Gil’s Speakeasy – “We’re the nicest a-holes in town……”

Gil’s Speakeasy – A classic dive at the bottom of an apartment building with no sign…..

Since January 1, 2017, Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs has featured nine venues consisting of two breweries or brew pubs, four neighborhood bars, a sports bar and the Multnomah Whisky Library which really defies classification. You may have noticed that there are no dive bars in this categorization..

This is typical of a “sparkling” new brew pub.  Breakside in the Pearl

The above does not count six additional brewpubs/breweries visited, but not yet posted including the relatively new digs at Breakside’s and Ten Barrel’s Pearl District facilities and Flyboy’s new location in Tigard.

Also included is our visit to three enjoyable and classy breweries on the North Oregon Coast – Astoria’s Fort George and Buoy and the Seaside Brewery in late April.  Stay tuned in the next few months for narratives on all of these.

This (Club 21) is typical of a dive bar

One of Thebeerchasers favorite (former) dive bars – RIP Club 21

So it is fitting, and possibly imperative, to return to my favorite type of watering hole – the classic dive bar.  And the latest bar visited needs no rationalization why it fits that description.  Gil’s Speakeasy has been around since 1939 and derives its moniker from the Prohibition saloons which weren’t identified by signs or external labels.

These places that served alcohol had to stay hidden.  The regulars (and usually the cops) knew where they were, but admission was selective.

The current status of the Club 21 building – yes, that’s graffiti….

Note:  This blog has previously shared the concern about the disappearance of some of Portland’s most sacrosanct dive bars.  In this case, take a look at both a past and a more recent photo of the iconic Club 21 as the historic structure awaits demolition.  With development in SE Portland, Gil’s Speakeasy could see the same future.

Former City Club of Portland’s Interim Executive Director and now consultant, Greg Wallinger, and I visited Gil’s on my first trip to the saloon.  Greg was also on a previous successful Beerchasing event at The Rambler – one of my favorite neighborhood bars.

Our plan was to meet for a brewski at the Charlie Horse Saloon – also a dive bar which is on SE Morrison, but we were greeted with a locked door and a sign stating, “Closed for Remodeling.”

Closed for remodeling

Parking in that vicinity is a challenge and based on the picture below, which is typical of ongoing development, it’s not going to get better.

As I walked the three and one-half blocks to the Charlie Horse from my car, I remembered seeing what looked like it might be a bar on the ground floor of a large, three-story apartment building on SE Taylor.

How many parking spaces do you think will accrue to this SE PDX apartment building???

We made the return trip and I was correct.  Though it had no sign with the name of the place and only a slit-type peephole in the door, a classic neon Pabst and a Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum sign indicated that this wasn’t a coffee shop and we walked into what PDXbars.com’s Best Bars” succinctly (and accurately described) as,  Small, hard to find bar with a huge personality.”

“Small, hard to find, with a huge personality.”

Followers of this blog understand how a dive bar earns the label (and can be reminded by examining the following post) https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/09/18/analyzing-dive-bars-head-first/— but one characteristic of which I’m fond are the signs and bric-a-brac lining the shelves and much of the interior of dive bars.

In Gils’ case our favorite was, “The consumption of alcohol may actually cause pregnancy.”

As you walk in, you’re greeted to a spacious, albeit appropriately dingy, space divided by the large bar into two sections.  The bar has a wonderful and very typical collection of signs, old bottles, photos and memorabilia throughout.

On the right side is an old pool table with red felt and what is a pretty good juke box, a Big Buck Hunter video game and a classic pinball. (The Sopranos)

Big Buck Hunter included

Albums ranging from Otis Redding to Dion and the Belmonts…..

And I might add, that while dive bars have their faults, one item which seems to fit in well in most, is a good juke box.  In this case, it had a slew of albums ranging from those by Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, to Pearl Jam, Guns N Roses and even the popular vocal group from the ’50’s, Dion and the Belmonts. (The last one seems a little counterintuitive as I don’t think any of the regulars would appreciate hearing the group’s main hit, Teenager in Love even though it hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March,1959.)

The focus on the bar’s left side is a large shuffleboard game described by Willamette Week in its “2015 Best of Portland” issue:

“Shuffleboard is no longer only the sport of septuagenarians on cruise ships. With its crowded floors, greasy snacks and affordable beer, Gil’s Speakeasy has all the necessary components for a great shuffleboard experience.”

One of Portlands best shuffleboards

Another distinguishing factor is the ceiling at Gil’s which is filled with chalked comments, drawings and signatures (reminiscent of The Twilight Room visited back in 2011 – a month after I started this journey).

The ceiling at Gil’s

I asked the bartender, who was a nice woman named Katie, (or it might be KT) “Who’s Gil?” and she replied that he is the co-owner of the bar (since 2004) and her husband – Brett Gilhuly.  The couple also own the Twilight Cafe and Bar at 14th and Powell, which is a bar that hosts rock groups most evenings.

Bartender and wife of the owner, Katie, with Judd, who in one review was called, “The best bartender in town.”

When interviewed by the Portland Tribune in August 2012, about the historical lack of signage, Gil stated:

The door at Gil’s – You won’t see a sign…..

“If you could find it, you were more than welcome to come in, and if you couldn’t, find something else.” 

He followed by asserting that when he took over the bar he never gave a thought to the lack of a sign. 

Unless it was in the woman’s bathroom, I could not find the old foosball table that was referenced in some reviews. (Katie told me in a subsequent phone call that it broke down and they took it out about a month ago).

 

The Men’s Head at Gil’s

 

But speaking of toilet facilities, the men’s head was a tribute to dive bar “climate” (although not comparable to that found at the Yamhill Pub which should have been declared an environmental hazard.)

Yamhill Pub – envir.  hazard?

We ordered two beers after reviewing the twelve on tap which, of course, included PBR and Rainier, and Greg opted for Santiam Brewing’s Pirate Stout, while I had a Seaside Brewing ESB – my first of a number of future encounters with this excellent pale ale.

The beer list is certainly adequate and like most dives, at a very reasonable price.  For example, you can get a pint of PBR or Rainier for $2 or $1.50 if its Happy Hour (small pitchers are $3!)  The most expensive pint if it’s not at HH is $4.50 for quality beers such as Boneyard, Lagunitas or Oakshire

Now the regular menu at Gil’s is what you might expect at a dive bar – a few salads, chili and nine different sandwiches ranging from $7 to $9, but the really distinguishing factor is their daily specials, which are notable enough to require itemization:

The Sloppy Joe and chips – What a bargain for $1.50 on Fridays

Saturday –  Chili Dog  – $3

Monday  –  Three Tacos  $1 – also Dirty Bingo night…

Tuesday – Turkey and Mashers with Salad – $6.50 or Turkey sandwich – $5

Wednesday – Pork sliders – $1.50

Thursday – Prime Rib – $10   from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM (See note below) or French Dip – $5 all day

Friday – Sloppy Joes – $1

Tell me where you can score a better deal and the past reviews are good.  For example, this one from Yelp on 4/17/14, “In my top 5 dives in Portland. this place is great. drinks are reasonable, strong pours, and the food is great and affordable. check out their turkey dinner. delicious, home made, cant be missed. place is cozy.”

As we look at the prime rib special, take a look at this quote on dive bars:

“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….”  (Seattle’s Best Dive Bars by Mike Seely – pages 9-10)

Now while the price may not be the same as in Depression days in the quote above, look at the price of the prime rib special from this review in 2010:

Been here 10+ times. Best prime rib in Portland. Thursdays prime rib with salad and bread $10.00.”

Well, if you walk in Gil’s on a Thursday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, you can still get a 6 1/2 ounce of prime rib at Gil’s for $10.00 (for which Gil is the personal cook) or up to a 16 ounce slab for $25.  (There were no recent reviews commenting on the prime rib.)

From Gil’s Facebook page

And to conclude, I asked Katie if she knew who had originated their motto, since Gil’s slogan asserts that they are “the nicest a%$ holes in town.”  She didn’t know and I thought the people I met at Gil’s were quality individuals, but to digress for a moment on a more scholarly note on what is becoming a more compelling, contemporary issue, you might want to check out a recent New York Times best seller by philosopher, Aaron James, entitled “Assholes – A Theory.”

James presents a theory of the asshole that is both intellectually provocative and existentially necessary.  What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often personally stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name.

Gil’s – great dive bar ambiance

Try as we might to avoid them, assholes are found everywhere and in multiple iterations: smug assholes, royal assholes, the presidential asshole, corporate assholes, reckless assholes. The list goes on.   Asshole management begins with asshole understanding. Much as Machiavelli illuminated political strategy for princes, this book finally gives us the concepts to think or say why assholes disturb us so….”   

