Dont Get Mad — Get Mad Hanna!

Beerchaser regular, Jim Westwood, at the entrance to Mad Hanna

While one can cruise the infamous Barmuda Triangle (also known as “The Stumble Zone”) in SE Portland and find numerous dive bars, unearthing these hidden treasures in other quarters of the Rose City, has become more challenging – particularly with the closure of some historic dives.

In the eight years of Thebeerchaser blog, I’ve reviewed quite a number of memorable dive bars.  I attempted to memorialize (if you will) the Portland all-stars in this category in a February post:  https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/09/thebeerchasers-best-portland-dive-bars/ .  It captures the essence of my four personal favorites.

Now my second visit to Mad Hanna was after publishing the aforementioned post or it would have been an addition to the four favorites.   And it is in NE Portland, which does not reflect the wealth of dives in the southeast quadrant.

Mad Hanna (hereafter “MH”), while clearly exhibiting the notable characteristics of a dive, borders on the temperament and character of a neighborhood watering hole.  As evidence of this slightly schizoid ambiance, see  both the martini glass and the Pabst sign which decorate the front of the establishment which is otherwise dumpy and rundown – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Notice the martini – gin with an olive – in the upper right part of the sign….

We have to be careful here because one description in a link to the MH website describes it as a “casual, playful tavern.”  (No dive bar should have the adjective “playful” characterizing it, so we will scratch that phrase as misguided…..), but it does have positive mood or presence similar to another one of the NE dives – The Standard. And it self describes in the caption to it’s own website:  “The Best Dive Bar in Portland.”

While I spend a considerable amount of time researching the establishments I visit, I had never heard of MH until reconnecting with a friend, Hillary Barbour.  She lives in the general area and said that it was a bar that deserved recognition by Thebeerchaser, so my first visit was with Hillary.

I first met her in 1994, when she was a research assistant for the Portland City Club and I was on the Research Board of this civic organization.   She was a recent graduate of Reed College and earned the endearing moniker, “Barbour the Magnificent,” by some of us on the Board because of her superior performance and enthusiastic work ethic.

After a few jobs trying to discover what she wanted to do with her life, she worked as a key staffer for Congressman Earl Blumenauer for almost fifteen years and became the Director of Strategic Initiatives for Burgerville in 2016.

Barbour the Magnificent on her throne at Mad Hanna

As a recent Reed graduate, Hillary spent a lot of time at the City Club trying to  convince us that she was really politically moderate, had worn dresses to most of her liberal arts classes and that most of the students at Reed were just like those at Oregon State University except that they major in Nuclear Physics, Bio-chemistry or Chinese Literature rather than Forestry or Animal Husbandry.  

Actual picture of Cerenkov radiation surrounding the underwater core of the Reed College nuclear reactor

Note:  Some Portlanders may not know that Reed is also the only undergraduate educational institution in the world to operate a research nuclear reactor.    Those who live near campus might consider acquiring a Geiger counter to supplement their portable generators if they view this excerpt from the Reed website: “We are dependent on incoming freshmen who want to run the reactor…..”

Hillary asserted that Reed’s intercollegiate sports program including rugby, ultimate frisbee and soccer, was less expensive and more inclusive that those of the PAC-12 – maybe it was the PAC-10 in 1994….

Ultimate Frisbee in between time at Reeds’ nuclear reactor…

And finally, she tried to explain the Reed’s Student Ethics Code to members of the Research Board  – it differs from most (maybe all) universities in that it is:

“….a guide for ethical standards themselves and not just their enforcement. Under the Honor Principle, there are no codified rules governing behavior. Rather, the onus is on students individually and as a community to define which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.”

Westwood offered explanation of Honor Guide…

Jim Westwood, a hard-core Beerchaser regular, who is also a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and one of the most skilled appellate lawyers and intelligent people I know, was also a City Club leader at that time.   He accompanied me on my second visit to MH.

So as we were drinking a PBR, as a conversation piece, I asked him for his interpretation of this somewhat abstract university credo.  He mumbled something about the substance of jelly-fish and then referenced protoplasm and amoebae…

But we digress….. Back to Mad Hanna……Why wouldn’t you like this bar?   While the outside might be somewhat off-putting, the inside has everything one could ask for in what is colloquially labeled “a watering hole.”

It has great old beer signs – such as Pabst, Oly and Rolling Rock and a good, although not excessive, selection of brews ranging from the standards to a few micro-brews  (Happy Hour = $4 micro – $2.50 standards and PBRs’ are $2) all of which are listed on a blackboard rather than an electronic display.  I was impressed with their line-up of ten cocktails – see below – which get good reviews.

There’s also an impressive pool table, a poster of Wonder Woman and a few, but not too many video poker machines in addition to arcade (video) games.

Adds to the ambiance….

There were a couple of TVs but ones which are of moderate size and for which the glare doesn’t disturb the somewhat dingy but very comfortable ambience.  And instead of low-scoring soccer games or Sports Center blaring on the main screen, there was a muted Charlie Brown animation film captivating the audience.

Dive bars are often characterized by hard-core regulars who react with mild to more aggressive hostility to newcomers, but on both of my visits, you are unnoticed when you walk in and stake out a location and head to the bar to order.  That’s because scattered groups of regulars are engaged in active discussions or in friendly interactions with the amiable and helpful bartenders.

People, whether on the excellent patio in the back (see below), gathered around the bar or sitting at tables in small groups, were having a good time.

Sterile environment – operated by the same corporation that runs the Olive Garden.

Now there are a few of the bars or breweries visited on Thebeerchaser’s multi-year tour which either reflect sterile, corporate-type settings or environments or worse, a benign neglect or seeming apathy of the owners.  A less genteel way to convey this is that the character of the bar “sucks!”

The only two Portland examples I can cite are The Yardhouse in downtown Portland and Bar 33-Brooklyn just north of Sellwood.

A lot of potential, but apathy greets you at the entrance

(If you want to learn the rationale for my conclusions, click on the links above, but suffice to say that if you really are thirsty for a beer, have at it.  But if you want a “bar experience,” don’t waste your time.)

Mad Hanna is the antithesis of these bars and I would suggest that it’s because of the attitude of the co-owners —Crystall Maddox and Liz Hanna, who not only came up with the good name, but also make efforts to instill community and the spirit that seems to radiate within the walls.

They get a nice mention in a 2017 feature in Portland Drink entitled “Visit One of Portland’s Many Female-Owned Bars” 

For example, their Facebook page is informative and filled with information and they also have a nice, but not overly sophisticated website with scores of pictures of people having fun and the inviting description below:

“Mad Hanna, your neighborhood living room, drinks are cold and the welcome is warm.  Need a laugh or ear to bend, swing on by and you’ll find it.  Fresh squeezed juice and house-infused liquors mean delicious hand-made cocktails. 

Enjoy ping pong, horseshoes and conversation in the sunny backyard or stay inside for pool, jukebox and sass from the best bartenders in town.  When you’re here your part of the family – we got your back!”

Let’s look at the evening activities:  Tuesday and Thursday they have DJ NIghts from 8:00 to midnight and on Saturday from 4:00 to midnight. On Wednesday, it’s Open Mic Night from 6:00 to 110:00 PM.  Don’t forget Karoke on Sunday……and periodic movie nights.

And their DJ booth is unique – also a great place to sit when they are not spinning discs.

As a side note, the Rovon Inn used to be the name of the bar prior to the change in ownership in 2012 that brought us Mad Hanna.   It was involved in a dram-shop lawsuit back in 2011 involving a drunken driver who allegedly drank there and at another establishment before being involved in a car wreck that killed a woman in another vehicle.)

While both times I was there, it was a typical Oregon winter day – cold and drizzly, but even so, there were people bundled up on the back patio and I can just visualize the activity during good weather – although as the sign indicates, under control…….!

 

 

 

Earlier I mentioned the tap list, but MH is also known for it house-infused cocktails and jello-shots they have a good collection and get excellent reviews in print and social media:

“……a chalkboard cocktail menu juggling the sublime (“$6.25 Ginger Whiskey Sour”) and ridiculous (“$9 CBD Margarita”).  While most regulars enjoy the well-curated array of mostly local brews, make sure to plunk down $1.50 for a pudding shot—an addictive dollop of soft-serve indulgence that’s become Mad Hanna’s signature libation. As an ideal blend of the playful and potent, the 80 proof is in the pudding.”  Willamette Week June 9, 2018

Now you won’t find an expansive menu here, but they do have some munchies from nachos to hummus and the grilled-cheese sandwich options gets good comments.  And my friend, Jim, paused in our conversation while chowing down on his $4.50 (Happy Hour) peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

This post is already too long, but there’s still a bit more to the story.  One factor that can add to or detract from a bar is the “juke box.”  MH’s garners great reviews not only for the music, but the bar’s approach is consistent with the tone set forth above:

 ……a special note – check out the jukebox here – it has such a great mix, everything from punk to classic country to ROBYN! don’t be afraid to throw in a few quarters and dance, also don’t be shocked if strangers join in too! its a real friendly place 🙂Yelp 7/8/14  (For those out of the cultural mainstream, ROBYN is a Swedish singer and songwriter…..)

Fantastic juke box, but who the heck is ROBYN??

Regardless of whether one considers Mad Hanna a dive or a neighborhood bar, it warrants a visit.

You will see evidence of the comfortable vibe mentioned in this post whether it is seeing a poster about a benefit to help an ailing bartender or resident of the neighborhood,  having a chat with one of the amiable bartenders or even hitting the bathroom – it also has character!

Further evidence of “community”

You should take the advice of this 6/9/18 Yelp reviewer who stated:

“Probably the coolest place I’ve been to in a long time. I will be going back to this place whenever I’m in town!”  6/9/18

And if you run out of conversation topics, you might want to revisit the interpretation of the Reed Ethics Code.  Alternatively, you could discuss the recent article, “What is a Reedie Anyway?”

Mad Hanna  6129 NE Fremont

Hail to the Hall – Oakshire Beer Hall That Is!

A home-grown Oregon Success Story

Oakshire Brewing in Eugene is a shining example of a family-owned enterprise that based on creativity, good management and community involvement has thrived since its founding in 2006 by CEO, Jeff Althouse, who attended Oregon State before graduating from the U of O and is a former high school math teacher.

Oakshire Founder and CEO

Thebeerchaser has not been to the Brewery or it’s Eugene Public House to this point, but the opening of its new Beer Hall in Northeast Portland offered a chance to have a Beerchasing gathering and gain my own impressions of this Oregon craft brewery’s excursion to Portland.

The Beer Hall opened in July in Northeast Portland (NE 42nd Ave. on the border of the Cully/Concordia neighborhoods) and now occupies an expansive space in what used to be the popular restaurant Old Salt Marketplace.   

The question below was asked and answered in a July 23rd post on Portland-based New School Beer.com – an excellent website dedicated to craft beer and news and commentary about Northwest beer and cider:

Why open an Oakshire Beer Hall in Portland when its beer is readily available in cans and bottles? Consumers demand variety and like to go straight to the source; this way Oakshire can showcase a much more diverse selection with its signature brand.

Oakshire Brewing is known for its Overcast Espresso Stout, Watershed IPA, Amber Ale and somewhat for its fruited Gose can series. Anyone who has been to the pub in Eugene knows that they offer much more than can be found elsewhere; from crisp lagers to milkshake IPAs, classic pub styles, and their highly underrated barrel-aged mixed culture ales; all are available at the new Portland beer hall.”

Sam Holloway in one of his speaking gigs.

This post will focus just on the Beer Hall itself rather than be a descrition of the Brewery and pub in Eugene and it’s many beers.

I was also interested in covering this new establishment because my good friend and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dr. Sam Holloway, a professor at the University of Portland joined us that day.

He is also a consultant on the craft brewing industry and serves on the Oakshire Board of Directors. The story of how he and Jeff Althouse met and Sam got on the Board is interesting and can be gleaned at the second link below:

Sam is also President of Crafting a Strategy – a global consulting firm and resource for micro-brewers.   See Sam’s interesting background by clicking on the link below: https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/08/25/sam-holloway-educator-craftsman-and-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/    

The picture below shows Sam with Brother Thomas Buttrick, OSB and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Fr. Martin Grassel – both monks from the Mount Angel Abbey near Salem. Fr. Martin is also the General Manager and Head Brewer of the Benedictine Brewery.

Fr. Martin is a devoted follower of the Crafting a Strategy resources in business planning for the Mt. Angel Brewery – one of three in the country owned and operated by Benedictine monks.

Dr. Sam with Brother Thomas and Fr. Martin Grassel.

While the Beer Hall exceeded expections, like every Beerchasing escapade, the companionship was the highpoint, but I will address that below.  However, it needs to be stated up front that this was the first time ever that six Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter congregated in the same room.

Constitutional scholar Westwood – prior civic commitment

It would have been seven but for attorney, Jim Westwood’s prior commitment as the Constitution Team Coach for De La Salle North Catholic High School at the same time.  (And if there is ever a time when knowledge of Constitutional principles is important……..)

You can see most of these in the photos below and Thebeerchaser is kicking himself for not getting a group photo of this august group.  (I guess it will have to wait until they are all in the ethereal realm with mugs of I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost – a sour Berliner Weise – listening to Jack Faust recite from Goethe.)

Jack Faust  – https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Dr. Sam Holloway –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/08/25/sam-holloway-educator-craftsman-and-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Fr. Martin Grassel –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/07/26/father-martin-grassel-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

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

Amy Faust –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/04/11/amy-faust-beerchaser-of-the-quarter-and-mandolinist/

Art Vandelay – https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/01/31/beerchaser-of-the-month-art-vandelay/  (He sometimes adopts the moniker Carson Bowler)

Now let’s take a look at why this place is recommended by Thebeerchaser:

The Beer:  I was amazed that the number of taps at this outpost was rivaled the number of “Breaking News” captions on a Cable New Broadcast in an hour.

