Find Your Way to Wayfinder….

Since I started my Beerchasing exploits in 2011, I’ve reviewed slightly over 400 bars and breweries of which 119 were in Portland, Oregon.  This blog is not a technical journal on beer or the science of brewing itself, but primarily about the history and character of the watering holes themselves.

Other than a few such as Bridgeport (closed in 2018), Blitz Weinhard (closed in 1999), Widmer Brothers and McMenamins, most Portland breweries don’t have the history or character of a bar – the focus, understandably, is more on the beer itself.  (# External photo attribution at the end of the post. (#1)

They are typically more expansive than the stereotyped hole-in-the-wall dive bar such as the Mock Crest Tavern in the St. John’s area or the Yamhill Pub – a landmark right in Portland’s Central Business District.

The Yamhill, as I explained in my 2015 review, is actually one step below a dive – I classified it as a “grunge bar.” As described in a Portland Mercury review, “The Yamhill Pub is a glorious sh*t crater. It’s a hole, a mess, a f*ing dive.”

The breweries are often in former industrial or warehouse-type buildings with large garage doors that can open during summer months and accommodate crowds on adjourning patios – crowds that are often much younger than the typical demographic of a dive or a neighborhood watering hole.

That said, I’ve rarely “met” a brewery or brew pub that I didn’t enjoy.   One such example is Wayfinder Brewery – one block off the Willamette River on SE Second near the Morrison Bridge.  

Our experience in mid-November was the second time I had good beer and great food there while enjoying the ambiance, the friendly staff and impressive layout. 

My first visit was about five years ago – shortly after it opened – with friends Charlie Rose and David Dickson. I was pleased that nothing much had changed.  After our dinner, we caught an impressive jazz show at the Doug Fir Lounge (see below).

In November, 2022, on a Monday afternoon, I hit the brewery with four other retired friends (David and Kate Dickson, Roy Lambert and Mary Maxwell and my wife, Janet).   We had a brisk walk along the River and then lunch. That’s right – David Dickson was on both visits – he’s a Beerchasing regular….)

Three of our group of seven participants in our walking group were gone, but our routine is to do about a 45-minute to an hour walk and finish with a beer and lunch/dinner at a brewery or bar. (There’s less guilt after some exercise.)

Most in the group have been participated since 2014 and we have hoisted mugs at great watering holes including Saraveza, Crackerjacks Pub, Hair of the Dog Brewery, Produce Row and many others.  (Click on the links above to see the reviews.)

Entrepreneurial Endeavor

A very positive element in the Wayfinder story is the complementary skills and experience of the three partners – brewing, food and business.  This was probably a primary factor in the Brewery’s success even during a global pandemic:

Way finder found its roots in Charlie Devereux’s search for his next beer project after departing Double Mountain Brewing in Hood River. He quickly teamed up with Sizzle Pie’s Matt Jacobson, who he describes as a ‘serial entrepreneur.’ The third partner is Podnah’s Pit’s Rodney Muirhead. Yes, the menu calls for amazingly prepared meats, including house-ground sausage”  (#2-3)

The Space

Besides the wonderful expansive heated wood-slat patio (with firepit) which can seat about 120, the 10-barrel brewery and pub occupy about 9,000 square feet.  The brick walls are very attractive and skylights provide plenty of light. 

Walking in, you face a very long and attractive bar with some booths on the opposing wall.  A separate room houses numerous tables of different sizes and large glass panels show the brewing hardware – a nice touch.

While having no expertise (and according to others, no taste in art), I loved the posters and paintings displayed throughout and their classy merchandise is displayed in an attractive case. 

Wayfinder was also named on the 2021 Oregon Beer Awards as having the best beer labels.) You can see Charlie and David arguing about various Euclidian principles in the photo below. (#4)

And the manner in which they differentiated the restrooms was also creative and funny and could generate more debate on usage……

The Food!

Often breweries will focus on brewing quality – food is an ancillary concern – patrons will choose from a limited pub menu or use nearby food carts. 

Not only has Wayfinder been recognized with numerous awards for its beers (see below), but it distinguishes itself with the variety of its culinary offerings – many cooked on its wood-fired grill.  The quality, as the following reviews attest, is quite good.

These excerpts are from one of my most reliable sources for objective assessments during the last eleven years – Willamette Week in its ongoing reviews and annual guides to Portland’s best bars, beers and food.  Since the pandemic, these have either been pretty much discontinued, but see the consistency of comments from 2017-2020.

2017 Review by Martin Czimar – In this review shortly after Wayfinder opened, Cizmar advised patrons to avoid the fish, mashed potatoes and beer nuts (this was the only negative media review I could find on the food.)  But he praised the nachos, sausage and burgers – “The dinner burger with blue cheese, might be the best brewpub burger in town..”

Since I had the mashed potatoes in my dinner in the 2018 visit and thought they were delicious, perhaps he just needed some menu items to criticize.

2018 Beer Guide – “The wonderful menu ranges from a delicious prime rib sandwich to a mountainous niçoise salad but the thing I find myself ordering most often is the brewery’s nachos….”

2019 – 20 Guide to Food and Drink – Whenever asked which brewery in town also has good food – not just passable-for-a-pub food, but an honest-to-goodness recommendable menu, I almost always steer that person to Wayfinder.”

Our group on both visits concurred with the positive reviews.  Most of us in 2022 had the burger special which runs all day Monday and on Tues – Thurs. from 8:00 PM to closing.  

Where else can you can a burger with chips and a pint of beer for $14 ($1 extra to substitute fries)? The Chicken Schnitzel and the entre’ salads were delicious and nicely presented.

The Service

As was the case five years ago, our server, Jessica, was friendly, helpful and competent.  She also gave a comprehensive and knowledgeable rundown of their draft beers which helped us make our selection.

Award Winning Beer

The number of medals received are too numerous to cite, but take a look at the listing of some of the accolades as listed on their website: 

  • “Best New Brewers in the World” – Rate Beer, 2018
  • “Best Brewery”, “Best Brewer”, “Best Oregon Brewpub” – New School Awards, 2018
  • “Top 11 Best Beers in America” (Terrifico) – Bloomberg News, 2018
  • “Oregon Beer of the Year” (Hell Lagerbier) – New School Awards 2019
  • “Best Brewpub Experience” – Oregon Beer Awards, 2018-2019

You won’t find a lot of IPA’s at Wayfinder – a mainstay of a lot of contemporary craft breweries.  Wayfinder’s specialty is lagers:

“(We are) a lager-centric brewery that combines old and new school lager techniques to push the envelope of what lager can be. The founders of Wayfinder, lager fanatics themselves and proselytizers of cool fermentation, installed a dedicated decoction vessel to achieve malt complexities otherwise unattainable.

The beers are a mix of tradition and science, a blending of ancient brewing tactics, newer Narziß-style German precision, and the swagger of American Craft. Although we are rewriting the definition of lager for the next generation of craft beer enthusiasts, we are bringing with it the traditions of Europe and America’s favorite beer.”

And let’s just take a quick look at one excerpt from the Willamette Week Guide to Portland Bars and Happy Hours:

“…….Wayfinder Helles is one of the few in America to ever match that deep bready malt and balancing light sulfur aroma that characterizes a freshly cracked bottle of Augustiner in Munich.  It’s a portal to Bavaria where they drink beer-flavored beer.”

And the excellence in brewing has continued.  In the 2021 Oregon Beer Awards, Wafinder garnered one gold, two silvers and two bronze medals for their brews in addition to being named as the Oregon brewery with the best beer labels.  You can see why below: (#5-10)

Before finishing my comments on the Brewery, I want to mention our (David, Charlie and I) post dinner outing in 2018.   It was to the Doug Fir Lounge – only eight blocks away in the Jupiter Hotel

We were fortunate to see one of the Portland shows of acclaimed jazz saxophonist,  Hailey Niswanger

Hailey attended West Linn High School with our three daughters, but then went on to the prestigious Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship.  The Berklee publication on distinguished alums states, in part:

Hailey Niswanger’s trajectory as a jazz saxophonist resembles that of a shooting star. The young musician graduated in 2011 after studying jazz performance on a full scholarship. But by that time, she had already released the album, Confeddie, that prompted jazz critic Nat Hentoff to proclaim the 19 year old as part of the future of jazz.

She has appeared with Demi Lovato on Saturday Night Live and on other late-night TV shows. Niswanger was also the alto saxophonist in the Either/Orchestra, touring with Ethiopian stars and playing African, Latin, and jazz music in Europe and the United States. DownBeat magazine’s Critics Poll cited her as a rising alto and soprano saxophonist for 2013–2016.

