Beerchasing in Corvallis with the King(s) II…!

Brian and Nancy King outside the historic Squirrels Tavern in Corvallis

Followers of Thebeerchaser know (or could have guessed) that the lockdown since mid-March curtailed both singular Beerchasing visits and group BC events which have been a hit in the past.  This is the final post on my 2017-18 trips to Corvallis – the home of my college alma mater – Oregon State University.

An aerial post of the Memorial Union and the beautiful OSU campus

The first post can be seen at https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/04/15/beerchasing-in-corvallis-part-1/

In reflecting on the absence of watering holes in my life for the last 3.5 months, it both reminded me and made me lament on one of my favorite quotes – used several times in prior blog posts – by 18th century English man-of-letters, Samuel Johnson.  And it’s supplemented by a new one that reinforces his original assertion.

If you can’t drink a draft in a saloon, there are good alternatives

The latter I discovered reading one of David Brooks’ marvelous books (The Road to Character) yesterday afternoon during my Happy Hour on our deck drinking a great can of Bend’s Breakside Brewing’s Sweet As Pacific Ale.

Brooks gives a remarkable and insightful narrative on Johnson – the complex individual known as a “poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer.” (Wikipedia).  However, he loved watering holes.

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”

and

“I look upon every day to be lost in which I do not make a new acquaintance.”

A complex personality “….a mass of contradictions: lazy and energetic, aggressive and tender, melancholic and humorous, common-sensical and irrational, comforted yet tormented by religion.” (David Brooks – page 221 The Road to Character)

These quotes epitomize the rationale for Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Breweries initiated upon my retirement in late 2011 and until the pandemic, the inspiration for visits (and reviews) of 375 watering holes during the last nine years in Portland, throughout Oregon and the US and even in Europe – also why I’m looking forward to the end of the lockdown.

The Kings Treated me Like 
Royalty

On the first trip in October 2017, I was privileged to be the overnight guest of former Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm colleague, Brian (Brain) King and his wife, Nancy.   Brian had a notable career as an environmental litigator – first in the corporate sector and then with two large law firms.   Before his retirement in 2016, he “anchored” Schwabe’s one-person Corvallis office after working in the Portland office for several years. The link below explains why I credit him as a primary inspiration for starting this blog in 2011.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/04/24/beerchasing-in-corvallis-and-stanley-idaho-part-ii-drinking-with-kings/

On a 2016 Beerchasing to Mummy’s – a Portland classic

(Brian has been on many prior Beerchasing expeditions in Portland, and for me, will always retain the moniker Brain.”  He will correspondingly label me as “Dan” although the humorous and true account surrounding those names will have to wait for the book I plan to write on law firm management.)

To demonstrate both his priorities and commitment, Brian even took a bus from the downtown Portland office after he drove up from Corvallis in 2016 to Beerchase at North Portland’s wonderful Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar.

Schwabe colleagues Brian Flanagan and John Mansfield celebrate “Brain’s” (left) arrival by Tri-Met.

Professor and attorney, Nancy King

Nancy King, Brian’s wife is also a lawyer and until her recent retirement was a professor at OSU and earlier at Willamette University College of Law.  During her academic career, she taught graduate and undergrad business law courses including MBA courses on law and ethics for new businesses and emerging technologies.

She received a 2008 Fulbright Fellowship in European Union Affairs to conduct comparative law research on privacy and data protection issues related to mobile advertising enabling her to work on her research with law and technology experts at a University in Belgium.  Earlier in her career, she distinguished herself as an employment lawyer for the Bullard Law, a firm in Portland.

Now in the first Corvallis post, I related our visits to Cloud and Kelly’s and Block 15 Brewing.   The other establishments on this trip described below, included Squirrel’s Tavern, The Caves, and The Peacock.

Squirrel’s Tavern

Bustling on a weeknight.

The Loft at Squirrel’s

The Kings recommended Squirrel’s for dinner and I could see why.  It had great food and on a weekday evening was hopping, so to speak.

