Beerchaser Wonderings and Wanderings…

Courtesy of the Oregon State Bar

Lawyers and Drinking

I was delighted that the November edition of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin which has a circulation of about 12,000 Oregon lawyers included multiple mentions of both Thebeerchaser blog and the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel.

Talented author and lawyer, Jennie Bricker, who writes at Brick Work Writing & Editing LLC, did a great job in her article entitled “I’ll Drink to That – The Power and Peril of Alcohol’s Connection to the Legal Profession.”   Check it out at the link below. (It starts on Page 28):  https://www.osbar.org/bulletin/issues/2019/2019November/index.html

A New IPA?  Don’t Count On It!!

The Benedictine Beers on tap in Mount Angel

I have been involved in the wonderful Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom since its inception in 2018 – one of three monk-owned and operated breweries in the US.

Fr. Martin – our Head Brewer has become an incredibly skilled brewer and there are nine of his beers on tap.  Benedictine beers draw accolades throughout the region.

The flagship beer is Black Habit – described as a “Belgian dark strong ale,” has been widely acclaimed for its rich flavor.  And don’t forget Mea Culpa Pale Ale.

I have been lobbying him to brew his first IPA and even have suggested the name and slogan.  (He hasn’t returned my calls about this…. and I don’t expect to hear anytime soon!)

Quid Pro Quo IPA – Real Beer Flavor for a Favor *1

Image courtesy of the talented and creative Pam Williams

*1 Not available in Alabama, Greenland, Kyiv or Kharkiv

West Point and Veterans’ Day

Ambassador William Taylor

The impressive career and sterling character of a primary witness in the Impeachment InquiryAmbassador William Taylor who graduated from the US Military Academy in 1970 made me reminisce about my late brother, Garry, who also graduated from West Point (Class of1972) and served with distinction during his six-years in the Third Armored Cavalry.

While at West Point, Garry was in both the Glee Club and a quintet-combo called “The Headliners,” which resulted in appearances on national television and at the White House as can be seen by the photo with President Nixon in 1971 below.

(Garry is the tall cadet to the immediate left of Nixon.)

Garry with the Headliners at the Nixon White House in 1971

And here’s a belated toast to all of our veterans, among whom are several who were previous Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter and were decorated for heroism for their service in the Viet Nam War.   Cheers to Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence.

Captain Don Wilburn

And two, who made the ultimate sacrifice – my best friend in high school, Garry Kestler, USMC in 1967 and my late father’s best friend and SAE Fraternity brother, Captain Donald E. Wilburn (after whom I’m named) and was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World Watr II.

Amy, Amy, Amy

Those of us who were fans of the Mike and Amy Show are shaking our collective heads at the decision Entercom Broadcasting to discontinue the show after the two have been popular morning personalities on KWJJ The Wolf.

After canceling their show in 2012 – only to bring them back two years later, Entercom is making the same move as just announced after the duo has been together on KWJJ for a total of 18 years.

See the announcement from Amy below – and those involved in the non-profit world, get ready for what will be a win for your non-profit auction when Amy Faust finishes her training.

Amy (on the right) with three other members of the Faust clan – Charlie, Jack and Alice at a 2017 Beerchasing and a happy Beerchasing crew

And if you have any doubts as to why this talented and great-hearted lady will succeed in her endeavors, check out why she was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2017:

https://thebeerchaser.com/…/amy-faust-beerchaser-of-the-qu…/

“I’m quite excited to announce the (possibly surprising) fact that in a few weeks I will be traveling to Clear Lake, Iowa, for 8 days to attend the World Wide College of Auctioneering and get certified to be a benefit auctioneer…. please join me on Instagram at my brand new account @amytheauctioneer “

PS:  I received the following e-mail from Amy on 11/18 when I asked how her training was going:

“Greetings from Clear Lake, Iowa! I can’t even begin to tell you how strange and amazing this experience is.  But I’m learning a ton and i will be ready to roll out my new skills very soon……Cheers from Bennigan’s, where I have eaten every single meal since Friday!”  

(At least she’s hasn’t become a regular at The Olive Garden….!)

More Amy…..

And to demonstrate why I will appreciate the dry sense of humor of this lady, check out this from their Facebook page in 2018.

The Beerchaser’s Pet Peeves

At least I’ve only been around for 71 of these!!

As a guy who recently entered his seventh decade, I can say there are pros and cons about being older. An advantage reinforced each time one reads the obituaries is that at least there is less peer pressure.