The above could be an absorbing topic of discussion especially while swilling a $2 pitcher of PBR with a friend.   And while you’re at it and considering the current political environment, you might want to reflect on a related best-selling tome by former (January, 2012) Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dr. Harry Frankfurt, Princeton Professor Emeritus and author of the brilliant book On Bullshit.” 

Dr. Frankfurt in his 2005 book asserts:

The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.

In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.  And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us.  In other words, we have no theory.”

Dr. Harry Frankfurt – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2012

To remedy this sad state of affairs, Dr. Frankfurt proposes (and brilliantly succeeds):

“……..to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory analysis…..My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not.”

And in what will remain as one of the treasured pieces of correspondence related to this blog, I offer Dr. Frankfurt’s response when I informed him that he had received the title of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter:

From: Harry G. Frankfurt

Sent: Monday, January 30, 2012

To: Williams, Donald

Subject: RE: Hello Dr. Frankfurt

Dear Mr. Williams,

First of all, thank you for the honor of naming me the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Quarter.  I have looked at the blog in which you announced my receipt of this distinction, and I was impressed by its wit, its charm, and its erudition.  Also, I enjoyed the pictures.  I intend to follow your blog regularly.  Anyhow, thanks very much for writing.  Sincerely,  Harry Frankfurt

________________________________________

From: Williams, Donald [DWilliams@schwabe.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Subject: Hello Dr. Frankfurt

Dr. Frankfurt, during your distinguished career as a professor and an author, you have undoubtedly received many honors and much acclaim. I would like to inform you about one additional plaudit, although it pales with those previously received. You were named the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Month on my blog www.thebeerchaser.com<http://www.thebeerchaser.com

One of my lawyer friends in the firm gave me a copy of your book, On Bullshit a few years ago and I loved it. While I could be described as a purveyor of bullshit at times during my tenure at the firm, I did not often have the opportunity to write creatively. Memos regarding law firm statistics, strategic planning and operational issues tend to be on the dry side. My blog has been a wonderful chance to remedy that and I wanted to share some excerpts from your book with my followers in the context of an essay, which I tried to relate to my bar tour and the presidential election cycle.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of your works now that I am retired and thank you for the hours of enjoyment I got from reading your book and sharing its wisdom with others.  Sincerely,   Don Williams

“Blow Before You Go”

And if you get too enthused in your discussion and are concerned that you drank too much beer in too little time, there is a breathalyzer right by the door to determine whether you need to catch a cab for the ride home. (“Wait 10 minutes after last drink for best results….”)

Regardless of whether you want to talk about a best seller, mingle with friends, have one of their daily specials or just have a pint of Rainier and reminisce about the good old days, you should drop by Gil’s Speakeasy, one of Portland’s venerable watering holes.

Gil’s Speakeasy         609 1/2 SE Taylor

The Burnside Brewing Company – Try the East Side

2017 has seen Thebeerchaser’ Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs move slightly away (although never too far in physical proximity and thought) from classic dive bars to breweries and brewpubs.  Recent visits to the relatively new Portland brewpubs of Ten Barrel and Breakside in the Pearl District were interesting (the reviews are forthcoming) but the east side of the Rose City cried out for attention.

While not in the legendary Barmuda Triangle southeast of the Willamette River and not a new establishment, having been opened in 2010, Burnside Brewing Company has a nice atmosphere, some good beer and a reputation for being a progressive and innovative force in the Oregon beer community.

Not only experts on the Code, but great people!

As has been the case at two prior Beerchasing events (Life of Riley Tavern (3/16/16) and Brannon’s in Beaverton (3/3/15) – a venue which had great potential, but unfortunately a rather short lifespan, I joined a distinguished and erudite group (if you will…..) – eight individuals who all are either current or former members (or have a direct connection) to the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm Tax and Estate Planning Group.

For the brewery’s grain storage

Burnside Brewing, like many of its competitors, is housed in a building with roots other than malt and hops – in this case an industrial laundry built in 1927, according to Mary, the manager.  The exterior is pretty Spartan and aside from the massive and distinctive silo (used to store the grain for brewing) and the patio in front, Burnside looks like a plain industrial facility.

The availability of parking in its lot and spaces available on the street is a plus, however,  and one which makes parking in the Pearl District frustrating.

The interior is spacious and pleasant with high ceilings, an exposed kitchen, a long walnut bar with walnut tables and a Pacific Northwest décor that is tasteful and interesting.  Compared to a similar nearby (5 minutes or 2.3 miles) venue previously visited by Thebeerchaser – that being Ecliptic Brewing (5/6/15) – it has much better ambiance.

The lunchtime crowd had a nice energy – and it wasn’t just because of the outgoing natures of our cadre of tax lawyers who not only earned law degrees, but supplemented those three years with Master of Tax (LLM) degrees.  This graduate degree required an additional year of focus on such stimulating topics as conduit entities, the assignment of income doctrine and constructive receipt.  

The brewery prides itself on innovation and their “think-outside-the-box approach to brewing reminded me of the nearby Hair-of-the-Dog Brewery reviewed on this blog in February23, 2016 –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/02/23/hair-of-the-dog-brewery                  

  For example Burnside’s website states:

“The people of Burnside Brewing Co. make it what it is. They are risk takers, lovers of food to be enjoyed with easy to drink beers……takes an alchemist approach to enhance the craft beer and culinary experience……is widely recognized as a visionary leader in the Northwest brewing industry—bold enough to take risks and smart enough to leave a creative impression on your palate. The finished product is an outstanding combination of original cuisine and beer, both deeply rooted in innovation and quality.”

And the press and media reviews are very positive about this seven-year old venture of co-founders Jay Gilbert and Jason McAdam and echo plaudits for their creative approach to brewing, which the Portland Mercury described in a 4/28/2011 article, the year after the brewery opened, as “Beer-ed Science – Burnside Brewing’s Futuristic Fermentation.”

Beer-ed Science

Another example is this excerpt from the 2016 Willamette Week Bar Guide:

“Between its extensive, off-the-wall lineup of seasonals and decor guaranteed to appease the expectations of tourists visiting a Real Portland Brewpub™, Burnside has maintained its status as a must-visit for nearly six years…….. To complement its enduringly popular IPA and throwback Couch Select Lager, Burnside has concoctions infused with everything from Earl Grey tea to galangal, pumpkin puree and pepitas.”

We had various sandwiches on the lunch menu ranging from the chicken and the schnitzel sandwiches to the cubano and the burger.  All were good and had a generous helping of fries although the prices were a little bit high at $14 and $12 for the burger.  And one of the more pleasant parts of our lunch was the demeanor and competence of our server, Amethist, (she changed the y to an “i” but she is still a real gem!)

Amethist – a real gem!

Burnside takes pride in its food prep (“a menu offering cured meats, charcuterie, pickling, and culinary artistry all done in-house”) and gets good marks especially on the dinner menu for such entrées as Maple Cured Pork Loin ($15), Grilled Octopus ($16) or the old standard – Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($16.

There are also some good bargains during the Fermentation Hour menu and beer is only $3.75 for a pint on Wednesdays – $4.75 on other days)  Check out their brunch menu – Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 3:00, where you might want to try the Pork Belly Eggs Benedict.

A Jambalaya special with chicken, shrimp and andouille sausage.

Since a majority of our group was still working, partaking of beer was minimal, but I returned a few weeks later and had a sample of the Isomer IPA and a pint of the Burnside IPA, two of their flagship beers – I understand why.  The Isomer had a nice fruit taste and the IPA was just the right hoppiness for me.

Grace, the bartender also talked about the cherry wheat beer they were introducing later that day which would have been a good bet.  And the pints were only $4.25.

National and State recognition for its beers

Burnside has been recognized for its beers, winning its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in 2012 for Sweet Heat Ale (The chutney inspired wheat beer made with apricots and Scotch bonnet peppers won the gold medal in the Herb and Spice Beer category.”

Sweet Heat Ale –  Gold Medal Winner

More recent awards were at the 2017 Oregon Beer Awards including a silver medal for their Juin in the Belgian category and a gold in the dark and hoppy category for their Keg Nog.

One way to explore the broad selection of beers at Burnside and which draws rave reviews, is to try the sampler.  As Grace explained, one can either sample the nine seasonal beers or seven perennials for $12 each or try the entire menu (usually 18 beers on their tap list) for a very reasonable $20.  Typical reaction to the deal is this 12/5/16 review on Yelp:

“The fact that they offer a sampler of everything on tap for $20 is amazing.  We split that sucker 3 ways and left feeling good.   The vibe here is a cool and definitely different from the typical hipster brewery feel.  It’s more classed up and full of adults on dates and stuff.  That and 3 wet dudes at the bar drinking 17 beers (it’s now 18) for $20.”