Since there were no seats available on the main level, we ended eating in the loft, which was a very good substitute.  And for $8, the Squirrel Burger would be a treat wherever you consumed it:

 (“Beef patty topped with fried egg, grilled ham slice, cheddar & swiss cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mendocino mustard & ketchup. Potato chips & pickle slice on the side.”)  It lived up to its reputation!

The “Squirrel Burger” – no rodent aftertaste!!

Squirrel’s has an interesting history as related in this story in The Corvallis Gazette Times on the tavern’s 40th anniversary in 2014.  A great tradition is their hosted Annual Labor Day Party at a nearby park since 1976 – it always draws several hundred people.

Owning and operating a tavern for 45 years – especially in a university town, is a real accomplishment and Greg “Squirrel” Little, the owner, is known as an outstanding business man and citizen in Corvallis.

The bar obviously closed during the pandemic and will open again in July starting with curbside service.   As stated on their website, Look, it took a pandemic to get Greg to take cards!!!! 

And besides a number of bottled beers, Squirrels has seventeen beers on tap.  Of course, what better way to consume a Squirrel Burger than with a draft PBR.

Looking down from the loft

Squirrel’s has great ambiance, from the cordiality of the staff and regulars to the interesting and idiosyncratic art, to the pictures, sports memorabilia and cool rodent-related accoutrements such as mounted squirrels….

The bar is also known for its popular live music gigs.  The length of this post limits the number of social media reviews I can show, but this one (Yelp 10/22/19) does an apt job of summing up Corvallis’ sentiments:

“You cant beat Squirrel’s. Unpretentious. Good ordinary food at a good price. Really nice people. We’ve lived in Corvallis for over 40 years and Greg has been part of so many experiences for us. Off nights are best. You’ll get more of a local feel when it’s not so packed.”

According to Facebook, their plan is to reopen on July 6th, once safety protocols are tested and physical changes made to keep patrons safe.  Drop by and show your support for a business which deserves your patronage.!

The Peacock

A Corvallis watering hole since 1929

The Peacock Bar and Grill has been operating since 1929 – it’s birth was even before either Brian’s or mine and the history of this bar made at least a short visit on my trip mandatory.

After all, how many late night visits to the Top of the ‘Cock did we make when we were undergraduates and the second floor of this historic bar was always rocking and thereby lured us away from cramming for our Western Civ midterm the next day.

Unfortunately, based on the predominant sentiments in Yelp reviews from the last several years, the legendary $1.99 Early-bird Breakfast and quality burgers, don’t appear to overcome repeated concerns about rude and surly staff and bouncers such as (8/11/18):

“Don’t go to this bar for a good time on the weekend. The confrontation-happy bouncers will throw patrons on the ground as you walk out of the restroom.  They will beat up patrons, and throw your girl in a ditch. After doing reviews on the peacock they are consistently calling the cops on these patrons.”

The Top of the “Cock” in better days. Will it ever be the same?

Two dudes looking for conversation not confrontation….

Fortunately, Brian and I were in no mood that evening to engage in either a physical or mental confrontation, and we just stopped in to survey the surroundings and departed.

And while the description above may be exaggerated, it appears that you can now assess the Peacock’s service yourself as:

“Benton County was approved to enter Phase 2 starting Friday, June 5. The Peacock Bar & Grill is open for dine in 7am-midnight daily, starting June 5. We will continue to be open for take out, curb side and delivery 7am-1am daily.”

Caves Bier and Kitchen (Les Caves)

We ended the night with class although Brian had to convince me that he wasn’t taking us to a crypt with dead OSU alums buried there.

Ready for a nightcap with patrons who are still living…

The Kings and I stopped at this delightful European bar and bistro for a nightcap as they advertise – probably correctly:

“….Corvallis’ largest selection of draft and bottled beer from around the world with artisanal pub fare served in a cozy atmosphere.”