The Beer Hall has twenty-two of its own beers on tap with ten more offering draft white and red wine, guest hard cider and kombucha.  The taps are displayed behind the attractive dark wood bar and also on an electronic display to the side.

I stuck to the “core” offerings rather than the “vintage” or “pilot” options – these three comprise Oakshire’s distinct small-batch brewing programs.  Their brews are also available in cans and bottles distributed throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Colorado.

The ability to get some of Oakshire’s hard-to-find caged and corked barrel-aged clean and sour wild ales in a refrigerated case for purchase is also a good feature.

For example, Jim Finn, a retired litigator Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt who was there with his wife, Alanna, reveled in the name and description of the pilot program’s new Dinosaurs Will Die Brachiosaurus.

He did so with the same enthusiasm he showed when he approached the jury for his final argument in trial – “hazy and brewed with galaxy, mosaic, motueka and citra hops” – this is the description of the beer, not Jim’s oratory.

Fr. Martin and Jack Faust – two former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

Similary, Fr. Martin was curious about both the contents and the theological implications, if any, of the Hellshire IX “Imperial Stout aged in freshly dumped Kentucky Bourbon Barrels.”

Theological implications???

 

 

(I also assume he will be interested in comparing Oakshire’s Smokin’ Hell Helles Lager brewed with smoked Oregon Spruce Tips to his own Helles Lager – he brews it at the Benedictine Brewery to rave reviews.

He discussed homebrewing with another retired Schwabe lawyer – Jack Faust – who in addition to being one of Oregon’s premier appellate lawyers, is still a homebrewer notwithstanding the results when he tried to brew his infamous “Rasberry Red Ale.” 

(Faust may also have been asking about the possibility of indulgences for that experiment in his basement years ago although he maintains that his current batch of Dark IPA is one to die for….) 

Brian and Hannah brief us on the new release

The staff stopped us at one point to announce in advance introduction of the new Oakshire’s new Novemberfest Lager – their second lager and one with an orange hue.  Evidently, they announce a new release at the Beer Hall every Tuesday at 6:00 PM.

The Space and Ambiance – We had about thirty people there, all of which fit comfortably in the half of the establishment’s space dedicated to the bar.   Besides seating at the bar, there were two nice long tables and several booths.

The dark wood and basic décor makes it inviting and there is substantial additional space available in the other half of the room – separated by a wood panel – where the food offerings are prepared.

There are plans in the future to put in an a large room for events and a beer garden where there is now an adjacent parking lot.  (They currently are having a Trivia NIght every Monday evening.)  Several small tables on the sidewalk in front offer additional seating.  Ample street parking is another benefit.

One factor which added to the experience on both of my visits was the personable staff – friendly, but also very knowledgeable about all the beer offerings and very accommodating in offering samples to determine one’s preference for a pint. Brian, Jake and Hannah were great ambassadors for their company.

The Food – Only a few in our group took the time to eat during the event.  While there is discussion about multiple food carts at the site in the future, a very interesting and attractive option is offered inside the Beerhall currently. 

Good and interesting food option

As stated in a recent review in the Portland Mercury:

“:….BIBA! CHamoru Kitchen, operated by Ed Sablan….BIBA’s menu showcases the cuisine of Guam with an emphasis on grilled meats and bright spice…….

The kelaguen is unique and habit-forming although for something more traditional you can go for the fiesta plates, with barbecued chicken, pork spareribs or veggies.  They’ve got an array of of starters and snacks too; the shrimp fritters were a perfect blend of airy puff, crispy batter and shrimpy succulence.”

Fr. Martin talking to Amy Faust while eating a spicy dish from BIBA!. *1

Since it is new, there are few reviews on social media, but almost are all positive and this one was typical (9/14/19 Yelp):

“Great addition to the neighborhood! Nice place, nice people, very prompt and helpful service.  The food was all stellar, I’m super excited to go back and try the rest. All very fresh and delicious.
Highly recommended!

Bargain sale…….

*1 It should be noted that in the picture above, Amy Faust and Fr. Martin are having an animated discussion about cats since both are feline fanciers.

Amy’s Facebook posts are filled with references and she even embarked on a self-admitted foolish business scheme to sell cat-related merchandise “made for my talking cat, Ted, for the recent Cat Festival in Portland.”  (If you are interested, check out this Instagram post.  This cat also is involved in an Internet romance – but that’s another story….)

Cecelia

Fr. Martin adopted a stray cat forteen years ago in the hills above the Seminary and Monastery and “Cecelia” now follows him around the Abbey Hilltop and sits on his desk each day.

“There are a lot of feral cats in Rome and I took comfort feeding some of them.  I was the only one they would approach.  Feral or abandoned cats roam our grounds, too, one of which was Cecelia.  I started feeding her and she adopted me.”  

Especially vocal in their praise were the present and former members of the Schwabe Natural Resources Group who have been loyal Beerchasers from the beginning.  Many of the lawyers in this group attended that day (Brian Flanagan – Group Leader, Patty Dost, Jay Waldron, Cheryl Rath, Carson Bowler and even Tim Sullivan who is now practicing in a law firm in Baltimore.)

Cheryl Rath, Tim Sullivan and Carson Bowler (aka Art Vandelay)

A watershed IPA moment – creative advertising too….

They were drinking and particularly interested in the Watershed IPA – not because it might pose some issues that would generate billable hours.

The description of this beer simply reflects their collective personality and approach to Super Fund sites:  “strikes a balance between bitter and sweet, finishing crisp and clean.”

Note:  One of those sites may be Jack Faust’s basement where he disposed the remains of the batch of Raspberry Red down his drain.

That reference also allows me to finish with another kudo to Oakshire for supporting the environment.  They have partnered with the McKenzie River Trust:

“One percent of Watershed IPA sales revenue is set aside for the protection of local watersheds in the territories where the beer is sold, helping to preserve the clean water that is so vital to our community and our beer.”

Oh yes. I forgot – it’s a family-type place and kids are welcome until 11:00 PM.  One of the stars that day was my youngest granddaughter, Rylee Dawn Keene.  This ten-month bundle of joy is shown here with her other grandfather, Ron Keene.

To sum it up, the Oakshire Beer Hall deserves its recent designation in Willamette Week as one of the five best places in Portland to get a drink.  (The week of September 11th)

Whether its the beer, the nice space, a chance to sample good food from Guam or you just want to support an Oregon company with great values, you will not be disappointed.  The feedback I got from the group attending was universally positive.

 

 

 

 

 

Oakshire Brewing Beer Hall    5013 SE 42nd Avenue  Portland  

 

 

A Good Way to Get Back to Your “Roots”…..

Roots is a new establishment that had its grand opening May 18th in the Palisades Marketplace in Lake Oswego.   This not-for-profit public house has interesting and unusual trappings, but is not unique in Oregon.

The Oregon Public House reviewed by Thebeerchaser in a 2015 post asserted that it was the world’s first non-profit pub when it commenced operating in 2013 and even got national publicity on their mission.

Shortly after that in 2014, Ex Novo Brewing, opened its doors claiming to be the country’s first nonprofit brewery.

A Willamette Week article, described the two as follows:

“The nation’s first nonprofit brewery opened around the same time as the nation’s first non-profit beer pub in a rash of Obama-era do-gooderism, at a time when people could make a difference without braving tear gas.  Even if you didn’t know these were pints with a purpose, you’ll love…..” (Willamette Week 3/2/17)

Now in these days of intense competition in the micro-craft industry, there are a lot of establishments that are not making a profit – albeit not intentionally – so let’s distinguish the objectives of the those above and the new Roots Public House in Lake O founded by Derek and Katie Abbott.

Their goal is to make a profit – just that whatever financial returns are derived, are directed to select charitable (or sometimes governmental) organizations.   The model allows the patron to select the organization which garners the overage on his or her pint.  (You place a token in the appropriate jar.) Katie Abbott said that the Oregon Public House (OPH) was an inspiration for their plans.

Roots has identified four areas in which their efforts are focused:

  Education          Hunger          Arts          Literacy

The four recipient organizations when we visited this month are below.  These may change at some point in the future but will be restricted to local causes:

Lake Oswego School District Foundation          Lakewood Theater

Tualatin  Food Pantry          Lake Oswego Library

Customers have a choice which worthwhile cause to support.

Those who are suspicious or possibly have a cynical view of human nature, may dismiss this benevolence based on creative accounting.  For example, do the owners get a substantial salary which would be considered an expense and deducted before the bottom line figure.  Roots pledge is “We give 100% of our profits to local charities.  You GATHER, we GIVE.”

OPH is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit while both Ex Novo and Roots are LLC’s which allows them to maximize deductions.  Katie and Derek currently do not take salaries although all of their staff are obviously compensated – former Lake Oswego or Lakeridge High School students who are now college seniors or graduate students and work during the summer or part-time when school is in session.

Regardless of the manner in which they accomplish their motto – for OPH it’s “Have a Pint – Save the World”) and at Roots, it’s “Gather and Give”  – Thebeerchaser’s position is that the individuals behind these establishments, even if taking a salary, are working for far less than they otherwise would be taking home in order to promote worthwhile philanthropic endeavors.

A great looking family…..

Katie and Derek Abbott have a good story – Texas natives who moved to Oregon in 2002 to complete graduate studies – they both have backgrounds in education and Derek is a math and AP statistics teacher at nearby Lakeridge High School where he has taught for fifteen years.  Katie at one time worked for Marylhurst University.  Falling in love with the Northwest, they decided to plant their Roots here.

A homebrewing hobby ultimately led to the desire to have their own pub.  They built out the bar area (about 250 square feet)  themselves including the attractive woodwork starting in April which “took us about six weeks to complete – generally two hours per evening and on weekends about five hours per day.”

Woodworking is a family venture….

Their are plusses and minuses to their location.  The bar itself is tucked into a niche one sees to his left when walking into Palisades.

There are five tables and the bar has four seats to drink one of their beverages – a cozy environment but one which can also accommodate a community gathering.

Cozy ambiance with the Lammers

Some pub enthusiasts might prefer not to have their favorite watering hole in a grocery.

Palisades Marketplace, however, is a cherished community store with long-term and friendly staff that has a tradition of supporting the community.

It has a great deli and bakery within shouting distance of the bar and an excellent selection of wines. Katie stated that they have been a great partner.

Big enough for a community gathering

Palisades Marketplace – a community tradition in Lake O

Besides, there are subtle, but practical advantages to picking up a growler of your favorite beer or just having a pint at the bar when you make the trip to pick up a quart of milk or the organic veggies you forgot for your stir-fry dinner.

Roots has an impressive lineup on tap for a small operation with14 diverse micro-crafts, two hard ciders, a hard seltzer, two wines, three Kombuchas and a few non-alcoholic offerings.

There is certainly a case to be made for Katie’s assertion, “We have the best selection of draft beers in the area.”  And at $5 and $6 their pints are very reasonably priced. ($1 off at “Happiest Hours,” which are from 6:00 to 8:00).  Don’t be surprised to see a special whenever you pop in including some nights when wine is featured.

Currently, their food selection at the bar itself is limited to snacks such as pistachios, chips and salsa, chex mic and Bratwursts. (However, remember you can get that corn dog or macaroni salad by walking a few feet to the deli…..)

I have to admit, Thebeerchaser will return for a Happiest Hour when a beer and a Brat can be rung up for only $10.  Roots is open every day from 2:00 to 8:30 although they may cut back slightly during the winter months.

Janet and I joined our good friends, Michael and Pat Lammers, on a Saturday afternoon and I had one of my favorite IPA’s – Sticky Hands IPA (8.1%) from Block 15 Brewery in the great town of Corvallis.   

Michael – a dark beer aficionado opted for the Great Notion Double Stack Imperial Stout notwithstanding that “…it is fermented with an irresponsible amount of maple syrup…” and it has an 11% ABV…

Janet and Pat both enjoyed a pint of the Breakside Sugar Cube Hazy IPA (5.6%) because they wanted to try a hazy brew and to assuage some of Michael’s guilt for the sugar consumption in his beer…..

Derek and Katie are striving to make their establishment a community gathering place with events such as trivia nights on Tuesday for which they have regularly drawn 30 to 45 people.   It’s family oriented and minors are welcome.

They have also partnered with the Ceramics Dept. at Lakeridge for a “Plants and Pints Night” where for $20 participants consume their favorite beer, get a hand-made ceramic with a class taught by Nicole Forbes from Seven Dees Landscaping and chose the appropriate succulent plant to take home. All proceeds go to the school.

 

We were served by Sophie French, a delightful young woman who works at the pub during the summer while attending the University of Portland where she will be a senior and majors in Human Biology.

She is also a member of the notable UP Women’s Soccer Team and has had an outstanding record in both high school and intercollegiate soccer.  Her one year at the University of Idaho, she made the Big Sky All-Academic Team.

An amazing scholar athlete

Sophie and her twin sister, Lille according to a 12/3/15 article in the Lake Oswego Review “Twin Sisters Pull Off Rare Athletic Feat,” were well known for their diverse achievements in sports.

“Growing up, Lakeridge twins Sophie and Lillie French played virtually every sport that was available to them.  There was basketball, soccer, swimming, water polo, baseball, softball, tennis and track in their childhood.”

Not only a great athlete, but an academic all-star

And by the way, if you check out Roots’ website, which is very well done, don’t get confused in your Google search — there is a Root Public House in Flagstaff, New Mexico that looks interesting, but requires either a road trip or some airline tickets……

So how has the first three months gone for the two young entrepreneurs?   In response to this question, Katie replied, “Well there hasn’t been one time when Derek and I both wanted to quit on the same day!!”  

