New Energy and Ideas at Old Town Brewing

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

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

An eastside mainstay closes its door in early 2019

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

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

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

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

Backwoods Brewings’ second location in the Pearl District

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

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

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

Adam Milne – young entreprenauer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attractive recovery from the 2012 fire in the second story

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

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

Source of mult-year legal battle…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attractive bar

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

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

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

Bowler and Flannagan

Old Town Brewing        5201 NE Martin Luther King Blvd

Thebeerchasers’ Best Portland Dive Bars

As I mentioned in my 2018 Annual Report, after pursuing this somewhat unusual hobby for a little over seven years, some might wonder which bars of various types or which breweries are my favorites.  Conversely, which would I not recommend although there are not many in the latter category.

So over the next few months, while still doing blog posts about bars I visit in 2019, I will try to identify my favorites to this point by category i.e. dive bar, neighborhood establishment, sports bar, brew-pub, etc. – without paying undue attention to defining the criteria for the categories.

As one can see by the first logo pictured above, I was originally  going to confine my journey to just Portland watering holes; however, given our robust retirement travel, it has expanded to cover bars in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, a number of regions in the continental US and throughout Oregon from the High Desert to the wonderful and scenic Oregon coast.

I’ll divide each category into separate posts covering Portland establishments and those outside the Rose City.  For each bar, I will provide a brief narrative on my rationale for it being on my “all-star” list.

I might add that one of the joys of this undertaking – especially on our trips, has been sharing the experience with my wife of 39 years.

Janet has transitioned from almost exclusively drinking wine, to enjoying IPAs – especially the hoppy ones.  That said, she demurs when I suggest hitting a dive bar — there have been one or two exceptions when we have been traveling.

I welcome your comments and opinions.  It should be also noted that I am not ranking these within the all-star categories, although I might feel inclined to indicate one that supersedes the others in each specific group.  Most of the narrative about each bar was applicable when I reviewed them.  Things may have changed since then, but hey – with 286 bars down and a lot more to go, I don’t have time to go back and update!

If you want to see the original post for the four I highlight below, you can click on the purple link in the name of the bar which precedes its story.

Cheers and Go Beavs!

Best Portland Area Dive Bars

 The Ship Tavern – December 10, 2012

The Ship, located in nearby Multnomah Village, could make the all-star list just from its unique mural on the exterior front wall, but this bar is a “must visit” for those who appreciate the ambiance of a good dive.

One could assert that it gets some competition as an iconic watering hole from Renners’ Bar and Grill, another great dive just around the corner and reviewed by Thebeerchaser in August, 2017 – unfortunately, now closed because of a disastrous fire.  However, even when both were operating The Ship clearly anchored the exceptional bars in the Village.

It’s aptly described by this Yelp reviewer who wrote: “The ship isn’t anything to write home to Mom about…..heck it probably isn’t even a place I would tell my Mom I went….but it knows what/who it is.”  (Yelp 9/1/17)   

The Ship has been in the same location since 1946 and this site of a former garage has big-time history and character.   If you go on Thursday, your table will have free peanuts in the shell – the shells go on the floor when you are done.

There’s also a great juke box with the favorite plays when I visited in 2012 as follows:

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – “Get a Job”

Bad Company“Bad Company”

The Raconteurs “Steady as She Goes”

Waylon Jennings“Good-Hearted Woman”

When you want to play a song in the juke, you tell the bartender who turns off the stereo. The old-time pinball machine is also great.

Da Bears, Da Cubs and Da Sox! – Now there are several bars in Portland which purport to be Chicago Bears’ bars – these  include the Buffalo Gap and the Hob Nob Grill, but The Ship Tavern is very passionate about their favorite NFL Team.  They also like the Cubbies and White Sox.

The Ship can be considered a Chicago hangout as evidenced by the fact that any time the Bears, Cubs or the Sox play, Pabst Old Style Beer – A Chicago favorite –  is $1.50 per can and margaritas and Bloody Mary’s are $3.50.

Debbie, the friendly bartender, emphasized, “This doesn’t apply to Blackhawk games – we’re not big on hockey.”   

Furthermore, every Sunday during football season they “offer meals that are themed after the opposing team.” The Sunday after my first visit, they played the Minnesota VikingsThe special was Tator-tot-Hotdish and Caesar salad for $5.50.  

According to Wikipedia, “Hotdish is a variety of baked casserole that typically contains a starch, a meat or other protein, and a canned and/ or frozen vegetable mixed with canned soup.  The dish is popular in Minnesota and North Dakota.”

Part of the lore was also supplied by former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jay WaldronThe bar was a hangout for the Portland Rugby Club (of which Waldron is a charter member) and they had their Book-and-Brew discussions at The Ship.  (I didn’t ask what percentage was brew and the allocation of book, nor the nature of the literature purportedly dissected.)

The overall character and décor make this bar the epitome of a good dive bar including the pictures and memorabilia – and the stories surrounding each one of them.  In the words of one patron:

“The Ship is simply your quintessential dive bar……It’s an ultra local joint with good history…….that dark and dank local bar with a handful of guys in trucker hats and grey mustache’s…..”(Yelp 2/29/12)       

Candace, the friendly bartender

The Ship Tavern        7827 SW 35th Ave.  Portland (Multnomah Village)

Gil’s Speakeasy – May 9, 2017

When they named it a speakeasy, they weren’t kidding.  There is no sign with the name and other than a few innocuous beer signs in the front windows, no indication that this is actually a bar.

It’s on the ground floor of a multi-story apartment building and based on the surrounding structures, you could walk right by it if you didn’t know it was there.  Perhaps that’s why PDXbars.com described it as, “Small, hard to find bar, with a huge personality.”

A viewing slot like a traditional speakeasy

And this is okay with Brett Gilhuly, who bought and renamed the bar in 2004 – it’s been around since 1939.  He stated in a media interview, “If you could find it, you were more than welcome. And if you couldn’t, – find something else.”

Brett also originated their advertising slogan, “The nicest assholes in town!.”  Gil’s wife, Katie is the co-owner and bartender and a very nice person….The dingy, although spacious bar, is also distinguished by its collections of signs, old bottles, photos and memorabilia.

 

Katie and bartender, Judd – “the best bartender in town!”

It features one of the few full-length shuffleboard tables remaining in Portland bars and has a great juke-box with a slew of albums ranging from Otis Redding and Sam Cooke to Pearl Jam and Guns ‘N Roses.

Although possibly a little inconsistent with the preferences of the typical dive bar regular, they even have “Teenager in Love,” by Dion and the Belmonts – it hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.

Dion and the Belmonts!!

But the best feature is their daily food special – you’ll have to go to my original blog post to see all of them, but to give you an idea, on Monday – which is also Dirty Bingo Night, you can get three tacos for a buck and on Friday (when I ate there) – a Sloppy Joe with chips – also for $1.

The Friday special for $1

The large pool table with red felt is a nice touch and is in a comfortable adjacent room.  They have a good tap list and beer is cheap.

Even the coin-operated breathalyzer is a nice feature and one which is not found often in Portland Bars.

Summed up in a dated, but still very accurate Yelp review 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.”

Gil’s Speakeasy         609 1/2 SE Taylor

Mock Crest Tavern – May 23, 2012

The Mock Crest is definitely a classic and borders on being a neighborhood establishment rather than classified as a dive; however, although it has some great features, it’s characterized by the wonderful environment of a dive bar.  Perhaps, this Yelp comment summed it up best although the reviewer equivocates to some extent:

“Hmmmm…I cannot classity this as a Dive Bar.  I’ve been to a generous handful in my day, and this is upscale divey, if not a classy dive bar.  It is a gem.”

Yep. It’s a dive albeit a classy one…..

So what are some of the distinguishing factors of this historic establishment which has operated for about 70 years and was named after North Portland entrepreneur and philanthropist, John Mock.

North Portland icon

A pharmacy and butcher shop/meat market occupied the building before the bar.  A picture of Mock hangs on the wall as you go out to the bar’s outside patio – not fancy, but a great place to contemplate the God’s gift of beer!

Mock Crest has eight rotating draft beers and about 21 bottled and cans.  Happy Hour is twice each day – from 3 to 6 P.M.and 11 PM to close.

Good food can be an exception to the rule at dive bars, but the bar has a good menu (including fried pickles) and gets favorable comments about its food including breakfast.

When we were there six years ago, the menu stated, “Breakfast served – any time.”   My colleague, Intellectual Property lawyer, John Mansfield, decided to be coy and stated, “Okay, I’ll take French Toast from the Renaissance Era.”  I see that they now serve it only until noon on weekdays – probably so they never have to listen to that comment ever again…..

Mansfield – he’s welcome back provided someone else orders the food!

Live Music –  Although the size of the bar is pretty limited, it is well known for its long history of good live music.  Their website states:

“(We) play host to NoPo’s best live music every Thursday thru Saturday. From Rock ‘Roll and Country, to Jazz, Pop, Blues and R&B, you’ll enjoy local legends, touring artists, as well as up and coming stars.  Best of all there never a cover charge – ever.”

The evening we were there we got to hear the Eagle Ridin’ Papas featuring legendary musician, Johnnie Ward, who was described as “a living study of Northwest Roots and Blues Movement with nearly 40 years of performance art to his credit.”  You are close up to the musicians and they like to interact.

At least one reviewer (Yelp 10/7/16) objects to the space constraints although most patrons (including John and I) like this intimate set-up:

“Want to have a conversation with some friends?  Forget it.  Want to use the bathroom?  Forget it, unless you don’t mind making direct eye contact with the lead singer while you squeeze through the drummer’s floor tom and the bass amp.”  (I guess Johnnie Ward realized how old I was because he smiled and nodded empathetically when I made the trip…..)

Johnnie Ward – up close and personal..

Mock Crest describes itself with several nice slogans – all of which are apt:

Home of the North Portland Blues

Easy to Find – Hard to Leave

Where Friends Meet

And in far North Portland, it’s a bit out of the way, but well worth a visit – one of the classics to which I will look forward to returning.  The character is best described by this one succinct review.

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

Mock Crest Tavern       3435 N Lombard Street     Portland

The Standard – June 26, 2018

While with the Mock Crest Tavern, one can make an argument that it is not a traditional dive bar, that is not the case with The Standard.  The entrance, shown above, confirms before you enter, that you are arriving at a true dive – and this is affirmed when you see the interior.

You walk in through the covered patio, which is vaguely reminiscent of the days before Oregon’s smoke-free legislation passed in 2008 and the interior of every dive bar had a hazy, smoke filled environment, which would be hazardous for anyone without pristine lungs. (The second-hand smoke during  the times I was there was pretty minimal, however.) 
Individuals and groups sit at the picnic tables chatting, smoking and working on computers – often accompanied by their pets. And they drink cheap beer.

It’s a bar, which even with a great reputation, has been below the radar in an inconspicuous location on NE 22nd Avenue – just off Burnside.  And some might assert that with the dark wooden fence with a dumpster in the middle, fronting the bar, it looks like a recycling center. Opened in 2007, it doesn’t have the long history of some other classic bars, but demands recognition.

It’s replete with old-style pinball machines and games, a pool table and even a photo-booth.

There’s also a curiously-short shuffleboard – with empty kegs underneath,  old beers signs, tacky art, an idiosyncratic (or bizarre) cracked mirror – the full length of the bar – and well, a lot of stuff that just  makes you feel welcome.

Another distinguishing characteristic is a noticeable affinity for Hamm’s Beer.  It’s manifested by its Wednesday all-day $1 Hamm’s pints, numerous logos and a notable stuffed Hamm’s Bear over the bar wearing a Portland Trailblazer jersey. The Standard, like a lot of dives, is not the go-to place for quality pub food.  Its line-up is confined to items such as chips and salsa, a few sandwiches (micro-waved), mini-corndogs and fried ravioli(?)

They also have a drink special each day which includes the aforementioned Hamm’s special on Wednesday.

I don’t know why I loved this watering hole so much.  Was it the overall environment, the sense of community – reflected by such features as their Crappy Book Club“Bring your crappy books and trade them for other crappy books,”  the annual chili cooking contest, the Christmas decorations and showing of Santa Horror Movies?

Or was it just the people with whom I experienced the bar – a group of some of my favorites Beerchasing regulars.

But The Standard ranks as my favorite dive bar to this point in the seven and one-half years of this pursuit.  Perhaps it’s best conveyed by former Willamette Week Project Editor, Matthew Korfhage

In 2017, he garnered first place for his columns on food writing in the American Association of Alternative Newspapers.  Matthew has reviewed establishments while living in St. Louis, Chicago, Munich and Bordeaux.   He wrote the following in the annual Willamette Week Best Bars Guide.

2016It’s the best little bar in Portland, and I won’t hear otherwise.”

2017: “The bar is cheap, no-nonsense fun in a way that takes all comers and yet is loving towards its long-time regulars.  These days in Portland that makes The Standard not very standard at all.  It makes it a GD treasure.”

So take in The Standard experience.  And while they have some good craft beer on tap, in the interest of honoring the character of this establishment, belly up to the bar and ask bartender, Tyler, for a draft Hamm’s.

The Standard        14 NE 22nd Ave.     Portland

Well that’s it folks and stay tuned in the coming weeks for a similar all-star list of dive bars outside of Portland.  And remember when you are contemplating this topic, the wisdom of Seattle author, Mike Seeley in his book Seattle’s Best Dive Bars:

“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.” (Pages 9-10)

 

The Gemini – Maybe Not Your Sign – But Perhaps Your Bar!

There is a dearth of good neighborhood bars in West Linn and Lake Oswego.   Just before the end of 2018, however, I found a terrific new one less than three miles from my house in West Linn.

The Salty Rhino is a small, no frills, but superb neighborhood pub on Highway 43.   John Lyons and his business partner, Alan Blackwell, are doing a good job of establishing a clientele of regulars since it opened in 2018.

Lake Oswego is a different story.  While there are a few bars, the Gemini Bar and Grill (hereafter “Gemini”) stands out as one that has a lot to offer with an inviting environment.