Sample either the Perennials or the Seasonals or all 18 for $20

The following complaint about the sampler was a little bit unusual – it’s from 2014 so the sampler had only 12 beers for $16:

“……the sampler tray (made of wooden blocks) was filled with beer that the bar tender over poured so the sampler tray was seeping beer onto the table and the cups were dripping a lot when picked up.”  Yelp 10/14

Most of my Beerchasing companions would not look at this as a negative and would just ask for a sponge and then slurp up the seepage, but then we are not a genteel crowd.

Now some who have read the past posts in which the Beerchasers attending are tax lawyers have questioned the quality of the conversation with such a learned professional group.  They have asked rhetorically, “Who wants to ponder the advantages of an S versus a C corp while swilling the seepage on a beer sampler or downing a pint of the Burnside porter named ‘Guts and Black Stuff?’” 

A great law firm with an outstanding Tax and Estate Planning group

But as I have stated before, this team is a well-rounded and quality group of individuals involved in broad civic, athletic and intellectual adventures.  As evidence, take Pete Osborne – now partially retired and of counsel at Schwabe, but recognized by his peers as one of the brightest tax lawyers in Portland.

Pete Osborne

Pete and his wife Terry, now retired from the legal department at Standard Insurance, are reading the Modern Library list of the 100 best 20th century novels.  Pete has checked forty-seven off his list although he admits that a number of them were read in his twenties ((on top of his law school reading….) including A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises both of Ernest Hemingway’s works on the list .  He also stated:

The biggest surprise author for me on the list was Carson McCullers’ ‘The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter’. The weirdest book so far is ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess.”

Note:  I can identify with Pete’s earnest ambition although from a slightly different focus.  Pete is reading 100 of the greatest novels and after five years of Thebeerchaser, I have now visited and/or written on 208 bars, taverns and pubs in Oregon, Europe and throughout the US.  Having a “worthwhile” educational goal in retirement is very important!

Obornes rendering of The Three Sisters

In the prior posts, I also included some of Pete’s art, which is impressive and asked him to send me his latest piece which is untitled –  a collagraph (a print made from a collage of various materials glued onto a board.)

Untitled caligrograph

As additional evidence that Pete is a Renaissance Man besides understanding the nuances of the Internal Revenue Code  he is a skilled poker player.   He travels to Las Vegas each year for the World Series of Poker and reported that in 2016 while playing in the Super Seniors (over 65) No Limit Hold Em event last June, he placed 36th out of 1,476 entries –  “This was in the money.”

Finished “In the Money”

One final note on Burnside Brewery.  Some patrons prefer a venue where they can raise a mug without having to watch or listen to youngsters as part of the equation.   Burnside is one of a number of breweries and pubs where kids are welcomed  – until 10:00 PM when accompanied by an adult.  However, sometimes this creates dissonance with the patron who craves a more sedate experience as evidenced by this 2/28/16 complaint on Yelp:

“Special note for Parents who bring in their precious spoiled children:  DON’T!!  Can’t you monitor your brood and keep them from tearing up the crayons so OTHER children may play with them???? Is it really that hard?? JUST STOP IT.” 

At least the dispute wasn’t about the President.

Or perhaps the complainant was irate because his or her kid didn’t get to use the crayons.  This was not a problem with the tax group because they unequivocally deferred to Pete’s use of the crayons given his artistic talents.

By the way, another interesting feature of the décor is the local art they feature.  Most recently, one of the prominent pieces is the one of the “hairless cat” which changes colors and one unnamed source opined that the regulars would probably not be sorry to see it go.  (While having no artistic judgement, it did appear to be inconsistent with the rest of the décor and was a distraction.)

In summary, Burnside Brewing Company earns good marks for ambiance, beer, food, parking, the staff and its entrepreneurial spirit.  While there are some good options on the Westside, try this near Eastside venue and you will want to return.

Amethist and Grace at work with local art in the background (notice that the cat is now green…)

Be sure to say “hello” to both Amethist and Grace, and if it is a nice day, stretch out with a pint of Burnside’s Immaculate Decoction Belgian Strong Golden Ale and dig into W. Somerset Maugham’s novel Of Human Bondage.

British novelist and playwright

Then return and have their Too Sticky to Roll IRA and start your second work on the Modern Library 100 list – let’s say, Oregon’s own, Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion.  Maybe Pete Osborne will be willing to start a book club with meetings at breweries – “Book and Brew” might be a good moniker!

Note:  I see that Book & a Brew is also the label for a “……one stop monthly subscription (£12.99) service for book lovers and people who appreciate a nice brew,” but it should be noted that the brew, in this case, is tea rather than beer. 

A good place for a book and a brew on a sunny day…

Burnside Brewing Company           701 East Burnside

Amy Faust – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (and Mandolinist…)

Eating her lunch at 10:30 AM

It’s 4:40 AM on a weekday morning and Amy Faust reluctantly rolls out of bed after having racked up about 7 hours and 10 minutes of sleep – if you count the half-hour she spent reading her latest novel as slumber time. This has been the routine for the last eighteen years for this media personality – she’s the Amy of the Mike and Amy in the Morning Show which airs from 5:30 to 10:00 AM each weekday morning on KWJJ The Wolf at 99.5 FM. http://www.thewolfonline.com/shows/mike-amy-morning

Well, the above period of time needs to be modified to state, “This has been the routine for the last eighteen years except for about a two-year period between 2012 and 2014 when she slept more normal hours.”   During that period, she made her living using her considerable talents in various other jobs, because management of the station had unceremoniously fired the popular duo in an economy move – they were replaced by a cheaper syndicated show based in Seattle.

The dynamic duo

But Amy’s morning routine returned in mid 2014 when she and her broadcast partner, Mike Chase, who after being terminated, had moved to North Carolina to take another broadcasting job, were reinstated.   The station ultimately responded to the uproar from the Mike and Amy fans, which were voluminous and incessant.  Perhaps, it’s best described by this June 12, 2014 excerpt from The Columbian – the newspaper in Vancouver where the duo has a lot of fans:

“Getting fired isn’t so rare, especially in the churning world of broadcast media. But getting rehired by a media company that publicly apologizes for its flub is a singular career achievement.

‘I want to speak to you about a mistake that ‘The Wolf’ made back on Aug. 6, 2012,’ program director Mike Moore of Portland country music station KWJJ ‘The Wolf,’ recently said on the air…….. Faust said she’d both halfway expected the pink slip and yet was ‘absolutely shocked’ that corporate station managers based on the East Coast actually went through with it.

But something unexpected happened, Moore continued: ‘Almost immediately, many of you told us that we’d made a mistake. We received thousands of calls, Facebook posts, emails and even snail mail letters. The overwhelming sentiment was that you really missed Mike and Amy, and you wanted them to come back. You also wanted a local show.’   

Back on the bus…….

During their off-the-air stretch, Chase and Faust tried putting out a podcast and worked together for the quirky TV show ‘Portlandia,’ Chase as an actor and Faust as a location manager. Faust also did some writing, some traveling and some ‘sitting on the couch’ in genuine mourning, she said, because she’d loved working with her pal Chase and loved working in radio. Eventually, though, the station invited them back — and publicly called their firing a mistake.

‘I’m not gonna lie. It’s a little satisfying,”’Faust said.”

In Moore’s defense, Amy confirms that it was not his decision and he successfully campaigned hard to get them back on the air.  It had been a perfect job for thirteen years and she remembers when they told her on a Monday with no notice “Your services are no longer required.  Here’s a brown box to take out your stuff – and you should be gone within four hours…..”  Her first reaction was to laugh and say, “Mike was right,” because he had the feeling for six months that they were on the chopping block and even said on the previous Friday, “I think we’re getting fired on Monday!”

With daughter, Alice

In retrospect, it was a positive experience because she was able to take time off with the six months salary remaining from what was a “no-cut contract,” and take a wonderful road trip to the Redwoods with her daughter, Alice, and then able to drive her to school each day.

Amy Faust is the first individual in 2017 to be named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and joins the “elite”  list started on this blog five years ago which includes writers, military heroes, academicians and even the crew of the USS Constitution for their “legendary” war cruise in 1798.   Although this is a blog about bars and beer, a number of these individuals have nothing to do with my favorite beverage – they are just interesting individuals who have made worthwhile contributions to society and have a good story which should be told.

Portland author, Brian Doyle ****

Past recipients have been authors such as Dr. Harry Frankfurt (On Bullshit) or Portland’s own Brian Doyle – **** see note at the very end of this post **** (Mink River and The Plover), athletes such as former All-coast and then NFL tackle, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman and Viet Nam veterans and heroes, Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence.  And the most recent recipient before Amy, is also a media personality – The Godfather, Dwight Jaynes of CSN.  To see the posts for this distinguished group, go up to the blog header and click on the tab entitled “Beerchaser-of -the-Month or Quarter.”

Jack, hosting Town Hall

And it should be noted that Amy becomes the first direct relative of another Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  Her dad, Jack, retired appellate lawyer at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm and former moderator of the award-winning public affairs program, Town Hall which was broadcast for many years each Sunday on KATU, was so named in September, 2014. 

