Father Martin Grassel Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

Father Martin Grassel, O.S.B., is a monk who lives at Mount Angel Abbey, his residence for the last eighteen years.   He is the Abbey’s Procurator – the equivalent of the Chief Financial Officer and has responsibilities for technology, human resources, food services, facilities and financial management of the monastery and seminary located on a beautiful hilltop setting about twelve miles from Salem, Oregon.

But this man of faith with a quiet charisma has additional responsibilities which occupy his day – he is the lead brewer for the Benedictine Brewery, a small five-barrel operation starting up at the Abbey and for which there are exciting plans In the near future (see below).

The monks at  Mount Angel start their day with a 5:20 A.M. prayer service – one of six they attend throughout the day.  But Father Martin typically awakens between 2:00 and 3:00 A.M.

The monastery was founded in 1882 and its seminary in 1889.   Mount Angel is the oldest and largest seminary west of the Mississippi and the only such institution to have both a college and graduate school with a 2017 graduating class of 62. 

On this day, Father Martin is checking on his latest batch of English Pale Ale.  He checks the fermentation temperature and carbonation level to ensure the quality he demands and measures the specific gravity of the wort (or finished beer) with a hydrometer, while also making sure the fittings and hoses of the brewing equipment in one of the Abbey buildings are in good order. 

The attention to detail that yields a consistent and high quality beer and his appreciation for math and science are the same attributes that made this 1985 Computer Science graduate from the University of North Dakota, a skilled software developer for Honeywell Corporation in Phoenix when he was in his twenties.  Instead of technical brewery metrics, he was then working with flow charts, data modeling, embedded systems programming and gap analysis.

Father Martin is this blog’s second 2017 Beerchaser-of-the Quarter and the “honor” is richly deserved.  He joins the “elite”  list started on this blog five years ago which now includes writers, military heroes, academicians and even the crew of the USS Constitution for their “legendary” war cruise in 1798.

Although this is a blog about bars and beer, a number of these individuals have nothing to do with my favorite beverage – they are just interesting individuals who have made worthwhile contributions to society and have a good story which should be told.  Father Martin fits both categories.

The late Brian Doyle at the Fulton Pub

Past recipients include authors such as Portland’s own Brian Doyle (Mink River and The Plover), Princeton Professor Emeritus, Dr. Harry Frankfurt (On Bullshit), athletes such as former All-coast and then NFL tackle, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman and Viet Nam veterans and heroes, Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence.

(To see the narratives for this distinguished group, go up to the blog header and click on the tab entitled “Beerchaser-of -the-Month or Quarter.”)

The Chapel at the Abbey

Father Martin comes from a North Dakota family of four-children that was not a church-attending group.  He became involved in his parish in Phoenix after college graduation.   Although he tried to ignore the inclination, the divine pull to the ministry persisted – he considers Psalm Sunday in 1992 as his “faith anniversary,” and he enrolled at the Mt. Angel Seminary in 1995.

His intent was to return to Phoenix once he completed his formation for the priesthood.  That plan changed, however.  During his time in the seminary he felt attracted to the monastery.  “Once I stepped across the threshold at Mount Angel, I knew I was home,” says the mild mannered and friendly monk who made his final vows in 2003 and was ordained as a priest the next year.

Home……looking out over the beautiful countryside from the Abbey grounds

So what piqued his interest in beer and what’s in store for the Benedictine Brewery in the future?

“I was not a fan of beer in college or afterwards,” says Father Martin.  He did not drink soda or wine either.  

The monks occasionally have refreshments and appetizers before the main meal) and at a 2006 Haustus gathering of the monks (Haustus comes from the Latin verb meaning “to draw up” or “drink.” ) he tried Deschutes Black Butte Porter.  He liked it and later acquired a taste for other Deschutes Brewery beers.

He took an interest in the chemistry and production of beer.   “Beer stuck in my mind.  I’m an engineer.  What goes into making good beer and do I have the skills to accomplish that?” 

After all, brewing is a tradition with monks that goes back to eighth century in Europe:

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

 “….when local water supplies were rife with disease, monks brewed beer as a way to sanitize the water and also produce a libation to serve guests who sought refuge….Beer was an important part of their diets, particularly because it could be consumed as a source of nourishment during Lenten feasts.”  (Catholic Sentinel 2/21/14)

There was no thought of “home” brewing, or I guess we should say “Abbey brewing.”  Then about five years ago, a friend of the Abbey offered to donate some beer equipment to the monks to which the initial answer was “No thanks.”

Father Martin adjusting the hoses

But after some reconsideration, the donated beer equipment became Father Martin’s experiment.   He read the book, How to Brew:  Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right the First Time, and made his first batch in the kitchen of a friend’s house.

He started brewing at the Abbey and there were many mistakes – “Once the hoses blew off the chiller and there was beer spraying all over the room.”  However, he persevered and made a batch of Pale Ale and “The monks liked it!”

In his role as Procurator, Father Martin and the leaders of the Abbey had been contemplating additional revenue sources to supplement the Abbey’s income.  A tree farm, press and saw mill which had been part of the Abbey’s revenue stream were all declining or gone.  And there had been some, albeit not unanimous prior interest by the monks in furthering the monastic tradition of brewing.

After all, hops have been grown on the  Abbey owned acreage adjacent to the monastery since the 1880s.   A long list of potential revenue sources was developed to present during a community meeting.  Father Martin’s new hobby was last on the list.  “That was one thing I was sure would not fly,” Father Martin said.  (Catholic Sentinel – 2/21/2014)

Soon afterward, a stainless steel ten-barrel system was donated to the Abbey and the Benedictine Brewery became a reality with Father Martin as the lead brewer.  Initially, much of the brewing was done through contracts with Seven Brides and Upright Breweries with assistance from the Oregon State University Fermentation Science Program.   Father Martin was impressed and pleased with the collegiality of the brewing community.

Contract brewing at Seven Brides

Consistent with his education and training, Father Martin employs the scientific approach to brewing which is necessary to have the consistency for producing quality beer.

He remembers his early days at seminary when the students critiqued their colleagues’ sermons and he stated, “Beer is like learning to preach.  You either like a homily or you don’t.   What about the beer do you like and why?  Make that determination and then pay attention to what you like.”

Two bottled beers (Black Habit – dark and St. Benedict – light) were developed and tested and have become popular and garnered good reviews from sales in the Mount Angel book store. The Mt. Angel Octoberfest requested Black Habit, where it has sold out the last two years.

The Benedictine Brewery and Taproom seating about fifty will open in early 2018.  It will be located adjacent to the Abbey next to the hop fields and be the site of regular events involving the Mt. Angel community and those who travel to the Abbey to visit the beautiful grounds on which the seminary is located.

The Brewery’s motto is appropriate – “Taste and Believe.”  Father Martin reflects, “This started as a revenue project, but it has become an evangelization project……..(It) has been inspired by God.”  (Catholic Sentinel)

Don’t be surprised to see some home-grown artwork displayed in the taproom.  This man of many talents has another avocation — mosaic work.  He was inspired by the mosaics he found in Italian churches when he studied in Rome, and now he enjoys the detailed work required.

Thirty mosaics have been produced by the Procurator and a number have been sold in the Abbey book store and they also decorate Father Martin’s office.  Those you see here are two of his favorites.

