How Jack and Jan McGowan SOLV(E) the Equation

Meet Jan and Jack McGowan, the first Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter in 2020.

Oregon Governor Tom McCall, the founder of SOLV, once said, ”Heroes are not statues framed against a red sky.  They are individuals who say,  ‘This is my community and it is my responsibility to make it better.’”

There can be no doubt that by Governor McCall’s eloquent definition, Jack and Jan McGowan are true heroes, as few Oregonians have given as much time and effort as they have to making all of Oregon’s communities better. 

SOLV has played a special role in modern Oregon history, and Jack and Jan’s intelligence, integrity, and  indefatigable energy were instrumental in its success.

Kerry Tymchuk

When I asked Kerry Tymchuk, Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society, a good friend of the McGowans, to write a short commendation to start this post, he agreed immediately.  Kerry, himself, is an outstanding Oregonian, having received Oregon Business and Industry’s (OBI) Statesman of the Year Award in 2018.

The picture above was taken on the seventeen-acre property at which Jack and Jan McGowan reside – about seven miles outside of Sisters, Oregon bordering Indian Ford Meadows.

The couple moved into the house and became caretaker/managers of it multiple properties near Sisters in 2008 through the generosity of very close friends.

They returned to make Sisters their home almost twenty-three years after they were married in nearby Camp Sherman and had their rehearsal dinner at the Sisters Hotel.

Not the average – but the lower range….

It’s a beautiful forested acreage with geese flying, hummingbirds fluttering, eagles swooping, woodpeckers tapping (four species – White-headed, Downy, Hairy and Northern Flicker) and wild creatures ranging from deer and elk to bear and coyote.

here are  guest quarters and a wonderful greenhouse in which Jan spends a lot of time during the winter when the average snowfall is about eight inches and the temperature stays around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. (Jack doesn’t even have the key to the structure housing the plants.)

The Greenhouse

Both Jan and Jack had extremely interesting and divergent backgrounds before they met – when they worked for former Portland Mayor Bud Clark starting in 1985.  I’ll explore each’s story, but their collective legacy is the leadership and sustained effort they devoted in shaping and developing SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism).

SOLV was created in 1969 and celebrated its fifty-year anniversary in 2019.   (The non-profit dropped the words from its name to just the acronym in 1998 and added the E in 2012 to reflect its expanded mission in the community and environment.)

What is Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter?

For context, besides visiting and reviewing bars, pubs and breweries, each quarter on this blog, I “honor” an individual(s) or an organization who may or may not have anything to do with bars or beers.

The late author, Brian Doyle – B-O-Q in 2014

Past recipients – almost all of whom I have known personally, have included authors, athletes, media personalities, academicians and military veterans. (To see their posts, click the tab below the header at the top of the page.)

They all have interesting stories, notable achievements in their careers or public service and deserve recognition for their contributions to make it a better world.

Amy Faust

Attorney Jack Faust

Although there has been a father-daughter awardee (Jack and Amy Faust) Jan and Jack McGowan are the first couple to be so named and by inference, the organization they co-directed to become a powerful and effective force in Oregon environmental history.

Lessons to be Learned!

When reviewing their tireless efforts for SOLV, there’s a distinct lesson for those who feel overwhelmed and powerless to address complex Oregon or national problems.  Pay attention to this story……

The story of SOLV and the McGowans epitomizes using one’s energy, talents and creativity to build and sustain a successful non-profit organization.   And most Oregon citizens, political officials, corporate and non-profit leaders and media outlets understand and respect SOLV’s contribution to their State.

As just one example, Jack and Jan are on the cover of the December 2003 Oregon Business Magazine recognizing SOLV as one of the recipients of the Oregon Philanthropical Awards in 2017 for effecting dynamic changes in Oregon communities.  And Jack McGowan, as was Jack Faust mentioned above, was the recipient of the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors Portland First Citizen Award – Faust in 1993 and McGowan in 2006.

The announcement re. Rose Festival Grand Marshal at Sisters High School

Jack was the Grand Marshall of the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade in 2009, the Oregon State Parks Foundation published the couple’s book The Oregon Coast – a Legacy Like No Other in 2017 and Jan continues to lead her successful firm consulting for non-profits formed in 2008.

Jack received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Pacific University.  Among his political mentors were US Senator Mark Hatfield and State Senator Ted Hallock.

The couple’s other honors and civic service are too numerous to mention here.  As Jack’s profile on Linked-in states, “Retired, but still very much involved!”

It’s a saga of smart and creative marketing and use of the media, cultivating fruitful partnerships – including their marriage – political savvy, perseverance through challenges, dynamic management and maybe a little bit of luck as well.

The vision of Tom McCall continues…

In 1990, Jack McGowan became the first paid director of the organization founded by Governor Tom McCall in 1969 as a result of a heated political compromise with the bottle and beverage industry over Oregon Bottle Bill Legislation. It was a joint decision by the couple based on their love for Oregon as Jack’s initial annual compensation was $10,000 with no benefits.

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

Besides having an infectious grin, is a splendid story-teller and several times during our conversation such as when talking about his parents or about returning to Manhattan with the Flight for Freedom from Portland in 2001, he teared up.  Although it is a cliché, Jack truly wears his heart on his sleeve – in this case a western ranch shirt…..

2001 Oregonians in New York City

After Jan joined the effort in 1991, they operated out of their home for the first five years.  And from that staff of one and budget of $12,000 to the time of their retirement in 2008, it grew to a staff of twenty-six (now 32) and a budget of $2.6 million and tens of thousands of volunteers.

The Beach Cleanup….and Then Some!

The initial Oregon Beach Cleanup was in 1984.  The McGowans have been to 34 of the 36 including the first one for their son, Travis, when he was three years old.  It has become an Oregon tradition involving countless individual volunteers and hundreds of organizations.

“Alarmed by the dangers of plastics to wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employee Judie Neilson Hanson organized the first state-wide beach cleanup, and SOLVE helped.

That year, 2,100 volunteers collected 2,800 bags of trash. In 1986, Hanson coordinated beach clean-ups with similar efforts in fourteen coastal states. The following year, SOLVE took over leadership of the Oregon’s beach clean-ups, which have continued to be successful.”  (From the Oregon Encyclopedia)

SOLVE is now the largest volunteer organization in the Northwest. And the initial beach cleanup has expanded to become a Beach and Riverside Cleanup with far greater scope. (Take a look at this graphic demonstrating the involvement in the 2019 Cleanup).

Jan Van!!

Janet Van Domelen, was born in Anchorage and raised in Banks, Oregon.  Her dad was career Army and she was one of six children. I first met her when we both worked at the Oregon State Bar in 1979.   “Jan Van” – her moniker – was the Bar’s only receptionist and first rate at what most of her co-workers viewed as a terrible and stressful job. 

Any person who was dissatisfied with the service provided by his or her lawyer, believed their attorney had committed malpractice or had violated Bar ethics rules — or just didn’t like lawyers in general……would call or write the Bar which was the admissions and disciplinary arm of the Oregon Judicial Branch.

Membership was approximately 7,500 Oregon lawyers at that juncture.  (In 2019, that number had grown to over 12,000.)  So you can imagine the volume of calls and letters received was significant

To give you an idea, take a look at one of my favorite letters received at the Bar in 1981 when Jan and I worked there, from what will remain an unnamed individual from Independence, Oregon.

And many of the callers were harsh and rude – sometimes under-standably, and they vented on Jan Van.  She handled them with grace and aplomb.  We all knew that she would move on and have a great professional career.

Former Mayor Clark in 2014 at the Goose Hollow Inn which he owns – flanked by Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter Jim Westwood and John Terry.

That started when she left in late 1984 and interviewed to the Executive Assistant for future Mayor Bud Clark who took office in 1985.

Jack who was to become the Mayor’s Press Secretary was working with the Transition Team and he was one of four people interviewing the finalists.  Jan later told a friend who inquired about the interview:

“I think the interview went well, but even if they offered it to me, I don’t think I could take it.  Jack McGowan is the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen and I wouldn’t get any work done.”

She obviously overcame this concern and served for six years as Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of International Relations.  She headed the Sister City Program and traveled throughout Asia in this role.  When she left, Portland had expanded to seven Sister Cities.  (More on Jan’s post SOLV career below.)  They couple started dating and got married in 1986.

With Mayor Clark and after Jack came up with the concept “Dress as You Please Day” in 1985

Jack….

When my wife and I joined the McGowans at the Sisters’ home – the first time I had met Jack, I knew immediately I would relate to him because of our mutual New York roots.  In face, both of us born in 1948 – Jack on August 2nd and me eighty seven days earlier.  (Jack treated me like a respected elder…..)

Jack was born in Jackson Heights – a multi-ethnic neighborhood in the Borough of Queens and I in Merrick, Long Island in Nassau, County right outside the City – according to Google Maps – as infants, we lived only an about an hour or twenty-three miles apart by the Sunrise Highway – part of New York State Route 27……..

Jackson Heights in 2005 — 77th Street, Jackson Heights, Queens, between 37th and 35th Avenues, looking north )

Jack’s grandfather, John, came to America from Ireland and met his future wife, Nora.  They had three children, one of which was George (Jack’s dad), John – the oldest and Marie.  They lived in Manhattan.