The elder Faust’s story can be viewed at https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

The Faust kids Barbara, Amy and Charlie

One of three children (also Barbara and Charlie) of Jack and Alice Faust, she  was born in Portland and attended Wilson High School where she graduated in 1983 “as a straight B student – I was an academic late bloomer…….!” 

An academic “late bloomer”

Her mom has been active in civic and public affairs having served as a commissioner over 6 years on both the State Commission for Women and the State Child Care Commission and was appointed by both Republican and Democratic Oregon governors.

Civic activist, Alice Faust

You can see by the picture below from Jack’s law school years that Amy grew up in a conservative and formal household……

Jack receiving nourishment from fellow law school classmae, Dave Krieger

 

Amy attended Scripps College, majoring in American Studies and loved it.  During summers, she had internships first at KATU and then in Washington DC for the Senate Commerce Committee when Oregon Senator Bob Packwood served as its Chair.  She also worked for Public Broadcasting in LA on some documentary films which gave her background for later work.

Admitting that “I had terrible taste in boyfriends in my youth” (something both her parents confirmed), she moved to New York after college graduation “driving my car across the country with a Frenchman.”   After she sold it to an artist, the car was impounded shortly afterward and then smashed in a tow yard after being towed for non-payment of nine parking tickets. (Time constraints precluded research on similar outstanding tickets in Portland.)

The Dixie Chicks neednt have worried……

Her experience in New York lasted nine years in which she worked on freelance documentary productions including helping to write a news book for ABC with Peter Jennings.

She also appeared in a band named “Bushmills” in which she sang and played the mandolin in “underground clubs.” “We were an all-female group similar to the Dixie Chicks although with a lot less talent.”

She leveraged her experience as a disk jockey in college for a gig as a DJ in a venue named Rub-a-Dub – it was a club not a car-wash….

Kevin second from right) and Amy, Beerchasing at the Yard House

She met her future husband, Kevin, at a party in the Ex-Lax Building (“Things have been going smoothly ever since…..”).  They were both dating other people and were friends for a year before they became a couple.  They moved to a wonderful six-unit apartment in Brooklyn right across the street from the bakery where the movie “Moonstruck” was filmed.

“We paid only $350 per month and fortunately Kevin had handy-man talents which the 91-year old landlady needed because even though he was Catholic and had been an alter-boy, she always thought he was Jewish and discriminated in her leases.” 

One of her real estate regrets is when they decided, based on cashflow (or lack thereof) to turn down the opportunity to buy the apartment building for $300,000 – it’s now worth $10 million!

Kevin, Mike and Amy

Kevin then graduated from the prestigious Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, with a degree in architecture where he was class valedictorian.

Founded in 1859, Cooper Union is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education.  (He 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.)

They moved to Ireland where Kevin taught architecture for a year in Dublin.  Amy did a few television jobs as a production coordinator.

Then it was back to Portland with no jobs. They still live in the same NE Portland house that became their home in 1996.  Kevin got a job in a high-end construction firm (Hammer and Hand) and Amy worked as a freelance writer and authored advertising copy for clients and produced television commercials.  (“It was an experience where I was totally over my head and was stressful because I am not the epitome of a detail-minded person…”

That’s when she first met Mike Chase – he auditioned (and got the part) for a bank commercial Amy produced.  He had just been fired from a weekly radio show on 94.7 FM and got a job on 1080 AM, where he asked Amy to work on the weekly show “just for fun.”  Flash forward to 1998 — Amy is pregnant and gets a call from Chase who has been hired by a country-western station and asks Amy to be co-host (“By the way, our show starts at 5:00 AM.”)

Their thirteen year run brings us back to the spontaneous termination and Amy is back trying to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up.  So she returns to freelance writing and lands a gig as a location manager for Portlandia – a job she loved but was like solving a crazy puzzle for each show – trying to get the permits and the right background for each scene as well as figuring out details such as disposing of trash and parking for the cast and crew.   She managed five people and did the job for about four months the first year and has worked a little on each season ever since.

Amy with her parents, Alice and Jack

Amy, notwithstanding her modesty, is a talented writer and also wrote a column for a low-budget publication –  “Our Town.”  After that it was freelance work for Willamette Week.  You can see a sample of her writing at the end of this post. It will take you to an excerpt from the account of her dad’s fascinating experiences with the RajNeesh when he featured the topic of the cult’s “invasion” of Antelope, Oregon, on three separate Town Hall shows.   The article was originally published in the July, 2014 edition of 1859 magazinehttps://1859oregonmagazine.com/think-oregon/art-culture/rajneesh-oregon-cult-history/

This woman of many talents does not consider herself to be a local celebrity.  “Because I’m on radio rather than television, I’m not recognized except when I go to hockey games or am in doctor’s offices.” 

Her dad’s account contradicts that, however.  “When I used to host Town Hall, people meeting Amy for the first time would always ask if I was her father.  Now, I’m the one who gets the inquiry, ‘Is Amy your daughter?’”

Recognized at Grand Central Bakery by musician Bills Wadhams

Amy and I met for our first interview in Grand Central Bakery in NE Portland and about 45 minutes into the session, a guy walks up to her and greets her with a hug.  It was Bill Wadhams who led a 1980’s one-hit-wonder band named Animotion.  She had interviewed him while working for Willamette Week.

Perhaps she does not have the visual profile of local television personalities, but she was also “recognized” in the Buoy Beer Company Brew-pub in Astoria.  “Our group was being kind of rowdy and I was talking and laughing rather loudly and a woman at the table behind us turned around and said,  “Aren’t you Amy Faust from KWJJ The Wolf.”

A distinctive laugh…..

Evidence that she can be recognized by her laugh can be garnered by listening to this brief interview Mike and Amy had with Keith Urban.  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=mike+and+amy+kwjj+the+wolf&&view=

Her preparation for the show (besides setting her alarm for earlier than any of us would want to consider) consists of filing things away for discussion pieces and the quizzes they feature each day.   She also stays abreast of trending topics on social media and what’s going on in the community.  “We’re always looking for topics.  Our show is a context eating machine…”

Grant Constitution Team – Alice is the last student on the right next to coach, Jim Westwood – former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

Daughter Alice is now a high school senior at Grant High and a member of the Constitution Team which recently placed first in the Oregon high school competition and will soon travel to Washington DC for the “We the People” national finals.  She has previously admonished her mom, “Don’t ever mention me on the show.”  Alice will attend the U of O in the fall.

I reminded Amy about a show I enjoyed some years ago when, in the absence of Mike Chase, she got her dad to be the guest co-host. “It was a fun show although I had a “dump” button with a seven-second delay to control what he was saying if necessary.”  (She didn’t have to use it.”)

Amy is also active in the community.  One of her favorite civic pursuits is volunteer coordinator for Portland Meet, an organization that “……welcomes and befriends immigrants and refugees, enriching community by creating mutually beneficial mentoring opportunities that promote cross-cultural learning, enhance work skills and build trust.”

Her involvement was inspired after she read the book What is the What, a novel by Dave Eggers based on one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who after fleeing his country during the civil war, eventually immigrated to the US.  The book portrays his “struggles to adjust to the mixed blessing of his new life.”

She teaches citizenship classes – the picture is of Howa, a woman from Somalia who gained citizenship after the class.

Subject of nightmares…..

Amy also related how their listeners “never forget anything” and in response to my question about examples of this premise, she launched into some interesting (if not curious) stories about her cat that used to lick the wax from her ears and the sucker fish that died an ignominious death in her basement after Amy forgot about it – “I still have nightmares about that.”

Each Beerchasing session in which Amy has joined Jack and her brother, Charlie, (at Kelly’s Olympian, MadSon’s Pub and The Independent) has elicited other great stories such as when she met Dolly Parton and the legendary, George Jones.  They are always fun to hear her recount although people in surrounding booths often wonder who in the group has the unique laugh.

Jack, Amy and brother, Charlie in the center, Beerchasing at Kelly’s Olympian

While Mike and Amy’s gig on The Wolf is going quite well, I can assure you that should the ax fall again, Amy Faust will use her considerable talents on some new adventure.  We can just take comfort knowing that it would never be working in a commercial aquarium……..

Excerpt from Thebeerchaser post on September 2, 2014

Three Town Hall shows on the Rajneesh and the Bhagwan concluded with two in Rancho Rajneesh – now, Antelope, Oregon. Ma Anand Sheila was the spokesperson for the Bhagwan.  Amy Faust, Jack’s daughter and a local media celebrity, writes a compelling account of these shows in the July, 2014 edition of 1859 Magazine(The first two shows had not gone well for the Followers and they balked at having the third one):

“Then, just one day before the scheduled taping (of the third show), they reversed their stance, sending my dad an apology and a boxed lunch from Zorba the Budha Deli. While my dad remembers his receptionist, Jeannine Marks, saying, ‘I wouldn’t eat that if I were you,’ like a good, waste-not child of the Great Depression, he wolfed it down. ‘What are they going to do,’ he replied, ‘poison me?’