A versatile artist, she also played flute on Terri Lyne Carrington’s The Mosiac Project, which won a Grammy.”

Now living in Brooklyn, New York, Niswanger is active teaching at seminars as well as continuing to tour with musicians such as pianist Mike Wolff and drummer Mike Clark in the Woolf and Clark Expedition. She also started a new band of her own, MAE.SUN, a contemporary, mixed-genre project.” (#11-16)

It was a marvelous performance and her range was incredible – she also vocalized.   Before the show we had a chance to say “hello” to this musical prodigy, we’re proud to say, had her roots in our community.  She is personable and humble.

2018-08-06 20.38.39

Surprisingly, there are numerous Portland breweries that have sprung up during the pandemic that Thebeerchaser has not visited at this point.  That said, since both times I’ve been to Wayfinder, I ate inside and given the overall experience, I will be going back this Spring.

I’ll sit on the fabulous deck, drink a Hell – Lagerbier Helles (“Crisp, light, refreshing, brilliantly effervescent with a floral, noble hop aroma – ABV 4.7%”) or one of the other ten beers on tap. Did I also mention that they are known for their creative cocktails, for example the Midnight Trilogy?  

Blended Scotch, Laird’s apple brandy, Averna, Allspice Dram, Orange Bitters, Demerara.”

I have a feeling that it would pair very well with one of the large Bavarian pretzels with mustard which are only $6. (#17)

Perfektion!

Cheers!

External Photo Attribution

#1. Wikimedia Commons (File:Blitzweinhard brewery.jpg – Wikipedia)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: 
w:User:Ajbenj
  6 January 2002.

#2 -10.  Wayfinder Beer Facebook Pages (Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/wayfinderbeer/photos/pb.100063601343176.-2207520000./2816).

#11 – 16 Hailey Niswanger Facebook Pages ( Hailey Niswanger | Facebook).

#17.  Wayfinder Beer Facebook Page (Wayfinder Beer | Portland OR | Facebook)

Chuck Another One (Medal) Up for Chuckanut…

Breaking News!

“The US Postal Service will deliver mail throughout the US on Monday.”

The above is an example of the ubiquity of this two-word exclamation and “report” – not only on cable news but the networks. These range from current events of significant gravity to those of the monotonous and mundane.   This trend led Chris Licht, President of CNN, to declare:

“It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience.”

That Said…

A December 15, 2021 headline by Oregonian Beer Writer, Andre Meunier, entitled, Chuckanut Brewery, Washington’s pioneering lager-maker, opens SE Portland taproom,” did qualify as breaking news in the NW Brewery World:

“Portland has no shortage of world-class beer, but Chuckanut’s arrival has even the most snobbish local beer fans excited.

Rarely a year goes by that the brewery doesn’t win at least one award at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, including four in 2009, the brewery’s first year at the competition, and its trophy case holds numerous medals from the annual World Beer Cup, as well.”

(# External photo attribution at the end of the post #1)

After getting back in full stride on the Beerchasing Trail again in mid-October, the Chuckanut P.Nut Beerhall in Southest Portland was one of the first new watering holes I visited.  I’ve personally mourned the departure of some notable breweries during and after the pandemic such as Sasquatch Brewing, Hair of the Dog, Grixen, Lompoc, etc.. 

Thus, I was heartened by the addition of this Bellingham Washington brewery to Portland – especially given it’s family ownership and tradition in suds.  And based on the breadth and length of experience of co-owners’ Mari and Will Kemper, it’s a story worth repeating – this from their website: (#2-3)

“Mari and Will started one of the first craft breweries in the Northwest Thomas Kemper Brewery back in 1984    At the same time he taught brewing engineering for the American Brewers Guild in Davis, CA. 

They returned to America and he continued to consult with them when the two of them were asked to return to Istanbul to make the first craft brewery. They lived three years in Turkey for the project and when they finally returned to their home in Bellingham, WA they decided to start Chuckanut Brewery.

And so the story of Chuckanut begins in 2008!”

Beerchasing Companion

As followers of this blog know, it’s not really about beer, but rather the places individuals and groups gather to consume this wonderful malted beverage.  I’m interested – and try to tell you – about the brewers, the staff, the regulars or one-time visitors who I meet on my visits.

And besides my wife, Janet, on our road trips, for local jaunts, I always try to take friends or colleagues – most of whom seem to have more interesting stories than mine.  But I enjoy telling them.   

After a visit to the Tabor Tavern in August (review not yet written), my friend, John Limb and I hit the Chuckanut P.Nut Beer Hall on a Friday mid-afternoon in October.  I first met John in 2016, when we both served on the Benedictine Brewery Advisory Committee – a group that worked until the opening of the Brewery and Taproom in Mount Angel in late 2018.

I then joined John on the Abbey Foundation of Oregon Board and we’ve served together since.  He is currently the President of that Board.   John and his wife, Kim, are two of the nicest people one would ever want to meet and typify the members of that Board. (#4 – 5)

John, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from the University of Louisville where he met Kim and where, after graduation, he worked at a church in the Archdiocese of Louisville.  In 1986, they moved to Portland where he became Editor at the Oregon Catholic Press in Portland. 

The OCP is a non-profit national leader in Catholic and faith-based music publishing and worship resources. Thirty years later – twenty-five of them as publisher – John retired in 2017, and continues to serve as OCP’s Publisher Emeritus.  During his tenure, OCP became the nation’s leading publisher of Catholic worship material. (#6 – 9)

You can see from the first photo below, he began his tenure there as a young guy!  In the fourth photo, he is sitting with his successor, Wade Wisler

Why is Chuckanut Notable?

The beer awards for Chuckanut started early with four in 2009 and they were two-time winner of the Great American Beer Festival’s best small brewery their first four four years.  And they have continued – you can see the medals and trophies in the pub and look at the 2021 Facebook post below:

“We did it again, Large Brewery of the Year 2021 WA Beer Awards! We won with:
Gold medal for Rye Lager
Gold medal for Rauch Helles Lager
Gold medal for Asian Style Lager
Gold medal for Old Fest Marzen style lager
Silver medal for Dunkel Lager
Silver medal for Chuck Light
Silver medal for Maibock”  (#10)

The bad news is that Chuckanut sells about 95% of its beer on draft – packaging only about 5% of its production, so you need to go to P.Nut (or their other location in Burlington, WA) and select a brew from one of their twelve beers on tap

And the beer is good – take the 2018 opinion of Beervana’s Jeff Alworth, one of the nation’s leading beer experts:

“Chuckanut has won about every award there is to win, and their mostly-German tap-list is a master’s course in elegance through simplicity….. Chuckanut’s beers are absolutely faithful to tradition…

(They) are so good not because they express ‘innovation”’ but because they demonstrate the mastery that comes from honing a craft over a lifetime. On my first visit I ticked off the classics: helles, kolsch, dunkel, marzen, pilsner. It was like a visit to Germany.” 

Neither John or I are beer experts, but we know what tastes good.  John really enjoyed the Dunkel and I reveled in their Kolsch as I love German beer.  They are described as follows and each has won more medals than space permits listing:

Dunkel Lager – Chuckanut’s Dunkel is a deep reddish-brown color, capped by an impressively sturdy tan head.  As in all lagers, the flavors in Dunkel are produced directly by the ingredients; in this case some of the malts have been roasted, giving Dunkel toffee, chocolate, coffee, and even licorice notes.

Kolsch – a blonde, top fermented ale brewed from pilsner malt. Bitterness is restrained, and the palate is light-bodied and dry with a soft malt flavor in the center giving way to a dry finish. (#11 – 12)

The Space at P.Nut

It’s certainly not fancy although according to Brian, our bartender – knowledgeable and friendly – they have enhancements in store.  There is long, wooden community table and smaller tables plus space at the bar. 

Most of the décor centers on the Chuckanut story with medals and news clippings.  A Foosball game and darts are nice additions.  Some outdoor seating is available.  They currently do not have food although food trucks are often available.

It’s a family space and pets are welcome as shown in the photo below.  It had a low key and pleasant ambiance when we were there.   One slight downside is that parking is not plentiful in the neighborhood and you may have to hoof it a few blocks.

Although it’s not a valid sampling, I always try to get a feel for the thrust of reviews and since P.Nut has been open only a short time, there weren’t many, but the two Yelp reviews below were indicative.  The only negative comments were mixed with praise in the same reviews – no bike rack and “parking can be tricky.”