She stated that their intent is to expand to more locations so other communities have the opportunity to support their local community and share the fellowship a public house provides.  This  has been an ongoing faith journey for them.  “We love the way this helps us give back to the community and the community has loved it to this point and given back to us.”

Regardless of whether you are running low on foodstuffs and need to resupply your pantry at Palisades Marketplace, you should make a point to hit this new venture. Show your support for this wonderful couple.  They radiate enthusiasm and their efforts to “Gather and Give” and make their community and state a better place are commendable.

Besides, when doesn’t a Bratwurst fit into the plan……..?

Roots Public House      Palisades Marketplace    1377 McVey Ave.    Lake Oswego

 

John Runkle: Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and the Dirty Shame Saloon – Part 1

Thebeerchaser with new friend, John Runkle after the ceremonial presentation of two bottles of Benedictine beer.

John Runkle is a burly, outgoing guy who radiates energy and charisma – one reason he has a loyal and diverse customer base in his Yaak Montana bar – the Dirty Shame Saloon.

A number of long-term customers, most notably hunters and bikers, also stay at his other business – the Yaak River Lodge – about a mile down the road from the “center” of this small unincorporated burg in the upper Northwest corner of Montana.

It sits on 7.5 acres of beautiful Montana land fronting the Yaak River with llamas and horses.

The Lodge – A favorite for hunters and bikers…

In fact, during hunting season and other busy months, he runs a shuttle between the bar and the lodge so his customers don’t jeopardize not only their own safety, but that of the other approximately 250 residents of Yaak.

Optional shuttle service to the Lodge….

While some think the community was named after the “yak” – a long-haired domesticated clove-footed mammal similar to the bison,  the village’s name was derived from the Native American term for “arrow.”

The yak in the photo below – in the dining room of the Lodge, was purchased at a yard sale for $350 according to John!

Blueberry pancakes under the watchful eyes of the yak…

And Yaak – only 61 miles from the nearest Canadian border crossing – is where I spent the first two nights of what was a combined fourteen-day 3,700-mile June road trip through Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming.  I was ensconced in the Moose Room – comfortable and spacious with rustic charm.

No locks on the Moose Room Door or for that matter on the outer doors of the Lodge itself…

The first six days of the trip,I drove our Prius solo, marveling at the Big Sky scenery and rocking out to various Sirius Satellite Radio channels – my favorite being channel 70 –  “Yacht Rock Radio.”

The psuedo falsetto and boring melodies and lyrics finally got to me.....I heard Christopher Cross sing “Ride Like the Wind” and “Sailing” one too many times on Yacht Rock.

So I switched to BB King’s “Bluesville” #74 and “Big Band Forties Junction” #73 spinning my favorite Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller classics.

I could listen to Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade any number of times…

Subsequent nights in Montana’s Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston before picking up my spouse at the Billings Airport, gave me the opportunity to explore thirty Montana watering holes – many of them historic dive bars.

These establishments supplemented the nineteen bars and breweries, Janet and I visited in the final eight days of the trip – a journey that was also highlighted by three National Parks, two National Monuments, the incredible Custer State Park and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Janet overlooking Teddy Roosevelt – one of three magnificant National Parks

For an overview of the entire trip, see the first two posts on Thebeerchaser with the links below:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/07/05/big-sky-beerchasing-the-preface/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/07/11/big-sky-preface-part-ii/

I first talked John Runkle three years ago after Tara, a bartender at the Moose Saloon in Coeur d’Alene, told me that my blog hobby should definitely include a review of the World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak where she used to bartend.

After reading about the infamous bar and an extended phone conversation with John, I told him that my bucket list now included a future visit to his bar.

Of course, John was not impressed when he learned that two other items on my bucket list were:

Cadillac Ranch – one of the Seven Wonders???

1. Visiting Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

Bucket list pipe dream……!

 

 

 

 

2. Sitting on the 50-yard line when the Oregon State Beavers win the College Football National Championship (while the Beavs are still in Division 1….)

Why the Dirty Shame?

The Dirty Shame has a long and fabled history.  Let’s get some insight on that from an acclaimed expert on Montana bars – Joan Melcher– she has authored two wonderful books on Montana Watering Holes.

In her first book (1983), Joan stated:

“….the same wood-planked front porch, the same deer rack used as a door handle, the battered pool table, the loose bathroom door, the grotesque graffiti inside, the loggers, ranchers receptionists, Forest Service people using the bar like a third leg….

The Dirty Shame is the fresh, sharp smell of pine, and the dank odor of dirt-laden, beer-splashed floors, wild nights of revelry and mornings of shared pain.”  (Page 88)

The DS in years past.

According to one local legend, the original Dirty Shame was built in 1951 by airmen in the United States Army Air Corps.

They erected it so that they would have their own place to dine and drink.   The original bar, with only a dirt floor, burned down and was rebuilt.

The author laments the “deterioration” of this historic and iconic bar in her second book written in 2009.  She was pessimistic about the perpetuation of the Dirty Shame’s tradition after a female – a former Wall Street stockbroker and her husband, moved from Maryland and bought the bar in 2006. 

I say “deterioration” because they tried to “clean it up.”  (Perhaps they should have recognized that as being counterintuitive – given the name of the bar!)

These bikers are not at the Dirty Shame to discuss Dostoevsky….

“What I learn is the that the Dirty Shame died a typically raucous death and has been reborn as a law-abiding establishment, that is really more coffeehouse then bar. Sacrilege!…..Besides a piano and set-up for musicians….she also has book readings and draws many people who aren’t close enough to Yaak to be miffed about what happened to its legendary bar.  

The Dirty Shame is dead.   Long live the Dirty Shame.”  (Pages 54-7,9)

Well, ironically, the stockbroker’s plans were permanently shelved in 2011 when her 82-year old husband, Glen, was taken out of the bar in handcuffs and extradited to Maryland after he pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of two female minors according to a story in the Montana newspaper The Ravelli Republic.

John Runkle who had purchased the Yaak River Lodge in 2004 and operated it since that time, knew he had to do something:

“It was a matter of self-preservation.  I started getting cancellations because hunters and bikers wanted to hit the Dirty Shame when they stayed in Yaak. 

I was the only one who showed up at the foreclosure sale.  I paid cash and was now the owner of another business that I didn’t know anything about how to operate.”   

He and his army buddy, Ray Falconer, purchased it out of foreclosure in 2013 and the rest is history.  (John’ partner, Ray, bailed about a year later after going through one Montana winter.  (“It was the coldest in 15 years at one point hitting 32 degrees below zero.”)

Purchased out of foreclosure in 2013

The rest is history and as you will read below and in the following posts, Dirty Shame regulars no longer have to worry about the original “ambiance” of their bar sliding up to book club decorum.   And that’s because this wonderful saloon reflects the magnetic personality of its owner.  No, neither the Dirty Shame or John Runkle is anywhere close to being deceased…….

Now before getting into the details, let me state that examining photos John has sent and those on Facebook, the most frequent shot is somebody posing with him – Runkle inevitably is in a two-thumbs up posture reflecting his outlook on life.

Two thumbs up on life….

Alternatively, the photo shows John and his visitors with the Donald Trump life-size cut-out – it’s now gone, but not forgotten after being “kidnapped” last year.   (Stories on the Trump escapade and John’s politics in the next post.)John Runkle’s background reflects  some of the same fascinating interludes as his bar.  He was born in Orange County and graduated from LaQuinta High School in Westminster, CA – that was only after a brief period where he even attended Rex Putnam HS in Portland (about seven miles from my current residence) when he “ran away” to Oregon with his then girlfriend!

He joined the Army in 1980 and was ordered to Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“I was pretty big for a paratrooper, but I did what they told me… and that first jump is the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve had besides getting married…”

He became a Paratrooper with the 509th Airborne Combat Team, was shipped to Europe and graduated from the  French Commando School.  He also earned Spanish Jump Wings.  The big guy made a total of 53 jumps.

He was then stationed in Italy and a member of SETAF – an Army Service component command of United States Africa Command , which although based in Italy, primarily operates in Africa. 

In 1983, the Army surprised him with new orders – this time to be a jump school instructor at Fort Benning:

“Italy was great.  To be honest, I probably would have made the Army a career, but there is a lot of difference between Vincenza, Italy and Fort Benning.” 

Smoke ’em if you got ’em

Upon leaving the Army, he used the GI Bill and ultimately graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a BS in Business Administration – a degree he has used extensively along with his natural propensity for sales and marketing.

Pictures  of John from his days in the Army reveal why there have been some great reunions of his military buddies at the Dirty Shame Saloon in recent years.

Runkle is an entrepreneur and a natural leader.  His sales acumen led him into the real estate business and he formed his own company in 1988. In the twenty years he managed it, he successfully expanded the business to seven states with 300 realtors.

He became a well known force in the industry while garnering awards such as Realtor of the Year and Outstanding Performer.  (He still does some real estate work in and around Yaak.)

John also had successful stints in the mining equipment and banking areas including time in Queensland, Australia for several years after he bought Yaak River Lodge and before the Dirty Shame.

If one looks at his resume, one can see an emphasis on staff development and motivating a team – it was still evident even with the small group at the Dirty Shame.

According to John, after growing his real estate business, “I reached my limit one day in 1998 while on a vacation to Glacier National Park.   I threw my cell phone out the window and knew if I didn’t escape the grind, I was heading for a heart attack.”    He fell in love with Montana and when the Lodge came up for sale, “I bought it on the spot — although it was a mess….”

And it’s understandable why someone who wants to escape the tyranny of the urgent and appreciate nature’s wonder in the West would gravitate to Montana.

Yaak River Falls – only a little over 20 miles from the bar

If you look at one of his recent Facebook posts, one can see the ambivalence that owning a small business(es) sometime creates – very typical in the hospitality and lodging businesses where balancing the job and family becomes a major challenge:

“Ever since I was 21 years old, it seems like I have always been in charge no matter where I end up.  At my age I keep thinking of the movie ‘American Beauty’ where he quits his job as an executive and goes to work at Burger King. His exact words to the interviewer were ‘I want the job with the least amount of responsibility.’  Does anyone else ever feel like that too?”

Chief cook at Yaak River Lodge – not Burger King…

That said, I can’t see John being in a subservient role very long – partly because of his own personality and because those around him look up to him and seek inspiration from his leadership.  As the quote below shows, after some frustration, reality and the pursuit of excellence return for overachievers:

“As another summer approaches, I think of how much whining I do as it become overwhelming busy at the Dirty Shame.  I have to continuously remind myself that I own a hunting lodge and a wild west bar.  Life just doesn’t get any better – truthfully.”

Before we leave this part of the story, we need to talk about family.   He met Dallas Wilson when she applied for a bartender job three and one-half years ago.

She had studied at Arizona State and while working, she is completing work on her Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.

A testament to her abilities as a teacher and tutor is this shown from this Facebook post from John.

 

 

 

They married and were blessed with their first child – an outrageously cute little girl who is now two and one-half.   And Dallas was about nine months pregnant when I was there in June so……..

Now there is plenty more to share about the Dirty Shame and the Yaak River Lodge, so stay tuned for the next post of Thebeerchaser.

You won’t want to miss the stories of this legendary bar and see how the Runkle marketing talents and creativity have continued to make the Dirty Shame Saloon a popular destination.

John is one of the most fascinating people I’ve met in 7 1/2 years of Beerchasing and joins a select group of authors, war heroes, athletes, academicians, lawyers and just plain interesting individuals and groups who have been named  the Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  (Although none may have liked Halloween as well….)

 

The Dirty Shame Saloon  

29453 Yaak River Road, Troy Montana

Big Sky Preface – Part II

The 3,700 mile route of our fourteen-day trip through Oregon, Washington, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho

As I mentioned on the previous blog post, we recently completed a 3,700 mile trip through six states besides Oregon.  On the first six says, I drove solo – spending nights in Yaak (2), Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston before meeting my bride who flew into Billings.

The lobby of the historic Murray Hotel on Main Street in Livingston

From that point, we spent eight more days together hitting three National Parks, two National Monuments, two Memorials and one incredible State Park (Custer in South Dakota.)

On a walk next to the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park

While on my own, I visited twenty-three bars and seven breweries and Janet and I subsequently stopped in ten bars and nine breweries for a total of forty-nine memorable establishments where we met wonderful people, had outstanding beer and good food.  The scenery was varied and stunning.  The complete list and some additional background information on the trip can be found at:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/07/05/big-sky-beerchasing-the-preface/

In future blog posts, I will talk in detail about the watering holes and the people, however, I think it fitting to again preface those narratives with what constituted the highlights of our trip – one that we will remember as a memorable and cherished journey across a big slice of Western America.

Favorite National Park

Badlands National Park in South Dakota – The clear winner.  The carved landscape reflecting the incredible and unceasing power of nature was dramatic and humbling.

Favorite Breweries

We visited sixteen breweries or brewpubs during the trip and I’m compelled to name three which topped the list.

Bias Brewing in Kalispell – I spent an hour interviewing (before they opened for the day) Gabe Mariman the co-owner.   Bias was opened by Adam and Amanda Robertson in 2018 and Gabe joined them shorty after.  He and his family moved from Bend.

They have an amazing story and are true entrepreneurs and innovators, are environmentally progressive and actively support their community.

Bitter Root Brewing in Hamilton – Founded in 1998, it’s one of the oldest breweries in the State and a family-owned and operated business.   Sarah, the daughter of the owners who moved home from Arizona, spent time briefing me on the history and their operations while I had an excellent dinner.

Bitter Root has a wonderful and personable staff and it was obvious that they enjoyed their jobs and took pride in their company.   The manner in which Sarah interacted with customers and her staff was remarkable.

