Ashland’s Caldera Brewery-Now that’s a fine kettle of beer(s)!

A gem in southern Oregon along I-5

A gem in southern Oregon along I-5

On a recent road trip from Portland to Yosemite National Park, we decided that rather than drive ten hours in one day to Sacramento, we would see how far we got along I-5 leaving Portland in the afternoon.   This spontaneity was fortuitous because when our usual Marriott choices were filled in Medford, we pushed on to Ashland.

Ashland - Shakespeare and excellent beer too!

Ashland – Shakespeare and excellent beer too!

And based on the recommendation of the reception clerk at the motel, we found the Caldera Brewery – a gem and one with an outstanding reputation only a half-block away.  This business grew from Jim Mills’ hard work and creativity when he was a young man, to a brewery, restaurant and tap-house which employs 100 people and now ships its product internationally, but it has garnered a national reputation for the quality of its beer.

Caldera was born on the 4th of July in 1997 as a small 10-barrel brewery and tap-house and expanded in 2011 to much larger capacity – 30-bbl and 28,000 square feet – including what is now one of the largest restaurants in Ashland.  Besides the 92-seat interior, it has an expansive patio which seats another 42.

We were amazed to see that they had 43 of their own beers on tap.  (We did not visit the tap-house in downtown Ashland, but it has 20 Caldera beers on tap.)

2016-09-27-20-21-54Besides the nice ambiance including an attractive bar, Caldera has a unique collection of bottles and cans that provide the central décor for the brewhouse and restaurant. In fact, at 4,567 in number, they claim it is the largest collection of its kind in Oregon.  That assertion seemed pretty credible to me given the visual when you walk in.

(In case your wondering, given Oregon’s location on the Cascadia Faultline and the state’s average of sixty-five earthquakes per year, all the cans and bottles are glued to their shelves – which perhaps might prevent a catastrophe, of sorts, in the event of The Big Shaker.  Fortunately, Jackson County has only had five since 1931 and the probability of a 5.0 quake in the next fifty years in only 11.94%! – Homefacts.com)

An amazing bottle and can collection....

An amazing bottle and can collection….

And their beers are plentiful and very good based on what we sampled.  It appears from their website that they brew seventeen year-round and another twenty-one that are available periodically and their brews have won multiple awards.

For example, in 2016 alone, they won a gold, two silvers and three bronze medals in various beer competitions. The most prized is the gold medal at the World Beer Cup – the Olympics of Beer held in Boulder, Colorado for Caldera’s Ashland Amber in the English Style Pale Ale category, where they bested thirty-two other entries in an international competition that comprised 253 judges from thirty-one countries.  (And Janet and I can vouch for the quality of this great beer by the pint we shared that night in addition to a wonderful Dry Hop Orange Session IPA.)

___ beers on tap

43 beers on tap

 

Ashland Amber - Gold Medal Winner

Ashland Amber – Gold Medal Winner

Caldera also has some great names for their brews including Vas Deferens“a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with a unique twist incorporating a little snip of this and a little snip of that….” (I’m not sure how a guy would work that beer into a pick-up line in a bar.)  Other great names were the Hopportunity Knocks and Lawnmower Lager – chosen one of the “Twenty Great American Lagers not Named Budweiser in 2016 by gearpatrol.com (“This was one of our favorites. Sweet on the nose, like a graham cracker, it’s a clean and drinkable lager that doesn’t taste overly boozy or hoppy.”)

A strategic and smart growth plan

A strategic and smart growth plan

It seems like this brewery has followed a very smart and strategic growth plan in the last twenty years.  They were the first craft brewery in Oregon to brew and can their own beer (their capacity is now 1,200 cans per minute) and currently ship their cans and bottles to seventeen states and six countries including the Netherlands, Malaysia, South Korea, Brazil and Japan.  And check out the graphics on their cans – they are superb and creative.

Cans shipped all over the world

Cans shipped all over the world and 100% recyclable….

They age some of their beer in Kentucky bourbon barrels.   Oh, and don’t forget their non-alcoholic soda and teas – root beer, ginger ale, craft soda and “hibiscus rose petal” iced tea.

Their sustainability policy appears substantive and thorough with detailed information about practices in food and brewery operations plus building and brewery design.

And if our example on a weekday evening was typical, their staff people are solid representatives of the company.   Our bartender was friendly and knowledgeable and when I showed Restaurant and Bar Manager, Savannah, my card and told her about Thebeerchaser blog, she gave me a personal tour of the brewery, which was an impressive physical layout.

Savannah - the Restaurant Manager on our tour of the "back office."

Savannah – the Restaurant Manager on our tour of the “back office.”

 

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As MSN stated in their article, “The Best Breweries Across the Fifty States,”

“Caldera is a small yet revolutionary brewery. In 2005 they became the very first brewery on the West Coast to both brew and can their own beers. They have a little something for everyone, from those who love to stick with traditional and familiar brews to those who want to branch out and try unusual flavors like smoke or red roses.” 

Jim Mills is the owner of Caldera and its former head brewer and his story is one that will be in the annals of Oregon Brewery history when the last mug is raised – maybe after the Cascadia Faultline decides to finally have its due.  His passion for beer emanates from an early age:

“So I just started homebrewing and kept bugging the old manager here at the old Rogue brewery (formerly on the current Caldera site) to give me a job. I finally got a job bartending and working in the kitchen. Then I started washing kegs for free just  to learn how to brew, get in there. I was brewer’s assistant for a while. Then I was head brewer here in ’94-’95. Then in 1995, I started my business plan.”  BrewPublic 9/23/2009

2016-09-27-21-27-05William Shakespeare once wrote “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.”  Perhaps this quote describes Caldera Brewing’s almost twenty-year history although Mills is not afraid to take a risk in his creative approach to brewing.

The next time you pass Exit 14 on I-5, stop and have one of their excellent beers, see the bottle collection and judge for yourself.

Caldera Brewing        590 Clover Street      Ashland, Oregon

The Yard House – Does it Measure Up??

Is this the entry to a bar or a Fortune 500 corporation?

Is this the entry to a bar or a Fortune 500 corporation?

The Yard House (hereafter “YH”) in downtown Portland is one of sixty-six establishments (mostly west of the Mississippi) in this national chain.  Thebeerchaser’s affinity for dive bars and neighborhood taverns would keep him a distance from this type of bar, but it provided a convenient gathering place for several Beerchaser regulars to hoist a mug, so we gave it a try.

Westwood, Kevin and Amy, Jack Faust and Thebeerchaser

Westwood, Kevin and Amy, Jack Faust and Thebeerchaser

The company included lawyers Jack Faust and Jim Westwood, in addition to local radio icon, Amy Faust and her husband of twenty-four years, Kevin – more about this interesting couple below.

And while YH had an impressive selection of beers, I will not be hitting this or another YH again for the reasons set forth below.

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Now when I step into what is usually the dim and cluttered entry to a bar, a quick scan of the environment will reveal some regulars who look interesting, a few alcoves with some old Schlitz or Olympia signs above them to elicit good memories.  Also expect either a stuffed animal head or a sign that says something like, “Our beer is colder than your exe’s heart.”

Décor at the Club 21 in NE Portland

Décor at the Club 21 in NE Portland

Don’t expect that at the Yard House.  As you enter the sterile, corporate-like lobby area, you will be greeted by what one Trip Advisor reviewer aptly described as a “…..snooty, ‘I’m too sexy for this podium host.'” 

The host(s) – there were actually three when I entered – probably recent Portland State University Communications majors, aggressively steer you to a table in the massive basement-level space.  They don’t want to hear that you just want to sit at the bar or seat yourself.  

Environmentally safe transport from the source....

Environmentally safe transport from the source….

The large bars are impressive and the overhead tubes trans-porting one of the approximately 100 beers on tap (shown on an illuminated digital display) from the overhead kegs are visually stimulating and kind of cool:

“Our glass-enclosed keg room is the pulse of the operation. Each keg room houses as much as 4,000 gallons of beer kept at an ideal 36-38 degrees, and delivered to our island bar through five miles of individual beer lines stretching overhead. Every draught is fresh and perfectly chilled.”

But the YH has the ambiance of an Applebee’s or a suburban branch of Citibank. In fact, since the YH bars are owned and operated by the Darden Restaurant chain, I should change the named restaurant comparison to The Olive Garden – the chain’s flagship brand!    P1040029

Perhaps a Yelp reviewer on a visit from Seattle, in an effort to be positive, made my case more succinctly than anyone when he stated, “This place is like Red Robin but an upscale, classier and better version. I really enjoyed this.”  Really!!??

Affable and competent server, Jason.

Affable and competent server, Jason.

Now I will admit that Jason, our server, was a very personable and helpful young man, who knew the beer list well even though he had only worked there two months.  He suggested a Six-Pack Sampler with six different beers which was great – although we traded in the Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourban Barrel Stout for a second sample of the excellent Fort George 1811 Lager from Astoria. I had a pint of the Green Flash West Coast IPA – a very nice beer.

One of the distinguishing highlights at the YH is the option to buy a half-yard of beer – delivered in a very tall and impressive glass (see the picture below).  And you can see why the recipients of that mug are smiling……

A good option at the Yard House

A good option at the Yard House

It was no surprise to us that Jim Westwood volunteered to be our half-yard participant.  You may remember from prior posts on this blog that both Westwood and  Faust are past Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter. (see posts of 3/28/13 and 9/2/14

Westwood - Ben Padrow would be proud!!

Westwood – Ben Padrow would be proud!!