And one has to get used to the fact that when you ask friends how they are doing, they spend way too much time telling you – typically including accounts on various parts of the human anatomy in their narratives.

Those on-line drop down menus that ask for birth date require too many “Page Downs” on the keyboard to reach the correct year.  But I find, that some things annoy me a lot more than they used to including the following:

Leaf Blowers – in the fall, Boomer kids used to spend a lot of time and earn their allowances by raking leaves and hauling them to the spare lot or other repository.

Nowdays, one hears the irritating scream of leaf blowers each day. Whether it’s my lawn service or people in the burbs, the habit of blowing the leaves either into the street or whisking them off their sidewalk into the street where they clog the gutters or just blow into the next yard is annoying.

I guess in some respects its analogous to Portland shipping its garbage to Eastern Oregon and not thinking twice about it.

That’s my shovel after the lawn service “finished.”

Poop Bags

We have two wonderful grandpuppies – Sullivan, a great little Havanese who visits us from Seattle and Wesley Walter, a wonderful Golden Retriever who comes for walks from NE Portland.

Wesley Walter and Sullivan on a recent visit

In both cases, we use poop bags to take care of their “dispatches” when we take walks. Now while I hate it when dog walkers let their canines do their duty and just leave it in my yard, even more egregious are the heathens who  do the following:

They self-righteously pick up the poop in a plastic bag but then leave the &*#*% bag along the sidewalk or parking strip where unless it is picked up by some good citizen, will set there for the next 250 years rather than decomposing naturally.

Yeah Right! Thanks for being a great environmentalist…..

Pharmaceutical Commercials – while the US is one of I believe, only two countries that allow these corporate behemoths to advertise their prescription medications on the air, the ads are ubiquitous   It may be comforting to some that the advertised pill may allay the symptoms of psoriasis notwithstanding the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, internal bleeding, memory loss and lower libido etc.

I also marvel at the over-the-counter ads for Prevagen – an over-the-counter dietary supplement pill which is supposed to help your memory.  In bold tones, the announcer lauds the benefits of this medication that is comprised of “ingredients originally found in jelly fish….”  

Why is this an advantage? Who has ever interacted with a smart jelly fish?  Do jelly fish have better memories than carp?  Why would you want to emulate any creature with no central nervous or respiratory systems, lives only a few years and has its mouth and anus in the same body cavity (at least that’s what is appears from the diagram below):

Medicine with ingredients originally found in jellyfish!!???

And how smart were the hundreds of jelly fish that washed up on the Oregon coast in January near Haystack Rock?  Did they show the same intellectual acumen as lemmings in following the leader to their ultimate demise?

Spelling Bees – now I may get attacked on this one, but it just floors me when I see the results of the latest Scripps National Spelling Bee – one with a 94-year history – and a story which states, “Spelling Experts say Tougher Words are Still Out There.”   In the 2019 Bee, eight kids ended sharing the championship “…because they were simply too accomplished to stumble over any of the words Scripps threw out.”

The labyrinthine path to becoming a spelling bee champion….

One has to give credit to the parents who I assume drill their little prodigies who are eighth grade and below (now usually with professional coaches) for hours on such words as “auslaut”, “aiguillette” and “erysipelas” – words that even my Google spellcheck does not recognize.  One has to ask, however,  “Of what practical use is all the time spent trying to accomplish this Augean task??” (I looked up the definition, but couldn’t use spell check to write the word.)

Would it not be better for them to be out on the playground, interacting with peers or just reading a good book?   Of course, I guess, some of you might ask, “Of what redeeming value is a blog in which the author writes about his exploits at 350+ bars, breweries and taverns?”

Metrics – these statistical indicators have become pervasive in all areas of our lives, and are now a staple for sports coaches and general managers. I think it was baseball that first relied on detailed statistical analysis of hitters rather than the gut instinct of famous Major League Baseball managers such as Tommy Lasorda, Casey Stengel, Connie Mack and my favorite Birdie Tebbetts, skipper of the Cincinnati Reds when I lived there from 1952 – 1959.

Birdie Tebbetts – notable Major League catcher and manager

But has it gone too far? I was struck by a recent Oregonian article entitled, “Blazers put Shot Tracking Into Practice.”   A company called Noah Basketball has developed cameras, sensors and software to provide over half of the NBA teams, major college programs and even high school basketball teams with data and “real-time feedback” on every shot they take.

It tracks “…the arc, depth, location and accuracy of each shot on a laptop.”