Cecelia – a companion of fourteen years

And if you see Father Martin walking the Abbey grounds, you might also notice his companion of fourteen years – his cat, Cecelia:

“There are a lot of feral cats in Rome and I took comfort feeding some of them.  I was the only one they would approach.  Feral or abandoned cats roam our grounds, too, one of which was Cecelia.  I started feeding her and she adopted me.”  

I was privileged recently, to hear Father Martin make a presentation on Benedictine Spirituality – essentially analyzing the concepts of prayer and asceticism – a disciplined effort to live for God.   The purpose of humanity is to seek God and what sets the monk apart is seeking the vision of God in this life rather than waiting until heaven.

The training and lifestyle of monks is to promote sanctification – reading and meditation inspires a personal dialogue with God and then contemplation, which helps one discern a lot about himself and who God is.  Ascetic practices include celibacy, work, personal poverty and moderation in speech, eating and sleep.

His lecture evidenced his great dry sense of humor.  “Some observing the Liturgy of the Hours may conclude, ‘This is just a bunch of guys in funny robes with mediocre voices trying to be a choir,’ but it’s truly the body of Christ glorifying God.”

I am pleased and honored to be a member of the Benedictine Brewery Advisory Committee and look forward to the opening of the Brewery and tap room.   (The other committee members, besides Father Martin and me, are Stephen Zimmer – chair, John Limb, Les Fahey, and Chris Brown and Jodi Kilcup of the Abbey staff as ex-officio members).

As our newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter so aptly states, “The Brewery has inspired us.  God wants us to use the gifts he has given.”  

A tapestry at the Abbey

Stay tuned for updates on this project and if you want to try Black Habit (or buy a great looking t-shirt) contact the Mount Angel Abbey bookstore.  Or come and visit the Abbey, which has a marvelous museum and library besides being located in a beautiful and idyllic setting.

Mount Angel Abbey Bookstore and Coffee Shop  

503-845-3345

 

 

 

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Beerchasing in Wisconsin – Part I

The sunset in Sister Bay, Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a beautiful state, most notably Door County, which is in the northeast part of the state and borders both Lake Michigan and Green Bay.  My wife and I were fortunate to spend a week there with my sister-in-law, Pam, in June – in Sister Bay, a charming little burg of 876 residents, but which hosts year-round tourism in what some refer to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” 

The Cape Cod of the Midwest…

It is the land of bays, beer, brats, churches and cheese.   I can’t understand why Hillary Clinton was reluctant to return during the 2017 Presidential campaign, but that’s another story and one left best ignored when chronicling Beerchasing exploits.

Milwaukee – historic ambiance with modern energy

After a smooth flight from Portland to O’Hare, we rented a car and drove from Chicago to downtown Milwaukee the first night – Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

And the city, which we both really liked, has a lot of historic ambiance, but bustling energy and was hopping that weekend. Milwaukie is an  old and renowned beer town – for many years touted as “The beer capital of the world.”

According to Beerhistory.com, “……indeed, the city has been home to some of America’s largest brewers — Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, Blatz.” 

The historic Pabst Theater

The website states that factors such as abundant water, availability of raw materials such as hops and barley, cheap labor and even loads of ice from Lake Michigan were not responsible for the City’s preeminence in the sudsy brew.  Rather, it was a combination of factors including savvy business people with a vision and who expanded sales to outside markets and this very interesting bit of information:

This fire helped make Milwaukee the beer capital of the world

“Proximity to the large beer-consuming population of Chicago — and the easy and inexpensive lake transportation thereto — was always a boon to Milwaukee’s brewing industry.

For example, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 boosted sales of Milwaukee breweries enormously. Schlitz’s frequent shipments of beer to the devastated city earned it the slogan, ‘The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous.’ Schlitz enjoyed a 100 percent jump in sales immediately after the Chicago fire.” 

First Brewery in the city

We arrived in the early evening and scouted Water Street – adjacent to the Milwaukee River for a good place to eat and a craft beer although some Northwest skeptics warned us that craft beer in Milwaukee is a “mug of PBR with an orange slice adorning it…..”

The Water Street Brewery was our first stop and one that was interesting for its history and its beer memorabilia – including collections of beer cans (50,000 of which 6,000 are featured in 25 displays), 1,400 tap knobs, 2,300 coasters, 825 bottle and can openers, etc.)

One of twenty-five displays of beer cans

The micro-brewery, opened in 1987, was Milwaukee’s first according to the “Water Street Journal”:

The bottle opener collection – all 825 of them

“The city’s first modern “brew-pub” – with six gleaming copper vats to brew beer for tavern patrons opened Wednesday…..the building dates back to 1898…..

Demand for Water Street Brewery beer was so strong that in the first six months, brewing capacity was increased by 50%…..At the time there were only 16 brew pubs across the US…”

We had excellent beers and great food – bratwurst and spaetzle dumplings included.

My affinity for dive bars was accommodated by walking only one-half block from the brewery with two adjoining bars – Scooter’s Pub and Duke’s on the Water.  Janet is not a fan of dive bars although she acquiesced when I told her I had to take advantage of Scooter’s special – drafts of Miller Genuine Draft in a large plastic cup for a buck!

Perhaps because of the weekend, the bars were more genteel and had an enthusiastic diverse crowd that night unlike this Yelp review (2/3/16):

“Aside from a hot bartender there were no women on this side of this odd bar connected to another bar on the other side which is called Dukes.

Responding to the demand for $1 draft beers…..

That side had many more people and few women ventured to Scooters and from judging and looking at the bro’ crowd I could see why. the dudes in here were both drunk and dumb and rude. The place seemed pretty shabby and the lone bartender was overworked providing fair service.”

—–

The crowd was fine and I downed my MGD and we were  on our way.

A lively crowd at Duke’s

Lambeau Field – Home of the Green Bay Packers


The next day, we decided to take a short side trip on the way to Sister Bay, so we could see Lambeau Field in Green Bay – the famous home of the Packers.  Now Green Bay, with a population of a little over 100,000 is known as Title Town USA in light of the thirteen NFL championships, the most of any NFL city.

Toilet Paper Capital of the World – the other title Green Bay has under its belt…….

And Green Bay, does not have much else besides football, except for a few meatpacking plants and it probably doesn’t brag about the city’s other title – “The Toilet Paper Capital of the World”:

“…..Green Bay, home to the Quilted Northern brand. In 1901, Northern Paper Co. produced its first tissue. Named Northern Tissue in 1902, the product became splinter-free in the 1930s, two-ply in the 1960s and quilted in the 1990s.” (American Profile 1/14/2007)

Hinterland Brewery – almost across the street from Lambeau

And as expected, there were two breweries within a short radius of the stadium.  The first, Hinterland Brewery had just relocated to a sparkling new building across the street from the stadium although it does have an older gastro-pub in Milwaukee. The brewery originally opened in 1995 in an old meat-packing facility.

Twelve of Hinterland’s own and twelve guest taps

It has a gleaming interior with a display kitchen, two large wood-burning fireplaces for those cold Wisconsin days and a great patio. We tried two of the twenty-four beers on tap –  Hinterland’s own Cherry Wheat Ale and the Nitro IPA  which the bartender told us was brewed with Oregon Simcoe hops.