They are proud of their kitchen and “source local and organic whenever possible and love partnering with local providers.”

Rachael, Emile, Sarah and Miles – a personable staff

Smith Alley Brewing – Sheridan, Wyoming – It’s opening in January, 2019, made it the third brewery in Sheridan and after having some of their excellent beer we came back for dinner – another good decision.

The brewpub quarters have great ambiance – located in one of Sheridan’s historical buildings right on Main Street.   And we were particularly impressed with their new head brewer – Jason.

He stopped what he was doing in the brewery to talk with us, pour us a sample of a new beer which he was still in the process of refining the new brew so it was not yet available on tap – excellent taste and aroma.  Turns out, he recently moved from Oregon City, where I graduated from high school and plans to move his family to Sheridan in the next month.  

Favorite National Monument or Memorial 

While the Little Big Horn National Monument imbued a sense of being on hallowed ground, the visit to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial should be on every person’s bucket list.

Fortunately, due to the admonition of some good friends about crowds, we hit it early on a Monday morning.   There were few people at that time and being able to view this incredible sight from a distance and then walk up to see a close-up unobstructed perspective of these American icons left what will be a lasting and memorable impression.

And the background and story of sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and the 400 workers who worked on this fourteen-year project (1927-41) is fascinating.

Favorite Bars

This presents a dilemma because there were so many bars – many with rich histories, located in historic buildings and with wonderful bartenders.

The Dirty Shame Saloon – Yaak, Montana – Since meeting John Runkle and visiting the Dirty Shame was a primary motivation for the trip, and the time spent there exceeded my expectations, it is obviously first on the list.   Future posts will inform you why you should also visit this legendary bar.

John Runkle and the center of Yaak, Montana!

Montana Bar – Miles City – As Joan Melcher wrote in 1983 in her wonderful first book Watering Holes – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars:

“I wondered when I first walked into the Montana if I had not found a bar about as close to perfect as I was going to find….The Montana was built in 1902 by James Kenney and outside of a new coat of paint and new wallpaper, the bar has hardly changed.”

In 2019, this bar still exudes its rich and historic past and the effusive bartender, Blake, was friendly and helpful in telling us the story.

Blue Moon Saloon – Columbus Falls – Based on the aforementioned Joan Melchor’s book, I had to see the Blue Moon on my trip.  It’s in a rural area close to Kalispell and I stopped in mid-afternoon on the first Sunday of my trip.

A portion of what is purported to be the longest bar in Montana

It’s purported to have the longest bar in Montana and is know for its legendary taxidermy and the charisma of its owners, Dick and Charlotte Sapa, who bought the bar in 1973.   When I walked in, sat down in the middle of the bar and ordered a beer, I asked the bartender if the Sapas still owned it.

The amazing Sapas

She pointed to her right and said, that’s them sitting down at the end of the bar.  That began an extended conversation with this amazing couple who were not hesitant to regale me with stories.

Their son, Bill, after we talked awhile, offered to take me up to the fabled upper room – an honor – which is completely filled with additional trophies from the hunts all over the world.

Bill Sappa and part of the fabled “upper room.”

I am looking forward to telling a more complete story of this bar, but it was one of the highlights of my solo trip.

(You will love the true story of the guy who wanted to show off his new horse, shortly after they opened the bar.  Charlotte agreed and the entrance and exit of the rider and his steed is a perfect example of why I want to return to visit more Montana saloons.)

Favorite Bartenders

This is another category that given the warmth of the bartenders who greeted me and shared their own and their bar’s stories after I gave them my Beerchaser card, is a challenge to single out a few.  That said, here’s a valiant attempt and I will let you know about the others when I describe their bars in future posts:

Andre at the Little Missouri Saloon in Medora, North Dakota – We have found on three of our last major trips – Alaska, New England and this one, that a number of the bartenders and servers are natives of the Caucasus, Eastern, Southern or Central Europe.

They come over during the summers to work and return in the fall – often for continuing university study.  In general, they speak English quite well, are personable and enjoy sharing their story when you ask.

Such was the case with Andre’ from Macedonia, who had an infectious smile, a warm personality and joked with us notwithstanding a very busy bar.   We enjoyed him and wish Andre’  well.

Andre from Macedonia

Tom Davis – bartender and owner of the Wise River Club in Wise River, Montana – Wise River is really “in the sticks” (on the north edge of the Beaverhead National Forest and about 40 miles from the Antler Saloon in Wisdom so you will have some context…..)

I stopped in about noon and ordered a Miller High Life from Tom, who told me he and his wife are the owners of both the bar and the RV park behind it – they bought them eleven years ago – and his story. He emigrated from Scotland in 1964. “In those days if you had an accent and could sing, you could make some money.”

He formed a band and played lead guitar, and he and his group fronted and toured with Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and Papas and in the Northwest with Portland’s own Paul Revere and the Raiders.

I was sorry I didn’t hit Wise River on the weekends because Tom still plays and sings.  He was a great guy with a still wonderful accent and sparkling personality.

DarilynCook and bartendar at the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak – The story of the Dirty Shame and the background of its owner and staff will more than fill two future posts, but suffice to say that Darilyn – is a gem.

She and her family live in Troy and they come up to help John Runkle at various times of the year around the bar and at the Lodge.   She is soft spoken, but is an asset to John and probably manages him better than anyone except his wife!

John Runkle and Darilyn

Favorite Bar Regulars

There is no question on the two below although I met scores of great bar regulars.

Geoff at the Yaak River Tavern – There is some competition between the Dirty Shame and this bar right across the highway.  Also no question that the Dirty Shame has more character.  In John Runkle’s apt way of describing the distinction:

“Yaak River Tavern has an Ugly Sweater Contest.  The Dirty Shame has a Wet T-shirt Contest.”

Geoff – a character to remember

That said, I did go over there for about an hour on my first night in Yaak.   An affable old guy named Geoff was playing guitar and singing – right on a bar stool at the bar – nursing one of a number of beers he had that day/night and telling stories.

I told the owner that I was buying him a beer when he came in the next day to credit his account.   So he sang us his favorite song.  (When the lyrics have “palm trees,” “banana,” “beach” and “Montana” in the same verse, you know there’s creativity!)

(If you don’t see the arrow to play on the video below, tap on the photo and it will take you to the You Tube I posted on Geoff’s song.)

Fritz at the Antler Saloon in Wisdom, Montana –  The Antler is a picturesque and historic bar in Wisdom – also out in the Montana boonies – one which requires driving through some beautiful country.

“Bernie” was the bartender and also self-described herself as the “pizza maker” – the bar is known for that but I arrived there about 10:00 AM.  I had a very nice chat with her and one of the owners, Tom, who at one time worked at Oregon Steel in Portland and a good client of my former law firm.

That’s my Miller High Life on the bar at the bottom right.

A sign in the men’s john stated, ” Please spit chew in the garbage, not the urinal,” and another said, “This establishment serves no drinks with tiny umbrellas.”

But the biggest impact on me was Fritz – Bernie’s dog.  He epitomized a great bar regular and waved a paw from his bar stool as I left.

Fritz – a memorable regular

Favorite Lodging Options

We are loyal to the Marriott Hotel chain and like the different options presented with the mid-price options (or ability to use points) which always include a decent, if not enticing, breakfast option.   We stayed in a number – all after Janet joined the trip, because I tried to hit either historic or low budget, but interesting motels, when I drove solo.

From a price standpoint, at $55 per night, I might suggest Deffy’s Motel in Livingston, but it was borderline.   Although for that price, I got a couch, full kitchen, desk and even cable TV, Janet would have vetoed out of hand.

I noticed from both a sign and on-line that Deffy’s is for sale – price not disclosed – if anybody is interesting in relocating to Hamilton and taking over an “established” business.

The Murray Hotel in Hamilton –  I got in this historic hotel because of Janet’s checking after most of the lodging options when I checked, were unavailable because they were filming an episode of “Yellowstone” with Kevin Costner right outside the city.

A great bar

But this was a rustic gem, with a great bar and very comfortable room right on Main Street.  The clerk at the desk was Val – a former land-use planner who had worked for the City of Hillsboro and had some Oregon roots so we had a great conversation.

“Since its grand opening in 1904, the Murray Hotel’s guest registry has been more like a who’s who of history and Hollywood. Celebrities such as Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane have graced the threshold of what was once “the” elegant railroad hotel.”  (Murray Hotel website)

Will Rogers and his friend purportedly tried to use it to bring his favorite saddle horse to their  suite on the third floor at one time.

From the décor in the lobby, to the bar and overall ambiance, it was great.  I loved it and would strongly recommend.  And if you hit there at the right time, you might well run into a noted entertainer, artist or writer on vacation.

Marriott Element in Bozeman – A factor in this choice may be how much we liked Bozeman as a city and the hotel was about two blocks off the main street.  It had a great lobby, nice staff, a happy hour with complimentary beer and cheese and even tea at 8:00 as a nightcap besides a breakfast better than most Mariott options.

And because of our Mariott loyalty program, we got an upgrade to a suite, but the paramount element to making this list was the view from our room – just outstanding!  This was taken right from the window of our room.

Big Sky Country at its best..

Favorite Cities in Which I/We had an Overnight Stay

There was really only one city on the trip through seven states that I didn’t care for – Anaconda – and part of one afternoon and an hour the next morning, probably isn’t enough time to bond with a municipality.  That said, besides Yaak, there were no stays longer than one night.

I should also state, that while we really liked Teddy Roosevelt National Park and the bar and brewpub we went to, Medora, North Dakota had kind of a weird or unsettling vibe.

I might add that while the scenery, the people and the setting of many of the cities and towns we experienced, tempted one to say,  “I could definitely move here,” reality set in when we remembered the weather during the winter months.

Teddy Roosevelt National Park was great. Medora – not so much.

As stated in one website, “Winter sees some extremes in Montana weather.  During the winter, it is very common for the areas east of the Continental Divide to be in the deep-freeze of below zero temperatures.”

And besides 50 to 100 inches of snow, it is usually blowing snow.  This July night it is a pleasant 61 degrees, but if you plan to relocate, look at the full annual picture.

Hamilton, Montana – One thing that prompted me to check out Hamilton was an article in The Oregonian  the city on small western cities by David Lynch of The Washington Post.  Further research revealed this excerpt from The Oregonian in July 2014.

Hamilton, population 4,508,  is located near the center of the Bitterroot Valley, an 80-mile north-south valley tucked in on the east slope of the Bitterroot Mountains in far western Montana and about 50 miles south of Missoula. Blodgett Canyon, just five miles from the center of town, is nothing short of gorgeous.

Hamilton was a designed town, with planned street grids right from the beginning, unlike so many other Montana towns that grew up out of mining camps.”

Tree-lined streets..

Now I have to admit that driving in on State Highway 93, my first glimpse of Hamilton was very disappointing.  It was a commercial strip along the highway.  However, an evening walk and getting only a few blocks off the main drag revealed a charming town with the Bitter Root River flowing through the very impressive River Park.

The Park had a wonderful playground and river walk.  I then hit both of the breweries, which were great stories.

Higher Ground Brewing –  the story of “Two local boys (Jasper Miller and Fenn Nelson) who came home from college and launched a brewery (2011) that takes more than $1 million in annual sales.”  They became the youngest owner and head brewer in Montana. (Washington Post April 5, 2019.)

Part of River Park

Bitter Root Brewing – one of the oldest in the state (1998) and a family owned business as mentioned earlier in this post.

Right next to brewery, was an impressive baseball field and I watched several innings of American Legion Baseball and saw the first-place hometown Bitter Root Red Sox in the process of thrashing the Kalispell Lakers.

The Red Sox in their stadium next to Bitter Root Brewing

I was impressed by the Montana version of Big Green as the left-field fence.  On a Monday night, it was a well-attended family affair.

Unfortunately, my stay in Hamilton was limited to one night as I would have liked to take one of the hikes right outside town in the Bitter Root National Forest.

However, that would have meant another night in Deffy’s Motel….

The Bitter Root River right by River Park

Sheridan, Wyoming – This northern Wyoming city with a population of 17,500 and founded in 1882, is halfway between Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park.

The view of Sheridan and its surrounding scenery

Named for the legendary General Phil Sheridan, my attachment to this berg, may have been, in part, based on some family roots. My dad’s father Floyd Williams, was a US Postal Service Inspector and while traveling by train which stopped in Sheridan in 1912, he spotted the young Clara Sarah Willey on the platform at the station.

Sarah’s family ranched cattle (the Diamond Bar T brand) there for three quarters of a century.  Kings Saddlery, one of the largest tack stores (equestrian outfitting) in the US, also had a museum (through the rope store in back of the main saddlery) in addition to countless saddles and western gear and there were historic pictures from the Willey spread.

Kings Saddlery – the main building

Sheridan has some sprawl along the highways, but a picturesque and historic and thriving main street with fascinating shops and one of our favorite breweries – Smith Alley Brewing (see above)

There are great walking paths through the city, nice parks and notable outdoor art sculptures on almost every corner.  It is a picturesque and charming village.

 

Stayed tuned for future posts on Thebeerchaser which will tell you the stories of the forty-nine bars and breweries we visited on our route.

Cheers!

 

In the park along the walking path by Goose Creek in downtown Sheridan

 

 

 

 

B

Okay Beerchasers – This is No Bar Joke!!


(Cheers to my wonderful sister-in-law, Pam Williams, for doing the calligraphy and graphic above.)

Those who follow this blog, know that it started as a hobby after I retired in 2011 as the COO of Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt – a large Portland law firm where I had worked over twenty-five years.  The whim to visit and write about bars and breweries came after a lunchtime drop-in to Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee on the way to the Oregon coast.