 Westwood was the captain of the legendary Portland State College team that captured the hearts of the nation when it went undefeated in the 1964-65 GE College Bowl television quiz in what NBC producers labeled as, “the most outstanding team performance in College Bowl history.”

He’s so smart that he converted the half-yard height of the mug into the metric system while taking the first gulp – 42.75 centimeters…!

Distinguishing Characteristics

Despite the somewhat sterile atmosphere, one does have to applaud the variety of not only beers (over 100 drafts in nine broad categories ranging from “hoppy/floral” to “strong/spiced”) at the YH, but they also have an impressive list of cocktails (21), house martinis (10) and even five different sake drinks for those who are adventurous. (Try the Snow Maiden which is tozai, junmai and nigori.)

We drank rather than ate at the YH.  Given the Dresden Inc. ownership of the Olive Garden along with the YH, I expected to see a menu which included unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks, but the YH does appear to offer a good selection of edibles ranging from appetizers, soups and salads to steaks, burgers and ribs to seafood and deserts.

Scads of TVs if youre not into conversation

Scads of TVs if you’re not into conversation

The tacos drew good comments in the reviews such as this one on Trip Advisor in November, 2014:

“(the taco was amazing…..with rice and beans on the side and the rice is the best Mexican rice I have had in a long time. It’s spicy, but not what I expected from a bar food joint. They also had a long list of desserts, I think we tried most of them. Very tasty.”

What if these guys were around in 2016?

What if these guys were around in 2016?

Drinking beer while hearing Westwood and Jack Faust debate the implications of the 1783 Treaty of Paris (negotiated by John Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin in which the British agreed that the thirteen US Colonies were free, sovereign, and independent states) was stimulating.

And it grew more animated when they theorized that these statesman could have achieved more favorable terms than Secretary of State, John Kerry, in his negotiations with Mohammad Javad Zarif in the US/Iran Nuclear Deal of 2016.

However, I was more interested in chatting with Amy and her spouse, since this was Kevin’s first Beerchasing adventure.  Amy is the female half of the popular Mike and Amy Show on KWJJ – The Wolf (see Beerchaser post on 8/14/2015).   Kevin is a fascinating and transplanted East Coaster who met Amy when they were living in New York.   mike and amy

August will see their 24th wedding anniversary after they originally met in Brooklyn at a party in a loft in what was once an Ex Lax factory.   As Amy recalls, “It was called the Ex Lax building and things have been going smoothly ever since……”

BillboardKevin taught architecture in Ireland after teaching on Long Island and worked for architects in NYC and in Dublin as well.  He graduated from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in New York City in 1859 and which is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education.

At his graduation, our fellow Beerchaser gave the valedictory speech from the same stage on which Abe Lincoln delivered  what has become known as his “right makes might” address” in 1859.

And there is a connection with Westwood, who is also a long-time coach of the former National Championship, Grant High School Constitution Team.  Kevin and Amy’s daughter, Alice, was selected for the team and will participate in the competition this coming year.

 

Abraham Lincoln speaking in Cooper Union's Great Hall February 27, 186

Abraham Lincoln speaking in Cooper Union’s Great Hall February 27, 1859

Notwithstanding my outstanding drinking companions, the aseptic ambiance of the YH was as pervasive and cloying as Jan in the Toyota commercials.   It made Thebeerchaser yearn for a dive or neighborhood bar environment.

For example, the YH highlights its art collection:

The stunning, original art featured on our walls is a major contributor to the very special vibe of every Yard House. The Yard House Original Art Gallery Collection has been created by artist Jerome Gastaldi.

Each piece is uniquely handcrafted to reflect the regional environment, the energy within the Yard House restaurants, and the core values of the company.”

Commissioned art by in the Portland Yard House

Commissioned art by Gastaldi in the Portland Yard House

Now, while neither the wonderful Nest Tavern in SE Portland nor the Low Brow Lounge in the Pearl have famous artists on retainer, their “works” reflect an underlying character and personality that will keep yours truly seeking this type of establishment on Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Pubs and Taverns.

Original art at the Nest Tavern in SE Portland

Original art at the Nest Tavern in SE Portland

So while the ambiance of the Yard House was like being buried three-feet under, you might check it out the YH for its beers or cocktails if you want a convenient place in downtown Portland.  But I would harken back to the Sandy Hut, the Ship Tavern or Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage or another dive bar for a fulfilling experience. (All reviewed on Thebeerchaser.com)

While these classic bars don’t have a “glass-enclosed keg room that keeps the beer at an ideal 36-38 degrees,”  you can get an ice-cold draft $2.50 PBR to die for!

Creative work at the Low Brow Lounge

Creative work at the Low Brow Lounge

 

                    The Yard House  

                  Pioneer Place

                        Portland, Oregon

 

 

 

 

Hair of the Dog Brewery – “Ale Strong Enough to Make You Attack the Mailman” *

P1040064

*  Quote from an article in Maxim Online by Tim Clark

Followers of this blog will already know that Portland’s Eastside Industrial District is a thriving area as evidenced by the post on the resurrected Produce Row Café on 12/7/15.  There are also a lot of good restaurants such as Clark Lewis, Olympic Provisions and bars such as Bunk Bar, Side Door and My Father’s Place.

P1040063Essentially the same folks who enjoyed Produce Row, recently tried the Hair of the Dog Brewery and Tasting Room on a Thursday night and then we walked through the inaugural Portland Winter Light Festival after drinks and dinner.

The Inaugural Winter Festival of Lights

 

This brewery, founded in 1993 and one of Portland’s earlier micro-brew enterprises has differentiated itself from others as described on its website:

“Hair of the Dog Brewing Co is dedicated to providing the beer lover with new and unusual beer styles. Several of our beers are bottle-conditioned or re-fermented in the bottle resulting in beers which improve with age. Beers that are bottle-conditioned have a built-in shelf life.

They can be stored at room temperature (50–74 degrees F) and will continue to mature in the bottle for several years like a fine wine. We make only a small amount of beer and each bottle has a unique bottling number. This number changes every 5000 bottles, or 200 cases.”       

Aging behind the scenes

Aging behind the scenes

Now there is some debate about whether the aging process or re-fermentation does, in fact, improve the beer, but the comments on their beer are generally good and there is no debate that it is strong.  For example, one article stated the average micro-brew ABV (alcohol-by-volume) is slightly less than 6%.  HoD beer is generally much stronger as you will see below. 

Perhaps the high ABV is the rationale for the name of the brewery, since the Urban Dictionary defines “hair-of-the-dog” as an “alcoholic beverage consumed to ease a hangover.”

One of HoD’s beers, “Dave,” which is no longer produced, had an ABV of 29% and was rated by “Beer Tutor” as the twelfth strongest beer in the world in an undated post.  According to Wikipedia,  “The high alcohol level was achieved by repeated freezing and removal of the frozen water, a process called freeze distillation.”   

They had nine of their twenty beers on tap that night and the beers we tried were as follows:

Bourbon Fred from the Wood – 10% ABV

Blue Dot – 7% ABV         Ruth – 5% ABV

Fred – 10% ABV

That compares with one of Thebeerchaser’s standard favorites – PBR with an ABV of 4.74%.

Oregon beer legend, Fred Eckhart, namesake of a few Hod's beers

Oregon beer legend, Fred Eckhart, namesake of a few Hod’s beers

Some Comments on Beer Ratings!

Although this blog is primarily about bars and not the intricacies of the beer itself, let’s talk a little about Beer Ratings from the view of a non-connoisseur.   According to Wikipedia (okay, its not the Oxford Encyclopedia but remember this is a blog post not a Harvard Business Review article)  BeerAdvocate (has a “database contain(ing) about 3,783,570 ratings of about 100,976 beers,”  on 11/13/15.

RateBeer, founded in 2000, which at an unspecified time in the last ten years, “….had 4.5 million ratings of almost 200,000 beers, from nearly 16,000 breweries.”

Perhaps a more valid opinion than Beer Advocate or RateBeer!

Perhaps a more valid opinion than Beer Advocate or RateBeer!

BeerAdvocate is a great resource on beer terminology, home brewing, the history of beer and does explain rating criteria –  appearance (6%), taste (40%), smell (24%) and mouthfeel (10%).

But I tend to agree with their staff member who wrote, “Many see reviewing as an unnecessary process best left to geeks…..”  So rather than get caught up with what the experts think – see some of that below – let’s look a bit at what the common person thinks about HoD beer.  These are a few comments on Yelp from different time periods and seem to be consistent:

“The beer was complex and delicious.     3/26/13

“Well balanced beer.”        3//13

“Beers were expensive, but excellent. You won’t get these beers anywhere else and it’s well worth the $ spent.”         2/22/14

“Not your typical beer.”          

“Beer was very much for the adventurous, ABVs all pretty punchy. Delicious beer though.”             9/8/15

P1040062 And a comparison by our “Walking/Drinking Group” (WGD!), who in the last eight months has visited Ecliptic Brewing, Produce Row in addition to HoD (see the links for Thebeerchaser’s review).  Produce Row does not brew its own beer but has twenty-three beers on tap.

Keeping in mind that there were two tax lawyers in our groups of six at HoD and eight people at the other two venues, you can understand why there was no consensus except with the tax lawyers in their animated discussion on the benefits derived under sum-of-the-digit depreciation (SOD) pursuant to Section 167 of the Internal Revenue Code.

IRS Logo

IRS Logo

As evidence:

“‘SOD,’ as accelerated depreciation, better matches costs to revenues because it takes more depreciation in the early years of an assets’ useful life,” 

and
“‘SOD’ reflects more accurately the difference in usage of different assets from one period to the other.”

