Pausing for a MoMo of Reflection……

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My recent visit to MoMo – a bar right in the heart of downtown Portland (on SW 10th Avenue one block north of the Library) made me and quite possibly, my friend, Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood, who joined me, reflect on why we didn’t make more time for this type of cultural pursuit during the earlier years of our careers.

Counselor Westwood

Counselor Westwood

Both of us worked (Jim is still billing hours as an appellate lawyer on a part-time basis at the Stoel Rives law firm) more than twenty-five years at our downtown law firms in high-rise office buildings, yet July was the first time we graced the premises of MoMo Maximo bar.  (There is disagreement on the origination of the name of this dive which has been around since 2002 and was previously a tea house.)

And the same is true for me regarding some other wonderful downtown bars within walking distance of the PacWest Center including the Tugboat Brewery, Kelly’s Olympian, Bailey’s Tap Room and the Yamhill Pub.  Thebeerchaser has reviewed all of these long-term establishments since starting this “journey” in August 2011. (The links over the names will take you to Thebeerchaser reviews)

P1040446MoMo’s is a fascinating venue, which gets mixed reviews in social media – a few very critical of staff and service levels – mostly because of its popularity and the large crowds in the bar especially on weekends.

That said, most are effusive about the expansive back patio which Willamette Week recently even included in its “Best Portland Patio Bars That Are Also Pokéstops”  – 7/12/16 W Week.  (In my mind this is tantamount to getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick…..)

Some who don’t remember the days when the interior of any bar had enough second-hand smoke to fully populate an emphysema ward, criticize the patio for the heavy concentration of smokers:P1040444

“The outdoor seating area is great, but the sheer number of smokers out there keeps me from loving this place. The patio (is) pretty large, but with so many people smoking it just fills the area and there’s no escaping it.”  Yelp 4/10/16.  We thought it was fine, however, and were sorry that we neglected to bring cigars for the occasion (see below).

Dating back to 1794

Dating back to 1794

We began with shots of one of the world’s quality scotch whiskeys – Oban.  This fourteen-year old whiskey was described in a review by the Scotch Noob blog as:

“A satisfying dessert dram. Honeyed and full-bodied, it reminds me a lot of white port, but with more bite. It’s hard to imagine anyone not loving Oban 14.”  

And it has a great tradition with the distillery in the West Scottish Highlands dating back to 1794. The rationale for the fine whiskey was to toast the memory of our mutual friend, and my colleague for many years at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, Tim Haslach, who on July 6th lost his long and heroic battle with cancer.

Tim and Sara

Tim and Sara

An apt description of Tim as a person is the following: “He had a HUGE heart, was insanely loyal, loved his two kids completely and would have given anyone here, the shirt off his back if needed.”

Tim was also an outstanding attorney and partner:

“…an AV rated lawyer with Martindale-Hubbell, a testament to the fact that his peers considered him at the highest level of professional excellent.  He was a pioneer and giant in his field (consortia model for technology standards), known and respected internationally.  Equally important to him was his work for non-profits such as the Black Parent Initiative, Oregon Sports Authority and Jamii Moja.”  Haslach-Timothy Schwabe

But besides being a wonderful family man and a respected lawyer, his athletic achievements were notable:

“Tim was an accomplished athlete, having been an Oregon High School State Swimming Champion, an All-American Swimmer, United States Masters Swimmer, and a rugby player at Santa Clara. After graduating law school, Tim added sailing, skiing, body boarding, and golfing to his athletic pursuits.

1937257_1164769799603_7033498_nIn 1991, Tim found his way back to the pool and was part of a successful English Channel Relay Swim. He crossed the channel again in 2001 as part of the Team Gaffney Relay, which raised money for The Karen Gaffney Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and dedicated to championing the full inclusion of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.” 

The Gaffney Team after the successful swim of the English Channel.  Tim first in the back row and Karen Gaffney in the front.

TeamGaffney after the successful swim of the English Channel. Tim first in the back row and Karen Gaffney in the front.

 

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http://www.riverviewcemeteryfuneralhome.com/obituary/Timothy-Tim-Francis-Haslach/Portland-OR/1637990

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/some-reflections-tim-haslachs-professional-brad-biddle

Now while the loss of our friend was a time for reflection and toasting Tim’s memory, we also had an opportunity to celebrate a significant achievement by Jim’s son, David.

David followed his dad’s Ivy League graduate school footsteps (Jim graduated from law school at Columbia) The afternoon we met at MoMo’s, David’s defense of his Ph.D. dissertation was formally approved at Harvard Univeristy.  His area of study – Chemical Biology.

David at Brookhaven

Dr. David Westwood at Brookhaven National Lab

No, that’s not biochemistry, but try out this explanation from the Harvard website:

Chemical biology is a rapidly growing field that combines the rigor and quantitative aspects of traditional chemistry and biochemistry programs with the excitement and medical relevance of modern molecular, cellular, organismic, and human biology.”

This above photo is David at the Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, standing by the huge X-ray machine that’s about to bombard (and destroy) a microscopic protein crystal he has carefully prepared. The aim is to determine the structure of the protein from the scatter image, the better to use it for application in attacking diseased or pathogenic cells.

Now our toast to David was with PBR-filled mugs; however, I am sure that as his career progresses, he will rate an Oban salute too.

___ the friendly bartender at work

Aaron, the cordial and helpful bartender at work

Mo Mo Maximo was a good stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Pubs and Taverns.   Aaron, the bartender, was a friendly guy, the deck was superb and the maroon interior with spacious booths, pool tables and an interesting bar added to the dive-bar ambiance.

Notwithstanding the fact that Jim and I both partially rely on Medicare as our healthcare delivery system, we were not disappointed in our reception even after the admonition by this October, 2010 reviewer in Portland Barfly:

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“This place is just fine to go to if you are in your 20’s or 30’s……Anyone over 40 will probably not be wanting to come here cause its a little young.”

Perhaps this emphasis on the younger crowd explains the puzzling assertion by City Search in its description and reviews of MoMo, that “persons who like MoMo might also enjoy the Sylvan Learning Center.….??!”

And I don’t think our acceptance by the regulars was based on recognition of Jim’s celebrity status from his 1965 gig as captain of the notable Portland State College GE College Bowl team which set records on the nationally-televised program or celebrity-struck deference to his stint as a weatherman for KGW in non-prime time slots during the same era.

A young Jim Westwood with College Bowl teammates and coach Ben Padrow

A young Jim Westwood with College Bowl teammates and coach Ben Padrow (Portland State Magazine, May 2, 2005)

And if I might digress for a moment since this is a time for reflection, the accomplishents of the PSC team were notable as documented in this excerpt from the PSU archives:

“The final (championship match) score, 415 – 60 (against Birmingham Southern U.), marked only the second time a team had broken the 400 mark. Along the way to five straight wins, PSC set several College Bowl records:

Most total points scored in five games; most points scored in a single game; lowest total points scored by opponents; and most games in a row over 300. The producer of the GE College Bowl program told team members they had shown “the greatest team effort” he ever had witnessed during the more than 220 previous shows. (“Portland State and the GE College Bowl” by Clarence Hein – PDX Scholar)

Although a lot of the Mo Mo clientele are millennials, the patrons we saw appeared to personify the eclectic description way back when it opened in the fall of 2002 as described by a reporter from the Portland Tribune: “……(the lunch hour when) librarians from the downtown library come in on a break, is busy, too. Early in the evening, happy hour attracts area workers, and later in the night employees from nearby Jake’s Grill stop in for a nightcap.”

