Beerchasing in Corvallis (and Stanley, Idaho) Part II – Drinking with Kings….

As mentioned in my last post, I am “catching up” on a number of bars and breweries visited during the last few years which never got written up – something which makes sense now when watering holes are closed except, in some cases, for pick-up.

The last post was Part I of two trips to Corvallis.    The most recent in 2018, in which I talked about our trip to the Oregon State vs Washington State game and a visit to the outstanding sports bar – The Angry Beaver Grill.  We met with former Beaver Giant Killer, Billy Main, who got us fifty-yard line seats. The link to that post is https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/04/15/beerchasing-in-corvallis-part-1/

One year earlier, in October of 2017, I was the overnight guest of Brian and Nancy King at their Corvallis residence.   During the day and one-half I was there, Brian and I hit several watering holes and in the evening, Nancy joined us briefly at Block 15 Brewery and Tap Room south of town and then we had dinner at Squirrels Tavern and in the evening, a nightcap at Caves Bier and Kitchen .

Gracious hosts in 2017 – Brian and Nancy King at the Block 15 Brewery

Brian and I also hit the following establishments:

Cloud and Kelly’s,  The Peacock

Those of you who follow my blog know that in my twenty-five years at the Schwabe Williamson firm and prior to that, six years at the Oregon State Bar, although not a lawyer, I loved working with them in my legal management role.

And my general affinity for the lawyer personality was characterized by Robert Elfers, a lawyer himself and my mentor/boss for over twenty of those years in both organizations, as a “pressing need for ongoing psycho-therapy…”

Thebeerchaser and “Brain” on 2017 visit

I have many wonderful attorney friends both at Schwabe and all over the country, but Brian (Brain) King, an environmental lawyer from the time he passed the Bar in -1980, until his 2016 retirement, is one of my favorites.  He epitomizes why I hold most lawyers in such high esteem.

He has also been on a number of Portland Beerchasing expeditions including the memorable Mummy’s (along with Schwabe colleague, Margaret Hoffmann and Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar (with lawyers, Carson Bowler, Brien Flannigan and Cheryl Rath).  This also occurred in 2016.

Before social distancing – in 2016 at Billy Rays. Brian is holding the can of Tecate…

Before talking about the Corvallis saloons, I need to tell you why I make the assertion above.  Brian has a wonderful dry sense of humor and notwithstanding the accolades he garnered in his professional career as both corporate counsel at Boise Cascade, the Bogle and Gates firm and then at Schwabe, he does not take himself too seriously.

He was a skilled advocate and extremely knowledgeable in his specialties, but also an attorney held in high esteem by not only his firm colleagues, but those who were on the opposing side of the legal issues in question.

Thebeerchaser at the Rod & Gun

Now I also may be biased because he was a primary factor in the motivation to start this blog when I retired in 2011.  I’ll write another post to finish the Corvallis visits, because I feel compelled to offer this background.

Based on his own experience, Brian insisted on my 2004 sabbatical road trip to Idaho and Montana, that I visit the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley Idaho.

The Sawtooths on the edge of Stanley city limits.

When he served as corporate counsel in Idaho, he spent time in Stanley at the foot of the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains and told me, “You need to stop at the Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon and say hello to the owner and notable musician, Casanova Jack. You can find the bar at 44 Ace of Diamonds Street in downtown Stanley.”

The musician had a reputation throughout the West having at one time played with Marty Robbins and his band.   Jack’s bar also has a colorful history:

“Tall Mary, at 6-foot-4, ran the Rod and Gun Club with Casanova Jack, and a French woman served whiskey and great hot sandwiches all night long at the Kasino Club. (That’s just a block away and also on Ace of Diamonds Street.)  ”  (“Winter 2010 Sun Valley Guide”)

While visiting Stanley years ago, Brian even took the stage and was lead vocal on “Blue Suede Shoes” with Jack.

So while staying at Stanley on the road trip, I spent hours at the bar on Karaoke Night.   I made sure to ask if Casanova Jack was in and my conversation with the female manager went like this:

Beerchaser:   “One of my colleagues made me promise that I would say hello to Casanova Jack.  Is he in tonight?”

Manager“No.  And for your information, Casanova Jack died in 1990.”

Beerchaser:  “I’m sorry to hear that.  I’m sure that he lived a colorful and active life.”

Manager:   “Not really.  He was a raving a-hole….”

My wife and I returned to the bar on a road trip in 2016.  The bar is now owned by Jack’s brother, Johnny Ray and his wife of thirty-eight years, Eve.