A majority in our group liked the beer at Ecliptic best and thought the beers on tap at HoD okay but pretty hoppy.  “I had the Bourbon Fred from the Wood, and would recommend it.  Heavy, full of flavor.  (My wife) had the Blue Dot, and it was ok.  We shared a Fred, and it was tasty.   And my wife and I each had the Ruth, which was fine, but not exceptional.  Another had the Fred and stated, “I was not impressed by any of the beers available.”        

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One annoyance at HoD, and not one found at most of Thebeerchaser’s prior stops, was the inability to taste any of the beers before having to make a purchase.

The brewery would respond that they had three-ounce samplers available, but they cost between $1.25 to $3.25 and a patron should not have to shell out that sum or any amount just for a small “sip” of beer.  I hope this is not a trend.  Come on guys…that’s the cost of doing business and especially when you pride yourself on “new and creative beer styles.”

More on Beer Ratings……

RateBeer brags that it has “the world record holder for complete beer reviews, RateBeer’s Jan Bolvig of VestJylland, Denmark has over 36,000 beer reviews to his credit.”  Now not to be cynical, but I’m not sure that I would put a lot of credence in a guy’s palate (or liver…) once he had sampled that many beers.

And, for example, a guy named Joe who has a blog called “Epic Curiousity,” mapped out the locations of BeerAdvocate’s World’s Best 250 Beers” as of June 2014.  At least ten or 11% pf the 89 from the Western US and Alaska were from Oregon.  (214 of the 250 were from the US.)  Oregon’s highest was “The Abyss” from Deschutes Brewery at #33 with a rating of 4.5.   Following it was Hair of the Dog’s “Adam of the Wood” at #55 with a rating of  4.45.

Others in the top 250 were Cascade Brewing’s “Sang Noir” at #65 (4.41), Pelican Brewing’s “Mother of All Storms” at #69 (4.41), HoD’s “Matt” at #87 (4.39), Hood River’s Logsdon Farmhouse Ale’s “Peche ‘n Brett” at #116 (4.35) and Bend’s Boneyard Brewing “Hop Venom Double IPA” at #117 (4.35), Boneyard’s “Notorious Triple IPA” at 142 (4.32), Cascade Barrel House’s Cascade Apricot Aleat #171 (4.3), Cascade’s “Cascade Sang Royal” at #182 (4.3) and  Cascade’s “Cascade Noyaux” #210 (4.28).

GravityTap

So many good choices…..

 A quick review of BeerAdvocate’s most current ratings shows eight Oregon beers in the top 250 with Deschute’s “Abyss” again the highest (#45) and no new Oregon beers or breweries appeared to make it.

And Trillium Brewery of Boston has an astounding fourteen of their beers in the list, which begs the question about the impact of marketing and politics on the ratings, especially because “Trillium opened in March 2013 with the support of family, volunteers, two babies, and three employees.”

Now how they distinguished between a rating of 4.39 and 4.35, I don’t know, but perhaps it’s because BeerAdvocatate promotes its sophisticated formula: “We use the same true Bayesian estimate formula used by the Internet Movie Database for calculating average ratings.”  To further the rationale, perhaps they use Robert Redford, Emily Blount and Robert De Niro as raters although I think Redford flunked statistics in college.

p(\tilde{x}|\mathbf{X},\alpha) = \int_{\theta} p(\tilde{x}|\theta) \, p(\theta|\mathbf{X},\alpha) \operatorname{d}\!\theta

Posterior Distribution

So in concluding this rant, rather than use elements of Bayesian statistics such as posterior predictive and the principle of maximum entropy, etc., I would recommend just going to one of Portland’s 750+ watering holes or Oregon’s “234 brewing facilities operated by 194 breweries” (Oregon Craft Beer website) and tasting the beers yourself.  Or consider using the close-to-home 2016 Oregon Beer Awards sponsored by Willamette Week as a reference. (They primarily use local experts such as Beerchaser of the Quarter, Lisa Morrison, and Rob Widmer as their blind tasters.)

However, Beer Advocate concludes its top 250 beer list with the admonition, “But enough nerd talk. Let’s drink a beer!”  Thebeerchaser thinks that’s good advice unless you are reading this post at 3:00 AM.

Now Back to Hair of the Dog!

2016-02-04 18.00.23Hair of the Dog has a pleasant atmosphere – very clean and light and nice décor.  I would suggest that it had a charm that was totally absent at Ecliptic and an ambiance comparable to Produce Row.

The servers and staff were also courteous and responsive.   (For example, our waitress opined, “Switching from ‘SOD’ depreciation to the straight-line method during the life of the asset has some advantages that should be considered.” 

How about the food?   Two of us had the grilled cheese sandwich and rated it outstanding although there was some disappointment that only chips rather than fries were available as a supplement.  One comment about the Reuben and the special sandwich was “the food was ok, but not particularly memorable,” and another stated, “the brisket was okay but not great.”  

The food was okay, but not memorable.

The food was okay, but not memorable.

And another annoyance, but worth commenting on, albeit not confined to HoD and asked rhetorically, “Why can’t I get horse radish dressing for my Rueben?  This is a reoccurring issue I have in Portland when I order a Rueben?”  

I suggested that he try the Goose Hollow Inn that proudly (and I might add with possible justification,  advertises “The Best Reuben on the Planet!”  

Try the Goose Hollow for Horseradish!

Try the Goose Hollow for Horseradish!

To summarize on the menu, I think all of us thought the food was okay and reasonably priced, but of the three aforementioned venues, the food at Produce Row was superior.

We finished with a very nice stroll down the Eastside Esplanade observing the Winter Light Festival, which had some technical glitches and being the inaugural event, can show improvement in the future.  But it was “enlightening” and a credit to the City and its sponsors – something to anticipate next year.  P1040076

The Portland Spirit

The Portland Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016-02-04 18.52.00

Hair of the Dog Brewery and Tasting Room

61 SE Yamhill Street    Portland

You’ll Want a Fork at the Hop N Cork – also a Mug!

Lake Oswego's Newest Brew Pub

Lake Oswego’s Newest Brew Pub

One lesson learned in the fifty-three months of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs is “Don’t judge a bar by its external appearance. ‘Tap’ what’s inside.”  (My high school literature teacher would have been pleased if I had alternatively used novelist George Elliot’s purported hypothesis “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”; however, she probably would not approve of the mission of this blog).

Support from the neighbors

Support from the neighbors

So it is with a new establishment in Lake Grove right off SW Boones Ferry Road on the east side of I-5 near Bridgeport Village.

Established in September of 2015 in what used to be the Franz Bakery’s store in which bread slightly over the freshness guidelines was sold to many people including my wife and me, the Hop N Cork (hereafter the “HNC”) looks a bit stark on the outside.

Cozy niches for good conversation

Cozy niches for good conversation

That was also true of the Ecliptic Brewery in North Portland reviewed on this blog in May 2015.   Unlike the Ecliptic, however, the character and warmth emanating when you enter the HNC is totally contrary to the former.

Ecliptic may have good beer and a cool name, but lacks any atmosphere (inside and outside) that would motivate Thebeerchaser to return as evidenced by the picture below.

The Ecliptic - good beer but no ambiance....

The Ecliptic – good beer but no ambiance….

The warmth of the HNC is a direct extension of co-owner, Michelle Faubion, based on my three visits to this cool neighborhood gathering place. Michelle, has a charisma and enthusiasm that once you hear her story, makes you want this endeavor to succeed and gives confidence that it will do just that.

Hop N Cork co-owner and manager, Michelle Faubion

Hop N Cork co-owner and manager, Michelle Faubion

Partnerships can often be on delicate footing, but it appears that the partnership between Sunil Kumar and Michelle in the HNC is very complementary. They met when Michelle worked at the Growlerie in Portland and started talking about a joint venture in 2014.

After a lot of planning and some real land-use issues with the City of Lake Oswego which took perseverance to resolve, the HNC became a reality in September, 2015 with the two as co-owners and leasing the building that Kumar owns adjacent to his Prestige Cleaners.

Sunil and ichelle

Sunil and Michelle

Prestige goes back to 1979 when it was founded by Sunil’s parents and he bought the business from them in 2002. He is a U of O graduate who used the time after college graduation in retail management to hone his business skills.

Sunil stated that the capital investment in HNC is not intended to be a “one time deal” and don’t be surprised if you see similar brewpubs in the future based on the early success of HNC. Michelle handles the day-to-day operations of the bar while Sunil takes care of the business end – accounting and logistics. The pair works well together as evidenced by the picture below.  IMG_4315

The HNC has an impressive rotating tap list of 27 beers – their consumption is about 10 to 12 kegs per week.  One of the beer taps is their own brew and one is a gluten-free option, a dark nitro tap.  They also have four Kombuca (fermented tea) options, two ciders an adult root beer and a non-alcoholic root beer.  They do a lively growler business.

The impressive tap list is displayed digitally

The impressive tap list is displayed digitally

 

And the tap list is displayed digitally behind the bar similar to bigger and more established bars such as Bailey’s Tap House and Apex.  You can also review and order on one of the i-Pads in the bar or on your i-Phone.

Adding to the draft beer choices are eighteen wine taps and even prosecco on tap – “It’s a big seller.”

I was accompanied by Beerchaser regulars, Dan Swift and Mike Jones.  We were each pleased with the micro-brews we downed: a Pelican Brewery’s McPelican Scottish AleSantiam Brewing’s Bramble On (honey wheat ale) and I liked Hop N Cork’s own White Belgian Ale.