Jim used public transportation to make the return trip to his NE Portland home and assured me that he was not going to further his alcohol consumption while making part of the trip by Streetcar, thereby taking advantage of information conveyed in an August 8, 2015 Willamette Week article entitled, “Take the Portland Streetcar drinking tour. (Trolley Drunk)”.  

Portland Streetcar - A Drunk Delivery Device??

Portland Streetcar – A Drunk Delivery Device??

The journey “…..on the slow-moving, easy-riding streetcar is the perfect drunk-delivery device,” and the weekly paper’s recommended eleven stops included Mo Mo and former Beerchaser Pearl District bars Life of Riley (March 2016 review) and the Low Brow Lounge (June 2015 review).

To conclude, while the number has increased, there is still a paucity of good bars in the core downtown area and MoMo’s dark and spacious interior (described in this Portland Barfly summary) complemented by the bright and expansive patio along with friendly bartenders are a winning combination and merit a visit:

Grotto like with spacious booths

Grotto like with spacious booths

“A wondrous, jarring, thoroughly misplaced grotto remains from the former tea house, and Momo’s wisely……. left things alone beyond a few strands of Christmas lights less tacky than rakish given the context – Easter Island lounge as abandoned evidence of a once great culture utterly ignored by the natives currently in residence.”

And if you do drop by, raise a mug (or a shot glass) to the memory of Tim Haslach.

final picture of Tim

MoMo Bar Maximo        NW 10th Avenue  Portland

Life of Riley Tavern – Visit this Bar in the Pearl

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Those of you who have lived as many decades as Thebeerchaser probably remember watching William Bendix, the loveable wing-riveter at a California aircraft assembly plant, who was the star of the television show, Life of Riley, which ran for five seasons in the late 1950’s.

William Bendix and his son "Junior"

William Bendix and his son “Junior”

Only a few of the group who had a great lunch at this Portland bar recently were even born at that time.  But the majority were tax lawyers from Schwabe Williamson &  Wyatt and probably didn’t watch TV when they were kids anyway.

They were drawing images of the IRS logo with crayons, which served them well as five of the six lawyers present that day, in addition to having their law degrees and passing the Oregon State Bar went on to get an LLM – essentially a masters degree in tax law.

While Thebeerchaser’s only other experience with a dive bar in the Pearl District was less than memorable (the Low Brow Lounge), Life of Riley Tavern (hereafter LoR) was a very good venue – not only for the lunch we enjoyed, but when I returned for a beer several afternoons later.  An apt description is this one from Yelp on 3/26/2015

The upstairs bar

The upstairs bar

Amazing bar, exemplary staff. I don’t usually find myself in The Pearl but I do make it down here at least once a week because of the great service, free billiards, shuffleboard, and darts in the basement nightly.

The upstairs is nice as well, but the basement feels more homey. Both the upstairs and downstairs have great TVs for sports viewing…..the music in the basement is top-notch…..Oh yeah, they’re happy hour is ridiculously awesome.”

Good lunch-time specials

Good lunch-time specials

So let’s start with the upstairs portion of the bar – one reviewer compared it to a ‘50’s diner, which is not too far off.  There’s only a small bar and some small, round bar tables with the rest of the seating as tables for the restaurant.   In fact, I didn’t even realize that they had a great bar space downstairs until I read some of the reviews after my first visit.

Scrumptious mac & cheese

Scrumptious mac & cheese

The food is a strength.   I had a scrumptious and plentiful serving of Cajun Mac & Cheese (which required a long workout after lunch out of guilt….) and the remainder of our party of eight all were very positive about their lunches ranging from the Riley Burger to the Pulled Pork Sandwich. 

Great sandwiches too

Great sandwiches too

As Megan, our friendly server explained, “You should try our barbecue – its’ awesome,” and the traeger, right outside of the bar is well employed.   She also was justifiably proud of the fresh sauces and dressings – their own recipes and made fresh each day.  The prices are typical of Portland and a bit lower than you would expect in the Pearl.

But it’s the lower level that really defines LoR.  Down the steps into an intriguing, dark basement space with just a few small windows – it reminded me of the fallout shelters the government promoted when I was a kid.  (They also told us with sincerity during drills that we should assume a position under our desks in order to avoid the impact of a nuclear warhead…..)

Get under your desk, cover your head and kiss your *#@ goodbye."

“Get under your desk, cover your head and kiss your *#@ goodbye.”

Down to the "Fallout Shelter" bar

Down to the “Fallout Shelter” bar

And I had a great conversation with Dave, the bartender, who has been there for ten years –  a former carpenter who  helped build the bar and with construction after the current owner purchased the building …….

Dave draws rave reviews from customers and he told me about the 22 beers on tap and let me sample a few – free, which was nice after our experience at Hair of the Dog Brewpub where you had to pay from $1.25 to $3.50 for a 2 ounce sample.

He stated that his clientele includes a bunch of regulars who work in the Pearl to neighbors who show up in hordes especially when there are Blazer or Timber games or when March Madness is running.   Dave also stated that one thing that distinguishes the bar is that all the games including pool, darts and a great shuffleboard game are free.    P1040158

Almost all of the comments about LoR on social media were positive although speaking of the Timbers, a rant is in order.  It demonstrates the reason why a number of Portlanders who think soccer is boring and should be confined to Europe, also get upset at the pretentiousness of some Timber fans.

Free shuffleboard

Free shuffleboard

While this comment goes back to August 2011, here’s the remarks by a guy who trashed what he admitted was a great bar simply because of one objection – and he signed the review “Anonymous.

“What a shame. Great beer, lovely TV projection screen, decent food but totally cynical staff with the ‘no sound during a Timbers game’ attitude. Come-on owners! This is Portland, Home of the Timbers.

My friends and I were amongst the 15 people watching the game vs the 4 that were at the bar with no interest and the staff insisted that there was not enough people in the joint to put the sound of the game on. I am very disappointed with the patriotism of Life of Riley. You disappoint your patrons and you disappoint Portland. Shame on you!”

Dave, the friendly downstairs bartender.

Dave, the friendly downstairs bartender and a guy with good judgment!

No, you misfit!  Shame on you for not having the guts to even identify yourself and for your myopic perspective.

A little due diligence revealed that the Timbers played 34 games in 2011 in which they scored a total of 42 goals.  Games are 90-minutes and assuming no overtime matches (which may not be totally factual, but this is a bar blog….) that means one goal scored by the Timbers every 72.86 minutes.

