Beerchaser Miscellany – Fall of 2017

The Brooklyn Park Pub – Revisiting the First Stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs and One of My Favorite Bartenders

Seven years ago, when I decided to implement my crazy idea as a retirement hobby, I was concerned about how it would be perceived by the bartenders I would interview.  For it to be successful, I needed them to answer my questions about what makes their bar different, comment on the tavern’s regulars and offer info on their own background.

Would they dismiss these inquiries as some old guy with idiosyncratic tendencies or support the idea that highlighting the history and distinguishing factors of Portland’s many watering holes was a cool idea?

Phoebe in August 2011

Well, my trepidation was unnecessary when the first bartender I interviewed became one of the most memorable.  Phoebe Newcomb was behind the bar at the Brooklyn, a great little Southeast neighborhood pub – and still one of my favorites after seven years.

She told me about the Whiskey Club, talked about the tradition of serving their draft beers in Mason jars and to check out the woodchuck posters…..

Phoebe’s gift at my first stop on the Tour….

When I told her that the Brooklyn was my first of what I hoped would be many bars on the tour, she gave me a Brooklyn Park Pub cap and signed it.   I still remembered her charming and distinctive laugh that echoed through the bar as she was interacting with her customers.

In July, I was reviewing Willamette Week’s Best of Portland issue and discovered that third place for Best Portland Bartender was none other than Phoebe, who now works at the Landmark Saloon besides the Brooklyn.

This motivated me to return to the first of what has become 85 Portland bars and another 125 in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, a slew of places in the continental US and all over Oregon on Thebeerchaser’s tour of Bars, Tavern and Pubs.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/08/07/the-first-establisment-on-the-chase/

A reunion six years later. And the beer is still served in Mason jars

I was not disappointed in Phoebe’s reaction when I again told her my story and that I had returned to thank her for the positive kickstart to Thebeerchaser’s Tour.  I donned the treasured BPP hat and one of the regulars took our picture.

Brian Doyle – His Legacy Lives On – As followers of Thebeerchaser blog and those who appreciate good literature know, we lost a great human being in May with the passing of Brian Doyle who succumbed to brain cancer.   Brian was prolific, authoring about thirty books including novels, collections of short stories and penetrating essays, was the editor of the award-winning Portland magazine published by the University of Portland and a gifted speaker.

Having a brewski in the St. Johns Pub with University of Portland colleague, Dr. Sam Holloway

I met Brian in 2013 when I informed him by letter that I had named him my eleventh Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and all it required for him to receive the “award” (a pint of beer) was to meet me for an interview at the saloon of his choice.  He chose the Fulton Pub.

We had drinks after that on a number of occasions and corresponded by e-mail in which he never failed to demonstrate his positive view of humanity, his religious faith and his imaginative and fanciful sense of humor.

I was therefore pleased when in July I received an e-mail  request from the Design Editor of Melbourne Catholic Magazine in Australia requesting permission to use one of the pictures posted in a tribute to Brian in the blog shortly after his passing.    I laughed when I found out that they selected the one I took at the Fulton Pub the first time we raised a mug.

In the Fulton Pub

The article entitled, “Minor Prophets – A Tribute to a Favourite Author” will be published in September.  Ann Rennie, the author, states in part:

“(Minor prophets) remind us of the universal and eternal.  They remind us of God and of good, and the everyday revelation of the glory in life in all its weariness and work and woe; in its humdrum, ordinary decency and its scintillating, soul stirring wonder.   One such profit (was) the American writer, Brian Doyle, whose beautiful words, written with candour and joy and lyricism, help us to find again the simple and larger truths.””

The picture of the main character on the cover has a strong resemblance to ……

I recently finished Chicago the second to the last novel which Brian wrote in 2016 and it’s my favorite – it’s a perfect example of his keen observations of nature, people and events, some of which many would view as trite or inconsequential.   I’m sure that Brian could have ridden the #33 Tri-Met bus (McLoughlin Blvd…..) from Oregon City into Portland and have written a lengthy and entertaining essay (with very long sentences…..) on what he observed that would have been a good read.