A short drive down Vince Lombardi Ave. to the corner of Holmgren and Reggie White Ways….and we hit the massive parking lot for the Badger State Brewery.   On game days, the parking spots are only $20 if one patronizes the brewery – a great deal!

Our bartender, Josh, was friendly – as were all the staff we talked to in the Wisconsin bars and breweries – and recommended the On Wisconsin Red Ale

(“This red ale has a beautiful color given by the various caramel malts which also contribute a nice sweetness. All-American hops add light flavors of orange zest to the beer. Sweet – Fresh – Rustic – Hoppy.”)  Since we had just partaken at Hinterland, we split this one and liked the color and taste.

Josh reviewing the beers on tap with Janet

We drove the ninety miles to Sister Bay through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside – the flat terrain was a real contrast to our mountainous Oregon topography.

Water Street Brewery     1101 N. Water Str.  Milwaukee

Scooters Pub      158 East Juneau Ave.    Milwaukee

Dukes on the Water    158 East Juneau Ave.  Milwaukee

Hinterland Brewing    1001 Vince Lombardi Ave.   Green Bay

Badger State Brewing      990 Tony Canadeo Run   Green Bay

Stir Things Up at the Labrewatory

Tucked away on NE Russell Street is a small, relatively young brewery and taproom.  It’s in the same area as some favorite past watering holes on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs commenced in 2011 – the historic White Eagle Saloon, Prost and The Rambler are just a few. (Click on the links to see the reviews)

Although the Labrewatory is typical of many small breweries – a large garage door that can be opened in good weather – the venue is more than a cool, fifty-seat taproom.  t’s actually a brewing experiment – an idea generated in late 2015 by its head brewer, Charlie Johnson.  And it gets some good reviews including being selected by Travel Portland as one of “Portland’s Best New Breweries in 2015:”

“A new project by Portland Kettle Works (a company that crafts equipment for many local breweries), this cutting-edge brew lab is the first of its kind in the city. Rather than employing its own brewers, The Labrewatory serves as a testing ground for sudsy new experiments from creative minds all over the country.”

Laura, Ryan and friend Kenzie Larson at 2014 Stamtisch Beerchasing

The idea to visit The Labrewatory (hereafter LB) was my son-in-law’s, Ryan Keene.  He and wife, Laura, are veteran Beerchasers, having been on several expeditions before their recent September marriage last year.  These included Stamtisch, Quimby’s and MadSon’s Pub.  (To see Thebeerchaser reviews of these watering holes, click on the link over their names.)

Ryan and Laura debating on the LB beer choice

 

 

 

It was a nice Father’s Day gift to me and Ryan’s dad, Ron, who along with Janet Williams, my wonderful Beerchasing spouse joined our group.  The five of us enjoyed both the beer and the venue.

This was the first Beerchasing expedition for Ron who grew up in Spokane and has been in Portland close to 35 years.  He works for XPO Logistics as a business analyst in IT working on pricing projects. Ryan, who is a an expert runner and excellent athlete, inherited much of his athletic talent from his dad although Ron asserts that “I owned Ryan on the Ping Pong table until he was 12.”

Charlie Johnson, the aforementioned head brewer, has both a masters degree in microbiology and a doctorate in chemical engineering and perhaps considerably more vision in his high school chemistry class than I did.

Dmitri wore a funny hat and drank vodka rather than beer……

Most of us just tried to understand the logic as to why Iron was abbreviated Fe (Atomic # 26) while Iridium was Ir (Atomic #77) on the Periodic Table of Elements and what Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev was trying to prove when he created it.

The LB has a very upscale and attractive interior:

“The sparse, wood-grained brewpub signals its experimental nature with lab-themed decor: Light fixtures look like diagrams of the atom, and the back wall sports a series of beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks arranged on shelves like shoes at Nordstrom.”  Willamette Week Bar Review (12/30/15)

The LB is a great place to taste beers from smaller breweries with the four guest taps hosting Freemont, Sierra Nevada and Cascade Lakes breweries when we were there.  But you can also experiment with BL’s own innovative beers with ten on tap.

Ryan and Ron try a $12 sampler with six different beers.

We tried two of their samplers and were able, with the six beers on each tray, to try most of the options.

And the samplers are reasonably priced at $12 for six four-ounce pours.  Our two favorites were the BL Falcon IPA and the Cascade Lakes Brewing’s Salted Caramel Porter.   BL’s Yuzu Mimosa (Kettle Soured Golden Ale) and Gose in Your Mouth both had plenty of pucker power!

Given their business model, it’s understandable while LB chose not to provide food service – at least not right away – but that does not seem to be a problem.  Multiple parties were ordering food from Tamale Boy, right next door and the offerings (which they will deliver to the Labrewatory when ready) looked very good i.e. reasonable prices and expansive menu – while also getting stellar review in social media.  For example, this 6/21/17 review on Yelp.  

Tamale Boy provides great food options

The quality of tamale goes beyond just authentic. A single tamale is $5 but is almost double the size of tamales I’ve eaten in the past. It is plump and avoids being dry. Wrapped in a freshly steamed leaf, you can tell care went into its production…..The salsa that accompanied the had a great tang, on the spicy side with fresh chunks of cilantro and tomato- excellent!

Delicious, made to order, fresh and full of flavor! Qué fantastico. Super fun eating experience. You can sit (if w/kids), in between the store and the brewery, and they will serve you on your wine barrel.   (Yelp 1/8/17)

Where the innovative brewing takes place….

And the LB deserves credit for their enteprenaurial spirit and innovativeness.  For example, in January of 2016, they released a crowd-sourced beer brew – the @PDXBottleshare IPA...

What’s that?  Well read the description from their website:

“The beer was brewed during the December 2015 @PDXBottleShare event held in our taproom. Participants brought in a bottle of beer to share…and a bag of hops to contribute to the brew.

Nearly 40 people showed up to the event at Labrewatory, bringing in 50 bottles of beer and 23 different hops for the event brew!… For the IPA, Charlie used all of the hop additions in the mash and during fermentation- none in in the boil. He used a very low mash temperature and used traditional German mashing schedule to keep the beer dry, and then the beer was fermented with our house yeast strain from Imperial Organic.”

And the creativity is also reflected in their activities.  In six years of Beerchasing, I have not seen another combination of yoga and beer similar to what goes on once each month:

Monday nights are Yoga + Beer nights in Portland! The last Monday of each month is our class at Labrewatory…..After class we roll up our mats, spread out the tables and enjoy pints of their most recent (and tasty!) concoctions. This detox + retox class, led by Yoga + Beer instructor, Jana Bedard, is an all-levels flow yoga class. After class, yogis are invited to stay to enjoy a delicious beer!  

Yoga and Beer on the last Monday night of each month.

The cost is $20 for the yoga class and a pint or $15 just for the yoga.  (They didn’t offer a beer-only option for somebody who wanted to come and observe the class and just drink while they were inspired by those more motivated to stay in shape.)

There are other interesting stories and perhaps Charlie’s imagination got a little overzealous for one of his first creations.