While the plan was initially to confine my exploits to just Portland area establishments, our retirement travel combined with my wife, Janet’s, discovery that she liked IPA’s rather than confining her beverage selection to strictly Oregon Pinots, offered the opportunity to expand this “journey” to Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, many regions of the US and throughout Oregon – from the coast to the Cascades to Eastern Oregon.

Raising a mug at the historic Dirty Nelly’s Tavern in Boston

So at the end of 2018, my count of reviews – all of them except when traveling, consisting of at least two visits, was at 287.  Of these 111 were in the Portland metro area with the remaining 176 watering holes, scattered throughout the aforementioned localities.  The post below – published in January provides a complete list by year of those venues:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/

A week-long trip to Phoenix in March this year for Spring Training, hikes and Beerchasing upped that count by eight and reviews of four Oregon establishments, The Gemini in Lake Oswego, Old Town Brewing and the Bantam Tavern in Portland and Beachcrest Brewing on the Central Oregon Coast, raised the tally to 299.

The “living wall” at the unique Pigtails Bar in Scottsdale.

The threshold of this significant milestone, begged the question of the appropriate bar or brewery to “honor” as # 300 as well as which Beerchaser regular to ask to join me for that momentous occasion.

The Leaky Roof  (hereafter “The Roof”) – a wonderful and long-time SW Portland neighborhood bar or gastro pub – founded in 1947 – originally as a food cart and one that survived a devastating fire, seemed fitting.  It had been a convenient (two blocks away) and cherished gathering place for many after-work brewskis with my colleagues when I worked at the Oregon State Bar from 1979 through 1985.

I returned there after an absence of 33 years in June 2018, with Janet and some good friends and Beerchaser regulars (David and Kate Dickson and Roy Lambert and his spouse Mary Maxwell).  We had a great meal and sampled their good tap list and I vowed to return for my second review and subsequent blog post.

The 2018 return visit

That occurred on May 6th and it was absolutely appropriate that my long-time friend, Dennis B. Fergson accompanied me.   I first met Fergy in 1979, when I started at the Bar Association and the firm for which he was President and Chairman of the Board – JBL & K Insurance, served as the Bar’s benefits consultants.

After “retiring” from insurance and since he knows everyone in Portland, he has worked at Portland State University – first as Assistant Athletic Director and currently as Senior Philanthropic Advisor.  (That means he knows who to approach in the Rose City to donate to the City’s excellent university – of which both my wife and I are alums in the graduate Masters in Public Administration program.)

I will return to Denny later in the post, but we had a great lunch – Fergy had one of the many – perhaps hundreds – of cheeseburgers he has consumed during lunches over our forty-year friendship. I had a great Reuben sandwich, which rivaled what former Mayor Bud Clark’s Goose Hollow Inn down the street claims as the “Best Reuben on the Planet.”
I was surprised that The Roof has not been named as one of Portland’s go-to bars in Willamette Week’s Annual Bar Guide – an excellent and comprehensive resource for Thebeerchaser since starting this hobby in 2011.

2017 Willamette Week Annual Bar Guide

Other than a brief reference in one article on pub crawls  and a short review by legendary former WW Arts and Culture Editor, Mathew Korfhage in 2013, the only other hit from a Goggle search with WW and the name of the bar in the search terms is a 2017 WW article entitled:

“Portland Woman Sues State Senator Rod Monroe for $3 Million After a Leaky Roof in His East Portland Apartment Building Allegedly Left Her Disabled”.  (emphasis supplied)  It is unknown whether beer or any other alcohol was involved in this incident…..

Korfhage’s revew states, in part:

“The bar serves its once-blue-collar Goose Hollow crowd with triflingly cheap happy-hour food ($4.95 for a one-third-pound burger, 3-6 pm) and costlier dinners, including an excellent lamb shepherd’s pie ($14.50) so spiced it’s almost curried.

Great food besides good whiskey, beer and wine…

The website promises ‘the largest selection of Irish whiskey available in Portland,’and while we can’t verify the claim, the list doesn’t disappoint, with 24 marks and vintages of uisce beatha (the name for whiskey in Irish) in its tiny hearth-and-hardwood space. Dirt-cheap, triple-shot whiskey flights are available….”

 

I did not sample The Roof’s whiskey inventory – Irish, Scotch, Bourbon and Blended – extensive as you can see from their menu – and only had a few of the nine beers on tap – which I was glad to see included both Guiness and PBR

The picture below shows that they have a classic bar set-up which attractively houses the various hard liquors for which the bar has developed a reputation.  They also offer a nice selection of wines.

Another surprise in doing additional research on the bar, is the breadth and excellent quality of their menu – deserving of their claim to be a gastro pub.  It ranges from a robust weekend brunch menu, a good selection of lunch options, to standard starters, sandwiches, salads and seven very reasonably priced dinner entree’s ranging from fried chicken to Shepherds Pie (Korfhage raved about this) to Pecan Crusted Trout to Stuffed Meatloaf – which could be topped off by Crème Brule’e or fried ice cream for dessert.

Great dessert options as well!

Sabrina, our personable and competent server with Denny

And I am sorely tempted to return for their Happy Hour – during certain hours every day of the week in which you could get a bowl of Guinness Irish Stew for a mere $4 plus a buck off your alcohol preference.

I have to admit that as I stated in one previous bar review, having lunch (or breakfast at The Dockside) with Fergy is like winning the lottery, but notwithstanding the character and personality of this remarkable gentleman, it did not influence my positive reaction when reconnecting with The Roof.

Dennis Ferguson, who was one of the Few and The Proud, during his service with the US Marine Corps, is also an outstanding athlete and family man.

We still laugh about the time in the early 1990’s when I walked into a lunch at Huber’s during some stressful law firm merger negotiations.  After a few minutes of conversation, he said to me “Williams, you need to shape up.  Quit slouching and get rid of the monotone and be a leader.”

A few cheeseburgers back……

He has always been motivated, but I think his tendency to be a mentor was born when he was allegedly on a business trip to Keokuk, Iowa in 1985.  He left a message with the hotel front desk to give him a call at 6:30 and when he answered the next morning, the clerk said, “Mr. Ferguson, this is your wake-up call.  What are you going to do with the rest of  your life??”

When I told my wife that I was going to lunch at The Roof with Denny, she said, “Don, you better change.  Denny always looks so classy!”   To top that off, as we walked in, a well-known Portland investment adviser who knows both of us and walked in right before us and came over to our table, looked at Fergy and said, “You never age, do you?”

So to say the least, being around Dennis B. Ferguson ups one’s game, but regardless of whether you have the pleasure of his company in the future as I will, you should give the Leaky Roof a visit – and not just for a drink, but for lunch or dinner.

Perhaps it doesn’t get the publicity or accolades of The Goose because of the well-deserved fondness Portlanders have for Bud Clark, but it scores as one of the premium neighborhood gastro pubs in Portland.

The Leaky Roof       1538 SW Jefferson

 

Beerchaser Miscellany – Early Summer Edition

 

Taking in the Exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews

Approaching Watering Hole # 300

Those of you who follow Thebeerchaser blog might remember that at the end of 2018, my count of bars, breweries and taverns reviewed since I started this retirement hobby in August, 2011 was at 287 – 111 were in the Portland area and the remaining 176 in Europe, numerous parts of the US and throughout Oregon ranging from the beautiful Oregon Coast to Central and Eastern Oregon.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/

The Gemini – Bar # 288 – on Thebeerchaser’s Journey..

Since the beginning of 2019, I’ve added four more Oregon establishments – the Gemini Bar and Grill, Old Town Brewing, the Bantam Tavern and Beachcrest Brewing and eight bars/breweries on our weeklong trip to Phoenix for a grand total of 299.

And after ruminating on what an appropriate watering hole would be to celebrate reaching the 300 mark, I settled on a Portland establishment – one which I initially visited in my early professional career on a regular basis, returned with some friends who are Beerchasing regulars in 2018 and made my customary second visit a few weeks ago with one of the most loyal Beerchasers – Dennis B. Ferguson.

Denny Ferguson with  Kathy Peterson, the owner of The Dockside in 2017.  (See below)

I will be posting the review of that bar when I return from a road trip to Montana in the near future – six days solo starting with two nights in Yaak, Montana – home of the Dirty Shame Saloon.  Then with my wife, Janet, for the second leg of the journey.

I originally talked to owner, John Runkel, three years ago after an Idaho bartender at the Moose Saloon in Coeur d’aline told me that she had worked there and my blog should include a review of the Dirty Shame.

509th Airborne Infantry Logo

John and his partner, Ray Falzone, who are both former paratroopers in the Army’s 509 Airborne Infantry, bought the bar out of foreclosure in 2013.  John, who is a great guy and a true patriot, stated at the time:

“When we came up here, we had to pull bullet slugs out of the wall…One of the owners used to shoot pool balls off the table with his .357, you know.” (Daily Inter Lake, June 8, 2013)

I wrote up the following post at that time and made a vow to ultimately visit Yaak and meet John personally.

https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/john-runkle-owner-of-the-dirty-shame-saloon/

It turns out that he is also the owner of the Yaak River Lodge and I will be staying in the Wolf Room at that hostelry for two nights so I can spend adequate time checking out the bar and interviewing him.

Yaak River Lodge – a shuttle to the Dirty Shame…!

Then on to stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston before picking up my wonderful spouse who is flying into Billings. and is allowing me to make this trip – with the proviso that I reflect, read and get some exercise besides forays into the many historic bars and the new breweries in those and surrounding Montana bergs.

It will be a challenge to keep that pledge because I have spent hours pouring through the fascinating two books by Montana author Joan MelcherWatering Hole – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars (1980) and Montana Watering Holes – The Big Sky’s Best Bars (2009).   The latter was of significant benefit on our 2016 trip to Montana and Wyoming.

It is not surprising that the Dirty Shame is featured in both volumes – which chronicles the tales of many historic bars throughout the Big Sky.  She’s a great writer but I think I will definitely disagree with Joan’s initial statement in her 2009 book:

“I guess someone had to do it.  Someone bought the Dirty Shame and gave it a good cleaning.  More than that, they cleaned up its lifestyle – so much so that many locals won’t step foot in it anymore…..

What I learn is that the Dirty Shame died a raucous death and has been reborn as a law-abiding establishment that is really more of a coffeehouse….The Dirty Shame is dead.  Long live the Dirty Shame.” (Page 54 and 59)

My challenge to Joan’s assertion is based, in part, because times have changed in ten years – especially in Yaak!  Joan’s quote above was after a female stockbroker (Gloria – a sweet smiling non-drinker) who moved from New York’s Wall Street came to Yaak. She and her husband bought the bar in 2007 and cleaned it up – they even had some book readings and a lot of dances. They sold it after a few years to a former Episcopal priest who eventually failed financially trying to operate the bar.

Owner John Runkel and Cora

And yes, “Long live the Dirty Shame!”    I think the evidence will show when I visit that it is absolutely no Starbucks type of place.

For example, I submit the text message I got from John Runkel with the following link to a December, 2017 story in the Daily Missoulian entitled:   “Troy Man Charged Following Saturday Night Incident at Yaak’s Dirty Shame Saloon.

As John stated in his text:

 “Don, you will see an article where a guy went nuts in the Dirty Shame with an AR-15 and you will also see the video of me bear spraying him and his brother trying to fight their way back into the bar and another video embedded in that article showing him running around the parking lot trying to shoot me through the window and then almost shooting his brother in the head. 

It was a crazy night. The Dirty Shame is truly still the Wild Wild West!”

So coffee house or wilderness dive bar full of adventure?  Stay tuned for the verdict!

After Billings, we will drive to North and South Dakota to see the three National Parks and Mount Rushmore National Monument besides the Crazy Horse Memorial and the notable Custer State Park.   Then home while listening to audio books on the 1,200 mile drive back to Oregon.  Now I just need to get the gun rack installed on our Prius before I start the trip.

The Oregon Historical Society Beer Exhibit

Janet with David and Kate Dickson

The Oregon Historical Society is a treasure conveniently located in the Park Blocks in the heart of downtown Portland.   And Kerry Tymchuk, the Executive Director since 2011, has made amazing strides to both make OHS financially viable and a showpiece – a change because it had struggled in the prior years.

We joined our friends, Kate and David Dickson, primarily to see the exhibit  “Beer – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews – A Century of Oregon Beer” (ends on June 9th)

“The history of beer in Oregon and the passion Oregonians hold for beer and brewing extends back over two hundred years. This exhibition connects these moments in history, from the Lewis and Clark Expedition to early pioneer hop growers, from the nineteenth century European immigrants who established Oregon’s first breweries to the craft brewery revolution centered here today.” 

The exhibit is fascinating and does a remarkable job chronicling Oregon’s rich brewing history.  

For example, I learned that in the 1870’s the average US adult drank over 10 gallons of beer annually, which increased to 26 in the 1900’s, due in part to German immigration and the introduction of German lager.

Statistics vary, but at least in 2015, according to an article in USA Today, annual US consumption was 28 gallons with North Dakota, the highest per capita state for beer drinkers at 44 according to Beer Marketer’s Insight. (It should be noted that this statistic is not why Janet and I are traveling to North Dakota – it’s to see Teddy Roosevelt National Park….!)

I was also pleased that Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science Program was recognized.  In fact, Cascade Hops were developed in the 1960’s at OSU as part of a USDA breeding program.

The richness of OHS was demonstrated because supplementing the beer exhibit was another current exhibit – “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Beatles” (through November 19th) and the absolute highlight of the day for us – the permanent exhibit Experience Oregon – with multi-media displays and artifacts that will take your breath away.

Make a point of visiting – better yet joining OHS and while you’re there, say hello to Terry.

This native of Reedsport, educated at Willamette University and then Willamette U’s School of Law, absolutely radiates enthusiasm for his organization and a passion for history.