As with another one of my favorite Doyle novels, Martin Marten, I fold back pages as I read so I can go back and write down phrases or paragraphs I want to ponder and remember.  (The book ends up having more pages with folds than those that are not.)

Author, poet and hero of Edward

You should read Brian’s account of Chicago – his descriptions of Chicago White Sox games and players and the Chicago Bulls, gyros, meeting former NBA great Artis Gilmore on a walk, street basketball, Lake Michigan and dribbling his “worn and shiny basketball” through miles and miles of the urban landscape.   And as in Martin Marten, one of his main characters is an intriguing, erudite and marvelously resourceful animal – this one, a talking dog named Edward who had a strong and enduring admiration for both Abe Lincoln and Walt Whitman.  

“But to say of Edward merely that he was a dog and leave the description at that, would be a grave disservice not only to him but to you, for he was one of the most subtle and gracious beings I ever met, and the litany of his adventures alone would fill a shelf of books, before getting to his influence on other beings, for example, which was both considerable and renowned, so much so that creatures of various species would come to Edward for consultation and counsel, from birds to people of all manners and modes of life.”  (Chicago page 2)

The following is a description of his main character’s daily walks in Chicago as he ambled (dribbled…) through countless blocks of the urban landscape.  I offer this as one of many examples why Ann Rennie ended her article with the words, “Thank you Brian, for words that warmed our hearts, enlarged our minds and touched our souls.”  

“….So I walked; and there were days when I thought it likely that I had walked farther and deeper in Chicago that day than anyone else in the whole city, and this was a city of three million souls…

..I met a roan horse….I met buskers by the score, a hundred street basketball players, dozens of people fishing the lake.  I met librarians and bookshop owners and probably every gyro vendor north and west of the Loop.  I met train conductors and bus drivers and taxi drivers….I met teachers and policemen (curiously, never a police woman) and many mayoral candidates – it seemed like every other person in the city that year was running for mayor – and bartenders. (Chicago – page 188)

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/06/09/brian-doyle-beerchaser-eternal/

Pondering Those that Come and Go – I am saddened to report that one of Portland’s  most iconic breweries has “chugged” into the sunset.  The Tugboat Brewery, which I visited with former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams in March 2013 and was downtown Portland’s oldest craft brewery,  was severely water-damaged when the ceiling of the apartment above it in the Stewart Hotel collapsed.  While initially, the plan was to open after repairs, the damage was evidently too extensive.

They posted a sign which stated, “The flea bag hotel above us had an arson fire…..that caused water damage to our pub.”  https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/03/08/say-tug-boat-brewery-ten-times-really-fast/

Sam Adams at the Tugboat in 2013

Similarly, MadSon’s Pub closed in August although no reason was supplied other than rumors of electrical and HVAC issues which would have required extensive repairs.  MadSon’s was a cool and spacious neighborhood-type bar on the near Eastside which had a nice ambiance and a superb brunch.  My first visit was with Portland lawyer, Jack Faust and his clan.  

Add the Hop & Vine on North Killingsworth to the list of closures after eight years of serving beer and wine to its loyal customers.   And, of course, the historic and famous Lotus Cardroom, in downtown Portland is also gone in the name of development.

Fortunately, some other rumored closings did not occur including Tony’s Tavern, a noted dive bar for twenty-one years on West Burnside.   Like Joe’s Cellar, Tony’s reportedly closed because of lease issues, but reopened and is back in business.   This is fortunate.  As one of Tony’s bartenders stated in the Willamette Week clip “It’s where people are friendly.  Some of our customers are assholes, but they’re friendly.”