The pub is comfortable and with an upscale ambiance.  Although they describe their menu as “artisanal pub faire,” it seems very suitable to someone with a discriminating palate and accustomed to more sophisticated culinary faire in contrast to a Squirrel Burger (which tantalized my taste-buds earlier that evening….)

The prices seem very reasonable for such items as Chicken and Apricot Tagine, Moules Frites, Chana Marsala and Elk Ragout.

A cozy, upscale ambiance with a classic bar

“From a distance the bar top looks like a nice but somewhat standard wooden bar with a nice shiny finish, but once you pony up to it and grab a seat its beauty is immediately apparent.

Underneath its shiny polish are oak barrel staves from some of the Northwest’s best barrel-aged brews that have been re-purposed, cut up, straightened, and aligned meticulously for the bar top. Other than just being beautiful, it really speaks to the love of oak barrel-aging….”

Friendly and knowledgeable

Unlike the description of staff at one establishment above, our server was a very friendly and knowledgeable young woman who went through their robust tap list and let us sample a number before ordering:

“On tap you will find a selection of twenty beers brewed around the block and around the world. Our bottle list boasts over 130 unique bottled beers, stored in our temperature – and UV light-controlled beer cooler. All bottles are opened tableside and served in glassware appropriate to the style.”

The owners of Block 15 Brewery opened Caves in 2011 and its named for the cellars under Block 15’s brewery and Les Caves itself, which house more than 100 barrels of beer.  They feature several of Block 15’s excellent beers.  Brian and Nancy split a pint of their Alpha IPA (“6.5% ABV – Northwest style IPA with notes of citrus, fruit, and pine delivered by a robust blend of four NE grown hops.”)

Brian, knowing that in my undergrad days, I only drank in sips from the Fountain-of-Knowledge, suggested I down a pint of the Effect of Education Farmhouse Ale (also appropriate for an ag college).

It’s a collaboration with McMinnville’s Allegory Brewing (“8.2% ABV – Ransom whiskey barrel aged mixed culture Farmhouse Ale with local, hand-picked cherries.) A collaboration with our friends at Caves Bier & Kitchen.”)

Shoyu deviled eggs -floating on your bowl of ramen….

Caves is worth a return trip to test their kitchen and would also merit some research on their World Bier Passport“Take a trip around the world of artisan beer, guided by Caves’ World Bier Passport. By the time you complete your journey, you’ll gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of regional beer styles, timeless traditions, and emerging brewing techniques.”

Going with the flow…….

We returned to the King’s and Brian and I had a nightcap in their living room.  Nancy excused herself when I encouraged Brian to summarize his presentation a few years earlier at a local government symposium entitled, “How to Prepare for Your MS4 Inspection.”  He was duly impressed that I knew MS4 is an acronym for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.

But when he declined and then got us some snifters of brandy, upon returning he did open up about the book he co-authored when I asked about it.

I have always respected Brian’s position on environmental issues and remembered reading an article in the Portland Business Journal shortly before he joined the Schwabe firm:

“Despite the upheaval of his now-defunct firm (Bogle and Gates), Brian King, also found the time to co-write a book published last month called “Fundamentals of Environmental Management.”

King said the book couches environmental compliance as a combination of law, science, politics and public relations….Despite company complaints, there is time and money to not only meet current regulations, but to exceed them.”

Available at Amazon

But the kicker was a summary of said tome which I had read from an unknown reviewer in Idaho which stated, in part: Fundamentals of Environmental Management with stimulating chapters such as ‘Air Emission Inventory and Analysis”’or ‘Ozone-Depleting Chemicals (ODCs).’ (Environmental lawyers are not a real popular group in Idaho….)”

I thought his book could lead to a stimulating conversation that would help me fall asleep that evening (or possibly while we were still chatting…)

For those of you interested, this legal thriller is still available new on for $13.92 – a savings of $136.83 off the list price – but hurry there is only one left in stock at Amazon.