6/7/22 – “Great space, friendly service, tasty beer! What else do you need? This is a great spot especially if you aren’t a big IPA fan. I went to college in Bellingham, so it was such a treat to have some Bellingham brews again here in Portland!”

11/18/22 – “Spot is simple. Beers, TV’s, foosball, darts, tables. All the essentials of a good beerhall. I had the Kolsch and it was excellent. I didn’t see much of a food option which is okay, but I definitely enjoyed the beer option. I’d encourage anyone to get Kolsch or pilsner or stout. Solid options at this corner spot.”

Chuckanut Brewing is admirable – their commitment to sustainability, support of community non-profits, company values and their great beer.  Come out of your shell and hit the P.Nut Beer Hall!

Chuckanut P.Nut Beer Hall

920 SE Caruthers St, Portland, OR  (#13)

Cheers!

External Photo Attribution

#1 – 3.  Chuckanut Brewery Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/chuckanut.beer/photos/a.

10150266616630072/10165515874085072)

#4.  Guidestar Profile (https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.guidestar.org%2Fprofile%2F04-3703021&psig=AOvVaw0WeTpHjkAUTWPxwXJAlhup&ust)  =1670267135873000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=

0CA8QjhxqFwoTCLiypIvU4PsCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAE)

#5.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mt._Angel_Abbey_

(Marion_County,_Oregon_scenic_images)_(marDA0213).jpg)   The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.  Source: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives.  March 2010.

#6.   Oregon Catholic Press – Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding 

#7.  (https://catholicsentinel.org/Content/News/Local/Article/Adjusting-to-rapid-change/2/35/45123)

#8. (https://abbeyfoundationoforegon-annualreport.org/annual-report-2020/)

#9.  (https://www.catholicsentinel.org/Content/News/Local/Article/Former-publisher-John-Limb-honored/2/35/37476)

#10.  Chuckanut BreweryFacebook  (https://www.facebook.com/chuckanut.beer/photos/10165747824365072)

#11 – 13. Chuckanut Breweru Facebook  (https://www.facebook.com/chuckanut.beer/photos/?ref=page_internal)

 

McMenamins’ Old Church and Pub

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

Since starting Thebeerchaser blog in 2011, I’ve avoided reviewing bars or breweries that are primarily restaurants rather than neighborhood watering holes or dives.  I’ve made a number of exceptions for the McMenamin venues based on several factors. (See the end of the post for pictures and reviews of those exceptions)

First, the McMenamin venues I’ve reviewed are all historic structures or are significant in the development of Oregon’s Craft Brewing Industry.  Secondly, the McMenamin brothers have made incredible economic, cultural and social contributions to the Northwest.   

The fact that Brian and Mike are both fellow Oregon State University graduates also doesn’t hurt. (Photos #1 -2 below – attribution at end of the post.)

And I fondly remember working with their dad, Robert, at both the Oregon State Bar and the City Club of Portland when he was on the boards of those organizations. 

The late Bob McMenamin was an outstanding lawyer (he received the Bar’s highest honor – the Award of Merit in 1975 ) and wonderful man known for his contributions to his profession and community.

The elegant “Bob’s Bar” in the basement of McMenamin’s Grand Lodge is named his honor.  He loved Hammerhead Ale and once said:

“When you’re out of Hammerhead, you’re out of beer!”   (Bob can be seen holding his favorite beer in his namesake bar below. #3)

Their commitment to history is commendable as reported in The Oregon Encyclopedia article by Tiah Edmundson-Morton.  (How many breweries have their own historian on staff?):

“Historic preservation is integral to McMenamin’s business model. A small history department, led for nearly thirty years by historian Tim Hills, researches the buildings and neighborhoods and gathers community memories.

Their work is incorporated into each property’s art, food, and architectural details. The department also sponsors a well-established program of public talks, with presentations that range from science to social justice to Oregon history.” (#4)

The Oregon Encyclopedia provides definitive and authoritative information about the State of Oregon and its history.

The Wilsonville Old Church

As with Steeplejack Brewing in NE Portland in 2021, a more than century-old church was saved from demolition for condos or a shopping mall by transformation into a brewery and pub which retained the historic structure.

(When the congregation moved in the 1990’s, the property was sold to Fred Meyer Corp.)

“The simple, but graceful church, which literally celebrates its centennial during the same month of its opening as part of the new McMenamins’ location, was completed in  August 1911 by the Wilsonville Methodist Society. 

It’s just like poetry to learn that its first minister, John W. Exon, had formerly been (and would be again) a respected riverboat captain, whose career had taken him on many journeys up and down the Willamette River, with regular stops at Wilsonville.” (McMenamin’s History Flyer)  (#5)

I laughed when I read that the brewery is located in the church basement where the nursery used to be operated during Sunday services.  And the expansive structures and grounds are more than just a brewery and pub:

“Linking the old and new is a grassy amphitheater, ideal for quiet conversations and rollicking music performances…”

There is also event space for weddings, reunions and anniversary parties.  They haven’t had live music since COVID “but we’re working on bringing it back.”

I didn’t have the chance to explore the grounds in depth, but there is a wealth of nice patio space and the inner eating area – in a separate building in back of the church – is nicely maintained and comfortable. 

(You can see by the sign below at the entrance that hiring food and beverage industry staff is still a real challenge.)

My friend and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes and I had lunch inside and the service was courteous and efficient.  Check out his new gig on Rip City Radio – 620 with Chad Doing in the afternoons from 3 to 5 PM.

What About the Food?

Dwight had a two-piece Fish and Chips ($20.50) and I had a large Blue Bayou Salad (romaine, bacon, chopped egg, blue cheese crumbles, tomato, blue cheese dressing)  – $17.50 – I took almost half of it home – for our lunches and both were very good and presented well.

A Tillamook Cheddar Cheese Burger is $17.25 and I was almost sorry I didn’t order it because I could have told my wife that in the interest of budgetary prudence, I got the Tator Tots as a side because a green salad was an extra $1.75!

Their Happy Hour is daily from 3 – 6pm and 9pm until close.  A pint of any of the McMenamins’ ales is $1 off and they have a good offering of bites and appetizers. (#6)

450px-Happy_Hour

Happy Hour – It’s always 5:00 somewhere….

I always check out the reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor just to get a sample of comments and with the realization that a number of people who do these ratings should have adult supervision when writing them based on the substance of their comments.  But I was impressed with the assessments overall.

McMenamins’ has sometimes been viewed as having good food and great beer, but service which is slow.  That doesn’t seem to be the case at the Old Church Pub and the majority of the reviewers appreciated the attentiveness of the servers – even during the pandemic.  

I’m always impressed when there are complaints on social media and Management responds (when they appear to be legitimate) and either apologizes or takes steps to remedy.  Such was the case with this McMenamins’. 

Cajun Tater Tots and Starters

The most emphatically positive comments on food were about the “Starters” and included the Soft Pretzel Sticks ($14.25) and Cajun Tots. ($10.25 and $15.25)

“I ordered the pretzel sticks as an appetizer just because I was starving, and man… they did not disappoint. The cheese sauce here is absolutely delicious! I ordered an extra order of the cheese sauce to go and took home the leftover pretzels.” (Yelp 5/8/22)  (#7)

Now, I learned something from the review below.  Although banks, schools and government offices aren’t closed, each February 2 is National Tater Tot Day:

“We stopped by to celebrate Tater Tots Day and a birthday dinner. We love the Cajun Tots and always split a Small basket between us; by the way a large Tot is 2 lbs of Tots! “  (Yelp 2/3/22)

Even going back to August 23 2019, people were effusive about the Cajun Tots:

“But what really stole the show, was the Cajun Tots. HOLY COW THESE ARE THE BEST TOTS IN THE WORLD IF YOU LIKE TOTS ORDER THESE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE ITS LIKE CRISPY HOT CAJUN HEAVEN IN YOUR MOUTH. Not joking guys. We shared a large order for the 5 of us and it was a large serving and even the pickiest eater of the group enjoyed them.”

So I plan to return to the Old Church and have a beer and some tots at Happy Hour in the Undercroft Bar which is in the basement and has been closed because of COVID.  One can’t go wrong at any of the McMenamins’ and the Wilsonville Old Church Pub certainly affirms that premise.

Previous McMenamin Establishment Reviewed by Thebeerchaser

McMenamins now has more than 60 establishments throughout the Northwest and I’ve been to a number.  The following are those I’ve reviewed with historic significance.  To see the review, click on the link over the name.