Other rumors of closings which fortunately did not become a reality were the Laurelthirst Public House and the Dockside, which will see a multi-story office building built immediately adjacent to it.  The Dockside is “best known locally as the place Tonya Harding’s then husband, Jeff Gillooly, tried to dispose of evidence in the kneecapping of (Olympic figure skater) Nancy Kerrigan in 1994.”  (Willamette Week)

And Some That Thrive….! – I am happy to report that on a recent and one of many return visits to what has become one of my favorite brewpubs – FlyBoy Brewing in Tigard, Mark Becker and Michelle Faubion report that their expectations have been exceeded since the opening earlier this year. The City of Tigard has been very helpful in the permit process and they will be opening a new patio in front of the pub in several weeks.

The Flyboy Management Team

The newest of the Flyboy Brews Pilot’s Peach Ale (ABV: 5.50%) has been well received (It had sold out on my visit) and Michelle stated that some patrons are mixing it with Flyboy’s White Cloud Imperial IPA (5.80% ABV).  My first pint of the Peach Ale is one – not the only reason – I keep returning.  https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/flyboy-brewing/

A remarkable beer

Drop by and try some of the thirty beers on tap and the great food on their menu.  Happy Hour is from 3:00 to 6:00 each weekday.

Thebeerchaser Goes Civic –  I was pleased to be able to make a repeat performance relating the story of Thebeerchaser blog and why it has become a wonderful retirement hobby – this time in August at the Lincoln City Rotary Club.   I made the same presentation to the West Linn Rotary Club in 2016.

They appeared to enjoy the stories on the dive bars, especially since one of my favorites is Lincoln City’s venerable Old Oregon Saloon.   And it was gratifying when the principal of one of the local schools came up afterwards and said, “I loved the dive bar stories and descriptions.  I grew up in one.  My parents owned a dive bar in Washington.”

Farewell to a Portland Legend – Born in Hot Springs, South Dakota, Jack Stutzman died in Portland last week at the age of 77.  He graduated from Oregon’s West Linn High School and found his niche in the bar and restaurant business after Army service.  His first tavern, the Green Spot was followed by The Local Gentry, Gassy Jack’s and he then purchased the Hoot Owl in John’s Landing in 1973.

It became the legendary Buffalo Gap Saloon & Eatery, named after one of his favorite towns in South Dakota:

“The Gap grew from a seating capacity of 25 to 250……Became a neighborhood tavern, a home away from home.  It sheltered a diverse crowd from all walks of life, the neighbors, the  young and old party goers, the students from Lewis and Clark, the medical community from OHSU, the commuters between PDX and Lake Oswego, the occasional celebrity and everyone in between.”  From obituary in Oregon Live 

Holly Eldridge, our server, and Jack Faust at the Buffalo Gap in 2011

The Gap was one of Thebeerchaser’s first watering holes visited when this blog started in 2011 with Beerchaser regular, Jack Faust.  Drop by this great saloon which still thrives on SW Macadam and toastJack Stutzman’s  memory.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/12/14/the-buffalo-gap-saloon/

Sam Holloway – Educator – Craftsman and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

Dr. Sam Holloway of the University of Portland

Dr. Sam Holloway of the University of Portland

Each quarter Thebeerchaser recognizes an individual or group that in his opinion has made a contribution to humanity.  Said “honoree” may or may not have anything to do with beer or bars other than enjoying an occasional microbrew (or PBR) in a favorite watering hole.  This quarter, I do a shout out to Dr. Sam Holloway, professor at the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business Administration.

Princeton's Dr. Harry Frankfurt

Princeton’s Dr. Harry Frankfurt

Sam joins two other professors and a colleague at the University of Portland as academicians featured previously by Thebeerchaser.  The former includes Princeton Professor Emeritus, Dr. Harry Frankfurt, author of the wonderful book On Bullshit.  (January, 2012) 

And in June that same year, Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOTQ) was my graduate school Public Finance professor, Dr. John Walker from Portland State University whose humorous and cynical quips at the beginning of each lecture still make me chuckle including these two:

“It’s much more economically efficient to bury people vertically rather than horizontally.”  