Loligo vulgaris = squid. Supplied the ink for one of Charlie’s first beers

“…..It’s not too often that a brewer gets so much creative freedom to make beer. Then you get to ask yourself, ‘how far can you push the limits’?”   A cherry Gose brined with squid ink. Yes, squid ink. The ink will act as the salty agent in the beer and give an enticing dark color.”   11 November http://labrewatory.com/meet-our-first-brewer/  

Then there was another one based on an idea by a fellow brewer as documented in New School Beer.com: http://www.newschoolbeer.com/2015/12/the-labrewatory-is-now-brewing-up-strange-brews.html

“This beer was still clearing up in the tank but poured a milky yellow and is spiced with lemongrass, coconut milk, Thai chilies and fish sauce. It wasn’t half bad, though, and I think will get better after clearing up and getting some carbonation.”

No need to follow the steps of Pierre and Marie Curie when brewing….

Perhaps those experiments go beyond the cutting edge and maybe it’s a good thing Charlie got his PhD in chemical and not nuclear engineering.  (He might decide to do some brewing with Radium – that’s Ra and atomic number 88 in the Periodic Table.)  While I have no problem with brewing creativity, I don’t want to have to use a Geiger counter when having a brewski…..

Check out the Labrewatory.  You will enjoy it and there are a lot of other good bars nearby if you want to make it an evening.

Labrewatory        

670 N. Russell Street

 

 

 

Roll Out the Barrel at the House of Sour..

Cascade Barrel House is kind of an unassuming structure on SE Belmont Street  – a plain rectangular building with a large row of windows on the front and an awning over a patio accommodating a number of picnic tables in front.

It has essentially no ambiance, but that was offset because I was having another lunch with my favorite group of tax lawyers – not a group which you would expect to demand a rich environment – just one which allows a break from interpreting provisions of the Internal Revenue Code

The interior is also kind of stark – a few round wooden tables with steel stools and a bar which faces a bunch of taps ingrained in six barrel-type housings.  Two big screen TVs are available for watching sporting events.

A bit of a stark interior

To be clear, this is not a review of the Raccoon Lodge and Brew Pub, which is the primary Cascade Brewing facility – located in SW Portland.  http://raclodge.com/

While we had no expectation of an intriguing interior – typical of most dive bars (like the recently reviewed and nearby Gil’s Speakeasy) and many breweries, at least the beer at Cascade does have interesting and unusual characteristics.

Gils Speakeasy – no sour beer, but dive bar ambiance!

As one enters, a large barrel-end  displayed on the wall with the words “House of Sour” in large black letters greets the customer.  A majority (about 12 or 13 of the 18 beers on tap) are considered sour beer. 

According to their website: “A sour beer is one that has been deliberately brewed to achieve high levels of acidity. This elevated acidity delivers a predominantly sour flavor to the beer as opposed to the bitter or sweet flavors found in standard ales and lagers.”  (But there’s a lot more to sour beers – see below)

Cascade Brewing was founded in 1998 by Art Larrance, who has been involved in Oregon’s craft beer industry since its inception.  In fact, Cascade has a long-term reputation – even nationally,  for its sour beer.  “Cascade Brewing makes a variety of ales, but has made a name for themselves as pioneers of very distinct sour beers……distributed in eight states across the country.”  (Cascade web sight)

“After tasting twenty different sour, wild and farmhouse beers from all over the country ……..Cascade’s 2014 Kriek, a (barrel-aged) sour cherry beer brewed in the Belgian style …… was the best sour beer of them all……in a national survey conducted by New York Times on sour beer.”   Willamette Week 9/9/16

How was our lunch at Cascade Barrel House? (hereafter CBH)  Well, there’s a limited menu – a few decent sharable appetizers, four sandwiches – kind of expensive with most at $10.50 and $11.00 not including a side dish – three were available ala-carte for $1.50 to $2 extra – and four salad options.

Reuben sandwiches not a strength although at least they weren’t sour!

Coincidentally (and maybe because of the lack of choice), all five of us had a pork pastrami-Reuben sandwich ($10.50), which I thought was somewhat mediocre especially for the price, and would not order again.

Goose Hollow’s Claim

For example, compare the Reuben at former Portland Mayor Bud Clark’s Goose Hollow Inn, which advertises it’s sandwich as “The best Reuben on the Planet.”   Based on Thebeerchaser’s experience several times, this may not be an exaggeration and it is available with sides for $9.95 and $10.95.

Small glass of Oblique Coffee House Blonde

Three of the five of us had beers – all Cascade’s own – Oblique Coffee Blonde Stout – 6.5% ABV  (This blonde coffee stout features 1-1/4 lbs per barrel of single origin coffee beans from Colombia called El Corazon, roasted locally by Oblique coffee roasters.

Aromas of sweet, bright, fruity coffee with hints of caramel percolate from the glass. Smooth caramel, cream and coffee notes dance on the palate and lead to a soft, creamy caramel finish.”  (Rate Beer.com)  

And the dark Sang Noir – a whopping 9.5% ABV (“This deep, dark double red was aged over a year in Pinot and Whiskey barrels, then blended with a barrel of Bing cherries.” – Beer Advocate.com)  Reaction to both was very good – they were unusual and not available at most pubs.

The Sang Noir

And when I asked retired Schwabe Williamson lawyer, Pete Osborne how he liked his Cascade IPA – 5.7% ABV, he replied, “It was okay, but I’m not a good judge.  The only bad beer, in my opinion, is an empty glass!”

Prices for the beer are on the high side – eight ounce sour mugs run from $6-8 with pints of non-sour about $5 or $6.   I had one of the small glasses for $2.50  – this is one place, given the characteristics of the beer, where the small glasses of beers may be a good idea to hone in on one that comports with your taste in sour beer – provided you have one.   If not, you can always try the Cascade IPA, which also gets good reviews.

And the staff was very efficient and helpful – both our server and bartender, who answered some questions about the history of Cascade.

Friendly, helpful staff

Now before you lose your pucker, let’s talk a little more about the concept of sour beer.  I tried to gain a rudimentary knowledge after visiting CBH and admit, there’s more involved in brewing this type of beer than meets the palate – like a bunch of chemistry, microbiology and technical brewing stuff.  But remember, notwithstanding the name, this blog is primarily about bars – not the beverage served……

According to an article in the March 19, 2015 edition of Paste Magazineentitled “The Beginner’s Guide to Sour Beer”: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/03/beginners-guide-to-sour-beer.html

A Yeast Cell

Sours get their trademark tartness and sourness from bacteria and wild yeasts – Lactobacillis, Acetobacter, Brettanyomyces and other critters that you wouldn’t find in other styles of beer. 

Each type of bacteria gives its own trademark flavor and aroma…..For some of the sour styles, the wild bacteria and yeast come into the beer during an open or spontaneous fermentation (something that sounds like a college date…..) with open vats of wort exposed to natural air. 

As the barrels get older, the more sour the beer gets, which leads to the common practice of blending beer from several different barrels, young and old to get a consistent beer.”

And its tricky and uncertain because evidently rather than the sterile environment of modern brewing, wild yeast and bacteria are introduced rather than pure yeast cultures and because the beer can take months to ferment and years to mature.”  (Wikipedia

Our bartender emphasized how long it takes to age the sours and this may be one reason that while the tasting room at CBH is very small, according to their website, they have another 5,000 square feet where sour beers are aging in barrels.