As Portland Barfly, a credible authority on Portland area bars, states in its review:

“Really the only proper bar in Lake O with a local draw of friendly, mostly younger folks and the occasional monied types on the slum. Remodeled a few years back, ceilings raised, fire place alight. Outdoor seating. Pool x3, sports on multiple screens. 24 beers on tap.” 

While admitting that I’ve gone to this watering hole on State Street in the center of Lake O for years, I have essentially taken it for granted – occasionally just going in for a casual beer with a friend and then forgetting about it.

A gathering of brothers – (albeit old ones…)

It was only in the last fifteen months after attending two gatherings (the most recent two weeks ago) of my SAE fraternity brothers – a bunch of old guys who graduated from Oregon State in the early ’70’s and listening to their comments, then doing some research and afterwards talking to the owner and manager that I came to really appreciate it.

And these frat guys, having started their Beerchasing exploits while in college at legendary Corvallis bars such as Don’s Den, Prices and the Peacock, have strong credibility when it comes to evaluating such establishments..

Corvallis – the start of a life-long educational process…..and the Peacock is still thriving

The Gemini has a long history in this same location and before it was opened by Jerry Casey (whose astrological sign was Gemini) in 1982, it was a bar called the Open Seas.

Casey’s son, Shawn, now owns the building and sold the business to Lordean Moran seven years ago.  She is an attractive and personable lady who lives in West Linn and started as a bartender and then manager at the Gemini.

So why is the Gemini recommended and what distinguishes it as a good neighborhood den?

Besides having ample parking, which can often be a problem at Portland establishments, it’s spacious yet has a cozy atmosphere (two great gas fireplaces), an attractive long bar, two pool tables, a number of smaller spaces or niches to provide some privacy, if desired, and a variety of tables from small rounds to a long community table as well as a larger space in the rear for groups and for weekend music.

It has a kind of funky décor with holiday-type lights illuminating the exposed duct work and ample televisions to see the game you want, yet which don’t overwhelm and detract from the environment.

And don’t forget the deck at the rear, which appeared to be a sure bet in fair weather.

Besides the physical attributes, they have a good selection of beers and ciders on tap (15), specialty cocktails and some favorites which draw great social media reviews (Bloody Mary, Moscow Mule and Margarita).

Good selection of drafts – including PBR, of course.

Lordean also told me they are now offering CBD Soda – a hemp infused soda – the first time I had heard of this offering at a Portland bar although it is becoming more common.  The Gemini sells a lot of it and why not – it’s supposed to:

“…aid sleep, reduce nausea and vomiting, relieve anxiety and reduce contractions in the small intestines,” among other remedies….!

CBD Soda – Medicinal Qualities??

Perhaps this drink has redefined the meaning of the term “On the ropes…”

Then there is the good bar food, the friendly and competent staff, and weekly events including trivia night and popular Texas-holdem tournaments.  The Gemini is also well know for its weekend music.

I guess I could end the review here, but some amplification is fitting.   The first SAE function was in November, 2017.  About twenty-five of us were gathered including some spouses and April, the manager reserved the back room to accommodate us.

Our server was efficient and friendly in handling that size crowd and it was perfect for having a few beers and snacks and catching up after a number of years.

The most recent gathering…

Our most recent get-together was small – only six of us and we all fit at one table.  Grace, our server, was superb and based on the experience of several who make regular visits to the Gemini, she always reflects that customer-service attitude making us feel like we were the only customers in what was a busy bar. (see below for more about Grace)

Unlike many of the establishments I cover, I found no newspaper articles on the history of the bar or reviews by print media such as Willamette Week or The Portland Mercury.   Most of the social media reviews, however, are very positive.

Cozy cubby-holes and niches….

One can go back a number of years and see a few complaints about the sound system or the interior but they have remodeled a number of times over the years and upgraded the sound-system.

There now seems to be little room for complaint. (Yeah, there was one idiot on Yelp who was miffed because they didn’t have Pear Vodka…..)

And Fridays and Saturdays when they have live music, are the nights to hit the Gemini if you want a party-type atmosphere.

The space where the bands play can get filled up pretty quickly and you can reserve a table for a fee which essentially becomes a credit against your bar tab.  I liked this admonition by a Yelp reviewer (1/13/18):

“Plan ahead, save a space by the dance floor, live music is always the best depending on your likes, very talented musicians.  Food is good, service is good, but be patient on busy nights.  And don’t just sit yourselves down like you’re in a five star restaurant and expect to be pampered — not that place. This place  is a fun low key place with great music and a wonderful owner who really cares!

In January, the groups below had weekend Gemini gigs and although my knowledge of this topic is severely lacking, they appear to have good followings and play at some credible establishments in the Portland music scene:

Wild Heart, Kevin Selfe, singer/songwriter Jacob Westfall, Acoustic Minds.

Dancehall Days, My Happy Pill, Will Kinky

Curtis Salgado

Lordean explained that the history of music at the Gemini is rich and such premier NW musicians including Curtis Salgado and Linda Hornbuckle – the late matriarch of the Portland blues and gospel scene – made regular appearances in years past.

When asked for one of the distinguishing characteristics of the bar, the owner said without hesitation, “Safety for our women customers – especially on weekends.”

This assertion was affirmed at least in one of the more unusual Yelp reviews – especially since the bar is in the burbs and Lake Oswego is not the most menacing unless you are intimidated by BMW sedans…..

It makes a valid point, however, about an important issue for bars these days whether in the burbs or in the urban center.  It also helps differentiate the Gemini from many of its competitors:

“I was greeted by the general manager, April, and watched after, the security is watching for creepy guys and actually offered to walk me to my car, the excellence of taking care of female clients, more bars should take this precedent! Absolutely the highest level of personal safety for women!”  (11/24/18 – Yelp)

And Grace, who was effusively praised by the aforementioned fraternity bros. is mentioned specifically in three of the more recent reviews from 2017 and 2018, the most ebullient and yet succinct of which was: One word… GRACE!”  (11/12/17).

One Word — “Grace!”

April also draws additional kudos from social media plus the SAE’s as well and when I chatted with her, it was obvious that she takes pride in the bar she manages and has a great relationship with her customers.

April

Now without getting too compulsive on the Yelp reviews, this one (3/6/2018) sums it up pretty well:

“This place is the BEST! GREAT food, service, and a comfortable place! I recommend this place. You’re NOT going to find a better bar/restaurant in downtown Lake Oswego. I enjoy the dignity and service that is given to me. IT’S IMPORTANT TO FEEL GOOD, WHEN YOU GO OUT.”

Two parting notes:

First, when I saw the shelf of gnomes or trolls shown below in the wall opposite the bar, I initially thought it was kind of weird and tacky and not consistent with the setting.   But after talking to Lordean, it reinforced the idea of this bar as a “community” of sorts, as was the case with the aforementioned Salty Rhino and other great neighborhood bars.

Gnome Contest – perhaps garrish, but a great benefit to Children’s Cancer Association

She said that this “Gnome Program” started five years ago when a little girl named Lexie was diagnosed with cancer.  Lordean came up with the idea of buying the gnomes and having a contest to paint them.  The Gemini brings in “judges” to determine the winners, and all the proceeds go to help Lexie through the Children’s Cancer Association.

The program has continued and they have raised significant funds.  They also support fundraisers for Camp Millennium – a free camp in Roseburg for children who have received a cancer diagnosis.

Secondly, one of the six SAEs who was at the Gemini recently was not in the group picture because he volunteered to take it.  I remedied that by having someone else take the photo at the end of the post.  Craig (The Dude) Hanneman was a roommate for several terms at the SAE house in 1968.

Thebeerchaser and The Dude in 1968

The amazing story of this former farm boy from Turner, Oregon can be viewed in Thebeerchaser post I published in 2012 when he was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

Up to last week at the Gemini, the Dude and I were kind of even i.e. in 1969, I coached him through Dr. Edward G. McGrath’s upper-division political science seminar.

We plodded through topics such as the political economy of development and underdevelopment, social change, democracy, authoritarianism and regime change, nationalism and constitutional design.  (This was substantively different than him having to learn how to defend the Triple-Option Flexbone Offense when he was an All-American defensive tackle for OSU.)

Defending the Triple-option flex…..

In return, he taught me how to appreciate the lyrics, tonality and meter of Dean Martins’ Greatest Hits album, most notably what became my favorite song in college – “Thirty More Miles to San Diego.”

But that day at the Gemini, he inspired me with a new technique when toasting with a friend for which I am grateful and owe him.  It’s wise advise for all drinkers.  He said:

“Dirt, typically when people propose a toast, they look at the ceiling or have no focus with their eyes. 

From this day forward, whenever you toast, you should  adopt my practice of looking the other party(ies) straight in the eye when you say ‘Cheers.’  That way they know you mean it and it’s not an empty gesture.”

Astute advice from an old buddy…..

Make a point to hit the Gemini in the near future, if not for a musical group on the weekend, just to drop in for a beer and to say hello to April and Grace.   Tell them that Thebeerchaser sent you….

The Gemini Bar and Grill         456 State Street        Lake Oswego

Hey! Have you Seen Thebeerchaser During the Last Seven Years?

Overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley in 2013

Those of you who are followers of Thebeerchaser.com may know from the 2018 Annual Report that the total number of watering holes – bars, pubs, breweries, taverns, saloons, etc. visited since I commenced this hobby in August, 2011, stood at 287 at the end of 2018. 

Laura and Ryan Keene and Kenzie Dettman outside Stammtisch in 2014

111 of these establishments were in the Portland metro area with the remaining 176 scattered over a large geographical expanse including several cities in Europe, bars and breweries in Alaska, Hawaii, many regions throughout the continental US and all across Oregon.

The Oxford Saloon on our 2016 trip to Missoula, Montana

These ranged from Idaho and Montana to Wisconsin to Maine, New York City and Boston, to the Southeast in cities including Asheville, NC; Savannah and Charleston, South Carolina.  Then there was Beerchasing in the desert – Phoenix and Scottsdale.  Then back to the west coast in northern California. 

Janet with Barb and John Senger at the Sink in Boulder, Colorado

And, of course, some of my absolute favorites are scattered throughout Oregon – from Baker City and Joseph to Burns, Prineville and Madras and down the entire stretch of the Oregon coast from Astoria to Bandon. 

The Embers Brew House in Joseph, Oregon

Wait!  Don’t forget the Benedictine Brewery and Taproom in Mt. Angel, Oregon where those raising a mug of Father Martin Grassel’s flagship brew – Black Habit –  toast the Brewery’s slogan – “Taste and Believe.”

I thought it was important to develop an accurate and comprehensive list of these establishments for those who might want to use this blog as a resource.  Okay, it was also just for my own memories…..

While it took quite a few hours to go back and compile the specific dates, the type of bar (for those in Portland) and location, the result is set forth below – categorized by year and whether it was in Portland or in a venue outside the Rose City .

If you want to find out about a specific watering hole visited (almost always at least twice for those in Portland) or if you are planning to hit Stanley, Idaho and want to find out about the history of Casanova Jack’s Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon, you have a couple of options.  An asterisk indicates the establishment is now no longer in operation.

Thebeerchaser outside the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon

You can look in the data base below this chart and in the far right column, the month of the post will be identified.   On the right side of the screen when you are in Thebeerchaser.com you will see a field to select the month and year from Thebeerchaser.com archives.  

Alternatively, you can enter the name of the bar or brewery in the search field in the upper right of your screen and you will usually see the appropriate post although sometimes I reference a bar in more than one.  In the latter case, there is usually a link to the main reference.

Thebeerchaser’s Composite List of Bars, Taverns and Pubs

Year Portland Outside Portland Yearly Total Composite Total
2018 12 30 42 287
2017 15 27 42 244
2016 14 39 53 202
2015 11 36 47 149
2014 17 18 35 102
2013 13 21 34 68
2012 20 5 25 34
2011 9 0 9
Total 111 176 287

 2018  Portland Area Bars

  Name Location Type Date of Post
2018-1 The Salty Rhino West Linn Neighborhood December
2018-2 Palomar SE Cocktail December
2018-3 Bar 33 Sellwood Neighborhood September
2018-4 Benedictine Brewery Mount Angel Brewery and Taproom August
2018-5 Brew Barge Downtown (River) Miscellaneous August
2018-6 The Happy Fortune SW Miscellaneous August
2018-7 The Standard NE Dive June
2018-8 The Dockside North Neighborhood June
2018-9 Oaks Bottom Pub Sellwood Neighborhood April
2018-10 Wilders Bar and Café NE Neighborhood April
2018-11 Woodsman Tavern  * SE Neighborhood February
2018-12 John’s Market Place Multnomah Village Bottle Shop January

The Dockside – a classic in North Portland with the best hashbrowns in the City

2018 Bars Outside of Portland

  Name Location Type Date of Post
2018-1 North Mountain Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub April
2018-2 OHSO Brewing North Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
2018-3 McFate Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
2018-4 Wren House Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
2018-5 Scottsdale Beer Company Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
2018-6 Helton Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub April
2018-7 Mesquite River Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
2018-8 Sun Up Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub February
2018-9 OHSO Brewing Phoenix Airport Taphouse February
2018-10 Four Peaks Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub February
2018-11 Goldwater Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub February
2018-12 Two Brothers’ Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub February
2018-13 Durty Nelly’s Bar North Boston Dive Bar October 30
2018-14 Shipyard Brewing Portland, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
2018-15 Sebago Brewing Portland, Maine Brewpub October 30
2018-16 Rising Tide Brewing Portland, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
2018-17 Marshall Wharf Brewing Belfast, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
2018-18 Sea Dog Brewing Camden, Maine Brewpub October 30
2018-19 Rock Harbor Brewing Rock Harbor, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
2018-20 Atlantic Brewing Bar Harbor, Maine Taproom October 18
2018-21 Cottage Street Pub Bar Harbor, Maine Dive Bar October 18
2018-22 Island Bar SW Harbor, Maine Dive Bar October 18
2018-23 Sips Southwest Harbor, Maine Cocktail Bar October 18
2018-24 Ebenezer’s Pub Lovell, Maine Neighborhood October 9
2018-25 Standard Gastropub Bridgton, Maine Gas Station Bar October 9
2018-26 Sea Dog Brewing South Portland, Maine Brewpub October 9
2018-27 Heartland Brewing New York City Brewery and Pub October 1
2018-28 District Tap House New York City Taphouse October 1
2018-29 Mariott Pulse Rooftop Bar New York City Hotel Bar October 1
2018-30 Mariott Pulse Patio Bar New York City Hotel Bar October 1