And I encourage you to visit them not only to enjoy the food and beer, but to grasp the historical import of these buildings that are preserved due to Mike and Brian’s efforts.

The White Eagle Saloon – 2012

We visited with friends Pat and Leona Green to see his brother, Beerchaser-of-the-Month Forrest Green, play a gig at the bar during JAM-O-Rama.

“The White Eagle originally opened in 1905 and is now on the National Historic Register. Did you know the White Eagle is called ‘one of the most haunted places’ in Portland?

……. Set in North Portland’s industrial neighborhood, underneath the mighty span of the Fremont Bridge, the legendary White Eagle Cafe and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel echoes with tall tales of resident spirits, poker games and Shanghai tunnels……”

The St. John’s Pub – 2015

Two former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, who both worked at the University of Portland nearby, joined me for an afternoon drink.   Dr. Sam Holloway, a professor of business and also an internationally recognized consultant on the micro-craft industry, and the late and critically acclaimed author, Brian Doyle and I enjoyed the historic ambiance with our drinks.

Built in 1905 as the National Cash Register Company’s exhibit hall for Portland’s Lewis and Clark Exposition, this spectacular building was barged down the Willamette River after the expo to its current location.

It’s subsequent incarnations included a Lutheran church, an American Legion post, a bingo parlor and a home for Gypsy wakes. The ever-evolving domed structure was later reinvented as Duffy’s Irish Pub and finally, St. Johns Theater & Pub.” 

The Fulton Pub – 2016

I didn’t review this historic pub opened in 1988 by the McMenamin brothers until 2016 although my initial visit in 2012 was the first time I met Brian Doyle for an interview and when we struck up a friendship.

Brian said it was his favorite bar, in part, because he loved Hammerhead Ale.  According to the McMenamin website, …..legend has it that the brew’s hallowed recipe (Hammerhead) was perfected here.”

“(The pub) dates back to 1926, when it was a Prohibition-era hangout serving home-cooked meals, pinball games, stogies, candy and ice cream. Speculation says that during Prohibition the pub might even have provided patrons the odd pint as an unadvertised special.”  

In Closing

Every time I reminisce about my Beerchasing exploits and interaction with Brian Doyle, it is with profound sadness that I reflect on how this remarkable human being left us far too soon in 2017 from brain cancer.   

His accomplishments transcend what most people could do in three lifetimes as does the impact he had on those who knew him.  My tribute to him was in the post: 

 https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/06/09/brian-doyle-beerchaser-eternal/

The post will give you an idea of his wonderful writing talent and sense of humor and I’ll leave you with the words of Fr. Mark Poorman, then President of UP, where Brian worked for twenty-six years.

“He was a man filled with a sense of humanity and wonder, who was interested in everyone’s story and who saw everyone’s potential. His warmth, humor, and passion of life will be deeply missed and his loss will be acutely felt here and beyond.”

External Photo Attribution

#1.  The Oregon Encyclopedia (https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/mcmenamins/#.YzeHvXbMKUk) Article by Tiah Edmundson-Morton.   (Oregon Historical Society)

#2.  McMenamins’ Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/mcmenaminsbreweries/photos/10159113704914864)

#3.  McMenamins’ History Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/McMenaminsHistory/photos/a./

#4.  The Oregon Encyclopedia Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=532027042257551&set=a.532027008924221)

#5. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Methodist_Church_Wilsonville.JPG)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  M.O. Stevens 14 May 2009

#6.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Happy_Hour.jpg)  The copyright holder of this work, released this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.  Author: Hovev  2008

#7.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tater_tot_hotdish_8286689740_o.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: Tony Webster 9 March 2014

Summer Cheer(s)

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

As fall approaches, take a look at two topics which I think you will enjoy:

First – An update on a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

and

Secondly Both a celebration of the fourth birthday of the Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom at the Mount Angel Abbey and a recollection of the “foundation” of that inspired enterprise back in 2017

*****

Godfather…..!

When one sees or hears the term above, the image usually crossing the mind is either a pizza or for Baby Boomers, Marlin Brando in his unforgettable role of Don Vito Corleone in the three-time Academy Award winning film The Godfather (1972) uttering his memorable threat:

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse!”

(# External Photo Attribution at the end of the Post – #1 and #2 above)

For those in the Northwest who have an interest in sports and have followed their teams and related issues in the print and broadcast media, the name Dwight Jaynes comes to mind.  Dwight for many years has been known professionally as “The Godfather.”  And for good reason. 

In 2010 he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and has been named Oregon Sportswriter of the Year five separate times. In 2013, he was named Sportscaster of the Year  – the first person in Oregon to win both awards.

Linked in

The Godfather  #3

He’s also co-authored two books, The Long Hot Winter: A Year in the Life of the Portland Trail Blazers (1992)  with former Blazer coach Rick Adelman and Against the World: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Portland Trail Blazers’ Chase for the NBA Championship (1992) with fellow journalist Kerry Eggers. (#4 – #5)

He had been working for Comcast SportsNet Northwest and not regularly on the air since 2011, when the trio of Dwight, Chad Doing and former Trail Blazer, Antonio Harvey hosted a talk show on radio station 99.5 The Game.

Dwight and I have periodic lunches and at one in July, he seemed energized and told me that “Something is in the Works”.  He then added that if he revealed anything, he’d have to shoot me. The Godfather had that Brando look of malice in his eyes when he mumbled this utterance, so I did not press him further. 

 (As an aside, we ate at the McMenamins’ Wilsonville Old Church – a nice establishment that I will cover in a future post.)  

The next day, it was announced that Dwight and Chad would be back together (“Chad & Dwight Ride Again In Rip City” from 3 – 6 PM each weekday on Rip City Radio 620. #6

Now, admittedly I’m biased, because I named Dwight as one of my Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter in 2016 and I love his historical grasp of NW Sports. 

Chad Doing also has a great radio background including a stint as a sports radio host in San Francisco as well as an interesting history including working as an Alaska Airlines flight attendant for three years.   He’s worked his way up in the radio profession and seems to be a genuine nice-guy with a broad knowledge of sports – especially the Trail Blazers.

“Doing, who lived 27 years in the Pacific Northwest before moving south, came up through the radio ranks in the Portland market, starting by doing high school football for Vancouver’s KVAN. From there, he got an internship with KFXX, at the time the market’s lone all-sports station, and moved up to board operator, then to reading sports updates.

In 2008, when a second all-sports station, KXTG, opened, he moved over, first as a behind-the-scene guy, then just four weeks in, taking over on-air on the morning show, along with Gavin Dawson and, later, Dwight Jaynes.”  (Oregon Live 3/24/15)

You should check them out at https://ripcityradio.iheart.com/featured/travis-demers/  These guys complement each other really well and they cover a broad range of topics. 

On the first few shows Dwight talked about meeting both Bill Russell and Vince Scully, they reminisced about Portland wrestling and had good discussion about recent Blazer issues such as the potential sale and the unwise decision to have Blazer TV broadcasters call the games remotely rather than traveling with the team.

Note:  About one week afterwards, the Blazers reversed this decision:

“Team president Dewayne Hankins joined Portland’s Rip City Radio 620 to discuss the decision with hosts Chad Doing and Dwight Jaynes on Monday. And during the interview, Hankins quickly acknowledged the Trail Blazers heard the backlash and responded accordingly.”   (Awful Announcing.com)

The Godfather is also known for the integrity of his written and spoken opinions through the years and taking deserved shots at Management when it’s deserved, be it that of the Blazers, written or broadcast media execs, referees, etc.

Chad and Dwight are more focused on sports then the rambling and almost irrelevant babble on their Portland competitor in the same timeslot.  

Happy Birthday to the Benedictine Brewery – Thanks be to Father God!

I’m proud to be part of the history of this wonderful Brewery on the grounds of the Mount Angel Abbey and one of only three Benedictine breweries owned and operated by monks in the US.  The Brewery and Taproom under the guidance of Head Brewer, Fr. Martin Grassel has thrived even during the pandemic and Fr. Martin and his trainees brew a robust group of beers. (#8 -14)

I still remember the wonderful community gathering (about 125 monks, priests, seminarians, Abbey staff and volunteers from the Mount Angel community) at the structure raising on a cloudy and cold November 11 2017, when we started the morning with a cement slab.  

By the end of the day, there was a structural frame with six bents ( two-dimensional transverse rigid frames and the building blocks that define the overall shape and character of a structure) using 14,000 board feet of Douglas Fir timber harvested from the Abbey tree farm. 