“It is my opinion that we could lower the defense budget to zero and the Russians would not attack….However the Mexicans would.”

Named BOTQ  in the first quarter of 2014, and a colleague of Sam Holloway’s at UP is accomplished Northwest author, Brian Doyle, who is the editor of the award-winning University of Portland quarterly magazine (Portland) and author of six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” a short story collection and three novels – Mink River, The Plover, and Martin Marten (published in 2015).

Author and editor, Brian Doyle

Author and editor, Brian Doyle at the Fulton Pub

But we aren’t highlighting Sam’s career based strictly on his formidable academic credentials and classroom record which will be addressed later in this post. Sam’s contribution to the micro-craft industry is also noteworthy.

One of my wife’s and my favorite professors in graduate school at PSU was Dr. Walt Ellis.  Walt, besides giving great lectures and having a personal interest in his students’ careers, also loved to have a beer and conversation with his students after our three-hour evening classes.

Well, not only has Sam garnered awards and rave reviews by his students for his lectures, but he likes beer.  And who could ask more than having a professor who is a nationally (and now internationally) known brewery consultant.   And he’s an equity shareholder in addition to being on the board of directors of Eugene’s Oakshire Brewery – since 2010, helping them grow from about 1822 bbls to a projected output in 2015 above 10,000 bbls annually.  The brewery founded in 2006 evolved from a home-brewing hobby to an award-winning NW brewery.

The Beer Goddess - also a fan of Sam Holloway

The Beer Goddess – also a fan of Sam Holloway

Lisa Morrison, known throughout the Northwest as the Beer Goddess, is an author and former broadcaster and was the first female “honoree” to be named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (First quarter of 2015).  She is a friend of Sam Holloway’s and in response to my request, wrote this endorsement:

“So often, people become brewers because they love what they do and they love the craft. But there’s a business side to brewing. That’s the side that, unfortunately, a lot of artisan brewers neglect.

Sam Holloway is the guy who steps in and helps these breweries actually become businesses. His knowledge and expertise in business, coupled with a true love and passion for craft brewing, is the perfect combination for these brewers and breweries who need a little tough business love.” 

One wonders how a guy in his thirties could have accomplished so much in so little time.   After graduating from Willamette University, he received his Masters in Teaching at Pacific University.  He taught advanced physics in Prague and then secondary mathematics in Beaverton, subsequently completing his Ph.D. at the U of O, (2009)specializing in strategic management and entrepreneurship.    Sam was also named the outstanding graduate student teacher while at the U of O.

Award-winning educator....

Award-winning educator….

He became a professor at UP in 2010 and was granted tenure in 2015.  We will see why UP is a dynamic university – one willing to take risks to fully use Sam’s talents with impressive results.

A skilled lecturer and presenter

A skilled lecturer and presenter

Besides his 2008 book (Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management), his numerous journal articles and publications fill about four of the total eleven pages in his  curriculum vitae (that’s academician speak for “resume”….)  But what has Dr. Sam done to promote my favorite beverage and advance the micro-craft industry?

Let’s start with the most recent example and consider the slogan, “Craft Beer Deserves Craft Strategy.”   This phrase on the cover of the brochure below announced University of Portland’s Master Strategist Certificate – the world’s first graduate level training dedicated to the business of craft beer.  In the words of UP’s Dean of Business, Robin Anderson:

UP's Certificate is the first!

UP’s Certificate is the first!

“We are going to lead the way and will help train craft beer professionals across the globe to run profitable, ethical and socially responsible businesses.”

Sam and his colleague, Dr. Mark Meckler were the driving force behind this initiative and UP jumped on the opportunity to lead.

His involvement with Oakshire Brewing resulted both from good timing and the fact that he was not a very good soccer player. After their first child (they now have two girls), Sam’s wife, Robin (who he met at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon house dance at Willamette) told him that he needed to get a diversion from his Ph.D. studies.