The personable Johnny Ray on our 2016 trip

Johnny Ray played the bass guitar and sang in Jack’s group and spent a good amount of time filling me in on his story and that of the bar.

For Johnny Ray’s interesting version of the bar’s history, check out this link: https://www.facebook.com/155766471164/posts/casanova-jack-ran-the-rod-gun-club-from-1971-until-his-untimely-passing-in-1990-/10154619946136165/

After the notable experience at both the Rod and Gun and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, Oregon, I decided that visiting bars and breweries would be a fantastic retirement hobby which led to commencement of Thebeerchaser in 2011.  More about Brian and his wife in the next post.

Cloud and Kelly’s 

See narrative below re. the women at the left side of the bar…….

This spacious bar downtown has an interesting story as evidenced by this excerpt from a Corvallis Gazette Times article dated June 30, 2017 entitled, “Tiki Bar Stirs Up Cocktail of Accusations”:  (Pardon the length but the story is compelling)

“The Hapuna Kahuna Tiki Bar & Kitchen — until recently, the location was Cloud & Kelly’s Public House, an Irish pub — will close Sunday and reopen Sunday night as an extension of the Downward Dog, an adjacent bar that Davidson owns.  Hapuna Kahuna started its short run on June 22.

Davidson said that residents of Polynesian ancestry, including those with the Oregon State University Asian and Pacific Cultural Center, complained about a combination of factors such as the use of a Hawaiian name, traditional iconography displayed in a cartoonish way, and how plastic leis were handed off to customers.  Some Hawaiians and other Polynesians liked the Tiki-themed bar and didn’t want him to change it, Davidson said.

Culturally inappropriate?

A local Facebook forum also had numerous comments about the situation, including questions of whether it was appropriate for chefs to cook ethnic food that wasn’t from their ancestry, such as a Korean chef running a sushi joint, since the cuisine is Japanese; discussion on the origins of Tiki ‘culture’ as an inauthentic fantasy mashup of tropical influences, and how there are Tiki bars in Hawaii; and comments on the evolution of Hawaiian cuisine to include items from numerous cultures, including those of Asian and Western countries.

The Tiki bar also made more financial sense than Cloud & Kelly’s, Davidson said, as the price of Irish cheddar, heavy creams, butters and lamb was rising. There also are rather obvious limitations to Irish cuisine, he added.

‘It all came down to the cost. … I know it had a good reputation but I felt I was at a crossroads and I was willing to try something new,’ he added.”

Now, since I don’t know the entire story in detail, I will refrain from making comments other than the cultural appropriation issues laid out above seem to pale considering the global health and economic issues we’re now facing.  And the story didn’t end there as set forth in two additional local news stories.

Downward Dog still has a campus location

The downtown Downward Dog, Cloud Davidson converted, closed in late 2018.   What is a sad commentary is David’son’s understandable sentiments in the November 24, 2018 article:

“I’m OK with letting it go, but I’ll always have an ill feeling about how it happened…I took a big risk doing Cloud & Kelly’s and it took off like a rocket ship,” Davidson said…..From the middle to the right to the left, I couldn’t do anything right…..It’s beyond rhyme or reason. But it all just blew up in my face,”

Morgan Orr

We wish Davidson, who appears to have done everything he could to assuage the objections, the best as a small business owner, since he still owns the Downward Dog location near the OSU campus.

The good news is that Morgan Orr who was his right-hand person for years, is now the owner of The Brass Monkey: A Public House, which is operating out of Davidson’s former downtown space.  The campus DD is still open for takeout and the BMPH is temporarily closed during the lockdown.  Both have received great social media reviews.

Brian and I hit the former Cloud and Kelly’s in the early afternoon on a weekday and one of only two other customers was the dark-haired woman you see sitting at the left end of the bar in the photo above.   She evidently listened to us telling some stories and laughing and then went into the bathroom.  We had finished our beers and were ready to leave when she came out carrying a small paper bag. Walking boldly up to me with a big smile she said,  “You deserve a present,” placed the package in front of me and walked out.

“Calm down and lower your voice, Beerchaser!”

Well, inside the bag were four marijuana gummy bears in the original package.   I was astonished and started to say  in a loud voice, “Hey Brian, those are ……..,” whereupon Brian in his best lawyerly voice said softly, “Lower your voice, Don and let’s split.”  

Even though marijuana edibles are legal in Oregon, I harkened back to my NROTC days at OSU when even inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke was probably enough to lose my scholarship …..Brian, as usual, was giving good advice.  The package hit the next garbage can on the way to our car.

