feel that this is what man heaven must be like.” (Yelp 5/4/16)

“(I thought) I died and went to whiskey heaven.” (Yelp 8/24/16)

“The host checking people in…pretends to be the gatekeeper to heaven.” (  5/29/16)

The scope of this review doesn’t provide space to amplify on the Green Room, but it also reeks of class and evidently has a nice selection of spirits.  Similarly, I will not address the food served at the MWL which has been described as good and reasonably priced.

And lest you think that the sophisticated ambiance and upscale trappings mean a stuffy or staid group of patrons, there was a nice energy in both bars and the crowd was diverse in demographics as one reviewer described it:

“(The crowd was) also classy, buzzing with conversation.  It feels like people here are talking about culture and worldly experiences vs. whose sports team is better or the Kardashians.”  (Yelp 12/23/16)  (not that the latter should be a standard…..)

Jason, our personal bartender

Jason, our personal bartender

Jason, our bartender/server, as reflected in most of the reviews on the staff, was knowledgeable, very helpful and a nice person.  Having worked there for eighteen months, he loves his job and answered our ongoing stream of questions about the bar and the selection of whiskeys as he prepared our cocktails at his rolling cart by our table.

Notwithstanding some stories about the extravagant tabs run up by some high-rollers (one rumored at $15,000 over two nights), the prices are pretty reasonable and we sampled a broad range of libations without requiring bank financing.  For example, I had an Old Fashioned, their “go to” drink,  while Eller had a Manhattan and Jones a Cadet (40 creek barrel select, fundador, nocino, house spirits coffee) and the round cost under $30 without tip.  They also have three beers on tap as well as a number of bottled beers for those with a myopic perspective.

The Room

The Private Tasting Room

I had a friend who went there on business who told me that he shared the most expensive bottle of scotch he’d ever drunk costing $350 (bought by the other party…) and MWL’s most expensive offering is a single-malt Macallan Royal Marriage, with a price tag of $1,785 a shot. according to Munchies Magazine.  You have to shell out $1,250 to procure your own “spirit locker.”

Our visit was a great experience and I don’t expect to visit another bar where the head bartender has the title of “Librarian” or “Curator” and where “Membership cards are personalized with your name laser etched into cherry wood…. making them, quite possibly, the coolest library card in the word.” (Montecristo Mag 9/30/14).  My only comparable experience was in my junior year at Oregon State when NROTC midshipmen Mulvey, Riley and I sneaked a pint of Wild Turkey into the William Jasper Kerr Library to help us study for a final exam in our navigation course.

While one can sympathize to a certain extent with those who encounter an unexpected and very long wait, it’s only requires a modicum of common sense to do a little research before going to a high-profile bar of this type rather than just dropping in.  A hall pass can eliminate the wait and is well worth the price.  The Multnomah Whiskey Library fills a good niche in the Portland food and beverage sector.

The Multnomah Whiskey Library         1124 SW Alder Street

photo-jan-04-5-28-07-pm

Two high rollers and Thebeerchaser…..

 

Sloan’s (Tavern) – It’s a Lot Like Home

Sloans - Like walking into a living room.......

Sloans – Like walking into a living room…….

Having visited seventy watering holes in Portland during the last fifty-four months, Thebeerchaser can assert that there are really no bad establishments in this group of bars, taverns and pubs.  While some may be a little bit drab, the service may be less than stellar or the atmosphere has little charm or ambiance, all can be equated to a bull market – “When it is good, it is fantastic and even when it is bad, it is still pretty good!”

P1040012It can also be stated, however, that a few of the saloons I’ve visited have a charisma or charm that  registers as soon as one enters.   Those gems which I’ve reviewed and come to mind are Crackerjacks Pub in NW Portland, the Old Oregon Saloon in Lincoln City, Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska and The Sink in Boulder, Colorado.

Thebeerchaser outside Sloan's

Thebeerchaser outside Sloan’s

Well, I am adding another Portland bar to that group – Sloan’s Tavern in NE Portland – right near Legacy Emmanuel Hospital.  In an era where many new bars have sleek corporate-type environments with more taps than you could sample in a lifetime, it is refreshing to discover a family-run operation that epitomizes a charming old-fashioned gathering place.

The bar was opened by Bob Sloan and his wife, Shirley in 1979.  The Sloans owned and operated a custom auto body and paint shop next door – started in 1954 and still operating – they specialized in Freightliner trucks.  As evidenced by the amazing pictures in the bar, Bob Sloan also did skilled body and restorative work on classic autos.  When a café next door to the body shop run by an elderly lady closed, they bought the property and opened the bar. (The entire property was originally a creamery that opened in 1926.)

Evidence of the Freightliner legacy on the west wall of Sloans

Evidence of the Freightliner legacy on the west wall of Sloans

A charming aspect of Sloans is the décor, and Shirley, a beautiful and personable lady of 80, who graciously answered all my questions, pointed out that none of the furnishings were purchased new.

The bar stools – described affectionately by one reviewer as “adult high-chairs” – acquired from a diner, are classic as is the supplemental horseshoe bar near the west end of the establishment.  Bob Sloan died in 2013, and Shirley still is owner, manager and does the cooking – and she is an excellent cook.  P1040025

I might add, that one of the factors in making the evening one to remember was being accompanied by two friends:

Beerchaser Regular, West Coast Dave Hicks, a San Francisco-based legal consultant who has been on more Beerchasing expeditions than anyone except yours truly.