He chose indoor soccer because the team’s only two requirements were to pay a $42 registration fee and to drink beer. The decision was fortuitous but not because of his soccer ability.  He and another guy, Jeff Althouse, a middle-school math teacher, were the worst two players on the team and spent most of their time on the bench talking about beer issues.

Bench time pays off with Oakshire Brewing

Bench time pays off with Oakshire Brewing

Jeff, parlayed his love for home brewing and his recipe for an excellent amber ale, into founding Eugene’s Oakshire Brewing with his brother.  Sam had used Oakshire as a case study when working on his doctorate and Althouse invited Sam to join the Oakshire Board.

The consulting firm, Crafting a Strategy, followed soon afterward.  “…..as an intellectual and professional exercise, Sam applied every advanced business strategy and theory he learned in grad school to the Craft Beer Industry and helped Jeff apply it to his young craft brewery business. ” (Crafting a Strategy website)

SAm on TvHis expertise and academic position led to speaking engagements all over the US and then internationally (Finland, Denmark, Ireland – even to the Guinness’ Global Brand Team in Dublin).  Brewery owners and entrepreneurs wanted his advice.  (He left for San Francisco the day after I interviewed him  at the invitation of the convener of an annual Wharton Business School Conference.)

Logo of the consulting company

Logo of the consulting company

Dr. Mark Meckler

Dr. Mark Meckler

Based on his professional demands, Sam teamed with his friend, Meckler, who had extensive expertise as a chef (trained in Switzerland) and with extensive work in food/beverage management.  The synergy was obvious as they advised clients that “the restaurant side could destroy an otherwise viable craft brewing business.”

To achieve their strategy, the third founder joined them –  Joe Belcher, whose marketing background with Disney, Hollywood Entertainment and Nintendo and his specialty in brand development and e-commerce were a perfect complement.

Marketing expert, Joe Belcher

Marketing expert, Joe Belcher

Check out their website and blog which is a gold mine of information on brewery operation, financing and marketing.  And a great example of Sam’s teaching style can be observed in the  2015 video below in which he addressed the 10th annual South Dakota Entrepreneurship Conference.  

Take a look at one session held at the Wooden Legs Brewing Company in Brookings, South Dakota (I told you that he spoke all over the US!).  Sam speaks without notes and is totally engaging.  My intent was to listen for two or three minutes and after hearing him expound on “How to Make a Profitable Cheeseburger,” I was compelled to take in the entire forty-five minute discussion:

So let’s finish with Sam’s role as a professor.  This comment on the website “Rate my Professor,” is indicative. (It was also interesting that the first advertisement that appeared on this site was one for Victoria’s Secret but we digress…..)

Laura Williams receiving her BS in Nursing in 2008

Laura Williams receiving her BS in Nursing in 2008 from Father Bill Beaucamp

“Sam’s class is awesome and refreshing my senior year. I highly recommend him. I haven’t missed a class and enjoy his lectures and videos in class. Plus Sam is on the board of Oakshire brewing, #AMAZING”

This review echoed the sentiments of my future son-in-law, Ryan Keene.  Both Ryan and my daughter, Laura, are UP graduates.  Ryan said that Sam was his favorite professor and stated:

“Dr. Holloway understands how to engage students so that everyone in the classroom is interested. He challenges student to think outside the box. It helps that he has become an expert in the brewing business. What college senior doesn’t want to talk beer economics in the classroom?”

Sam - crafting a strategy

At the 2014 Western Academy of Management conference in Napa, CA.

And based on the outstanding education both Ryan and my daughter received and my own contacts with the University, Thebeerchaser will admit a bias.

That said, besides his motivation and intelligence, one of the reasons that Sam Holloway is thriving at UP is the progressiveness of the Administration and academic leaders towards new and innovative ideas.

 

—————

800px-University_of_Portland_entrance_signWhen Sam, as a new faculty member, approached his Dean about both serving on the Oakshire Board and his wish to research the brewing business as part of his academic endeavors, the conversation went something like this:

Sam Dean Anderson, I serve on the board of Oakshire Brewing  I hope there is no problem with that?