Block 15 Brewery

Having opened their initial brewpub in downtown Corvallis in 2008, Block 15 Brewery and Taproom is south of town in a very attractive building with a beautiful view of Mary’s Peak.   They also opened a European-style pub—Caves Bier & Kitchen downtown which we hit later that evening after dinner.

Two of my favorite Oregon beers are Astoria’s Buoy Brewing IPA and Block 15’s Sticky Hand Ale. (Both with fairly high ABV at 7.5 and 8.1 respectively)

A great IPA and my opinion was not influenced by the glass!

Block 15 is known for its “barrel-aged rarities and one of the Northwest’s most extensive wild & sour programs.”  According to an 8/29/19 Oregonian article

….Block 15 remains fresh and innovative with ten years of brewing under its belt….From its well-known Sticky Hands Ale to a near-perfect pilsner, Block 15 has few holes in its game.”

An impressive tap list of creative brews

Although we did not eat there, the social media reviews on the food are very good, as exemplified by this recent 1/7/20 Trip Advisor review:

Great beer and perhaps the best sandwich I’ve ever had!   Every summer Block 15 has a sandwich called the ZATS – zucchini, avocado, tomato and sauce, on a french roll. I love this sandwich, and along with one of their hoppier beers I’m as close to heaven as I’m ever likely to get.  Also, their hamburger may be the best ever, as well. ….. ‘Nuff said.”

Note:  I’m happy to report that all three of the establishments covered above – Block 15, the Downward Dog and the Brass Monkey are continuing to offer safe options where you can still support them through takeout or home delivery.

Well Beerchasers, stay tuned for the third and final installment of Corvallis Beerchasing and some final comments on my wonderful hosts – the Kings.

Cheers (Image created by Pam Williams)

 

 

Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive

Thebeerchasing group - minus Cheryl Rath at Bill Rays on MLK Blvd.

Thebeerchasing group – minus Cheryl Rath at Bill Rays on MLK Blvd.

When I saw the March 9, 2016 Portland Mercury article entitled, “Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive: A Springboard for Bad Decisions,” I knew I had to make this great dive bar, the next stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs.

P1040531And one of the distinct pleasures of my Beerchasing hobby, has been sharing most visits with companions who like beer but perhaps concurrently have poor judgment as evidenced by the three gents in the picture above.  The photo also affirms the assertion of the Mercury reporter who also gave some evidence – the best example:

In ’47, two men hailed a Broadway Cab outside its doors, produced a revolver and submachine gun, and forced the young driver to whisk them to the hinterlands of SE 145th and Foster. They argued—drunkenly—about who should tie up the cabbie. They fled with the cab.

The trio in the photo above are Brian (Brain) King and Brien Flanagan, members of the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Natural Resources Group and John Mansfield, an intellectual property lawyer, who has his own firm – Mansfield Law is on the right.  Cheryl Rath, also a lawyer, joined us on the great patio in the back of the bar, but not in the picture is an Assistant Professor of business law, sports law and sports management in the Business School at Concordia University besides practicing law at her firm, Rath Legal.   More about this quartet after some of the scoop on Bill Ray’s:  P1040536

“Billy Ray’s has occupied that long, skinny building only since around the turn of the millennium….., but the ghosts of those past dives—of Marv’s, and the Montana, and who knows how many others—still clatter their empty mugs against the copper bar top. For me, it is the Portland dive bar…….

B. Ray’s is still maddeningly, charmingly a cash-only establishment that refuses to serve decent food (take your pick from an assortment of TV dinners, peanuts, or chips), although they welcome any outside fare you might bring in. The Medieval Madness pinball table upstairs is still somehow working. The re-entry policy—’You may re-enter Billy Ray’s once per day’—is still in force, and ‘Surfin’ Bird’ is still on the jukebox. The smell of stale beer still hits you well before you walk in.” (Excerpt from March 9, 2016 Portland Mercury article)

Having fought Portland’s ugly traffic, which redefined the meaning of gridlock (By the way, Mayor Hales, “Better Naito” doesn’t work…..) I was late.  Brian King, however, concerned about his carbon footprint and also based on his premise, “You meet very nice people on the bus after dark,” took the MLK Tri-Met Line 6 both to the bar and back to the firm late that evening.

An intellectual crew with Thebeerchaser logo.

An intellectual crew with Thebeerchaser logo.

After walking through the long, narrow and dark bar interior, I joined the others  on the patio. Brian and Cheryl were downing Tekate in cans, and I asked them why they didn’t try one of the four beers on tap (PBR, Jonny Utah Fresh Hops from Georgetown Brewing in Seattle, Lagunitas IPA and Worthy Easy Day Kolsch).