And boy do they have a wide range of bottled fruit beer selections – enough for your quota of fruit for the month and possibly tempting you to plant the bottles in your yard to see if they might grow at your home i.e. tangerine, apricot, strawberry (3 different years), blackcap-raspberry, raspberry, blueberry (3), cranberry (3) and elderberry (2).

If you just want a good pub or bar experience, the Cascade Barrel House isn’t necessarily a great option.  And if you decide to try it, you might want to check them out on “Tap It Tuesday” nights at 6:00 when they tap a new creation which gets good reviews.  Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 4:00 to 6:00.

But if you want to explore sour beers or if you are a real fan of the concept, the CBH is a good bet.

Gils – after your sour beer and to quench thirst for a PBR

And maybe another option is to have a good (albeit expensive) sour beer and then walk just five blocks to Gil’s Speakeasy for a great environment and a $1.50 happy hour PBR nightcap. You can.even listen to Dion and the Belmonts sing “Teenager in Love” on the classic juke box!

Cascade Barrel House      939 SE Belmont Street

 

 

Brian Doyle – Beerchaser Eternal

Brian at the Fulton Pub (drinking his favorite pinot gris.)

“Many of my friends are people I’ve never met; I counted Brian Doyle in that group.”

The above quote – from a piece by the editor of the Georgia Review the University of Georgia’s journal of arts and letters, was one of hundreds of laudatory comments from all over the world paying tribute to this literary icon and remarkable human being.   The breadth of Brian Doyle’s literary talent and speaking ability are evident based on the diversity of the novels, essays, short stories and presentations cited in these accolades..

And those reading his work could not avoid feeling the personal bond referenced by the literary expert above.  Just by reading several chaoters in Mink River, The Plover or Marten Martin, the reader quickly discovers Brian’s love of nature, his imagination and his fascination with the mundane details in life most of us take for granted.  He spoke to his readers in the true sense of the word.   

I was profoundly saddened by the passing of this author, award-winning magazine editor, family man and unforgettable personality, on May 27th.  Brian was diagnosed with brain cancer last November and his solid faith sustained him through the surgery and post-operative time with his wonderful family.

He had an expansive group of friends who marveled at his creativity, wit, compassion and charisma.  As Father Mark Porman, the President of University of Portland, where Brian worked for twenty-six years, stated:

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

Artistic talent demonstrated with this self portrait

I only knew Brian for three and one-half years and we first met after I wrote him a letter about the Brian Doyle Humor Scholarship awarded annually at UP.  I thought it was creative, inspirational  and a credit to both him and his university.

Having recently started this blog, I told Brian that I wanted to “honor” him by naming him my next Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter – an accolade he could put on his resume right below Notary Public.   All it required, was to meet me for a beer and an interview.

To my surprise, he agreed and our meeting at Fulton’s Pub on Macadam – one of his favorites – was the first of a number of mug-raising sessions, although he usually drank white wine (and an occasional Hammerhead Ale on very hot days).   I inevitably left those sessions feeling better about the human condition.   My wife, Janet and I  had the pleasure of meeting his wife, Mary, at one of those get-togethers at Maher’s Pub in Lake Oswego.

Favorite watering hole…..

The chorus of those paying tribute to Brian Doyle is loud and prolonged and the inventory of his attributes cited reads like one of Brian’s lists in Martin Marten.  I enjoyed all of his novels – I’m half way through Chicago now and the manner in which his characters convey the essence of that great city make it my favorite so far.  (I have to admit that I even kept notes while reading each of his previous books so I could remember some of the many memorable phrases or metaphors.)

I could also talk about his love of nature; his poignant essays (e.g. his 2009 work, “The Terrible Brilliance,” based on the art therapy work Mary does for young children with serious illnesses at Doernbecher) or the quality of his conversations ranging from the ocean or the village of Zig Zag, to basketball, faith, Edmund Burke and younger days – we found out that we were both born in Merrick, Long Island, New York.

But I want to focus this narrative and my best memories of Brian, on his imaginative, idiosyncratic, dry and incomparable humor.  The following are examples of why I will always smile when I think of the bearded Notre Dame graduate.

“On Being Brian”

In 2002, he wrote letters to 215 other Brian Doyles he found in a national directory to learn more about them:

“Tell me a little bit about yourself, I wrote us recently. How did you get your name? What do you do for work? What are your favorite pursuits? Hobbies? Avocations? Have any of us named our sons Brian? What Irish county were your forebears from? Where were you born? Where did you go to college? What’s your wife’s name?

He spoke to or corresponded with 111 and his essay, “Being Brian,” was published in Harper’s Magazine“Oddly, we were all neurotic about getting to airports early (at least two hours) and all had terrible handwriting.”   (I have a feeling Brian would have undertaken this endeavor even if his name had been Jim Johnson or maybe even Alexi Fronkiwiecz……..)

He said that he was often mistaken for the Brian Doyle, who is well-regarded Canadian children’s author and I kidded him because in doing the research for my blog, I noticed that Portland’s Brian Doyle’s bearded countenance is shown in the summary caption of the Wikipedia article on the Canadian Brian Doyle!  Check it out – that’s still the case. https://www.bing.com/search?q=brian%20doyle%20author&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp

“On the Misuse of Adverbs”

Since we were both New Yorkers, I loved his essay about an altercation in which he and his five brothers “engaged” a male patron in a one of the city’s pubs. This piece demonstrates Brian’s love of the language and his imagination (he maintained this spat really happened, but some of the details could be storyteller’s license).

The Doyle brothers got kicked out of this New York City bar while defending a young woman and the proper use of the English language – from an aggressive suitor:

“Finally there was a moment when the young man leaned toward the young woman and gently covered her exquisite digits with his offensive paws and said:

‘Hopefully, you and I… ‘ at which point my brother Thomas stood up suddenly, launched himself over the balcony rail, landed with a stupendous crash on their table, and said to the young man, ‘Never, and I mean never, begin a sentence with an adverb.”‘

“In the Rain by the River”

Brian spoke at a dinner of the Lang Syne Association in Portland in 2015.  And as one Goodreads reviewer wrote in 2010, “He’s an insanely intense and achingly vulnerable speaker who laughs and cries at his own stories.”

His short and well-received address that night  focused on his five favorite Oregon writers with this eloquent preamble:

“……we rarely celebrate stories enough in public, but I will do so here, because after thirty years of writing I am convinced that stories are food, holy, nutritious, crucial, the muscle of citizenship, maybe even the subtle ways by which we can imagine and achieve a world where war is a memory and violence is a joke in poor taste and children are not afraid and humor and creativity are the common coins of our civic lives.”

He then provided one of his characteristic lists on these literary all-stars and a few other authors enumerating what they (and he) appreciated about Oregon.  Halfway through the list was this item:

“A thorough patience and even appreciation for rain and mist and mud.” (emphasis supplied)

The next time we had a beer (which was on a stormy, yucky day), I chided him about paying tribute to our never-ending precipitation.   I subsequently got a very short e-mail with only the words “Heh, Heh…”, and the above referenced essay attached – one that had been published in The American Scholar and included this excerpt:

“It has been raining so hard and thoroughly that the moss has moss on it. It has rained since last year, which is a remarkable sentence. Even the rain has had enough of the rain and it appears to be pale and weary when it shuffles to the lobby to punch in and out every day…….