DeanI think that is a great opportunity for you and it can be of mutual benefit to the University.

SamAnd I want to research and learn the business of brewing and breweries as a fundamental part of my academic research.

Dean  What do you need?

SamYour support and a blank check….

DeanYou have my support…….!

IMG_1102

Visiting the Brussels Beer Challenge offices

UP has supported and funded Sam’s endeavors, and it has provided a great return for the University.  We have already examined the graduate certificate (Master Strategist Certificate) and the students’ classroom experience has been enhanced.

Consistent with his philosophy of “expanding beyond the classroom,” Sam has taken students to Europe in both 2012 (twelve) and will again next month (ten) where they interact with executives and management types.   The students witnessed Sam’s presentation to the Guinness Global Branding Team as a guest of the Danish government.

Holloway with Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray

Holloway with Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray

With connections facilitated by UP Board of Regents member, Larree Renda, a retired Safeway executive, they met Guiness’ Master Brewer, Fergal Murray in the Guiness VIP Lounge in Dublin.  Murray showed the UP students how to “pour the perfect pint.”  (He previoulsly poured for Tom Cruise, Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama in this same room.) 

In addition, he has helped place several students in craft brewing businesses and the industry students in his class share their knowledge.  For example, one of Sam’s students, Gavin Johnson, was awarded an internship while at UP and is now Head of Production at Widmer Brewing.   There are other examples…..

It would appear that UP does its utmost to avoid the admonition expressed by Derek Bok, attorney and former President of Harvard University:

“Efforts to develop critical thinking falter in practice because too many professors still lecture to passive audiences instead of challenging students to apply what they have learned to new questions.”

UP is currently gutting its student union (The Cove) to include a bar, a permanent stage, more seating and a renovated kitchen. With its restaurant-style interior, refitted kitchen and a new bar serving alcohol to students twenty-one and over, The Cove should be a “hopping” place – don’t be surprised if they have Oakshire on tap.

"Spillover" benefits

“Spillover” benefits

And if they use the expertise of Professors Holloway and Meckler, it is quite probable that the profits on cheeseburgers and beer will help fund some new scholarships at UP. Dean Anderson will continue to get a return on his investment.

And he and his colleagues will keep preaching about the significant spillover benefits to the community – breweries transfer wealth to society more than to individual entrepreneurs.  According to Holloway and Meckler:

“Craft breweries are a great vehicle for both civic and economic wealth creation….Civic wealth is a driver for economic health. It increases as new businesses surround the breweries and property values increase.

Economic wealth goes up because breweries can pay normal wages to their employees and can treat them like creative, thoughtful people, not like worker bees. Taxes are generated that get paid locally.  People prosper by what we think of as ‘the sacrament of beer.’”

This is one reason that their consulting firm has a number of clients that are local governments and NGO’s around the country – they want part of this action!

Ryan Keen, Ron and Sam Holloway at the Low Brow Lounge
Ryan Keen, Ron and Sam Holloway at the Low Brow Lounge

 

And finally, Sam is a fraternity brother of mine as is his dad, Portland attorney Ron Holloway, one of the founders of the Sather, Byerly & Holloway law firm.  Ron was also my room-head in my first term at Oregon State.

Ron, Sam, Ryan Keene and I got together to lift a mug (and for Ron and Dirt to tell old stories) one afternoon several months ago at the Low Brow Lounge in the Pearl District.  I’m sure that Sam will relate what he learned that afternoon to his students.  Maybe Thebeerchaser will decide to audit one of his classes.