Only four beers on tap, but a lot of options in cans...

Only four beers on tap, but a lot of options in cans…

Brain responded for both of them:

“Based on the Presidential campaign, we empathize with our Mexican friends, and if Trump is going to build a wall, we think it should be with cans of our favorite Mexican beer. (empty cans I assume…)”

schwabe logo

Concern about Presidential candidate bias.......

Concern about Presidential candidate bias…….

 

 

I might add that all four lawyers were at Schwabe while I served as the Chief Operating Officer and the firm, besides having excellent lawyers, is known for its amiable culture and sense of humor.

For example, Mansfield, who last went Beerchasing with me at Church (where the bar’s motto is, “Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent”) suggested we again pin a copy of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses on the entrance to Billy Ray’s.  Not to be denied, he argued that since Billy Ray’s was on Martin Luther King Blvd. it would still be appropriate.  

"Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent and remember the 95 Theses

“Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent and remember the 95 Theses

Although many IP lawyers have undergraduate degrees in Physics, Mathematics, Chemical Engineering or other hard sciences, Mansfield is more culturally refined having received his degree at the U of O in Music (theory and composition) before earning his Masters in Political Science at Portland State and finishing his education with his law degree at Cornell where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

He tried to show his expertise in environmental topics by stating, “You know it’s not pollution or industry that is harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water.”

Spacious game room upstairs....

Spacious game room upstairs….

There were only a few people inside – more on the patio – but it’s small enough downstairs that it seemed reasonably busy.  No one was in the spacious game room upstairs with ping-pong, old fashioned pinball machines and a pool table.  Both of the bartenders I met, Mara and Tammy were friendly.

To keep things from becoming "shady

To keep things from becoming “shady

I asked Tammy the rationale for the sign about re-entry and she replied, “So we don’t have anything shady happen, although we rarely enforce it.”  I guess I’m still confused about the policy; however, I do understand why they have a cash-only policy.

Tammy - helpful and friendly

Tammy – helpful and friendly

This excerpt from the Willamette Week 2016 Bar Guide, like the Mercury article, paints a great image:

“Like Benjamin Button, Johnny Cash and Greg Oden, Billy Ray’s was born old…….. the place looks like it was left abandoned on the side of a rural highway in the 1950s and reopened by squatters who have yet to figure out how a card reader is supposed to work. In truth, its current incarnation has only been around for about a decade. ……..

The sign out front reading ‘tavern’ seems permanently on the blink, the restrooms are a scared-straight program for anyone nervous about peeing in prison, and if you order food, it’s time to seriously re-evaluate some things. All this, of course, is part of the ramshackle charm…..”

P1040538The bar is owned by Portlander, Billy Ray Lenz, and although his picture hangs in the doorway, it is not named for former Portland Trailblazer, Billy Ray Bates.

The bar actually has some interesting art, most notably, the wood mural upstairs – a map of the US which was a collaboration of fifty employees, patrons and friends and for a period hung in former Mayor Sam Adams office.

Original and collaborative art

Original and collaborative art

Now back to my companions – Brien Flanagan, although he looks very youthful, has fifteen years of experience and is the Practice Group Leader for Schwabe’s Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources Practice Group.

Given his surname, you will not be surprised that his undergraduate degree was at Notre Dame and he went on to graduate from the prestigious Georgetown Law School, where he met his wife, Nooby,

Flanagan resumeHe is a skilled litigator with a great sense of humor as you will see below.  Brien has handled all aspects of the development process including permitting; investigation and remediation of contaminated property; environmental compliance, including hazardous waste management and stormwater regulations. He knows environmental regs very well and is even working on permitting a gold mine and representing a coal mine owner in federal litigation.

At firm retreats, I used to make an award for the best e-mail each year and Brien won it in 2009 after he sent an inquiry to firm personnel for a referral to help him remove two trees at his house.   His response to the inquiries was as follows:

“Because of the number of responses I got regarding the importance of trees to the environment, please be assured that I am removing his tree purely because it disturbs the view from my living room window and it drops berries onto our patio that I find annoying.

I will be replacing it with a paved impermeable cement surface and invasive non-indigenous plants that I will treat with outdated and generally illegal pesticides.”

One would think Brien would be less naïve about asking for referrals after that although I guess he thought firm management was above some of the juvenile humor when he acted upon a facetious recommendation I gave him in 2010. He had been having some concerns with his heart and asked if anyone could recommend a Portland cardiologist.