But I have to tell you about the alcoholic root beer (Not Your Father’s Root Beer with an alcohol content of 5.9%).  After downing a sample, I am enthusiastically waiting for the time I can add ice cream as does the individual on this 8/2015 Beer Advocate review“It is hard to review this as a beer, since it smells, tastes, and feels just like root beer. I enjoyed it. Pours like a dark root beer, and has the carmel smell. Tastes like root beer. I might try to make a float out of it. Skol.”

Beerchaser regulars, Dan Swift and Mike Jones with Michelle and Thebeerchaser logo

Beerchaser regulars, Dan Swift and Mike Jones with Michelle and Thebeerchaser logo

 

Locally sourced and this guy is good at his craft!

Locally sourced and this guy is good at his craft!

The food is a strength of the pub and a reflection of Michelle’s standards and future goals.  The menu is slightly limited, but they have a nice selection of appetizers and nine choices of sandwiches.

We had two good appetizers (the spinach dip and the charcutrie platter – locally sourced meats and cheeses) and on my return visit, I sampled the smoked steel head which will be the first item I order on my next trip to the HNC.

Michelle talks with passion about their menu notwithstanding a very small kitchen which is planned to expand in March as will be the case with their patio.  In fact, 50% of the pub’s sales are from food  – higher than the average for similar venues.   cheese and food

 

“Our food is all ‘farm to table’ and it comes in fresh every day.”   The traeger, as evidenced in the photo, is used extensively and the food is also infused with their beers for added taste.

P1030982

Specials for the day…….

The HNC reviews on social media to this point are virtually all positive – there were two that mildly complained about confusion on how to order food.

You can see from the sign in the photo, however, that it is pretty clear – you go to the bar to order, although in my three visits, a waiter took my order twice.

Not too difficult to understand.

Not too difficult to understand.

Michelle said that as she grows, she will hire additional people so bar ordering isn’t necessary, but when things are not hopping, waiters circulate among the tables – a plan typical of most new pubs or bars.

The Hop N Cork is a family-type venue – striving for a living room environment and children are welcome.   Michelle appreciated the support of the community when she went through the ponderous zoning process with the City of Lake Oswego and a big part of her clientele is neighborhood people.

P1030990So they had a pig roast last summer and several times a month hosts a “Tap Takeover” with several breweries, with specific food pairings and swag brought in by the breweries.

In January there was a pinewood derby contest with the proceeds donated to Golden Bond Rescue of Oregon, and the Ovarian Cancer Fund.    You’ll see cornhole tournaments this summer and there is also music on many weekends by local groups.

And the environment is warm and friendly – keyed by this entrepreneurial woman’s charisma.  The vendors don’t leave before receiving a hug and she responds to people with “Certainly, honey..” without pretense.   She’s an Oregon girl, having graduated from St. Mary’s Academy and then attending University of Washington in nursing.   After graduation, she followed family tradition getting involved in the hospitality industry.

Another amazing St. Marys Academy grad besides Thebeerchasers daughter....!

Another amazing St. Marys Academy grad – besides Thebeerchaser’s daughter….!

She worked for two years at Portland Brewing until “they let everyone go.” She used her severance to travel to Mexico and worked as a diving instructor before returning to the Northwest and  pharmaceutical sales (“a tough business”).

Nifty chandelier...

Nifty chandelier…

The Hop N Cork is one establishment which will see future visits by Thebeerchaser and I expect to see Michelle Faubion’s dream continue to grow and prosper. The following excerpt from the November, 2015 Newschoolbeer.com entitled, “The Eleven Best New Oregon Tap Rooms and Beer Bars” is typical and why you should check it out.   And be sure to say “hello” to Michelle:

 

“Recently opened in a tiny unassuming business park, Hop n’ Cork is a little bit of downtown Portland’s Pearl District in quiet Lake O. One of Hop n’ Cork’s founders spent time at Portland Brewing and The Growlerie in Progress Ridge, and brings business knowledge and a craft beer acumen to the tap list and extensive bottle selection……With 75 seats and a full farm-to-table menu that keeps it simple with soups and sandwiches, live music on Saturday’s, Hop n’ Cork has already become a very popular destination. Pop in and check it out for yourself.”

The Hop N Cork

 17450 Lower Boones Ferry Rd.  Lake Oswego, OR 97035.

503-305-5903

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Ecliptic Brewing – Shoot for the stars but settle for an earth orbit….

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This brew pub on the southern edge of N. Mississippi Avenue opened in October 2013 – a creation of John Harris, who has extensive (three decades) experience in the craft brewing industry starting with McMenamin’s (the first brewer to make Hammerhead), then Deschutes and Full Sail Breweries as brewmaster before opening his own venture.

AxialTiltObliquity

Would you rather discuss the obliquity of the axial tilt or just raise a mug?

The beers are named after stars and their website explains, “The name Ecliptic Brewing unites John’s two passions: brewing and astronomy and is the yearly path around the sun on planet Earth.” 

For the science geeks who want to get more serious, however, a more thorough definition is,The plane defined by the earth’s orbit projected onto the celestial sphere, along which the sun appears to move as viewed from the earth.” 

“Appears” is emphasized above because technically it is an illusion – to fully understand involves grasping the “obliquity of the ecliptic axial tilt” – a concept which would motivate most people to reach for several mugs of their excellent beer.

According to Willamette Week’s Art and Culture Editor, Martin Cizmar, in his 2/14 review,“It’s his (Harris’s) goal for Ecliptic to be considered among the top 100 restaurants in town, winning inclusion in either WW’s glossy Restaurant Guide or The Oregonian’s Diner.”  (The critic was not overly impressed with his food on his three visits and felt the ranking would be in the top 250 restaurants although most of the recent comments about the food in social media are positive.)

Our group sampling the food and beer after the walk around the neighborhood

Our group sampling the food and beer after the walk around the neighborhood

While they have celestial goals, the experience for us did not break into orbit.   The menu and the food were pretty good, and as expected, they brew some excellent beer.  However, after visiting over 100 bars, taverns and brewpubs on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland, Bars, Taverns and Pubs in the last three years, I would suggest that decent food and good beer do not make up for a sterile environment – which lacks any ambiance – at least at this point.

Ecliptic is a former auto body shop, with picnic tables massed in an uncovered large concrete parking lot which slopes downhill.  As one Yelp reviewer recently opined, “I think the main thing holding this place back is the rather sterilized/antiseptic feeling the location gives. It’s a big space, but there doesn’t seem to be much character.”   (March 22, 2015)P1030302

The interior is also pretty barren – the kitchen is essentially integrated with the dining space – spacious, but the walls are stark and lights bright conveying a cafeteria-type feel.

That said, they have great sandwiches and salads.  The 1/2 pound Ecliptic Burger was delicious as was their grilled salmon sandwich and Caesar Salad.  The fries are plentiful and cheap.

P1030301P1030305

 

As would be expected, the beer is their strength and they have ten beers on tap at a very reasonable price ($4.75 for a 16 oz. pint).  Five of their beers were nominated for Willamette Week’s 2015 Beer Awards:

White Astroid Imperial Wit IPA – Best Hoppy Beer

Stellanova India Session Ale – Best Session Beer

Spica Hefepils – Best Lager

Perihelion Crimson Saison – Best of the Island of Misfit Beers

P1030303

A Galaxy of Good Beers

Oregon Live in an April, 2015 post, stated:  The newest addition to Ecliptic’s line of beers is named after the Helix Nebula, a large planetary nebula and sun-like star (also known as “The Eye of God”) located in the constellation Aquarius. Helix is a crisp and refreshing golden lager, dry hopped with Citra and Jarrylo hops for extra citrus, spice flavor and aroma. 

The servers were responsive and knowledgeable and Ecliptic is attempting to be creative and flexible – again quoting from their website:

“…..beer and food menus (will be) in constant change and rotation throughout the year. Our seasonal menu will rotate every 6 weeks on the old world calendar. Changes at Samhian, Winter Solstice, Bridgid, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas and the Autumnal Equinox.”

Prost - good bier and a superior setting...

Prost – good bier and a superior setting…

So while Ecliptic does some things very well and is still a young establishment, Thebeerchaser’s inclination is to move several blocks up N. Mississippi Avenue and return to Prost – where one can also drink some excellent German beer and have comparable food, but raise your mug in a much superior setting – either in their interior which radiates warmth and character or on their attractive and covered wooden deck.

Or alternatively, pick up a bottle of one of the four Ecliptic offerings at the Belmont Station bottle shop and take it into the Belmont Bier Café and raise a mug with Beer Goddess, Lisa Morrison – both options more earthy and mundane than the stellar ambitions of Ecliptic.  Of course, one can also head out to Multnomah Village for the a nautical choice and dive bar ambiance at the Ship Tavern.

PBR rather than beers named after celestial bodies, but a down-to-earth clientele....

PBR rather than beers named after celestial bodies, but a down-to-earth clientele….

 

Ecliptic Brewing        825 North Cook Street

 

 

 

 

Brannon’s in Beaverton – Part II

P1030163Followers of this blog will remember the last post on Brannon’s – the new Beaverton pub and brewery located in the former Latin night club – The Blue Iguana.  The story of co-owner Kevin Brannon as a brewer, lawyer and scuba instructor was also covered in detail because of his amazing life experiences to this point.

Brannon - someone who is not a beginner in the brewery business.

Brannon – someone who is not a beginner in the brewery business.

So let’s talk about his new venture – a 10,000 square foot venue which opened in December 2014 and offers a great selection of Brannon’s own beers, guest taps, craft cocktails and a robust menu.