That day was also the occasion of the first prayer in the Benedictine Brewery and Taproom – held at noon before we ate and in lieu of the standard noon-day prayer in the wonderful Abbey chapel.  Fr. Vincent Trujillo, O.S.B., the Prior of the Abbey,  led the service which was “uplifting” – very consistent with the theme that day!  (#15 -19)

The monks sang and were joined by the other participants. Before getting back to work, we feasted on a spread of delicious barbecued chicken, baked beans, potato salad and green salad – all of which boosted the energy and spirits of the workers. (If the videos, don’t have arrows to start them, click your mouse in the center of the photos)

As stated in my Beerchaser post entitled: “The Benedictine Brewery – Beam Me Up”:

“There were 305 pieces of wood that were joined for the structure.  Besides the 14,000 for the structural components, another 11,000 board feet of lumber was used for the siding  and the tongue and grove boards for the top of the structure.  It will also be used for the actual bar in the Taproom.  It took seven truckloads of logs for the Brewery and Taproom and additional load that went in exchange to the plywood mill.  

Besides the source of the wood, there was another unusual aspect of the construction process:

The timber was harvested, cut, dried, milled using mortise and tenon joinery, which is secured with wooden pegs — an age-old traditional craft — and prepared for a seamless, no-hammer, no-saw construction.”  http://www.capitalpress.com/Orchards/20171113/unique-brewery-raising-at-abbey

The volunteers that day know that their labor would be “captured” in the structure for its duration based on the fact that all were encouraged to sign the pegs that secured the bents before they were put in place.  Thebeerchaser eagerly participated.

It was a truly remarkable day of spirited and spiritual effort by the entire Community and portended the success of what has become a NW regional destination spot with a devoted constituency for Fr. Martin’s beers.

As you will see from the video below in which the largest timber section – 80 feet in length, requiring forty workers was raised, Jonathan Orpin, the President of New Energy – the contractor for the structure raising – was the equivalent of land-based coxswain for his “crew” team.  His enthusiasm and energy was inspiring to all present.

Fall is one of the best times to visit the St. Michael Taproom surrounded by the Abbey’s hop fields. 

Try what has become one of the most popular brews – Hairshirt IPA ( 7.1 ABV | IBUs 56).  As one reviewer in the site “On Tap” stated, “I feel so penitent while drinking this.”

Although the Brewery’s website countered this on Father’s Day stating:

“This Father’s Day, why buy dad another tie when you could buy him a hairshirt? Taking its name from a garment worn as an act of penance, Hairshirt IPA is now available for the first time for sale in bottles, and drinking it is hardly a penitential experience.”

So let me indulge you.   Cheers and here’s to guilt-free drinking!  #20 -21)

External Photo Attribution

#1. Wikimedia Commons:   (http://File:Godfathers Pizza – Hillsboro, Oregon.JPG -) Wikimedia Commons icensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. Author: M.O. Stevens 8 September 2012

#2.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlon_Brando#/media/File:Marlon_Brando_publicity_for_One-Eyed_Jacks.png)  By None visible/Paramount Pictures – Publicity photo for the film One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Public Domain.

#3.  Linked-in (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dwight-jaynes-68956b6a/overlay/photo/)

#4.  (https://www.amazon.com/Against-World-Behind-Scenes-Championship/dp/0915611678/ref=sr_1_1?crid=GJB72IUBR6L&keywords=against+the+world+dwight+jaynes&qid)

#5.  (https://www.amazon.com/Long-Hot-Winter-Portland-Blazers/dp/0671748521/ref=sr_1_1?crid)

#6.  Dwight Jaynes Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10160255999956894&set=basw.Abpv_1MIIzZM8NJkopm-)

#7.  Linked-in (https://www.linkedin.com/in/chad-doing-35477868/)

#8 – 14.  Benedictine Brewery Website and Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/BenedictineBrewery)

#15 – 17.  Benedictine Brewery Website (https://www.benedictinebrewery.com/) Courtesy Brother Lorenzo.

#18. New Energy Works Website (https://newenergyworks.com/)

#19 Benedictine Brewery Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/BenedictineBrewery/photos/a.168624736681758/)

#20 Wikipedia Commons (http://(Ivan the Terrible’s cilice 02 by shakko – Cilice – Wikipedia)  By shakko – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16218870.  Llicensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Breaking Out at Breakside….

Well, with COVID and other constraints, my Beerchasing efforts have been curtailed for many months – I’ve covered other issues in the blog. But two weeks ago, we took a small step to get back on the trail with our first inside visit since 2020 – a lunchtime trip to the Breakside Brewery’s Taproom in Lake Oswego – a suburb of Portland, Oregon – the newest of five locations of Breakside Brewery’s offerings.

A welcome foray……after all these months..

“Breakside Brewery opened in 2010 in Northeast Portland as a restaurant and pub brewery and has grown to be a highly regarded regional brewery producing 30,000 barrels annually. The brewery is known for its broad portfolio of award-winning, innovative beers.  In 2019, Breakside became one of only a handful of employee-owned breweries in the country.

In addition to winning many national, international, and regional awards for its beers, Breakside was named Brewery of the Year in 2017 and 2019 at the Oregon Beer Awards and the 2018 Best of Craft Beer Awards.”  (Breakside Website)

The taproom is in the midst of a renewed downtown Lake Oswego that is thriving with new businesses, restaurants and living accommodations.   It’s not fancy, but has room for fifty people at the expansive bar and a few tables inside in addition to a nice outdoor drink rail on the street.

The décor is dark wood with attractive art and posters – a very nice ambiance.  There’s plenty of drink options with 16 beer taps, plus wine, cider and cocktails. The menu is very limited – as one might expect with just a few appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

Andrew, the bartender and cook was an affable guy and made a great sandwich. 

We had the “Up in the Club”“roasted turkey, smoked sweetheart ham, hickory smoked bacon, white cheddar & pepper jack cheese, pickled onions, mixed greens, dijonaise, on toasted ciabatta, served with kettle chips.”

It was outstanding although at $16, demonstrates the impact of inflation on restaurant prices.

Andrew

Oregonians can be proud of Breakside’s contribution to the Oregon economy, and craft beer scene.  It has enlightened management and a progressive mission.  As reported by Oregon Live’s excellent editor and beer writer, Andre Meunier, in an April 7th article:

“Perennial awards powerhouse Breakside Brewery dominated the 2022 Oregon Beer Awards on Wednesday night, taking home 11 medals and the title of Large Brewery of the Year. 

More than 1,200 beers were submitted by 123 entrants for the competition that determines the best of Oregon beer in 2021. The competition was judged by 72 beer-industry professionals, who tasted without knowing the brewery or beer name of each sample.”

Oregon Live Editor and Beer Writer, Andre Meunier

Willamette Week reinforces the positive vibe by the following description in a 2017 article:

“Breakside is the rare brewery that will please all palates, from casual patio sippers to obsessive beer geeks. That’s born of brewmaster Ben Edmunds’ nonstop experimentation: Every year since 2013, Breakside has brewed 100 different beers.

Want an easy-drinking, perfectly crisp Pilsner? “Liquid Sunshine” is just the vitamin D replacement you need. You could also get a delightful punch in the mouth with the Passionfruit Sour Ale, or just call it a night with the chocolate- and chile-infused, bourbon-barrel-aged Aztec weighing in at 12 percent ABV.”

Check out the Lake Oswego Taproom or one of Breakside’s other locations.   You will enjoy the experience and the beer.

Cheers!

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  

 

 

Ride a Wave to Beachcrest Brewing

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

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

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

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

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

A classic dive – the Old Oregon Saloon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brewery

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

The four talented and adventurous entrepreneurs

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

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

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

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

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

————-

Only $3 for this delight……

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

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

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

Build your own flight…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The interesting and quality wares from Java Depot…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beachcrest Brewing     7755 N Highway 101
Gleneden Beach

 

Old Town Brewing – Part II


In Thebeerchaser’s first post on Old Town Brewing, (hereafter OTB) I sketched the story of the founder and owner, Adam Milne and his vision which has become a reality.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/26/new-energy-and-ideas-at-old-town-brewing/

The Old Town Brewing Trademark

(Note:  This is a long post and even if you don’t peruse it in its entirety, be sure to check out the videos towards the end of the post.  But to check them out, you will need to click on the blog site rather than look at it through e-mail.  Just click on the title in your e-mail. You will be glad that you did…)

The prior post elaborated on the great ambiance and rustic environment, the team concept Adam espouses and briefly touched on the unfortunate legal battle with the City of Portland over the iconic OTB trademark in which Adam and his team prevailed after years of litigation.