Kerry Tymchuk on the right

He was named 2018 Statesman of the Year by Oregon Business and Industries and also honored by the Portland Business Journal as the Most Admired Non-profit Executive in Portland.

And given OHS’s great location, plan to raise a mug afterwards at one of the many nearby establishments.  

We were rewarded with a terrific happy-hour food and beverage afterwards at the new (May 2018) Xport Bar and Lounge on the roof of the 16-story Porter Hotel with stunning views of downtown high-rises and the Willamette River.

A “Trek” Worth Making – and you don’t  have to Go to the South Pole to get There

The Dockside (reviewed by Thebeerchaser in 2018) is a remarkable Portland watering hole in North Portland owned by Kathy and Terry Peterson since 1986 – a bar with great character and regulars plus friendly staff.

It’s also known for its incredible breakfasts – most notably the hashbrowns:

“I know only one joint in Portland that consistently serves hash browns like you’ll find at any decent Waffle House. I’m not telling you where it is…You can’t have my hash browns.”  (Aaron Mesh – Willamette Week 11/28/2018)

From Thebeerchaser’s 2017 visit

It has now gained another distinction.  As stated in a 2/15/19 Willamette Week article entitled “31 Reasons to Love Portland,” it was singled out by endurance athlete and adventurer, Colin O’Brady.

On December 26, 2018, he completed the first unsupported and unaided solo crossing of Antarctica in 54 days.  It was a 932 journey – that’s an average of over 17 miles per day through the freezing ice and snow!

“I’d walk 932 miles for The Dockside’s hashbrowns..”

And The Dockside is his favorite:

“I live across the street from the greatest landmark in all of Portland – the Dockside….You have this old Portland relic combined with New Portland development.  They were like, ‘No, we’re not knocking down The Dockside to build condos, we can have both.'”

 

And Finally – To Dramatic for Words!!

On Memorial Day, I was going through my late brother, Garry’s files and found the picture at the end of this post.  Garry was a 1972 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and after graduation, one of his early duty posts was with the Armored Cavalry – that’s the Tank Corps – in Schweinfurt Germany.

My wonderful and talented brother had a rich and dry sense of humor which was demonstrated in our family’s Army vs. Navy rivalry since both my youngest brother, Rick and I were in NROTC and received our commissions in the latter.  (The picture below was a Christmas present Garry gave to me in 1970…)

From the West Point lingerie shop…

While at West Point, he had some remarkable experiences as a member of the West Point Glee Club, singing at various events, appearing on national television and even a gig at the White House in 1972, where his five-member combo – The Headliners got to pose with President Richard Nixon.

Garry (just to the left of Nixon) with the Headliners in 1972

Garry talked about some of the tank exercises they had in Germany and how the iron behemoth’s chewed up the fields and even roads as they maneuvered.   But this picture takes the cake – I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t one from his platoon, but maybe he kept it just to demonstrate the power and size of this weapon!  (I used this picture once before in the review of the Tanker Bar in Portland, but it is too good not to repeat.)

Hey Soldier – Haven’t you heard the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me….!”

Cheers and Stay Tuned for the 300th Beerchaser Bar

Ride a Wave to Beachcrest Brewing

A great logo – created on a crowd sourcing site called “Design Crowd.” The designer was from Bulgaria!

In seven years of Beerchasing, I have been impressed with the number of brewery owners who started homebrewing as a hobby and ultimately became micro-craft entrepreneurs after diverting from their original career paths.  They have ranged from lawyers, teachers, accountants, contractors and public servants to former bartenders.

Our recent visit to the new (December, 2018) Beachcrest Brewery and Pub was the first time that I’ve met two college music majors and former musicians who decided to partner with another couple and embark on a suds-oriented business venture.

And based on a number of factors such as the quality of their beer, the location and both the internal and external ambiance of their facility, they have great potential for this new endeavor on the Central Oregon Coast just south of Lincoln City.

I might add that some of my favorite Beerchasing exploits have been on the Oregon Coast – first in the fall of 2014 for a three-day jaunt from Pacific City to Newport including Lincoln City and Depoe Bay.

A classic dive – the Old Oregon Saloon

This jaunt with my brother-in-law, Dave Booher and friend, Steve Larson covered such wonderful bars as the Old Oregon Saloon in Lincoln City.

Then on to the unforgettable Tide Pool in Depoe Bay and Newport’s historic Bay Haven Inn in addition to two breweries – Pelican and Rusty Truckhttps://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/

A trip on the southern part of the coast down into California in 2018 with my wife, reconfirmed our love of the Pacific Coast scenery.  It again demonstrated the number of options for good beer on a multi-day jaunt as far south as the beautiful Redwoods.

Mugs were raised in Oregon breweries from Yachats Brewing to Defeat River Brewing in Reedsport down to Chetco Brewing in Brookings and also one of our favorite bars – the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon. https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/13/beerchasing-on-the-south-oregon-coast-and-through-the-redwoods-part-i/

Now while it is obvious that there is a lot of choice for brewpubs and taprooms on the Oregon Coast, Beachcrest is in a great location – just across from the newly revitalized Salishan Resort

After its opening in 1965 by Oregon icon, John Gray, Salishan became one of Oregon’s premier destination lodges known for its superb architecture and artwork.  After the Grays sold it in 1996, it failed to be viable under multiple owners.

It was purchased in November 2017, at a foreclosure auction by a private equity investment company…..and is now managed by Alpha Wave Investors hospitality company, Soul Community Planet.  CEO Ken Cruse believes they can return what is arguably one of the state’s most treasured lodges to its old glory.   (Oregon Live – January 31, 2019) 

The Brewery

Amy White and her husband Matt, are both graduates of the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.   Amy plays the piano and is a vocalist and her husband is a sax player in addition to other woodwinds.   They lived in Denver and two years ago decided to move to Oregon.

The four talented and adventurous entrepreneurs

“Beachcrest Brewing Co. started as the dream of lifelong musicians Matt and Amy White who spent many summers visiting the enchanting Oregon Coast.  After years of dreaming of living on the coast the duo made the plunge and relocated to the central coast to follow their passion of combining beach life, craft beer and great music.”  

They partnered with Megan Leesley – a CPA who does the Brewery’s accounting and Sean Sissel, a contractor, who spent five months in 2018 building out the brewery.  Both still live in Colorado and will be working in the brewery periodically.

Amy, who was our bartender that Saturday afternoon, exuded enthusiasm for their project and I was impressed with the couple’s initial efforts to interact and become part of the micro-brewing community since they started planning and after opening.

They have visited the Benedictine Brewery in Mt. Angel – I’m biased about that one.  They know and expressed support for their competitors up and down the coast ranging from Rusty Truck to Wolf Tree Brewing, which now has a taphouse in Newport, among others.

For a small brewery (3.5 barrel), they have an impressive line-up with eleven craft beers, wine (cans) and draft hard cider and draft Kombucha.

————-

Only $3 for this delight……

They also have eleven marvelous – from the appearance and the way several kids were delightfully “attacking” them – Italian cream sodas for $3 (I was sorely tempted….)

She offered a good explanation of their tap list and let us sample a number before we ordered a flight – they allow the patron to “build your own” flight with each 4-ounce sampler costing only $2.  You can “take off” with anywhere from two to eleven beers in your flight.

We opted for a tray of four consisting of their best seller – the Siletz Bay Hazy IPA – 6.1% ABV (also our favorite) two other IPAs – the Backbeat Brut 6.0% and the South Pacific 7.4% – plus the Common Time Kolsch 4.2%.  The IPA’s all had nice hoppy taste and good aroma, but the Kolsch seemed somewhat bland – maybe because we liked the others so well.

Build your own flight…..

Sean did a great job in his build out of what used to be a coffee shop.  The space has great internal and external lighting and long community-type tables.  While we were there, a number of families with kids drinking Italian cream sodas, dogs and just tourists doing the coast were enjoying the pub.
But wait until a sunny day later in the spring and this summer, not to mention Oregon’s wonderful fall weather.  The deck area is going to fill up with people “drinking” in the coast air, the trees, the manicured golf course and the adjacent creek which bubbles.   I can’t think of a comparable scenic vista from a brewery deck that combines all of these elements.

Beachcrest, besides Bavarian pretzels, pita chips and hummus and marinated olives, has no food at the brewpub; however, the Mangia Italian Deli right next door has pasta, cheeses and sandwiches and their food can be brought in.  Food carts will probably also be part of the plan.

And while Beachcrest will be a draw on its own, a factor in their success will be the result of efforts to revitalize the Salishan Marketplace.

We remember taking our family there years ago for the good restaurant and the diverse shops which included a bookstore, specialty grocery, an impressive gallery, toy store, a candy shop (with outstanding caramel corn) and other interesting boutiques.

Unfortunately, that changed given both Salishan Resort’s troubles and the economy.   The contrast is conveyed well by this Facebook post last year by JB Hunter before revitalization efforts

“After an absence of 12 years, my wife and I stopped in there in August 2017. The once-dynamic and bustling place was a ghost town with all the former wonderful shop tenants booted and brown packing paper plastered all over the storefront windows. Saying we were stunned was an understatement although we understood after checking into the downward spiral that Salishan had undergone.”

However, the impetus is already present and the groundwork laid to change that imag.  Besides the Deli and the Brewery, the Marketplace now has a fitness center, an upscale gallery and an appointment-only barber shop.

The interesting and quality wares from Java Depot…

And we were delighted that long-time Lincoln City small business the Java Depot and Culinary Corner – a wonderful specialty coffee and kitchen and gourmet food shop is moving from the strip mall by Safeway to the Marketplace.

In fact, that’s how we learned about the Brewery.  The owner of Java excitedly told us about their forthcoming move and to check out Beachcrest.  As stated on their Facebook page:

“As most of you know we’re moving to Salishan Marketplace. Expanding our meats & Cheese selection and adding food items and hand dipped Tillamook Ice Cream.”

Matt and Amy are also trying to attract people and build a community with events including the “Geeks Who Drink Trivia” broadcast every Wednesday night, live music and an innovative idea named “Pints and Poses.”

“Enjoy a rejuvenating yoga flow at the new Salishan Yoga Studio followed by a refreshing brew at Beachcrest.  Class is $15 and includes your first post class beverage of choice.  Meet 15 minutes before class to register in the Salishan hotel lobby.   Next classes will meet on April 14 & 28.” 

Note: I don’t know what a yoga flow is, but if there is a free brewski and tap flow afterwards, I am willing to assume the position…”

Lincoln City and the surrounding coastal communities are Oregon treasures.   They rely heavily on the support of tourism for their economic livelihood.

So when you are passing through Lincoln City on the way to Newport or just hitting Lincoln City itself, make a point of stopping at Beachcrest Brewery to have a beer, sit on the deck and say hello to Amy and Matt. Then get an expresso to-go at Java Depot.

Take the words of this Yelp review as recently as April 5th to see what awaits:

“Gem on the Coast!   Wonderful selection of unique craft beers, friendly atmosphere, Beachcrest Brewing is truly a splendid destination for Ale aficionados and casual beer drinkers alike.  Do yourself a favor, try a soft pretzel with the stone ground mustard…. Magnifique.”

Beachcrest Brewing     7755 N Highway 101
Gleneden Beach

 

The Bantam Tavern – Something to Crow* About


Many traditional dives and neighborhood taverns have disappeared from the Portland bar scene and those remaining are at risk given the economy and the tendency to transition the space into higher paying commercial tenants such as condos.  It’s  thus refreshing that a number of Portland entrepreneurs are willing to invest in both traditional and new watering holes.

Rather than the corporate franchises who offer sterile environments such as the Yard House, one can still find quaint environments reflecting individual character thanks, in part, to the efforts of two partnerships – Dan Hart and Chris Navarra and there’s also Warren Boothby and Marcus Archambeault.

A Boothby and Archambeault bar in SE

The latter are responsible for establishments such as Gold Dust Meridian, the rejuvenated Sandy Hut, the Lay Low Tavern and the recently opened Vern, which saved the former Hannigan’s from oblivion.  (the latter two, not yet reviewed by Thebeerchaser.)

Hart and Navarra are co-owners of some of my favorite Beerchasing experiences over the last seven years including Prost, Stammtisch and Interurban, all of which had great beer, outstanding food, wonderful bartenders and servers and an environment that makes one want to return on a regular basis.

Getting the Boot at Prost

They have done it again with the opening of the Bantam Tavern on NW 21st.   Other than to a limited extent in the Pearl District, the concentration of bars – especially good traditional bars – in the NW quadrant, pales in comparison to the Eastside.

The space, formerly occupied by one of the Laughing Planet healthy-food restaurants, which moved across the street, is small and appropriately named as stated by Hart:

“It comes from a bantam, like a small bird or chicken,” he says.  “It’s that ‘small in stature but big in heart’ kind of idea.”

And the Bantam may be diminutive in total size, but packed with the kind of stuff that draws you to a bar.   First, the building in which it’s located is an attractive brick building with an engaging entrance.

Typical Phoenix Brewery – good beer, but strip mall ambiance at Helio Basin.

After recently spending a week in Phoenix in which it seems that about 90% of the bars and breweries – although they had good beer – are located in strip malls and have the ambiance – well….of Phoenix!

The  interior of the Bantam is attractive with only a few tables/booths, but a great bar and backbar. The art and interior décor is distinctive and there’s one TV that is tucked in a back corner, so not overly distracting.  

The idea to hit the Bantam emanated from my friend Steve Oltman, who works only a block away at Sealy Mattress and had said we should make a visit.

In doing preliminary research before the visit, I saw quite a number of really bad social media comments such as this one from Yelp:  “I keep wanting to love it and make it my local bar of choice.  Unfortunately, every experience I have had is just mediocre.”