Slugs — a new religion???

Slugs have congregated in the basement and established a new religion complete with tithing expectations and plans for expansion into Latin American markets. Mold is now listed in the stock exchange.”    

 

“Four Boston Basketball Stories”

I’ll conclude with the example below which was published in the Kenyon Review in the summer of 2012.  Brian loved basketball and this passion was reflected in his writing – just read the first few chapters of Chicago and you’ll get a flavor: 

Page 1:  ”I lived there for five seasons, leaving my street only to play basketball at a playground a couple of blocks away, or to run to the lake dribbling my worn shining basketball……..”

Page 20:  “I found a pitted basketball court three blocks north, in a school playground which turned out to be exactly on the borderline between the territories of the Latin Kings and the Latin Eagles……I tried to play there every afternoon, if I could before the sun went down…..I got in hundreds of games with the Kings and the Eagles, many of whom fancied themselves terrific ballplayers, and some of whom were.”

In his imitable style, he describes players named Monster, Bucket, Nemo and Not My Fault who:

“….despite being short and round, dearly loved to fly down the middle of the court with the ball, try a wild ridiculous shot in dense traffic, fail to make the slightest effort to claim the inevitable rebound, and then either claim he was making a visionary creative pass, or denigrate a teammate for note being in position to receive the supposed miracle pass.”

Brian was named to a city league all-star team in Boston in 1983 and had the jersey framed in his office.   How tough was the league in which he played???

“…. (it) was so tough that when guys drove to the hole, they lost fingers.  One time a guy….got hit so hard his right arm fell off, but he was a lefty and hit both free throws before going to the bench….

I heard that his team later had a funeral for the arm with everyone carrying the casket with only one arm as a gaffe, but they all got so howling drunk that they lost the arm and had to bury the casket empty and then they spent the rest of the night trying to remember every lefty guy in the history of sports……”

Award-winning magazine with only one editor for twenty-one years

At one of our last Beerchasing expeditions, Brian and his University of Portland colleague, Dr. Sam Holloway and I met near their digs in the historic St. John’s Pub – one of the McMenamin’s establishments. I arrived early and began downing a pint of their good Ruby Red Ale.  When the other two arrived, I was not surprised that Brian ordered his typical pino gris, but Sam, who is a well-known consultant on the business of micro-breweries and head of UP’s Master Strategist:- Craft Beer Business program,  also ordered wine – a temporary gluten issue…

At the St. John’s Pub – good conversation but failure to solve global issues…

We then had a deep discussion about the merits of each beverage which ended with me quoting one sage who asserted:

“Beer – because one doesn’t solve the world’s problems over white wine…..”

Brian is no longer with us, but his legacy will long prevail.  And I can just imagine one of Brian’s first orders of business in the heavenly realm:

After retrieving two spare halos, he converts them into basketball hoops upon convincing God to let him be the player-coach of a team – we’ll call them the Divine Disciples who will ultimately play for the league championship.

In the huddle Brian uses his knowledge of scripture and cites Mathew 20:16 (English Revised Version preferred) “So the last shall be first, and the first last,” to describe a weak-side pick and roll play which will take advantage of the opposing team’s lackluster defense.  (The guy who lost his arm in the Boston game has a new and perfected body as promised in the New Testament and scores the winning layup with his restored limb and “Not My Fault” even admits culpability for several critical turnovers.)

I’m confident that Brian would never subscribe to the premise that “everyone gets a trophy” – even in heaven, and he and his team will toast their victory and raise both the championship trophy and mugs/glass in an ethereal pub.

We will miss you, Brian, and thanks for enriching our lives.

Original Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter post from February 2014

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/02/24/beerchaser-of-the-quarter-author-and-wine-drinker-brian-doyle/

Navigate a Course to Flyboy Brewing

Michelle and Mark – at the controls of the new venue

Mark Becker, the founder and owner of Flyboy Brewing and Michelle Faubion, his Operations Manager, are wonderful people and typical of those one meets in the Oregon microbrew business.  Flyboy Brewing’s “takeoff” is another one of the entrepreneurial successes.

Thebeerchaser blog has chronicled the path of similar microbreweries in Oregon including Caldera in Ashland, Ancestry in Tualatin, Sasquatch in SW Portland and Wolf Tree on the Oregon coast to name just a few.  All have helped to make the $4.49 billion direct and indirect contribution to the Oregon economy according to Oregon Brewers’ Guild.

And like a number of other venues featured in past posts, one may not be captivated when viewing the enterprise from the outside.  But stepping into Flyboy (at least as evidenced by my six visits to the new brewpub in Tigard), one is hit with the vitality and energy which emanate from patrons, staff and even from the beer itself!

Flyboy is a dream of Becker, whose story is below.

And the selection of beers and hard ciders is robust and changes often to allow new adventures.  Michelle is a Level II Certified Cicerone which means she’s a beer expert.  After passing the Level I exam, she mastered the second exam which requires detailed knowledge on the following:

Janet Williams with Cicerone Michelle who explained all the beer options

“…retail beer storage and service issues, excellent knowledge of modern beers and styles, beer history and historical styles, competence in identifying flawed beers and recognizing appropriate and inappropriate flavors in modern beer styles, beer ingredients, the brewing process plus knowledge of beer pairing principles”

And Mark and Michelle’s passion about beer and service is echoed by their staff.  Our parties were always impressed that they urged us to sample new beers and took the time to explain the nuances of each.  http://www.flyboybeer.com/whats-on-tap/

Thirty beers and ciders on tap from a diverse group of breweries….

This encouraged us to try a slew of different options from the thirty beers and hard ciders they have on tap including four of Flyboy’s own (Fighting Red Tails IPA, Tri-Wing Double Fokker Red Ale and a Kolsch.)

Among those we tried were SunRiver Brewing’s Vicious Mosquito and Vermont Vacation, Light Me Up Lager by Springfield’s Hop Valley Brewery  and Three Headed Hop Monster (a collaboration by Boneyard, Melvin and Barley Brown Breweries – a very limited release which went fast…), one of my old standby favorites – Vortex from Astoria’s Fort George plus all of Flyboy brews and a beer with a kicker, Breakside’s Safe Word Triple IPA with an ABV of 11.1%!

And a good way to enjoy a number of the beers and not have to rely on Uber for a ride home, is their Beer Flights – five for $10.  You might want to include the Wizard of Koz in that group, which Michelle recommended – blueberry, chocolate, vanilla aged in a bourbon barrel – new from Founder’s Brewing in Michigan – a venue Michelle discovered when she was in medical sales after nursing school at the University of Washington.

Happy-hour is 3 to 6 PM each weekday and all day Sunday.  That means Flyboy brews are only $4 per pint, $1 off wine and good appetizers ranging from $5 to $8.

On my last visit, Mark had just returned from Seven Brides Brewery in Silverton which is assisting Flyboy until their equipment is fully operational (within the month).  He was working on his Pilot’s Peach Ale, one of Flyboy’s flagship beers to be released on May 26th and told me, “This one is going to win some awards!”

This ones going to win some awards!

A graduate of Vancouver’s Hudson Bay High School and Clark College, he started brewing in his parents’ house while still in high school.  He was not deterred by some minor explosions in the basement brewery and when in 1986, his parents admonished him that beer was not going to be big in the NW, Mark told them, “It’s too good to be a passing fad.  I’m going to make my living doing this someday!”