But, the story is not complete without a detailed discussion of the beer and the creative marketing which goes into making it a gem in the NW micro-craft industry.  The list of awards for OTB beer is extensive and the styles of beer garnering awards diverse as can be seen from this link below:

https://www.otbrewing.com/dock-sales

Gold Medal Winners – Pilsner and Shanghai’d IPA

For example in 2018, there were two Gold Medals – – OTB’s Pilsner and Shanghai’d IPA – at the World Beer Cup in Nashville – Adam described this as the “Olympics of beer competition.”

And at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014 – the “Academy Awards of beer” according to Adam – they brought home a silver medal – Sun Dazed Kolsch – following by a gold in 2015 for Shanghai’d IPA.

The honors continued in 2019 with three medals at the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Bend where brewers from 33 states compete.   Shanghai’d won again with a bronze – also one for Paulie’s Not Irish Red and a silver for Dark Helmet.  I was impressed that besides the reaffirmation of Shanghai’d IPA quality, that OTB has garnered medals for a diverse group of brews.

Head Brewer – Adam Lamont – educated in his craft

Adam credits a lot of this to the fortuitous hiring of Andrew Lamont.  He had spent about eight years with the Boston Beer Company two and one-half of which were as brewer for Samuel Adams Research and Development Brewery.

Adam was looking for a brewer in late 2014 and thought, “There’s no way he will work for me.”  Fortunately, Andrew, who was pursuing a PhD, decided he wanted to relocate to Portland.  This was after Lamont had earned his Master’s in Polymer Science at Southern Mississippi and his Master Brewer at UC Davis.

But it’s a team approach that Adam credits for their success as can be seen from this photo from the OTB website and his statement:

“”We feel our biggest strength in brewing quality beer is creating a team approach that feeds all of our passion and excitement,’ he says. ‘It was important for [head brewer] Andrew [Lamont] and I to create atmosphere that allows our management crew to lead and have a voice in the beer creation process.’”

Adam Milne and his team – creativity can be fun…….

While it would be easy to do an entire post on the following issue, we should touch on  the trademark battle with City of Portland – an example of bad judgment on the part of the City – an ill-advised bureaucratic foray which drew the ire of the micro-craft community, business groups and those who value common sense…..

Many citizens wondered why Portland was taking on this small business when OTB had applied and been granted the image for its logo by the US Patent Office.  Moreover, Milne had come to the City offering to compromise before the fight escalated.

For those interested, a detailed account of the fascinating legal issues involved, check out Jeff Alworth’s blog Beervana:

https://www.beervanablog.com/beervana/2017/11/13/the-city-of-portland-versus-old-town-brewing

Now, Intellectual Property law can be very technical, but if you want to see a summary of the settlement use this link from an article in Craftbeer.com

https://www.craftbeer.com/editors-picks/old-town-brewing-portland-end-lengthy-trademark-dispute

Carson Bowler

Brien Flanagan

As I mentioned in the first OTB post, on both of my two visits I was accompanied by two very skilled lawyers who are also both wonderful human beings – some may think the categories are mutually exclusive.

Carson Bowler, a fraternity brother of Adam from U of O days in the ’90’s, and Brien Flanagan were in our group.

On the second visit, Carson, Adam and I got two flights of eight – a good idea given the variety of good beers and a very reasonable $10 – only a buck more than a flight of four.  My favorites on that visit were the Sun Dazed (German-style Kolsch) and the Belgian Tripel – a collaboration with Rogue Brewing with an ABV of 9.8%!

The three of us – based on the experience Carson and I had on our first visit, got another of the House Special PizzaThe shop favorite since 1974. A combination of pepperoni, salami, mushroom, black olive, bell pepper, and homemade Italian sausage.”

On the flight path….with Carson and Adam

On the first visit I got a pint of their award-winning Paulie’s Not Irish Red Ale.  As a fan of red ales, I can state that it lived up to the description: “Impeccably balanced and malt-driven with notes of sweet bread and caramel, partnered with a medium hop bite and soft finish.”

While having a reputation for great pizza, OTB also has some other good eats including five different salads, pasta and six toasted subs of which the Meatball is the house favorite “Sliced meatballs covering a garlic buttered roll, mozzarella, cheese and house-made marinara dusted with Reggiano cheese and fresh basil.”  

The first trip to OTB was a belated 70th birthday present from Carson and Brien and they paid deference to their elder by letting me have the extra slice of the House Special Pizza we split.

Belated birthday present – as you can see from this picture and the last, Carson when being photographed holds his head at an angle and adopts an intellectual pose

Brien is also a Beerchasing regular and, in fact, his last foray on this blog was right in the same neighborhood at Billy Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar. You should stop by this great dive bar on a trip to OTB.

Flanagan (in the center) in a visit to BRNDB

One of the more impressive aspects to this enterprise is their creativity, which is demonstrated in the development and production of new beers – for example their Mushroom Ale – which some purists pan, but has gotten some good reviews.  Hiring a scientist as your head brewer allows adventures like this one that Andrew first tried as an experimental beer in 2015:

For example, this 11/29/17 review from Ratebeer.com:

“Not only does this beer give you an experience that I can guarantee you’ve never had, it also tastes amazing. Like drinking carbonated maple syrup with a touch of umami character. Amazing.”

https://www.pdxmonthly.com/articles/2015/8/5/old-town-brewing-mushrooming

Experimentation yields results….

But also the display of their product in the cans which commenced in 2018 (as evidenced by the pictures below and this statement on their website:

“There’s much to be appreciated about beer cans. We trust these sealed vessels with the momentous task of transporting our precious cargo safely. We outfit them in our finest digs to help celebrate and convey our stories about who we are and what we stand for.”

Another innovation was the delivery of beer by bicycle, which started in 2012 – perhaps you will soon be getting a Glow Torch IPA by drone in the near future….

Although they don’t still deliver beer by bike, Adam says:

“We were the first brewery in America to do that based on our research.. I had the idea and called the OLCC who expressed doubt it was legal. They called back and said they all met and couldn’t find a reason it was illegal.”

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/portland-brewery-delivering-beer-on-bikes-149010975.html

One of the most innovative Brewery advertising methods I’ve witnessed since starting Thebeerchaser in 2017 is their video series. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but I thought these great ads were somewhat under the radar – “Beers in Paradise.”

They feature OTB’s Sales Director, Joe Sanders.  This four-part video series is extremely well done, humorous and shows what having an in-house creative artist and media expert can develop.  I asked Adam how this idea germinate:

“We decided to do something that spoke to our audience and communicated our seriousness for making beer in a really fun way. Once we made our first video, with Joe as our front-man…. the snowball started to roll. People loved them and we had so much fun making them.”

https://www.otbrewing.com/latest-news/2018/4/3/weekly-beer-hunting-beers-of-paradise.

My favorite was the Pillow Fist IPA although you should check all of them out.  (They’re slightly hidden on the Website under the drop-down “Latest News.”)  And for a fascinating article – again on Jeff Alworth’s Beervana blog, read about the process as described by Creative Director, Jordan Wilson.

Creative Director, Jordan Wilson

The process starts with naming of the beer, the context and set for the videos and is followed by evaluating the effectiveness of the videos through metrics.

“It’s total DIY….this feels like a unique strength for Old Town – we keep everything in house and avoid the high cost of creative overhead. And because of our lower investment, we can play with it more. Throw things at the wall, see what sticks.….(the videos have) become an extension of our brand and how we tell our stories.” 

https://www.beervanablog.com/beervana/2019/1/30/how-we-use-video

They also use videos to announce new releases.  Take a look at this one that announced Figaro Imperial Stout  – brilliant!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuE6X_dAxrS/embed/?autoplay=1

As you can see below, Adam gives his staff credit for their success – one of his core values.  For example, this notice on their website about Staff Appreciation Day.

“2018 was incredibly fun and certainly the most memorable year for us to date. We kicked off with a major rebrand of our company, canned our first brews, made it through a dispute that brought our community together and forever changed the way we hold our love and admiration for this industry, we started our videos series, collaborated with some of the most amazing and talented people, drank amazing beer, celebrated more“

Team values reinforced!

Another example was during the 2012 fire, when the Brewery and pub were closed for three weeks.  The staff’s pay was continued during the closure.