Historic dive bar, Durty Nelly’s in Boston’s North End

2017 Portland Area Bars

  Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
2017-1 Multnomah Whiskey Library Downtown Whiskey Bar January
2017-2 Nineteen 33 Taproom West Linn Neighborhood February
2017-3 Buffalo Bill’s Saloon Beavercreek Neighborhood February
2017-4 Ancestry Brewing Tualatin Brewery February
2017-5 The Independent Downtown Sports Bar March
2017-6 NEPO 42 Northeast Neighborhood April
2017-7 Burnside Brewing East Brewery April
2017-8 Gil’s Speakeasy Southeast Dive Bar May
2017-9 Flyboy Brewing Tigard Brewery May
2017-10 Cascade Brewing Barrel House Southeast Brewpub June
2017-11 Labrewatory North Brewery June
2017-12 Renners Multnomah Village Dive Bar August
2017-13 Slow Bar Southeast Neighborhood October
2017-14 TC O’Leary’s Irish Pub Northeast Neighborhood October
2017-15 ZARZ Downtown Whiskey Bar December

The Multnomah Whiskey Library

 2017 Bars Outside Portland

  Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
2017-1 Nauti Mermaid Beach Club Lincoln City, OR Neighborhood July
2017-2 Scooters Pub Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood July
2017-3 Dukes on the Water Milwaukee, Wisc. Dive July
2017-4 Water Street Brewery Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery July
2017-5 Badger State Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
2017-6 Hinterland Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
2017-7 Door County Brewing Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Brewery August
2017-8 AC Tap Sister Bay, Wisc Dive August
2017-9 Coyote Road House Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
2017-10 Cornerstone Pub Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
2017-11 Pourman’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
2017-12 Lake Front Brewing Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery September
2017-13 McGillycuddy’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
2017-14 Bar None Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
2017-15 The Ale Asylum Riverhouse Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewpub September
2017-16 Yachats Brewing Yachats, OR Brewery November
2017-17 Defeat River Brewing Reedsport, OR Brewery November
2017-18 Seven Devils Brewing Coos Bay, OR Brewery November
2017-19 Bandon Brewery Bandon, OR Brewery November
2017-20 Broken Anchor Bar and Grill Bandon, OR Neighborhood November
2017-21 The Beverage Barn Bandon, OR Bottle Shop November
2017-22 Arch Rock Brewing Gold Beach, OR Brewery November
2017-23 Chetco Brewing Brookings, OR Brewery November
2017-24 Six Rivers Brewing McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
2017-25 Humboldt Regeneration McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
2017-26 Lost Coast Brewery Eureka, CA Brewery December
2017-27 Mad River Brewery Blue Lake, CA Brewery December

AC Tap  outside Bailey’s Harbor, Wisconsin

2016 Portland Area Bars

2016-1 Lake Oswego The Hop’N Cork Neighborhood January
2016-2 NE Sloan’s Tavern Neighborhood February
2016-3 SE Hair of the Dog Brewery Brewery February
2016-4 SW Barlow Artisenal Bar Misc. March
2016-5 NW Life of Riley Tavern Dive March
2016-6 SW The Yardhouse Misc. April
2016-7 N The Rambler Neighborhood May
2016-8 SE The Ranger Station Neighborhood June
2016-9 SW MoMo Bar Maximo Dive July
2016-10 NE Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Dive August
2016-11 SE Mad Sons Pub * Neighborhood September
2016-12 SW The Fulton Pub Brewery October
2016-13 NW Bridgeport Brewery Brewery November
2016-14 SW Mummy’s Bar and Restaurant Misc. December

Beerchaser regulars and trial lawyers, Brian King, Brian Flanagan and John Mansfield outside Billy Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar

2016 Bars Outside Portland

2016-1 Tamarack Brewing Missoula, MT February
2016-2 Stockman Bar Missoula, MT February
2016-3 Big Sky Brewing Missoula, MT February
2016-4 Flathead Lake Brewing Missoula, MT February
2016-5 Draught Works Brewery Missoula, MT February
2016-6 Charlie B’s Bar Missoula, MT February
2016-7 Oxford Bar Missoula, MT February
2016-8 Plonk Wine Bar Missoula, MT February
2016-9 Kauai Island Brewing Company Kauai May
2016-10 Kauai Beer Company Kauai May
2016-11 Duke’s Bar and Restaurant Kauai May
2016-12 Nawiliwili Tavern Kauai May
2016-13 Blackfoot River Brewing Helena, MT July
2016-14 Lewis and Clark Brewing Helena, MT July
2016-15 Grand Teton Park Lodge Grand Teton NP July
2016-16 Local Restaurant and Bar Jackson, WY July
2016-17 Gather Food and Drink Jackson, WY July
2016-18 Million Dollar Cowboy Bar Jackson, WY July
2016-19 Melvin Brewing Jackson, WY July
2016-20 Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon West Yellowstone July
2016-21 Couer d’aline Resort Bar Couer d’aline August
2016-22 The Moose Lounge Couer d’aline August
2016-23 The Corner Bar Couer d’aline August
2016-24 Chained-Up Brewpub Couer d’aline August
2016-25 Crafted Taphouse and Kitchen Kennewick, WA August
2016-26 Ice Harbor Brewery Kennewick, WA August
2016-27 McCall Brewing Company McCall, ID August
2016-28 Salmon River Brewery McCall, ID August
2016-29 Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon Stanley, ID September
2016-30 The Kasino Club Stanley, ID September
2016-31 Redfish Lake Lodge Bar Stanley, ID September
2016-32 Caldera Brewing Ashland, OR October 24
2016-33 Blackbird Kitchen and Bar Sacramento October 31
2016-34 Hock Farm Craft Provisions Sacramento October 31
2016-35 Dive Bar Sacramento October 31
2016-36 Woody’s Brewing Redding, CA November
2016-37 The Pour House Murphys, CA November
2016-38 Murphys Hotel and Saloon Murphys, CA November
2016-39 Murphys Irish Pub Murphys, CA November

 

The Moose Lounge in the heart of Couer dalene, Idaho

2015 Portland Area Bars

2015-1 Suburb Brannon’s in Beaverton * Neighborhood March
2015-2 NE Oregon Public House Non-profit Pub March
2015-3 SE Double Barrel Tavern Dive April
2015-4 N Ecliptic Brewing Brewery and Pub May
2015-5 SW Yamhill Pub Grunge May
2015-6 NW Low Brow Lounge Dive June
2015-7 SW Pope Bourbon House Cocktail June
2015-8 SW Kelly’s Olympian Historic Dive August
2015-9 N St. John’s Pub Historic November
2015-10 NW The New Old Lompoc * Neighborhood November
2015-11 SE Produce Row Café Historic December

Historic Kellys Olympian in Downtown Portland

2015 Bars Outside Portland

2015-1 The Sink Boulder, Colorado February
2015-2 Post Brewing Boulder, Colorado February
2015-3 Crystal Springs Brewing Boulder, Colorado February
2015-4 Gravity Brewing Louisville, Colorado February
2015-6 Avery Brewing Boulder, Colorado February
2015-7 Post Brewing Boulder, Colorado February
2015-8 New Belgium Brewing Fort Collins, Colorado May 19
2015-9 Mayor of Old Town Fort Collins, Colorado May19
2015-10 The Town Pump Fort Collins, Colorado May 19
2015-11 Phantom Canyon Brewing Colorado Springs, Colorado May 19
2015-12 Ritz Bar and Grill Colorado Springs, Colorado May 19
2015-13 Breckinridge Brewery Breckenridge, Colorado May 29
2015-14 Ollie’s Pub and Grub Breckenridge, Colorado May 29
2015-15 Gold Pan Saloon Breckenridge, Colorado May 29
2015-16 Angel Hollow Bar Breckenridge, Colorado May 29
2015-17 Après Handcrafted Libations Breckenridge, Colorado May 29
2015-18 Broken Compass Brewery Breckenridge, Colorado May 29
2015-19 Dillon Dam Brewery Dillon, Colorado May 29
2015-20 Eleventh Street Pub & Bistro Atlanta, GA July
2015-21 The Nook on Piedmont Atlanta, GA July
2015-22 Max’ Wine Dive Atlanta, GA July
2015-23 Jack of the Woods Public House Asheville, SC July
2015-24 The Thirsty Monk Asheville, SC July
2015-25 Wicked Weed Brewery Asheville, SC July
2015-26 Lexington Avenue Brewery Asheville, SC July
2015-27 Blind Tiger Pub Charleston, SC July
2015-28 South End Brewery & Smokehouse Charleston, SC July
2015-29 Charleston Beer Exchange Charleston, SC July
2015-30 The Gin Joint Charleston, SC July
2015-31 The Boar’s Head Grill & Tavern Savannah, GA September
2015-32 JJ Bonerz Sports Bar Savannah, GA September
2015-33 Moon River Brew Brewery Savannah, GA September
2015-34 Churchill’s Pub Savannah, GA September
2015-35 Savannah Distillery Ale House Savannah, GA September
2015-36 Pinky Master’s  * Savannah, GA September

The Gold Pan Saloon in Breckenridge, Colorado

2014 Portland Area Bars

2014-1 The Nest SE Neighborhood January
2014-2 Skyline Tavern NW Historic January
2014-3 Sandy Hut NE Dive February
2014-4 The Cheerful Bullpen SW Sports February
2014-5 Saraveza N Neighborhood March
2014-6 Bazi Bier Brassiere SE Neighborhood April
2014-7 Bailey’s Tap Room/The Upper Lip NW Taproom April
2014-8 Crackerjacks Pub NW Neighborhood April
2014-9 Quimby’s NW Neighborhood April
2014-10 Sniff Café NW Miscellaneous April
2014-11 The Lost and Found N Neighborhood June
2014-12 The Beer Mongers SE Bottle Shop June
2014-13 Stammtisch NE Neighborhood July
2014-14 Portland Peda Lounge SE Miscellaneous August
2014-15 Club 21 * NE Dive September
2014-16 The Richmond Bar SE Cocktail November
2014-17 Marathon Taverna NW Sports December

Owner of the Bazi Bierbrasserie, Hilda Stevens holds Thebeerchaser logo while part of our walking group finishes its food and bier

2014 Bars Outside Portland

2014-1 Glacier Brewhouse Anchorage, Alaska July 8 February
2014-2 Darwin’s Theory Anchorage, Alaska July 8
2014-3 Haines Brewery Haines, Alaska July 17 February
2014-4 Red Dog Saloon Juneau, Alaska July 17
2014-5 Shipboard Bars Statandem – Holland America July 17
2014-6 Lumpy’s Landing Dundee, OR September
2014-7 The Old Oregon Saloon Lincoln City, OR September
2014-8 The Nauti Mermaid Lincoln City, OR September
2014-9 Road House 101 Lincoln City, OR October
2014-10 Snug Harbor Bar & Grill Lincoln City, OR October
2014-11 Pelican Brewery Pacific City, OR October
2014-12 The Oar House Pacific City, OR October
2014-13 Sportsman Pub and Grub Pacific City, OR October
2014-14 Cruise Inn Lincoln City, OR November
2014-15 Bay Haven Inn Newport, OR November
2014-16 Mad Dog Country Tavern Newport, OR November
2014-17 Hoovers Bar and Grill Newport, OR November
2014-18 Tidepool Pub Depoe Bay, OR November

Lincoln City’s Cruise Inn

2013 Portland Area Bars

2013-1 The Grand Café SE Dive January
2013-2 Belmont Inn SE Neighborhood March
2013-3 Tugboat Brewery * SW Brewery and Pub March
2013-4 Belmont Station SE Bottle Shop April
2013-5 Tanker Bar SE Dive April
2013-6 Beer SE Neighborhood April
2013-7 Horse Brass Pub SE Historic Brew Pub May
2013-8 Sidecar 11 N Neighborhood June
2013-9 Sasquatch Brewery Cedar Hills Brewery and Pub July
2013-10 The Slammer SE Dive August
2013-11 Davis Street Tavern * NW Neighborhood October
2013-12 Slabtown * NW Dive October
2013-13 Church NE Neighborhood December

The Slammer in the Barmuda Triangle

2013 Bars Outside Portland

2013-1 Café Karpershoek Amsterdam, Netherland June
2013-2 Bier Brewery Anaheim, Austria July
2013-3 Hells Tavern Rothenberg, Germany July
2013-4 The Devil’s Forest Pub Venice, Italy July
2013-5 Bacaro Jazz Café Venice, Italy July
2013-6 Miscellana Café and Pub Rome, Italy August
2013-7 La Cantina Di Miky Vernazza, Italy September
2013-8 The Horner Pub Lauterbrunner, Switzerland September
2013-9 Schilthorn Taverne Lauterbrunner, Switzerland September
3013-10 The Publican Beaune, France October
2013-11 The Beer Station Paris, France October
2013-12 La Vin Couer Paris, France October
2013-13 Long Branch Bar La Grande, OR November 4
2013-14 Cascades Lake Brewery La Grande, OR November 4
2013-15 Horseshoe Tavern Prineville, OR November 4
2013-16 Solstice Brew Pub Prineville, OR November 4
2013-17 Hideout Saloon La Grande, OR November 4
2013-18 10 Depot Street La Grande, OR November 14
2013-19 Mt.  Emily Ale House Baker, OR November 14
2013-20 Bull Ridge Brewery Baker, OR November 14
2013-21 Central Pastime Tavern Burns, OR November 20

Café Karpershoek – the oldest bar in Amsterdam – founded in 1606

2012 Portland Area Bars

2012-1 Dixie Tavern NW Dive Club February
2012-2 Ash Street Saloon * SW Club February
2012-3 Migration Brewery NE Brewery and Pub February
2012-4 Laurelthirst Pub NE Neighborhood February
2012-5 Hawthorne Hideaway SE Neighborhood March
2012-6 Mock Crest Tavern N Historic May
2012-7 Interurban N Neighborhood May
2012-8 Muddy Ruder Pub SE Neighborhood June
2012-9 County Cork * NE Neighborhood June
2012-10 Sidecar 11 N Neighborhood June
2012-11 The Cheerful Tortoise SW Historic Sports June
2012-12 Bottles NE Bottles Shop July
2012-13 Goose Hollow Inn SW Historic Neighborhood July
2012-14 The Lutz Tavern SE Historic Neighborhood August
2012-15 Gold Dust Meridian SE Neighborhood October
2012-16 Bar of the Gods SE Dive October
2012-17 Claudias SE Historic Sports November
2012-18 White Eagle Saloon N Historic November
2012-19 1856 NE Bottle Shop November
2012-20 The Ship Tavern Multnomah Village Dive December

Former Mayor and owner of the Goose Hollow Inn, Bud Clark, with Jim Westwood, John Terry and Bud’s daughter when we Beerchased at the Goose

2012 Bars Outside Portland

2012-1 Astoria Brewery Wet Dog Café Astoria, OR September
2012-2 Desdemona Club Astoria, OR September
2012-3 The Pour House Port Townsend, WA September
2012-4 Embers Brew Pub Joseph OR October
2012-5 Terminal Gravity Brewery Enterprise, OR October

The Desdemona Club in Astoria, where Laura the bartender explains to Dave Booher, the origin of the nickname, “The Dirty D.”