His grandfather held numerous jobs (dockworker, chauffer for a prominent NYC family and lastly, the owner of a bar on West 57th St. in Manhattan named “McGowan’s.”  When Prohibition came, John continued to operate it as a speakeasy.

On January 6, 1932, a young punk who went by the name of William “Three-Gun” Turner, came into the bar with an accomplice – their intention was to rob the bar.

During a botched hold-up, Turner killed John, was arrested, found guilty and sent to Sing Sing Prison’s electric chair where he was executed on February 2, 1933.

The picture below shows confessed killer, Turner, handcuffed to Detective Jacobs, waiting for a grilling in the DA’s office.  Throughout the trial, he showed little, if any, remorse and played solitaire. It’s from the book New York Noir – Crime Photos from the Daily News Archive.

Nora converted their Jackson Heights home to a three-bedroom boarding house. Jack’s parents, George and Rosemary had a one room apartment several blocks away and Jack was born in 1948.  He slept on a convertible sofa in the living room through high school.

Richie and Jackie on the floor here starting in 1966

 

Fast forward to 1966 when Jack graduated from high school.

He and his buddy, Richie Grasso, went to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as floor clerks. (“In our neighborhood, every guy had an “ie” attached to his first name.  I was Jackie and Grasso was Richie.”)

Starting as a floor clerk and then to a floor broker was about the only honest way a kid from New York City with no higher education could grow up to be a millionaire.

Richie loved the work, but after four years Jack, who was then living in Greenwich Village – across the street from Bob Dylan grew disillusioned with the job, the War in Viet Nam and wondered what he was going to do with his life, so he quit in 1970.

Jan and Jack with son, Travis, at a cafe’ Jack where Jack was a regular in the ’60’s

Having never been west of New Jersey, he decided he was going to hitchhike to California for a new beginning. (Stay tuned for a marvelous follow-up story about Richie and Jackie below.)

But fate intervened when he and a friend were waiting for a light at the intersection of 6th Ave and 61st Street in downtown Manhattan.

Paul Simon in 1966 – a little before Jack ran into him at the intersection….

I don’t know if Jack was humming “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” but singer, Paul Simon, was also waiting for the light and they started what ended up being a twenty-five minute conversation in which the noted singer advised Jack not to go to California:

“Try the Pacific Northwest – Seattle is a lot like San Francisco and Portland is a great smaller city.” (Jack has the ability to keep people actively engaged in even a curbside chat!)

So Jack went up to Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts and joined two guys who were looking for a third person to share expenses and drive to SF.  He got to Portland, by also sharing a ride – where he had no family, no car, no friends and no job, but decided “I need to get serious.”

Thus, while living in an $82 per month (including utilities) apartment – one of four in an old house at NW 24th and Pettygrove, he worked as a roofer, fork-lift operator and talked his way into a sales job at the British Motor Car dealer in Portland.  (He had his mom send out his New York suits and told the manager that he had just left his job on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.)

With his sights set higher, in 1974, using his personal appearance and ability to speak, he coaxed his way into becoming on-air host and Director of Promotion/Public Affairs at KINK-FM – a job he had for four years.  This was the first step in what was to become his first career – in broadcasting and public relations and the chance to use his creative talents as shown below:

1978 – 1981Public Relations Director for the Oregon Zoo. He created and produced the “Your Zoo, And All That Jazz” concert series, the world’s first musical series held in a zoological park.

1981 – 1984:  Partner, Biggs-McGowan Public Relations/Marketing. He conceptualized and co-produced Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz.

1984 – 1986:   Assistant to Portland Mayor J.E. Bud Clark. He was liaison/spokesperson to the Portland/National media and business communities.

From 1986-1989, Jack was a correspondent and on-air host for NBC Affilitate, KGW -TV Northwest News with Teresa Richardson and Elaine Busby.  He covered Oregon issues and hosted various international programs from Japan, Australia and the Amazon region of Brazil.

Besides his part-time broadcasting gigs, Jack was a house-husband, doing freelance writing and taking care of the McGowan’s son, Travis, who was born in 1987.  Jan was still working for Mayor Clark.   And then in 1990, SOLV came into the picture for Jack and Jan left the City in early 1991 and became Co-Director.

Son Travis – in the middle on the ____ Beach Cleanup

So Jack and Jan “retired” in 2008 and are living in Sisters.  SOLVE celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.  Jan, based on her extensive experience with non-profits and her entrepreneurial inclinations, formed a successful sole-proprietor consulting firm –  in 2008 to assist non-profits in strategic planning, fund-raising and leadership development.

Her first client was SOLVE and she now has clients in Oregon and Washington.  Typical of the reviews is this one from Gwen Wysling, Executive Director of Bethlehem Inn in Bend – a shelter and resource for homeless persons:

“Jan  is a gifted facilitator and strategic thinker.  She worked closely with  our staff, board and stakeholders to quickly navigate and help bring  about positive and dynamic organizational change and development.  She  employs her talents genuinely and unselfishly.”

A skilled facilitator

Meanwhile Jack starts serving on various non-profit boards such as Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Providence Medical Foundation and is elected to the Board of the Sisters/Camp Sherman Fire District.

In 1993, he narrates a documentary for KPTV named “Beyond Eden’s Gate:  The Legacy of the Oregon Trail”  which wins the Western Heritage Award (“Established in 1961 by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  The award honors the legacy of men and women for their works in literature, music, film, and television.”).

Jack’s Western Heritage Award on the McGowan’s Deck

Winners receive “The Wrangler,” a bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback and it is proudly displayed on the McGowan’s deck.

The Oregon Flight for Freedom

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

Sho Dozono and Portland Commissioner, Nick Fish – right – with a NYC firefighter at the reunion tour

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

At the time, Jack was co-hosting the local part of a national broadcast and pledge drive for the rescue workers.

Elaine Franklin originated the name “Flight for Freedom” and Loen Dozono came up with the vision of a “Reverse Oregon Wagon Train” – only by air.

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

Jack and John Ray went three days early as an advance party to pave the way for the official flight, which included Oregon dignitaries (even Mayor Vera Katz notwithstanding her fear of flying) and regular folks who felt compelled to show their support for New York and provide an urgently needed economic shot in the arm.  (Jan stayed home because she was coordinating the Beach Cleanup) The Oregonian’s  story was remarkable – especially for Jackie McGowan from Jackson Heights!

The unique group of about 500 flew into Manhattan where the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel was virtually empty.  (Delta Airlines gave a great deal on cost of the flight.) Few people were going to Manhattan unless they absolutely had to – especially tourists.  The Oregonians filled the hotel –  the only cost was for the room tax.  All other lodging expense was gladly absorbed by hotel management.  The Flight was covered by national and international print and broadcast media.

The original 2001 contingent – That’s Vera Katz in the middle in red….

And according to Jack:

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

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

A group from Oregon with Diane Sawyer from Good Morning America

But the highlight for Jack was when they asked ten of the Oregonians, including him, to ring the traditional opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on October 8th.  They gathered next to the Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

Former Oregonian, Ann Curry greeting the group on Today.

 

Richard Grasso

Jack who ended up standing next to the NYSE Chair and CEO (from 1995 to 2002) who according to print media sources was making approximately $140 million annually, looked to his side and exclaimed,

“Hi Richie.  How are you doing?”  And Richard Grasso, responded, ‘Hey Jackie!”  It was the first time they had seen each other since 1970.

From left to right front :Sho Dozono, Jackie, Richie, Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, Oregon St. Treas. Randall Edwards, Julia-Brim Edwards. Back row: Pres. of Board of NYSE, Don McClave, Cheryl Perrin, Ron Saxton, Roger Hinshaw and John Rickman

Jack said that the trip to New York was, “One of the most profound experiences of my life,” and he was also involved in a reunion tour ten years later to commemorate the anniversary of the event with hundreds of firefighters from all over the country and to coincide with the World Trade Center Memorial opening on September 11, 2011.

Aerial view of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on Monday, May 21, 2018. Credit: 9/11 Memorial, Photo by Jin S. Lee

Well, the McGowans are now enjoying their well deserved retirement, staying active and traveling.  Last fall, they toured the Southwest in a seven week RV trip.  This wonderful couple, who shuns the limelight, has a lasting Oregon legacy and earned a well-deserved toast as Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter.

Jan and Jan served on the Board of the Sister’s Quilt Show and the Sister’s Folk Festival, respectively.  What are Jan and Jack’s future plans for public service in their community?  Time will tell but maybe it can best be described as:

“Retired, but still very much involved!”

And if you want to honor their service and commitment, consider making a donation to SOLVE – or better yet, participating in the 2020 Spring Beach Cleanup on March 28th.

YUR’s. Truly!!

“Yur’s is a Dark Dive Perfect for Day Drinking.”
I could end this review right here and that caption above would be enough motivation for many of Thebeerchaser’s followers to put their jobs temporarily on hold and make a weekday junket to this watering hole in Slabtown, but there’s a lot more to the story of this wonderful bar than the caption of this 2018 Willamette Week review .
Last year I did a blog post devoted to my favorite Portland-area dive bars – visited after pursuing this tour of bars, breweries and pubs for seven and one half years.   You can see that post at the link below, but I will at least give you the four dives that made my all-star list:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/09/thebeerchasers-best-portland-dive-bars/

My favorite was The Standard – you can read the post and see why and lament with me that the only major change is that the renowned “Hamm’s for a Buck” – special on Wednesday is gone but not forgotten.