The next day, his producer, India Simmons, got an odd phone call from Ma Prem Sunshine, asking simply, ‘How’s Jack today?”’Sunshine’s tone of voice prompted Simmons to call my dad, who was in fact at home in bed with a fever of 103, horribly sick for the first time since age 5. Not wanting to miss the show, he recruited my mom to drive him to Antelope, feeling nauseous the whole way.          Copyright2003 Samvado Gunnar Kossatz (http://web.org/web/2007/1026130939/http://m31.de/ranch/index.html) Osho Drive By

After a heavy does of Tylenol, he hosted the show, which was indeed more damaging to the Rajneeshee reputation than the previous episodes. In the face of criticism from detractors, the Rajneeshees often broke into loud, disconcerting laughter, and at one point responded to an angry local by bursting into song.”  (Jack Faust’s response in ending the chanting was, “This show is not a musical!”)

**** Note

My friend, Brian Doyle, author and University of Portland’s editor of their award-winning magazine, Portland, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.  After surgery, he is recuperating at home under the care of his wife, Mary.   Whether Brian will be able to return to work is uncertain and his friends have started a “Go-Fund-Me” site to help with the costs of his recuperation.

The response so far has been good and if you want to contribute to this worthwhile effort, use the link below:

https://www.gofundme.com/betenderandlaugh

NEPO 42 – A Northeast Portland Gem

Since the start of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs five one one-half years ago (now at 75 Portland bars and 125 throughout eastern Oregon and the Oregon coast, several US regions and Europe) several methods have been used to “discover” some wonderful new watering holes. Sometimes it’s through the recommendations of blog followers or a review in the press or social media.  And I try tp research and find bars or breweries that are not just part of the mainstream.  It has led to positive results.

But the discovery of NEPO 42 in Northeast Portland, albeit indirectly, can be credited to a wonderful two-year old Golden Retriever – Wesley Walter!   Wesley belongs to my daughter, Laura, and her husband, Ryan.  You see, NEPO 42 is right across the street from 3 Dogs Boarding and Daycare, where Wes goes to cage-free doggie daycare and sometimes boards when the young couple goes on trips.  http://www.3dogsboardinganddaycare.com/

And although this is a blog about bars and beers, 3 Dogs deserves a shout-out as well.  They have always taken good care of Wes and the staff is friendly, helpful and committed to the canines who are their “clients.”

Wesley in his younger days about 1 1/2 years ago..

Laura and Ryan had mentioned a small bar and grill on NE 42nd Street, right across from 3 Dogs – it’s on the border of the Cully and Concordia neighborhoods –  so I decided to try it out when reconnecting with a former work colleague and friend, Bernie Stea.

Bernie and I worked together for several  years at the Oregon State Bar in the early 1980’s when he was the Bar’s Director of Continuing Legal Education and I was the Business Manager.  (more about Bernie below)  Bernie drove in from Camas, where he and his wife, former Portland radio personality, Deb Janes, are managing brokers at the Carl Group, a real estate investment and development firm.

Not the most impressive exterior……

NEPO 42, like a number of bars I have visited, is housed in what cannot be considered an impressive structure (it also has a very small parking lot) but the interior is a different story.  It radiates a warmth as aptly described in a Willamette Week review shortly after it opened in 2009:

“I expected Matthew and Sara Firosz’s bar to be a slightly remodeled neighborhood dive, but the pleasant space, decorated with art nouveau posters and black-and-white photos and with the remains of aged ceramic tiles on the floor, possesses rough, unpretentious elegance. It also has everything you could want from a neighborhood pub: a long bar, plenty of booths, a massive flat-screen TV” (W. Week 3/10/09) 

And while this blog focuses more on beer and bar history than food, let’s talk about the latter before discussing NEPO 42’s impressive twenty beers on tap.  The menu is diverse and not your typical “pub faire”.  Based on my two experiences and customer reviews, you will not leave hungry.  S goof summary is this 6/2/16 Trip Advisor review:

“Wow what a neighborhood GEM. Outstanding Pub Food with a great selection of taps from all over the Northwest. They do all their own smoking and that spells the best pulled barbeque pulled pork that probably is the best in the Portland area. Be sure try the chicken club very tasty and very fresh. Good selection of healthy salads.”

As further evidence, I was struck by the variety of dishes on their menu that received compliments  in social media and press reviews, to wit:  (Yelp) Mac and Cheese – 1/10/17, Fish and Chips – 11/9/16, brewery pretzels, kale salad…and the barnyard fries (“will be asked for on my deathbed.”) – 8/2/16, clam chowder – 1/23/17.

“……my absolute favorite, the OG dog “Primo bun, sauerkraut, jalapeño pickle relish, stone-ground mustard, steamed with Old German Lager. This is one fantastic hot dog.” – (Trip Advisor 3/5/17)

Willamette Week named Nepo42 in its 2016 Best of Portland issue for the third-best wings and in a 9/20/16 review on “Best Happy Hours” stated:

Fried Chicken and Waffles with bacon in the middle) – I even took some home….

“….seek out the masterful fried chicken—golden-brown chunks of crisped succulence either layered atop a waffle or hidden within the bacon-, spinach- and pepper-laden mac and cheese……$6 OG Dog (a ginormous frankfurter wrapped in a sturdy potato bun and slathered with jalapeño relish, homemade sauerkraut, and a house mustard itself steamed with Old German).”

To be objective, there was one vociferous critical Yelp review on 9/15/16 – maybe the cook or the customer just had a bad day……

“Jalapeño Poppers were just BURNT and exploded (they were so dark it was like eating charcoal), cheese sauce for Barnyard fries was grainy and tasted like flour, burger was overly well done and dry (when I had asked for med rare)”

Thebeerchaser is delighted with his Happy Healthy Bowl

I’ll supplement the above with my own two visits.  The Happy-Healthy Bowl (a special menu item with a title Thebeerchaser usually avoids….) I had at the lunch was large, delicious and was filled with a bunch of good stuff (brown rice, black beans, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and roasted fall vegetables. Topped with jalapeño cilantro and guajillo sauce, sour cream and sharp white cheddar)

There was no jealousy on my part as Bernie devoured what he considered to be a great cheeseburger – with a lot of good fries.

A great cheeseburger

Then when I returned for dinner with my wife, Janet, I marveled at the incredible Fried Chicken and Waffles for $13 (including the slices of bacon in the middle) I even took some of it home for a snack – something which I usually don’t do.  Janet had the Happy-Healthy Bowl at my recommendation and although she thought it was good, did not share my enthusiasm.  And their food prices, especially at Happy Hour are really reasonable.

I enjoyed seeing Bernie Stea again – he has had a career both as a lawyer and an entrepreneur and is one of the brightest and most innovative people I know.  His undergraduate and law school degrees were both from the University of Maryland where he was awarded the Order of the Coif – a prestigious national law school honor society and also served on the Maryland Law Review.  He clerked for Maryland’s highest court before moving to Portland in the early 70’s to practice law.

A “late model” Osborne 1

My first encounter with Bernie was in 1980, when as the Bar’s financial manager, I had to question him about his CLE department budget and he showed up with his Osborne laptop computer with the budget laid out on a SuperCalc spreadsheet.   (Even then, he was an early-adopter of technology.)

As I “attacked” his figures we started a friendly rivalry which entertained Bar staff when we “replicated” the dialogue at all-staff meetings.  It became a staged production in the tradition of Jane Curtain and Dan Akroyd on Saturday Night Live.  After Bernie would make a mock eloquent plea as to why his budget should be increased, my reply was, “Bernie, you ignorant slut!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k80nW6AOhTs

His subsequent career involved work at private law firms, CIO for startups, consulting for high-tech firms, and raising timber in SW Washington.  He and his wife now run a real estate sales and investment firm in Vancouver.  The Carl Group focuses on family estates, green construction and multi-generational housing solutions in the Southwest Washington and Portland metro area. http://natureasneighbors.com/about/

Robust selection of beer from 20 taps

While I have focused on the food to this point, I would be remiss not to mention the twenty-one rotating taps including cider.  Janet had a  BoneYard RPM IRA and I had a Priem Belgian Strong Dark Ale (I grew fond of this beer when we first tasted it at the Pfriem Brewery on a beautiful spring day in Hood River last year.)

Priem Brewery in Hood River – makes a great Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Then we split a Double Mountain IRA.  There was a wide range of beers to satisfy most beer aficionados. Pints were $4.50 at Happy Hour which 3:00 to 6:00 daily.

