Tanker Bar – Here Comes the Armored Cavalry….But Wait…..

the Tanker 018

Tanker is another one of the great taverns located in Portland’s “Barmuda Triangle” (BT) on Hawthorne Street (see Beerchaser post on October 3, 2012).  And while it might be assumed that the moniker for this bar is a tribute to the “iron beasts” that General George Patton used when he commanded the US Third Army to help defeat the Germans in World War II, it is actually named for the magnificent and mammoth ships that haul cargo in the Columbia and the world’s various waterways.

An excerpt from Portland Barfly gives a very apt description of this combination neighborhood tavern and dive bar.  (Note that we learned from Jessie, our friendly Tanker bartender, that the BT is also known as “The Stumble Zone”  — for obvious reasons to those with any kind of deductive reasoning capabilities.)

Jessie the Bartender with Jim Westwood

 “…..in the heart of the Stumble Zone, lies the capsized hull of The Tanker. The sea-worthy attention to detail shows freshly swapped decks and a total lack of barnacles…….

While you won’t mourn for the lost souls of lonely sailors, you will enjoy friendly service, tasty grinders and possibly the most reliable Wi-Fi in all of Portland.”

A Seaworthy Version of the Namesake

A Seaworthy Version of the Namesake

After having a beer at Beer on Belmont Street (see Beerchaser post on April 7, 2013) Portland Attorney and Beerchaser of the First Quarter of 2013, Jim Westwood, and I hit Tanker for dinner and a nightcap.

You might remember that Westwood has advanced linguistic skills and his late and wonderful mom, Catherine, happened to be both his and my Latin teacher at Oregon City High School, which was fortunate that night.

While the only Latin words I remember – understandably never successful in high school or college as a pick-up line – were “pulchra puella” (beautiful girl), Jim translated the Latin phrase used in Tanker’s coat-of-arms below, which is a very appropriate motto:

And who says High School Latin was not a useful course??

And who says High School Latin was not a useful course??

“In heaven there is no beer, so that’s why we drink it here.”

That promoted discussion of the converse assertion, which we decided should be, “In hell, you can drink all the beer you want, but there’s none available except Keystone Light.”

Tanker has pinball machines, Pacman Battle Royale, and as one might expect, the Big Buck Hunter Safari video game.  According to the Willamette Week 2010 Drink Guide, “….the nautically themed waterhole has the most avid followers of the game (in Portland).” 

A game in which one tries to shoot the life out of galloping electronic gazelles led me to question Jim about his prior legal work in Oregon Firearms Education Foundation v. State Board of Higher Education, a 2011 case regarding regulation of firearms on Oregon university campuses.

The real type of pinball machine

The real type of pinball machine

While the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled against Jim’s client being able to regulate guns by Administrative Rule, the court opened the door by affirming the State Board of Higher Education’s authority to control its property.  This enabled the Board in 2012 to unanimously adopt a policy that bans guns from most corners of campus life.

Mandatory Background Checks for BBH as a start???

Mandatory Background Checks for BBH as a start???

I suggested that possibly a reasonable first-step towards rational gun control policy would be to persuade Wayne LaPierre, of the NRA, to agree to support mandatory background checks for people who play Big Buck Hunter.

Possibly a good strategy, but he would undoubtedly bemoan government intrusion while asserting that the Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment to include electronic weapons and besides, Big Buck Hunter provides a training ground for a well-regulated militia.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Naughty Bingo on Tuesday nights:  As described in a Tanker review: “Win Adult novelties playing bingo……drink discounts as well as a signature cocktail list featuring The Naughty Bingo Martini. Everybody wins something.”

Name Your Tall Boy!

Name Your Tall Boy and Join the Can Clan….

Tall Boys and Whiskey Selection:
Besides their 15 Taps, Tanker has 42 different varieties of Tall Boys and more than 30 whiskeys.
Drink one of each type of Tall Boy and you become a member of the “Can Clan” and get a free t-shirt and a $1 perpetual discount.  The same is true once you have downed one shot of each of their 30 varieties of whiskey.
They have a lot of “regulars” for the variety of events they host and feature Trail Blazer and Portland Timber games on their five big-screen TVs with drink discounts.
And While we are on the Subject, A Brief Tribute to My Favorite Tanker….

Garmo cadet pictureThebeerchaser’s brother, Garry, was a West Point (Class of 1972) graduate who chose the Armored Cavalry i.e. Tanks, as his occupational specialty.  During his time at West Point, he was a member of the West Point Glee Club and a small combo in that group called The Headliners

As the picture below shows, they played at the White House for President Nixon and also appeared on the Mike Douglas show on CBS national television.                        

"Don't worry, Cadets, your performance has been recorded....."