And while The Standard is still thriving, an alarming number of the great bars and breweries which have disappeared from the scene in the last few years including the legendary Slabtown – which poured its last PBR in 2017 and was right down the street from Yur’s.

(In the Standard’s case, it was their insurance coverage which mandated the change in the Hamm’s special.  And it is probable it was due to an  overly cautious insurance company lawyer – one I would suggest may not have bothered to review the Standard’s history and lack of problems with this arrangement for many years.)

The other three on my list – not in any order are below.  Click on the names to see the full Beerchaser review:

The Ship Tavern (Multnomah Village)        Gil’s Speakeasy

  Mockcrest Tavern

John Mansfield (on the left) with the owner of Church bar in Portland

And it wasn’t The Ship’s memorable exterior, the fact that Gil’s owner asserts that “We’re the nicest assholes in town,” or remembering my visit to the historic Mock Crest with one of my favorite Intellectual Property lawyers (and musicians) John Mansfield.

In each case, as with Yur’s, it’s the overall character of the bar, the people and the side stories.

Now had I visited Yurs’ in Northwest Portland (Slabtown), it would have been added to the list of favorites above.  And while Yur’s has some true dive bar characteristics, it was clean, did not smell of stale beer, has a wide variety of good food and even some interesting and worthy art.

About fifteen of my friends including  former colleagues from the Schwabe Williamson law firm gathered on a late Tuesday afternoon at this bar and our group was not disappointed for a variety of reasons.

Part of the group that afternoon from l to r: Steve Oltman, Mike Mitchell, Skip Greenwood, Jim Westwood, Jack Faust and Jim Larpenteur

These ranged from the cheerful hospitality shown by Bartender Eric Zoeller, to the regulars who populated the bar, to the distinctive art (see below) to the nooks and crannies in the expansive space, the signs, the free popcorn, the old-fashioned pinball machines, the free pool tables, the unique alleyway with street art and the general ambiance that made us unanimously concur with WW’s assertion.

A distinct group of regulars..

The Slabtown area of Portland is a working class neighborhood and the bar in the space Yur’s now occupies has served the cabbies, longshoreman and neighbors in that area for at least sixty years – since 1968 – it was called the 16th Street Tavern before Yur’s.  One characteristic of urban dive bars – they are rarely in strip malls and many such as the outstanding historic dives I wrote about in Pueblo, Colorado are in interesting old buildings which have served other purposes through the years.

Unfortunately, these usually expansive spaces are also prime fodder for developers for condos or commercial purposes which is one reason so many have disappeared. Yur’s is housed in a structure built in 1884 – it was originally was a cellar and stables. (For an interesting side story on the building, see *1 below)

The bar has been owned for about the last twenty-five years by former NFL lineman, Terry Hermeling – an offensive tackle (weighed in at 255 and is 6’5” tall) for the Washington Redskins during the 1970’s after starring at the University of Nevada at Reno).   According to Wikipedia, “He helped the Redskins win the 1972 NFC Championship and (the team) lead the NFC in yards passing in 1975.”   He played under Hall of Fame Coach, George Allen.

Terry Hermeling in his playing days

The Redskins meeting with Pres. Nixon in 1971 after winning the NFC Championship

Although he was undrafted in 1970, Terry Hermeling had an impressive NFL career, playing 120 games – starting in 103 and being listed on the Redskins official website as one of the  “80 Greatest Redskins”

Joe Theismann – 1983 NFL MVP, 2-tme Pro Bowler (1982-3) and Super Bowl XVII Champion

And joining him on the list above are some NFL Hall of Famers such as Sonny Jurgensen (QB), Sam Huff (LB), Charley Taylor (WR) and other guys with notable gridiron fame such as Chris Hanberger (LB), John Riggins (RB), Art Monk (WR) and quarterbacks Sammy Baugh, Mark Rypien and Joe Theismann.

In fact, a guy who has a website called “Hogs Heaven” and evidently travels the country to find Redskin fans wrote in 2014 about plans to meet at Yur’s:

“With that in mind, it is my pleasure to announce that Hogs Haven is traveling to Portland! I happen to know that there is a very solid representation of Redskins fans out there and I am hoping to meet as many of them as I can.”

Terry Hermeling – present day.

Terry’s son, Cody, is now the co-owner and his father trained him in the business aspects of the bar as he grew up.  The elder Hermeling evidently now resides in Palm Springs and Bend.

As an aside, former NFL players going into the bar business in Oregon is not unique to Hermerling. Former Oregon Duck quarterback, Joey Harrington, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2002 and played seven years in the pros tried it.  His partner was Ryan Magarian – the cofounder of Aviation Gin, an internationally known hospitality industry consultant and entrepreneur – in 2016 with his Portland establishment the Pearl Tavern which closed after only three years and is now the Portland brewpub of Backwoods Brewing in Carson, Washington.

Drew Bledsoe -Life after the NFL….

Another former NFL star – Boston Patriot starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe has owned a successful winery – first in Walla Walla.  The Bledsoe Family Winery expanded into Bend, Oregon where Bledsoe and his wife reside with vineyards and a tasting room in 2019 as reported in the Oregon Wine Press.

(Interestingly enough, there appears to be no explanation on why the Pearl Tavern closed.  Media reviews in 2017 were positive and the Backwoods Brewpub appears to be doing very well in the same location.)

But I digress….Yur’s bartender/assistant kitchen manager is now Eric Zoeller, who was a great and helpful resource in giving me background information and reflects the warm personality of the bar itself.   He is a Kentucky native who moved to Portland from California and has worked there for four and one-half years.

Eric – friendly bar manager

Eric wrote in an e-mail to me:

“What makes us different is that we are more than just a bar to our customers. As one of the last old school bars of old Portland, we provide a haven for those who remember what this neighborhood used top be and those who are just now learning about the area. We have customers who have been coming here for 50 years and those who’ve found out about us.”

We strive to provide a safe place where friends and family gather to meet, where everyone can be themselves. If it’s a holiday, a sporting event or just a normal day, our customers always feel at home here at Yur’s and we feel very much at home in our neighborhood.”

Classic pinball machines

And our group was welcomed by the regulars sitting at the bar who chatted with us and Eric and he tended bar.   Six of us were sitting in one of their big booths drinking beer and chatting and one got up to hit the restroom.   A middle-aged guy promptly and without hesitation sits down in the booth next to me and started looking at the beers on tap.

I didn’t recognize the guy (and I was the one who invited everyone to Beerchase) so I casually stuck out my hand and asked if he was a regular at Yur’s.   He said, “No,” aren’t you guys part of the motorcycle club that meets here?”   (We felt complimented that he would think a bunch of old guys looked like Harley people.)   I told him we weren’t and he got up and when I saw him an hour later, he said that he never found the group, but liked the bar and decided to have a few beers and skip his meeting.

There is a cool room around the corner from the kitchen with couches and a table which houses about twenty people that is used to watch sporting events or just for groups (such as motorcycle clubs….).  They call it the “Front Room” or “The Alcove.”

A Dive Bar with Distinctive Art!!

One of the distinguishing factors at Yur’s was the art work – displayed over the booths which are located along a narrow hall, of sorts, in front of the long bar.   It is distinctive and attractive and I noted the artist’s name and website on one of her paintings. And as I have found with the individuals involved with a lot of watering holes visited, the side stories are fascinating.   And Anna Duvall, is no exception.

Beerchasers Jim Westwood and Alana Finn eat popcorn under Anna Duvall’s art…

I traded a few phone calls with her and eventually had a wonderful and interesting phone chat with this talented Berlin native whose mother is German and who moved with her parents to Maui when she was two. After graduation from high school, she went to the California College of Arts and Crafts.  

A move to Eugene in 2001 gave her the chance to pursue her passion at the U of O and she studied multi-media design, while working part time at a Dairy Queen.   After moving to Portland, she started showing her art while working as a server at Jake’s Grill.

Mo Mo Bar is next to Jakes in downtown Portland (see Thebeerchaser review) and she would sketch while having a brew after work.   In 2006, Thomas McLouglin, the owner, gave her the opportunity to display some of her paintings (they’ve never been taken down) which were then also displayed at the Low Brow Lounge. She also has a mural inside Sizzle Pie on the east side.   Yur’s then provided another venue where she could show her talent.

She was “discovered” by Tony Lawrence – the owner of Boneyard Brewing, who asked her to design a tap handle with his image on it for one of his beers Pabo Pilsner in 2016.   (Her college friend, Dana, who also worked at the Dairy Queen, was working at Boneyard in Bend and when Lawrence had a tap handle designed, she said, “My friend, Anna, could do a much better job than that.)

Lawrence evidently agreed and she has also done designs for Boneyard’s Incredible Pulp and Brewjeria American Lager.   When Boneyard celebrates its tenth anniversary in Bend next year, you will see Anna Duvall’s painting displayed in the Brewpub.

You can find this cheerful and talented artist working as a full-time server  at Jake’s Grill and view her creations at Mo Mo’s, Yur’s or on her Facebook page under “Killallartists” or on her Instagram account (@annadeeznutz).   Yur’s is the first dive bar I know to have an “art curator” but Patrick Zahn, the owner at Steel Door Gallery has been recently tasked with this function according to Anna.