Sam Facebook 1

 

 

Beerchaser of the Quarter – Author and Wine Drinker, Brian Doyle

Author, editor and former basketball all-star

Author, editor and one-time basketball all-star

I knew that I had to meet and have a beer with Portland author and editor, Brian Doyle,  when I saw the Portland Tribune article“An Egghead Walks Into a Bar.”  It reports on his work with University of Portland alum and inventor, John Beckman, to create what has become the annual Brian Doyle Scholarships in Gentle & Sidelong Humor – $3,333.33 per student for one academic year, during which the multiple recipients must create and publicly share a project of some sort that “brings the community together in laughter…”

According to Brian, who is the Editor of the University’s award-winning magazine, The Humor Project” makes UP, the only university of its kind to have this type of project, and affirms a key personal philosophy – “Humor defeats fatuous pomposity and arrogance.”  Realizing that Doyle’s talents are creativity and marketing – not administration, one of Beckman’s stipulations was that Brian was to be integrally involved, but not in charge of the project!

Brian Doyle self portrait - Humor - What humor??

Brian Doyle self portrait – Humor – What humor??

Reinforcing my intent to have a brewski with him was the quote in the preface to Doyle’s book, Osama Bin Laden’s Bald Spot. After one of its short stories, “Hurtgen,” won a national award from the Catholic Press Association, he wrote, “(This) was pretty cool, although there was no beer in it for me…..”

——–

The Fulton - opened by the McMenamins in 1988 and reportedly the original home of Hammerhead Ale.

The Fulton – opened by the McMenamins in 1988 and reportedly the original home of Hammerhead Ale.

———

So I wrote Brian and told him that I wanted to “honor” him in the Beerchaser blog.  I was pleased, if not somewhat surprised that he accepted this unusual request and we met in his favorite bar – The Fulton Brew Pub.  (To be reviewed in this blog in the next month or two along with Brian’s essay on the pub.)

In preparation, I read some of his essays, a bunch of short stories and watched videos of a few of his speeches.  His creativity, humor and well….his off-the-wall idiosyncrasy was impressive.  One does not know how many of these tales are based on his actual experience, embody some embellished conceptual truths or he just dreamed up when he was ruminating in his den.  But after chatting with him for ninety minutes at his favorite pub, I would suggest most are the former.

Chatting over drinks at The Fulton

Chatting over drinks at The Fulton

Let me give you a few examples:

One of his short stories  – “Three Basketball Stories,” chronicles:

“…. a basketball league once in Boston that 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 goof 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……”

(Brian was named to a city league all-star team in Boston in 1983 and has the jersey framed in his office.  (Fortunately, he did not appear to have a prosthetic device for his right (drinking) arm.)

Worth an arm and a leg....

An honor worth an arm but probably not a leg….

One of his short stories, “The Boyfriends Bus,” is about a guy who organized a field trip with nine of his wife’s former boyfriends – another example of the writer’s active imagination:

“….So we rented a bus for the day, a small bus, sort of half a bus….and we hired a guy to take us out in the wine country for the day….Anyway, we all got sizzled, the other nine boyfriends and me, and all day guys were ribbing me for having won her hand, I was elected president of the bus and got to make decisions about which wineries to stop at and all, and in the end it was kind of poignant…..

Each guy said with genuine affection and respect that my wife was a wonderful woman, absolutely, an unforgettable woman, that his time with her was really a highlight of his life.”

The look if you split and infinitive or misuse an adverb...

The look if you split and infinitive or misuse an adverb…but not if you like long sentences…

Speaking of bars…..there’s an essay – “On the Misuse of Adverbs” – in which he relates the hilarious account of his five brothers and him getting kicked out of a New York City bar based on an altercation.  It erupted when they were defending a young woman — and the English language:

“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.”‘

Portland Magazine

Portland Magazine

While some of these tales may lead you to think that Brian is a total flake, that would be the wrong impression  – he’s mirthful and loves humor, but is a gifted writer and editor of the superb University of Portland magazine, Portland, and very serious about his craft.

Portland Magazine cover - Autumn 2013

Portland Magazine cover – Autumn 2013

Brian is the second editor of the quarterly journal – assuming the position in 1994 when he came to UP.  “The intent is not to have a glossy piece for alumni public relations.  The objectives are to make you laugh, cry, lose your temper or kneel in prayer while concurrently punching you in the gut.”