A small sample of the robust spread at the pre-opening gala

A small sample of the robust spread at the pre-opening gala

My first visit to Brannon’s was for the October pre-opening – a well-attended and upbeat affair.  Next time it was for lunch with five tax lawyers and one of my favorite legal assistants. (See below)

According to an article in the Portland Tribune (July 18, 2014)

“The restaurant will brew numerous styles of beer on site and specialize in stone hearth-baked pizzas prepared in the Neapolitan style, spit-roasted meat and fowl, salads, pastas, house-made bread and a range of pub-oriented specialities, with an emphasis on local ingredients.

The kitchen is a strength

The kitchen is a strength

‘We will have gluten free and vegan versions of everything,’ (Brannon) said. ‘It’s pub food kicked up a notch. I find the term ‘gastropub’ to be pretentious, but that’s kind of what we’re doing.’” 

So how is the food?  A January Willamette Week review stated, “It might have been a  lucky night, but the kitchen sent out an impressive Neopolitan pizza with chewy character-rich crust good enough to push into Portland’s top ten pies.”

And to illustrate take the rack of ribs that one of our party ordered for lunch.  As you can see from the picture below, it was huge and all of us who sampled thought it was an A+.  The rest of us ordered sandwiches which were also very good.

No question about the quality and quantity of the ribs.....

No question about the quality and quantity of the ribs…..

One of the joys of Beerchasing – besides discovering new watering holes and drinking good beer – is the people. Meeting those who work in the bars, talking to “regulars” and connecting with drinking buddies who share the experience is uplifting to say the least!

For example, I mentioned my lunch companions in January – a legal assistant and five tax lawyers, all of whom work or worked at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt where I labored for twenty-five years before retiring.

Each attorney, not only graduated with a law degree and passed the bar exam, but all then went on to get their Masters in Tax (LLM) after law school.

From left:  Pete Osborne, Dan Eller, Katherine Van Zanten, Roy Lamber and Marc Sellers

From left: Pete Osborne, Dan Eller, Katherine Van Zanten, Roy Lamber and Marc Sellers

 

You might ask, “Can’t you find more stimulating companions than tax geeks?”  A logical follow-up question would be:  “Were these attorneys advised by  their parents when they were young to pursue the tax lawyer route because their personalities were not good enough to be actuaries or accountants?”

 

The answer is an emphatic “no!”  As evidence let’s briefly look at their profiles:

Pete Osborne

Pete Osborne

Pete Osborne: Law Degree at Willamette U and LLM at New York University (NYU).  Pete is known by his peers as one of the smartest tax lawyers in Portland and has been known, on occasion, to return to Portland with both a big smile and winnings from the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas (Senior Division….).  Also a talented artist and his etchings are impressive.  Adjunct Professor at Portland State in their Graduate Tax Program.

Osborne etching
Osborne etching

 

Dan Eller:  Law Degree at Lewis and Clark and LLM at University of Washington.  Received the prestigious Joyce Ann Harpole Scholarship and other law school honors at Lewis and Clark.  Dan is an avid outdoorsman and cyclist and frequently cycles around the base of Mt. Bachelor.  Active in numerous civic boards and a scout leader for his kids.

Dan Eller

Dan Eller

 ———–

 

Katherine Van Zanten: Law Degree at Golden Gate University and LLM at Boston University.  Katherine is an avid skier and a girl scout leader for her kids.  Also active in the Oregon State Bar Tax Section.  A robust sense of humor that would keep even IRS auditors in stiches.

Katherine Van Zanten

Katherine Van Zanten

 

 

Roy Lambert:  Law Degree at Columbia University and LLM at NYU.  Roy is an active masters competitive swimmer with some regional records.  In retirement, he audits courses in medieval and Renaissance history at Portland State.  He and his wife spend part of the year at a lake property in Maine where he is involved in environmental non-profits.

 

Roy Lambert

Roy Lambert

Marc Sellers
Marc Sellers

 Marc Sellers: Law Degree at Georgetown and LLM at Loyola U.  Marc was described by the managing partner of a major regional CPA firm as his “go to” tax litigator and a fearless “take no prisoners” trial lawyer.

He was the first attorney in the U.S. to obtain an award of attorney fees against the Internal Revenue Service under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.  This courtroom mentality may have been derived from his dedication to martial arts for many years where he competed at regional and national championship levels.  He was also an accomplished mountaineer and volunteer in mountain rescue.

A firm with a tradition of civic and charitable service

A firm with a tradition of civic and charitable service

Some – but certainly not all – of the civic and charitable activities in which these lawyers have  been involved include the Beaverton School District Board, the Portland State University Foundation, the Lewis and Clark Public Interest Law Project, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lake Oswego School District Foundation, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Beaverton Rotary Club and Foundation, the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, the Portland Police Activities League and the Portland Opera Association.

And of course, another advantage to having this erudite crew as drinking companions is the ribald conversation.  Typically in a bar it would be, “How bout those Blazers?”  or “Did Cylvia Hayes really think we were that naïve?”  Instead, we had a prolonged discussion on Pete Osborne’s paper entitled, “Stock Redemptions and Non-liquidating Distributions.” 

When discussed in the context of Marc Sellers’ advisory tome, “Owners of Undisclosed Foreign Bank Accounts May Have One More Bite at Voluntary Disclosure,” it made LaMarcus Aldredge’s thumb injury seem pretty inconsequential!           

Roy Lamber, Kevin Brannon and Gretchen Reuter with Thebeerchaser logo

Roy Lambert, Kevin Brannon and Gretchen Reuter with Thebeerchaser logo

One cannot forget one of our female companions – Gretchen Reuter, a legal assistant for thirty-four years, who provided invaluable work for both Kevin Brannon and Roy Lambert, while they were at the firm.  She trained to “herd” her timekeepers by growing up on a cattle ranch in Dallesport, Washington.

She was one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite professionals before my retirement because of her positive attitude, competency and team efffort.

Now back to Brannons and why you should try it out:

P1030166

Brannon friend Ham Emery at the pre-opening

Technology:  Besides the automation he uses to brew his beer, Brannon’s customers have access to High Def. Multi Interface ports at most of the tables so they can watch a Blazer game or cable on their own console or pursue on-line activities.P1030187

 

Game Room:  Memories of college returned when seeing the Air Hockey  – it plays the Star Spangled Banner when someone scores, a Foosball table and Pop-a-Shot basketball and darts.  In fact, Brannon’s is home court for two teams in the Portland Dart AssociationP1030186

P1030185

 

 

——

 

 

And there are 24 high-definition television screens scattered throughout the bar and meeting rooms for sporting events.  An appropriate time to reaffirm the personal philosophy of Fall 2013 Beerchaser-of-the Month, Jud Blakely:

P1030159

Beerchaser Philosopher Jud Blakely in formative years....
Beerchaser Philosopher Jud Blakely in formative years….

“Bars, taverns, and pubs are the fundamental reasons that souls consigned to Purgatory have chosen not to be “elevated” on up to Heaven.  When you combine them with a cable feed of NFL channels, what you have is an all-powerful lure to forgo the promise of the pure goodness of Heaven. 

 

As for myself––speaking as a 100% lapsed Catholic––I look forward to being consigned to Purgatory.  No sane American male would wish upon himself an eternity in Heaven when Purgatory and the NFL await. “

The Beer and the Food:  Brannon’s, like any new enterprise, is shaking out some kinks – refining its menu, service and pricing, but the reviews are almost uniformly positive about a key pub issue — THE BEER!

From the three available last October, Brannon’s own brews have increased to ten and reflect the passion and expertise honed over his years in brewing.  I tried five in their sampler – a bargain at $7 – with my favorite being the Heliograph IPA  (“Bursting with pungent pine, tropical berries, and black pepper, which is backed up by intense NW hop bitterness”– which also happens to be their best seller.  However, I also will return for a pint of their Deputation Red Ale.  Check them out by buying a growler.

Now ten of their own beers
Now ten of their own beers

They also have eight craft cocktails including the Blue Iguana – named for the predecessor night club.

And finally, the pub’s furnishing are very impressive – again reflecting Kevin Brannon’s personal philosophy:

“My partners and I have a profound respect for the craftsmen and craftswomen who design things, and bring them to life with their hands for wood, metal, and whatever else they have to work with. Everything at Brannon’s, from the sign out front to the furnishings and bar, was handcrafted by friends and family here in the Pacific Northwest.”

P1030193

As summarized in one December Yelp review, “Finally a good Brewpub in central Beaverton.  Good beer, good food, good service, They have a full bar, game room, party rooms.  Worth a stop.” 

————

Brannon’s Brewery and Pub

3800 SW Cedar Hills Road

503-567-8003

Brannons’ in Beaverton…..Part I

 P1030181

Beaverton is not the sexiest location for a brewery compared to venues such as Bend, Hood River or Astoria, but at least it has more suburban panache than Gresham.  That said, Brannons’ Pub and Brewery is a classy new watering hole – one that replaces the notorious Blue Iguana and brews excellent beer along with great food.

Thebeerchaser and Kevin Brannon

Thebeerchaser and Kevin Brannon

Kevin Brannon, the co-owner, is also a good friend, having practiced law at my former firm, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt before he decided to return to his “roots” in the brewery business – as stated in the recent Willamette Week review, “(the beer is for now) decidedly classic, a reflection of owner, Kevin Brannon, who’s pinponged between corporate law and brewpubbing for for the past twenty years.”