Steve is a classy guy and I was incredulous that he was so positive — then I realized — I was looking at reviews for the Bantam Pub in Atlanta!

This was Steve’s second Beerchasing event after hitting the Salty Rhino last December, which is a new bar in West Linn that is close to both of our homes.   He’s, a Minnesota native and Moorhead State grad, has a contagious grin and is a good drinking buddy – besides his other great traits!

Besides being a great mixologist, Ollie Gahlsdorf (right) is a very amiable person

They have robust Happy Hour options and each of us had a good Flensburger Pilsner for $4.50 – the first time I have tried this authentic German beer – a good option.   Otherwise, they have eight taps – with some excellent Northwest microbrews including Newburg’s Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery’s Helder and a cider tap.

Also ten diverse bottled beers, including Ranier and Budweiser for traditionalists and more esoteric options such as Tillamook brewery de Garde’s Framboise at $29 for a 750 ml bottle – “an average age of approximately 18 months, and refermented the blend with fresh Oregon red raspberries.”  (Untapped)  There are also eight wine options.

Ollie Gahlsdorf, who previously managed Interurban, is the bar manager and stated that he loves the neighborhood and the patrons trying out the new establishment and “business since we opened has been great.”   He garnered great reviews for his cocktails at Interurban and now has “designed the house cocktails, including the Lions,Tigers and Bears, a Jamaican rum sour with apricot syrup and allspice dram.”  (Oregon Live 10/19/18).

“Oh My!!” Jamaican rum sour with apricot syrup and allspice dram.

There are fifteen interesting options – helpfully broken into sections such as “Strong,”  “Not Too Sweet,” (includes a jell-O-shot, “Hot Drinks” and “Sweet.”  They range from $10 – $12 with steep discounts for the Happy Hour options such as an Old Fashioned.

We did not have time to eat, but the menu is typical of Dan Hart’s establishments and food presentations we saw looked really good:

“Stammtisch chef Grahman Chaney plays more towards the sensibilities at Interurban than those at his day job.

Salty drinking snacks like jerk-seasoned chicken thighs and a Dungeness crab dip with friend wonton chips (both $9 during happy hour) star alongside hearty, meal-sized sandwiches, like a prime rib dip ($15) and a tavern burger ($14) so juicy the first bites caused it to ooze like a punctured water balloon.”   Willamette Week review 11/21/18

And where can you find a bar menu that allows you to have an entrée like Steak Diane for $18 and yet try a Spam Slammer (grilled Spam with teriyaki, mustard, pineapple, hoisin aioli & shaved cabbage on a sweet Hawaiian bun) for $4.   Ollie said the slammers are “a real adventure.”

Both Steve and I are ready to try it when we return – probably in good weather so we can enjoy the nice patio and assuming our wives don’t accompany us….By the way, they also have a worthy assortment of munchies such as olives, popcorn (dressed in Parmesan & espelette pepper) and chicken legs that almost had me reaching over to the plate of the guy next to me at the bar for a sample.

The fourth of Dan Hart’s establishments I’ve visited lived up to the experiences of the others and this bright, attractive bar has everything you want for either a casual beer or a night out.  Steve’s recommendation was spot on.

Both the print and socal media reviews are virtually all positive and I was impressed that Dan Hart personally responded to the one Yelp review that was negative.  Perhaps the best summary is:

“Outstanding happy hour dinner and drinks tonight!.  Great cozy atmosphere, engaging staff, really excellent food (don’t miss the chicken confit, standout fries and a burger, a perfect Old Fashioned and well-curated draft list.  Highly recommend.”  (Yelp 11/14/18)

Bantam Tavern Logo

Bantam Tavern          922 NW 21st 

*   And by the way, Bantam chickens do crow……

Terry “Spike” McKinsey – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter


“I met Terry ‘Spike’ McKinsey in 1966.  The country was chaotic and would get worse.  But for Terry, the choices were always clear.  He was guided by his love of God, family, good friends, and country.   He didn’t have to tell you about it, he lived it!”

(Larry Walters, classmate from the Class of 1970 at the United States Naval Academy and long-time friend.)

(Welcome to Thebeerchaser blog.  If you are seeing this on your mobile phone, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link which is embedded in the title above.)

On a cloudy afternoon in January earlier this year, the three-volley rifle salute of the full military honor guard echoed at Willamette National Cemetery and a Marine Corps officer handed Anna McKinsey a flag which had draped the casket of her husband, Colonel Terry (Spike) McKinsey USMC (Retired).   With a sudden roar, multiple fighter jets from the Portland Air Base flew over those of us gathered for our final farewell to this remarkable man.

The service at the cemetery followed a wonderful memorial mass at The Madeline Parish in NE Portland.  It  was filled with family and friends, including United States Naval Academy classmates who had traveled from all over the county to be there, members of the Oregon Air National Guard who served with him, pilots from Horizon Airlines where Terry served as Assistant Chief Pilot and just a slew of friends, who treasured their relationships with this family man born in Oregon City on September 11, 1946.

The gathering reflected the impact Spike had on all he met whether through family relationships, the Naval Academy, his professional life or the charitable work he avidly pursued in retirement.

The latter included work for Habitat for Humanity, Medical Teams International and serving as Vice President of Operation Healing – a non-profit that provides wounded veterans with outdoor experiences to aid in their rehabilitation.  He also counseled troubled veterans in the Oregon State Prison system.

Midshipman Terry McKinsey

Midshipman Larry Walters

I first met Terry and his long-time friend and class-mate, Larry Walters,  when we were on a 3/c mid-shipman (in Academy lingo “youngster”) cruise in the summer of 1967 between my freshman and sophomore year.   Terry and Larry were also shipmates on their first-class midshipman cruise in the Mediterranean Sea on the USS Allagash -AO 97.

Larry flew out from South Carolina and was a pall bearer at the memorial service.

USS John R. Craig (DD-885)

They were midshipmen from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, while I was in the Naval ROTC program at Oregon State and we were on the same Navy destroyer – the USS John R. Craig (DD 885) a WW II vintage “tin can.”

Thirty midshipman spent about eight weeks as the lowest status crew members, wearing our sailor dixie-cups with a blue band around them – swabbing decks, sweating on midnight watches in the boiler and engine rooms, standing watch as lookouts on the ship’s bridge and to the amusement of the crew, learning naval terminology – the walls are “bulkheads” and the stairs between deck levels are “ladders” which take you “topside” or “down below.”

We quickly discovered that Terry and I graduated from cross-town high school rivals – he West Linn High School and me Oregon City High School.  Although he was two years older, I knew of Terry based on his athletic accomplishments at WLHS where he was an outstanding catcher on the baseball team.

WLHS Graduation Photo

He earned multiple letters by serving as the catcher for his cousin, Ed Danill, one of the best young pitchers in Oregon and known for his knuckleball which was not only incredibly difficult to hit, but also to catch.

According to his son, Mike, when Terry would periodically signal for a fast ball, Ed would “mess with his head” by throwing a wicked knuckleball, laughing as Terry struggled to contain it. Terry also played varsity baseball at the Academy.

As a result of that connection, we bonded, and the three of us and another midshipman from the University of Kansas named Ken Guest, hung out when we had liberty in San Diego – our home port – in Hawaii while docked at Pearl Harbor and in San Francisco while making a three-day port call.

Before continuing with Spike’s story, I should let you know why he garnered the title – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.   Besides visiting and reviewing bars, pubs and breweries, each quarter on this blog, I “honor” an individual who may or may not have anything to do with bars or beers.

Past recipients- almost all of whom I have known personally –  have included authors, athletes, media personalities, academicians and military veterans.  They all have interesting stories, have notable achievements in their careers and deserve recognition for their contributions to make it a better world.

2nd Lt. Jud Blakely

Four in the last category, who like Terry, distinguished themselves in their military service, include George GM “Jud” Blakely, my SAE fraternity brother at Oregon State who was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, while serving as a USMC 2nd Lt. platoon commander in Viet Nam in 1966-7.

Doug Bomarito as Lt. j.g.)

Ensign Doug Bomarito, who like Spike, graduated from the Naval Academy although earlier in the class of 1968, received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving as patrol officer attached to Patrol Boats River (PBR) of a River Division near the Cambodian border in 1970.

Lt. Steve Lawrence

Steve Lawrence, who while serving as an Army Second Lt. in Viet Nam received both a Silver Star (1968) and Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster in 1969.

And finally, my youngest brother, Retired Captain Rick Williams USN, who, after commissioning as an ensign, first served as a Navy hard-hat diver and concluded his twenty-five year career as  skipper of the nuclear sub USS Spadefish (SSN-668).

Captain Rick Williams

The links embedded in their names above, will take you to their stories as related on Thebeerchaser.com.

But now back to Spike McKinsey with an important note before you read the remainder of this account – admittedly long, but required to adequately reflect the venerable life of this native Oregonian.

Note:  At the end of this post, are two narratives – the first entitled “The Steamroller Escapade,” written by high school classmates and lifelong friends, Dave Lofgren and Mike Martindale in February 2019 to memorialize this incredible story when Terry was home on summer leave from Annapolis.

Regardless of whether you knew Spike personally, you will want to read the adventure involving the hi-jacked steamroller.  It lends insightful credence to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s assertion:  “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them!”

The other is a heartfelt tribute written by close friend and fellow aviator, Lyle Cabe, describing Terry’s background and leadership as a fighter pilot when they flew together in the Air National Guard.  Both narratives are superbly written and I hope you read them to get more insight into why Spike McKinsey is held in such high esteem by all who knew him.  I guarantee that you will enjoy them.

Newly minted pilot McKinsey – before he earned the name, “Spike.”

Terry and Larry both graduated from the USNA in 1970 and both took the Marine Corps option – Larry become a Marine infantry officer and Terry a Marine jet pilot after completing flight school in Pensacola.

After the 1967 cruise, I reconnected two years later when I visited both of them at the Academy while I was on a trip to Washington DC for the Reserve Officers’ Association National Convention my senior year in college.

USNA Campus at Annapolis, Maryland

Prepped for the Midshipman Ball at the St. Francis Hotel – Ken Guest is on the right

We laughed on that visit as we recounted stories from the 3/c cruise, most notably, the illustrious, but misguided adventures we had in San Francisco.

After the formal Midshipman Ball at the St. Francis Hotel which we attended in dress whites, we changed into civilian clothes and rented a room in a cheap, high-rise hotel right in the heart of the City.

Since Terry was almost 21 and looked older because of his formidable physique, he bought the beverages which “nourished” us that evening and resulted in massive hangovers the next day – most notably for me since I had a morning watch and had to take a taxi back to the ship at the crack of dawn while the other three recovered until the noon checkout time.

Terry and Larry also chuckled at my naiveté for signing for the room at check-in and providing my VISA card.  (I still can’t figure out why the hotel didn’t subsequently bill me for the desk lamp that we broke when one of us – I think Larry – stumbled into the table and it crashed to the floor.)

Spike McKinsey flying in formation of A-4’s.  He’s  No. 303 – Notice the handwritten note – at the upper left corner – to his friend, Dave Lofgren.

Anna and Terry at USNA graduation

After his USMC service, in which Terry distinguished himself as a fighter pilot ( he earned the nickname “Spike” from his reputation for “hard” runway landings) he returned to Oregon in 1978 with his sweetheart, and now wife, Anna Kucynda, who he married right after graduation in the USNA Chapel.

He flew for the Oregon Air National Guard and as a result of his charismatic leadership skills, became the Base Commander from 1989 to 1985.  (See Lyle’s commentary for a detailed description of that service.)

Flash forward to 1985 – almost twenty years since our summer on the John R. Craig.  The four cruise buddies, after military service and being immersed in separate careers, had lost touch (except Larry who regularly visited with Terry and his family).

Larry Walters – friend for over fifty years

Larry served his six-year obligation in the Marine Corps.  Two years after that, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve and also went on to retire as a colonel and served in Desert Storm.

It is easy to see how Larry and Terry’s friendship was so strong and lasted more than fifty years.  They epitomized “The Few and the Proud.”  Larry Walters has the same solid and outstanding character that personified his Academy classmate and friend.

Classmates and shipmates on first-class midshipman cruise in the Med

I was working as the Business Manager at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm in downtown Portland.   We were hiring an executive assistant and one of the applicants was a young man who worked in an administrative capacity at the Air Base.

One of his references was a Colonel Terry McKinsey and in the interview, I asked him if his commanding officer was a tall, blond guy who had flown fighters for the Marine Corps.   He responded in the affirmative.  I called the Air Base and asked the receptionist to connect me with Colonel McKinsey.

I identified myself only as Mr. Williams, but told Spike that I was checking references on one of his employees – we’ll call him John Doe, who had applied for a job at the law firm.   Terry said he would be glad to respond and that John was a very good employee.  The conversation then went like this:

Williams:   “Colonel, while one of the reasons for this call is to check a reference on John Doe, I have concerns about using the information you provide based on lingering concerns about questionable activities during your 3/c midshipman cruise while on liberty in San Francisco. 

Isn’t it true that you purchased hard liquor while you were still a minor and that you and your shipmates broke a hotel room lamp, left the room in a mess when you left, and didn’t even leave the maid a tip for cleaning it up?

Thirty seconds of silence followed.

McKinsey:  “Don Williams, you SOB!  How have you been after all these years?   When are we going to get together?”

Spike in front of an F-15 at Kingsley Field

Well, we did get together for a subsequent lunch which was incredibly meaningful for all of us there.   As background, Terry after graduating from West Linn HS, enlisted in the Army but had the dream of attending one of the military academies.   He ended up receiving appointments from Congressman Wendell Wyatt to both West Point and Annapolis, but chose the latter.

The late Congressman Wendell Wyatt – an outstanding Representative and attorney

He had never met the Congressman, who became a named partner at the law firm after he retired from Congress.