 2011 Portland Area Bars

2011-1 Brooklyn Park Pub SE Dive August
2011-2 Yukon Tavern SE Dive August
2011-3 Gladstone Street Tavern SE Neighborhood September
2011-4 The Twilight Room N Historic September
2011-5 Joe’s Cellar NW Dive September
2011-6 Buffalo Gap Tavern SW Historic November
2011-7 Prost N Brew Pub November
2011-8 Amnesia Brewery * N Brewery and Pub November
2011-9 Coalition Brewery SE Brewery and Taproom November

Observing the tradition at Prost where you don’t let the 2-liter boot touch the table once it starts the rounds or………

I have often gotten requests to identify my favorite spots — also those to which I would not return.   Since I subscribe to the quote below, I have most notably avoided the latter. But after almost eight years it may be enlightening for some to view Thebeerchaser’s humble opinion on the all-stars and those few given the wealth of wonderful places to raise a mug, I would not return.

Samuel Johnson – 18th century writer, poet and playwright and drinker….

“There  is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as a good tavern.”   Samuel Johnson 

I will therefore, in the next few months, publish some shorter posts on my favorites – by category i.e. dive bar, neighborhood pub, brewery, etc. – both in Portland and outside Portland.

These will be integrated with posts about new bars I am visiting and reviewing   Also, expect to see the short list of habitats that Thebeerchaser recommends that you avoid.

For example, expect to see the picture below and a short description of the Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village in the post about favorite Portland area dive bars.

I’ve also fielded inquiries about how with the number of bars visited, I have avoided gaining 100 pounds and/or a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic.  On the first question, while I haven’t attained my goal of getting back to my original weight – 9 pounds 9 ounces…(Sorry!), thanks to my wife who is an outstanding walker and hiker as well as regular trips to the gym, I have pretty much maintained my pre-retirement poundage

Mingling with the friendly regulars at the classic dive bar Club 21 in 2014 – gone but not forgotten!

It should also be noted that notwithstanding the title, this blog is primarily about bars – not the beer itself.

I spend most of my time in the watering holes, nursing a pint while talking to the bartender and the regulars about the history of the bar, the distinguishing characteristics and noting the signs, memorabilia and décor – which in most bars and a lot of brew pubs is distinct and worth talking about. (The picture from the Club 21 is a great example of the great people I’ve met.)

And, of course, on the majority of visits, I am with friends where the conversation and comradery are paramount and the beer secondary – notwithstanding this photo of former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter Jim Westwood with members of the Jack Faust clan at the Yard House in Portland!  (Although the company was great, the Yard House is on Thebeerchaser’s “No Return” list of bars to be published in the future.

As an example, how can you be overly concerned with your brewski when you are listening to former Mayor Bud Clark, explain the amazing history of the “Expose Yourself to Art” poster while we  were at the Goose Hollow Inn (See the picture above)

Jim Westwood, Kevin Fischer, Amy Faust, Jack Faust and Thebeerchaser

The armchair philosopher who stated, “A bar is better than the newspaper for public discussion.” was correct and we should add the social media to that quote.  So I will plug on with Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs – only about 400 left to explore in Portland!

Cheers!

Cheers from Thebeerchaser

Thebeerchaser’s 2018 Annual Report

The Beerchaser and wife, Janet at historic dive bar, Durty Nelly’s in Boston

Another year of Beerchasing concludes and after over seven years, the count of bars, pubs and breweries visited and reviewed logs in at 286 – with 111 of those in the City of Portland or metro area and the remaining 175 ranging from several in Europe to establishments in Alaska, Hawaii, various regions of the US and all across and down the coast of our wonderful state of Oregon.

Indeed, our retirement travel has expanded the scope of this retirement hobby, which I originally intended to be confined to those in Portland.  The chart below was done after an intensive audit of all my posts during the last 7+ years – because when it comes to watering holes – accuracy is important…..

Portland Outside Portland Yearly Total Composite Total
2018 12 30 42 286
2017 15 27 42 244
2016 14 39 53 202
2015 11 36 47 149
2014 17 17 34 102
2013 13 21 34 68
2012 20 5 25 34
2011 9 0 9 9
  111 175 286

 Blog Statistics

As has been the case each year, the number of views and visitors to Thebeerchaser.com has increased.   And I beg your indulgence in spouting a few of these statistics – possibly because the habit was ingrained by reviewing the “always stimulating” management and productivity reports produced at a large law firm – Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt – one I was proud to call my work home for twenty-five years. 

This year there were over 25,340 views of posts by 18,190 visitors – exceeding the record last year of 24,577 and 18,623.

And I still am surprised at where these visitors view the posts with 86% from the US and another 6% generated collectively from India, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.   The remaining 8% were people from 128 different countries, many of whom I suspect, Googled the term “Beerchaser” and were probably looking for something different than my bar tour.

The national flag of Lesotho

As usual, this hobby has been educational for me and 2018 was no exception.  For example, it took some research to locate where the one view I got from Lesotho emanated – It’s an enclaved country of two million within the border of South Africa.

Note:  Now it does not surprise me, but after publishing this post I got a comment from Jay Waldron, Schwabe partner and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (March 29, 2016) that he had ridden his motorcycle through Lesotho when he cycled through South Africa.  Click on the link above to read about more of his exploits.

2011- 2018 Beerchaser Graph

(Notice the 377% increase in views from 2012 at 6,704 – the first full year – to over 25,000 in 2018.)

The Beerchasing Itinerary in 2018

As you might have noticed from the chart at the beginning of the post, the number of Portland bars at twelve, was one of the lowest counts since this blog was launched in 2011.  This was because we traveled more and I had extensive involvement as a volunteer in the development of the Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey.

The Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom

I’m proud to say that we opened the Brewery and the St. Michael Taproom in September and so far, it has been a great success.  It’s one of three breweries owned and operated by monks in the US and came to fruition after six years of planning, fundraising and construction.  You should plan to visit the Taproom in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

Portland Area Bars

While the number visited and reviewed was somewhat meager at only twelve, I Beerchased at some distinctive bars and pubs this year ranging from the classic NE Portland dive bar – The Standard to the upscale cocktail bar – Palomar –  named Bar-of-the-Year by Oregon Live to a new and wonderful neighborhood pub not to far from my home in West Linn – The Salty Rhino.

Captain Eric (yellow shirt) skipper of the Brew Barge shirt) briefs his crew..

And there was the cruise on the Portland Brew Barge with my former Schwabe colleagues in  August.

We also paid our first visit to what has become our new favorite place to eat and have a brewski or cocktail – Wilder Bar/Cafe in Northeast Portland. I included the Benedictine Brewery in Mt. Angel in the Portland area as everybody in the Rose City should make this short trip.

Wilder – A gem in NE

Of course, there were a couple misses – venues to which I would not return.   These included the Happy Fortune and Bar 33 – Brooklyn.  Read the reviews to determine why Thebeerchaser – who by his own admission – loves almost all saloons and pubs, thought these were not worth your time.

Stop in for a daiquiri at Palomar on SE Division

Name Location Type Date of Post
The Salty Rhino West Linn Neighborhood December
Palomar SE Cocktail December
Bar 33 Sellwood Neighborhood September
Benedictine Brewery Mount Angel Brewery and Taproom August
Brew Barge Downtown (River) Miscellaneous August
The Happy Fortune SW Miscellaneous August
The Standard NE Dive June
The Dockside North Neighborhood June
Oaks Bottom Pub Sellwood Neighborhood April
Wilder Bar/Café NE Neighborhood April
Woodsman Tavern   * SE Neighborhood February
John’s Market Place Multnomah Village Bottle Shop January

*  After seven years, The Woodsman Tavern has now closed and a new site for popular restaurant Tasty N Sons will open in the same quarters.

Bars Outside of Portland

O.H.S.O. Brewery in Scottsdale

We traveled to Arizona for a week in the spring and while Phoenix/Scottsdale is definitely not our favorite urban spot in the US, there were some great breweries and hikes to make it a good trip.

The highlight of our travel in 2018, however, was an eleven day trip to New York City, Maine and Boston.  While we love the Northwest, the frenetic and diverse culture of Manhattan;  the scenery, including Acadia National Park; the micro-breweries in Maine (ranking third in breweries per capita in the US) and a night in the North End of Boston, made it a vacation to remember.

Overall, we visited thirty bars, pubs and breweries on these two trips.

The District Tap House in the heart of Manhattan’s Garment District

Name Location Type Date of Post
North Mountain Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub April
OHSO Brewing North Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
McFate Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
Wren House Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
Scottsdale Beer Company Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
Helton Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub April
Mesquite River Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub April
Sun Up Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub February
OHSO Brewing Phoenix Airport Taphouse February
Four Peaks Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub February
Goldwater Brewing Phoenix Brewery and Pub February
Two Brothers’ Brewing Scottsdale Brewery and Pub February
Durty Nelly’s Bar North Boston Dive Bar October 30
Shipyard Brewing Portland, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
Sebago Brewing Portland, Maine Brewpub October 30
Rising Tide Brewing Portland, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
Marshall Wharf Brewing Belfast, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
Sea Dog Brewing Camden, Maine Brewpub October 30
Rock Harbor Brewing Rock Harbor, Maine Brewery and Taproom October 30
Atlantic Brewing Bar Harbor, Maine Taproom October 18
Cottage Street Pub Bar Harbor, Maine Dive Bar October 18
Island Bar Southwest Harbor, Maine Dive Bar October 18
Sips Southwest Harbor, Maine Cocktail Bar October 18
Ebenezer’s Pub Lovell, Maine Neighborhood October 9
Standard Gastropub Bridgton, Maine Gas Station Bar October 9
Sea Dog Brewing South Portland, Maine Brewpub October 9
Heartland Brewing New York City Brewery and Pub October 1
District Tap House New York City Taphoue October 1
Mariott Pulse Rooftop Bar New York City Hotel Bar October 1
Mariott Pulse Patio Bar New York City Hotel Bar October 1

Atlantic Brewery in the heart of Bar Harbor, Maine

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

How can I rationalize the fact that in 2018, I named only two Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (BOQ) – a contradiction to the name of the “honor.”  Again, maybe it was the travel or prhaps it was involvement in the Benedictine Brewery……..however……

Mark Edlen outside his favorite bar in Portland

I prefer to assert that the gravitas of the two 2018 BOQs is expansive enough to justify naming only two.   Portland developer, environmentalist, outdoorsman and civic icon, Mark Edlen, was named in February and it was a pleasure re-engaging with Mark, who I originally met in 1979.

Our law firm was also the beneficiary of his real estate expertise when he served as our commercial realtor for a number of years at Schwabe before he formed Gerding Edlen Development Co. in 1996.

Cyclist and outdoorsman

And I could also maintain with some accuracy, that the second BOQ – the 1967 Oregon State Giant Killer Football Team and it’s de-facto historian, Jud Blakely, if considered as individuals rather than as a group, would garner this designation for a number of years.

Jud, who is an SAE fraternity brother and has been a friend for over fifty years, was one of the early BOQs (September, 2013) based on his remarkable persona and achievements.

Any OSU alum, or for that matter, any Oregonian interested in one of the great historic athletic tales of the State of Oregon, should visit the website below for the complete story.  It’s a labor of love by this OSU alum and former OSU Student Body President and I consider it the War and Peace equivalent to sports websites.

http://osu1967giantkillers.com

Blakely receiving his Bronze Star and promotion to captain from the Asst. Comandant of the Marine Corps.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/09/16/beerchaser-of-the-quarter-george-m-jud-blakely-iii/

Indeed, the story of the Giant Killers is so compelling, that it will require subsequent Beerchaser posts to complete the story of this unique team and the outstanding individuals.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/

And it was incredibly rewarding to interview or reconnect with some of my long-term friends who were either on the team or associated with the Giant Killer Era including Larry Rich, Craig Hanneman, Chris Wahle, Gary and Duane Barton and Scott Spiegelberg (played football after the Giant Killers and is now Director of OSU Varsity and Alumni Engagement) – but also to meet a number who I didn’t know until researching for the blog post.

The latter includes Billy Main, Steve Preece, Louis Armstrong, Bob Josis, Russ Jordan, and Don Wirth (former Executive Director of the OSU Alumni Association and a trustee of the OSU Foundation.)

Lunch at the Angry Beaver before the 2018 Washington State Football game. L to R (Billy Main, Jud Blakely, Don Williams, Karen and Steve Preece and Bob Gill)

Fear not for I have already identified my next two Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter and will get back on track with some very interesting people in 2019.

Similarly, since I have already visited, but not made a customary second visit and/or written the reviews of another ten Portland area bars and two from a trip to Palm Springs, Thebeerchaser will have no shortage of watering hole stories to relate.   If you have a bar, pub or brewery that deserves inclusion, please let me know.