So let’s define “ping ponged,” by giving some interesting history on Kevin while also gaining a brief perspective on The Blue Iguana.  In 1991 Kevin, after practicing law for a number of years, in a fit of entrepreneurial risk, co-founded and built a very successful brewery – the Frederick Brewing Company – in Maryland and managed its amazing expansion until it became one of the largest craft breweries in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.

This former attorney with an infectious grin and dry sense of humor was an outstanding business and corporate lawyer whose clients loved him.  He  joins a number of his legal brethren I have met since Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs commenced.

The scales of justice - can also used to measure brewing components....

The scales of justice – can also used to measure brewing components….

They’ve become interested in brewing – first as a hobby, and then decide they enjoy the challenge of concocting the right blend of barley, malt and hops more than they enjoy analyzing the Rules of Hearsay in the Federal Evidence Code (including exceptions and exemptions…..)

P1030163My two trips to Brannon’s – once for the pre-opening with my wife and once with a group of tax lawyers – impressed me with the quality of their beer, the kitchen and the manner in which Kevin has used technology to give his patrons options while drinking.

Technology at each table...
Technology at each table…

 

Thebeerchaser has found that the history of watering holes is often very interesting and Brannons’ is no exception.  The Blue Iguana was a restaurant and Latin night club where one could gorge on large servings, drink margaritas, salsa dance and maybe even hire a contract killer.  As described in a 2009 Willamette Week review:

As much of sleepy Beaverton shuts down for the night, the Blue Iguana’s neon sign lights up Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard. Large men in dark clothing block the club’s doorway. “I need to pat the guys down to check for weapons,” one says. “The ladies can just go in.”

Past the first set of glass doors, a woman behind a ticket counter says, “Twenty-five dollars, por favor.”   Inside a second set of glass doors is a large room with a bar and two dance floors (one of them elevated) where couples grind to pounding music.

Most of the men are wearing cowboy hats, tight denim pants and cowboy boots. The women wear high heels and very tight everything. At 1 am, many people are just starting to arrive at the Blue Iguana, which stays open until 3 am.

Or check out this headline and excerpt from KGW.com in 2012: “Beaverton bar fight ends with man being run over.  KGW spoke with the property manager of the Blue Iguana who said police are often called to the Latin night club. She said she was not surprised to hear about the incident and the bar has problems with fights spilling out into the parking lot.”

And not to belabor the point, but one other review from a few years back also offers some insight:

I was thrown out Saturday night for having the nerve to type on my laptop at the bar. Owner sez he’s afraid someone will spill a watery margarita on my Dell and he’ll be liable. This, from a place that probably sends a truckload of drunks onto Cedar Hills Boulevard every weekend night. Perhaps I should have tried to convince him that all of the cinnamon roll crumbs would absorb any oopsies. Skip ’em, I say.

Wikimedia commons - public domain (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angus_bellowing.jpg) by Sallico 1/9/2009

Black Angus – more docile although less profitable than Blue Iguanas…

Well, things were a lot calmer when Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Steak House was the tenant, although it brings back memories of a franchise which had better baked potatoes than filets.  As an aside, the owner of the Black Angus group filed for bankruptcy in 2004 with approximately $202 million in debt and an annual loss of $32.5 million.  In 2009, the group attempting to rebrand and remodel the chain also went banko.  (Wikipedia)

Frederick Brewing Company

Frederick Brewing - Getting started....

Frederick Brewing – Getting started….

The story of Frederick Brewing (FBC) is interesting and an enterprauenerial success story that could be a blog post in itself.  With some of the pictures and stories Kevin related while I was drinking one of the Brannon beer samplers, his east-coast brewing journey is worth summarizing:

Brannon is from humble roots – Lebanon, Oregon and went to Stanford for his undergraduate degree where he walked-on and made the baseball team.  He became a community organizer in Montana during the coal boom.  Unlike the incumbent with a similar background, he didn’t think that qualified him to run for President of the United States, so he enrolled in Willamette Law School’s excellent combined MBA/Law Degree program.

Happiness is a young lawyer with capitalist inclinations.....

Happiness is a young lawyer with capitalist inclinations…..

While learning to analyze torts and discounted cash flow models, he also started brewing beer.   After passing the bar in 1984, he practiced at NW firm, Preston, Gates and Ellis for seven years before being lured to West Virginia with his fiancé.

He denies any assertion that the country classic, “She was only a whiskey maker, but I loved her still,” had anything to do with their move east.  Actually, it was one of his clients who persuaded him.  The options were to either open a fly shop or a brewery so in 1991, after purchasing a Smith Carona word processor, selling his house and cashing in his 401(k) he made the leap.

Brannon and his partners wrote their business plan, soliciting investors and did their “pilot brewing” in a rented 18th– century house in West Virginia, where they brewed in the cellar (improved by dumping lime and a bunch of ¾ inch gravel on the floor – one reason why he was separated from the Environmental lawyers at Schwabe Williamson)

As Brannon relates it:

The first leased quarters were in this building

The first leased quarters were in this building

 Armed with little more than $200,000 in investor dollars and more confidence than common sense, we leased a building in downtown Frederick…….Because we had a deal to supply our Blue Ridge Golden Ale to the new stadium housing the Frederick Keys – the Single A affiliate of the Orioles – we bought a couple hundred “nasty old kegs and contracted with a now defunct Michigan brewery to produce it.  

A much younger, Kevin Brannon inspecting his product in Frederick, Md.

A much younger, Kevin Brannon inspecting his product in Frederick, Md.

We were under construction so we leased a falling-down warehouse, bought and repainted a refridgerated truck from a peach farmer and started selling beer to the ballpark and local bars.  It only took five months from funding to our first batch – this depite the fact that we decided to save money and time by skipping the permitting process, renting chain saws and clearing the back of the property ourselves.  (Another reason Kevin was located on a different floor than the firm’s Environmental Group when he was at Schwabe.)

Ignorance of the law works if you don't get caught.....

Ignorance of the law works if you don’t get caught…..

 I gave three free brewery tours every weekend for more than nine  straight months and on most weekends after that for 2.5 years.  I filled the tasting room with beer memorabilia from defunct eastern US breweries to complement the brewing history speech I gave at the beginning of every tour.

Thanks to an idiosyncratic law, we were allowed to sell beer in the new brewery’s taproom though still not sell it on the premises for money, but at least the sales paid for the free beer we gave away on the tours!   

A tour of the young brewery ended in the taproom with free beer

A tour of the young brewery ended in the taproom with free beer

The bottling was "painfully slow."

The bottling was “painfully slow.”

The bottling line was painfully slow and completely manual except for the bottle/filler/capper and labeling machine. Shelf life was pretty good. 

After the 1996 Initial Public Offering, their brewing facilities were pretty close to the then state of the art.

State of the Art Brewing

State of the Art Brewing

The demand soared – by their first anniversary party, they were brewing as fast as they could but completely sold out by the week of the party so they had to “beg” one of their retailers to sell a keg back so they had their own beer for the staff celebration.

“In 1997-98, we purchased two local competitors within a few weeks of each other – Wild Goose and Brimstone breweries and merged them into ours.  We brewed their brands after that which was pretty much the high-water mark for the company.”

Brewhouse Controls

Brewhouse Controls

Kevin and his partner, Steve Nordahl and two other early FBC staff went on to found their own breweries. Nordahl is now the owner/brewer of Lone Peak Brewery and Pub in Big Sky, Montana. The drummer in the picture went on to found a brewpub called Blue Moon in Savannah, Georgia.

The guy playing the guitar in the photo below (Matt Swihart) moved to Oregon and worked at Full Sail and then Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River. Based on their anniversary party dilemma, he wrote and performed a song named, “The Brewery That Had No Beer.”                                                                      

Repurposed dairy tanks in the back - used to age their lagers

Repurposed dairy tanks in the back – used to age their lagers

           

Matt __ sings, "The Brewery That Ran Out of Beer"

Matt Swihart sings, “The Brewery That Had No Beer”

 

 

 

 

 

The intense effort that went into making a successful brewery took its toll, and Brannon, as the Brewery’s legal counsel, found himself doing more desk work than he wanted so he and has partners sold the brewery to Snyder International in 1999.  By then, it had grown into one of the mid-Atlantic region’s largest independent craft breweries.

Frederick Brewery Annual Meeting

Frederick Brewery Annual Meeting

Consistent with his desire to follow a respectable and traditional Lawyer/MBA path, he and his wife decided to move to the Bahamas, where they leased a house on the beach and became scuba diving instructors in an eco-resort….

Business was great during the tech boom, with many wealthy tourists moving or vacationing in paradise, but this traffic dried up – immediately when the boom turned bust in 2000 – as most of us remember from our 401(k) balances.  They moved back to Oregon and Kevin returned to the same desk at Preston Gates until he moved to the Schwabe firm in 2004 followed by his own practice at Brannon Law PC.

The Second Brannon Brewery – This Time in Beaverton

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The Brannons’ Kitchen was Busy at the Pre-opening Event

After several years of planning, his pre-opening event was in early October 2014, when he had three of his own beers on tap – that has now grown to nine.  Stay tuned for Part II on Kevin Brannon’s newest venture Brannons’ Pub and Brewery including an interesting lunch with five tax lawyers!!!

You can't miss with the Brannon Beer Sampler...
You can’t miss with the Brannon Beer Sampler…

 

 

Away in a (Beer)Monger(s)……

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Former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, was hired as Executive Director of the City Club of Portland in February 2013.  Shortly thereafter, Sam and I had a few beers at The Tugboat Brewery in downtown Portland to talk about the challenge ahead at City Club – I have been a member of that great organization for 43 years…..