First-time Beerchaser, John Horvick, with West Coast Dave Hicks and Thebeerchaser logo

First-time Beerchaser, John Horvick, with West Coast Dave Hicks and Thebeerchaser logo

Portlander, John Horvick, Vice President and Political Director at DHM Research – Oregon’s premier survey research and polling firm, also joined us.  Unless you have been living in a cave or alternatively blocked all broadcast and print media to escape the 2016 political races,  you have undoubtedly heard John speak or seen one of his quotes in the papers or media.

Young Portland leader, Horvick. Still throws a mean strike...

Young Portland leader, Horvick. Still throws a mean strike…

He is a young leader in Portland as evidenced by his recent term as President of the City Club of Portland.  John was born in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Minnesota after first spending most of his college years at University of Nebraska on a bowling scholarship…..! 

In fact, his dad was a professional bowler and even though John wore loafers rather than bowling shoes while we drank, he was animated when discussing bowling hall-of-famers such as Don Carter, Dick Weber and Earl Anthony (1938 – 2001) who he reminded us was from Cornelius, Oregon.

Hall of Fame Bowler, Earl Anthony - he would love Sloans!

Hall of Fame Bowler, Earl Anthony – he would love Sloans!

When asked about his time in the fast lane(s) – so to speak – John replied, My bowling days were at Nebraska. I bowled for three years, and also taught the University bowling class. My students included NFL players and a first round pick pick in the WNBA.  I had a great run bowling in college, but ……as my coach would remind us, no one ever retired on their bowling winnings.”

John hung up his bowling shoes in his senior year and graduated at Minnesota where he got in-state tuition and funding for a research project.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Sloan’s

The Food – Consistent with the family-owned orientation, the bar closes at 10:00 PM each night and is not open on weekends.  When Shirley stops cooking in the afternoon, there is only a minimal menu of nachos, burgers, etc. available.  But this former North Dakota girl stated, “Lunch is our prize!”  She makes all the sauces and soups and puts together a great sandwich and lunch specials such as fish and chips with slaw ($6.25)  In fact, try the Emanuel Special (ham, turkey and jack and cheddar cheese on a French roll – $6.25) named for the regular lunch customers from nearby Legacy-Emanuel Hospital.              

Reg, the night bartender talking to some patrons

Reg, the night bartender talking to some patrons

And the prices are very reasonable, for example, a great Reuben and fries for $8.25 or a 1/3 pound burger with fries for $7.25.  Although they only have seven beers on tap and a slew of bottled beers, the environment to consume it is certainly far superior to some of the “beer shops” with 50 to 100 taps and the ambiance of a dental reception area.   Besides, you can get a $1.50 draft PBR – all the time!

P1040021The Décor – The individual lamps and bar lighting, wall hangings, carpet, booths and bar stools, the mirror on the ceiling by the bar along with an old time rotating Schlitz beer globe all give a very comfortable neighborhood bar vibe as do the photos of classic cars on the wall.

Shirley describes it as “My living room,” and based on the amount of time she spends at the bar, the description is apt.  While the Freightliner truck cab jutting out the side of the building is notable, the truck grill built into the bar itself, is also pretty cool.

A grill in the bar separate from that in the kitchen.....

A grill in the bar separate from that in the kitchen…..

And in what was described in 2012 by Willamette Week as “the best juke box in Portland”, you can watch a Chicago Coin’s Animatronic Big Band Box go into action while one of your favorite oldies is played.  It’s one of about ten still working in the US and was manufactured in the 1950’s.  As described in the “WW 2008 Bar Guide”:

“The true gem of the place is the jukebox—an ancient machine, it’s capped with a glass dome containing a miniature (eight-piece) plastic band (and singer) that moves in time to the music (mostly oldies).” 

P1040015

A classic and outstanding juke box

P1040022

———–

There were some comments on social media that referenced Sloans as a dive bar.  From one who has great affection for such establishments (see Thebeerchaser post “Analyzing Dive Bars Head First” – September, 2011), these reviewers don’t have a clue as to what constitutes this category and the mislabel is the equivalent in this wacked-out 2016 political scene of  describing Donald Trump as an intellectual….

I’ll close by quoting excerpts from two authoritative sources – Portland Barfly and Willamette Weeks Annual Bar Guide for an apt picture of what you will encounter at Sloan’s Tavern and why you should visit it:

Portland Barfly:   The absolute cutest bar in North Portland, by far!  A retro-lover’s paradise – everything is vintage, down to the 50s diner coffee-maker.  A former greasy spoon, this spot cleaned up into a perfect date destination with its deep booths, and fantastic mirrored ceiling.  Command the bar in the really fun swiveling captain’s chairs! Beautiful wall hangings, combined with kitschy relics of bars past – it’s like the ultimate estate sale you hope desperately to stumble upon (though, sadly, everything is NFS).                          P1040024

Willamette Week 2013 Bar GuideThroughout a vibrant but never cluttered ’70s interior, the high art of low culture has been lovingly assembled to breathtaking effect utterly shorn of irony or, strange as this may sound, excess….The blend of fashion-forward cocktails with time-swept food (our visit, the food special was beef stroganoff; the drink special, house-infused cucumber gin) reflects a clientele with both neighborhood holdovers and gay and lesbian transplants.