“Don’t worry, Cadets, your performance has been recorded…..” (Cadet Williams to the immediate left of Nixon)

Garry had billets at Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort Knox in Kentucky (where the CO was George Patton V) and an extended assignment in Schweinfurt, Germany.  He was an outstanding junior officer during his six years in the Army as this excerpt from a 1974 fitness report, written by a Colonel, demonstrates:

“Lt. Williams judgment is of the highest order – totally dedicated to improving his subordinates – devoted to his duty and the battalion. 

He has a perspective and understanding which far exceed any other officer in his battalion….He is the best young officer I have ever known. His talents are so far beyond those expected of even the most outstanding officer that no narrative can do him justice.”

“Soldier, obviously you haven’t heard of the slogan, ‘Don’t Tread on Me.'”


After the military he worked at Tektronix for several years and married a beautiful lady named Pam.  Unfortunately, Garry died in 1989, but this post and a round of beer is dedicated to his memory.



When you’re in the Stumble Zone, give Tanker a try even if it is not on a Naughty Tuesday Night.  As one Barfly reviewer summed up quite succinctly, “good bar, good times, good vibe…”And the food was good too – ask for the chicken quesadilla which Jessie cooked himself and was one of a number of good items on Tanker’s menu.

Jessee, the Bartender and Thebeerchaser logo
Jesse, the Bartender and Thebeerchaser logo


Tanker        4825 SE Hawthorne

Belmont Station – 1,000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall – You Take One Down and Pass it Around…..

Thebeerchaser at the entrance to Belmont Station

Thebeerchaser at the entrance to Belmont Station

Thebeerchaser teetered on the brink of Beer Tour malpractice when initially confusing The Belmont Inn (see Beerchaser review on March 18, 2013) with the Belmont Station. Since the latter was recently named by Draft Magazine as one of the top one hundred beer bars in the US for 2012, I reasoned that any Tour of Portland Bars and Taverns mandated a visit. It joined five other Portland pubs in sharing that ranking.

Of course, any rational person could have made the same mistake since Belmont Station has been on Stark Street since about 2007. Lease issues which arose in its original home (1997), forced the move from Belmont Street, and they retained the original name.

Princeton graduate, accomplished singer and beer drinker, Dave Hicks
Princeton graduate, accomplished singer and beer drinker, Dave Hicks

My companion that night when we hit both the Horse Brass Pub (review to be forthcoming and also one of Drafts 100 best) and Belmont Station was Dave Hicks, a San Francisco consultant, with whom Thebeerchaser worked while a law firm COO before retiring to tour bars and taverns in 2011.

Hicks remains a good friend and is both a cum laude 1986 Princeton University undergraduate and a lawyer who graduated from University of San Diego Law School including a semester studying law in Paris.

There are Ivy League grads with whom you wouldn’t even want to have a water-cooler conversation; however, Hicks is a guy that even President Nixon, with his aversion to Ivy League elitists, would have enjoyed having a beer, wiretapping his conversation or having as a traveling companion on his historic trip to China.

Hicks on the lookout for new pubs and taverns

Hicks on the lookout for new pubs and taverns

Besides being a good drinking companion, Dave (and his twin brother) are both accomplished singers and were members of the Princeton’s oldest and foremost a cappella singing group – the Princeton Nassoons where he sang bass.

He still sings at some alumni functions and birthday parties, etc., with a spin-off group, the NassauHallics, named for one of the main buildings on campus.  He has the good judgment not to participate in karaoke based on the premise that it was Japan’s retaliation for Hiroshima and Nagasaki….

Belmont Station is accurately described in the Willamette Week 2009 Drink Guide as follows: “This misleadingly named establishment which moved four blocks north from its original home on SE Belmont Street two years ago, is deservedly famous for its stock of 1,000-odd beers, plus sundry wines, ciders and meads. But the Station, which is owned, in part, by legendary Horse Brass publican, Don Younger, doesn’t get nearly enough credit for its attached bar. It’s a cheerful, narrow space dominated by the long wooden bar and dozen rotating, mostly local taps.”

While the Belmont Station Biercafe’ is a very nice neighborhood bar and the attached bottle shop is very impressive based on the breadth of its inventory, it does raise the question: “What makes it one of the top 100 bars in the United States? 

Wall decorations are a nice touch in the bar.

Beer signs as wall decorations are a nice touch in the bar.

Having reviewed several other bar/bottle shops on this blog including “Bottles” (July 2012) and “1856,” (December 2012), I would rate Belmont Station as comparable although probably having a slightly more varieties of alcoholic brew. It also advertises itself as the first beer bottle store in the Northwest.”

It can be assumed that other bottle shops have similar practices, but Belmont Station also differentiates itself because its bottles have “been thoughtfully selected, meticulously rotated, and
properly stored under UV-filtered light.”  
Of course a selection of 1,200 different brews  raises the question as to how many different brands of beer is adequate – 50 or 175 or 650, or …..? 