Other positive factors were free pool, a nice porch in the front which is both pet and kid friendly – not necessarily in that order, enthusiastic crowds and specials for Blazer games.  (You might even see Wesley Walter there on a spring or summer evening……)

Free pool

The vibe was of a friendly neighborhood pub and the staff including our server, Natalie, was friendly and efficient – something which might not always have been the case based on this Yelp 8/23/16 review:

”Recent staff shakeup has made a fantastic spot even better! The constantly complaining girl with blue hair is gone, and somehow a new dawn has broken! …….“

Janet ready to drop Wesley off at 3 Dogs. He absolutely loves doggie daycare.

And 3 Dogs is a great story in itself which you can check out at their website:

http://www.3dogsboardinganddaycare.com/about-us-3/ .

“The business started in 2008 and is owned and operated by Anne Graves, an experience veterinary technician and Michael Lauria, a professional dog trainer with years of experience managing tradition and cage-free dog boarding businesses.”

Although I love dive bars, there are a few neighborhood hangouts which have learned to put together a winning package and are worth visiting.  I echo the sentiments of this final review and urge you to check it out yourself.  And if you have a dog that needs occasional daycare or boarding, go across the street and check 3 Dogs out.   Tell them  that Wesley sent you!

From an article entitled “Meet Me in Cully” Willamette Week 8/22/16:

“An irreplaceable oasis of pub life, NEPO 42 does its best to approximate all bars for all people. Parents bring their children, pets accompany their owners to the front patio, sports fans gather for games, and folks predisposed to hate all of the above may choose from 20 taps of craft beer and cider when filling their growlers.”

 

NEPO 42       5403 NE 42nd Ave

 

A busy and competent kitchen


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Independent – A Maverick Among Bars….

photo-jan-31-5-37-28-pm

 

 

 

 

 

I ‘ve been to a number of sports bars in the five and one-half years since starting Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  Some such as the historic Claudias in southeast Portland stand out and have some character and interesting sports memorabilia – like the picture of my Oregon City High School basketball coach, Dale Herron, who played for the legendary Claudia’s AAU team, after starring for the U of O Ducks in college.  (He played for Claudia’s from 1961-7 during which time they won three NW AAU Championships.)

No. 34 - third from the left in back row - former U of O basketball star, Dale Herron

No. 34 – third from the left in back row – former U of O basketball star, Dale Herron

But many others such as the Marathon Taverna, which purports to be a sports bar doesn’t live up to the label – just a number of big-screen TVs.  That was also the case with the On Deck (downtown location), the immediate predecessor of The Independent.  Prior to that, the Silver Dollar II, another sports bar occupied the space.

However, The Independent – on Broadway near the historic Benson Hotel, is a great sports bar with a theme dear to the heart of most Portlanders – the legendary Portland Mavericks Baseball Team.

Opening day for the Mavericks at Civic Stadium in 1973

The Portland Mavericks have a fabled history as documented in the award-winning documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, produced in 2014.

The team, formed in 1973 by Hollywood notable, Bing Russell, was the only independent baseball team in America at the time.  As described in the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) summary:

“Bing operated without a Major League affiliation while playing in a city that was considered a wasteland for professional baseball.  Tryouts for the Mavericks, which were open to the public, were filled with hopefuls who arrived in droves from every state in America, many of whom had been rejected by organized baseball. Skeptics agreed it would never work………

The Mavericks’ in your face attitude was contagious to fans, and during their short reign, they – and Bing Russell – basically held up their middle finger to the sports establishment and said we’re playing this game on our terms, not yours. They were the real life Bad News Bears.”

A rear view (and perhaps more photogenic one) of Faust at the Independent across from Alice, his wife, and lawyer Jim Westwood

Joining us for beers that day, wearing his Portland Mavericks jacket, was a man who was integrally involved in that history – Beerchaser regular and retired Portland appellate lawyer and broadcaster and most importantly, a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jack Faust. https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Faust with former Portland Maverick Manager, Frank “The Flake” Peters while Beerchasing at the Grand Cafe

Jack appears in the movie and you can read about his role as Bing Russell’s lawyer in the underdog legal victory in his suit against the Pacific Coast League in the Beerchaser post.(Russell was awarded $206,000 in a final arbitration – the League had made a final pre-arbitration offer of $5,000!):

Besides the interesting sports memorabilia, The Independent is spacious, has a cool wrap-around bar, a good selection of beers (20 on tap, which include five rotating and a $3.50 PBR Tall Boy) and a host of wide screen TVs (32) with various sporting events:

“Come catch a game on one of our 32 flat panel TV’s and a projection system for big games.  Your team will be on!

You’ll also find …..vintage hockey masks, boxing gloves, baseball bats ad a vertical collection of USA Men’s Soccer jerseys dating back to the ’70’s on loan from Nike.”

Corey, our jovial and helpful server

And we were fortunate to have an outstanding server that day.  Corey Lewis was personable, very helpful on beer selection and background of the bar while also having an interesting story (see below)

 The others enjoying The Independent’s beer and environment that day were Jack’s wife, Alice, son Charlie, his daughter, Amy, lawyer Jim Westwood, Denny Ferguson and Thebeerchaser’s spouse, Janet.  (Denny stuck to his values and ordered a cold Coors Light draft.)

Thebeerchasing crew with the traditional logo

As usual, the company on these Beerchasing events is always a highlight regardless of how good or bad the watering hole in which we raise a mug(s).  Such was the case at The Independent in which Jack Faust refreshed us with some Mavericks’ lore including the antics of his friend, Frank Peters.

Alice Faust – 1941 Adventure..

We also heard the amazing story of Alice Faust’s experience when she personally witnessed the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack.  As a 7-year-old living in Honolulu near Pearl Harbor, she heard and saw Japanese bombers and fighters flying over their house and heard the bomb blasts from the harbor as Japan launched World War Two in the Pacific. Her father, a naval reserve officer recently called to active duty, drove off in a Chevrolet to war at the base.

Raising the Grant High 2017 trophy (Alice is on the right)

And who could resist the dialogue between two of the smartest Constitutional experts I know – Faust and Westwood (the latter, also a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and a coach of this year’s Grant High School’s Oregon Constitution team on which Amy Faust’s daughter, Alice, is a member and will soon depart for the national competition in Washington, DC.)

Faust and Westwood – The beer sweetened the dialogue….

Their discussion focused on the next step and the likelihood that the White House would prevail after a federal district court and then the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Trump’s first travel ban.

(“The three judges from the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.”)

Note 1:  The President, learning from his first mistake and in an effort to have the “terrible judges” reconsider, issued a revised Executive Order in March, which just last week was also frozen by a Federal District Court Judge in Hawaii.

Note 2: Faust’s amazing legal career includes serving at Richard Nixon’s lawyer in Oregon for his 1972 re-election campaign.

Twenty draft beers including five rotating taps

Since it opened only in 2015, The Independent does not have scads of social media reviews, but most are very positive based on its location near Portland hotels, the food, the ambiance and the service.

As expected, there were some early negative reviews complaining about the service, but if our example was typical, they have addressed the issue.  And one thing that was impressive was the fact that the negative comments, when they were reasonable, often generated a response by Linda Addy, Director of Operations for Independent Restaurant Concepts, who either apologized or offered to rectify the problem if the complainant contacted her.  I also chatted with Linda by phone and she is a real pro, interested in providing a great experience at her firm’s venues.  

What is the appropriate male patron to urinal ratio in a sports bar???

 

As always, there were some interesting critical comments – ranging from the gratuitous such as the typical whiners who didn’t get to see their specific sports team or wanted every television in the place to broadcast the Duck’s game…. to the irritated (and probably older) guy who was irate: “Had to change the place to 1 start – a sports bar with 1 urinal!!!  What an oxymoron!!!” 

(At first, I laughed at this comment, but considering that many of the reviews talk about the great crowds at the bar, perhaps this is something that management  may need to address although there are two bathrooms in the bar.)

The bar is locally owned according to a June, 2016 announcement in Portland Eater: “Brandon and Brian Anderson own the 225 SW Broadway Building and  they’re teaming up with IRC – the restaurant group behind Produce Row Care, Circa 33 and others.”  (See Thebeerchaser review on the impressive resurrection of the historic Produce Row Cafe) https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/12/07/produce-row-cafe-take-a-hike-and-have-a-brewski/

The Man Cave

The menu is pretty typical with some good bargains at happy-hour which is 3:00 to 6:00 each weekday – a buck off on all beers,  a cheeseburger for $5 and both nachos and a Coney dog for $6 and a $2 salad which got a favorable review.

One 9/1/16 Yelp reviewer commented, “Much better food selection than your average sports bar.  Gluten-free options are always a plus.  Good service, clean dining areas.