It’s the sort of hard-earned integration of clientele easily spoiled by nightlife tourists, but Sloan’s schedule and locale just far enough from several beaten paths have thus far prevented the wholesale invasion. There’s no better way to avoid weekenders than to avoid weekends.

Sloan’s Tavern             36 North Russell Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lompoc Tavern – A Long and Continuing Tradition

Lompoc Tavern - The Tradition Continues

Lompoc Tavern – The Tradition Continues

Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars,Taverns and Pubs commenced in 2011 – initially including only watering holes in Portland, but based on the positive results, the concept was expanded to include establishments in Europe, Alaska, Washington, Montana, Colorado, the Southeastern US, central and eastern Oregon and the Oregon coast.  After four years, over 150 have been visited and reviewed with about 45% of those in Portland.

The Lutz - one of Portland's classics

The Lutz – one of Portland’s classics

Many of the Portland venues such as the Horse Brass Pub, the Lutz Tavern and the Mock Crest Tavern have rich histories.

The bartenders in these venues tell stories about the tunnels below the downtown bars used by smugglers (Kelly’s Olympian) or the brothel and law office that concurrently shared the space (Buffalo Gap Saloon) or the ghost that purportedly still inhabits the upstairs space at the White Eagle Saloonwhite eagle

 

I have visited bars that once housed an ice cream parlor, dry cleaner’s, grocery store, auto-body shop, thrift store, trolley station, Greek Orthodox church and petting zoo to name just a few.

Unfortunately, I never frequented the original Old Lompoc Tavern before it closed or when it was initially resurrected as the New Old Lompoc Tavern.   To remedy that, in part, I met my old friend Denny Ferguson and his colleague, Tygue Howland (both employed by another resurrected organization – the Portland State University Athletic Department) on a sunny October afternoon at the NW 23rd Street patio fronting the current Lompoc Tavern.

Fergy on the patio of the Lompoc

Fergy on the patio of the Lompoc

My friendship with Fergy goes back to 1979 when he was President of JBL & K Insurance and I worked at the Oregon State Bar.   He tried to teach me about employee benefits. Denny maintains, however, that rather than insurance concepts he tried to educate a young and naïve manager about business practices and life.

I have to admit that Dennis B. Ferguson is one of the most positive people I have ever known.   As I reported when we went Beerchasing at the Cheerful Tortoise in 2012, he is so optimistic that he will again, commence his new diet on the day before Thanksgiving – probably because he runs most of it off in the traditional Ferguson/Murphy Run at 6:15 A.M. Christmas Eve morning.  (Sign-up using the  link.)

Denny at the Cheerful Tortoise in 2013

Denny at the Cheerful Tortoise in 2012

And Tygue is Associate Athletic Director for External Operations at PSU – more about Tygue below. Our visit to the Lompac was greatly enhanced by Rosie, the Manager who also served us and has worked at the bar for the last eight years after moving from Michigan.

Rosie told us that the building structure is over 100 years old and the original Old Lompoc Tavern was opened in 1993.  In 1996, they started brewing and then in 2000, the current owner, Jerry Fechter, bought it with his silent partner – legendary beer entrepreneur, Don Younger, best known for his Horse Brass Pub – it then became the  New Old Lompoc.

Tygue, Rosie and Fergy

Tygue, Rosie and Fergy

All the buildings on that block on NW 23rd were demolished and the bar closed in 2012, but then reopened in May, 2013. Based on the number of previous monikers and potential confusion, the new name was simply the Lompoc Tavern and it joins the four other Portland bars under the Lompoc Brewing umbrella – the Fifth Quadrant, the Oaks Bottom, the Hedge House and Sidebar.

For history buffs, the Lompoc name emanated from the WC Field’s film The Bank Dick with the setting in Lompoc California.

The patio in the rear of the original Lompoc, a favorite of regulars, had to be abandoned and was replaced by the tables which now extend beyond the sidewalk in front of the bar.  But as you can see, the new patio is a great setting for beer and food and when I returned after 5:00 PM, it was filled and lively.  P1030838

What distinguishes the Lompoc? Rosie enthusiastically stated that it was the beer – 14 on tap in addition to one cider and quality seasonals from the Lompoc Brewery in Portland.  (It’s brewed at the Fifth Quadrant.)

The Lompac space is nicely laid out with some widescreen televisions to watch games, a spacious horsehoe bar and a nook with some historical mementoes from the original bar.  A recent Yelp review summed it up nicely:

A lot of cool *#@+ hanging on the wall....

A lot of cool *#@+ hanging on the wall….

“The atmosphere is cozy and dark. There is lots of crazy *%#@ hanging on the walls. A beer paddle, trophies, used malt cans, and concert posters decorate the interior. This is a brewery but the feel is a cross between a roadhouse and a yuppified neighborhood meeting place.

It’s cool, familiar, and comfortable.  The clientele seems to be older neighborhood-dwellers, outdoorsy 30-somethings, and long-bearded regulars. This is not a quiet place to nurse a pint. This is a bustling place to swap loud stories and share the weekend’s exploits with buzzed friends around tall pints of tasty beer.” (Yelp 2/16/15 by Jacob M)

P1030834The Willamette Week newspaper office has is only a few blocks from the Lompoc and in an effort to be humorous – which Lompac Management did not appreciate –  ran a “tongue-in-cheek” piece when the bar reopened in 2013 entitled, “A Complete Catalog of Everything Wrong with New New Old Lompoc”:

“So, yeah, while the New New Old Lompoc (they call it the “Lompoc Tavern”) is pretty great, it lacks the mildewed charm of the old bar which, apropos of nothing, was the closest watering hole to Willamette Week’s office.  Here’s two of the complaints they enumerated:

It’s rainy today — It sure would have been nice if they’d opened the pub last week, when it was nice and sunny.