In college, for example, when it was not available in Oregon because of pasteurization issues, we considered the student who brought back one case of Coors to be a hero.  Personally, I would be satisfied with at least 25 options as long as PBR is a choice…….but then I am an aficionado of bars, taverns and pubs and not of beer itself.

A possible validation of the claim, "Portland's Premier Beer Bottle Shop!"

Can you find me a Coors???

Perhaps the following January 2011 review from Yelp provides some insight:

“If you opened up a beer store in L.A., it probably wouldn’t last a month, but folks in Portland love their beer. In the PNW, drinking beer is more than just pouring a 12 pack of fizzy yellow swill down your throat until you puke.

People appreciate a fine crafted brew and will spend good money for a unique beer drinking experience….(Belmont Station) is one of the best bottle shops I’ve visited.”

Besides the inordinate variety of bottled beers and ciders, sixteen excellent beers on tap.

Besides the inordinate variety of bottled beers and ciders, sixteen excellent beers on tap.

The Biercafe, adjacent to the bottle shop, has sixteen very good and mostly local beers on tap. I chose the $7 “Flight of the Day,” featuring samples of four different beers, which that night included:

Agrarian Ale’s “Chronic D’ Aphotic“, Natian’s “Elephante India Red Ale“, Bear Republic Brewery’s “Cafe’ Racer 15“, all of which were very good, and Lagunitas Brewery’s “Gnarlywine,” which had a “potent toffee and caramel flavor” and was a little rich for my taste.  The Agrarian was my favorite and I enjoyed the combination of “five of the farm’s most resinous hop varieties with organic oats and roasted malt – a full bodied hoppy delight.”

Pliny the Elder - great Roman intellect.  (He probably drank wine but at least had a beer named after him.

Pliny the Elder – great Roman intellect. (He probably drank wine but at least had a beer named after him.


Dave Hicks chose the creatively titled Pliny the Elder Pale Ale by the Russian River Brewery, named after Pliny the Elder, the Roman author, naturalist and philosopher in addition to being a naval and army commander.  His death near Pompei, was a result of the eruption of Vesuvius.  This excellent Double India Pale Ale also inspired Dave to hum a very melodic Secular Ode of Horace while he was drinking it.

Belmont Station has a nice menu of pub-type food available from 3:00 until 10:00 PM, including snacks such as chips and salsa, hummus and cheese plates in addition to large deli-sandwiches, soups and pizzas.  Since we had already eaten, I didn’t get to try a curried potato “pie” that looked very interesting.

Our friendly bartender and Thebeerchaser logo

Our friendly Belmont Station bartender and Thebeerchaser logo

Thebeerchaser will visit the other five bars in Portland that made Draft Magazine’s top 100; however, having reviewed over fifty establishments on the Beer Tour since 2011, a bar or pub may be analogous to a steak dinner – “Even when it’s bad, it’s pretty good” – especially when you have a good drinking buddy along for the ride.

Happy New Year 2013 – Beerchaser Miscellany IV

Excellent Draft Beers at the Wet Monkey Café in Astoria

Excellent Draft Beers at Astoria Brewing Company’s  Wet Dog Café in Astoria

As we commence 2013, those of you who are intellectually challenged (or bored) may be asking, “What did Thebeerchaser accomplish in 2012, in the second year of his Tour of Portland Bars, Pubs and Taverns?  Is said Tour still alive and healthy?”

Although a biased commentator, my answer to the latter question is “Yes!” based on the data shown below, which includes twenty-two watering-holes last year and eight public houses during five months in 2011.

Establishments Visited in 2012  *1

Neighborhood Bars – County Cork, Muddy Rudder Public House, Hawthorne Hideaway, Laurelthirst Pub

Dive Bars – Ship Tavern, Bar of the Gods, Dixie Tavern

Historic or Classic Bars – Claudia’s, White Eagle Saloon, Lutz Tavern, Cheerful Tortoise, Mock Crest Tavern

Bars that Defy Classification – 1856, Gold Dust Meridian, Bottles, Interurban, Ash Street Saloon

Brew Pubs – Migration Brewery Pub

Bars Outside of Portland – Embers Brew House (Joseph), Desdemona and Wet Monkey Café (Astoria), PourHouse (Port Townsend, WA)

*1 The Davis Street Tavern was visited but the review will be posted in 2013.

Former Portland Mayor Bud Clark, Attorney Jim Westwood and Oregonian Columnist John Terry at the Goose Hollow Inn

Former Portland Mayor Bud Clark, Attorney Jim Westwood and Oregonian Columnist John Terry at the Goose Hollow Inn

During my career in legal management, I analyzed many statistics and trends.  Figuratively regressing, I would suggest that visiting and reviewing a bar every 16.6 days (15.9 if one counts the Davis Street Tavern) in 2012 was a reasonably ambitious schedule and compares favorably with the partial 2011 year (starting in mid-August) in which the average days between visits was 17.1 – and no visits were made to bars outside Portland.