Lawyer, author, environmentalist and prefers beer to Bloody Mary’s

Now if you do a Google search for this book, be careful not to get confused and order by mistake a volume by prolific author Dr. Brian King.   This Brian King has written less weighty manuscripts including ” The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life’s Stressors  and also  “A Field Guide to the North American Bloody Mary.”

Dr. Brian King, has an entirely different background from my friend according to his bio:

“…..trained as a neuroscientist and psychologist and for the past decade has traveled the world as a comedian and public speaker. By day he conducts seminars, presented nationwide and attended by thousands of people each year, on positive psychology, the health benefits of humor, and stress management. By night he practices what he teaches in comedy clubs.”

While “Brain” and “Dan” will always do a lot of mutual kidding, I would suggest that any person would be richer for knowing both him and his wife Nancy.  Brian has a wonderful and dry sense of humor and was respected and liked by both his colleagues and adversaries in the courtroom.

A wonderful couple who are great hosts

Note:  As a closing note, I was sorry to hear that it appears that the cherished Corvallis Flat Tail Brewery has permanently closed – not because of Covid 19 – but because of a dispute with their landlord over their lease as chronicled in a BrewPublic.com post on June 15th entitled “Flat Tail Brewing Closes its Doors in Downtown Corvallis.”  We certainly hope the ten-year old brewery with the slogan “Dam Good Beer,” finds a new location and reopens in the near future.

Hoping for a quick return….

 

Beerchasing in Corvallis – Part 1

As I stated in my last post on Thebeerchaser blog, with all Oregon and Washington watering holes closed except for takeout, I ‘m going to “catch up” on some great bars and breweries that I visited in the  last few years, but just didn’t write up because of my formidable Beerchasing agenda……

And what better place to start then two trips to Corvallis, Oregon – home of my undergraduate alma mater – Oregon State University.  The next Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter will also be introduced to Beerchaser followers in the following post and is part of an OSU legend.

Ariel view of the Memorial Union and the Quad

As a precursor, I can state that OSU was a wonderful place to live and learn for four years.  Although some refer to OSU as simply an aggie school, it has nationally recognized programs in Ocean Sciences, Engineering and Forestry. 

It was also one of the first colleges in the country to initiate a Fermentation Science degree in 1996, which still ranks among the best in the country – certainly dear to the heart of Thebeerchaser.  It comprises about 50% of the students who are pursuing a degree in Food Science and Technology.

West Coast IPA has been one of the fastest growing styles of craft beer and “the hop that launched this revolution was an Oregon-grown variety called Cascade, developed at Oregon State University by the USDA hop breeding program.”

Fermentation Science at OSU

The two Beerchaser posts on Corvallis will be on ventures back to my undergrad stomping grounds:

In October, 2018:  I accompanied my fraternity brother and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely and his friend, Dr. Bob Gill when we drove down to see the Beavers play the Washington State Cougars.

If you click on the link above you will also see the compelling story of my friend of 50 + years, Jud, ranging from his time – albeit abbreviated – as OSU Student Body President, to his heroic service during the Viet Nam War and beyond.

Dr. Bob Gill, Jud Blakely and Billy Main

Thanks to the generosity of former Beaver Giant Killer, Billy Main, who played running back on that fabled 1967 team, we also had 50-yard line complimentary tickets and attended a reception for alumni in which new Coach Jonathan Smith appeared about an hour before the game for a ten-minute inspirational briefing.

Coach Smith inspiring the alums right before the game with WSU

Indeed, Billy Main epitomized that Giant Killer football team which is one of the great sports stories – not only in Oregon, but in American college football lore.   For those who want to know more about that legendary team check out my own post:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/

Or for the most comprehensive and impressive chronology and documentation, check out the aforementioned, Jud Blakely’s website.  It is a labor of love by this OSU alum and I consider it the War and Peace equivalent of sports websites:  https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

I knew Billy as a fellow NROTC midshipman – one class ahead of mine.  His college football and subsequent professional career in the hospitality industry are stories that deserve to be told and are inspiring as you will learn in the next post.