Beerchasers Darien Loisell and Don Russo in the alley – but not smoking….

Anna’s art isn’t the only creative attraction at Yur’s.   If you take the exit by the pinball machines into what is used as a smokers’ lounge, of sorts, you will enter an alleyway that has some distinctive murals along the walls of this narrow passage-way which has to be about at least 100 feet long.

The only similar type of passage I have seen in my travels was adjacent to Renners’ Bar – another classic dive in Multnomah Village which I reviewed in 2017 before the disastrous fire which put it out of operation since – although they are trying to reopen.

Food and Beer

Yur’s transcends the typical dive with a reasonable tap list with the standards – Coors Light and a number of microbrews and two ciders. I loved their creative approach to PBR

The social media reviews emphasize the cheap prices and the stiff drinks – a good combination. I liked this one from an October, 2017 Yelp review:

“Great neighborhood bar with affordable drinks and free popcorn…. I’m still not sure why extra shots kept being poured into my drink (by friends not bartenders) and be prepared that the ladies’ room stalls have shower curtains rather than doors.”

I could not verify the shower curtain assertion, but possibly empathize with one of  the only other really negative Yelp reviews. – (Yelp 11/25/18):

“This bar allows soccer fans from out of the city to come in and take over there (sic) restaurant. For that reason, and for only that reason, they get one star.”

Yur’s gets great reviews for the quality and price of their food menu.  And they have specials every day. We didn’t have a chance to partake other than the popcorn, but I’m going back for either the Prime Rib Thursday (Prime Rib served with Seasonal Vegetable, Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Au Jus $12.95) or Taco Tuesday (3 for $4).  And where else on Saturday morning can you get a two-egg breakfast and PBR Tall Boy for $6!

This comment from Yelp on 7/25/19 from a guy who had just moved from San Francisco:

Prime Rib on Thursdays….

“Had their prime rib steak. The prime rib is less than $11. It’s a nice portion size. It’s tender and juicy. The steak is served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The potatoes were good; cooked to perfection and had a nice seasoning of salt and pepper. The steak is also served with horseradish…..A wonderful compliment to the prime rib steak. Enjoyable experience at this dive bar in my first day in Portland.”

And the burgers…….

“We went in for the $5 Burger-Week burger.  Friendly bartender, clean table, fantastic hamburger.  It is, without a doubt, the best burger I have ever had.” (Yelp – 8/10/19)

A burger with four strips of bacon…!

Now to be objective, one reviewer stated that the bratwurst was “simply shameful.  It was quite possibly the teeniest tiniest bratwurst I’ve ever seen, the texture was pretty gross, and it tasted nothing like a bratwurst.  
The fries were pretty good though.”  (Yelp 2/19/16)

Our group would have liked Yur’s even if the guy hadn’t asked us if we were motorcycle club members.   The environment is one that is all too rare and not found in almost any of the newer and more polished quarters which house brewpubs and cocktail bars.

These suave, sleek establishments have great and varied beer, but not the authentic ambiance (or distinctive art work…..) which, at Yur’s is a magnet for Slabtown neighborhood.  (And try getting free popcorn at one of these brewpubs….)

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter, Jim Westwood, pontificating on politics, philosophy and the statute of ultimate repose….

If you want to gain that experience and drink beer in a friendly and comfortable enviorment try Yur’s.

Truly!!!

Yur’s     717 NW 16th        Portland

Amy Faust – now a non-profit auctioneer among other avocations..

*1 One more interesting sidelight on Yur’s and historic buildings.  My talented and interesting friend and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Amy Faust, brought this issue to light because she was traveling and could not be at the Yur’s Beerchasing event.

Amy did a search on-line for Yur’s and came across the picture below.   She asked if I knew what the “U” on the building meant to which I responded in the negative.

Since she is blessed with a significant amount of intellectual curiosity, she had previously researched the symbol after seeing it on another Portland building and sent me the following link to an article in Oregon Live entitled “Fire Warning Signs Mark 21 Buildings in Portland Metro.”

Notice the upper left-hand corner of the photo

The good news is that the article was first written in 2010, but updated in 2019 and the pictures I took of Yur’s and those on current social media show no “U” remains on the building.  In addition, the article, which shows the addresses of all twenty-one of the current structures, does not list any with Yur’s address.

I concluded that this means they have addressed the deficiencies (although based on how well I like the bar, that designation wouldn’t have stopped me – just made me more cautious about where I was drinking my beer in the large space…..).

Quoting the article:

“The signs aren’t meant for the public; they’re for firefighters…..The signs, placed on at least 21 Portland buildings since the bureau introduced its Unsafe Building Alerts Program in December 2009, tell firefighters that if a fire were to break out in the building, it would be unsafe to battle from inside. Firefighters will still enter to rescue people, though.”

Thanks Amy, for the interesting sidelight.

Pueblo Beerchasing Continued…..

The Rio Grande Bridge outside Alburquerque

Two recent posts will give Beerchaser followers an idea of our trip to the Southwest US last September and the first installment on the wonderful historic dive bars we visited in Pueblo Colorado.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/05/beerchasing-in-the-southwest-part-i-oh-ernie-bob/

The last post focused on Gus’ Tavern and Eiler’s Place, both of which have retained their rich character going back to the end of Prohibition.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/28/pueblo-rich-in-history-and-dive-bars/

Shamrock Brewery and Irish Pub

Our next stop that afternoon was at the Shamrock Brewery and Public House right in the heart of downtown Pueblo.  Like the other Pueblo establishments we visited, it’s housed in an historic building and has been in operation for over sixty years.

Shamrock Brewing Co. is one of the oldest Irish pubs in Colorado.  Originally constructed as a mercantile building in 1908, the first notable tenant was Johnson Bros. Motor Company in 1913.  Founded as a bicycle shop, Johnson Bros. became one of the first Xcelsor dealerships west of the Mississippi.”  (Shamrock Brewing Website) 

It’s an expansive space divided into two parts – the east side which has an impressive mahogany bar with old-fashioned bar stools and a wonderful backbar was opened as the Shamrock Cafe in 1940.

The west side – acquired later and where we had our beers – has been a cigar shop and pool hall before the bar expanded and they started brewing.

It is a family- oriented and community gathering place:

“The Pub was the main meeting place in downtown Pueblo for many years and locals still reminisce about past business deal, raucous St. Patrick’s Days and old romances.  To this day, couples frequent the establishment on the anniversary of the day they met there so many years ago.”

The Shamrock gets good reviews on both food and beer – they usually have four of their standard and two seasonal rotating.  And, of course, as you would expect, green beer on St. Patty’s Day.

But what made the Shamrock such a positive experience was meeting the Taylor family (except for their son, Travis).

Cassy Taylor is our Beerchasing friend, John and Barb Senger’s daughter, and her husband, Kirk is the Sheriff of Pueblo County.  Their daughter, Sarah Taylor Gallegos, was there with her daughter, Penelope, and this is one impressive and friendly family.

From l to r: John Senger, Kirk Taylor, Cassy Taylor, Penelope, Sarah Taylor, Barb Senger and Janet

Since I’m not part of the family, I can do a little bragging about these new friends and Beerchasing companions…..Let’s start with Cassy – seen in the picture below with husband, Kirk.

Cassy has had a distinguished teaching career in Pueblo City Schools, where she is an elementary literacy specialist.  Like the rest of her family, she is an advocate of continuing learning and besides her undergraduate degree, has two Master’s Degrees related to education.

Kirk is an elected official for Pueblo County with responsibility for law enforcement and corrections as Sheriff – first elected in 2007 and re-elected three times.

Although I only spent several hours chatting with him, he reflects the quiet confidence plus having both a background and values which make Pueblo fortunate to have him leading the Department.

Kirk is a USMC Veteran and started as a patrolman in the narcotics division for the City of Almarosa, CO. After earning his associates degree and while ranching full-time, he completed his BA.

While working as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, he attended and graduated from law school at the University of Colorado.  He has been a leader in law enforcement serving on numerous state task forces in addition to teaching at the State  Police Academy.

Kirk is a man of faith, family, an avid outdoorsman, coaches youth athletics and is active in civic and non-profit organizations such as 4-H.   He is also a national authority on the impact of legalizing marijuana including an appearance on a CBS 60 Minutes special.

And then there’s Sara.  I was fascinated by her background because of her Navy experience – a 2009 graduate of the US Naval Academy with her degree in chemistry.  (Having had a brother who graduated from West Point, and Academy degree is an accomplishment in itself.)

But Sarah’s record since graduation at the Academy transcends the ordinary.

(Sarah – second from left)

She was the Captain of the Women’s Rugby Team and also a soprano in the Women’s Glee Club!

(Sarah is third from the left)

After commissioning, she became a Surface Warfare Officer and was stationed in Pearl Harbor with one tour aboard the USS Crommelin FFG 37 where she had two deployments to Southeastern Asia and one shore tour as a Communications Officer.

USS Crommelin FFG 37

Sarah states:

“I completed my pre-requisites for nursing school while on shore duty and got accepted to Colorado State University-Pueblo Accelerated Program for a Bachelor’s of nursing.

I was ready to come home and be closer to my family in Colorado.  I actually served as a bartender and a unit secretary at the local hospital during nursing school……I have been working as an  ER and ICU nurse for the past 5 years in Pueblo and am now going thru Walden University online program for my Masters of Nursing-Nurse Practitioner where I hope to graduate in 2021!”