The entrance may be about five feet farther north. — That’s five feet farther from the WW office. Given the journey involved, you guys aren’t going to catch us here any sooner than 6 pm today…”      P1030833

On a more serious note, the weekly in its 2014 Annual Bar Guide endorsed the Lompoc by stating:

“(It’s) a poor substitute for the delightfully shabby original – well aside from the food, which is better now.   And the beer is better and more adventurous……— (It’s) a neat little nook on the ground floor of a tony condo complex……..”

And since one of the joys of Beerchasing is meeting new friends, a little more about Tygue Howland.   He is smart, personable and understands athletics.  Besides his place in Washington sports lore as the only all-state high school athlete in three sports (football, basketball and baseball at Sedro Woolley High School), he knows and believes in the organization he now represents.   His job description includes fundraising, ticket sales and marketing for the Athletic Department.

All-State in baseball, football and basketball at Sedro Wooley Tygue on left)

All-State in baseball, football and basketball at Sedro Wooley

2015-11-05 13.57.36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, having just finished the book, I suggested that  inviting author, Jon Krakauer, to a book-signing to autograph his most recent book, Missoula – Rape and the Justice System in a College Town at PSU’s away game in Missoula that weekend with the University of Montana.   It could  be a creative way to generate publicity although it might not be enthusiastically received by the Montana Grizzlies or for that matter the University of Montana Administration.

Missoula - a college town with a football history and culture

Missoula – a college town with a football history and culture?

For those who have not read it, Krakauer’s  387-page non-fiction best seller is the account of the sad legacy including University of Montana football players’ involvement in a series of sexual assaults on campus, which were so numerous that it ended with an investigation and report by the US Department of Justice.   The feds criticized the University, the Missoula Police Department and the Missoula  County Attorney’s Office for their roles in tacitly permitting the perpetuation of this environment.

The University of Montana campus

The University of Montana campus

Tygue and Fergy rejected the suggestion and Portland State beat the Grizzlies 59 to 41 improving their record to five wins and one loss in what has been a remarkably successful season, which now stands at 8 and 2.

Tygue has a history at PSU, having played quarterback starting in 2005 under Coach Mike Walsh. Because of a severe injury (two torn ACLs) his football career took place over six years at PSU and he also played for Coaches Jerry Granville and Nigel Burton.   Keep your eyes open for this guy who in addition to his work at PSU, had a short stint at the Oregon State Athletic Department adding to his resume.

PSU Quarterback Howland before the injuries

PSU Quarterback Howland

And give the Lompoc a try – The patio is a terrific place to raise a mug and watch people.   And we found the Lompoc, while understandably not a duplicate of the original, a welcome addition to some of the sterile offerings on NW 23rd.

It has a nice ambiance, diverse and ample selections of beer, reasonably priced and tasty menu selections and a friendly staff (Say hello to Rosie!!!)

And maybe Willamette Week staffers will return and focus their criticism on more serious issues — like the ongoing and precipitous decline of The Oregonian……

The Lompoc - not the original, but a nice ambiance...

The Lompoc – not the original, but a nice ambiance…

The Lompoc Tavern 1620 NW 23rd Avenue

 

 

 

The St. John’s Pub – Beer and History

P1030763

While Thebeerchaser typically does not review bars that are directly connected with a restaurant, which means most of the McMenamen brothers’ lairs, there have been a few exceptions.   The White Eagle Saloon (see link to post in November, 2012) was of such historical significance that it made an interesting post.   The Buffalo Gap Saloon (see post in December, 2012 ) although not a McMenamin’s establishment, also has a very captivating story.

Brian Doyle at the Fulton Pub

Brian Doyle at the Fulton Pub

I recently visited the St. John’s Theater and Pub with two former Beerchasers of-the-Quarter – Northwest author, Brian Doyle and University of Portland Business Professor and noted micro craft consultant, Dr. Sam Holloway.

Brian is also the editor of the award-winning UP Magazine, Portland, and since both were on campus, the St. John’s is nearby, has a good line-up of beers and a rich history to check out.

I admire and respect what the McMenamins have done for the Oregon economy, historic preservation and beer in general since 1983, but going to their restaurants can often be kind of like going to the dentist – a nice receptionist or hostess gives a friendly greeting followed by what too often is a long wait and then either mouthwash or beer depending on which of the aforementioned venues you visited on that trip – you know the drill…..so to speak.

The entrance to the theater
The entrance to the theater

Most of their establishments get average ratings on sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp and the following from a Yelp review of the St. John’s back in 2008, albeit dated, still sums it up well:

“Like all good Portlanders, I have a snarky and somewhat ruthless attitude about McMenamins. But it serves its purpose at times…..It’s a natural for your visiting relatives.  The food is overpriced, predictable, but tasty enough.  Booze is available.  The patio at this location is actually quite pleasant.”

Although one guy named, Aaron, a California resident and whose choice of fine eateries thoughout the globe is somewhat questionable, raved on Yelp in February, 2014, “Literally one of my 5 favorite restaurants in the world.”   Really Aaron!!?  Have you ever been to San Francisco??

