“The US Postal Service will deliver mail throughout the US on Monday.”
The above is an example of the ubiquity of this two-word exclamation and “report” – not only on cable news but the networks. These range from current events of significant gravity to those of the monotonous and mundane. This trend led Chris Licht, President of CNN, to declare:
“It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience.”
A December 15, 2021 headline by Oregonian Beer Writer, Andre Meunier, entitled, “Chuckanut Brewery, Washington’s pioneering lager-maker, opens SE Portland taproom,” did qualify as breaking news in the NW Brewery World:
“Portland has no shortage of world-class beer, but Chuckanut’s arrival has even the most snobbish local beer fans excited.
Rarely a year goes by that the brewery doesn’t win at least one award at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, including four in 2009, the brewery’s first year at the competition, and its trophy case holds numerous medals from the annual World Beer Cup, as well.”
(# External photo attribution at the end of the post #1)
After getting back in full stride on the Beerchasing Trail again in mid-October, the Chuckanut P.Nut Beerhall in Southest Portland was one of the first new watering holes I visited. I’ve personally mourned the departure of some notable breweries during and after the pandemic such as Sasquatch Brewing, Hair of the Dog, Grixen, Lompoc, etc..
Thus, I was heartened by the addition of this Bellingham Washington brewery to Portland – especially given it’s family ownership and tradition in suds. And based on the breadth and length of experience of co-owners’ Mari and Will Kemper, it’s a story worth repeating – this from their website: (#2-3)
“Mari and Will started one of the first craft breweries in the Northwest Thomas Kemper Brewery back in 1984 At the same time he taught brewing engineering for the American Brewers Guild in Davis, CA.
They returned to America and he continued to consult with them when the two of them were asked to return to Istanbul to make the first craft brewery. They lived three years in Turkey for the project and when they finally returned to their home in Bellingham, WA they decided to start Chuckanut Brewery.
And so the story of Chuckanut begins in 2008!”
As followers of this blog know, it’s not really about beer, but rather the places individuals and groups gather to consume this wonderful malted beverage. I’m interested – and try to tell you – about the brewers, the staff, the regulars or one-time visitors who I meet on my visits.
And besides my wife, Janet, on our road trips, for local jaunts, I always try to take friends or colleagues – most of whom seem to have more interesting stories than mine. But I enjoy telling them.
After a visit to the Tabor Tavern in August (review not yet written), my friend, John Limb and I hit the Chuckanut P.Nut Beer Hall on a Friday mid-afternoon in October. I first met John in 2016, when we both served on the Benedictine Brewery Advisory Committee – a group that worked until the opening of the Brewery and Taproom in Mount Angel in late 2018.
I then joined John on the Abbey Foundation of Oregon Board and we’ve served together since. He is currently the President of that Board. John and his wife, Kim, are two of the nicest people one would ever want to meet and typify the members of that Board. (#4 – 5)
John, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from the University of Louisville where he met Kim and where, after graduation, he worked at a church in the Archdiocese of Louisville. In 1986, they moved to Portland where he became Editor at the Oregon Catholic Press in Portland.
The OCP is a non-profit national leader in Catholic and faith-based music publishing and worship resources. Thirty years later – twenty-five of them as publisher – John retired in 2017, and continues to serve as OCP’s Publisher Emeritus. During his tenure, OCP became the nation’s leading publisher of Catholic worship material. (#6 – 9)
You can see from the first photo below, he began his tenure there as a young guy! In the fourth photo, he is sitting with his successor, Wade Wisler.
Why is Chuckanut Notable?
The beer awards for Chuckanut started early with four in 2009 and they were two-time winner of the Great American Beer Festival’s best small brewery their first four four years. And they have continued – you can see the medals and trophies in the pub and look at the 2021 Facebook post below:
“We did it again, Large Brewery of the Year 2021 WA Beer Awards! We won with:
Gold medal for Rye Lager
Gold medal for Rauch Helles Lager
Gold medal for Asian Style Lager
Gold medal for Old Fest Marzen style lager
Silver medal for Dunkel Lager
Silver medal for Chuck Light
Silver medal for Maibock” (#10)
The bad news is that Chuckanut sells about 95% of its beer on draft – packaging only about 5% of its production, so you need to go to P.Nut (or their other location in Burlington, WA) and select a brew from one of their twelve beers on tap.
And the beer is good – take the 2018 opinion of Beervana’s Jeff Alworth, one of the nation’s leading beer experts:
“Chuckanut has won about every award there is to win, and their mostly-German tap-list is a master’s course in elegance through simplicity….. Chuckanut’s beers are absolutely faithful to tradition…
(They) are so good not because they express ‘innovation”’ but because they demonstrate the mastery that comes from honing a craft over a lifetime. On my first visit I ticked off the classics: helles, kolsch, dunkel, marzen, pilsner. It was like a visit to Germany.”
Neither John or I are beer experts, but we know what tastes good. John really enjoyed the Dunkel and I reveled in their Kolsch as I love German beer. They are described as follows and each has won more medals than space permits listing:
Dunkel Lager – Chuckanut’s Dunkel is a deep reddish-brown color, capped by an impressively sturdy tan head. As in all lagers, the flavors in Dunkel are produced directly by the ingredients; in this case some of the malts have been roasted, giving Dunkel toffee, chocolate, coffee, and even licorice notes.
Kolsch – a blonde, top fermented ale brewed from pilsner malt. Bitterness is restrained, and the palate is light-bodied and dry with a soft malt flavor in the center giving way to a dry finish. (#11 – 12)
The Space at P.Nut
It’s certainly not fancy although according to Brian, our bartender – knowledgeable and friendly – they have enhancements in store. There is long, wooden community table and smaller tables plus space at the bar.
Most of the décor centers on the Chuckanut story with medals and news clippings. A Foosball game and darts are nice additions. Some outdoor seating is available. They currently do not have food although food trucks are often available.
It’s a family space and pets are welcome as shown in the photo below. It had a low key and pleasant ambiance when we were there. One slight downside is that parking is not plentiful in the neighborhood and you may have to hoof it a few blocks.
Although it’s not a valid sampling, I always try to get a feel for the thrust of reviews and since P.Nut has been open only a short time, there weren’t many, but the two Yelp reviews below were indicative. The only negative comments were mixed with praise in the same reviews – no bike rack and “parking can be tricky.”
6/7/22 – “Great space, friendly service, tasty beer! What else do you need? This is a great spot especially if you aren’t a big IPA fan. I went to college in Bellingham, so it was such a treat to have some Bellingham brews again here in Portland!”
11/18/22 – “Spot is simple. Beers, TV’s, foosball, darts, tables. All the essentials of a good beerhall. I had the Kolsch and it was excellent. I didn’t see much of a food option which is okay, but I definitely enjoyed the beer option. I’d encourage anyone to get Kolsch or pilsner or stout. Solid options at this corner spot.”
Chuckanut Brewing is admirable – their commitment to sustainability, support of community non-profits, company values and their great beer. Come out of your shell and hit the P.Nut Beer Hall!
Chuckanut P.Nut Beer Hall
920 SE Caruthers St, Portland, OR (#13)
External Photo Attribution
#1 – 3. Chuckanut Brewery Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/chuckanut.beer/photos/a.
#5. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mt._Angel_Abbey_
(Marion_County,_Oregon_scenic_images)_(marDA0213).jpg) The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Source: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives. March 2010.
#10. Chuckanut BreweryFacebook (https://www.facebook.com/chuckanut.beer/photos/10165747824365072)
#11 – 13. Chuckanut Breweru Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/chuckanut.beer/photos/?ref=page_internal)