The Tugboat Brewery on SW Ankenny Street

The Tugboat Brewery on SW Ankenny Street

I thought it was time for us to have another chat, so I invited Sam for a Beerchaser Event at the Commons Brewery in SE Portland.    We headed there late in the afternoon, but it was closed, so we started a search in the nearby blocks.

We encountered one of Portland’s nice dilemmas – and one which reaffirms the premise of this blog – Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs – a corner in SE Portland with three great bars facing us:

The Double Dragon           Apex            The BeerMongers

The guy with the cell phone is on the left edge of the picture!

The guy with the cell phone is on the left edge of the picture!

I somewhat arbitrarily chose The BeerMongers and I could tell it was a good choice when we walked up to the entrance.  A guy was standing immediately outside talking on his cell phone and exclaimed, “Sam Adams.  Wow!  Will  you say hello to my girlfriend?”  Sam obliged and we went into this combination bottle shop and taproom that has  great ambiance. 

We had just ordered a beer when a young woman came up to our table and said, “Sam Adams, we really miss you.  I want to buy you guys a pizza!”  The woman was the owner of Portobello a vegan trattoria in the same building as the bar and in between Beer Mongers and a tattoo shop!

____ the owner of Portobello

The owner of Portobello

Besides having some great beer that day, I had my first vegan pizza – an arugula pesto with toasted walnuts and smoked Portobello mushrooms – it was excellent.

The Arugula Pesto Pizza was a winner.

The Arugula Pesto Pizza was a winner.

While BeerMongers is small, it was lively on both visits and has a group of regulars and oozes character.  The following two reviews from Yelp give apt descriptions:

Man oh man, I love this place. First time I came, it was with my father and step-mother on a hot, long summer day. The exceedingly kind bartender (slash…beer curator?) handed us glasses of Radler, and I fell in love instantly. Not with the bartender – with Beermongers itself…….

While they do their most business as a bottle shop, I always come here for the small but well-selected tap list. These folks really know their stuff, and they love to both introduce people to new experiences and provide bottles of old favorites.” (12/13)

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“This isn’t the best bottle shop in the city; it isn’t the best bar in the city, but for doing both, it’s pretty awesome.” 8/13

One of the best features of this bar  was Jim, the bartender – and he definitely did know his stuff.  I was also impressed, because when I went back for my second visit about two weeks later, he pointed to Thebeerchaser logo he had pinned to the wall and addressed me by name.

Jim the Bartender - friendly, helpful and knowledgable

Jim the Bartender – friendly, helpful and knowledgable

I also got to meet Sean Campbell, the manager, who opened the bar four years ago, after 18 months looking for leased space and researching the concept – to offer a small group of well thought out and select beers on tap, in addition to a wide selection of very reasonably priced bottled beers (about 600 including 100 ciders).

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BeerMongers introduces about 20 new bottled beers per week and is a destination for Portland beer tours — understandably, with three bars on the corner of 12th and Division (Double Dragon and Apex)

The eight taps on our first visit were:

1. Cider Riot! Burncider  2. Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale   3. Baerlic U.S.A.  4. Heater Allen Pils    5. Hair of the Dog/De Proef Flanders Fred ’12   6. Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter   7. Widmer 30 For 30 Festbier    8. Crux Outcast IPA       

P1020172They keep the overhead and prices low, in part, by not having a kitchen, but you can bring in food – like from Portobello!!   Sean learned a lot by working for McMenamins for 15 years.

The rotating taps on the second visit

The rotating taps on the second visit

I chuckled when he told me that his first employee – a guy named, Sam – was a lawyer who graduated from Dayton University Law School.  One of Sean’s principles is to hire well – as evidenced by Jim, but I got the impression that lawyer Sam did not work out……

A small sample of the 600 beers/ciders available.
A small sample of the 600 beers/ciders available.

 Another one of Sean’s operating guidelines is, “Don’t BS and know your product well.”  He didn’t remember how they selected the name, Beer Mongers, but it is appropriate since a fish monger is defined, in part, as:

One trained at selecting and purchasing, handling, gutting, boning, fileting, displaying, merchandising and selling their product.”  (Well – okay, not even Hog Heaven Ale requires gutting, boning and fileting, but one could assert that Steelhead Extra Stout and Trout Slayer might…?)

Fish mongering - presumed to be followed by brewskis....
Fish mongering – presumed to be followed by brewskis….

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While Sam and I enjoyed our drafts, we talked about City Club.  I told him that I was one of a number of people who had questions about how good a “fit” he was for the Exec. Director slot; however, his performance and energy has converted the skeptics.

Sam and Jim with Thebeerchaser logo

Sam and Jim with Thebeerchaser logo

 

 

City Club membership has increased by 25% to 1,800 and the membership is much more diverse as is the Board of Governors – a long-term City Club goal.

Corporate sponsorships have doubled, the Club has a new communications strategy, website and logo.  In addition, under Sam’s leadership, there are now new and innovative programs including Civic Drinks and Friday Night Forums and the proposed Civic Scholars Initiative.

 

City Club Logo

Finally, the City Club Research program – nationally recognized – has grown from two studies to eleven – the most since 1987 and eight of the eleven research committees are chaired by minorities.

We also discussed Sam’s work for the last several years with Christian evangelist, Kevin Palau, President of the Luis Palau Association and his organization – working to connect the evangelical church with political leaders and to collaborate for positive change.   This includes aiding in charitable activities from city park renovation to counseling people in need.

They recently returned from meeting with leaders in New York City – as they have done previously in Atlanta, Nashville and the Bay Area.  They are promoting the Season of Service concept initiated six years ago in Portland with great success.

P1020349The BeerMongers is worth a visit both to sample one of their drafts and to take home a beer or cider you have never tried before.  And while you’re at it, bring in one of the Portobello entree’s – it’s a great combination.  They’re vegan so they don’t have to be gutted, boned or fileted.

The BeerMonger’s website doesn’t do justice to what this venue has going for it, but you can learn a lot about beer by checking out the Beeriodic Table (shown above) and clicking on one of the types of beer which brings up interesting details.

They also have a Facebook Page and are even advertising as of June 4th for an Assistant Manager/Beer Buyer:

“Full time position starting at 30-35 hours a week. Duties include: Curation of bottle and draft selection, event planning, brewery relations, beverage service, inventory management/stocking, payroll, staff management/scheduling, cleaning, social media coordination, website maintenance… and more!  You will be busy!”

Tell them Thebeerchaser sent you.

 The Beer Mongers        1125 SE Division

 (To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

 

Sasquatch Brewery – Anything but Abominable!

The Sasquatch - A Brewery and a Brew Pub

The Sasquatch – A Brewery and a Brew Pub

Note:  After two “Thebeerchaser Goes International” posts, we should return to a review of a Portland establishment before continuing the narrative of our European trip.

The Sasquatch Brewery and Pub in Hillsdale brought back memories from Thebeerchaser’s past – many years past – where for years a few blocks up from the Sasquatch site located on Capitol Highway, stood a wonderful bar named “No Dogs Allowed.”  In fact, it was about the same time that the group “Three Dog Night” was on the charts and appeared in a memorable campus gig at Oregon State.

Anyway, I joined my friend, David Kish, for some frosty mugs.  Sasquatch is in his neighborhood and where a former Italian restaurant became this quant pub which makes great beer and has good food – It’s worth a visit.

A Quality Addition to the Hillsdale Neighborhood

A quality addition to the Hillsdale Neighborhood

We talked to owner, Tom Sims, another OSU grad, who while in the paging business,  brewed beer in his garage as a hobby.  Like other Oregon micro-brew entrepreneurs, he pondered whether he could expand his hobby into a business.“Maybe I can build a small brewery.”                                                              

Built from the Ground Up with a Lot of Thought

Built from the ground up with a lot of thought

He bought his first eight-barrel boil kettle on Craig’s list and poured over drawings of the historic building – once a Trolley Station on the Red Electric Line which carried commuters from Portland to Hillsboro and Forest Grove.

That was a little over two years ago and he now brews about 700 barrels annually.  The Sasquatch Website is outstanding. It’s includes photos and brief narratives chronicling their journey from designing the brewery to working on a “Good Neighbor Agreement” with surrounding residents and the hoops to get their liquor license. The values conveyed in their website and talking with the owner and staff on our visit, make me root for the future success of their enterprise:

Kish and Waitress ____.  Friendly staff and good values....

David Kish and our server. Friendly staff and good values….

“Sasquatch Brewery believes in strengthening our community by creating the opportunity for spontaneous meetings, serendipitous connections and celebrations…..We are a family-owned brew-pub that strives to support local and sustainable farmers….

Our beers are brewed on site from a seven-barrel system with the quality ingredients and care that Oregonians expect. We pride ourselves on being a friendly place for our neighbors to unwind and enjoy great food and great handcrafted beer with family and friends.”

Because I knew that Kish also had an interesting history, I quizzed this one-time beer-related entrepreneur and outstanding former Oregon public servant about his story.  I loved the tale about how he became known as “The Beerman” in the late 1960’s at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst when he and some buddies successfully franchised the distribution of beer to twenty of the twenty-two fraternities on campus.  (We both agreed that statutes of limitation for the eleven or so state and federal laws this arrangement possibly violated, have in all probability, tolled.)

The "Beerman" was also a dedicated public employee and bar owner.

The “Beerman” was also a dedicated public employee and bar owner.

While it has become fashionable to demean public servants, I know from his personal work ethic and expertise, which I witnessed working with him at City Club of Portland, David Kish was a dedicated and very competent public manager.