One of the five best in the word!!????

One of the five best in the word!!????

That said, both the tater tots and their beer generally get very good marks and we were at St. John’s that day just to drink and converse rather than eat.

And I have learned that any bar or tavern experience can be enhanced by your companions, which was the case that day.  So before I talk some more about St. John’s, let’s find out a little more about Brian and Sam.   They are both very smart and gifted individuals and we have a lot in common – they both have written books and I have read books.

University of Portland Professor Dr. Sam Holloway

University of Portland Professor Dr. Sam Holloway

The book Sam co-authored was entitled, Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management. Volume I: Managing Learning and Knowledge, and besides his extensive work on business model innovation, he has published numerous articles and spoken at many forums on the business of breweries.

And while the above volume sounds a little dry, Sam and his consulting firm (Crafting a Strategy) have just published a new book which is a must read for any potential or actual entrepreneur in the restaurant trade , an Ebook on “How to Make Money with Food.”  It is available for only $4.99.  (see the following link)

Holloway consulting firm - advising the craft brewing industry

Holloway consulting firm – advising the craft brewing industry

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/crafting-a-strategy-presents/id1045821669?ls=1&mt=11 

While I typically read escapist trash novels, Brian Doyle’s books have become a staple although they are more cerebral than most – quotes from English philosopher and poet, William Blake, detailed character development and meticulous descriptions of the Northwest environment that Brian loves.

As one Good Reads reviewer asked rhetorically about Brian’s most recent novel (Martin Marten), “Did Bryan Doyle’s high school yearbook say, ‘The guy least likely to be attacked by a bear due to his extraordinary capacity for observation?'” 

Martin MartenAs a brief example – the following from page 15 in which he describes the range of items that could be purchased in a general store in Zig Zag, Oregon – the setting for Martin Marten:

……(It) sells every single possible small important thing you could ever imagine you would ever need, if you lived on the mountain…..you can buy string of every conceivable strength and fiber. You can buy traps.  You can buy arrows.  You can buy milk and cookies.  You can buy tire irons and shoehorns.  You can buy false teeth and denture glue. 

You can buy comic books and kindling.  You can buy apples and pork tenderloin.  You can buy kale and rock salt. You can buy explosive caps for removing rubble from a precarious situation.  You can buy saws and drill bits.  You can buy nightgowns and shotgun shells.  You can buy old cassette tapes, and you can order iPads and iPods……

An Amazon review characterized this novel as a braided coming-of-age tale like no other, told in Brian Doyle’s joyous, rollicking style. Two energetic, sinewy, muddled, brilliant, creative animals, one human and one mustelid…come sprint with them through the deep, wet, green glory of Oregon’s soaring mountain wilderness.”    

Doyle - A "joyous, rollicking style" and a taste for good wine.....

A “joyous, rollicking style” and a taste for good wine…..

Note:   I had to look up “mustelid” and it is defined as a mammal of the weasel family (Mustelidae), distinguished by having a long body, short legs, and musky scent glands under the tail.”)

But we digress, now back to the St. John’s, but not before an appropriate William Blake quote on beer from his poem, the “Little Vagabond”:

“But if at the Church they would give us some Ale.       And a pleasant fire, our souls to regale;                     We’d sing and we’d pray, all the live-long day;             Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray,” 

I got there early and was downing an outstanding Ruby Red, (“an ale light, crisp and refreshingly fruity…..processed raspberry puree is used to craft every colorful batch.”)when they arrived from the UP campus.  Both Brian and Sam, to my surprise, ordered wine.  Brian, possibly after the intense research for his book The Grail  (“A year ambling & shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world”) – admits that besides McMenamin’s Hammerhead, wine has become his drink of choice.

Wind drinkers Doyle and Holloway

Wine drinkers Doyle and Holloway

With Sam, it was a temporary gluten issue and perhaps he was anticipating his trip in the next two weeks to visit breweries in Germany.  I reminded them both  of an anonymous but pithy quote:

“Beer – because one doesn’t solve the world’s problems over white white wine…..”

As an aside, I was the winner that afternoon, because my second beer was also a great seasonal brew – Copper Moon:

“The upfront hop bitterness…..is relatively low, complementing the malts nicely without being overpowering. The hop flavor and aroma are another matter, as the Citra and Chinook hops used in the latter stages of each batch intermingle delightfully to generate a dazzling citrusy, flowery and slightly spicy olfactory experience. All these things blend into a refreshing, flavorful and organic Summer Pale Ale.”

P1030767The St. John’s pub is a spacious and comfortable setting with a great outdoor patio and a cozy second-floor balcony.  The dark wood interior has interesting knick knacks and art work – typical of most McMenamin watering holes.

The history of this building is also remarkable.  You should check out their website to get the entire story, but here are a few highlights:

“Built in 1905 as the National Cash Register Company’s exhibit hall for Portland’s Lewis and Clark Exposition, this spectacular building was barged down the Willamette River after the expo to its current location, where subsequent incarnations included a Lutheran church, an American Legion post, a bingo parlor and a home for Gypsy wakes. The ever-evolving domed structure was later reinvented as Duffy’s Irish Pub and finally, St. Johns Theater & Pub.”  NCR_Building,_1905_(Portand,_Oregon)

St. John’s Pub website (http://www.mcmenamins.com/226-st-johns-theater-pub-home)

One can read about church scandal with the First Congregational Church (the preacher was accused of being a “traitor and a wife stealer”) and then the chronology involving a Lutheran Church (1931) before becoming an American Legion Post (with a bingo scandal), in addition to the stories involved with “saloons, billiards halls and traveling evangelists.”