The original Flyboy in Lake Grove

Well it took awhile – like twenty years in the automotive industry at Leif’s, Les Schwab and Beaverton Honda and then tile work.  He and his wife had been prudent and after working in the corporate world, wanted to be their own bosses.

The original brewpub in Lake Grove

The launch of the small Flyboy taproom in Lake Oswego in 2014 was an all-in proposition – no partners and capitalized with their own savings in what Mark described as “anything but a smooth takeoff…..”.  (I remember going there shorty after it opened and they had run out of their own beers because they could only brew two kegs at a time.)

The name of the brewery is a tribute to his grandfather, a B-29 pilot in World War II and who also trained pilots in P-51’s.  His other grandfather from the Great Generation helped build the battleship, USS Missouri.

The flag and the dummy bomb (from training exercises at the Big Spring Army Air Corps Base in Texas) were his grandfather’s and complement the art and the other aviation memorabilia.

Mark’s research determined that the name “Flyboy” was available and after securing the legal rights, he wrote to the American Aviation Historical Society for permission to use their artwork – it was in the public domain and they sent out templates for him to convert into signs and interior art which are a highlight of the pub in Tigard.

As is often the case with start-up breweries, the active and passive resistance of bureaucrats can discourage or even crush the plans of entrepreneurs.  Mark persisted after his plan to expand in 2014, and which initially looked promising as a venue in a hangar at the Aurora Airport, was batted down by the FAA and Marion County

Then while going to the Tigard Home Depot, he saw vacant space and contrary to his prior experience, PAC Trust Realty and the City of Tigard were “awesome” in the manner they responded and expedited the lease and permits to start their Sequoia Parkway location.  The grand opening at Tigard was April 17th – three years to the day of the original location in Lake Grove.

A great team – Michelle and Mark

Mark originally met Michelle Faubion at a beer conference, and as is the case with most people, remembered her.  She accepted his offer to become his Operations Manager.

Michelle is a remarkable woman and besides having an impressive background, is one of the most charismatic people I have met in the five and one-half years of Thebeerchaser.   She was originally featured in this blog as the co-owner of the Hop N Cork in Lake Oswego.

The Classic Burger – a bargain at $10

The Hells Angel Chicken Sandwich ($12)

The food is also a plus at Flyboy.  Great burgers,   sandwiches, salads and pizza (rectangular! at $10-14).  The prices are very reasonable.

Becker franchised a Vancouver brewpub and the Tigard location has growth potential with 160 parking spaces available and ample brewing and kitchen capacity (he purchased his brewery equipment including nine fermenters and a seven barrel system from Brett Joyce, now President of Rogue Ales).

He will start brewing 300-325 kegs per month with limited distribution and a patio in front of the restaurant will be ready this summer.

Waiting in anticipation for the patio this summer…

Since the Flyboy opening was only three months ago, there aren’t a lot of social media comments, but this excerpt from a Yelp review on 5/11/17 is a good summary and from a Californian, no less:

We need places like this in SoCal! The beer is top shelf, the food is amazing made with fresh ingredients, and the staff is amazing…… Some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Michelle’s personality is infectious, the nicest most genuine person I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

My wife and I have been amazed with the enthusiastic crowds each time we have returned – and a lot of them appear to be regulars already.  Mark’s story and perseverance is absolutely inspiring.   Navigate a flight path to Flyboy and say hello to Mark and Michelle – don’t worry, Michelle will beat you to the punch with the greeting!

Flyboy Brewery and Restaurant     15230 SW Sequoia Pkwy   Tigard

Flyboy Taproom      15630 Boones Ferry Road, Suite 1A
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

 

 

Beerchasing Miscellany – Pondering Suds, Suffrage and Civility

The Hitselberger farm near Seal Rock on the Oregon Coast

Wolf Tree Brewery

While staying in Lincoln City for a week recently, I read an article in Willamette Week about Wolf Tree Brewery – typical of Oregon’s great brewery stories.  Reporter, Martin Cizmar did his usual good job of conveying the story of Wolf Tree’s founder and owner, Joe Hitselberger’s small operation on his 600 acre cattle and timber ranch six miles east of Seal Rock. “A Tiny Coastal Brewery is Becoming the King of Sitka Spruce Beers.”

Since 2013, Joe has specialized in spruce-tip beer – it’s probably the only Oregon brewery to make it year-round.  As described by Cizmar in his article:

“With a mild cotton-candy and strawberry sweetness, Wolf Tree’s barrel-aged spruce bud ale, is the best I’ve ever had and I’m not alone in my opinion. Earlier this month, Wolf Tree came out of nowhere to win a gold medal for best ‘Experimental’ beer at the Oregon Beer Awards.”

Joe Hitselberger sampling some of his spruce tip beer

Since I had some spare time, I called Joe and he agreed to let me interview him and take some photos.  Coincidentally, two guys from Boise who had tasted his beer, showed up at the same time and we sampled both his Spruce Tip Ale and the Camille’s Golden IPA – named after Joe and Taryn, his finance’s, late golden retriever.  The beer is part of their Ranch Dog Series:  

“We created the Ranch Dog Series as a tribute to our furry friends who live here at the ranch.  A portion of sales for these beers will be donated to the Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis.”  

Camilles Golden IPA from the Ranch Dog Series

I’ll cover this brewery in more depth this summer, when they open the planned tasting room on the south side of Newport’s Yaquina Bay Bridge.  But the six mile drive on Beavercreek Road after I left Highway 101 was amazing – including the herd of 25 Roosevelt Elk I discovered grazing in a field just off the road.

Until the taproom is opened, Thebeerchaser will head to Belmont Station, one of four Portland distributors of Wolf Tree’s beer.

Update on 2017 “We the People “Competition

Some members of the Grant Team with Rogers and Westwood on the right

Beerchaser followers were previously informed that the Grant High School Constitution Team won the Oregon competition and was headed for the nationals in Washington DC.

Well, that April trip was successful since they placed second – quite an accomplishment.  More remarkable is Oregon’s record in the last six years in the national competition as shown below:

2012 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place  2013 – Oregon (Grant) first place

2014 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place  2015 – Oregon (Grant) first place

2016 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place, Oregon wild card (Grant) third place

2017 – Virginia first place, Oregon (Grant) second place (10 points behind, out of 1800), Indiana third place (85 points behind Grant)

In fact, those who subscribe to conspiracy theories, have wondered if prior results by both Grant and Lincoln High Schools, persuaded the judges that a school from another state should get some of the glory……

Alice and the proud parents at Washington DC competition

The Grant team has a double Beerchaser connection since team member, Alice Eden Fischer, is the daughter of Amy Faust and Kevin Fischer.   KWJJ Radio personality, Amy, is the most recent Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

And one of the long-term coaches and team advisors is Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood, who received the same recognition from Thebeerchaser in March 2013.  (To read about these two interesting people, click on the link over their names.)