The first Portland article I read (and excerpted for this blog ) was Father Patrick Hannon’s wonderful essay about the Twilight Room – the fifth bar I reviewed on Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.

I am now a regular reader based on articles such as Brian’s profile of Portland swimmer and speaker, Karen Gaffney, who just received an honorary doctorate from UP for her achievements and work on Downs syndrome.

Profile of Portland's Karen Gaffney in the Winter 2014 edition of Portland

Profile of Portland’s Karen Gaffney in the Winter 2014 edition of Portland

Or read Brian’s 2009 essay, The Terrible Brilliance,” based on the art therapy work his wife does for young children with serious illnesses – a piece which both punched me in the gut and brought a tear to my eye because my daughter, Laura, works as a pediatric oncology nurse with these same children.     brilliance

Portland Magazine, won Newsweek Magazine’s “national championship” of college and university magazines, beating out the Harvards, Stanfords and the other powerhouses in the SEC and Pac 12 that have academic programs even their football players admire.  It has also won five Gold Medals.  Perhaps it’s because the magazine is, “addicted to silly humor, roaring anger and is deliberately provocative.”

Even though I had two outstanding pints of Nebraska Bitter (first brewed at The Fulton Pub in honor of Nebraska Street where it was first brewed) and Brian had two glasses of pinot, we ran out of time to talk about his ten books – his next novel (The Plover) will be published in April and Mink River was a finalist for an Oregon Book Award in 2012.

Brian Doyle's novels

Brian Doyle’s novels

If you do a Google search like I did to research Brian Doyle, you will get 3,230,000 potential hits and discover there are other famous Brian Doyles – a Canadian children’s author, a former New York Yankee who starred in the 1978 World Series (even though his career batting average was only 161) and even a former Deputy Press Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security – forced out after conviction of a felony.

In fact, Brian decided in 2002 to  write letters to the other 215 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.”  After talking to Brian, I have a feeling he would have undertaken this endeavor even if his name had been Jim Johnson or maybe even Alexi Fronkiwiecz……..

Being Brian....

Being Brian….

While there may be 215 or more Brian Doyles across the US – and who knows how many more in Australia, Asia, Africa and Antarctica –  we are fortunate to have our own right on the University of Portland campus.

In 2006, he wrote a book, The Grail  – a chronicle of  “A year ambling and shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world.”  Maybe that’s when he converted from drinking beer to wine although he admits he will still have a Hammerhead at the Fulton if it is really hot.  

The Grail - available at Amazon.

The Grail – available at Amazon.

Brian Doyle is a gifted story-teller with a great sense of humor and a good jump shot, albeit a slowing first step to the hole.  He’s also a man of strong faith and values and a good dad.

Doyle is humble and has the courage and conviction to castigate both institutions and individuals for hypocrisy or pomposity whether it’s the Catholic Church or a politician.  And his gift of language makes his criticism piercing and memorable.

The above reasons explain why a guy who now drinks wine instead of beer can still be the Beerchaser of the Quarter.

Read his stuff – you will admire and enjoy it!

Note: I was profoundly saddened at the passing of this great human being on May 27, 2017, at the age of 60, after being diagnosed with brain cancer the previous November. Brian is survived by his wife, Mary, his daughter, Lily and twin sons, Liam and Joseph.  His solid faith sustained him through surgery and treatment and he showed love, humor and the personality traits that endeared all who knew him until the end.   The family received tributes from all over the world lauding his literary career and his humanity.

Thebeerchaser’s tribute to him is at

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/06/09/brian-doyle-beerchaser-eternal/

To honor his legacy, the University of Portland has set a goal to raise $1 million towards the cost of the new Brian Doyle Lecture Hall.

https://www.giving.up.edu/s/1797/home.aspx?sid=1797&gid=2&pgid=672

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