I have often experienced poor service (possibly more accurately described as “slow” because of inadequate staffing) at McMenamins, and maybe it was because we were there at non-peak hour, but our server, Jessica, was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.

Mural in the St. John's Pub
Mural in the St. John’s Pub

The St. John’s Pub is a very comfortable establishment for a few beers, some reasonable comfort food if you are not in a hurry and some fascinating history for those who have an interest.

 

The St. John’s Pub

8203 N. Ivanhoe Street

Portland

Kelly’s Olympian – Old but Still Chipper and What a Great Name!

Kelly's - Operating since 1902!

Kelly’s – Operating since 1902!

Those of you who have followed Thebeerchaser know that notwithstanding the name, this blog is not a rigorous journalistic or academic study of beer.   Although, I love microbrews, I am always pleased and will opt for a $2.50 Happy-hour PBR rather than an esoteric and more expensive craft beer.

Darwin's Theory - a wonderful dive bar in Anchorage
Darwin’s Theory – a wonderful dive bar in Anchorage

Rather, this blog chronicles my journey to what is now over a hundred bars, taverns and pubs in the last four years in Portland and the far reaches of Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, the southeastern US and several countries in Europe.

Dive bars are preferred, but regardless, this investigation involves dissecting the history and character of the watering holes, interviewing the bartenders and regulars and commenting on the distinguishing characteristics of each establishment.

The tavern at the summit of ___ foot Mt. Schilthorn in Switzerland
The taverne at the summit of 9,744 foot Mt. Schilthorn in Switzerland

And one of the most enjoyable parts of these junkets has been the companions with whom I raise a mug. In many cases this has been Janet, my wonderful spouse of 35 years, (one reason she was named 2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year) but others have included lawyers, investment analysts, academicians, consultants, retired friends and just plain folk (although no animals) to this point.

From left: Thebeerchaser; Jack, Amy and Charlie Faust, Jim Westwood and Jennifer Johnson

From left: Thebeerchaser; Jack, Amy and Charlie Faust, Jim Westwood and Jennifer Johnson

 

 

The most recent Beerchaser event was at Kelly’s Olympian – a unique (and I use that word with mindfulness of hyperbole) dive bar right in the heart of downtown Portland. Fortunately, my five companions that day were as fascinating as the bar in which we gathered.

Let’s begin with the bar. Kelly’s, opened in 1902, is the third oldest bar/restaurant in continuous operation in Portland and per the Kelly’s website:

The name was derived from the name of one of the original owners, “Kelly”, and the Olympia Brewing Company, which was involved in the inaugural opening so that it could sell its product, Olympia Beer. It was originally called “The Olympian Saloon”.  The name “Kelly’s” was added a few years later…..

In the early days, it was a popular gathering spot for locals as well as visiting timbermen, sailors, shipyard workers, longshoremen and others passing through. In addition to being a popular bar, it had the reputation for having one of the most well known card rooms in all of Portland…and was truly a landmark.        

Downtown on 4th and Washington

Downtown on 4th and Washington

Legend has it that there used to be several secret entrances to the Shangai Tunnels, where Chinese immigrants and dockworkers lived and made their way about the underground of Portland.

……In one section of the basement is a peculiar patching of the wall and remnants of an old tile floor, from a rumored “speakeasy” that existed during the Prohibition years of the 1930′s. 

The Bar at Kelly's

The Bar at Kelly’s

So what’s changed from the early 1900’s and is Kelly’s still imbued with the personality chronicled in its archives?  Or is it just another old bar struggling to survive given the advent of shiny brewpubs and corporate establishments proclaiming the 99 beers on tap available to patrons.

This excerpt from Barfly provides evidence (and I believe our group would concur) that it is the former:

There’s no longer a piss-trough down the foot of the bar……. After more than a century, adjustments have to be made to any establishment. Women can come and go these days, the cellar tunnels to the port have been sealed, and, a few years back, once three generations of family ownership changed hands, a dozen vintage motorcycles were hung from the ceiling.  

Weird, that – sorta awful, sorta crazy – but, beyond niggling details (HD screens, paint job, more-than-edible food), it’s the same old bar. Servers still descend the trapdoor behind the bar to get ice. (Verified with Lucia, the Manager, that this is still the case and that’s where their kegs are also stored – see the picture below.) 

Mary Kate opened the trap door and shows the steps descending to the cellar

Mary Kate opened the trap door and shows the steps descending to the cellar

Elderly regulars maintain their presence. The shoeshine stand disappeared, tragically, but a decent sound system lures rising bands and tastemaker DJ’s……  (the music started in 2008)…..(Barfly)      

       

Faust Beerchasing at the U of O

Faust (right) Beerchasing at the U of O

 

 

 

Before some additional comments about the bar, let’s talk a bit about my companions that day. Two of them (Portland lawyers Jack Faust and Jim Westwood) are former “honorees” as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter by this blog. (Check the links on their names.)  In fact, Westwood is the one who suggested we congregate at Kelly’s).