Perfect arc, depth and velocity

Sports has become more of a business, but does this kind of tool, take some of the joy and spontaneity out of the game?   Maybe the next step is to provide players with electronically edited comments in interviews after the game so the clause, “I just played my own game,” is replaced with more elevated prose……

“Well the radius of gyration and velocity of my shot was within the standard deviation laid out by Coach.”

Brewery Dynamics

Since this is a blog primarily about bars and breweries, I should end with a short section on the dynamic nature of the brewing industry especially in Oregon. One recent statistic I read stated that there are now more breweries than colleges in the US and that competition has resulted in some rather shocking casualties with some notable brewing firms.

There are too many closings in the last two years to list them all, but a number of noted breweries with Oregon roots are gone but not forgotten – also true of some fabled pubs and bars.  The good news is that new ones seem to pop up almost simultaneously.  The following does not purport to be all-inclusive, but just gives an idea.

Closings

Burnside Brewing Closes its Doors

Lompoc Tavern (NW) and Brewery (N) – Widmer’s Pub (N) – O’Neill Irish Pub (SE) – Burnside Brewing (E) – Bridgeport Brewing (E) – Alameda Brewing (SE) and Brewpub (NE) – Portland Brewing Taproom (NW) – Columbia River Brewing (NE) – Rock Bottom Pub (Downtown) – Henry’s Tavern (Pearl) – Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton) –  Laurelwood Brewing Pubs (Sellwood and PDX) – Riverbend Brewing Brewpub (Bend) – Coalition Brewing (SE) bought by Gorges Beer and reopened.

Openings

Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom – owned and operated by monks

Level Beer Co. (Multnomah Village) – Breakside Brewing Taphouse (3rd location Slabtown) – Hopworks Urban Brewing Pub (2nd location PDX)  – Ruse Brewing (SE) – Benedictine Brewing (Mount Angel) – Mt. Hood Brewing Taphouse (2nd location – Tilikum Crossing) – Backwoods Brewing (2nd location Pearl District)

And Finally re. Lagunitas Brewing 

I read an October Willamette Week article which stated, in part:

“After three years of providing free event space for local non-profits, California-based, now Heineken-owned brewery Lagunitas abruptly shuttered its Community Taproom in Northeast Portland this week, sending dozens of charities scrambling to relocate fundraisers.”

As were many Portland residents, I was outraged and on 10/31 e-mailed Lagunitas the following without really expecting a response:

“You can do better….Your decision to discontinue the Community Room in NE Portland without any prior notice, thereby leaving a number of non-profits in a real dilemma, is uncalled for, unnecessary and shows disregard for your loyal customers. This is not indicative of the Oregon Brewing Community and this move will be remembered.  How do you justify the manner in which this decision was handled?”

At least the Brewery Communications Dept. responded two days later:

“Thanks for reaching out and for your feedback.  We recognize that the closing of the Community Room was sudden, and truly wish that we could have given more notice to the community and those organizations who had previously scheduled events.

There were a wide variety of factors that lead us to make this incredibly difficult decision. We let the Portland non-profit community know as soon as we could, but also understand that for many organizations, it wasn’t soon enough.

We’re currently working with those organizations that had an event scheduled, and are providing beer donations for them at alternative locations.  We also look forward to continuing to support the incredible work that local Portland non-profits are doing in the future.  Thanks again for your feedback.”

I’ll try to let you know in future posts whether the intent to help in the future becomes a reality.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving

Beerchaser Miscellany – What’s up in Bars, Breweries, Etc.?

The Benedictine Brewery

After over five years of planning and months of construction, the monks at the Benedictine Brewery are close to fulfilling the vision at the Mount Angel Abbey.  I’ve worked as a volunteer on this wonderful project  for the last two years. It will be one of only two breweries west of the Mississippi in which the monks are the owners and operators – the other being that located near Albuquerque, at the Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery.

Fr. Martin Grassel

Father Martin Grassel, will be the General Manager and Fr. Jacob Stronach, the Head Brewer.   The Grand Opening of the St. Michael Taproom will occur on September 22nd, shortly after the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest and you should plan to visit and raise a mug of their flagship beer – Black HabitOr if you are not a fan of dark beer, try the superb Benedictine Farmhouse Pale Ale.  Fr. Martin was Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in July, 2017. 