Stay tuned in 2019 for the fascinating story of Portland’s Old Town Brewing…..

And in January, I will also publish the complete (and audited) list of each establishment visited from 2011 to 2018 including the location and the date of TheBeerchaser post for those who want this data base as a resource.

I might even decide to identify a number of my favorite habitats of different types e.g. dive bar, neighborhood, sports, cocktail lounge, etc. during this journey as well as pointing out the few that I would recommend you pass by as they would not enhance your Beerchasing experience in my humble opinion.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

At the covered bridge entrance to Pondicherry Park and the Pinehaven Trail in Bridgton, Maine

Now Edgar Allan Poe was not considered a really positive person based on his personal life including his military career including being purposely court-martialed at West Point, his marriage and his caustic literary reviews and writing on many macabre topics.

That said, it seems appropriate to start the New Year out with one of his poems on the merit of drinking ale.  (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes)

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

At least he was positive about ale!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunt Down the Salty Rhino…

Michael Lammers and Steve Oltman

Since the commencement of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs in 2011, I have visited many watering holes not only in Oregon, but all over the US and a few in Europe.   While I tend to search out dive bars, my last review was on a wonderful upscale SE Portland Cuban bar specializing in daiquiris.  Indeed, Palomar, was designated Oregon Live’s Bar-of-the-Year for 2018.

The bar at Palomar

But in trying to maintain equilibrium in this hobby, I decided it had been too long since I featured a neighborhood bar in the Portland area.

So I contacted two friends and we decided to hit the Salty Rhino Pub – a relatively new neighborhood bar just a few miles from our houses in West Linn.  Steve Oltman and Michael Lammers joined me for my first visit to this pub which opened in April, 2018.

John Lyons with Steve Oltman

John Lyons and Alan Blackwell are the co-owners and it is a delightful neighborhood establishment with great ambiance, friendly staff, good beer selection and what should be a bright future.

I did not have the chance to meet Alan, but John is the epitome of a good bar manager – outgoing, helpful and a wonderful deadpan sense of humor – also a native Bostonian and New England Patriot fan.

The pub space has good roots, having been the former Cask and Keg Public House, which moved to larger quarters – also on Highway 43 in West Linn to a former Starbucks.  Before that, what is now the Rhino, was an OLCC liquor outlet.

The co-owners, both of whom have construction backgrounds, worked together for years building condos for Pulte Homes in San Diego.

John Lyons – looking good in an ugly sweater, but how would it look on Belichick??

They did the remodel work on the pub themselves and the walls, tables, beautiful dark bar and game rooms are a great blend which furthers the ambiance of the place.   And John also pointed out with a straight face that “We have the best women’s bathroom in West Linn.”

Commendable Commode!

John, whose wife is from West Linn, moved to Oregon before his partner and went to work tending bar at the predecessor pub.   Alan moved up when the opportunity to partner in the new bar arose.

Their good relationship is evidenced by the fact that Alan and his wife and have lived for the last year in the basement of the Lyons’ house.  That will continue until the Blackwell’s new house being constructed on Nixon Ave. in West Linn is completed.

Lived on Nixon Avenue in West Linn….

That street name took me back and long-time Portland Trailblazer fans may remember that Nixon Avenue housed the A-frame where legendary center, Bill Walton, lived when he first joined the Portland NBA team in 1974.

Given the former President’s recent demise and asked why he chose that street, Walton said something to the effect of “Well, they didn’t try to impeach the street!”  

What did the street know and when did it know it???

Note:  I thought the A-frame might have been scraped as it was somewhat unorthodox and in a nice section of West Linn by the Willamette River. If you look on Google Earth , however, and do a search on Nixon Ave., it appears that you can still see the house.

Of course, my curiosity got to me and I had to return to see if the house was still where I remembered it from years ago.   It appears to be with some additions to the original structure.

“That’s what makes it so fun to be on a team. You’re sitting at your house, thinking up this wild, crazy stuff as to how it’s going to go, and the other guys are sitting at their houses doing the same thing.” Bill Walton – Brainy Quote.com

But I digress….

The Beer Selection

Besides a good selection of red and white wines, the Salty Rhino has fourteen rotating beers and two ciders on tap.  When asked how they select their sixteen offerings, John replied that based on his bartending in the prior pub and his ongoing interactions with customers, he has a good feel for what they like and what gives the Rhino a diversified and popular tap list.

Steve Oltman is a Coors Light guy.  and I experimented with two new micro-brews – at least they were for me.

On the first visit I had the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale by Elysian (6.7 ABV):

“Ale brewed with pumpkin & pumpkin seeds & fermented with spices. Our original pumpkin ale is brewed with over 7 lbs. of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.”

And on the next day’s return visit, I enjoyed a spectacular Snow Cave Wintertime Ale (10 ABV) by Crux Fermentation Project in Bend.

Snow Cave A great winter ale

“Boasting an alluring spice character from Belgian yeast and suggestions of seasonal dark fruit, Snow Cave is a nuanced sipper you can cozy up with around the fire pit.”

Both had nice aromas and great spicy tastes which made the cold night/day warmer with the color of the Snow Cave a rich mahogany that made it even more inviting.

Now to be fair to Steve, I should also provide a comparable rating from RateBeer.com on Coors Light 4.2 ABV – to wit: “Draft. Very light, golden straw, snow-what foam. Light aroma: corn, pilsner malt, a little apple. Taste: light, very watery, a little malt, corn and yeast, very tasteless.” 

While the alcohol content was much lower than my beers, so was the price of the Coors at $3 – 100% less than my micro-brews…..Steve also enjoys an IPA “from time to time.”)

John and Alan are wise in being very generous at letting people have a taste to ensure they get a brew they like. He said that one of their most popular drafts is Astoria’s  Fort George Fields of Green – a limited batch “evolutionary” IPA at 7.6 ABV.  (Michael got there late and opted for a small glass of this beer.)

Now, while Steve’s Coors Light is one of the taps, he did not try what is advertised as John’s Super Secret Beer“A beer combo you’ve got to love although you may be asked to face the wall while he pours.”  (John revealed that it’s one-half Coors Light and the other half their rotating cider.)

What Gives with the Name Salty Rhino?

No memories of the hunt, but a great design.

While John initially tried to convince us that the name was derived from a wound he received from the horn of a wild rhino he was photographing on safari, he admitted that they spent hours trying to come up with a name, but had trademark issues that precluded many options they wanted.

His wife designed the logo and they got a “go” with “Salty Rhino.”  And unlike most bars, a Google search reveals no similarly named watering hole – not the case for many that I have been to.

Michael joined us a little later in the evening and a crowd was watching the Trailblazers lose to Houston Rockets on one of the large-screen TVs.  It was fun to watch the interaction between John and the regulars who lined the twelve or so stools at the long bar.

And Beerchasing with Michael and Steve was enjoyable.  Michael, a Michigan State alum who got his MPA at Cal State – East Bay, was Vice President of Finance and Facilities and worked with my wife in the days when Marylhurst University was thriving under late President Dr. Nancy Wilgenbusch

He now works for the Oregon Department of Education.  He and his wife, Pat,  are good friends and have been Beerchasing previously, but this was Steve’s first “expedition.”

Steve, is a very affable guy who is always smiling and grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota.  (“I am a die-hard Viking fan, by the way and they are killing me right now..!”)

Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins is smiling, but Steve is not…..

He has excellent training for Beerchasing having worked at establishments ranging from a dive college bar to the best high-end restaurant in town and also tended bar both in his home town and while attending college at Moorhead State University in Minnesota, a school with roots going back to 1888.

He and his wife, Lorrie, have been married thirty-six years and have two grandkids. And besides talking about football, the Blazers and a little politics, Steve and I advised Michael on the joy of having grandchildren (Janet and I also have two).  This also allowed me to show them pictures of the cardboard box fort I built with our two, the last time they were in West Linn.

Steve has worked for Sealy Mattress Co. for thirty years describes himself as a “simple peddler,” but is an excellent salesman.

 

But I digress…….

Food Options

At this point, the food choices are not robust, but there are options ranging from their own “munchies” to a partnership with two neighboring restaurants which will deliver to you at the bar – Round Table Pizza and the Asian Kitchen.

Their own faire ranges from popcorns, nuts, hummus, chips and salsa (good review on social media) to a cheese plate.  All are reasonably priced.

The Salty Rhino as a Community

John and Alan are trying (and evidently showing signs of success) to make the pub a community gathering place.

The game rooms have shuffleboard and darts and they are on the verge (January, 2019)  of establishing various leagues. 

The night of my second visit they had an “Ugly Sweater Contest,” and besides the prospective leagues – bunco, bingo, trivia and darts the pub is planning Tap Takeovers and other events where neighbors can come and practice the Salty Rhino’s motto: “Keep Calm and Drink Beer!”

Like many neighborhood bars I have visited, I was also impressed with their charitable spirit.  Prominently displayed was this sign to support  Fort Kennedy and they had a barrel to accept donations.

The Salty Rhino is a great addition to what is a paucity of neighborhood pubs in the West Linn area.  And although it is not as big as some of the others, the attractive space, friendly owners and good selection of beer and wine make it one where you should join the hunt.

Given the short time in operation, there have been few social media reviews, but all I saw were positive.  This one from a gent who visited from Lake Oswego sums it up quite well:

“Great owners, great furnishings, great beer list, darts and shuffleboard – need I say more?”  (Yelp 9/30/18)

Salty Rhino Pub         

19335 Willamette Dr.           West Linn

 

Palomar!

Palomars teal illumination of the bar at night is _____

One of the joys of my Beerchasing hobby which started in the summer of 2011, and on which I have now visited and reviewed 285 bars, pubs and breweries – not only in Portland, but all over Oregon and the US and a small part of Europe – has been discovering out-of-the-way watering holes.

Appropriate for home office?? From the Bay Haven Inn in Newport

Many have been dive bars, but also include some small breweries in rural locales.   They have no pretension, usually have no website and always have PBR or Hamms on tap in addition to microbrews.

Dives and some small breweries also have great signs and tacky memorabilia that I really want to bring home for my personal office (Fortunately, I have a spouse who laid down the law on this issue early on.)

Sign behind the bar at Gils Speakeasy in Portland

Some of my favorites in Oregon include the Beavercreek Saloon (and its co-owners Patrick Whitmore and his partner Barbara), Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee and Yachats Brewing.

In Idaho, it’s the renowned Stanley Rod and Gun Saloon, Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage (owned by a former Oregon State alum), Pinky Master’s Lounge (unfortunately now permanently closed) in Savannah or even the Devils Forest Pub in Venice. (Click on the names of the bars above to see Thebeerchaser reviews.)

*1 See note at end of the post for another great sign in Spray, Oregon.

Pinky Masters RIP

Thus, when looking for a new bar in SE Portland, I originally demurred when I saw that Oregon Live had named Palomar as its 2018 Bar-of-the-Year.  After a little research, however, I changed my mind especially considering two factors:

  • Most of the SE bars I’ve visited are in Portland’s “famed” Barmuda Triangle (also known as “The Stumble Zone”) and are dives such as Bar-of-the-Gods and Tanker Bar.  I wanted something distinct.
  • I was accompanying two classy individuals – Teresa MacLean and Brad Creveling –  both of whom I knew from my work at the Schwabe Williamson law firm (see below) and might enjoy a more upscale environment offering beverages other than beer one can see through…..

And choosing Palomar was a great choice.  Realizing there are also bars with the same name in Phoenix, San Diego, Chicago and Washington D.C. (although all associated with Kimpton Hotels) London and Berlin, and not having tested the others, I would suggest that Portland’s Palomar has a good chance to surpass them.

Portland’s Palomar

And why did owner Ricky Gomez (see below) choose Portland rather than one of these other locations?  Check out this quote from him in the Oregon Live article:

“In Portland, you can geek out about anything culinarily….Coffee, beer, wine, spirits.  This is the place to be.”

Brad Crevling, Teresa MacLean and owner Ricky Gomez with the original Beerchaser logo designed by Teresa

As additional evidence, check out the review by Punch – an online magazine published in Brooklyn “(….Palomar is) about wine, spirits, cocktails and all of the late-night mischief in between.”   It lists Palomar in its “Most Notable New Bars in America (Spring-Summer 2018).”

So I got over my concern that going to Oregon Live’s Bar-of-the-Year would mean hordes of people at a somewhat upscale and pretentious establishment – many who would just be to brag they had been to one of Portland’s Best – be it a restaurant, tattoo parlor or yogurt stand.

Walking in, one immediately notices the spectacular backbar which is illuminated by neon-type teal lighting in the evening.  It adds to the dimly-lighted sleek, although not pretentious décor.

This is a nice contrast with the bar stools – “plush 1950’s style stools and chairs upholstered in ketchup and mustard-colored Naugahyde.”   The floor tile is also unusual with an appealing pattern and color scheme.

Window seating – a nice touch

The small table-bars along one of the windows allows one to check out happenings on busy SE Division and is also a nice touch.

And upstairs, it’s a real contrast -ordinary tables, a gray floor and a brightly illuminated wall on the east side with many photos of people in what appears to be Cuban surroundings.

A difference, but still quality ambiance, upstairs

A server confirmed that these are Gomez’s personal pictures of family and friends and is additional evidence that he is not trying to please others by his design – just do what is authentic to him.

And Ricky Gomez deserves additional discussion as the driving force behind this creative effort.  He is a charismatic guy who radiated friendly enthusiasm when we chatted with him that night.

He moved to Portland in 2000 and refined his craft with stints at the Teardrop Lounge, Ox and Riffle NW before moving back to New Orleans.  He studied at Holy Cross and Loyola University – New Orleans.

It’s hard to believe that this young entrepreneur, born in New Orleans with parents from Cuba, has the credentials he brings to his restaurant and bar.

They include Bartender-of-the-Year in 2012 in a national competition which brought twenty finalists to New York City.  After winning, he represented the US “in the world’s largest international cocktail program in Brazil.

In an interview where he described the intensity of the final US competition in New York City, he describes what he crafted for the Classic with a Twist category:

“I chose the Mai Tai, a classic American tiki cocktail and made a twist on it.  It’s a traditional rum-tiki cocktail; my variation was taking out the rum and using tequila and gin.”