There’s no question that those who want a good brewpub experience have a multitude of options in Portland, but this 12/7/18 Yelp review summarizes the composite experience well and illustrates why you should drop by and say “hello” to Adam and his team:

“Delicious brews and FIRE pizza! The space is large but cozy. I was recently there for a work event and the food was AMAZING plus the service was top notch. Their bartender Tony got our 20+ person party drinks quickly and he was SO FRIENDLY – not the usual response to large parties in PDX. The vibes were great! Of course, I’ll be back!”

Old Town Brewing                   5201 NE MLK BLVD

New Energy and Ideas at Old Town Brewing

Old Town Brewing’s brewery and taproom on MLK Blvd – photo ,courtesy of Old Town Brewing

Notwithstanding the fact that there are many thriving breweries in Oregon, the micro-craft business in Oregon – it ranks fifth in the US for the number of breweries per capita – is extremely competitive.

An eastside mainstay closes its door in early 2019

This is evidenced by the closure of three major players in the Portland brewing scene just in the last several months – Alameda, Bridgeport and Burnside.  (Click on the links on the names of the last two to see Thebeerchaser’s reviews.)

And Widmer Brothers, the Lompoc Tavern and Portland Brewing have also closed their pubs – gone, but not forgotten as good places to raise a mug.

Bridgeport joins the legendary Slab Town in closing its doors in NW

While some not familiar with the brewery business, have a dream of establishing their own operation based on their enjoyment from home brewing, it takes considerable planning, risk tolerance and devotion to long hours and meeting challenges to sustain a successful brewery or pub – and there’s also the initial capital to even open it.

Backwoods Brewings’ second location in the Pearl District

That is why I have so much respect for the entrepreneurial spirit of some of my favorites including Mark Becker of Flyboy Brewing, the Waters family of SW Washington’s Backwoods Brewing and Jim Mills’ from Caldera Brewing in Ashland – and these are just a few.

Add to those, Adam Milne, the founder and owner of Old Town Brewing (hereafter OTB) in Portland.  I had dinner and beer with Adam and lawyer, Carson Bowler, on my second visit to Old Town’s operation in NE Portland – the brewpub and actual site where they brew their six flagship beers in addition to a number of limited batch seasonal brews.

By the way, due to the breadth of the story of Adam Milne and Old Town Brewing, it will be covered in two separate blog posts rather than the customary one narrative.

Adam Milne – young entreprenauer

The original, and now companion location is the well-known historic Old Town Pizza site.  And the story is interesting and fulfills a dream – similar to those of the people mentioned above in their enterprises.  Adam first visited Old Town Pizza when he was only nine years old.  It was owned by the Accaurdi family who opened it in 1974.

“It was in the historic Merchant Hotel in Old Town and a hub for like-minded people with a radical agenda. It stood as a beacon for the local community; a place to break bread and enjoy your neighbor.”  (Old Town Brewery web site)

That visit had an impact and demonstrates this young entrepreneur’s vision since he bought Old Town Pizza in 2003 when he was only in his early thirties – 33 to be exact.

He subsequently expanded to NE Portland on NE Martin Luther King Blvd in 2008, where he built the brewery and pub.  Assistance came in the form of a low-interest loan from the Portland Development Commission in its effort to promote enterprise close-in NE Portland.

It now houses, in 6,000 square feet, an attractive and bustling brewpub in addition to their brewing hardware and canning/bottling equipment.  Adam and his family live in the same neighborhood.  This review will focus on the NE location rather than Old Town Pizza brewpub which is still located on Second and NW Davis Streets.

Those who view the story on the OTB website will see that the enterprise, since that time, has had two major expansions and thus may conclude that it’s been a smooth ride for this native of Marcola, Oregon, but that’s not the case.  He graduated from Mohawk High School – with twenty-one other classmates in his senior class.

In 2003, to raise the capital to purchase Old Town Pizza, Adam mortgaged the equity in his home and sold a rental house to make the down payment.  Only one month into the new venture, their primary refrigerator went out – they had no cash to replace it.  He had to buy all new refrigeration and new pizza ovens.   When I asked how they resolved, Adam chuckled and said, “I suppose that’s what credit cards are for!”

Attractive recovery from the 2012 fire in the second story

Then there was the fire upstairs at the NE brewpub in 2012, which resulted in closure of the pub for two to three months.

Many people are also familiar with Adam’s battle with the City of Portland over the Old Town Breweing trademark – the iconic “leaping white stag” – which was not only stressful, but the multi-year legal battle, resulted in significant attorney fees before OTB eventually prevailed and settled with the City.

Source of mult-year legal battle…

On both of my visits to OTB, I was accompanied by Carson Bowler, a partner at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm and with whom I had the pleasure of working for a good portion of my 25 years at the firm.

Starting in 1990 and for four years, while at the U of O, Carson lived in the same fraternity – Sigma Nu – as Adam.  Carson also bears a strong resemblance to former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Art Vandely, President of Vandely Enterprises.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/01/31/beerchaser-of-the-month-art-vandelay/

Art Vandelay in his executive role has a different legal perspective…

This environmental attorney has enjoyed his friendship with Adam and stated:

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

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

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

We will get back to Adam in the second blog post, but first let’s talk about their quarters in NE Portland.  The architect was another Sigma Nu at Oregon, Eric Aust, now practicing in Newport Beach, CA and who specializes in custom residential and commercial development.

https://www.austarchitect.com/old-town-pizza

He succeeded in making Old Town Brewing one of the most impressive and comfortable brewpubs I have visited in seven and one-half years of Beerchasing.   Thebeerchaser is not conversant with technical design concepts and themes, but I know what I like and that was definitely the case with the environment at OTB.

While some of the new breweries and brewpubs in the Pearl are sleek and modern-industrial, the OTB building is rustic – large fireplaces, dark wood and a home-grown Northwest ambiance.  And there are interesting historic photos as can be seen below.

For example, most of the wood in the two-story structure is reclaimed from an old tobacco warehouse in Kentucky.  When we were touring,Adam stated, “You can still smell tobacco,” – (well, at least somebody without the sinus issues that plague me probably could….)

The round barrel tables are former sewing machine stands purchased from an antique store in nearby Aurora.  The bar and backbar are very attractive and there are a variety of seating options.

Attractive bar

Okay, ambiance is nice, but what about the beer?  OTB fares very well in that category which is evidenced by the extensive list of awards on their website dating back to 2013:

https://www.otbrewing.com/dock-sales

I will cover the beer in significantly more depth as well as the food and the trademark battle and show some of the pictures from my first visit – this time with two lawyers – the aforementioned Carson (not Washington) and his fellow lawyer in the Schwabe Natural Resources GroupBrien Flanagan, the Group Leader.

Bowler and Flannagan

Old Town Brewing        5201 NE Martin Luther King Blvd

Taste and Believe!


The history of beer is as robust as an imperial stout and has religious roots.  These generally date back to the sixth century when the monks at the Benedictine Brewery in Monte Cassino started brewing beer in the monastery founded by Benedict of Nursia.  Saint Benedict is also the originator of the Rule of St. Benedict.

Benedict of Nursia

As stated in a Jesuit Press article entitled  How Monks Revolutionized Beer and Evangelization,: 

“If you love beer, thank a monk.  Monks have been producing beer for 1,500 years, and in that time, they have revolutionized and perfected the beer making process.”

The Benedictine saints Bonifatius, Gregorius the Great, Adelbertus of Egmond and priest Jeroen van Noordwijk (Circa 1529-30)

Well, after more than five years of planning, constructing, training and testing,  Oregonians now have an opportunity to reap the fruits of that legacy in their own backyard.

The Benedictine Brewery is now brewing on site across from the hop fields on Mount Angel Abbey property in the City of Mt. Angel .

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll

The Brewery and the St. Michael Taproom were blessed by Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, in an inspirational ceremony on the afternoon of August 8th attended by monks, priests, seminarians, Abbey Hilltop employees and special guests.

Abbot Jeremy, an Idaho native was professed a monk in 1974, ordained as a priest in 1981 and elected the 12th Abbot of the Abbey in 2016.  The Abbey Monastery was founded in 1882 and the Seminary in 1889.

The ceremony commenced with Fr. Martin Grassel, OSB, who will be the General Manager of the Brewery and whose vision was the motivating force stated:

“Father Abbot, we ask a blessing on this building constructed for brewing beer, so we may live by the work of our hands bringing forth from nature and art, a drink we pray, will gladden hearts, bring friends together and lend them to the thankful praise of God.”