The picture above shows the facility as it draws closer to completion.  It has evolved from the remarkable Community Timber Raising ceremony in November at which over 100 monks, seminarians and community members helped erect the frame of the building from what started out as only the concrete foundation.  Some amazing videos of the event are included in the post below:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/21/the-benedictine-brewery-beam-me-up/

Benedictine Brewery hardware ready to go….

The Dynamic World of Bars and Breweries.

The world of bars and breweries is ever changing.  Fortunately, when we hear about bars closing, one will concurrently learn about new establishments – usually breweries, opening either in the former location as was the case with former Oregon Duck football star Joey Harrington’s Pearl Tavern (see below).

Backwoods – thriving in Carson and now in the Pearl

Successful enterpreneurs, Steve and Tom Waters, the owners and operators of the Backwoods Brewery and Taproom in Carson, Washington since 2012, will launch their new Pearl District pub in the vacated quarters at NW Everett and 11th.  The Waters are both University of Portland grads and great people.  Check out the new operation.

A loss to Portland is one of the first three bars I visited when I started Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs in August 2011 – the Ash Street Saloon.   A Willamette Week article entitled, “From Ashes to Ash Street,” describes the unique place this bar played in the Portland music scene before its December 2017 closing:

Gone but not Forgotten

“When tales are told of the downtown ‘rock blocks’ that once cultivated a burgeoning music scene, the Ash Street Saloon often doesn’t take center stage…..But soldiering on for decades with genre’ spanning live acts 365 days a year served a function just as vital – and one we suspect, far harder to replace.” 

The Copper Penny – a dive but with an interesting history

Other closures in the last eighteen months or so include the Lompoc Hedge House, BTU Brasserie, the Commons and the historic Copper Penny in Lents – now a high rise surrounded by new development.

But new locations of existing breweries such as Sasquatch, Migration, Storm Breaker, Baerlic and Great Notion ensure that Portlanders will never lack for great locations to drink good beer.

And there are creative bars such as Fido’s, which according to Willamette Week purports to be the “world’s first dog tap house.” It opened last February in Tigard and “is part 40-tap beer bar and part dog rescue shelter with a playroom filled with six adoptable dogs…”

This brings back memories of Thebeerchaser’s 2014 visit to Sniff Cafe in NW Portland in which I reported:

If you stop in for a glass of beer or wine during Happy Hour….you get a $1 discount on beer and wine plus your pooch gets a free romp in the pet indoor play area – even getting occasional personal attention by one of their attendants.  You also get to view not only your pooch, but the other dogs cavorting in this puppy plan pen.”  

And while I am not generally a fan of retail establishments such as sports shop and especially Starbucks, ill-fated effort to substitute for the traditional neighborhood watering hole, I think two Portland establishments with this model deserve a visit.

From Music Millenium Facebook page

One is Portland icon, Music Millennium – the oldest record store in the Pacific NW, operating since 1969 and after having some challenges with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, added beer and wine in 2015 to its amazing collection of recordings sold in all formats in their Burnside store.

And after a quick call, I was pleased to talk to an amiable chap on a Sunday evening, who told me that they currently had three beers on tap – all of them excellent from three outstanding Oregon breweries – Barley Brown’s, Boneyard and Pfriem.

So if you want to pick up (or sell) an historic or fabled music item such as the two in my collection of ’78’s and ’33 RPM albums (see pictures) check them out and have a micro-brew while you’re there.

A classic Big Band 78 RPM collection

The second retail establishment that looks interesting is also music-related –  Strum.  This is not the brewery in Ontario, California, but the vintage guitar shop and wine/beer bar on SE Stark Str.

As a Willamette Week article stated shortly after their opening earlier this summer, “If a guitar is the vehicle for rock music, then beer is the fuel.”  (It has four micro-brew taps.)

Now these niche-type establishments have a place and deserve support, but Thebeerchaser harkens back to the neighborhood pub or dive bar for true ambiance.  (Recent Beerchaser examples include The Standard, Mock Crest Tavern,  or T.C. O’Leary’s or Gil’s Speakeasy just to name a few in Portland.

The Mock Crest in North Portland

Of course, then you have the Old Oregon Saloon or The Sportsman Pub and Grub on the coast or Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee.  But don’t forget … I could go on and on….!!  (Click on the name of the establishment above to see Thebeerchaser’s review.)

A Dundee classic!

An April, 2018 Willamette Week article entitled, “Bubble Bobble – After a Record Year of Closures, Craft Breweries are Rethinking Some Things”  sums up the trend well:

“…beer geeks (are) wondering if the craft bubble has finally burst…..The answer might be to freshen up your direct-to-consumer roots, like all the local beer bars that have recently remodeled….. 