Before discussing Palomar’s outstanding cocktail menu, I want to highlight my companions that evening.   Another one of the benefits of each Beerchasing event is the enjoyment from those who accompany me and Teresa MacLean and Brad Creveling were no exception.

Teresa now works in Administration at the Markowitz, Herbold law firm, but we worked together for over fifteen years – about three at the Oregon State Bar where I originally hired her and the remainder at Schwabe Williamson

At Schwabe, she was a Human Resources Assistant when I was the Business Manager and then COO.  Besides being a wonderful person and talented artist, she was the epitome of what one looks for and relies on in an assistant.  And as stated above, she designed the original Beerchaser logo.

Teresa and my now adult daughter, Laura, in the early days at Schwabe

During the time at Schwabe, we both worked with Brad who was an actuary for the Wyatt Company – they did the recordkeeping for the Schwabe Retirement Plan.  Brad graduated from Reed College in 1971 and eventually formed his own actuarial consulting company.

Now most people find actuaries to be erudite math whizzes, but not someone they would want to invite to have a beer – or for that matter a cup of coffee, or……

The meetings with Brad, however, were always not only educational but fun.  He would relate his experience serving as a life guard during the summers he attended college and even laugh at the actuary jokes I provided at each meeting.

For example:

“Actuaries are people who skipped the first six grades of school when all the other kids were learning short words.”

2003 CDC Mortality Table

“An actuary is someone who expects everyone to be dead on time.”

Okay… just one more (see Actuarialjokes.com)

“What do you call an actuary who is talking to someone?”  Answer: “Popular.”

Anyway, I hadn’t seen Brad in over ten years, so I asked him to join Teresa and me to try Palomar.

While this blog is called Thebeerchaser, I also relish bars that specialize in cocktails.  Examples where “Beerchasing” occurred include The Multnomah Whiskey Library, ZARZ on First, the Pope Bourbon House and Gold Dust Meridian.

Palomar, however, is the first I’ve visited to specialize in daiquiris.  And boy do they!  The impressive bound menu is eight pages long and the content is primarily beverages.  (Disclaimer: although Palomar advertises that it has a full-Cuban menu and serves lunch and dinner, we did not, except as mentioned below, explore the culinary options that night.

Brad and Teresa each had a picadillo (classic Cuban beef hash) with rice for an appetizer and they both liked it.  That said, the menu looked reasonably priced and gets good reviews in social media and print reviews.   Gomez hired the former sous chef from Interurban.

As Willamette Week theorized, “Classic Cuban diner food with comforting dished with a proven ability to soak up all that rum.”   (Thebeerchaser will return……)

Brad and Teresa trying the picadillo – the verdict was favorable.

One is faced with the difficult choice of trying to choose from daiquiris – page 2, Collins and coolers – page 3, swizzled and stirred e.g. martini or Manhattan – page 4, beer and wine – page 5 or spirits.

The latter on page 9 enumerates what looks to be over 200 varieties ranging from bourbon, tequila, Japanese whiskey, bitters and cordials – all available in two-ounce shots or “half-price for just a swallow…”   

So many choices and so little time

Now the selection might have been a challenge, but fortunately Ricky has hired a staff that takes pride in educating customers on the nuances of their cocktails.

Our initial server, Lorisa, who has worked there since the opening last year, explained the distinction between the Daquiri No. 1 (rum, lime and sugar – very moderate amounts) and Daquiri No. 3 (rum, lime, grapefruit and maraschino).

Before we ordered, Brad immediately wanted to know why there was no Daquiri No. 2 and hypothesized that aside from the initial offering, they only used prime numbers until I pointed out that there was, in fact, a Daiquiri No. 4 (the same as No. 3 but without the grapefruit.)

Our second server told us the cocktail menu was based on the menu of the famous El Floridita – a fish restaurant and bar in Havana which originally opened in 1817 and was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, who was purported to have said, “My mojito in La Bodequita and my daiquiri in El Floridita.”  (Wikipedia: Floridita Bar).

El Floridita Bar in Havana

That’s not the only item with Cuban roots:

“‘Palomar is slang for a pigeon coop in Cuba,” Gomez says. ‘That’s what my father called his first apartment. Well, this is my first bar.'”  (Willamette Week 9/26/17)

I want to return to the issue of Palomar’s staff again.  Ricky, when chatting with us, emphasized the importance of the employees to the establishment.  They are well-educated on offerings (see example below), friendly and efficient and give an appearance of really enjoying what they do.

The importance of good staff is recognized.

As further evidence, an excerpt from a Gomez quote in a 2017 Willamette Week review:

“The cocktails are something that’s a driving force, but my staff is more important: The cocktails have to taste good—but who we have, building the energy and the culture is more important.”

About 80% of the social media reviews were in the top two categories and most were effusive, which is a good sign for a new business working out kinks which are inevitable.  As an aside, one of the relatively few negatives complained that her margarita was over-salted.

Margarita? Maybe not here…

So I thought I would test it myself and for my second drink ordered a margarita even though it wasn’t listed on the menu.  Lorisa, our server, very politely explained that she would recommend a drink other than a margarita.   I think the analogy might have been (although possibly overstated), if you are in a vegan restaurant, don’t order pot roast.

Palomar specializes in daiquiris and has numerous Cuban cocktails and other spirits available, so judge them in the main on that.  The margarita is primarily a Mexican and American drink while the daiquiri emanates from Cuba.

Thus, if I were in Havana, I’d emulate Papa Hemingway and drink a daiquiri (or a dry martini) and if visiting Pascagoula, Mississippi, the birthplace of Jimmy Buffett, I’d opt for a margarita – and get one with salt around the rim.

Papa – I’ll have a daquiri and a good cigar…..

Now, realizing in advance that it is a beer brewed in Mexico, I ended up enjoying a $2.00 Modelo instead and can see why, according to one source, its sales have doubled in the US since 2013.

In lieu of an over-salted Margarita!

So while we will have to wait for the next visit to judge the culinary category, we enjoyed all aspects of our trip to Palomar and would definitely recommend it.

If I had to offer some constructive criticism, it would be that improving their website and Facebook page to provide other information than just a menu and some photos would be informative to prospective customers.   Palomar is a great story and it deserves to be communicated.  It’s surprising that they have not done that.

And finally, the amazing and gigantic mural adjacent to the bar is part of the overall story.   Ricky Gomez did not commission the artwork, but the bird on the lady’s shoulder is a result of his request and a nice signature.  (According to Oregon Live, it’s the Cuban Trogon – the national bird of Cuba.)

Palomar                 959 SE Division 

*1  Craig “The Dude” Hanneman, Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in the summer of 2012,  responded to the comments about bar signs above and sent this photo of him and three SAE fraternity brothers – Kent Howard, Jay Pomeroy and Doug Hardesty with the barmaid outside a tavern in Spray, Oregon on their Eastern Oregon motorcycle trip to attend the Class of ’71 reunion earlier this summer.

Howard, Pomeroy, Hanneman and Hardesty in Spray

Courtesy of Teresa MacLean!

Books and Brew

Thebeerchaser’s home office and library  –  See narrative below

I have written about books devoted to beer and brewing in prior posts.  Examples include Jeff Alworth’s, The Beer Bible which Goodreads states, “….is the ultimate reader-and drinker-friendly guide to all the world’s beers.” 

Another volume I’ve mentioned and purchased from the Mount Angel Abbey Book StoreDrinking with the Saints – The Sinners’ Guide to a Holy Happy Hour is also a great reference “and a concoction that both sinner and saints will savor.” 

It’s a great collection of cocktails, toasts and anecdotes based on the Holy Days and saints.  For example: “As our Episcopal brethren like to say, ‘Where two or three are gathered in His name, there is a fifth.'”

And then there’s my friend, Dr, Eric Hall, who teaches theology and philosophy at Carrol College.  In his book, The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to God.  Eric integrates academia and spirituality with wit and wisdom.  For example:

“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.”

The Rose City Book Pub

The spark for the topic of this blog post emanated from the grand opening of The Rose City Book Pub on November 3rd. This new pub is located in the former NE Portland space of County Cork (see Beerchaser review in June 2012)  While I am sorry to see any bar bite the dust, it’s good news that a new watering hole filled the vacuum.

Reveling (rather than reading) at County Cork in 2012 with the Schwabe Williamson Environment Group

Portland Eater describes the new venture as “a bookstore-meets-bar-meets restaurant with beer, wine and comfy cafe-style menu..”

I’m just not sure if I am comfortable with a pub where regulars are sitting in comfy nooks in easy chairs rather than telling stories at the bar while raising mugs.  That said, I will make a trip and let you know what I think and I wish owner, Elise Schumock well.

However, the concept pervaded my consciousness with some other thoughts on books – including pondering my own reading habits after a visit to Powells City of Books – a Portland treasure which houses about one million books.

What I Should Read Versus What I Do Read 

While wondering through Powell’s, I saw some books on display with notations of “Staff Picks.”   These are works of both fiction and non-fiction that Powell’s staffers are evidently reading and have favorable reactions – they print a short synopsis on a note card by the tome so you can see why it is recommended.

Staff Picks at Powells

But I was struck by how cerebral and refined the majority of the books on these shelves  appeared to me – two in particular that made me think a little bit more:

Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens.   Now this novel did get five stars on Amazon but the staff account was “This story is a beautiful and mesmerizing coming-of-age saga featuring Kya – aka Marsh Girl.  Part mystery, part love story, this book will haunt me!” 

It was also a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Selection and Reese, who after all, went to Harvard Law in one of her movies, went so far as to say, “I can’t even express how much I love this book! I didn’t want this story to end!”   (Perhaps she was reading it while she was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail…) 

The New York Times describes it asPainfully Beautiful,” (emphasis supplied) which makes me wonder if it was one of those books where you’re half way through and hate it, but refuse to lose the investment of time by abandoning it.  You slog through it with discomfort and end up being glad you finished it afterwards.

Now the book above is a murder mystery and perhaps a good story, but The Vegetarian by Han Kang elicited this excerpted comment by the reviewer:  “Somewhere between the crossroads of obsession and mental illness, lust and betrayal, the Vegetarian exists.”

This novella, which was critically acclaimed internationally, takes place in South Korea and scored 3.6 out of 5.0 stars by Goodreads.   Their synopsis, in part, states, “In a country were societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more ‘plant-like’ existence is a shocking act of subversion.”

Potentially subversive??

Well anyway, it made me wonder what books are really on the bed stands of these reviewers.   Do they really devour these for enjoyment or is it just part of the job?

It’s the same concept when magazines ask celebrities what novel they are reading.  The answer is usually one by Dostoevsky, Jane Austen or F. Scott Fitzgerald or a four-hundred page non-fiction book on dialectical materialism rather than a thriller by Danielle Steele or James Patterson.

And then I remembered hearing about Oprah’s Book Club.  Maybe it differs from Reese’s in that those who indicate they like her selections get a free car.  Since I was reflecting, I then wondered why I had never heard any famous males who have national book clubs.

Buffet’s Book Club?

Although according to a New York Times article “Men Have Book Clubs Too,” why don’t famous guys like Warren Buffet, Tony Bennett or UCLA Coach Chip Kelly have national book clubs with recommended selections?  Maybe Chip’s would feature The Carnivore…..

 

The Annals of America – A compendium on the great story of America

So I started feeling guilty looking at my own library.  After having my own office on our dining room table for most of my career, in retirement I now have a wonderful library/office. Some of the collections are those my parents gave us in school.

These include the 54-volume “Great Books of the Western World” (1952) and the eighteen-volume Annals of America, both published by the Encyclopedia Britannica.  There’s a bunch of others that I enthusiastically accumulated over the years with the idea that I would read them when I had more leisure time.

Churchill – “Their Finest Hour” is still waiting to be read…

But I noted that although my intent has been to read Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War, all of the sixteen volumes in my set of “The Nobel Prize Library” and about 35 books on the Civil War and World War II, they sit largely untouched on the shelves.

I shouldn’t leave out the twelve of forty-one volumes in the Time/Life Collection of World War II, I bought at a used bookstore in Lincoln City a few year ago.  

Twelve of the forty-one in this great collection

Although I have read some great non-fiction books in the last two years (see below) my most recent reads (which I have really enjoyed) are the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, a slew of John Sandford paperbacks (which prey on you…) and almost all of the wonderful mysteries by Phillip Margolin.

Should my book time be devoted to more cerebral works?

Interesting, albeit tragic times in American history

But rationality prevailed and I realize that one of the reasons I have not read more highbrow volumes is because I have spent gads of time in the last seven years visiting about 250 bars, pubs and breweries (about half in Portland the rest throughout Oregon, the US and Europe) and then writing 200+ posts on Thebeerchaser.com – each averaging about 2,200 words.   I love this idiosyncratic hobby!

Joe R. Lansdale – unique dialogue and compelling.

And it can be asserted that what some would describe as escapist-trash fiction is really enjoyable.  If you look beyond the mainstream authors such as Sanford, Child, Ignatius, Turow and the aforementioned Phillip Margolin, you can find some treasures.

I’ve discovered some lesser known scribes such as Joe R. Lansdale, who has written forty-five novels.  (The one below is the first one I’ve read – I liked the cover art when I saw it in the Library).

I recently read Bad Chili, a “tongue-in-cheek” murder mystery in Texas.   The action is innovative e.g. an early encounter with a “vicious, angry, bloodthirsty, rabid squirrel.”  Lansdale’s dialogue is unique and  rich with quotes such as this one from Jim Bob Luke, a primary character:

“Life’s like a bowl of chili in a strange café.  Sometimes it’s pretty tasty and spicy.  Other times, it tastes like shit.”

A novel of suspense (and spice….)

Or the following from protagonist, Hap Collins, a working-man, turned private detective:

“His mother, a harried woman in lace-up shoes designed by the Inquisition, a long black dress, and a Pentecostal hairdo – which was a mound of brown hair tied up in a bun that looked as if it had been baked into place to contain an alien life form – was pretending to be asleep.”