This begs the question, “What would the narration have added in a game that probably ended either in a scoreless tie or one with fewer than two goals scored?” (That’s a rhetorical question….)  I think this rant is justified especially in light of one other comment on Yelp“……… music in the basement is top-notch and suited for whatever crowd may be in at the time.”

Cheers to the 2009 Oregon Legislature.

Cheers to the 2009 Oregon Legislature.

One other very dated and interesting complaint from Portland Barfly dating clear back to 2008, again demonstrates the wisdom in the Oregon Legislature’s 2009 expansion of the Oregon “Smoke-free Workplace” Law which provided that bars and taverns could no longer permit smoking on or within ten feet of the premises.

“I visited Life of Riley for the first time this friday night, my friend and I hung out downstairs because I love smoky dens. It was a pretty cool place – the servers were quick and friendly and stayed on top of things even though it was packed. The drinks were good and strong. We managed to meet some cool people……

Now I hate it when people bitch about how smoky bars are and… I am a smoker and I love smoky dives, but holy shit!! This was by far the smokiest space I have ever been! Our eyes were burning! And this feeling lingered the next day. My advice to the owner: crack a few windows when it gets that busy….. You gotta have a little more circulation in there.”

Thebeerchaser appreciates this law because having reviewed about 175 bars since late 2011 – many of which I visited multiple times, my health and possibly my lifespan would have been adversely impacted by the second-hand smoke, especially given my preoccupation with dive bars.  The tobacco lobby at the time, taking lessons from the NRA in opposing reasonable legislation, maintained:

“Cigarettes don’t kill people.  It’s the tars, and toxins in the smoke.”  

Upstairs bar area

Upstairs bar area

Look back at the comments from a prior post in this blog (check the link below) to see what the pre-2009 bar environment was like:

The Horse Brass Pub: “We worried that (the new law) would spell the end of …(the) venerable Brit Pub…Not because the 33-year old bar…wouldn’t retain its loyal patrons, but because we assumed its billowing, milkshake-thick clouds of cigarette smoke were load bearing structural elements of the building without which the sprawling pub would collapse.”  (“2009 Willamette Week Drink Guide”)

And finally, a couple of comments about my companions at LoR. Now one might think that tax lawyers, especially those who have over-achieved and gotten their LMM, might be boring company,  but they are a great and interesting group.

Interesting companions...

Interesting companions…Woodhouse, Reuter, Van Zanten and Eller

Roy Lambert, now retired, is an active masters competitive swimmer with some regional records.  In retirement, he audits courses in medieval and Renaissance history at Portland State.

Marc Sellers, besides majoring in chemistry as an undergrad, 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 rescueand for years was a member of Mt. Hood Mountain Rescue.

Sellers - skilled litigator with a dry sense of humor

Sellers – skilled litigator with a dry sense of humor

Besides that, Marc has a remarkable sense of humor which he regularly demonstrates on firm e-mails such as the following:

“This week’s Tax Department Employee of the Week is Peter Osborne. Peter was recently recognized by Firm Management as the ‘Lawyer Most Likely to Get the Correct Answer’ with respect to issues arising under Internal Revenue Code Sections starting with the number three.”

Haystack Rock by Pete Osborne.

Haystack Rock by Pete Osborne.

Pete Osborne, who was accompanied by his spouse,Terri, is described by his colleagues as one of the smartest, if not the smartest, tax lawyer in Portland.  On occasion, he has been known to return to Portland with both a big smile and winnings from the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas – Senior Division….   He’s also a talented artist.  (See another of his works in the post about Brannons’ in Beaverton.)

Osbornes etching of the Three Sisters

Osborne’s etching of the Three Sisters

Jennifer Woodhouse, besides being fluent in Spanish, is a mentor at Lewis & Clark Law School where she graduated cum laude and leads Schwabe’s Women in Business group

Dan Eller received the prestigious Joyce Ann Harpole Scholarship and other law school honors at Lewis and Clark.  He is an skilled outdoorsman and cyclist and frequently cycles around the base of Mt. Bachelor – active in numerous civic boards and a scout leader for his kids.

Even the Tax Group endorses Thebeerchaser logo

Even the Tax Group endorses Thebeerchaser logo

Katherine Van Zanten is an avid skier and a girl scout leader for her kids.  Also active in the Oregon State Bar Tax Section.

And don’t forget one of Portland’s best legal secretaries, Gretchen Reuter, who has the technical expertise, interpersonal skills and patience to manage the workload of several of these people concurrently.

Having lunch with the Tax Group was enjoyable.  And Life of Riley is a really good bar with good food, a friendly and knowledgeable staff (with enough common sense to mute the sound during a sporting event to play great music) and an awesome cellar that you won’t find too many places in Portland.

Life of Riley Tavern 300 NW 10th Ave

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

Kelly's - Operating since 1902!

Kelly’s – Operating since 1902!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Downtown on 4th and Washington

Downtown on 4th and Washington

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

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

The Bar at Kelly's

The Bar at Kelly’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       

Faust Beerchasing at the U of O

Faust (right) Beerchasing at the U of O

 

 

 

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

Westwood with caricature of his hero - George Washington

Westwood with caricature of his hero – George Washington

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

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

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

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

An award-winning professor before becoming Dean

An award-winning professor before becoming Dean

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

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

Lewis and Clark Law School Alum - Senator Heidi Hietkamp

Lewis and Clark Law School Alum – Senator Heidi Hietkamp

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Entertainment more genteel than rock bands at Kelly's

Entertainment more genteel than rock bands at Kelly’s

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

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

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

Charlie Faust with his Dad

Charlie Faust with his Dad at Bailey’s

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

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

Charlie flew through Hurricane Gloria

Charlie flew through Hurricane Gloria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former colleagues - Amy and Mary Kate

Former colleagues – Amy and Mary Kate

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as for Body Art…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westwood - comfortable in his own skin - Still!

Westwood – comfortable in his own skin – Still!

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

Grant High National Championship Team including Coach Westwood

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

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

——————-

 The Kelly Motorcyles

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

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

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

The inventory of the classic cycles at Kelly's

The inventory of the classic cycles at Kelly’s

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelly’s Olympian              426 SW Washington Portland

P1030539

Tall Tales and Highballs (okay-beer!) at the Low Brow Lounge

 

The Low Brow and the Pearl District - An Inherent Contradiction in Terms??

The Low Brow in the Pearl District

Perhaps there should be some recognition for a watering hole that was voted, “Best Portland Dive Bar” back in Willamette Week’s 2005 Readers’ Poll and still, amidst the burgeoning high-rise condos and pretentious shops and eateries in the Pearl District, retains its reputation as a dive bar in 2015.  (Note: The Sandy Hut and Marathon Taverna, both reviewed by Thebeerchaser were second and third place in 2005.)

Note this review from Willamette Week’s 2015 Bar Guide:

“Low Brow Lounge didn’t land in the Pearl, the Pearl landed on Low Brow Lounge. Once just another dive proudly declaring its lack of pretension, the bar has, somewhat miraculously, survived long enough to take up the mantle as an oasis of indelicacy freaking out the nouveau-riche squares filling the condos that have sprouted up around it in the last decade.”    