Larry Paulson and I asked Wendell if he would join us for lunch with his former Academy appointee.   Larry, another partner in the law firm who was a Brigadier General and the Chief of Staff for the Air National Guard, worked with Terry in the Guard before retiring.  Before being promoted to General, he was the lead Staff Judge Advocate.   After Schwabe, he became the Executive Director of the Port of Vancouver before retiring in 2012.

General Paulson – another Spike McKinsey fan and colleague.

We had a wonderful lunch and it was memorable hearing Terry express his appreciation to the Congressman and Wendell reciprocating by telling Spike how his outstanding service and patriotism had totally affirmed Wyatt’s decision to make the appointment in 1965.  The conversation  was particularly poignant since Wendell was also a fighter pilot – in the South Pacific during WW II.

It would be easy to go on – and I will with two final examples which help convey Terry’s personality, his zest for life and his impact on all he met.  But perhaps this excerpt from his obituary sums it up the most eloquently:

“During his 72 years, Spike’s undeniable strength, unconditional kindness, and unquestionable integrity made a lasting impact on his friends, colleagues, and family….. Spike lived a life true to his values. He stood for what is right and didn’t hesitate to step in when he saw injustice in action. He loved fishing, baseball, ice cream, 1950s pop music, and the country he served with all his heart.”

My wife and I recently returned from a week in Phoenix and sat behind an off-duty Horizon Airlines pilot who was flying back to Portland with his family. Terry had served as Assistant Chief Pilot and voluntarily retired in 2010 to prevent a young pilot from losing his job due to budget cuts.

Since the pilot in front of us was about my vintage, I asked him if he knew Terry McKinsey.   His immediate reply:  “I along with all the other pilots, loved Spike McKinsey and I was terribly saddened that I could not attend his memorial service because I was flying.”

Classmates from the USNA who flew in from all parts of the country. This picture is at the evening reception and celebration of life. Larry Walters is second from the right.

And finally, the story I referenced earlier as eloquently written by Terry’s close high school friends, Dave Lofgren and Mike Martindale, entitled “The Steamroller Escapade.”  The caper involved Terry, Dave and Mike – all former WLHS classmates.  I remember hearing Spike relate it on our summer cruise and every time I now read it, I can’t help but laugh again at the multiple images it evokes.

(By the way, Dave could not remember the name of the Police Chief who made the decision you will read about below in 1968, but thanks to Cheryl at the West Linn Library Research Desk, I learned that it was the late Chief John Stephens.  He deserves credit for his judgment and common sense which could have otherwise jeopardized Terry’s graduation from USNA and a stellar career in the military afterwards.)

Anna and Spike

Terry passed away after a short illness which he handled with the grace and courage that characterized his life.  Spike’s surviving family includes Anna and his sister, Julie.

———–

Spike with daughter Krista

Also his daughter and son, who are a wonderful credit to the family life and the values he and Anna instilled – Krista (husband Mike) and Michael.  Terry and Anna’s three grandsons, Ezra, Eli and Leo also participated in the Mass of Christian Burial at The Madeline Parish.

You can honor Spike’s memory with a gift to the Coastal Conservation Association of Washington to support salmon conservation work.

 

 

 

And as aside, the moving service and celebration of Spike’s life reminded me not to procrastinate when things seem busy and to make past, but cherished relationships, a priority.  I had skimmed over Spike’s number in my i-Phone multiple times during the last few years with the intention to call him and schedule another lunch or a beer.   That opportunity was lost when Larry called and told me that he was flying out for our friend’s memorial service.

And as a result, after some on-line research and a number of phone calls, reconnected with Ken Guest – the fourth midshipman who none of us had seen or talked to since disembarking from the John R. Craig for the last time at the end of the summer in 1967.

Ken Guest during his active naval service

Ken, served four years active duty as a naval surface line officer and had a successful thirty-five year career as a dentist in Salina, Kansas before retiring.

Besides a long phone call I had with him, we reconnected with Larry by e-mails and relived old memories, all of them involving Terry McKinsey.

We also lamented the fact that our first ship was decommissioned on 27 July 1979 and the John R. Craig was ignominiously sunk as a target in naval war exercises off the coast of California on 6 June 1980.  And by the way, neither Ken nor Larry admitted to being the one responsible for the broken lamp……!

The Steamroller Escapade

(By Dave Lofgren and Mike Martindale – February 2019)

West Linn High School – site of the steam roller

Terry McKinsey had come home to Gladstone, Oregon following his plebe year at the United States Naval Academy. It was summer and Terry (who had not yet been christened “Spike”), our friend  Mike Martindale and I went into Portland on Friday night to hit a few night clubs and bars.

We drove past our alma mater, West Linn High School, on the way and we noticed a steamroller parked in a gravel lot near the school.

The steamroller reminded us of the time our friend Billy Wrigglesworth’s older brother Jim had gotten drunk and stolen an army tank from the Lake Oswego Oregon National Guard Armory. He drove the tank three miles to the Marylhurst University campus and pointed the tank gun at the administrative building before being arrested and thrown in jail. The story of the stolen tank became a legend known to young and old as the most incredibly brazen and stupid stunt anyone had ever heard of.

Marylhurst Administration Building surrenders to inebriated tank commander……..

Marylhurst University was a few miles past the high school and when we drove by we couldn’t stop laughing about someone stealing a tank. By the time we got to Portland our minds were fully consumed with the tank and Billy’s brother’s heroics and we began thinking…

…..Bolstered by a few beers, but intoxicated with the vision of the tank legend and feeling very brazen and stupid ourselves, we decided to create our own legend. We left Portland and headed for the steamroller.

When we got to the high school the steamroller was still sitting there. It was a big, diesel-powered compaction roller with a huge front drum and giant rear wheels beckoning us to jump on and start it up. Mike Martindale had a gorgeous cousin named “Teri” who lived up the hill behind the school and we decided the only proper course of action at that point was to steal the steamroller and drive it up the hill to Teri’s house.

“Damn the Torpedoes!”

We parked our car near the steamroller and climbed up into the cab and discovered to our great (mis)fortune a key in the ignition. We turned the key to “on” and “VARROOOM” the big diesel-powered beast started up!  It was about 1:30 in the morning and as dark and quiet as night in the suburbs should be when we jammed it into gear.

Admiral Farragut – Spike’s mentor….

McKinsey, in the best naval tradition of Admiral David Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, shouted, “DAMN THE  TORPEDOES – FULL SPEED AHEAD!” and the big machine started lurching across the parking lot with a loud “CHUG-CHUG, CRUNCH-CRUNCH, RUMBLE-RUMBLE, GRIND-GRIND” sound that must have been heard several blocks away.

We got to the road in a couple minutes and when we tried to turn the machine onto the road and up the hill toward Teri’s it just kept crawling straight ahead, across the road and into someone’s back yard.

We were hollering and whooping it up and headed straight for a tall hedge when suddenly flashing lights appeared from the road below the high school. Martindale saw the lights first and yelled “SHIT! – COPS!” and we killed the engine and bailed out of the cab onto the neighbor’s yard. We all ran off in different directions and hid behind bushes but it didn’t take long to get caught.

The officer parked his patrol car next to ours and then sat there and waited us out, knowing we eventually had to come back to our car. We tried sneaking back to the car one at a time but the officer spotted us easily and invited us to join him in the back of his car. It was very late and the officer was very pissed off. He gave us a lecture about waking up the entire neighborhood on a joyride with a steamroller that didn’t belong to us and told us we were in deep shit.

He told us he should take us to jail but since it was the middle of the night he would let us go on our own recognizance if we promised to appear in front of the West Linn Police Chief at 8:00 AM the next morning. This was, of course, promised.

We got home about 3:00 AM. At 7:00 AM the next morning we told our parents we were going to play tennis. They knew that was BS from our obvious hangovers and the fact that casual slacks and button-down shirts weren’t exactly tennis attire but that was our story when we left with tennis rackets in hand for the West Linn Police Department.

When we arrived at the police department, a not-so-friendly female officer told us the police chief would see us in a few minutes. The chief let us sit there for a good fifteen or twenty minutes wondering what our punishment would be. Then he summoned us into his office.

The chief told us to sit down. He asked us a few questions about driving a steam roller that didn’t belong to us in the middle of the night in a quiet neighborhood and “read us the riot act” for our behavior. He said the resident who called the police on us and whose yard we had driven onto wasn’t going to press charges because we hadn’t destroyed his hedge or done major damage to his yard.

The chief was looking at the report the officer who captured us had filed and seemed to be trying to decide what kind of punishment would be appropriate when he suddenly asked, “Which one of you is from the U. S. Naval Academy?” Terry was sitting between Mike and me and he jumped to his feet and shouted, “Me Sir!”

The chief told Terry to approach his desk and Terry snapped to attention in front of him. He asked Terry a few questions about the Naval Academy to which Terry barked out replies and then the chief said, “Mr. McKinsey do you think taking a steam roller for a drunken joy ride onto someone’s yard in the middle of the night would be looked upon favorably by your commanding officer at the Academy?”  Terry was standing stiff as a stone statue and loudly replied “No sir! He would not, sir!” to the chief’s question.

After a few more questions that elicited similar sharp responses from Terry the chief told him he could sit back down. He asked Mike and me a few perfunctory questions about our joy ride. Then he informed us in his most authoritative manner that he admired Mr. McKinsey’s patriotism and desire to become a naval officer.

A retroactive thanks to Chief Stephens and the “arresting” officer….

He said he did not want to jeopardize Terry’s future as an officer and he would not be pressing charges against us or informing the Naval Academy of Mr. McKinsey’s behavior.

He told us that Mr. McKinsey had saved our asses and we had him and ONLY him to thank for not receiving punishments. Then he told us we were free to go but if he ever saw us in his office again he would “throw the book at us”.

That, as Mike Martindale and I recall, was the “The Steamroller Escapade”. We never did see Mike’s cousin Teri which in hindsight was probably a good thing. We did manage to play tennis later that morning with splitting headaches.

Mike and I still owe our pal Terry (“Spike”) McKinsey a beer for saving our asses that day and I can still see the flashing lights coming over the hill and hear the “chug-chug, crunch-crunch, rumble-rumble, grind-grind” of the steamroller as it traveled across the gravel parking lot.

I’ll bet Terry can still hear it, too.

Cheers, Spike!

Dave Lofgren

Mike Martindale

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tribute to Spike McKinsey

by Lyle Cabe

Forty years of being friends and comrades in arms provides many stories and characterizations to draw from to describe Terry “Spike” McKinsey.  Spike [the flying call-sign for how he landed airplanes], was unique in many ways, one of which is that he served in all four branches of the service – Army, Navy, Marines and he finished his military career flying F-15 Eagles for the Air Force.

Climbing aboard a trainer jet – the T45 Goshhawk

Spike’s character and integrity are what really sets him apart.  I have described him as John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger all wrapped up into one fine gentleman.  There are stories to support each personification, but not enough room in this writing to describe each.  

I first got to know Spike in the late 1970s as he segued from flying A4s and F4s in the Marines to, where he was an easy fit, to flying F-101B Voodoos in the Oregon Air National Guard. 

A few years later, as the 142d Fighter Wing transitioned to the F4 Phantom, because of Spike’s Marine F4 experience, he was made an Instructor Pilot.  This began his supervisory role in the unit which led him all the way to a seven-year stint as the Commander of the Wing.

Spike with crewmates from Air National Guard. Back row L-R: Bill DeJager, Steve Allison [deceased], Dick Peterson [deceased], Spike [deceased], Carl Hellis. Kneeling: Ron Moore, Larry Kemp [deceased], Ray Pilcher, Scott Powell and Dennis Anderson.

Throughout the years of our friendship, we learned that we both loved beer.  I am a self-proclaimed IPA snob; however, Spike had a propensity towards German Lager.  This is most likely because in the mid-1980s he was selected to be the Flying Operations supervisor for the first ever Air National Guard, Air Sovereignty Alert in Western Germany. 

The Air Force unit was upgrading to a newer jet and the ANG was tasked to set up, train and execute Alert for six months on the East/West border of Germany.  This was the tip of the sword and if it wasn’t done right it was an international incident.  Spike was tasked with ensuring that aircrew on alert were trained and up to the task.  The day came for the ANG to start alert and Spike was the flight lead for the armed F4 alert aircraft that were to ensure the sovereignty of West Germany air space. 

Spike with fellow German and Air National Guard F-4 pilots after successful Air Sovereignty Alert in Germany

Within a couple hours of starting the alert, the Scramble Klaxon went off with the warning that MIGs were heading toward them.  The F4s scrambled flawlessly and the MIGs were turned around, returning to their base.  They were testing the changeover of Alert responsibility — Spike and the Air National Guard stood tall in the big spot light.

Spike and Anna in front of an A-4.

I think Spike loved fishing more than flying as we have spent many a day together, wetting lines.  We’ve had days where we have caught fish and we’ve had days when we were blanked, yet the fellowship of being together was always the high point of the day.

We always toasted each other, at the end of the day, with a victory or defeat beer.  The toast was always, clinking our beers together, “to a gentleman and a scholar” to which Spike would always retort “and damn few of us left”.  Well there are even fewer now that he is gone.

A Mug of German Bitburger Lager – Cheers to Spike!

 (Lyle Cabe, after Basic Training, was first an Admin. Specialist in the 123d Fighter Squadron, received a direct commission, went to pilot training and retired as the Commander of the 142d Fighter Wing where he flew with Spike.  His last temporary duty assignment was commanding 400 OreANG members in Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia – flying combat missions into Iraq.) 

Lyle Cabe in Fall 2000 at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia during Southern Comfort protecting Iraq South of 34th parallel from Saddam Hussein forces.