Let’s look at a summary of his public service which started as an officer in the US Army. He worked on the Model Cities program and Portland urban renewal before becoming former City Counselor, Charles Jordan’s lead assistant in 1974.

He then owned and operated a Portland bar for six years (1976-82 – The Storm Cellar Tavern on Burnside which became a soccer bar – The Bitter End closed last year, but rumored to be re-opening.)  A stint in the solar energy business with former Portland Planning Director, Ernie Bonner, and he then became the Director of Budget and Energy Management in the Oregon Dept. of Energy.

He was recruited back to the City as Portland’s Director of General Services and then Mayor Bud Clark’s (See July, 2012 Beerchaser post on the Goose Hollow Inn under “Historic Bars tab) Chief of Staff for two years before resuming his position in General Services until his retirement in 2000.  Thanks for your service, David!

The Beerman joins Thebeerchaser tour.

The Beerman joins Thebeerchaser tour.

From the selection of ten Sasquatch Brews and four rotating taps, David had their Oregon Session Ale, a pilsner, that he enjoyed, while I opted for the OR-7 Amber Ale which lived up to its billing: “Easy-drinking, malty and medium bodied with a rich amber hue….worthy of a second pint.”

They do not serve liquor, but also have a nice selection of wine and what manager, Alex, described as a “robust selection” of six hard ciders.  Neither one of us had the courage to imbibe, but our curiosity was piqued by the “Beer Float” (Hairy Knuckle Stout, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce)

Family-type Ambiance and Family Faire on the menu.

Family-type Ambiance and Family Faire on the menu.

The menu is diverse with kid plates, small platters and dinner servings with snacks, sandwiches and a variety of entrée’s and desserts.  We each had a Chicken Basil Sausage (marinated in the Amber Ale) with sauerkraut, which was excellent.

And in case you were wondering, the Abominable Snowman or Yeti was the term coined in 1921 by a newspaper reporter, Henry Newman, when he interviewed porters for a Mt. Everest expedition, when they discovered large human-type footprints of unknown origin.

The Poster is of Vastly Higher Quality than the Movie!

The Poster is of Vastly Higher Quality than the Movie!

And the poster of the 1977 film “Sasquatch – The Legend of Big Foot,” in the Brewery provides evidence that the artwork was a lot better than the movie unless you are fans of the actors (George Lauris, Steve Boergadine and Jim Bradford), who perhaps went on to jobs in micro-brewing that were more notable than their film careers.  A review in the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) by The Film Geek is not exactly gushing……

“Unfortunately the script and acting are weak. The dialogue is forced and clunky and the characters are little more than stereotypes. The pacing is also very slow, little of note happens in the film until the last 10 minutes……Overall the film is an oddity, it veers from a leisurely nature trek, to weak animal-based comedy, to a tension-filled finale….”

Since I am harkening back – when did the Abominable Snowman become Sasquatch?  Was it the same politically correct people who felt that the beast should be gender neutral, and that it was unfair to the burly hirsute females who wandered through the NW wilderness, to assume that they were of the male gender?

And to further digress, perhaps, it’s the same people who are now obsessed with renaming high school mascots such as “Braves” and “Warriors” into more contemporary and refined mascot monikers such as the “Pummeling Pomegranates” or “The Fighting Arborvitae”  – but that’s another topic.

The bottom line is that you should pay a visit to The Sasquatch – you’ll be glad that you did.

Sasquatch Brewing Company                 6400 Capitol Highway

Say “Tug Boat (Brewery)” Ten Times Really Fast……

Sam Adams at the entrance to the Tug Boat Brewery

Sam Adams at the entrance to the Tug Boat Brewery

Wait a minute, I guess “Toy Boat” is the phrasing that’s supposed to mess up your diction when rapidly repeated.  However, Portland’s Tug Boat Brewery, is a treasure waiting for you on SW Ankeny Street in downtown Portland.  Notwithstanding the fact that I worked downtown every year since its founding in 1993, I had never even seen it.  Ankeny Street reminded me of my long-ago trips to Dan and Louis’ Oyster Bar (near what is now Voodoo Donuts) where I used to take dates in high school.

I spent a productive and enjoyable two-hours at the Tugboat with former Portland Mayor and now, the new City Club Executive Director, Sam Adams, talking about issues and his vision for the City Club of Portland, which Thebeerchaser joined in 1971 after graduating from Oregon State.  Established in 1916, the City Club is Oregon’s premier public affairs forum and promotes civic engagement through its volunteer research and other activities.  Sam was selected from a pool of 80 very qualified applicants.

He was in a good mood (I suggested that it resulted from not having to listen to Randy Leonard on a daily basis anymore) and has dynamic ideas for City Club.  He did not fall for the joke I tried to pull, however.  (Have him order a Samuel Adams Lager and the bartender bring a picture of the former Mayor to the table.)

Sam Adams, new Executive Director of the City Club of Portland

Sam Adams, new Executive Director of the City Club of Portland

Sam suggested we visit the Tugboat, described by the following excerpt from Willamette Week’s 2011 Drink Guide:

You’d be forgiven for mistaking Tugboat for a classy Prohibition-era speakeasy.  The dimly lit microbrewery, Portland’s smallest and downtown’s oldest, brews tiny batches of browns, ambers and stouts………the laid back pub is surrounded by books; regulars strike up conversation behind a battered copy of Ulysses. “

Note:  Not to digress, but the only problem I have with the above quote is that assuming the WW reporter was old enough to visit a speakeasy, he or she would have to be about 110 years old to make this assertion!         

No legal beer?  No wonder there were speakeasys.

No legal beer? Glad that none of us were around to experience this period.

“The place even has an Emmy on display (Thebeerchaser verified that this is correct and the father of one of the bartenders was the Director of “Rich Man, Poor Man”)…..It has nabbed some much-deserved medals for its unfiltered beers, making it a perfect environment for casual drinkers looking for peace and conversation. “ 

A Limited, but Quality Selection of Drafts

A Limited, but Quality Selection of Drafts

Matt, one of the bartenders, was extremely helpful and based on his prior employment as a pedi-cab tour operator giving Portland brewery tours, also knowledgeable.

He stated that the Tugboat location was originally a coffee shop.  The interesting furnishings as described above and below are all remnants from the prior tenant.

Matt and Thebeerchaser with the famous logo.....

Matt and Thebeerchaser with the famous logo…..

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Distinguishing Characteristics

The Beer:  Unlike most breweries, Tugboat does not distribute their beer – they produce  just enough – only eight kegs per batch – to serve in the brew-pub – it’s truly a craft beer.

Because they do not mass produce it, the beer is not filtered. “…our ales retain their freshness because the yeast is allowed to live…The pasteurization process that strips body and color from beer is a necessary evil in ‘big batch’ commercial brewing.  But, thankfully, that ain’t us.  We filter our coffee. Not our beer.”

Although the number of Tugboat brews available that night was limited to about four, Sam and I thought their beer was very good (we had a Red Cloud and Snow Plow IPA).  They also have other draft beer available.  Since I was driving and Sam rode his bike, we did not have the courage to try their Chernobyl Stout (13.5%!)  I also tried a Pear Cider which was excellent.

Almost all of the Internet reviews were positive although some, such as this somewhat pretentious critique by PortlandBarFly asserted that the beer is too hoppy: “….Leftist bike messengers, fauxhemians, silly old men that wish to be taken for professors, the sort of couples that enjoy playing board games before strangers – there’s a suffering self-satisfaction about the crowds keeping Portland’s smallest brewery afloat that makes one wish to jump atop the bar and force regulars to admit their beer just isn’t very good. The emperor has no clothes and far too many hops.”

Is there really a copy of "Ulysses" in this collection?

Is there really a copy of “Ulysses” in this collection?

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In contrast, some out-of-town visitors were impressed, “I LOVE THIS PLACE!….an eclectic mix of people and everyone’s so approachable and nice!  I wish I could live here. (They did not clarify whether they meant Portland or in the Brewery itself…)  “I’m ready to crown it one of the friendliest establishments in Portland.”  (Bing – 4/29/12)

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The Interior and Furnishings: “This place is awfully unassuming from the outside – just a door down a side street and some heavily tinted windows.  But that adds to the effect of being inside and feeling like you stepped into someone’s basement rumpus room.”  (Bing – 8/21/12)                                                                  

A comfortable "rumpus room" environment...

A comfortable “rumpus room” environment…

On one wall, there are thirty-five 33 RPM album covers from the  past – and speaking of eclectic, one row consisted of The Village People, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Grand Funk Railroad, The Royal Marines and Peter Nero’s “Summer of ’42.”

Before CDs and Pandora.....

Before CDs and Pandora…..

One person suggested that there was even a secret door to Portland’s infamous Mary’s Club in the back, but the bartender stated that this was true of the Mexican restaurant next door.

The food is pretty limited, but reasonably priced and good: “When the pita plate came out, everyone raved about the
hummus, but when the nachos came out, jaws dropped. I would have to guess there
was an entire bag of chips on the plate, loaded up with cheese, peppers,
olives, etc. for just $7.” (Bing – 8/21/12)

Grand Funk - old but after Prohibition....

Grand Funk – old but after Prohibition….

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Tugboat has only one wide-screen TV which purportedly cannot be tuned to any sports channel….. 

Terry Nelson (husband), Megan McEnroe-Nelson (wife), and John McEnroe (father-in-law/father)     are proud of their own owner-operated brewery and have an establishment with good beer and an environment with great character and ambiance.

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Tugboat Brewery                      711 SW Ankenny

45 degrees latitude        132 degrees longitude

A limited menu but good food at a reasonable price.

A limited menu but good food at a reasonable price.