P1030253

A dive amidst the high rises…..

Thebeerchaser ended up at the Low Brow Lounge at the suggestion of his daughter’s boyfriend, Ryan Keene, who established some credibility in bar discernment by previous Beerchasing events at Sniff Cafe, Quimbys and Club 21.  Ryan is a very good athlete and enterprising young man as well as a good drinking companion.

Ryan, Ron (in the shadows) and Sam with Thebeerchaser logo

Ryan, Ron (in the shadows) and Sam with Thebeerchaser logo

 

Also joining us were Dr. Sam HollowayUniversity of Portland professor and his dad, Portland attorney, Ron Holloway, who first crossed paths with Thebeerchaser in his freshman year at Oregon State University, when Ron, a junior, was his room-head in the SAE fraternity house.  (More on that chronicled history below.)

The student reviews of Dr. Holloway are overwhelmingly superb and Ryan, enjoyed his interesting lectures.  He was also reassured after a conference with Sam in which the good professor admonished him, “Remember, 50% of all students are below average….”

P1030256Ryan had been to the Low Brow before and it was close to the senior Holloway’s digs in the Pearl.   Arriving on a Friday afternoon, we passed on the their signature dish – chicken breasts and tater tots – they label them , “Tits and Tots,” and ordered beers and the more mundane but equally unhealthy  – tots and mini-corndogs.

The Low Brow fits the general definition of a dive bar (see Beerchaser post “Analyzing Dive Bars Head First.”) and it reminded both Ron Holloway and me of similar venues in which we matriculated while in college in Corvallis – Price’s Tavern, The Peacock and Don’s Den, to name the most popular, but certainly not all the bars.

An Ashley Montague mural

An Ashley Montague mural

The Low Brow was not totally absent of class and the mural on the external west wall by Portland artist Ashley Montague  was distinctive.  (His work consists mostly of commissioned murals on authorized walls, like the side of Lowbrow Lounge or the wall at Chapter 24 Vineyards)

 

Otherwise, it was the typical dive environment including pinball machines, a Wonder Woman mural, some memorabilia and a curious four-foot high Miller High Life bottle with thousands of bottle caps in it.

Bartenders to busy to tell the story behind this artifact

Bartenders to busy to tell the story behind this artifact

The reviews of the Low Brow often have comments about surly bartenders and it appeared that those working that day fit the mold – also one reason that I have no explanation for the Miller bottle cap collection.  In almost every watering hole visited by Thebeerchaser – even in the grungiest dive such as the Yamhill Pub, the bartenders are friendly and willing to share some stories or chat about their bar.

Not so with the Low Brow, which is one reason this blog post is written after just one rather than the customary two or three visits.

Others agree as evidenced by the following:

“…..bartenders so perfectly surly they must be coached in unpleasantness.”  Portland Barfly

“……the bouncer—who looks about one phone call away from being arrested for loitering.”  Willamette Week 2014 Bar Guide

Surly bartenders.....

Surly bartenders…..

“The new, extremely rude, bartenders have ruined this once great dive bar destination and as a result this place is now the most uncomfortable bar in the city.”  Yelp review 3/9/15

That said, any time one can drink cheap PBR, stuff down fried food and share tales (both true and concocted) with old (and in Sam’s case) new friends, is memorable.  Thus, I’ll end this post by focusing on the company.

Sam Holloway

Dr. Sam Holloway

Dr. Sam Holloway

Sam Holloway (who in an unprecedented early disclosure by Thebeerchaser, will be featured in June as the 20th Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter) is a well-educated gent.  His first degree was in physics from Willamette University, followed by an MA in teaching from Pacific University and finally his Ph.D. at the U of O.  This excerpt from the summary of his credentials at University of Portland conveys the breadth of experience for a young guy:

“Professor at the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business Administration. Prior to completing his Ph.D. in management, Sam’s professional appointments spanned a wide array of industries, countries, and areas of expertise. These positions include being an estimator in the U.S. highway bridge construction industry, teaching advanced physics in Prague, Czech Republic, and teaching secondary mathematics in Beaverton, Oregon.

 He has received several teaching awards, including being named the outstanding graduate student teacher at the University of Oregon.”  

Sam was awarded tenure at UP in 2015 and as mentioned earlier, was Ryan’s favorite professor during his undergraduate days at UP – an outstanding educational institution.   He played a key part in the recent implementation of a Master Crafting Strategist Certificate – a graduate level curriculum to give craft beer industry professionals specific business training and wisdom.  800px-University_of_Portland_entrance_sign

Thebeerchaser in the forthcoming post will also discuss Sam’s reputation in the craft beer industry including consulting both nationally and internationally as a principal in his company Crafting a Strategy.

 

Logo_Vertical

Sam Holloway’s Consulting Company

 

With typical humility, Sam defers praise and said while consuming his PBR:  “I give all of the credit for my success to my parents – especially my mother and father.”

There is consensus on Sam’s genetic make-up among those of us who know both Ron Holloway and his college sweetheart and now spouse, Dinda.  While Sam may have received some of his aptitude for higher education from his dad, (Ron served for several years as Assistant Dean at Willamette University) but his intelligence, interpersonal skills and good personal appearance all emanate from his mother’s side of the family.

Ron Holloway

Ron was my room-head for several terms at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house in my freshman year at Oregon State, where “Ronnie Clyde” claims he molded me and laid the foundation for all of my future accomplishments.   He was also nicknamed “Root Beer” because to his credit, he did not drink alcohol until he was 21 (I told his son it was because he had an affinity for A & W).    He served as President of the fraternity and player-coach of our intramural C-League basketball team.  His leadership-coaching style was kind of a bizarre combination of Rutherford B. Hayes and John Calipari.  The SAE’s won the all-university championship in all three intramural leagues that year (1967).

Ron Holloway as SAE President in 1969.

Ron Holloway as SAE President in 1969.

Portland attorney, Ron Holloway

Portland attorney, Ron Holloway

Root Beer went on to law school and served as an Assistant Dean at Willamette before entering the private practice of law and in 1996 co-founding the firm of Sather, Byerly & Holloway, a successful twenty-lawyer litigation firm in Portland. 

(It should be noted that the firm’s website reference which sites the co-founders’ concern at their prior law firms for “….soaring overhead costs and the inefficiencies of an overgrown bureaucracy,” is not a reference to Thebeerchaser when he served in firm management while Ron practiced at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.)

The SAE house was loaded with ahtletic talent that year (where future OSU basketball starter, Mike Keck, and former all-state round-ballers, Bob (BA) Allard (also Pac-8 Golf Individual Champion in 1969) and South Salem’s Chris Haag made up part of the A-League squad.  The B-League roster also had several former high school all-league basketball players.

Ron and I along with teammate Craig (The Dude) Hanneman (Defensive tackle for OSU -1968 to 70 – where he was 2nd Team All American and First Team All Pac 10 and All Coast in addition to playing in the East-West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, the All America Bowl and the College All-Star Game) showed our hardwood talents in the C League.   Ron and I regaled Ryan and Sam at the Low Brow with tales of legendary exploits in high school basketball where both of us lettered in the old TYV League  – Ron at McMinnville HS and Dirt at Oregon City HS.