A Question of Priorities

A Question of Priorities

The Embers Brew House and Pub in Joseph, Oregon added venues outside Portland

The Embers Brew House and Pub in Joseph, Oregon added venues outside Portland



Keeping in mind my former co-managing partner’s favorite quote: “He  uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts – for support rather than for  illumination,” further analysis reveals other critical relationships and possible development of an esoteric null hypothesis.

For example, the Historic Bar class representing 26% of the bars was the most frequent type visited followed by Neighborhood Bars and Pubs Outside Portland in second place with 17% and Brew Pubs with only 4% of the visits last year.  It’s very interesting to note that the average visits for each category is 16.5% with a standard deviation of 7.6%.  Clearly, Brew Pubs need closer scrutiny in the coming year if the deviation from the mean is to be diminished!

The White Eagle - Historic on the Exterior and the Interior -
The White Eagle – Historic on the Exterior and the Interior –

To impress my son-in-law who is an engineer, I tried to work in the radius of gyration function into these statistics without success.  But let’s momentarily digress to help educate readers on the benefits of beer-related topics and how they relate to the scientific method………..

Boyle’s Law, for example, may be encountered in beer production given that breweries are closed systems with constant temperatures and its worth toasting (with your favorite microbrew) the inverse relationship of pressure and volume in the given mass of confined gas within the vats as fermentation occurs……..

Critical advances in chemistry by Robert Boyle with alcohol experiments....

Critical advances in chemistry by Robert Boyle with alcohol experiments….

Another pioneer in chemistry influenced by my favorite brew was Joseph Priestley, an 18th century English clergyman, philosopher and chemist, whose house was next to a brewery.  He began to experiment with the gas given off by fermenting beer and discovered a method of impregnating water with the carbon dioxide by placing a bowl of water above a vat of fermenting beer – thus inventing soda water.    

Joseph Priestly used this equipment in experiments with beer in the late 18th century.

Joseph Priestly used this equipment in experiments with beer in the late 18th century.

  2012 Beerchasers

We also named a number of individuals or groups as Beerchasers-of-the-Month or Quarter.  They included:

Musician and consultant Forrest Green, Coach Mike Riley and the OSU Football Team, Former OSU and NFL football star, Craig “Dude” Hanneman for his Mt. Everest climb in May, the Crew of the USS Constitution.

Also Portland State Professor of Economics, Dr. John Walker, Oregonian history columnist, John Terry and Princeton Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and author of the brilliant book, On Bullshit, Dr. Harry Frankfurt.

If  you read one book in 2013, make it Dr. Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit."

If you read one book in 2013, make it Dr. Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit.”

2011 Establishments Visited

Between August 2011 and the end of the year, we visited eight establishments which were a superb commencement of Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars including:

Getting the Boot from Emily the Bartender at Prost in 2011

Getting the Boot from Emily the Bartender at Prost in 2011

Neighborhood Bars – Gladstone Street Tavern and Brooklyn Park Pub

Dive Bars – Joe’s Cellar and Yukon Tavern

Historic or Classic Bars – Buffalo Gap Saloon

Bars that Defy Classification – Prost

Brew Pubs – Amnesia Brewery Pub, Coalition Brew Pub

The Yukon Tavern - one of the proverbial Dive Bars visited in the first year of The Tour

The Yukon Tavern – one of the proverbial Dive Bars visited in the first year of The Tour

2011 Beerchasers

Those honored with this designation last year included:

Crime Novelist James Crumley, retired chemical engineer Harold Schlumberg and four bartenders of the initial bars visited as follows:

Emily – Prost

Dave – The Twilight Room

Natasha – Gladstone Street Tavern

Natasha - A Great Bartender from the Gladstone Stree Tavern

Natasha – A Great Bartender from the Gladstone Street Tavern

Phoebe – The Brooklyn Park Pub

Please continue to give me suggestions on both public houses worthy of a Beerchaser visit and candidates for Beerchaser-of-the-Month.

And if you are really curious and lack meaningful life activity, the radius of gyration is defined as  “the name of several related measures of the size of an object, a surface, or an ensemble of points. It is calculated as the root mean square distance of the objects’ parts from either its center of gravity or a given axis.”  An explanation and the formulae can be found at the above link in Wikipedia or any good engineering textbook!

Thanks to the 40 “followers” on this blog and we are encouraged with the increasing number of visitors that averaged about 800 per month in the second half of 2012.

Happy New Year!

So many establishments and so little time!!

So many establishments and so little time!!