I mentioned that Corey, our server, has as interesting story.  He is a native Montanan and trans-planted Texan who is both an actor and musician.  He told us about his four-piece rock band, The Misery Men, in which he plays a mean rhythm guitar and does vocals in addition to being  “Chairman of the Board. “

According to one 2016 reviewer: http://doomedandstoned.com/post/138441988863/themiserymen

The Misery Men with Corey in the center

“Corey G Lewis is a man of many names, A.K.A. “Mr. Misery,” “Vortex Conductor,” “Snakecharmer,” “The Magician,” and (my personal favorite) “Viking Jesus of the Utopia.” Corey claims responsibility for the band’s vocals, screams, growling, lyrics, and riffs. 

He’s a jack of all trades, counting among his specialties: vortex conductor, time traveler, quantum theorist, worshiper of cats, crow whisperer, and aficionado the quantum world! A well-travelled dude, he’s called Missoula, Denver, NYC, NOLA, L.A., and Austin his home and, since 2011, Portland, Oregon.”

The Independent also has some interesting cocktails and this led to my only disappointment that afternoon.  I was anticipating with relish their “go to” cocktail – the Maverick  but was denied that experience because they actually ran out of Old Overholt:

“A shot of Old Overholt + icy-cold Rainier 8 (Old Overholt is the oldest of The Olds, a relic you can drink.  This famous Straight Rye Whiskey has a distinctive flavor and appeal that after Prohibition, made it the most popular spirit in the country…)”

Old Overholt – Rye Whiskey that demands a return to the bar….

Fortunately, I had a great Fort George Vortex IPA (this and the Breakside IPA are their most popular beers) which eased the psychological trauma.  More importantly, it gives me an excuse to make a another visit to The Independent – a sports bar that merits a return.  Besides, I want to check out the featured “Man Cave” (Leather couches, wingback chairs, and things like vintage medicine balls and a punching bag.)

And when you go, say “hello” to Corey and find out where his band is playing next.

The Independent      225 SW Broadway #100   


Note:  I paid another visit to The Independent on St. Patrick’s Day and it was rocking.   1080 – The Fan was broadcasting and the bar was filled with revelers.

And the Man Cave was impressive with the party in the picture above enjoying more nachos than I think I have ever seen in one confined space previously.

I still need to return for The Maverick Cocktail as I couldn’t resist having another Ft. George beer.

Dirt and Sprague from 1080 in broadcast mode…

 

Beerchaser Miscellany – First Quarter 2017

September Nuptials

September Nuptials

Thebeerchaser’s youngest daughter,Laura, married a great young man – Ryan Keene – last September 17th.  They have been on several Beerchasing expeditions previously such as Mad Son’s Pub, Stamtisch and Quincy’s (click on the name to get the link to the review), but they kept the Beerchasing tradition alive on their recent honeymoon to New Zealand.  beer-honeymoon

They kept the Beerchasing tradition alive on this two-week trip, which included a lot of hiking and stays in mountain huts.   The picture below is Laura toasting the sunset in the highlands.

And while Ryan did not have the traditional Beerchaser logo with him, he honored the tradition with this sign while he enjoyed a flight of six of the sixteen beers at the Montieth Brewery located at Greymouth,  West Coast, New Zealand.

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Ryan at the Montieth Brewery

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The Rippon Vineyard in Wanaka, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dive Bars in Murky Waters

In previous Beerchaser posts, I have presented the issue about the shaky ground occupied by some of the venerable dive bars in both Seattle and Portland.  While initially, I tried to take the optimistic approach and dismiss the concern as overblown, recent events are drowning that naiveté. 

The entrance to Joes Cellar

The entrance to Joes Cellar

Originally I tried to rationalize that some of the historic bars such as Portland’s Sandy Hut were being upgraded while still maintaining their character and others such as Produce Row and Joe’s Cellar, after being temporarily closed, rose again like the mythical Phoenix and have been successful in their reincarnation.

p1040372That said, the statistics are compelling and just looking at some of the closures makes one wonder about the long-term future of this — American institution.  For example, the New-Old Copper Penny is now a large vacant lot with bulldozers in the Lents District.

The Copper Penny "flipped"

The Copper Penny “flipped”

Slabtown, on the west edge of the Pearl District is long gone and the Grand Cafe with it’s idiosyncratic proprietor, Frank the Flake Peters, is now a generic and  sports bar (Pour Sports) lacking ambiance.

More recent closures are Tony’s Tavern on NW    and the iconic Club 21, which when the rumor surfaced two years ago that it would be sold to developers, was met with the assertion:  “Never!”

p1020501At least the owners will transfer the memorabilia to a new location, but the iconic structure, once the meeting place of a Greek Orthodox Church, will be lost to the wrecking ball.

A 2014 Willamette Week article entitled, “Closing Time- 2014 was Barmageddon in Portland” lists thirty-eight bar 2014 closures (that was three years ago…..) and asks perceptively, “Are these just the canary in the coal mine?”

Club 21 - memorabilia saved, but not the building

Club 21 – memorabilia saved, but not the building

And more recently, the Portland Mercury stated in a good article: http://www.portlandmercury.com/the-portland-dive-bar-preservation-society/2016/03/09/17741354/the-portland-dive-bar-preservation-society

“Portland’s lost a bunch of dive bars recently. A few were absolute shitholes that deserved to disappear, but most were victims of circumstance and change. A number of other bars have changed ownership and been fancied up to suit the modern market. Dive bars, if not endangered, are at the very least under threat.” 

 You’ve Got to Read this Book!!

While my literary pursuits are generally escapist-trash fiction, that genre was recently elevated with an outstanding non-fiction work by my good friend, Dr. Eric Hall, an Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

Eric and Cassie with Annabelle and

Eric and Cassie with Annabelle and

Eric and his wife, Cassie,  who is the College’s Registrar (she also graduated from Portland’s St. Mary’s Academy with my daughter, Lisa, and both went on to the University of Washington where Cassie played soccer for UW on a scholarship and graduated Phi Beta Kappa) accompanied us to two breweries – Blackfoot River Brewing Company and the Lewis and Clark Brewing Company, while we were in Helena on a Montana – Wyoming road trip one year ago  – https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/07/thebeerchaser-in-montana-and-wyoming-part-ii/

And his second book, Everything You Ever Needed to Know About the Almighty, is relevant to Beerchasing because it is one in a series published by Homebrewed Christianity.   Besides having a cool logo, HBC is the brainchild of Tripp Fuller, a Claremont College graduate student who in 2008 started a blog and community in which:

“You will find conversations between friends, theologians, philosophers, and scholars of all stripes…….a community of podcasts, bloggers, & Deacons (what we call our regular listeners) invested in expanding and deepening the conversation around faith and theology.  We hope you listen, question, think, and then share the Brew!”   homebrewed-2

I may be slightly biased because I love both Eric and his wife Cassie and their two wonderful children, Annabelle and Joe Lewis Hall, but Eric’s book is masterful.

His humor and intellect is described by one reviewer:

“Eric’s imaginative union of academia and spirituality is an inspiration to readers. He bonds great Christian thought with heart provoking spiritual growth with an engaging wit.”  (Doug Took)

2017-02-21-15-22-18For example take this quote from page 68:

We finite persons just don’t have the mental tools to know God in his full knowability, which is why Thomas Aquinas imagines in a way only possible for a philosopher-monk that heaven means standing around doing new syllogisms about God and trying to know cumulatively more about the One who is infinitely knowable.

Infinity’s a long time to write syllogisms, which I’ll only assent to because it sounds only slightly better than the vision some of your religious leaders may have given you: that heaven is something like a church service where we stand around singing praises of God’s glory eternally.   Eternity’s a long time to fake like I’m praying.” 

eric-and-annabelle

The author and Annabelle…

Or check out this excerpt from page 79:

“Then again, some mystics describe the deep sorrow of seeing their true self within a context of divine luminosity.  Again, this idea makes sense as it’s kind of like seeing what a bar floor looks like when the lights come up: you didn’t know how many dirty old pork rinds were either on the ground or in your soul prior to the divine unveiling.”

You will love the analogies and his insight on some interesting questions.  It’s available from Amazon or the Home Brewed Christianity web site for 14.99 (Kindle version – $9.99).  And note the response Eric had to a questioner at the end of a recent podcast who asked the good professor what words he would like to hear from St. Peter, if and when he got to the Pearly Gates.

Contemplating ethereal recreation

Contemplating ethereal and eternal recreation

He responded, “How about, ‘Eric, do you want to go jet-skiing?'” 

Regardless of your position on spiritual issues and/or beer, you should read this book.  You will enjoy it!

——————–

Sequencing the Beaver Genome!

And speaking of academia, you read the above caption correctly as reported in the Oregonian recently.  Yes, Beerchasers, scientists at my Oregon State University alma matter accomplished this scientific step through a $30,000 crowd-funding drive. 597px-american_beaver

“The project used a blood sample from the 5-year-old beaver, Filbert, who lives at the OSU zoo.   …..they discovered that beavers have 26,200 genes, or about 33 percent more than inheritable info. than humans do.”