1966 TYV League Champions - coached by Dale Herron (Beerchaser is #10)

1966 TYV League Champions – coached by Dale Herron (Beerchaser is #12)

C-League teams were  rated low in finesse, but high in belligerence.  (Hanneman’s  personal experience in those games ingrained him with the grit for his successful post NFL business career.)

More so, the games imbued him with what he needed to become the first former NFL or NBA player to scale Mt. Everest – he accomplished that in 2012 and “Run with the Bulls” in Pamplona the next year –  he was showcased as one of the 2012 Beerchasers of the Quarter)

The Dude (right) on Mt. Everest climb

The Dude (right) on Mt. Everest climb

 ——–

It also attests to Ron’s motivational skill when as a coach, he channeled the rage Hanneman expressed during the championship game when a competitor showed poor sportsmanship and Mike Tyson-like behavior.  (Hanneman called a time-out because he was bleeding and said in the huddle,“That Beta SOB, just bit me in the shoulder.”)  The Dude went on to a triple-double in the game besides making sure the offender looked over his shoulder when he walked on campus for the next month.

Thebeerchaser and Craig Hanneman at OSU

Thebeerchaser and Craig Hanneman at OSU

Ronnie Clyde, inspired by Mike Keck’s no-look passes in the A-League games, developed his own version “the no-pass look,” where he established records – probably still standing – for most shots taken in one season. (Also the inverse record – shots taken verses shooting percentage.)

Ryan Keene

Ryan - athlete and enterpraneuer

Ryan – athlete and enterpraneuer

After graduating from the University of Portland, Ryan joined O’Neill Electric as a project manager and demonstrates his work ethic by part-time work on the weekends at Artleta Library and Bakery Cafe as well as serving as an assistant coach for the track and cross country teams at Clackamas High School.    He is an accomplished runner and was a member of the Gonzaga University Cross Country Team his first two years in college.

Laura Williams and Ryan Beerchasing at Quimbys

Laura Williams and Ryan –  Beerchasing at Quimbys

In 2013 he ran a 50K that’s 31.1 miles – ultra-marathon in Bend on the Flagline Trail. He finished 3rd overall with a time of 4:15. – that’s essentially an eight minute mile for the distance!

The first time I met Ryan’s mom, Nancy, I talked to her about his running and the conversation went something like this:

Beerchaser:  Ryan is a good athlete and his running is amazing.  How did that happen?

Nancy:  Well Ryan liked to run when he was little and in the ninth grade, he decided he was going to focus on this sport so he started running ten miles every day that summer.

Beerchaser:  Wow, ten miles every day.  That’s really dedication for someone that young.

Nancy:  Well, it sounds impressive, but it wasn’t all good.

Beerchaser:  What do you mean?

Nancy:  Well in the fall when it was time for him to start high school, we had no idea where he was……

P1030261

Another mural – this one of Wonder Woman inside the bar

We enjoyed our time at the Low Brow in spite of the environment.  Perhaps one visit is not enough to appreciate its idiosyncratic ambiance, but this comment in City Search seems to be typical.

It also explains why Thebeerchaser will look for options with more amiable staff when checking out Portland dive bars in the future.

P1030257

 

Used to be a decent place to wind down…A long, long time ago, in a far, far away dream.  To say the service is poor would be a compliment.  Dive bars are supposed to be nice for their local feel and charm. The Low Brow is now anything but.”

——–

Old-fashioned pin ball machines

Old-fashioned pin ball machines

Typical dive bar memorobilia

Typical dive bar memorobilia

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Low Brow Lounge    1036 NW Hoyt Street

The Yamhill Pub – A Dive Bar with Character or Grunge?

the Yamhill Pub - Dive or Grunge - or is there a difference?

The Yamhill Pub – Dive or Grunge – or is there a difference?

One of the wide-ranging debates in contemporary society – rivaling that of climate change, the future of Congress as a viable institution and gun control is that of the definition of dive bars i.e. how does one determine if the PBR he is drinking is consumed in a true dive bar or a trendy hole-in-the-wall that tries to masquerade as one (or is there even a level below “dive bar”?)

Justice Stewart - probably raised a mug in some dive bars

Justice Stewart – probably raised a mug in some dive bars

Some will reference the late Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart’s threshold test for obscenity when he wrote in his legendary opinion about pornography, “I know it when I see it.” 

Others try to identify specific dive bar characteristics,as exemplified by reference sources used by Thebeerchaser in his journey to visit bars, taverns and pubs in Portland – and subsequently, other locales including Europe, Alaska, Colorado, the South and Oregon regions east of the Cascades, and on the Oregon Coast.

seattle-dive-bars

An invaluable Beerchaser reference source

For example, my favorite from pages 9-10 of Seattle’s Best Dive Bars by Mike Seely:

“Some dives have vomit-caked toilet seats in the bathroom; others have cracked vinyl booths in the barroom.  Some have nicotine-stained murals dating back to the Depression; others have drink prices that seemingly haven’t wavered since then……..But really, no collection of characteristics can be melded to truly define what makes a bar a dive…..The term “dive’”is bestowed with a spoonful of love….What they have in common aren’t so much attributes, but a state of mind — you just know one when you see one.    

The Yukon Tavern - one of Portland's other dive bars

The Yukon Tavern – one of Portland’s other dive bars

 

Dive bars is one of the subsets of venues reviewed on the home page of this blog and of the approximately 115+ bars reviewed since August 2011, about fifteen have been so categorized including Portland’ dives the Ship Tavern, Bar of the GodsJoe’s Cellar, the Yukon Tavern and Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage Alaska to name a few.

And up North - Darwin's Theory in Anchorage

And up North – Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage

 —————

The Yamhill Pub in downtown Portland is the latest addition to the class, although I would submit that this historic bar may be submerged one additional step below “dive” to “grunge,” as discussed below.  In this scholarly discussion, I will first quote in full, the summary paragraph from Portland Barfly, because it so eloquently captures the “aura.”

“A genuine dive-bar lurking midst the downtown shopping arcade, the Yamhill Pub maintains an unreconstructed seediness through blaring juke, food…

Toilet No. 1

Bathroom No. 1

(and, for that matter, toilets) best avoided, actively-encouraged graffiti upon the smoke-stained walls, pennies-a-serving pitchers, and a fiercely-protective cadre of underemployed regulars (seniors, rockers, bike messengers) willing to throw themselves in front of Hummers to prevent the forces of gentrification. Intimidating for the first-time visitor, but that’s sort of the point.”

The bar at the Yamhill
The bar at the Yamhill

 And this excerpt from one of the Bar Fly reviewers in 2011 is edifying albeit puzzling,  “Yamhill IS the  bar in all of Portland, if not the world. I love it and will never stop drinking there.” 