On the first trip back – also in October one year earlier – I was privileged to be the overnight guests of former Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm colleague, Brian (Brain) King and his wife, Nancy.

Brian was an environmental litigator in the corporate sector and then with two large law firms.  Nancy King – also a lawyer – after her career in private practice – served as a professor at both Willamette University College of Law and in the Oregon State School of Business.

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

Before his retirement in 2016, he “anchored” Schwabe’s one-person Corvallis office. In the second post on Corvallis, you will learn more about Brian’s notable legal career and why I credit him as a primary inspiration for starting this blog in 2011.  Nancy also retired in 2016 although she taught during the summer at Aarhus University in Denmark in 2017.

Why Would One Go to College in Corvallis?

NROTC Class of 1970 at OSU

Not to belabor the point, but Corvallis is not only a wonderful community, but an ideal college town.  Now perhaps, I was slightly parochial in 1966, but as a recipient of the NROTC scholarship, I had the option to attend any of the fifty or so US universities that offered that program (and to which I could get admitted which, of course, narrowed the list quite a bit….) 

College recruitment and selection is a lot different these days (maybe not going forward) but I only visited OSU, loved the campus and also the opportunity to pledge the SAE fraternity.

Oregon State SAE House at 29th and Harrison

Corvallis has a population of 59,000 – 85 miles south of Portland, it was founded in 1845 and has the motto “Enhancing Community Livability.”   (We earnestly tried to live up to this standard while we were students….)

In doing some research for this post, I did find one interesting statistic (and perspective) from a real estate blog: (https://www.estately.com/blog/2016/06/15-things-you-should-know-before-moving-to-corvallis-oregon/

“Corvallis has the lowest percentage of children of any of the 20 largest cities in Oregon. This is great news for those of you don’t enjoy the sounds of screaming children while dining out, seeing a movie, riding public transport, meditating in the park, or playing video games at an arcade. On the other hand, if you have small children the city might feel a little devoid of other youngsters.”

Now during my college years (1966-70), there were no breweries and just a few notable bars – classics if you will including the SAE’s favorite – Price’s Tavern.  Also Don’s Den and The Peacock Bar and Grill.   The Peacock and it’s iconic rooftop pavilion – “The Top of the Cock” – is the only one surviving to this day.

Corvallis now offers a great variety of bars – including nine sports bars, breweries , distilleries and even a meadery to suit just about anyone’s preference.   In fact, the Corvallis Visitors’ Bureau offers a brochure entitled the Mid-Valley-Sip Trip listing seventeen establishments – all within the City limits.

On my two trips, I hit the following:

2018:  The Angry Beaver

2017:  Block 15 Brewing, Caves, Squirrels, Cloud and Kelly’s, Flat Tail Brewing and The Peacock

What you Should Know about Bob Gill

The trip to Corvallis was the first time I met Dr. Bob Gill – who attended and played football at both OSU and then Portland State after starring at Jefferson High School his senior season in 1953.   He was selected for the Shrine All-Star game and got a scholarship to OSU.

All-star Quarterback

He was a successful Portland dentist for many years.  But like many of Jud’s friends (other than Thebeerchaser), Bob also has an outstanding Oregon legacy as both an athlete and in the annals of athletics for the State of Oregon.

Click on the link to read his full bio when he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame  in 2019 along with two former Beaver Basketball players from the ’80’s Mark Radford and Ray Blume.

Among his achievements to garner this honor:

  • Bob’s research led to the publication of “It’s in Their Blood,” a history and legacies of 53 Oregon football coaches.
  • As a historian, Bob successfully nominated Tommy Prothro, Neil Lomax and Ad Rutschman into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. For 14 years, he presented the “Walk of Champions” award to champion high school coaches.

  • In 1998, Bob Gill provided the early leadership to return the North-South All-Star Football Game to Portland establishing the Les Schwab Bowl.
  • In 2010, Bob offered to write the story of Oregon and NFL legend, Mel Renfro. After 5 years of research and writing, he authored the biography “Mel Renfro: Forever A Cowboy.”