I should also state that I have read some very good historical works in the last two years – among them Ike’s Spies  and the Path Between the Seas – The Creation of the Panama Canal, both by Stephen Ambrose

Add to that River of Doubt (Teddy Roosevelt’s exploration of the Amazon River) and Destiny of the Republic – A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (about the assassination of President James Garfield) both by Candice Millard.  All read like novels.

And I’m half way through an insightful and thought provoking work by David Brooks entitled The Road to Character – a timely topic these days….. I would heartily recommend all of the above – just do 25 pages in one of these non-fiction works and then 100 in a Jack Reacher tale before you fall asleep.

Odysseus – his exploits make Jack Reachers look tame!

I’ll keep devouring the paperback spy adventure or murder mystery without guilt and just enjoy looking at the volumes while I’m in my office with the thought that I will at some point read another Nobel Prize author besides Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea) read last year.

Oh, and I forgot that I studied a Great Book selection – Homer’s The Odyssey with my youngest daughter when it was a selection she studied in her senior year at high school.  (I guess that was about ten years ago come to think of it…)

A Story about the Northwest’s Lawyer Novelist

Speaking of Phillip Margolin, let me introduce you to another long-time Portland lawyer.  Mike Greene is a Stanford Law graduate and practiced law in Portland for many years.   He is now basically retired although he still serves in an “Of Counsel” capacity to a small law firm.

Portland Lawyer and sometime Sr. Deputy District Attorney, Mike Greene

Since I worked at the Oregon State Bar and in Portland’s second largest law firm for a combined total of over thirty years, I know and have a lot of attorney friends.  Mike is one of my favorites.

After graduating from Stanford, he was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1972, and became a highly respected trial lawyer – Oregon Super Lawyer six times – among other peer review honors. Like many of the counselors I know he has also devoted a considerable time to civic and professional endeavors.

Mike’s resume of these goes beyond most and he has been involved in American Diabetes Association work since 1982 and was Chair of the National Board of Directors from 1994 to 1995.  He also created a legal advocacy program to fight discrimination on behalf of people with diabetes.

Recently I read one of Phillip Margolin’s earlier novels that I had inadvertently skipped, since I have read and enjoyed almost all of his twenty-three books, all of which have been in the New York Times best-seller list.   In Fugitive, one of the primary characters is a senior deputy district attorney, named Mike Greene – the boyfriend of protagonist, Amanda Jaffe, a criminal defense lawyer.

I thought that I remembered this character from a few of the other Margolin mysteries.   Now the Portland Bar is a “small community” and Mike is about the same vintage as Phillip Margolin.   So I e-mailed Mike and wrote:

“I know that a number of novelists name characters after friends and/or colleagues and this seemed to be more than a coincidence.”

Mike responded:

”Phil has been a friend for decades. I purchased at a Diabetes Auction, the privilege of Phil using my name.  He liked the name and character he created to use the name.  I am now in five of his books.  What a purchase?  A piece of immortality?  It’s fun.  I have been asked about this by many people over the years.” 

Portland Lawyer and Author, Phillip Margolin

Mike and I go to the same church and last Sunday when we chatted, he agreed to send me the names of the novels in which Mike Greene makes his appearance.  He added that the topic has helped break-the–ice in some tense legal negotiations over the years.

I told him that I assumed the Oregon State Bar could not prosecute him for any disciplinary issues that might arise from his conduct in the novels.

If you are reading any of the following Margolin novels, look for Mike Greene:  Wild Justice (2000), Ties that Bind (2003), Proof Positive (2006), Fugitive (2009) and Violent Crimes (2016).

As an aside, besides his writing career – he began writing full-time in 1996 – Phillip Margolin had a distinguished legal career as well.  After graduating from NYU School of Law in 1970, he started by clerking for the Chief Judge of the Oregon the Court of Appeals.   As an appellate lawyer, he has appeared in the US Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and both the Oregon Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Frequent speaker

As a trial lawyer, he represented about thirty people charged with homicide, including several who faced the death penalty.  His service to others began with a two-year stint in the Peace Corps after college graduation and he taught junior high in the South Bronx during his last two years of law school.

He was Chair of the Board for Chess for Success from 1996 to 2009, a non-profit that uses chess to teach elementary and middle school children in Title I schools study skills.   He was also on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards from 2007 to 2013.

I regret that I never got to see either Mike Greene or Phillip Margolin in the courtroom!

Farewell Tom

Tom Dulcich

Another notable Portland lawyer was Tom Dulcich, who I knew from working with him for twenty-five years at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.  Tom passed away in July at the age of 65 from a rare form of cancer.

The Astoria native besides being a wonderful human being was the consummate lawyer.   He was a Phi Beta Kappa grad at the U of O and one of two Rhodes Scholar finalists in 1976.  He attended one of the nation’s leading law schools – the University of Chicago and started his 38-year career as a Schwabe trial lawyer soon afterwards.

He was a fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, served on the Schwabe Board of Directors and as a member and Chair of the Board of the Columbia Maritime Museum.   He was a man of faith and family.

Justice Scalia – Fishing partner…..

One of his passions was fishing and he took pride in operating the family’s gillnet boat.  In fact, a number of years ago, when the late Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia was in Oregon for a speech, he asked Tom to be his guide in a successful fishing trip on the Columbia River.

“Dry Humor”

Earlier in the post, I mentioned some good brew-related books and I remembered one other mentioned in the The Week magazine.  The Wet and the Dry: a Drinker’s Journey relates a pub crawl, of sorts, that author, Lawrence Osborne, took through the Middle East and Southern Asia.

Now I have read (and used as a resource) some similar books including Colorado – A Liquid History & Tavern Guide to the Highest State by Dr. Thomas J. Noel, a professor at the University of Colorado, who visited every bar in Colorado for a doctoral thesis.

And don’t forget Joan Melcher, who essentially made the same journey (50 watering holes) in Montana as documented in Montana Watering Holes – The Big Sky’s Best Bars

It seems a little unusual to undertake this type of study in some countries where alcohol is illegal, but as the reviewer states, “If you are looking for ‘an entertaining romp through half the bars in the Middle East” The Wet and the Dry will not disappoint.”

Cheers!

Beerchasing in Maine (continued), Boston and then Home….

The Penobsot Narrows Bridge – the tallest bridge observatory in the world!

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this on your phone, click  on the caption at the top to access the blog.)

After our three and one-half days in New York City, two days on the lake in Bridgton, Maine and then another two at Acadia National Park (click on the links to see the blog posts), we took a day and one-half driving down the beautiful coastline of Maine before spending an afternoon and evening in Portland. And the final night was in Boston.

(See the end of the post for some interesting info. on Samuel Adams Beer and a fascinating legal issue involving both coasts of the USA.)

It would have been nice to have more time in the “right-coast” Portland, but we had to drive to Boston for our flight home to the “left-coast” PDX.

On the morning drive we visited the Marshall Wharf Brewery in quaint Belfast.  The town of a little less than 7,000 was founded in 1770 and like our Portland, the name (derived from the Northern Ireland city) was determined by a coin toss.

A shipbuilding seaport

It’s a charming shipbuilding community built on commerce. In the early ’90’s:

“USA Today named Belfast as one of America’s culturally cool communities. Today, Belfast is that rare combination of quiet small town with an active social and cultural life that is attractive to residents and visitors alike.”  Belfast website.

The eleven-year old brewery that specializes in German beer was in a shack, of sorts, but had eight of their seventeen own beers on tap.  Kathryn, the bartender was very helpful and personable.

Janet had a Tug Pale Ale (5.0%), but I couldn’t resist and had my first German Rauchbier – a smoked malt beer – Marshall’s Deep Purple Rauchbier (6.0%). 

Beer Advocate described it as:

“Smoke on the water!  This Bamberg (Germany) inspired smoked ale is Bacon in a Glass (emphasis added).  Very polarizing beer – you either like the style and taste or you never want to drink it again…..”   

Kathryn – one of our favorite bartenders on the trip.

I loved it, but what bacon-stuff wouldn’t I savor – especially in the morning!

Lunch was in Camden, also on Penobscot Bay settled in the 1790’s and with a  population of about 5,000:

“more than triples during the summer months, due to tourists and summer residents (and) ……….is well known for its summer community of wealthy Northeasterners, mostly from Boston, New York and Philadelphia.”  Wikipedia

Another of the Sea Dog Brewpubs, offered a beautiful view from the patio.

The Ledges by the Bay – on Highway1 just outside of Rockland, Maine and right on Penobscot Bay was reminiscent of summer vacation lodging as youngsters.  Although around for a long time, it was very clean, cheap – about $115 including taxes – and had a beautiful view from the balcony of our room.

A long rock-top walk, but worth it…

Before heading into Rockland, we took a hike at the Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light House – the long rock breakwater is slightly over a mile to this still active navigation aid which was established in 1902. (It’s worth the walk to see up close.)

And we met two very interesting and friendly people on the small dock immediately below the lighthouse.

One was Amelia Magjik, who serves on the Rockland City Council:

“She came from a small coastal town in Washington state to be closer to her family in New York. Amelia comes from a professional background in community mental health….. Amelia’s personal interests include art, yoga, running, hiking, gardening, and anything involving the ocean.”

Amelia introduced her male friend to us as “John Jenkins – the next Governor of Maine.” And John, who was born in 1952, is a very interesting and charismatic individual, besides being a notable athlete:  (Wikipedia)   

Motivational Speaker….

“(he) is an American community organizer and politician who served as the first African American Mayor of Lewiston, Maine from 1994 to 1998, a Member of the Maine Senate from 1996 to 1998 and the Mayor of Auburn, Maine from 2007 to 2009.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Jenkins graduated from Bates College in 1974. While at college, he excelled in martial arts and upon graduating toured Japan competing in the Karate World Championships.  He won the 1977 Championships in karate and won three other mixed martial arts championships in karate and ju-jitsu.”

Elected official and small businessman

Besides his political career, he is a small businessman and motivational speaker who declared as an Independent write-in candidate for Governor in 2018.   Check out his website.  It’s very interesting.  http://peptalk.com/about-the-honorable-john-jenkins/

And I intend to take him up on his offer for a reserved seat in the gallery at his first State-of-the-State address!  Meeting interesting people like Amelia and John is one of our motivations for traveling and visiting breweries!

Before dinner, the Rock Harbor Brewery and Pub, right on Main Street of this city of 7,300 beckoned.

The Pub had sixteen beers on tap and about half are brewed in-house.  We split an outstanding pint of their Copperhouse ESB (6.0%) and we could understand why it is their flagship beer:

“…. roasted malt notes and middle-of-the-road, balanced flavor.  Easy transition from Red Ales, Brown ales and some darker lagers.”  It had great color and taste.  

A few blocks away, an excellent dinner awaited us at Cafe Miranda  (“funky, edgy and eclectic – this is not your white table cloth sort of place.  We want you to laugh out loud, enjoy, engage and leave with a belly full of food that has comforted your soul.”)

And after an absolutely superb breakfast (I realize I’m using that type of adjective to describe most of our meals on the trip) at Home Kitchen Cafe (“Remember, when you’re hungry…come HOME.”) we spent two fascinating hours in the Farnsworth Art Museum.

It houses a nationally recognized collection of over 15,000 works from America’s noted artists in an expansive and beautiful space of more than 20,000 square feet.

I will be the first to admit that I am much more at home in a brewery than an art museum, but this one was captivating.

The most outstanding aspect of this attraction was the Wyeth Center located in a beautiful church across the street.

“Exhibits focusing primarily on James Wyeth and N. C. Wyeth are presented at the ‘church’ building on Union Street, an example of adaptive re-use of the United Methodist Church, one of Rockland’s most prominent and venerable structures dating from the last quarter of the 19th century.”

The Wyeth Center of the Farnsworth Museum of Art

We then drove the three-hours to Portland and what a change in this city from the last time we visited about seven years ago – or maybe it was just because we had great weather this time and it was a Friday night. We stayed on the harbor, which had an eclectic assortment of restaurants, galleries, bars and pubs, and nautical-related attractions.

Although we had only an afternoon and the next morning in Portland, thanks to the blog National Parks USA – a tour of Public Lands and National Parks with T – we knew we wanted to see the Portland Observatory.

On our walk to the Portland Observatory, we stopped at Rising Tide Brewery and Tasting Room.  This is a family-owned business founded in 2010 by co-owners Nathan and Heather Sanborn.

This bottling machine is a good gig!

I loved the fact that Heather is a lawyer and also serves in the Maine Legislature and is Past President of the Maine Brewers’ Guild.

Perhaps it was the Friday ambiance, but the patio and tasting room were rocking and the employees including those who were operating the bottling machine all appeared to be delighted to work there.

And they have a robust selection of very good unpasteurized and unfiltered beers using local ingredients. Their Ishmael Copper Ale (4.9%) with both Mt. Hood and Cascade hops reminded us that we would be back in the Northwest in 48 hours….

The Portland Observatory

Erected in 1807 it’s located at the highest elevation in Portland, thereby presenting incredible views.   The formidable structure is the only remaining historic maritime signal station in the United States. 

While we listened to our guide’s fascinating briefing on both the history and the structural aspects, we climbed to the top for a magnificent 360 degree view.

 

On the walk back to the hotel, we passed another brew pub – Sebago Brewing – which had an attractive brewpub, but the fact that it was in the ground floor of an Embassy Suites Hotel shot the ambiance.

Ambiance was missing….

This locally-owned brewery is twenty years old and crafts about eleven beers which are served in its four brewpubs and tasting room at the brewery in Gorham, Maine.

Since the last Rising Tide beer we had was only 4.9 ABV and we were walking, we each had a pint with Janet downing a Frye’s Leap IPA (6.0%) – “golden color and unique and intense aroma dry-hopped of pine and grapefruit.”

Bright interior was far better..

The beer was named for the cliff which legend has Captain Joseph Frye jumped off in an 1785 effort to escape Native Americans chasing him.  He swam across the channel to what became known as Frye Island.

I wanted to try a red ale so I had a pint of Runabout Red (4.4%).  It was good and perhaps the hops did “glide on my palate with every sip!”