 

You will not find the Yamhill Pub in the annual Willamette Week Bar Guide nor will it ever be one of the five Portland watering holes in Draft Magazine’s exclusive list of Best 100 Beer Bars in the United States

I visited the Yamhill three times – once with the Portland State University Athletic Department’s erstwhile, Denny Ferguson.  He also accompanied me at prior visits to the Cheerful Tortoise and The Cheerful Bullpen.  I also had an afternoon beer on my second visit with Merrill Lynch financial wizard, Mike Jones (also a Beerchaser at the Oregon Public House).

Beerchaser Regular - Dennis B. Ferguson (Fergy)
Beerchaser Regular – Dennis B. Ferguson (Fergy) with Thebeerchaser logo and PBR!

 

P1030195

Beerchaser and financial wizard, Mike Jones

 

 

 

 

 

——-

What “distinguishes” the Yamhill?

The Bathrooms – the bathrooms are most often characterized with adjectives similar to this description in 2010: “Bathrooms are disgusting,” and brought current by this Yelp reviewer in 2015: “The restrooms (were) just sick,” – both patrons evidently not disturbed by the fact that one of the heads has no lock on the door.

———–

Bathroom No. 2 - also no paradise!
Bathroom No. 2 – also no paradise!
These hieroglyphics are not of an intellectual bent...

These hieroglyphics are not of an intellectual bent…

The Graffitias you can see from the picture, every conceivable space in the one-room bar is covered with words and phrases accumulated through the years since it’s opening in 1939, and the same is true on the bathroom walls.

While some neat classic beers signs and one for Camel Cigarettes were displayed, there was a real paucity of the good memorabilia – okay junk – that typifies many dive bars and adds to the character because there are usually stories behind them.  Unfortunately, the graffiti, rather than offering the usual range of intellectual expressions and philosophical albeit trite drivel, was either indecipherable scribbling or obscenities ranging from one or two words to more graphic short phrases.  P1030321 P1030324

The only exception I found, notwithstanding a zealous search, was this truism which might be a suitable campaign slogan for Hillary Clinton:

“To be one with your weaknesses, is your greatest strength.”

And immediately below this phrase to add context –  if not a verifiable scientific hypothesis:  “You smell better when you are asleep.”

The Clientele – unlike a number of social media comments suggested, we did not find a group of hostile regulars who resent any new patron as an interloper. The approximately fifteen-seat bar was filled on each visit with a diverse group (male and female and a broad age demographic) ranging from tattooed punkers, a jovial drunk, some blue-collar serious beer drinkers to a few office workers – presumably downtown employees.

P1030325On my third and final visit over the lunch hour, I sat at the bar next to a guy who was on his second Rainier Tall Boy when I sat down.  After spilling a good part of the second can on the bar which went on to his t-shirt, he told me that he was “getting ready” for his 1:30 court appearance for second degree trespassing.  (I did not suggest to him that the judge was probably not going to be impressed with his pre-function.)

The bartender on each visit was friendly and his conversation with those at the bar was ongoing. Unfortunately, it was difficult to the point of unattainable to carry on a conversation because the rock music pumping out of the juke-box was so loud.

The Food and Beer – Most of the dive bars reviewed at least have decent grub which helps one appreciate the usual lack of selection of quality beers; however, at the Yamhill, there is a microwave for popcorn or for a limited menu of frozen “treats” such as wings, corn dogs, chicken strips or lasagna and mac & cheese (the latter two obviously to be avoided). Kevin, the owner and bartender, told me that you can also bring your own food in although besides a Subway and the YUMM Chinese restaurant, there’s not much near by.   (Warning – you might get beaten up if you bought food in a YUMM container.)

And by the way, don’t look for a website with their menu, the beers on tap or anything for that matter.  They do have a surprisingly decent selection of beer with ten on tap, including Blue Moon, Widmer Hefeweizen, Georgetown Porter, Oakshire Amber, Sam Adams Nitro Stout and Alameda’s Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA.  (Mike and I downed draft Blue Moons – as expected, the standard orange slice on our class was missing!)

The Standard at Yamhill!

No. 18 in North America in 2012!

Denny and I had PBR’s – $1.50 during Happy Hour and the bartender affirmed the astounding claim that the Yamhill is the top seller of PBR in Oregon (“We have four kegs of it on tap daily“).

Not only that, but at one time in the ’90’s they were #5 in North America!!  Before I could scoff, he pointed out this PBR sign from 2012 – Number 18 in North America in PBR sales.  Perhaps it’s the special they advertise “$3 for a pint of PBR and a shot of Old Taylor Whiskey.”

Thebeerchaser has used more quotes than typical in this post; however, they are so rich that they are worth sharing and it is fitting to close with the following two:

“The Yamhill Pub is a glorious sh*t crater. It’s a hole, a mess, a f*ing dive. The walls and floors and sundry surfaces are more graffiti-ed than not, and the pub certainly came by every squiggle honestly. Plastic cups do for the dirt-cheap well drinks, and the very idea of ordering any kind of cocktail seems vastly inappropriate. The only thing that clashes with the Yamhill’s perfect image of a dive is the surprisingly decent collection of taps. Even in the midst of punk squalor, Portlanders still demand a decent IPA. The Yamhill Pub is amazing. It’s perfect. Never go there. You’ll ruin it.”  (Joe Streckert – Portland Mercury)        

Any bets on the five-year scenario?

Any bets on the five-year scenario?

And this one from a regular I chatted with briefly about Thebeerchaser blog. He ended our conversation with the lament, “Mark my words, this place will be gone in five years and that will be a tragedy.”

Although the Yamhill Pub is a grunge pit – He’s correct.

The Yamhill Pub

223 SW Yamhill

Club 21 – Don’t be Fooled by the Name of this Good Bar

Club 21 - Definitely not a Strip Club....

Club 21 – Definitely not a Strip Club….

Okay – admit it.  When you saw the title of this review was Club 21, you thought I had abandoned the guideline to exclude strip clubs from the venues reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  But that’s not the case.  Club 21 is a great NE neighborhood bar in an iconic 1930 building (at one time a Russian Orthodox church) co-owned by Marcus Archambeault and Warren Brophy, who also own two other Portland bars –  Gold Dust Meridian (see Thebeerchaser review in October 2012) and The Double Barrel.

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Ryan, Dan, Leslie and Scott with Thebeerchaser logo

Unlike some multiple bar owners who stay with one theme, they are creative – each bar has its own marketing, menu and ambiance based on the clientele, the building design and the neighborhood  history.

Club 21 has great character and lawyers Scott Whipple and Dan Duyck and young O”Neill Electric Project Manager, Ryan Keene and I enjoyed our beer and a dinner there one late weekday afternoon.

Whipple is a Beerchaser regular having accompanied me to Ash Street Saloon and the Dixie Tavern downtown, in the early 2012 days of this “journey,” then to Slab Town and the Skyline Tavern in October 2013.

He and his law partner, Duyck, were along for Gold Dust Meridian and Bar of the Gods and Ryan and his girlfriend, Laura, Beerchased at Quimby’s, Sniff Café and most recently, Stammtisch.  (If you’re interested in seeing any of these reviews, just use the “Search” feature at the top right of Thebeerchaser logo.)   P1020507

When we arrived at 5:00, there were few in the building, but a steady stream of regulars quickly filled both the inside and an expansive patio on the sunny afternoon.  And the regulars were friendly and talkative when we asked them to tell us about the bar.