Abbot Jeremy and Fr. Martin at the Blessing Ceremony

The Timber Raising

Although planning for the Brewery commenced over five years ago and the monks have been brewing on a contract basis with Seven Brides Brewing of Silverton, the primary construction phase was marked by an old-fashioned barn or timber-raising last November. On that cloudy day, over one-hundred monks, seminarians and members of the Mt. Angel community gathered in the early morning.  

What began the day as a foundation and concrete pad ended up as a structural fame with six bents (two-dimensional transverse rigid frames and the building blocks that define the overall shape of a structure) using 14,000 board feet of Douglas Fir timber harvested from the Abbey tree farm.

To see pictures, video and read about that event see Thebeerchaser post:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/21/the-benedictine-brewery-beam-me-up/

The following video is one example of those shown in the aforementioned post.

 

The first prayer ceremony in the brewery.

Workers broke at noon for the first prayer service in the brewery, rather than the standard service in the beautiful Abbey Chapel.

Fr. Vincent Trujillo, OSB, led the service – which was “uplifting”– very consistent with the theme that day! The monks sang and were joined by the other participants.

Scrumptuous even without pigs stomarch…

We were rejuvenated by a delicious spread of barbecued chicken, baked beans, potato salad, fruit and green salad.  Missing from the traditional feast of historic barn raising in Amish and Mennonite communities was the standard main course – pig stomach!

What a wonderful collaborative effort that day.

 

Who Should Come to the Brewery and Taproom and Why?

With over 260 breweries in Oregon, most with taprooms, why should you visit the Benedictine?  That question is answered more thoroughly below, but one reason is that it is one of only three in the US in which monks are the owners and operators of the brewery. You have to travel to the wild Chama Canyon near Abiquiu, New Mexico for the closest to Mount Angel Abbey – that of Christ in the Desert Monastery.

Fr. Martin Grassel –

Fr. Martin as General Manager and Fr. Jacob Stronach, the Head Brewer will be guiding other monks who will assist in the brewing, bottling and maintenance of the equipment.  The beer will use locally sourced hops grown on Abbey land and water from the monks’ well.

Fr. Jacob briefing his colleagues on the brewing process

Fr. Martin is a University of North Dakota graduate in Computer Science who started his career in Phoenix as a software engineer for Honeywell Corporation before he got the call and made the trip to Mount Angel for seminary in 1995.

“Once I stepped across the threshold at Mount Angel, I knew I was home,”   His fascinating story can be viewed at

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

The Environment

The brewery and taproom are in rural setting at the lower edge of the Abbey grounds and across from the hop fields.  A friend who is a noted NW architect and saw pictures of the taproom interior (not quite finished) and external shell responded with the following comment:

“The building looks splendid – adhering to the Benedictine principle of elegance through simplicity.  What a splendid project with which to be engaged – one in which rewards will precede heaven.”

Taproom as it nears completion

The interior of the taproom has a great Northwest ambiance – attractive wooden beams, community tables and benches.  There is a patio on the south end with picnic tables looking over the hop fields with the imposing steeple of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Mt. Angel in the background.

The magnificent steeple of St. Mary’s Catholic Church

And only a mile away, the Abbey Hilltop, overlooking Marion County farmland has an inspiring campus with the splendid chapel as the focus,

 

Besides the Chapel, there is a bookstore, museum which integrates art with natural history, a retreat center (guest house), seminary classrooms and dorms and a noted library:

“Housed in a world-renowned building …..the Mount Angel Abbey Library provides …. access to a large collection of books and other library material in a wide range of subjects including medieval manuscripts and rare materials from the Civil War.” (Abbey web site)

Library mezzanine

 

 

 

 

“It is one of only two buildings in the United States (the other is at MIT) designed by Alvar Aalto – one of the early giants of modern architecture. Completed in 1970, the library received the 2014 World Monuments Fund Award. Recently, Oregon architects voted it the second most iconic building in the state, after Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood.”  (Mount Angel Letter – Summer 2018)

The People

You and your family (including children) will find when you visit both the St. Michael Taproom and the Hilltop, that the Abbey Community including monks, seminarians and employees are a diverse, interesting and hospitable group.   And the people in the City of Mt. Angel are enthusiastic about this project and we expect them to be regular visitors to the taproom.

The Glockenspiel Restaurant will provide the food at the taproom ranging from chili, to pretzels to fondue and cheeses. As Fr. Martin said, “With Oktoberfest and a German heritage, this is a beer-loving town.”  (The St. Michael Taproom will be open to the public during Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, September 13 to 16, for tastings and tours and the Grand Opening will be September 22-3.)

The Mt. Angel Octoberfest Board at a Taproom preview event on the patio.

Br. Andre Love

The monks have come to the Monastery from all over the world with amazing backgrounds.   We already talked about Fr. Martin, but meet Br. Andre Love who is standing by the sign that he made which will hang on the outside of the brewery.

He is the Curator of the Abbey Museum, an artist who once owned a tattoo parlor and a talented designer who was a key figure in designing the Taproom.

Or you might raise a mug with Br. Bede Ramos who hails from the Philippines and  had a background in international human resources before he came to the Seminary.

Br. Bede with a bottle of Black Habit

And if you want to hear a marvelous southern drawl, just order a mug from the new Taproom Manager, Jennie Baxley, a Texas native who just drove across the country in her move from North Carolina to launch St. Michael.

She has a background in education and the hospitality industry and is shown in the picture below with Fr. Liem who is originally from Viet Nam – a monk for twenty-nine years.

The Beer

Initially, the number of beers will be limited to a certain extent as the Brewery ramps up production.  Taps will feature Belgian beers with NW hops including Black Habit – a smooth dark beer which has received an enthusiastic reception fom the brewing community and beer lovers. 

In addition, St. Benedict Farmhouse Ale and Haustus Pale Ale and Fr. Martin’s Helles Lager are some of the beers in the tap list still under development.  Cider (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and wine and root beer from Mount Angel will also be served.

The beer will be crafted in the brewing tradition that recognizes Saint Arnold of Metz, a Benedictine Monk who is known as the “Patron Saint of Brewers.”

“In medieval times, beer was an essential, as many places did not have access to clean drinking water. Arnold gladly brewed the beer for the local peasants and encouraged them to drink it instead of water”

St. Arnold of Soissons – Patron Saint…

He once said, “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.”

The People!!

This factor is worth restating as it will differentiate the Benedictine Brewery from others and also begs the question:

Is this a taproom where one has to be Catholic or have a religious bent to enjoy it and feel welcome.   Let’s look at the Brewery Guiding Principles authored by Fr. Martin:

“To say it should be a place of hospitality and welcome and family-friendliness would be too shallow. It should be a place where people are more than just welcome.

A place where they will feel blessed, where they will feel the peace of the Abbey, where they will encounter faith in an inviting and non-threatening way, where they will want to come back because of the spiritual atmosphere.” 

So how is that “blessing” imparted?  Fr. Martin goes on to state it is the feeling one will encounter there and leave with as exemplified: 

“By the greeting you receive.  The respect people are shown, the simplicity and the values encountered.  The presence of monks, priests and seminarians.  The peace of the Hilltop.  

The contemplative view of the hop fields.  The blessing of the taproom when it opens daily.  Having your personal items blessed if you make that request.”

You might even meet Abbey Jeremy, shown in the picture below toasting with Br. Anselm, from Bakersfield, California, who is one of four novices who one year ago made their simple vows (stability, conversion of life and obedience – essentially becoming junior monks).

And consider having Abbot Jeremy autograph one of the books he has written including The Monks Alphabet  – my absolute favorite and a wonderful read.

It’s a series of short essays with the Abbot’s own reflections on topics ranging from serious theology including his years spent teaching in Rome, to thoughts on literature to keenly observed moments in nature, to his unique experiences as a youngster.

The latter includes his adventures when he was nineteen – he and three friends had jobs as cowboys in New Mexico.  Fortunately, by then he had learned some lessons in life including how to avoid accidents:  “When I was five-years old, my brother and I burned our garage down.  It was a big accident.” 

So this fall, if you are taking a trip to nearby Silver Falls State Park, the Oregon Garden or just want to have an interesting and peaceful afternoon on the Abbey Hilltop, “tap” off your trip with a tour of the Benedictine Brewery and have a glass of Black Habit or one of the other Benedictine Beers.

Whether you meet Taproom Manager, Jennie Baxley, Fr. Martin, a resident of the Mt. Angel community, Br. Bede or someone who has traveled from Sacramento to see the wonders of Oregon, you will enjoy the fellowship and the beer.

(The video below is the Hilltop on the day of the St. Benedict Festival in July)