Westwood with caricature of his hero - George Washington

Westwood with caricature of his hero – George Washington

After having worked at a law firm (Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt) with over 100 attorneys for twenty-five years, my concern that at least three lawyers are really essential for meaningful dialogue, was allayed when Jennifer Johnson, Dean of Lewis and Clark Law School joined the group.

Jennifer’s career is impressive and besides, she is a great drinking companion!  After law school, she was awarded a prestigious clerkship for Judge Alfred Goodwin in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

She then worked at the Davies Bigg firm (now Stoel Rives) specializing in real estate finance and land use, before joining the law school faculty in 1980, where her teaching awards are numerous and impressive including the Leo Levenson and Burlington Northern Foundation awards for excellence in teaching.

In 2008, Dean Johnson was named Jeffrey Bain Faculty Scholar in recognition of her exemplary teaching and scholarship in business law and was installed as the Erskine Wood Sr. Professor of Law.  She became Dean of the Law School in 2014.

An award-winning professor before becoming Dean

An award-winning professor before becoming Dean

I enjoyed talking to her when we first met at the Rookery, but heard from a friend – one of the 2015 graduating law students – how she distinguished herself at their graduation ceremony.

US Senator and Lewis and Clark Law School alumnus, Heidi Hietkamp, was scheduled to deliver the commencement address.  But thanks to the dysfunctional body which may be mislabeled as the “Upper Chamber,” she was detained in Washington D.C. because of a Rand Paul’s filibuster on the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

Lewis and Clark Law School Alum - Senator Heidi Hietkamp

Lewis and Clark Law School Alum – Senator Heidi Hietkamp

Jennifer found out on Friday that the North Dakota Senator would not be able to make it to Oregon by Saturday afternoon. So Jennifer, pinch hit after writing her remarks on what turned out to be a long Friday night.

When I attended a graduation party for the law graduate the next evening, he and his parents both raved about how Jennifer “hit it out of the park,” with her remarks.   They opined that it was the highlight of the ceremony.

Beerchasing at the Rookery
Beerchasing at the Rookery – no Charlie Faust but add Schwabe attorney, Jennifer Woodhouse (left)

 

And before discussing Amy and Charlie Faust who rounded out on contingent, we should digress and mention that the same group we had at Kelly’s had Beerchased about six months earlier at The Rookery – at that time a fairly new and classy bar on SW Broadway.

The contrast in environment at the Rookery is described in one September 2014 Yelp review as:

“….really charming, I have a fondness for restoration projects and they did a wonderful job. We were eager to sample local brews and dig into taste bites….We ordered the charcuterie plate, mac & cheese and corned beef stuffed Yorkshire pudding.…….The mac & cheese was one of the best I can recall in ages and I never thought about stuffing a reuben into Yorkshire pudding, but …….it was a wonderful blend of Irish and British.”                        

Entertainment more genteel than rock bands at Kelly's

Entertainment more genteel than rock bands at Kelly’s

 It’s a suave and sophisticated bar on the second floor of SW Portland restaurant Raven and Rose.  The dark wood panels, the clientele (mostly downtown professionals) and the menu are all good, but perhaps a little bit stuffy.

At Kelly’s, our group’s personality adapted to our environment.  We were rowdier, drank cheaper beers and were less attentive to Jack Faust’s stories even though they are always captivating – but more so in a “dignified and staid” environment than in a dive bar with classic motorcycles hanging from the ceiling and tatted patrons.  P1030757

What about Jack Faust’s two offspring – Amy and Charlie?  Given their engaging personalities and interesting backgrounds, I knew that it did not take three members of the Faust family to ensure riveting conversation.

Charlie Faust with his Dad

Charlie Faust with his Dad at Bailey’s

Charlie is a Portland mortgage broker.  After graduation from U of O, he traveled for a year in Europe and SE Asia, then worked as a staffer for Senator Bob Packwood.

That prepared him to weather the storms when he worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration including the experience of being on the crew of a NOAA hurricane research plane during Hurricane Gloria in 1985 – peak winds of 155 mph. He has Beerchased previously at Marathon Taverna and Bailey’s Tap Room.

Charlie flew through Hurricane Gloria

Charlie flew through Hurricane Gloria

Amy is a talented writer and popular Portland radio personality and the female half of the Mike and Amy Show on KWJJ The Wolf.

She has an interesting background and after graduating from Scripps College – one of the five prestigious Claremont Colleges in Southern California, she moved to New York where she both met her husband and even sang in an all-female alternative country band (negotiations to get tapes are underway at time of publication…).

The Mike and Amy Show, after thirteen years of great ratings, was unceremoniously canceled by station management in September of 2012.  This was ironic because their show was one of five nominees for that year’s County Music Association Media Personality of the Year in the major markets.

Amy and Mike - the dynamic morning duo at KWJJ - The Wolf

Amy and Mike – the dynamic morning duo at KWJJ – The Wolf

Although it is unusual to hear management in any industry admit that it erred, in June 2014, based on listener demand and the poor ratings since the action, the duo returned to the airwaves and KWJJ Program Director, Mike Moore, announced:

I want to speak to you about a mistake that ‘The Wolf’ made back on Aug. 6, 2012”

Mike Moore’s description on Linked In states, in part:

Tenacious program director with 15+ years of experience in providing strategy, vision…..developing and executing on-air and online strategies that provide cost-effective programming that positively impact bottom line without compromising quality.