Westwood (second from left) and Padrow on the right

In fact, this story of Oregon in national competition is reminiscent of another remarkable run by an Oregon school – that of the Portland State College team that set records in 1965 in the television competition (The GE College Bowl) that captured the nation as recounted in this article. (Portland State Alumni Association News – May 2, 2005)

“The 415 points scored in their final match ties them for fifth-highest single-game total achieved, and their 1725 points total set a new record at the time, and is fourth highest overall. The March 26, 1965 issue of Time has an article on how the College Bowl victories helped change Portland State’s image as “the flunk-out school” for University of Oregon and Oregon State drop-outs…”

If you look closely at the picture of the Grant Team above, you might recognize the same guy in the Portland State photo.   Yes, that’s the same Jim Westwood who was the captain of the PSC team and possibly learned some coaching techniques from the late, Ben Padrow, who brilliantly guided the four students to their records.

I’m not sure that Padrow went as far as Westwood, however, when the Grant coach for the last fifteen years, promised his team in 2013 that if they won, he would get a tattoo to memorialize (so to speak) the victory.  To get the story on the significance of the 1783 date, check out Thebeerchaser post https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/kellys-olympian-bar/

“Stamp” Out Complacency

And having some idea how much effort all the students in the “We the People” competition put forth, I cannot help but again shake my head with the Oregon Legislature’s misguided effort to increase voter turnout encompassed in Senate Bill 683.  The same concept was defeated in 2016, but unfortunately returns in the 2017 Session, thanks to the sponsorship of Senators Richard Devlin and Michael Dembrow.

If passed into law, voters would no longer have to put postage on their vote-by-mail return ballots.  The State of Oregon, which ironically faces a projected $1.6 billion deficit, would cover the forty-nine cent cost of a stamp in each election at an estimated cost of $650,000 to $1.3 million price tag for each biennium.

Original use on (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/28/beerchaser-miscellany-five-years-of-thebeerchaser/

The symbol of the “Stamp Culture”

Ironically, Devlin is the Senate’s chief budget writer and tried to justify the bill because its tough for some would-be voters to afford the cost of a stamp.  Dembrow stated:

“This is especially true for a lot of young people who don’t use stamps.  They’re just not into the stamp culture……”

Original use (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/28/beerchaser-miscellany-five-years-of-thebeerchaser/)

Crossing the Delaware to fight for our right to have postage-paid return ballots.

Perhaps someone should explain to those who are not into the stamp culture, that they might want to consider the walking culture,” since libraries, city halls or courthouses are all locations where ballots can be returned without postage and are usually within a few miles of most voters’ residence.

Thebeerchaser subscribes to the assertion that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  I guess that premise is no longer operable and it’s just $.49.

The Anarchists Tried to Get Their Act Together

Newspaper stories these days are never surprising and the irony of this report in the Oregonian on March 14th makes me shake my head.  A group labeling itself Portland Anarchist Road Care, “working anonymously with one person wearing a mask….” actually filled potholes on Southeast Salmon Street.

The group said it is now exploring alternatives to patching potholes including mobilizing people to fix roads in their neighborhoods.  ……..“By creating structures (emphasis supplied) to serve the same purpose as state structures, organizations such as ours have the ability to show that government is not necessary for society to function.”

From the Chicago Haymarket Affair

While I realize that anarchists sometimes do advocate societies based on voluntary institutions, this seems a bit of a contradiction in terms.   And it begs the question:

If government is not necessary for society to function, who is supposed to control the masked thugs who threw burning objects, blocked streets and damaged buildings during the May Day Parade in PDX? 

Lawyers are trying to figure out the liability issues if the Anarchists don’t fill in the potholes correctly and cause accidents or vehicular damage.  Perhaps they should heed the advice of Mitchell Kapor (the founder of Lotus Software) who advised:  “Inside every anarchy, there’s an Old-Boy Network.” 

A Precursor to the “Digital” Age

Since this is a blog about bars and beer, I typically refrain from political topics, but unless one has been living under a rock for the last eighteen months, it’s difficult to stay above the fray.  While the tripe that emanates from the West Wing becomes more unbelievable and dangerous each day,  one also has to hold the media accountable for the methods of coverage at times.

Source of alternative facts (to be polite…..)

One wonders if we can return to the civility and bipartisanship led by statesmen that characterized the Oregon Legislature e.g. Tom McCall and Hector MacPherson and the US Congress e.g. Mark Hatfield and Tip O’Neill in the 60’s and 70’s. 

Yet, based on the nature of the beast, there were times even in this more refined era (without 24-hour news coverage) when emotions overcame propriety – something which lent some humor and excitement to the news.

Such was the case on September 16, 1976, when Vice President Rockefeller was campaigning with Sen. Bob Dole, who had been selected to be President Gerald Ford’s running mate.   Some student in a group of hecklers gave the finger to the VP and he immediately reciprocated the gesture — with gusto!  I’ve kept the picture below from the newspaper for all these years thinking I could use it at some point and the excerpt below describes the incident: 

“At the time, Rockefeller’s finger flashing was scandalous and the gesture was referred to thereafter as ‘The Rockefeller Salute.’  Rockefeller refused to apologize for his outburst.

‘I was just responding in kind’ he said, neatly avoiding the point that the apology was not expected to go to the hecklers but to the general public.”

A veteran with a Purple Heart and a good sense of humor…..

Bob Dole was asked by a reporter why he didn’t join Rockefeller in “the salute”.  ‘I have trouble with my right arm,’ he replied. (Rarehistorical photos.com October 16,2016)

And in closing, perhaps we need to look at  the anger we see today from all parts of the political spectrum.  As conservative columnist, George Will wrote in a 2007  opinion piece in the Washington Post I saved, but is still relevant:

“Once upon a time, Americans admired models of self-control, people such as George Washington and Jackie Robinson, who mastered their anger rather than relishing being mastered by it. 

Today, however, proclaimed anger — the more vituperative the better — is regarded as a sign of good character and emotional vitality…..Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity:  ‘I snarl, therefor I am.’  Such people make my blood boil.” 

Or the LA Times’,Tim Rutten, who in a  2009 column entitled, “A Crash Course on our Descent Into Coarseness” opened with:

“Incivility is the new secondhand smoke.  Everyone feels impelled to disdain it, but nobody is willing to do away with it entirely.”

Rather than ponder in frustration, “When will all the rhetorical questions ever end?”,  Thebeerchaser would suggest a small step to solve this dilemma harkening back to the 18th century — to one of the Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin.  In 1727, he formed the Junto, a group of “like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.”  (Wikipedia)

Ben Franklin – believed in civil dialogue

When they met they discussed issues of the day, debated philosophical topics and devised schemes for self-improvement.  In a description of the goals of this group, Walter Isaacson, in his 2003, 590-page book, Benjamin Franklin, An American Life states:

“Franklin stressed the importance of deferring, or at least giving the appearance of deferring, to others…… ‘When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him.’ 

Instead, he would agree in parts and suggest differences only indirectly…. This velvet-tongued and sweetly passive style of circumspect argument would make him seem sage to some, insinuating and manipulative to others, but inflammatory to almost nobody.”

Franklin’s Junto was evidently open only to men and they drank coffee rather than alcoholic beverages, but adapting to the times, perhaps we need to have this type of discussion for members of all genders in bars, taverns and pubs while drinking Oregon microbrews.  And even if Ben Franklin, didn’t actually utter the words often attributed to him, the assertion still has merit: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”

Regaining Civility

Cheers!