One of such establishments that has done it right is Old Town Brewing – in its brewery and pub on NE Martin Luther King Blvd.

Old Town Brewing in N.E. Portland – sparkling, but feels like home.. Stay tuned for the review….

“Rather than expanding distribution, younger breweries…..are opening new locations to meet customers in person and compete as local watering holes…..Why shouldn’t breweries be more like coffee shops and local taverns instead of cold manufacturing spaces?”   

The Portland BrewBarge

Thebeerchaser’s first experience on a mobile bar (as contrasted to the similar sensation in college described as the “Blind Whirley’s”…) was in 2014 on the Portland Pedalounge. Lloyd, the owner and “driver” took us on a great trip through the streets of SE Portland, stopping for brewskis at several bars and breweries along the way.   

The crew with our fearless leader, Lloyd…

My friends and I really enjoyed this trip – and Lloyd was a kick.  All of us would recommend it.

The second “bar in motion” experience was last week on the Portland BrewBarge.   Unlike the Pedalounge or this company’s equivalent BrewCycle where you drink at stops along the way, you can enjoy a beer while “pedaling” the boat or just relaxing on your leisurely 90-minute cruise up and then back down the Willamette River – either with your own beer or what you purchase from them.

All Aboard!

My son-in-law, Ryan Keene and I joined two of my favorite lawyers – Brien Flanagan and Carson BowlerEnvironmental Law partners at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, where I worked for twenty-five years before retiring.

Ryan and Thebeerchaser

The BrewBarge was an outing for Summer Associates (law school students who clerk at the firm) and a few graduates who had finished the Oregon Bar Exam that afternoon and were understandably ready to slake their thirst.

Captain Eric in yellow shirt) brief his crew..

Note:  It was nice to be floating on the surface of the beautiful Willamette and Brien, Carson and I did not talk about the DEQ, the EPA or the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.   I also took comfort in a recent article I read in an OPB post (6/17/18) which based on their research with the aforementioned agencies asserted:

“A person would have to spend a very long time in the river – like hundreds of years – or be exposed to much high concentrations of heavy metals, industrial compounds, flame retardants, agriculture chemicals and pharmaceuticals to reach the level of exposure health officials worry about.”

Contemplating the hazards of PBR

(Carson opined that the likelihood of me having an adverse reaction was more probable based on drinking PBR than exposure to the aforementioned toxins…)

Captain Eric, a Wilson High School alum, and Eric Johnson, who was the deckhand, after advising us on safety procedures (given the number of lawyers on board, I assume this was more extensive than their standard spiel.)  headed north and the young guys and gals peddled while downing beer which was mostly bottled IPA’s.

Good view of the bridges with Eric Johnson and Brien in the foreground

I sat on the far aft bench with my two friends and downed two canned PBRs – it doesn’t get any better, especially since Brien – who got his law degree at prestigious Georgetown Law after graduating from Notre Dame – reminded me in light of Oregon State’s recent ignominious football record, how the Beavs cleaned the Irish’s clock 41 to 9 in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl.

Captain Eric had worked there since the inception three years ago and business has been good for the owners who started the Portland venture after a successful run of the concept in Savannah Georgia.

Great view of the USS Blueback – SS 581 – at OMSI

It’s quite reasonable and the cost is only $35 per person unless you take the 90-minute sail on Friday or Saturday when its $40.  Bring your own beer to save on expense and enjoy the great views of the Willamette.

A Trusted Resource Goes Wrong at least for Thebeerchaser…

Speaking of local watering holes that feel like home (NOT!) my usually trusted resource Willamette Week hit it wrong on a recent recommendation.

The Happy Fortune on Barbur Blvd. had shifted its focus from dining to drinking and I checked it out with a friend.   WW asserted that:

“….Happy Fortune juggles an oddly congenial hotpot of upscale transients, Lewis & Clark undergrads, amiable suburbanites drinking through the commute, and an enviable corps of die-hard regulars.”

Well perhaps that’s true and to be fair, we only made one, rather than the customary two or more visits, but I will not return.  

The selection of beers was not great, (I had a bottled Tsingtao) but the weekday afternoon, we were there, had no ambiance – either in the environment, staff or regulars and just did not hit the mark in my opinion.  It seemed like an old and worn restaurant turned bar.  My fortune that day was not a happy one!