He is still with KWJJ and perhaps his ability to reverse course is one reason.  Typical of the responses to the return of the show was this one:

I am so very thrilled to have them back.  It’s nice to listen to the radio again. (Yes, I haven’t been a listener since they were fired — I was brought up on KWJJ and have listened to that station since about 1972).

Former colleagues - Amy and Mary Kate

Former colleagues – Amy and Mary Kate

Amy also validated the cliché about Portland being a “small city” when she discovered that our friendly and competent bartender was Mary Kate, a former colleague from the Entercom who Amy ran into when Mary Kate was a bartender at Dukes – a bar on Division and then at another bar on N. Mississippi Avenue.

 

Now the current owner of Kelly’s is not without some celebrity.   According to Willamette Week in its 2013 article on Portland Hydro Hogs,” Benjamin Stutz is a lawyer and besides being co-owner of Kelly’s he develops condos and also owns a drive-thru pizza joint in Hillsboro (Motopizza).  His wife Dr.Cynthia Gulick, is an osteopathic physician working in medical bariatrics.

They were “featured” as the top Portland “Water Hogs” in 2013, with residential consumption of 1,006,060 gallons. “(Their) apple tree-lined driveway (enters) a 3.3-acre property’s tennis court, swimming pool and a small vineyard of pinot noir grapes and also averaged 1.02 million gallons in the prior two years.”  (Willamette Week 4/21/13)

For those who enjoy an occasional cold beer, this 2013 consumption would equate to 64,907 kegs of PBR – a small fortune even at Happy-hour prices.

Enough water in 2013 to fill almost 65,000 of these puppies!

Enough water in 2013 to fill almost 65,000 of these puppies!

Stutz was also on the Top Ten list of Hydro Hogs for 2011-12, but to his credit, has not “resurfaced” on the list since 2013.

And as for Body Art…..

As one might expect, the clientele at Kelly’s is diverse as described in a  Zagat review: ….”a mix of punks, business types and ‘street urchins’ gathers for Pabst and ‘strong’ pours of Jack Daniels…..”

And, of course, with the bike theme, you would be correct in assuming that bikers – a group known for sporting body art, comprise a portion of the regulars.

In addition, a January 2014 Trip Advisor review after mentioning the biker contingent, also stated: “Of course, everyone working there sports multiple tattoos and piercings. No wimps allowed.”

P1030758The make-up of our group did not consist of professions known for their ferociousness or intimidation, (in fact Westwood before his legal career was a TV weatherman at KGW).  We did not exhibit traits that allow  you to drink without trepidation in a dive bar.

Based on that fact, I asked Jim if he had considered our vulnerability when suggesting Kelly’s.

He casually lifted his left sleeve to show me his recent tattoo, and assured me that this decoration – the numerals “1783” – while not typical of the more graphic tats displayed by the bikers, ensured our acceptance and respect.  (Besides I was prepared to tell them that we knew Schwabe partner, Jay Waldron – no tattoos, but a former rugby player, biker and one who has kicked back more than a few beers with whiskey chasers at Kelly’s.)

Westwood - comfortable in his own skin - Still!

Westwood – comfortable in his own skin – Still!

Westwood, who has served for fourteen years as coach of the Grant High School “We the People”  Constitution Team, endured the pain from the needle after he delivered on a promise to his team members.  He told them that if they won the 2013 National Championship, he would get a tattoo to recognize the victory.

Grant High National Championship Team including Coach Westwood

Grant High National Championship Team  in D.C. including Coach Westwood

Westwood’s most admired historical figure is President George Washington and 1783 is the year of two of the most significant events in our first President’s storied career as a military and political leader.  We have to admire Westwood’s motivational skills and commitment as a coach.

——————-

 The Kelly Motorcyles

The classic motorcycles are a distinguishing feature at Kelly’s. The description in their website does a good job conveying the effect:

Motorcycle at EntranceThe crowning glory is the collection of a dozen vintage motorcycles hanging from the ceiling and about, each restored to perfection. One of the owners is a motorcycle enthusiast and finally found a home for his impressive motorcycle collection.

Complementing the motor cycles are other motorcycle accessories, combined with museum quality neon signs, antique gas pumps and historic photos of Portland and motor cycles.   

The inventory of the classic cycles at Kelly's

The inventory of the classic cycles at Kelly’s

 

We had a great time at Kelly’s and you should try it taking into consideration this closing description by the Portland Mercury:

The neon, the road signs, the decorative motorcycles all scream “theme bar,” but Kelly’s Olympian manages to avoid the inauthenticity the décor would imply….. Kelly’s has the gravitas of a place that’s been around for over a century.

The food is… well… bar food, but the drinks are on the deep side, the tap list is long, and much of the clientele could probably tell you a thing or two about motorcycles. It’s not quite a grim and gritty biker bar—but it’s not faking anything, either.     

Due to the length of this post, we have not covered the quality bands which make Kelly’s a destination in the evenings.  Check these out on the link to their website shown below.  And check out the over 20 beers and one cider they have on tap at their Happy Hour from 4:00 to 7:00 each day and 11:00 to 1:00 on Thursday through Sunday.

(If you run into Jay Waldron, buy him a beer!)

Cleans up pretty well and still has cred with bikers....

Waldron – Cleans up pretty well and still has cred with bikers….

Kelly’s Olympian              426 SW Washington Portland

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