Perhaps that research can be piggy-backed for use by the OSU Fermentation Science Program which has contributed nicely to the ranks of trained Oregon brewers and beer experts since its inception in 1995 and expanded with a $1.2 million grant in 2013. http://www.beavergenome.org/

Cheers for genomes....

Cheers for genomes and the joy of science!

 

 

Ancestry Brewing – “Anchoring” the Tualatin Beer Desert….

photo-feb-02-11-43-00-am

After my two visits to this small brewery in Tualatin, which opened in March 2016, I was prepared to describe it as just another of the many similar suds-related start-ups in Portland.  In fact, the Portland metro area currently has 105 breweries.  http://oregoncraftbeer.org/facts/

complex-facebookThe brewery and taproom are located in a non-descript commercial complex on the Tualitan-Sherwood Highway in what Willamette Week described in 2016 as “the virtual beer desert of Tualatin.” It fits the description of one Trip Advisor reviewer who visited Ancestry within the last several weeks who stated:

“Weird location, meaning that if you didn’t know it was here, you wouldn’t know it was here, but you should stop by.”

The Sellwood Tap Room

The Sellwood Tap Room

My trip to what Ancestry labels its “Neighborhood Spot” in Sellwood – opened shortly after the brewery – presented a similar picture, at least externally. It’s housed on the first floor of a brick commercial building shared with a brokerage firm and space used for a yoga studio with condos in the several story structure above.

Sellwood "Neighborhood Spot"

Sellwood “Neighborhood Spot”

As an aside, the challenge for both new and existing breweries in Oregon is mounting according to an excellent February 15th Willamette Week article entitled, “Over a Barrel.”

“…..the number of Portland area breweries has nearly doubled during the past four years……’In the  past, there was enough growth to go around,’ says Brewers’ Association economist Bart Watson.  ‘Now we’re seeing competition for tap handles.  Growth of your own sales comes at the expense of other brewers.'”

Ancestry Brewing is both an interesting and heartening story and one which affirms the vitality and positive impact of micro-brewing on the Oregon economy and spirit.  I was personally interested based on its ties to both the US Navy and Oregon State University through the owner, family members (they describe their beer as “family-crafted”) and a number of the brewery personnel.

ancestry-logo-facebook

Ancestry Logo

In fact, the Ancestry logo – an anchor and sextant on a signature blue color, are meant to pay tribute to Jerry, the brewery co-founder (father of Jeremy Turner, the General Manager’s and partner) in addition to Cellar Manager and brother-in-law, Mel Long, for their military time on the guided missile cruiser, Canberra and aircraft carrier, Coral Sea, respectively, during Viet Nam tours.   uss_canberra_cag-2_badg

You can also commemorate this service by ordering the USS Canberra Burger (“1/3 lb. burger……with house sauce, pickles, lettuce, tomato and thin-sliced red onions with Tillamook cheddar cheese.”) or the USS Coral Sea Burger (“1/3 lb. burger topped with melted Brie and our house-made tomato-artichoke relish.”) Both are $11 and are two of the seven burgers/sandwiches on the menu. 

The USS Coral Sea - big like the burger named after it at Ancestry

The USS Coral Sea – big like the burger named after it at Ancestry

Although the burgers looked delicious and tempting, my friend,  Walt Duddington (he also joined me on a previous Beerchaser trip to the Lutz Tavern – click on the name to see the review of this historic bar), opted for the Vegan Burger (“house-made vegan patty, grilled and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and house-made pesto served on local chibbata”).

Walt’s expression, shown in the picture when his food was delivered was just as happy after he finished this healthy option – okay, I guess he did have French fries….!  I had the same reaction to my Beer-battered Fish and Chips (the cod for $12 versus the $14 salmon option).  photo-feb-02-12-05-14-pm

Another reason for the smile on his face is that he is recently retired from telecommunications firm Level 3 Communications, after nearly forty years in similar sales and management positions at US West, Electric Lightwave and Integra.

I first met Walt in the late ’80’s when he was the US West project manager for the installation of a new telephone system at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm.  Neither Walt nor I had smiles on our faces at that time and we had a lot of sleepless nights when the hardware vendor under-configured the system which resulted in system crashes and disconnected calls.

New technology can also have its challenges....

Better than a rotary-dial phone, but new technology can also have its challenges….

Fortunately, lawyers (about 150 of them) are very patient and empathetic with management on technology issues………He and his team also provided excellent support ten years later when Walt coached the Integra team which installed a multi-office network connecting the firm’s offices.

 We also enjoyed the beer with lunch – an interesting and broad selection is available from what Ancestry describes as its “3 Pillars of beer – American, English, and Belgian.”

After sampling a few options – something which is appreciated at the brewpubs who provide this complimentary option – Walt chose the Seasonal IPA (A light bodied ale with orange peel and pine like qualities” – 35 IBUs-5.3% ABV) and this guy who is not often a fan of IPAs described it as having a robust, fresh aroma and chilled to the appropriate temperature – a nice complement to the meal.”

photo-feb-02-12-01-09-pmI had the Piney IPA (“Caramel and nutty undertones offset by solid hop  finish, red berry and pomegranate flavors with a strong piney aroma and undertones of tropical fruit” – 61 IBUs-7.1% ABV) – a good brew.

Given the robust list of beers, if you or your group can’t decide, they have flights:

Single 4 oz. taster: $2.00     Flight of four: $8.00     Flight of six: $10.00

The space at the Tualatin taproom is like a lot of small breweries – somewhat sparse or meager on ambiance, although it is easy to envision people enjoying their brews on a nice deck which overlooks a wetland behind the structure.

photo-feb-02-11-58-56-am

photo-feb-02-12-00-57-pm

 

 

 

 

The Sellwood Taphouse, while very small, is a nice space that started filling up on the Friday afternoon that I visited and had a great conversation with AJ Cabrera – the genial Restaurant Operations Manager who has been with Ancestry since its inception.

Dean on the left) and Ops Manager, AJ at Sellwood

Dean on the left) and Ops Manager, AJ at Sellwood

He responded to my question about its heritage by affirming that it was the very space in which the legendary dive bar, Black Cat Tavern, served Sellwood regulars for decades before its demise for the current building as reported by an article in the Portland Tribune on 8/2/2013:

The historic Black Cat Tavern - gone but not forgotten. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Jean Beacuchamp

The historic Black Cat Tavern – gone but not forgotten. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Jean Beacuchamp

“After over 68 years, the Black Cat Tavern – a landmark in Sellwood, on S.E. 13th at Umatilla Street – will make its last call for beverages and spirits later this month, to the loyal customers who have patronized the establishment over the years.”

While the Sellwood spot doesn’t have the character of an historic dive bar, it’s a nice addition to the neighborhood.  Although it is not as big as nearby Sellwood Public House, the space is a lot brighter and more inviting.  Ancestry has discussed future plans to open two similar operations – one in St. John’s and one on SE Division.

Choosing from their twenty-five beers was a challenge, but I sampled both their flagship beer – the Best Coast IPA (77 IBUs  – 7.0% ABV) and a  Irish Red (21 IBUs – 5.4% ABV), I had a pint of the latter although either would have been a good choice.  photo-feb-17-3-50-52-pm

The commitment of the family, a good business plan and fortuitous timing have all contributed to Ancestry’s success to this point:  “But while the midsized craft breweries are squeezed by both the new brewers and large distributors, there remains a bright spot.  Portland brewpubs are still doing very well….” (Willamette Week 2/15)

Sam Holloway - Professor and micro-brew industry expert

Sam Holloway – Professor and micro-brew industry expert

One of Thebeerchaser’s resources is Dr. Sam Holloway, University of Portland Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and consultant to the brewery industry (also one of three principals in the brewery consulting and educational firm Crafting a Strategy)

He was also Thebeerchaser-of-the-Quarter in August, 2015 https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/08/25/sam-holloway-educator-craftsman-and-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/  logo_vertical

When asked about Ancestry, Sam’s comments were as follows (he disclaimed that Ancestry is a member-client-of Crafting a Strategy):

I really like Ancestry brewing…….their beer and business model is rock solid. They’ve even done a few innovations in growlers, filling them in advance of the beer being ordered and utilizing a better seal/cap system……..Their business model is actually as creative and well executed as their beers. Both very good.”

Nice view of the brewery in operation in Tualatin

Nice view of the brewery in operation in Tualatin

I would suggest that one of the reasons that there are many positive comments on the beer is Head Brewer, Trevor Laumann, who took his passion for home-brewing to the next step and graduated in 2015 from the Oregon State University Fermentation Science program.

Pints are a reasonable $5.  The brewery and taprooms are open every day but Monday and minors are permitted from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

Ancestry Brewing and Taprooms

                Tualatin – 20585 SW 115th Ave.                 Sellwood – 8268 SE 13th Ave