Smitty’s Green Light Tavern

From the Brewery, our group walked one-half block to the Fitch Block in the heart of Pueblo and the home of an imposing three-story historic building – the oldest in Pueblo and originally the home of Stockholders’ Bank built in 1873 by Pueblo cattlemen, Charles Goodnight and Col. Michael Fitch.

The Pueblo Club – an association of Pueblo’s wealthiest – met there, President Teddy Roosevelt was a guest – and in later years, the Elks and Eagles also “lounged and loafed” in its luxurious furnishings.   In other words, it reeked of the history of this railroad, steel and mining town.

Before it became Smitty’s Green Light Tavern the building was also home to the Pueblo Telephone Exchange.

Now when the Sheriff walks into your establishment, patrons take notice and Greg – “Smitty” – was there to greet us with a warm smile and welcoming handshake.

The bar, which opened in 1933 and having four owners since, has been part of his family since his dad – Linn “Smitty” Smith bought it in 1956. Greg became the sole owner in 1985 and loves the building and has enhanced and remodeled it while always being sensitive to preserving its heritage.

This South Pueblo High School graduate is now sixty-two and his bearing and personality reflect his athletic background – he was captain of the football and wrestling teams in high school.

The clientele was diverse and low key the afternoon we were there and did not reflect the reputation that some assert Smitty’s carries as a biker bar.

Smitty’s response is:

“I’ve had the stigma of being a biker bar. They’re all my friends. They come in here and support the place.” 

(And Thebeerchaser has seen many bars where the Harley guys and gals who are regulars add character – not trouble – to the environment. The Gemini in Lake Oswego and the Corner Saloon in Tualatin are examples.)

Smitty, although the bar was hopping during “Panic Hour” (every weekday from 5 to 6 PM with beers $1 and premiums $2), joined us at our booand he radiated enthusiasm for not only his bar but the City he calls home.

Quite a few customers came up and shook his hand and chatted – and for many that was also the case with Sheriff Taylor – both well known Pueblo personalities. 

The bar’s décor is fitting the tradition of the region.   On weekends, there is live music

 

 

 

 

The Star Bar

While in Pueblo, we wanted to experience a  dinner built on the City’s reputation for green chile peppers.  Now at $5.00, the Starburger, a straight burger has a great tradition. 

And while many bars and restaurants serve “Sloppers,” the Star Bar in the Grove Neighborhood, is purported to be the origin of this amazing creation. The bar is also a Pueblo institution.

It was closed for a time and has had several different owners, but is now going strong.  Sam Romero, the current owner, was quoted stating he didn’t believe it was a dive bar.

“We try to make everybody as welcome as a regular.”

Well, Thebeerchaser has been to a lot of dives and the Star Bar appeared to be one – just look at the building this classic bar occupies – and the regulars in many bars welcome strangers contrary to the stereotype.

The dark mahogany bar, the old bar stools, the booths and the distinctive ceiling tiles all make the “dive” description appropriate as do the two beers on tap – Bud and Bud Light, sold in $2.50 schooners – cash only…..

The “Slopper” is an open-faced burger – single, double or triple – smothered in green chile and raw onions. As one November, 2019 review on Restaurant.com stated effusively (and somewhat redundantly…)

“I finally got to taste what generations of Puebloans have shared with me in their storytelling. WOW. I had a triple and added Pueblo Chile and bacon. WOW. I also had the fresh cut fries. WOW. Need I say more. And so affordable…..Add a schooner and you are all set.”

And is it popular?   According to an article in The Pueblo Chieftain:

“Star Bar goes through about five gallons of green chili a day. Five pound of green chilies, five pounds of pork, diced tomatoes and a bit of salt and pepper to into the pot and are simmered for at least two hours. The result is chili that’s brought customers back ever since the Star Bar began serving up the slopper forty-five years ago.”

My slopper experience replicated the reviewer’s above, although given my recent lack of exercise, I didn’t have the guts – so to speak – for the triple and wolfed down a double slopper with a schooner of Bud.

(At $7, my double slopper was a bargain and to validate that premise, I offer the following comparison)

The next night we stayed at a wonderful organic farm – the Los Pablosnos Inn and Farm on the outskirts of Albuquerque.   The expansive acreage with a picturesque old hotel and many acres with vegetables, bee hives, goats and other healthy stuff I usually don’t eat, had an outstanding, high-scale restaurant.   The cost of Janet’s glass of wine that night weighed in at 275% of my double slopper!!

Although being built in 1900 didn’t seem “old” compared to the previous Pueblo watering holes, the Star Bar, which Cassy Taylor recommended and at which she accompanied us, ended our Beerchasing adventures that day on the same high note that will notch the Pueblo bars in Thebeerchaser’s all-time favorites.

We were warmly greeted by Margarette, the manager, and we noticed the dart tournament in the back of the bar, a lively game at the pool table and the crowded poker room immediately adjacent. Part of the ambiance is reflected in the ceiling tiles – a remarkable recollection of those who have visited the bar in the past.

(I didn’t find out how one qualifies for the ceiling tile option, but since the allure of the Pueblo watering holes beckons me to return, I will find out.)

Margarette warmly welcomes our group to the Star Bar

Back to Albuquerque

And so ended our unforgettable time in Pueblo and after a stay at the aforementioned organic farm, we spent one more night and half-day in Albuquerque before catching the flight back to Portland.

The tap room at Sante Fe Brewing in Alburquerque

We went to four establishments – all which were nice but not notable: Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Bow and Arrow Brewing, Gecko’s Bar and Tapas and Santa Fe. Brewing.

We attended a climate change demonstration in the afternoon, visited an historic chapel – the San Filipe de Neri Church in a building constructed in 1793 and walked to the historic Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town

The San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church

And while the scenery on our Southwest trip – most notably the National Parks (Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes) and the historic cathedrals –  were memorable, the history of the entire region was remarkable, the food was good (I still “relish” another slopper….) and the beer was varied and well-crafted from the Second Street IPA on the first night at Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe to the schooner of Budweiser at Star Bar in Pueblo, what will make this trip stand out to us when we reminisce are the people.

Horse at Eiler’s Place

From Ernie Bob at Second Street our first night, to shaking hands with “Horse” McHorsney at Eilers Place to reuniting with John and Barb Senger and meeting the wonderful Taylor family, to having a beer with Smitty from the Green Light and to Margarette’s greeting at the Star Bar that made us feel like regulars, our road trip reaffirmed why Thebeerchaser will continue his tour.

Even if in future years I end up bellying up to the bar to order just a soda water or Hires Root Beer….I will continue to meet the wonderful owners, bartenders, regulars and visitors that have made this an outstanding retirement hobby for the last eight years!

Check out the other blog posts from our Southwest trip at:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/28/pueblo-rich-in-history-and-dive-bars/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/05/beerchasing-in-the-southwest-part-i-oh-ernie-bob/

 

 

 

Thebeerchaser’s 8th Annual Report – 2019

240 blog posts totaling 370,188 words since 2011

A little over eight years ago, I hesitantly walked into my first bar as Thebeerchaser.  Having recently retired as COO of the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, I became convinced after visiting Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, Oregon and the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Idaho, that visiting and writing about bars, breweries and pubs would be an interesting hobby.

The Rod and Gun in Stanley

Thanks to the warm greeting I got at the Brooklyn Park Pub when I told Phoebe, the bartender, in August 2011, that her bar was the first of what I hoped would be many on this somewhat curious project, I was motivated to go forth!

She gave me a BPP cap and autographed it, gave me great info on the bar and posed for a picture.

 

Phoebe – where it all started….

 

 

 

 

The Beginning of 2019

The count of watering holes I had visited and reviewed (Unless on the road, I virtually always hit a watering hole twice to get a more accurate picture.)  was 287 establishments of which 111 were in the Portland metro area and the other 176 in locations ranging from Europe to most regions of the US and all over Oregon – from the coast to the desert in Eastern Oregon.

For the complete list, check out the link below which categorizes them by year and in or out of Portland.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/

2019 Was a Very Good Year

The Gemini – a classic in Lake Oswego

Now the good news is I visited more bars this year than in any since the blog’s inception – 80.  I’m somewhat reluctant to admit that only 8 of those were in the Portland area – another 1 on the Oregon Coast and 3 in Washington.

The Caroline Tavern in Seattle

All of the remaining 68 were on three trips – Phoenix for Spring Training in March (8) and two wonderful road trips – Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas in June (48) and the Southwest (New Mexico and Colorado) in September (12).

To see the list for each trip, click on the links above.  The picture below from the Trappers’ Bar in Eureka, Montana was one of my favorites.

The chart below will give you the history by year of “Thebeerchasers 366”

Year Portland Outside Portland Yearly Total Composite Total
2019 8 72 80 366
2018 12 30 42 286
2017 15 27 42 244
2016 14 39 53 202
2015 11 36 47 149
2014 17 17 34 102
2013 13 21 34 68
2012 20 5 25 34
2011 9 0 9 9
  119 247 366

Blog Statistics

I’m pleased to state that Thebeerchaser.com for the fourth year in a row, had over 20,000 “visits” or internet hits – with 20,030 in 2019 by 14,800 individuals – that means each person who reached the blog looked at  an average of 1.35 different posts.