P1020518

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

Expansive and Dog-friendly Patio

According to our bartender, Leslie – who has worked there 3.5 years, Club 21 has been the name of the bar since 1958.  After its time as a place of worship, it became the eastside annex of Jake’s Crawfish.

The owner of Nick’s Coney Island bought the building and  named his bar, Shadows.  In 1958, it became Club 21 – just because it’s on 21st and NE Glisan.  Marcus and Warren purchased it in early 2011.

In the photo below, that’s Dennis in the center – he works at Franz Bakery, and first came to the bar in 1966 – where he met the woman who is still his wife in the early ‘70’s.

Jovial and Helpful Regulars - and good taste in beer!!

Jovial and Helpful Regulars – and good taste in beer!!

Dennis and his friends remember the structure when it was a church and talked about sitting on what used to be the altar when they first started patronizing.

As an undated Portland Mercury review asserted,Be sure to say hi to the regulars they’ve been drinking there before you were born. No but seriously. They have!” (Unless you are as old as Thebeerchaser….)

And the dark and cozy environment reeks with personality with accoutrements such as old Schlitz lamps and classic Blitz beer signs, three antler heads, a stuffed duck, a classic nude painting, four old-fashioned pin-ball machines, Big Buck World and a small nook in the wall with religious statuettes.

One of four trophies....

One of three trophies….

In fact, even the men’s bathroom has character – you have to open a door and walk through a small narrow hallway to get to it. (The door on the right is the entrance to the maze in the photo below.)

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character....

Even the entrance to the bathroom has character….

 

 

—–

 

The current owners remodeled the infrastructure (kitchen, plumbing and code issues) while being careful to maintain the spirit of the building.    They improved the interior and reformed the menu.  Subsequent reviews show they accomplished their goal:

“Yes, I think they’ve done a knock-out job bringing this historic building back to life. It still feels like a dive bar, but now it has some much appreciated style going for it”. (Barfly 12/13/11)

"Droolworthy" old Blitz sign.....

“Drool-worthy” old Blitz sign…..

“Club 21 is back in action, following a change in ownership (now in the same capable hands as Gold Dust Meridian), and a lovingly-rendered makeover of the old gal.

Don’t worry – she looks like the best Club 21, ever. And, no more of that embarrassing body odor. These are all good changes – enlarged patio, enclosed and ventilated kitchen, new paneling, everywhere, annoying mini-flat screens, nowhere, a drool-worthy collection of beer signs and booze memorabilia.”

And this from Willamette Week (10/12/11):

Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz __ is even better than Pabst stuff
Thebeerchaser thinks Schlitz signs are even better than Pabst stuff

“(Club 21) still looks like a little fish tank castle on the outside and feels like a ski lodge on the inside. But the former dive bar, which took only a slight hit in patronage while closed for upgrades this summer, has stepped up its style game considerably.

Its former duct-taped booths have been replaced by new upholstery; dingy old beer mirrors replaced by…well, even older Pabst paraphernalia; two pinball machines have turned into four; the patio now seats dozens of young blue-collar regulars…”

Double the fun.....
Double the fun…..

 

And everybody raves about the food, which once was described as, “….burgers that (came) from a stack in a frozen bag from Sysco.”

Willamette Week continues:

“The obscenely cheap food specials are out, but replaced by still-cheap and altogether more satisfying options, including an epic build-a-burger menu with endless variations (how about a housemade veggie patty on Texas toast with smoked Gouda.” 

 And we leaped at the chance to try their menu specialty, “Build-a-Burger (BaB)”.   (My selections are in bold) and as one City Search reviewer labeled it – “A fat kid’s dream.”

"Build a Burger" and add tater tots or onion rings

“Build a Burger” and add tater tots or onion rings

BaB is seven-step process commencing with picking your “foundation” – one of five options ranging from Oregon beef or prime rib, to fried or grilled chicken to a veggie burger and then your bread from  one five (whole wheat)  and selecting one of eight types of cheeses (pepper-jack).  Keep going with the sauces (sea and salt peppercorn, smoky pepper, 12 spice BBQ, Cajun, habanaro, Jamaican jerk) and condiments (A-1 sauce, sweet & saucy relish).

Check out the menu below which further illustrates the process.

Build-a-Burger - A construction project....

Build-a-Burger – A construction project….

If you want one of the eight extras for just a buck, add an eighth step (bacon, ham, fried egg, avacodo, caramelized onion, onion straws, sautéed mushrooms, anaheim peppers, pickled habanero, tomato bacon jam and grilled pineapple) – the works for only $8!

however

since it was Happy Hour – every day  from 3:00 until 7:00, we got a buck off on the food and $.50 off on our beer.  Side orders included fries tater tots, onion rings, green salads or Caesar salad).

A good menu - remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

A good menu – remade in 2011 with better quality and wider selection

————

All of us chowed down, supplemented by one of only four beers on tap (Rainier, Vaorizer, Boneyard or Kolisch).   We were so stuffed, we couldn’t even take advantage of the all-day breakfast special consisting of two eggs, hashbrowns, and toast for $5.

And Club 21 has a great juke box and live music periodically (“We’re not a rock show venue, but feature a few bands a several times each month.”)   Also check out some specials such as “Bottomless Mimosas” and “Comedy Brunches.”

They do not have a website but rely on minimal marketing through Facebook.

Don - the cook who is good at his job.

Don – the cook who is good at his job.

So if you are looking for info on the web about Club 21, be careful to be specific about the name and location. Otherwise, you will end up at the websites of venues with the same name in:

Oakland: Club 21 is the San Francisco Bay Area’s Hottest Gay & Lesbian Latin and Hip Hop Party Destination, the number #1 Gay Latin and Hip Hop Night Club.”

Galveston Island,Texas: (in the Historical District. Rated #2 out of 13 on Trip Advisor for nightlife) “Island Chic. Sophisticated. Relaxed. That’s the low-down on 21, Galveston Island’s premier spot for great times, great atmosphere, and great friends.”

Pueblo Colorado:  (The only strip club in Pueblo – rated at 2.5 stars out of 5  – mostly because “The dancers were burned out.”)

Or you could end up at the websites for the nightclub on West 52nd Street in New York City or a luxury retail story in Singapore.  Nevertheless, it appears that Marcus and Warren are going to stick with the name Club 21 and the history it embodies.

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets - tacky but quant.....

Religious statuettes and old whiskey trinkets – tacky but quant…..

But if you want a no frills, old school environment with  exceptional burgers, a charming atmosphere with friendly regulars and helpful staff, no mixed drinks, a diverse juke-box and a good, albeit limited, selection of cheap draft beers, head to Portland’s Club 21.

And Marcus, why not hitchhike on Build-a-Burger (BaB) with BaBS (Build-a-Banana Split).  First you  select the ice cream flavor, then topping…….then……!