And from spending a day with him, I can also state that he an amazingly humble and classy gentleman.

When we got to Corvallis, we had lunch at the Angry Beaver Grill where we met Billy and were also joined by Giant Killer Quarterback, Steve Preece and his wife, Karen.

After college, Steve played in the NFL for nine seasons – as a defensive back and his last year, in 1977, he started for the Seattle Seahawks.  After football, he has been a successful Portland commercial real estate broker and developer and is a member of the Beavers’ radio broadcasting crew.

From left – Billy Main, Jud Blakely, Don Williams, Karen Preece, Steve Preece, Dr. Bob Gill

The Angry Beaver Grill is a bastion of Oregon State sports history, co-owned by former Beaver football running back Randy Holmes (#31) who averaged 3.7 yards per carry during his four years at OSU.  Randy was a great host to our group and is a wonderful story teller.

Holmes – an expert in the kitchen

He was also known for catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Beav quarterback, Ed Singler to make the score 28-14 against Fresno State in the 1981 season.   The Beavers after being behind 28 to 0 in the first half, won 31 to 28 and ended a 14 game losing streak.

According to Wikipedia, “With the win, Oregon State had set the record for the biggest comeback (28 points) in major college football history at that time.”

And the Angry Beaver is a great venue – especially on game day although according to the OSU student newspaper – The Barometer – it was the best live music venue in Corvallis in 2020.

The Angry Beaver Reuben

For lunch we had burgers and their outstanding Reuben sandwich, but Randy made his mark for years as a chef and according to a 2/2/18 story in the Corvallis Gazette Times

“………..resurrected a bit of Corvallis’ culinary history with the Angry Beaver, which opened in January 2018. For more than a decade, Holmes was the chef at The Gables, which was known as Corvallis’ premier restaurant for years before it closed.

‘I literally made the croutons and chicken bisque soup every day,’ Holmes said. Angry Beaver chef Mike Adams also worked at the Gables.  Naturally, that signature chicken bisque soup with croutons is featured on the menu, as is a prime rib with Danish whipped potatoes special on Friday nights, and that also was a Gables’ staple.” 

Retired Coach Jimmy Anderson

After lunch, Jud wanted to stop by former OSU Head Basketball Coach, Jimmy Anderson’s (from 1989-95) house.   Jimmy was coach of the freshman basketball team in 1961 and Jud got cut in the final round of tryouts.

They ended up playing together on the Truax Oilers AAU team and have maintained a friendship since.  (Of course, Jud told Jimmy he made the wrong decision by cutting him.)

The Beavs on their way to the locker room before the game.

Then we moved on to Reser Stadium for the early evening game.   However, Billy insisted that we be his guests at the Alumni Reception – and it was in the beautiful quarters above the north endzone.   Bob, Jud and I joined about 150 people and soon realized that they were all former OSU athletes and their guests.

And among them were a number of former Pac (8-10-12) all stars and a both current and former pro-athletes – which made me feel a little out-of-place although my size when compared to most of them meant that my presence was not conspicuous.

Scott Barnes OSU AD

We heard the great talk by Coach Jon Smith and then affable OSU Athletic Director, Scott Barnes, closed the affair and understandably started making the rounds shaking hands with those who attended.  He stuck out his hand to me and said, “Thanks for coming back.”   Given the presence of all the other athletes, I almost could not resist responding to his greeting with “Don Williams, SAE Intramural Basketball 1966 – 70.”

Well, although it was a pretty good game for three quarters, Oregon State lost 56 – 37. In retrospect, sitting there in a crowded stadium on a lovely fall night even when your team loses, seems like a wonderful future scenario.

Go Beavs!!

And although the Angry Beaver Grill is now closed during the pandemic, when bars and restaurants reopen, be sure to stop in and say “hello” to Randy and his friendly and effective staff.   You will enjoy the great atmosphere, the good tap list and the great food.