The Flag of Ukraine –

Persons from 111 different countries found Thebeerchaser with 17,621 from the US with India in second place at  601 hits.

And even the Ukraine registered 9 although I can’t tell if any were from the Embassy staff.   As was the case in 2018, one bold individual from Iraq took at least a momentary glimpse.  That’s where internet sites featuring bars and alcohol are probably discouraged…..

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

First Quarter 2020 – B-O-Q

While the number of bars I hit was a new high in 2019, I was remiss in “honoring” Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, naming only two last year.

I have already got three good candidates for 2020, so that performance issue will be SOLVed.  (That’s a hint for the first quarter as is the untitled picture here.)

Retired Colonel Terry “Spike” McKinsey

Terry McKinsey became a friend when we were shipmates on our first midshipman cruise on a WW II destroyer – the USS John R. Craig – DD 885 – he from the US Naval Academy and me from Oregon State NROTC.   We discovered that we attended rival high schools in Oregon – he West Linn and me Oregon City. 

Two other middies on that cruise were Larry Walters also USNA and Ken Guest from University of Kansas NROTCThe four of us spent the summer learning about how a ship operates, trying to meet young debutantes at Navy sponsored dances and making fools of ourselves on liberty in Honolulu and San Francisco.

Larry and Terry on 1/c Midshipman cruise in the Mediterranean

Terry and Larry took their commissions in the United States Marine Corps.    Terry married Anna, his college sweetheart and they had two children during their forty-nine year marriage.

Spike distinguished himself as an aviator and had a remarkable career after the USMC including Base Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard and as the Assistant Chief Pilot for Horizon Airlines.

After a lapse in contact, we reconnected in the mid-1980’s through a humorous business incident when Spike had moved back to Oregon and I was Business Manager at the Schwabe firm.

Terry died last January after a short illness. My reason for trying to honor Terry with his story including the legendary “steamroller escapade” at West Linn High School when he was on summer leave from the Academy is summarized well by this quote from Larry, his classmate and best friend since Academy days:

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!”

To read the story and remarkable service of this amazing patriot, athlete and family-man, click on the link above on his name.

John Runkle

After visiting 366 bars, I can say without equivocation, my favorite and the most interesting was the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak Montana.   And John Runkle, the owner of both the bar and the nearby Yaak River Lodge where I stayed for two nights in the Moose Room during my two nights in Yaak was a clear choice for Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

This former paratrooper and California real estate entrepreneur is a prime reason why the Shame  got three separate Beerchaser posts and more print in this blog than any of the waterholes during the past eight years.

He bought the Lodge in 2004 and the Saloon at auction in 2013 after the ignominious departure of the former owner left it in foreclosure (after being extradited back to Maryland).   John was the driving force to bring this fabled dive back to the status which had made it a destination for bikers, hunters and Beerchasers as well as a community gathering place.

John is a charismatic guy, who is a great story teller, born salesman and shepherds community events such as the Crawfish Festival, Yaak Attack and the Sasquatch Festival.

 

 

 

 

When we had a discussion in the bar with, Todd Berget – who died later last year – John described his friend as a guy “having a political philosophy slightly left of Stalin…” 

Todd and I tried to tell him without result that his politics were somewhat misguided and John needed to shift back and reflect some of his California upbringing, but at least we all ended laughing, shaking our heads and toasting  rather than cursing each other. (Rest in Peace, Todd!)

Todd and John – Still smiling after discussing national politics…

John puts in a work week at the Lodge and Saloon that would “shame” most people. his age.

He is also a devoted family man.   His beautiful wife, Dallas, just delivered their second daughter in August, shortly after I was in Yaak.

 

 

 

 

 

As author, Joan Melcher, wrote in her second book Watering Holes  – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars (Page 88):

“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.” 

The Dirty Shame was on my bucket list before my trip and now is the only item on that dwindling slate that returned to the list after getting there. If John Runkle stays in Yaak, you should add it to yours’ as well.

And 2019 Final Highlights

Beerchasing has been a wonderful hobby for a guy whose friends and family wondered how he was going to “survive” retirement.   As I’ve stated before, “I really like beer – especially a $2.50 Happy Hour PBR – but I could go to the bars and drink soda water rather than alchohol and continue this hobby indefinitely.”

My wife, Janet, has been a wonderful Beerchasing companion on our trips and even flew into Billings to join me so I could spend the first six nights solo – driving through Montana (in a Prius with no gun rack and a Starbucks mug) meeting bartenders and regulars at thirty historic bars before we continued to Wyoming and the Dakotas.

One of the highlights was hitting my 300th bar in June at the Leaky Roof in Portland, which was more memorable because I was joined by my friend of forty years, Denny Ferguson.

And for those of you who followed Thebeerchaser from the beginning and have continued through this post in January, 2020, you have read 241 posts which filled you with 372,173 words about bars, breweries and interesting people.  Thanks for sharing your time on this pursuit with me.

An always cheerful and youthful looking, Fergy..

The people I met this year continue to be unforgettable and supportive ranging from Ernie Bob at Second Street Brewing in Santa Fe to Edmonds Wash. Daphne’s Bar, legendary mixologist, Demond van Rensberg.

Ernie Bob and Janet in Santa Fe

Then there was Pete Pete Andrijeski of Seattlebars.org  King of the Beerchasers with 3,906 bars reviewed since he started his journey in 2006.  (1,659 of the bars in Seattle)

I met Pete at Daphne’s after coming across one of his posts when I was researching the history of the Caroline Tavern in Seattle.

Pete and Desmond on our night drinking cocktails at Daphne’s

And I can’t forget James “Horse” McHorsney, who is a regular at Eiler’s Place in Pueblo, Colorado.   Horse is in both of the pictures you see here and to learn the story, click on the following link:  https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/28/pueblo-rich-in-history-and-dive-bars/  

The Benedictine Brewery

Followers of the blog know I have been involved with this unique project for the last three years as a volunteer and I am proud to report that since the Brewery and St. Michael’s Taproom opened in September, 2018, it has been an impressive success.

Fr. Martin, the head brewer and general manager has now developed seven beers after the initial positive reception to Black Habit – our flagship beer and his brews have drawn rave reviews.

The Brewery is one of only three in the US where the monks own and operate the enterprise.  Plan on coming to the Taproom in Mt. Angel and visiting the beautiful Abbey Hilltop.

Beerchasing Event at the New Oakshire Beer Hall

In October, about thirty Beerchasing friends gathered at the Oakshire Beer Hall in NE Portland to try out the establishment which opened in July – a Portland addition to the popular Oakshire Brewery in Eugene.  One of the attendees was Oakshire Brewing Board member, Dr. Sam Holloway, a professor at the University of Portland, President of Crafting a Strategy and a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

Br. Thomas, Sam Holloway and Fr. Martin at the Oakshire Beerchasing

Thanks to the followers of this blog for their support and if you have suggestions for bars or breweries to add to my travels in 2020, please let me know by a blog comment or send an e-mail to dwilliams2951@gmail.com.

Although some might think it redundant, I loved the piece by Edgar Allen Poe which I used to end 2018.  While he is not known for a positive outlook, Poe got this one right!

Happy New Year.

Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.

At least he was positive about ale!

The list of the bar’s outside Portland can be found at the links in the narrative above.   The list of Portland establishments is shown below:

2019 Portland Area Bars

  Name Location Type Date of Post
2018-1 The Gemini Bar and Grill Lake Oswego Neighborhood January
2018-2 Old Town Brewing NE Brewery and Pub February
2018-3 Xport Bar and Lounge SW Hotel Bar – Hotel Porter June
2018-4 Bantam Tavern NW Neighborhood April
2018-5 The Leaky Roof SW Neighborhood June
2018-6 Roots Lake Oswego Non-profit Neighborhood August
2018-7 Oakshire Beer Hall NE Brewpub October
2018-8 Mad Hanna NE Dive Bar October

Daphne’s and Desmond in Edmonds…

In my recent review of the Caroline Tavern, I mentioned that my Beerchasing exploits in the State of Washington, paled in comparison to those in Oregon and surrounding states.

Outside the Caroline Tavern with the Magnusson clan

Based on the great experience at Caroline’s, I decided to expand the journey into the Evergreen State by visiting a bar in Edmonds, Washington.

And I definitely would not have discovered Daphne’s or its legendary bartender, Desmond van Rensburg if it had not been for Pete Andrijeski – a blogger, whose adventures at bars since 2006, far exceeds my own count of about 375 since I started Thebeerchaser in August of 2011.

I came across Pete’s blog when I was researching the history of Caroline’s and was impressed with both his narratives and the extent of his travels on our mutual topic of interest.

So I contacted him by e-mail and we agreed to meet and exchange stories and raise a mug together the next time I was in Seattle.

That occurred in November and I asked Pete for a recommendation.  Without hesitation, he stated “Daphne’s in Edmonds – it’s my favorite bar.”  (More about Pete and his exploits below….)

http://www.seattlebars.org/2019/08/3128-daphnes-bar-edmonds-wa-12222016.html

After a very enjoyable 90 minutes downing some of Desmond, the bartender’s, craft cocktails, I understand his affection for this place – essentially a medium sized room (250 sq. feet) – a former barber shop – whose character and ambiance far exceeds its physical dimensions.