An inanimate regular at the bar

 

 

 

Club 21     2035 NE Glisan

 

 

 

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(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)

Thebeerchaser Does Alaska – Anchorage – Part 1

Mt. McKinley - the tallest peak in North America

Mt. McKinley – the tallest peak in North America

Alaska is not the only place in the United States where one can still find pristine wilderness, but the magnitude of the expansive unspoiled forest, glacial fiords, diverse wildlife AND good bars make it a worthy trip – one which Thebeerchaser and his spouse experienced for eleven days in late June.

2014-06-22 16.34.45 HDR

Boarding the Statendam in Seward

 Robert Louis Stevenson said, Old and young, we are all on our last cruise,” and since we had never been on a cruise, we decided to take the Holland-America Inside Passage cruise on the Statendam – a wonderful decision.

We flew into Anchorage and had a day in this picturesque city, before a day train trip to Denali National Park for two days.

The bar in the ___ Brew Pub

The bar in the Glacier BrewHouse

Of course, it was important to get a feel for the bars in Anchorage – not that I could deduct the trip, but Thebeerchaser has a reputation to uphold.  So for lunch in the city, we stopped at a brewery recommended by the hotel – The Glacier BrewHouse – for a good salad and split a Glacier Brewery Imperial Blonde – it was good and rejuvenated us after the flight.  The Brewery produces more than 4,500 barrels per year.

Adventurous spirit was not required to find the next bar – since it was a half block from our hotel, but Darwin’s Theory will go down as one of my favorite bars on this trip and on the three-year Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  After dinner, while Janet rested, I walked to this wonderful institution – one that had NO draft beer, wine or hard liquor, but free popcorn, a great jukebox and an outstanding environment.  Read two Yelp reviews which were spot on!

Survival of the Fittest embodied.....

Survival of the Fittest embodied…..

“When you step inside, you’ll realize that this is no hipster dive bar.  No sir!  This has been a dive bar since inception and doesn’t appear to have changed.  Beer in the bottle, great service, and interesting patrons round out the perfect dive-bar experience.” Yelp – 11/13 by Eric from Nevada City, CA

On a Friday night, the place was jammed and I sat next to a guy named Bill – in his fifties and an oil field worker, in addition to having fished in the Bering Sea and running marijuana from Mexico to the East coast in the ’70’s. “I had an old Lincoln with really big fenders….”  I asked him about bars in Anchorage and he said to be careful because in the last few years there had been a few shootings at bars close by.

The "patio" outside Darwin's

The “patio” outside Darwin’s

I thought he was exaggerating, but checked out stories on the internet and he was correct.  To wit:

At J.J.’s Lounge on  Oct. 10, 2011 – two people killed.

  • Three men shot and injured outside a downtown Anchorage nightclub – the Anchor Pub in June 2013 – three blocks from Darwin’s.

November 11, 2013 – A shooting wounded a woman and left a man in critical condition outside of the Office Lounge, a Midtown Anchorage bar.

One of the reasons, I felt safe in Darwin’s was the bartender – Barbara Jean – who told me that the bar was 30 years old and she had worked there 29 of them.  She was friendly and her patrons loved her, but she was tough and would not tolerate rowdiness.  She put me on the Darwin’s mailing list and didn’t hesitate when I asked to take her picture with Thebeerchaser logo. (Darwin, the last name of the owner celebrated his 70th birthday that Saturday – and there was going to be a big celebration.)

Betty Jean with Thebeerchaser logo
Barbara Jean with Thebeerchaser logo

 Another review from a Portland guy who visited Darwin’s in November, 2013 is worth quoting from Yelp.  Ryan P. said:

“ABSOLUTELY the the best bar I’ve been to in Anchorage! The ladies tending the bar were amazingly nice and welcoming and made me feel right at home. Coming from a local bar town like Portland, it was very nice to have the same type of feel in this place.

From the moment I walked in I felt completely comfortable and welcomed. I LOVE THIS BAR. I’ve heard it can be crowded at times, which is reasonable considering how small the space is, but the service is THE BEST. PLEASE VISIT THIS PLACE! They are amazing!”

I paid $4 for my bottle of PBR and the same amount for a Silver Gulch Brewery’s Silver Gulch’s Northern Light (Bill’s recommendation from a good Anchorage brewery) and paid in cash based on the sign on the bar: “We accept no out-of-town checks and damn few local ones!”

We did not partake at any other Anchorage watering holes, but embarked on a walking tour and took some pictures – it showed a number of interesting options:

P1020424Snow Goose Restaurant and Sleeping Lady Brewery – what a great patio on the roof overlooking the bay.    P1020425

 

 

The Pioneer Bar –  “As a connoisseur of dive bars this one ranks up there. To start off, despite what opinion you have of PBR, any place that serves 24 oz. cans of PBR has a lot of class. Not to mention all the Alaskan beers on tap and knowledgeable bartenders . (Colin from Anchorage on Yelp 7/2011  P1020427

In case you need directions to The Pioneer Bar....

In case you need directions to The Pioneer Bar….

 

 

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Humpy’s Great Alaskan Ale House – presumably named after the whale and not a patron – looked interesting and had “more beers than all the other bars in Anchorage combined,” on tap.   It has a sister pub in Kona, Hawaii  and got mixed reviews, in part, based on slow service and mediocre food, but does have live music.  It will have to wait for another visit, but had a lively crowd, expansive menu and looked intriguing.        P1020434

—————–

The Gaslight Lounge – This is one that you might want to avoid based on violence reported above at other bars.  Four of the five reviews on CitySearch did not recommend this bar and two mentioned fights

 

Not recommended.....

Not recommended…..

“Trashlight Lounge – I worked next door for years and every time I regrettably went in, there was an absence of friendliness. Staff were mostly arguing with drunk customers. It became a joke to look out our back window and watch the fights roll out of the bar every night….it seems to revel in it’s low class reputation among downtown. (ja4vlink – pre 2014)

McGinley’s Pub – While one might be suspicious of a bar that advertises itself as “A touch of Old Ireland in the heart of downtown Anchorage,” they have a great website.  We ran out of time and just took a picture of the entrance – which looked a little boring –  but they have a bunch of dark beers and ciders on tap, serve corned beef and cabbage , sheppards pie, and bangers and mash in addition to standard pub faire.

Some questioned whether it was really an "Irish experience."

Some questioned whether it was really an “Irish experience.”

It got mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, which had them rated 161 of 674 restaurants in Anchorage based on the 67 reviews submitted – 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Glacier Bay Brewery and Darwin’s were definitely hits in Anchorage.

We embarked on the train the next morning for the seven to eight hour trip to Denali National Park through some wonderful scenery.  The bald eagles were magnificent and as we saw one dive successfully for a salmon out the window, I reflected on the observation of one Alaskan resident:

“Alaska in the summer, is a great place to be a bird.”     2014-06-20 16.48.42

Darwin’s Theory                             426 G St, Anchorage

P1020430

 

 

 

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Glacier BrewHouse  and Brewery   

737 W 5th Ave Ste 110, Anchorage