The next morning we drove to Cape Elizabeth on the southern tip of Portland to visit the stunning Portland Head Light – one of three lighthouses in Portland. It was foggy, but a breathtaking sight.

Our final stop before leaving Portland was just to check out Shipyard Brewing, also a family owned brewery in Portland – and another of the tasting rooms or brewpubs within a few blocks of our hotel.  

Shipyard brews over twenty different craft beers and their facility was classy.

After the two-hour drive to our hotel near Boston’s Logan Airport, we took an afternoon T (Massachusetts Bay Transportation System) into the North Side to our favorite Boston restaurant – Giacomo’s Ristorante – which is only a block away from the historic Old North Church.

Historic and still iconic…

We got there before it opened at 5:00 – no reservations and already a waiting line – but the wait was only 45 minutes rather than the 60 to 90 which is customary.  The hostess was still like the drill sergeant as we remembered

Giacomos – a waiting line before it opens…

It’s a cracker-box but we lucked out (as we did the last time a few years ago) and got to sit at the two places at the corner of the serving bar so we could see the kitchen and get a better view of the enthused customers feasting on Italian food.

And I might add, there is nothing better when in Boston than downing a Sam Adams Octoberfest (5.3%) – even if it is bottled – especially when you are having Linguini with Scallops. 

The trek back to the T took us by the bustling  Haymarket Public Market  and a stop for one last brewski on our trip before we headed back.

Like just about any institution in Boston, the Market has historic roots:

 ” Although sellers of fresh produce have clustered in the current-day Haymarket location since around 1830, merchants of various sorts started congregating in the general vicinity as early as the 1600’s.”

And what better way to toast what had been a wonderful trip than having another Samuel Adams – draft this time – at Durty Nelly’s. 

This notable watering hole, right next to the Market and which asserts it was established about 1850 also claims to be “Boston’s friendliest dive bar.” (It may well be.)

Not a micro-brew, but still great beer.

Now you purists who might scoff at quaffing two beers produced by Boston Beer Co. after we spent the prior ten days drinking local Maine micro-brews.

According to Craft Beer.com, Boston Beer Co. is the second largest craft brewery in the US and Samuel Adams Beer is distributed in all 50 states.  At least it was a start-up in 1984, still makes efforts to assist small businesses and they make great beer…..

How about an “Old North Church Lager” or “Midnight Ride IPA” ?

Besides, drinking Samuel Adams in Boston seems patriotic to me.  If there were a macro-brewery named Paul Revere, I would be drinking their beer too.

Interestingly enough, one of Boston Beer’s controversies involved Portland, Oregon Radio Station KEX and my friend and former Mayor Sam Adams in a 2007 dispute that the Wall Street Journal labeled “Sam Adams v Sam Adams.” 

https://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/10/25/trademark-dispute-of-the-day-sam-adams-v-sam-adams/

Sam Adams outside the now-closed Tugboat Brewery

Note: Sam, the former Mayor has a Beerchasing history.  First, in 2013 we visited Portland’s Tug Boat Brewery (Unfortunately after operating for twenty-eight years, Tugboat was forced to close in 2017 because of incidents related to a fire in the hotel above the brewery.)

Then in 2014, we hit Beer Mongers.  (See reviews by clicking on the links)

Sam and Jim, the bartender at Beer Mongers, with Thebeerchaser logo

The lawsuit evidently settled and although it did not set new precedents in Intellectual Property case law, it is interesting to look back:

“……the Boston Beer Company demanded that control of the domain names “samadamsformayor.com” and “mayorsamadams.com” be turned over to the company.

The domains had been purchased by an employee of the Portland, Oregon radio station NewsRadio 1190 KEX for the campaign of Portland mayoral candidate, Sam Adams.  In a cease-and-desist letter, the company (Boston Beer) expressed concern that consumers might confuse the mayoral candidate with their beer.

In an interview with the Associated Press the company said it was willing to discuss Adams’ use of his name on his Web sites, “probably for the length of the time the election is being held.”

Brouhaha Involving Two Elected Officials!

Sam Adams v Samuel Adams 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam, the then mayoral candidate, is now Director of US Climate Initiatives at the World Resources Institute .

According to a 10/23/2007 Oregonian article entitled “A Battle Brews,” reported: “Commissioner Sam Adams is bemused. ‘They say they’ve been using this trademark since 1984. I’ve been using it since 1963.”‘ (Sam is 55 years old….)

One wonders how the 18th century statesman and Founding Father would view this frivolous legal maneuver by his namesake Brewery given his concern over more weighty issues such as the Boston Massacre, the Stamp Act and drafting the Articles of Confederation.

And so our eleven-day trip to the East Coast ended.  We reflected back on the great people we met, the marvelous scenery, the phenomenal food and, of course, the splendid beer in diverse bars and breweries with character and spirit.

Now it’s back to Portland, Oregon’s abundant Beerchasing (and Oregon micro-brews) establishments which need to be explored…..

Beerchasing (and Ubiquity *1) in Maine

Stormy seas along the Acadia Park Loop Road

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this on your phone, click  on the caption at the top to access the blog.)

After three-days in New York City and then a short two-day stay in rural Bridgton, Maine, we spent three days exploring Acadia National Park.  

We stayed in Sourthwest Harbor – population 1,778a little village about fourteen miles from Bar Harbor – population 5,394 – a larger burg, but the former has far fewer people and is not a docking point for cruise ships and SW Harbor still offers some nice amenities and great access to the Park.

Bar Harbor

(The two previous posts of Thebeerchaser related our stay in New York City and then Bridgton, Maine before going to Arcadia – see links)

Maine is a wonderful state – a lot like our Oregon.  The cities of Portland in each state are both jewels and are worth visiting or residing!  (However, different outer garments, are recommended….)

Before the narrative below on sights and breweries/bars we visited in Maine, let’s talk ubiquity (*1)  – six categories that are emblematic of “The Pine Tree State” – most of which we repeatedly witnessed on our delightful trip throughout the state.

Beals” Lobster Shack in SW Harbor

Lobster Shacks – Maine is the largest producer of lobster in the US with 130 million pounds of lobster valued at $533 million in 2016.   The eateries are everywhere you look.  (Portland Press Herald

Dunkin Donut Shops – There are about 150 of these shops in Maine – one for every 8,276 people.   Their coffee is excellent and more available than Starbucks.  (Lewiston Sun Journal)

Self-service Wood Sales  It seems that most rural residents make some extra income by selling bundles of firewood to campers or winter vacationers.   These little structures dot the road. 

Most are $3 (on the honor system) and we got a kick out of the sales pitch of one: “Organic Wood.”  We didn’t check to see how that was certified.

Portland Head Lighthouse

Lighthouses – While Michigan has the most, Maine has over sixty and we saw three beautiful structures close-up including Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and the Portland Head Light.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

 

Lakes – There are apparently 6,000 water bodies in Maine greater than an acre in size and approximately 2,200 of these are named lakes. (“Science Answers”).

Eagle Lake in the heart of Acadia National Park – our favorite lake

We rode the 6.1 miles around Eagle Lake on one of the Carriage Roads.  There are fifty-seven miles of Carriage Roads that weave through Acadia National Park and are open to hikers, bicyclists and horses.

One travels through great scenery with no autos.  They are a wonderful legacy to John D. Rockefeller who gave millions to build these paths from 1913 to 1940.  They also have some beautiful stone bridges along the way. 

Scene along the Carriage Roads

Moose – well although Maine is supposed to have scads of them, we talked to a lot of people including locals and none had ever seen one.  According to: https://visitmaine.com/things-to-do/wildlife-watching/moose-watching

“Maine is lucky enough to be one of only a few states in the U.S. that has a sizeable moose population.  State biologists estimate that the Maine moose population to be around 75,000 – that’s the largest concentration of moose in the country next to Alaska.”

Okay, we weren’t in exactly wild areas, but  I was determined to have an “encounter.”   So I eventually brought one back to Oregon  – now a favorite coffee mug along with my Benedictine Brewery stein……I got the former at the Stow Corner Store in Stow, Maine – population 425. 

Favorite coffee mug…

 

 

 

 

 

And as you might expect, the last category of ubiquitous Maine features, but very important:

Breweries – While not getting bogged down in a myriad of statistics, suffice to say that the micro-craft industry is thriving in Maine.

According to one portal on national brewery figures, the leading brewery states – per capita in ranked order are Vermont, Montana, Maine, Oregon and Colorado.  Vermont has 11.5 per 100,000 people with Maine at 9.6 and Oregon at 8.5)

Significant economic impact….

The Maine Brewers Guild states that Maine has 89 breweries whereas, according to Oregon Craft Beer, our state has “281 breweries operated by 228 companies in 79 cities across Oregon with 77 people in Portland and 117 in the Portland Metro area.” (6/30/18)

As stated in another website – maybe not the most authoritative –  but this is not a graduate thesis:

“So the overall economic value of Maine beer to the state economy is between that of potatoes and lobster……..over one-third of overnight visitors to Maine (like Thebeerchaser and his wife…) report that going to local brewpubs or craft breweries was a major interest for their Maine trip.”

The afternoon, after our Oli’s Trolley tour of the Loop Road, we visited Atlantic Brewing right in downtown Bar Harbor.  We liked the modern lines of the tasting room and met two nice couples sitting at the bar – from North Carolina and Tennessee – extending their visit until Hurricane Florence had dissipated.

The bartender, although he only had worked there for a few months was very knowledgeable about their beer and the brewing process besides being generous in letting us sample their beers.

All of those we sampled were very good and we solved the problem by getting their five-beer sampler – a very colorful  lineup with our two favorites the Marko Polo  Red Ale (5.4%) and Lil Guy IPA (5.4%) a session IPA with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. (the second and fourth from the left respectively,)  

Atlantic – founded as Acadia Brewing in 1990, has expanded twice and now has two locations – the primary brewery is on a ten-acre farm a few minutes from Bar Harbor.

The tasting room we visited is “a site to develop new and exciting small batch beers only seven barrels at a time. This pilot facility allows fellow brewers from around the state, country, and world to collaborate on unique recipes and formulations in a shared environment.” (Atlantic Brewing Co. website)

Back in SW Harbor for dinner, I said to Janet that it had been quite a few years since I had tried lobster in Maine – Janet doesn’t like it – so we tried Beal’s Lobster Pier – only a few hundred yards from our bed and breakfast.   I tried a formidable, but not the largest lobster, with an Allagash White Ale.  My dinner without the beer set us back about $38.

Based on the taste and the challenge to eat it, I’m glad I tried it again, but after the two experiences, I will always opt for a steak or other seafood in the future or maybe get lobster roll instead of doing all the work myself.

I might add that I did not have guilt over the fate of the lobster although if I had known about Bale’s competitor down the street as featured in a Maine Press report after we returned, we might have gone to Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound.

Lobster “Pot”

“Charlotte Gill (owner) ….. told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald that she had been looking for a way to reduce the suffering of her signature menu item. 

She experimented with blowing marijuana smoke into a tank……to sedate her crustaceans before cooking them – granting them, she says a blissfully humane death.”

As one might expect:

“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which once tried to erect a gravestone for lobsters killed in a truck crash, is opposed to boiling lobsters alive under any circumstances.  ‘It is highly unlikely that getting a lobster high would make a lick of difference when it comes to the full-blown agony of being boiled or steamed alive, PETA said…..”

That afternoon, we strolled through “downtown” Bar Harbor and stopped at the quaint Cottage Street Pub.

We enjoyed sitting on the patio overlooking one of the main streets and split a Maine Brewery – Woods and Water IPA  (6.2%) – appropriately named!    They had a number of good Maine beers on tap.

September after Labor Day and before the “foliage peepers” who invade New England from late September through most of October is the best time to visit Maine.

While Bar Harbor was still bustling, the crowds there and in the park were not bad. Sitting on the patio overlooking one of the main streets was a treat.

The Cottage Street Pub – right in the heart of Bar Harbor and with good beer on tap

 

That night we ate dinner at the bar of one of our favorite restaurants on the trip – Sips in Southwest Harbor.   While Janet had an excellent pasta dish, I decided after my ill-fated encounter with the crustacean the night before, to have a hanger steak – a good choice.

However, the highlight for me was a Happy Hour Bloody Mary.  For $5 I relished the best looking cocktail, I’ve had in a long time.  Multiple olives, lemon, lime and bacon!

For a nightcap, we hit the Island Bar, a cubbyhole down the street with some great signs and some cordial regulars.  It had one side open to the street with a portable heater supplying the warmth. 

They talked about how the town and the surrounding communities would lose most of their tourists and many of their residents and the year-rounders hunkered down for the harsh Maine winters.  (The bartender was headed for Colorado to snowboard, while Hank, our driver/guide on Oli’s Trolley and his girlfriend were heading to Florida.)

We split an Atlantic Brewery Bar Harbor Pale Ale and skipped the bar’s “Margarita-of-the-Month – a blueberry mango.”

Our final morning in the Park was spent driving to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  While the elevation of this peak pales in comparison to the mountains we see in the Pacific Northwest, it is noteworthy:

“It’s the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6…”

The view is outstanding and there is a walkway that provides vistas in every direction of the Park.

We made a quick trip to another pristine lake – Echo Lake, just before leaving the park .

We then were on our way down the Maine coast- south on US Highway 1 – the Coastal Route through Camden and to our next destination Rockland, Maine.

As an aside, a wonderful resource we used to help plan our trip both in Acadia National Park and in Portland Maine afterwards is the blog National Parks USA – A Tour of Public Lands and National Parks with T.

Theresa, the author, gives useful tips, historical background and has stunning photos on many of the National Parks and Monuments and related public lands – treasures we should not take for granted.  You should check out her blog!

https://nationalparkswitht.com/exploring-the-nps-with-t/

My intention is for this blog to serve as a resource for people with the same passion for the parks as me by tagging the units I review by state and including any off-the-beaten-path recommendations I have to offer.  At the very least, it will serve as a travelogue, a remembrance of where I’ve been and a reminder of where I still need to go.

(*1) The use of the word “ubiquity” is meant as a tribute to both my SAE fraternity brother and college roommate, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in August, 2012 and Kirby Neuman-Rea, News Editor of the Hood River News.