Desmond in the “Living Room” environment at Daphne’s

A 2007 review in the Seattle Times was entitled, “Where Taste Trumps Elbow Room.”  And one recent Yelp reviewer (6/8/19) stated:

“This bar is literally the size of our living room. It’s cozy, lively, and is a local favorite. The bar top can seat up to 9, the booths up to 3, and outdoor seating up to 8.”

Desmond!!

Now after visiting about 375 bars, breweries and pubs over the last eight years, I can say that a primary factor in defining the character of the establishment is the bartender.  And I have met some outstanding barkeeps who affirm the statement by internationally acclaimed Canadian economist, Harry Gordon Johnson who said:

The economist who opines on mixologists…..(on the right)

“The greatest accomplishment of a bartender lies in his ability to exactly suit his customer.”

(Why this quote is attributed to a noted economist, transcends the scope of this blog post.)

It so happens that two of the most memorable bar personalities I have met during my visits to watering holes in the US and Europe have been in the last two posts i.e. Ernie Bob from Second Street Brewing in Santa Fe and Desmond van Rensburg at Daphne’s.

Ernie Bob with Janet in September

It is noteworthy that the great majority of social media reviews on Daphne’s mention Desmond and the impact he had on their opinion of the bar.

An example is this 8/30/17 Yelp review:

“Desmond is the man, he takes the time to get new faces names and welcome them to his bar. He shows passion in every cocktail he makes.”  

Since I research each place I review before I visit, I wondered if the narratives about this personality might be overstated….

They weren’t!

Desmond knew Pete from his previous visits and welcomed me in the same animated manner as he did every Daphne’s newcomer.   And his exuberance had a positive impact on everyone else in the “living room.”

He is a native of Johannesburg, South Africa and is married with one son.  After a short sit-down conversation in a coffee shop near the bar, one of the co-owners, hired him in May, 2011 and he now practices his craft four nights per week.

In his new job, he quickly made an impression and was named in 2011 as one of KOMO Television’s Most Fascinating People in Edmonds:

“There are so many reasons why Desmond is one of Edmond KOMO’s most fascinating people, but OI think the main one is that he makes each and every person feel like they are the most fascinating person he’s ever met……He adds to the Main Street charm.  Desmond is always armed with a joke to tell and a smile to share.”

Daphne’s has a few beers on tap, but the specialty is cocktails and following Pete’s lead, I had two of the specials listed on the menu which range from the Moscow Mule at $10 (draws rave reviews) to a $12 Manhattan.

I tried the Sazerac – a rye whiskey concoction with New Orleans origin and also the Boulevardier – whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari.

Van Rensberg effort on these creations evidenced the same dexterity of Van Cliburn performing  Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 – well, at least almost…….

I can’t remember which he drank that night, but Pete’s favorite cocktails are Old Pal, Negroni, Corpse Reviver #2 and Sazerac

One doesn’t go to Daphne’s to eat other than munchies such as pretzels, nuts and popcorn although one review had a reference to Desmond’s meat and cheese platter.

Contributing to the favorably dark and somewhat raucous atmosphere are some old signs and mementos including a gold plated telephone.  The old (1923) Edmonds movie house next door on the City’s Main Street adds to the character.

 

 

A 2018 article in the Herald Business Journal of Everett  amplifies:

“The coup, however, is a story written by actress Anna Faris in Delta Sky Magazine that names Daphne’s as one of her favorite places on her favorite street in her hometown of Edmonds.”

Pete!!

A major contribution to my enjoyment of the bar that evening was meeting and chatting with the aforementioned Pete Andrijeski.  He is a burly guy, raised in Boise, attended the University of Washington and is a technology professional and now works for Expedia.  

If you check out his website    http://www.peterga.com/  you will find that he is a fascinating individual with diverse interests (besides bars…..) ranging from baseball to gardening to music and a voracious and impressive appetite for non-fiction.

Pete’s website cover photo

I identified with his zealous (some might say “compulsive”) tendency to keep lists such as this one which shows the breadth of his reading.

Time constraints limited our conversation that night to mainly sharing our favorite bars, but if you check out his website, you will also see that his sister, Julie is an acclaimed musician living in Pittsburgh

“….plays in several groups, as well as teaching classes and seminars……Julie has also played and recorded with several other orchestras (besides Chatham Baroque), operas, and early music groups, including the Cleveland baroque group Apollo’s Fire and the Celtic group Shanua.”

The section on his late wife of seven years, Cheryl LeRouix, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 1996 will bring tears to your eyes.

And as I mentioned in a previous post, my 375 + watering holes visited and reviewed since 2011, is dwarfed by his 3,906 bars of which 1,659 are in Seattle.  http://www.seattlebars.org/   (Some may be incredulous about these figures, but I definitely believe him and check out his blog.)

He downplays this feat and jokingly referenced “recognition” such as one person who recently became aware of his blog and stated, “You are the God of bars.”   (Maybe that would make Thebeerchaser a minor prophet equivalent.)

Pete made my blog procrastination less onerous when he lamented in an August post this year, “I’ve recently gone about 9 months without posting a blog entry, and I am now 1,154 bars behind.”

Off the beaten path in Shoup, Idaho…

His list of bars and other features are compelling including his favorite dive which will be on my list during the next trip to Idaho – the M.T. Saddle in Shoup, Idaho.

“I was not sure we’d actually reach this one, as it is 13 miles down a single lane dirt road along a river, and my car is the furthest thing from an off-road vehicle.”

My conversations and visits with Pete will continue in the future as he has an affinity for Tiki bars and wants to visit some of them in Portland.  His suggestion that we meet at Daphne’s was a gem and I will return there on one of our frequent trips to Seattle – the next time Desmond will not have to regard me as a first-timer.

The bar opened in 2006 and is co-owned by Brian Taylor and Louise Favier, who previously owned other establishments in Washington, but sold all of them except Daphne’s when they moved back to New York in 2013, where they also own two bars.

Taylor shared the sentiment of many when he stated:

“Daphne’s wouldn’t be the same without van Rensburg.  It was a great little bar before Desmond, but Desmond has taken it to a whole different level,” 

Desmond stopped bartending for a minute to pose with Pete.

As the Edmonds celebrity, himself, aptly stated in one of the many articles about him and the bar:

“It’s the press, you know, the place, the cocktails and the dysfunctional bartender.  It’s one great blend.  That’s what it comes down to.  When you mix it all together, it makes for a wonderful experience.”

Daphne’s Bar 415 1/2 Main St
Edmonds, Washington

Beerchaser Wonderings and Wanderings…

Courtesy of the Oregon State Bar

Lawyers and Drinking

I was delighted that the November edition of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin which has a circulation of about 12,000 Oregon lawyers included multiple mentions of both Thebeerchaser blog and the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel.

Talented author and lawyer, Jennie Bricker, who writes at Brick Work Writing & Editing LLC, did a great job in her article entitled “I’ll Drink to That – The Power and Peril of Alcohol’s Connection to the Legal Profession.”   Check it out at the link below. (It starts on Page 28):  https://www.osbar.org/bulletin/issues/2019/2019November/index.html

A New IPA?  Don’t Count On It!!

The Benedictine Beers on tap in Mount Angel

I have been involved in the wonderful Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom since its inception in 2018 – one of three monk-owned and operated breweries in the US.

Fr. Martin – our Head Brewer has become an incredibly skilled brewer and there are nine of his beers on tap.  Benedictine beers draw accolades throughout the region.

The flagship beer is Black Habit – described as a “Belgian dark strong ale,” has been widely acclaimed for its rich flavor.  And don’t forget Mea Culpa Pale Ale.

I have been lobbying him to brew his first IPA and even have suggested the name and slogan.  (He hasn’t returned my calls about this…. and I don’t expect to hear anytime soon!)

Quid Pro Quo IPA – Real Beer Flavor for a Favor *1

Image courtesy of the talented and creative Pam Williams

*1 Not available in Alabama, Greenland, Kyiv or Kharkiv

West Point and Veterans’ Day

Ambassador William Taylor

The impressive career and sterling character of a primary witness in the Impeachment InquiryAmbassador William Taylor who graduated from the US Military Academy in 1970 made me reminisce about my late brother, Garry, who also graduated from West Point (Class of1972) and served with distinction during his six-years in the Third Armored Cavalry.

While at West Point, Garry was in both the Glee Club and a quintet-combo called “The Headliners,” which resulted in appearances on national television and at the White House as can be seen by the photo with President Nixon in 1971 below.

(Garry is the tall cadet to the immediate left of Nixon.)

Garry with the Headliners at the Nixon White House in 1971

And here’s a belated toast to all of our veterans, among whom are several who were previous Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter and were decorated for heroism for their service in the Viet Nam War.   Cheers to Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence.

Captain Don Wilburn

And two, who made the ultimate sacrifice – my best friend in high school, Garry Kestler, USMC in 1967 and my late father’s best friend and SAE Fraternity brother, Captain Donald E. Wilburn (after whom I’m named) and was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World Watr II.

Amy, Amy, Amy

Those of us who were fans of the Mike and Amy Show are shaking our collective heads at the decision Entercom Broadcasting to discontinue the show after the two have been popular morning personalities on KWJJ The Wolf.

After canceling their show in 2012 – only to bring them back two years later, Entercom is making the same move as just announced after the duo has been together on KWJJ for a total of 18 years.