Careful on what referral you accept on this.....

Careful on what referral you accept on this…..

As background, Portlanders (at least most who followed the news) were amazed at the media frenzy on Dr. Jayant Patel, a Kaiser physician who was labeled by the media as Dr. Death because of repeatedly botching operations and performing surgeries he was not qualified to handle.

He had previous trouble in New York and “Kaiser banned him from liver and pancreatic surgeries in 1998 after reviewing 79 complaints.  The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners later cited him for ‘gross or repeated acts of negligence.”  He was extradited to Australia where he went on trial and received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to fraud.

Brien’s e-mail to me after he called Kaiser cardiology to set up an appointment with Dr. Patel stated,”The receptionist asked me if I was trying to be funny….”

2016-07-28 20.25.12Brien redeemed himself that night by recommending that we eat at Russell’s Barbecue, less than a block away from Billy Ray’s.  We had PBR in old-fashioned bottles and each of us loved the food served by our friendly waitress, Heidi Mae seen in the picture below.

2016-07-28 20.26.57I might add that I was curious about a line of about 200 people across the street from Russell’s which appeared to be outside Bunk Bar.   John Mansfield, who represents some marijuana enteprenuers, however, informed us that they were lined up to get into the Wonder Ballroom for the free concert on the Leafly Comedy Tour.   P1040542

Cheryl Rath, the other person at Billy Ray’s although she opted to “see history being made,” when rather than joining us at Russell’s, she watched Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination.

Hillary in acceptance speech while Milania in the hat listens along with Cheryl....

Hillary in acceptance speech while Milania in the hat listens along with Cheryl….

Cheryl, besides being a great lawyer and a talented professor is also an amazing athlete.  Both she and Donald Trump are graduates of the University of Pennsylvania and then she earned her Master’s Degree in Sports Management at the University of Massachusetts before graduating from law school at the U of O.

An outstanding jump shot....

An outstanding jump shot….

——-

 

 

She was named the outstanding female athlete at Penn in 1989, where she played lacrosse and basketball and had stints as Assistant Basketball Coach at both Penn and Lewis and Clark before starting law school.

And finally, just a few words about “Brain” King, who deserves more and will be addressed in a forthcoming Beerchaser post about the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Idaho.  Brian played a key role in  my two visits to that fabled dive bar.

But he is an excellent attorney in all aspects of environmental law.  As has been implied by this post, he also has an advanced, albeit irreverent, sense of humor.  If you want a great example, read the essay he wrote that was published in Oregon Live in 2009, when he and his wife were in Denmark http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2009/12/only_the_strong_survive_julefr.html

It’s about Julefrokost, a Christmas lunch normally held in December with traditional Danish foods and lots of alcohol.   It will make you laugh in your aquavit or Tekate. For example: “One of my Danish friends told me that one of his favorite Julefrokosts,  featured a tank of helium and a karaoke machine.”  

Aquavit - Skoal!

Aquavit – Skoal!

Brian “anchors” the firm’s Corvallis office – his wife is a full professor at Oregon State University where she teaches Business Law.  He went to undergraduate school at Colorado State in Fort Collins, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa notwithstanding his propensity for frequenting the same bars that Thebeerchaser found compelling when we spent ten days in Colorado.  https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/the-town-pump-fort-collins/

His law degree is from the University of Colorado and Brian’s practice focuses on environmental and worker safety law.

Brain King offers a prayer up to his favorite beverage

Brain King offers a prayer up to his favorite beverage and the gods of Julefrokost.

And Brain likes beer, admitting that he and his wife occasionally like to drink wine, but to avoid the impression that he is not loyal to the malty brew, he often puts his empty wine bottles in his neighbor’s glass recycling bin in order not to give the wrong impression.

Upon reflection, perhaps my thirty plus years working with attorneys emanated from my experience in second grade at Miami Hills Grade School in Madeira, Ohio.   I told Miss Whipple, the teacher, that I thought the characters in our reading primer – Ted and Sally and their pets, Boots and Tuffy were boring and acted like wimps, whereupon she yelled at me, “May your life be filled with lawyers!”  

That turned out to be true and has worked out pretty well.  At least she didn’t utter the curse, “May you have visions of narcissists with orange hair…..”  I think that would have made me move to Canada……

P1040533The robust juke box added to the ambiance of Billy Ray’s and overall, The Beerchaser concurs with the premise advanced by the Mercury reporter: “Billy Ray’s is a hell of a dive!”  You should find out yourself.

Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar     

2216 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.