See the announcement from Amy below – and those involved in the non-profit world, get ready for what will be a win for your non-profit auction when Amy Faust finishes her training.

Amy (on the right) with three other members of the Faust clan – Charlie, Jack and Alice at a 2017 Beerchasing and a happy Beerchasing crew

And if you have any doubts as to why this talented and great-hearted lady will succeed in her endeavors, check out why she was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2017:

https://thebeerchaser.com/…/amy-faust-beerchaser-of-the-qu…/

“I’m quite excited to announce the (possibly surprising) fact that in a few weeks I will be traveling to Clear Lake, Iowa, for 8 days to attend the World Wide College of Auctioneering and get certified to be a benefit auctioneer…. please join me on Instagram at my brand new account @amytheauctioneer “

PS:  I received the following e-mail from Amy on 11/18 when I asked how her training was going:

“Greetings from Clear Lake, Iowa! I can’t even begin to tell you how strange and amazing this experience is.  But I’m learning a ton and i will be ready to roll out my new skills very soon……Cheers from Bennigan’s, where I have eaten every single meal since Friday!”  

(At least she’s hasn’t become a regular at The Olive Garden….!)

More Amy…..

And to demonstrate why I will appreciate the dry sense of humor of this lady, check out this from their Facebook page in 2018.

The Beerchaser’s Pet Peeves

At least I’ve only been around for 71 of these!!

As a guy who recently entered his seventh decade, I can say there are pros and cons about being older. An advantage reinforced each time one reads the obituaries is that at least there is less peer pressure.

And one has to get used to the fact that when you ask friends how they are doing, they spend way too much time telling you – typically including accounts on various parts of the human anatomy in their narratives.

Those on-line drop down menus that ask for birth date require too many “Page Downs” on the keyboard to reach the correct year.  But I find, that some things annoy me a lot more than they used to including the following:

Leaf Blowers – in the fall, Boomer kids used to spend a lot of time and earn their allowances by raking leaves and hauling them to the spare lot or other repository.

Nowdays, one hears the irritating scream of leaf blowers each day. Whether it’s my lawn service or people in the burbs, the habit of blowing the leaves either into the street or whisking them off their sidewalk into the street where they clog the gutters or just blow into the next yard is annoying.

I guess in some respects its analogous to Portland shipping its garbage to Eastern Oregon and not thinking twice about it.

That’s my shovel after the lawn service “finished.”

Poop Bags

We have two wonderful grandpuppies – Sullivan, a great little Havanese who visits us from Seattle and Wesley Walter, a wonderful Golden Retriever who comes for walks from NE Portland.

Wesley Walter and Sullivan on a recent visit

In both cases, we use poop bags to take care of their “dispatches” when we take walks. Now while I hate it when dog walkers let their canines do their duty and just leave it in my yard, even more egregious are the heathens who  do the following:

They self-righteously pick up the poop in a plastic bag but then leave the &*#*% bag along the sidewalk or parking strip where unless it is picked up by some good citizen, will set there for the next 250 years rather than decomposing naturally.

Yeah Right! Thanks for being a great environmentalist…..

Pharmaceutical Commercials – while the US is one of I believe, only two countries that allow these corporate behemoths to advertise their prescription medications on the air, the ads are ubiquitous   It may be comforting to some that the advertised pill may allay the symptoms of psoriasis notwithstanding the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, internal bleeding, memory loss and lower libido etc.

I also marvel at the over-the-counter ads for Prevagen – an over-the-counter dietary supplement pill which is supposed to help your memory.  In bold tones, the announcer lauds the benefits of this medication that is comprised of “ingredients originally found in jelly fish….”  

Why is this an advantage? Who has ever interacted with a smart jelly fish?  Do jelly fish have better memories than carp?  Why would you want to emulate any creature with no central nervous or respiratory systems, lives only a few years and has its mouth and anus in the same body cavity (at least that’s what is appears from the diagram below):

Medicine with ingredients originally found in jellyfish!!???

And how smart were the hundreds of jelly fish that washed up on the Oregon coast in January near Haystack Rock?  Did they show the same intellectual acumen as lemmings in following the leader to their ultimate demise?

Spelling Bees – now I may get attacked on this one, but it just floors me when I see the results of the latest Scripps National Spelling Bee – one with a 94-year history – and a story which states, “Spelling Experts say Tougher Words are Still Out There.”   In the 2019 Bee, eight kids ended sharing the championship “…because they were simply too accomplished to stumble over any of the words Scripps threw out.”

The labyrinthine path to becoming a spelling bee champion….

One has to give credit to the parents who I assume drill their little prodigies who are eighth grade and below (now usually with professional coaches) for hours on such words as “auslaut”, “aiguillette” and “erysipelas” – words that even my Google spellcheck does not recognize.  One has to ask, however,  “Of what practical use is all the time spent trying to accomplish this Augean task??” (I looked up the definition, but couldn’t use spell check to write the word.)

Would it not be better for them to be out on the playground, interacting with peers or just reading a good book?   Of course, I guess, some of you might ask, “Of what redeeming value is a blog in which the author writes about his exploits at 350+ bars, breweries and taverns?”

Metrics – these statistical indicators have become pervasive in all areas of our lives, and are now a staple for sports coaches and general managers. I think it was baseball that first relied on detailed statistical analysis of hitters rather than the gut instinct of famous Major League Baseball managers such as Tommy Lasorda, Casey Stengel, Connie Mack and my favorite Birdie Tebbetts, skipper of the Cincinnati Reds when I lived there from 1952 – 1959.

Birdie Tebbetts – notable Major League catcher and manager

But has it gone too far? I was struck by a recent Oregonian article entitled, “Blazers put Shot Tracking Into Practice.”   A company called Noah Basketball has developed cameras, sensors and software to provide over half of the NBA teams, major college programs and even high school basketball teams with data and “real-time feedback” on every shot they take.

It tracks “…the arc, depth, location and accuracy of each shot on a laptop.”

Perfect arc, depth and velocity

Sports has become more of a business, but does this kind of tool, take some of the joy and spontaneity out of the game?   Maybe the next step is to provide players with electronically edited comments in interviews after the game so the clause, “I just played my own game,” is replaced with more elevated prose……

“Well the radius of gyration and velocity of my shot was within the standard deviation laid out by Coach.”

Brewery Dynamics

Since this is a blog primarily about bars and breweries, I should end with a short section on the dynamic nature of the brewing industry especially in Oregon. One recent statistic I read stated that there are now more breweries than colleges in the US and that competition has resulted in some rather shocking casualties with some notable brewing firms.

There are too many closings in the last two years to list them all, but a number of noted breweries with Oregon roots are gone but not forgotten – also true of some fabled pubs and bars.  The good news is that new ones seem to pop up almost simultaneously.  The following does not purport to be all-inclusive, but just gives an idea.

Closings

Burnside Brewing Closes its Doors

Lompoc Tavern (NW) and Brewery (N) – Widmer’s Pub (N) – O’Neill Irish Pub (SE) – Burnside Brewing (E) – Bridgeport Brewing (E) – Alameda Brewing (SE) and Brewpub (NE) – Portland Brewing Taproom (NW) – Columbia River Brewing (NE) – Rock Bottom Pub (Downtown) – Henry’s Tavern (Pearl) – Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton) –  Laurelwood Brewing Pubs (Sellwood and PDX) – Riverbend Brewing Brewpub (Bend) – Coalition Brewing (SE) bought by Gorges Beer and reopened.

Openings

Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom – owned and operated by monks

Level Beer Co. (Multnomah Village) – Breakside Brewing Taphouse (3rd location Slabtown) – Hopworks Urban Brewing Pub (2nd location PDX)  – Ruse Brewing (SE) – Benedictine Brewing (Mount Angel) – Mt. Hood Brewing Taphouse (2nd location – Tilikum Crossing) – Backwoods Brewing (2nd location Pearl District)

And Finally re. Lagunitas Brewing 

I read an October Willamette Week article which stated, in part:

“After three years of providing free event space for local non-profits, California-based, now Heineken-owned brewery Lagunitas abruptly shuttered its Community Taproom in Northeast Portland this week, sending dozens of charities scrambling to relocate fundraisers.”

As were many Portland residents, I was outraged and on 10/31 e-mailed Lagunitas the following without really expecting a response:

“You can do better….Your decision to discontinue the Community Room in NE Portland without any prior notice, thereby leaving a number of non-profits in a real dilemma, is uncalled for, unnecessary and shows disregard for your loyal customers. This is not indicative of the Oregon Brewing Community and this move will be remembered.  How do you justify the manner in which this decision was handled?”

At least the Brewery Communications Dept. responded two days later:

“Thanks for reaching out and for your feedback.  We recognize that the closing of the Community Room was sudden, and truly wish that we could have given more notice to the community and those organizations who had previously scheduled events.

There were a wide variety of factors that lead us to make this incredibly difficult decision. We let the Portland non-profit community know as soon as we could, but also understand that for many organizations, it wasn’t soon enough.

We’re currently working with those organizations that had an event scheduled, and are providing beer donations for them at alternative locations.  We also look forward to continuing to support the incredible work that local Portland non-profits are doing in the future.  Thanks again for your feedback.”

I’ll try to let you know in future posts whether the intent to help in the future becomes a reality.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving

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