Advancing Into Autumn Part II

Photo Jul 03, 9 18 14 PM

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

As September gallops along, it reminds me of the ambivalence we face each year with Autumn in the Northwest — do we stay home or go to the Oregon Coast and enjoy the wonderful weather before our eight months of daily drizzle commences?

OR

Do we journey to other parts of the country – either road trip or by air – and enjoy the less-crowded National Parks and scenic wonders in other parts of our wonderful country?

This year the decision is easy because of the renewed strength of COVID throughout the US and more importantly, the impending birth of our fourth grandchild in the second week of October.

But at the onset of this post, I want to depart from bars and breweries and relate a great story about a relatively young, but thriving distillery in Portland.   I’ll finish with another one of the innovations that Adam Milne of Portland’s Old Town Brewing has just sprung which will put additional fizzle into the fall……

Freeland Spirits of Northwest Portland 

While it’s probably obvious that I love to raise a mug of almost any malted brew whether it be an IPA, a lager, pilsner, etc. on occasion, I’m also very partial to distilled spirits – gin martinis (up with olives) — scotch and bourbon also periodically come to mind.

Thus when my son-in-law, Ryan, gave me a 750 milliliter bottle of Freeland Bourbon for my birthday in May, I was in for a wonderful surprise.  The bourbon superb – the best I’ve ever consumed in over seventy years on this earth (okay – during the fifty + years where I could imbibe legally….),

But it’s produced by two woman entrepreneurs who have a compelling story AND a high-quality product from the distillery they founded in 2017. (External photo attribution at end of post *)

As stated on their website:

“Freeland Spirits celebrates the women of the craft. From the gals who grow the grain, to those who run the still, we’re creating superior spirits that celebrate all the Northwest has to offer.

After COVID subsides and I can make on-site visits again, I hope to interview both CEO and Founder, Jill Keuhler and Master Distiller, Molly Troupe at their site and devote a full post to their vision for the future.

“Freeland Bourbon pays homage to the South, and to Grandma Freeland, the namesake of Freeland Spirits. Soft caramel, vanilla and spice dance into the whiskey from charred American oak barrels.

A final rest in Oregon’s Elk Cove Pinot Noir barrels adds an element of Pacific Northwest terroir. Blended with precision by our Master Distiller, Molly Troupe, to achieve balanced texture and harmony of flavors.

But I admit, I’ve become so fond of the bourbon, that I developed a routine of sorts during COVID, when I’ve become enamored with jigsaw puzzles – after all, I’ve got a lot more free time since I’m not making personal visits to watering holes at this time.

Before bed, I often spend a session at one of the 1000-piece puzzles accompanied by a “generous” pour of their bourbon.   When my wife saw how quickly the bottle had disappeared, she decided my shots would be less fulsome……although this led to a genteel debate about the term “generous.”

For example, according to Wikipedia, a small shot of liquor in the US ranges from 30 to 44 ml whereas a double will fill a glass with about 59 to 89 ml.  So if I had an average of 55 ml shot each session, the bourbon would have been consumed in only 14 sessions. 

Since I only spend about forty-five minutes each night, it certainly has taken me that long to get this far in one of the most challenging 1000-piece puzzles we have done to date (Galison Puzzles “A Day at the Bookstore.”)

And Speaking of Northwest Entrepreneurs…..

One of my favorite Portland breweries in the eleven years I’ve been Beerchasing is Old Town Brewing.  And only part of that sentiment is because of its great beer and pizza.   Like Freeland Spirits above, a major factor is the creativity and resourcefulness of the founder and owner, Adam Milne

He has demonstrated this entrepreneurial spirit, from the time he bought Old Town Pizza in 2004, when this Marcola, Oregon native was only thirty-three.  (He mortgaged the equity in his house and sold a rental unit to buy the establishment.)

The almost twenty-year history of this enterprise and Adam’s resilience, innovation and creativity is a remarkable story which took me two Beerchaser posts to chronicle: https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/26/new-energy-and-ideas-at-old-town-brewing/

And from my own experience meeting and interviewing him over beers at his Eastside brewery and pub in late 2018, Adam is also a great human being who is the epitome of an enlightened owner and manager.

Before telling you about Adam’s latest adventure, I will use the words of Carson Bowler his college Sigma Nu fraternity brother at the University of Oregon, and my colleague at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, (shown in the photo above) who has also represented Adam and Old Town on legal issues:

I’ve known Adam for more than twenty-five years.  We were in the Sigma Nu house and his reputation then was that he was the nicest guy in the fraternity.  Unfortunately, that reputation was accurate. 

One could never lie to, or ‘borrow’ from or prank Adam without the everlasting worry that God, Himself would punish any such shenanigans with eternal damnation. 

Adam always had one great idea too many until he didn’t and launched Old Town Brewing.  It was in this enterprise that his ambition, good taste, generosity and entrepreneurial spirit blissfully collided to produce pure-love in a pint.  Adam makes good beer because only good things come from Adam.”

Adam and Crew *8

Adam, like most small business owners has faced incredible challenges in the last two years.   At the height of COVID’s initial wave and when Portland was enmeshed in the lawless protests (a continuing saga), he was forced to shut his Old Town location down in July, 2020:

“‘The moment of a temporary closure became, sadly, clear on Thursday when our revenue for the day was $18.75,’ he says…..’Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard with the high density, vandalism and tents in front of our business.’”

But he rebounded and in May of 2020, Old Town Brewing launched a Drive-Thru Brewer’s Market with seven different breweries and cideries. Every Saturday from 11am-4pm, Old Town’s parking lot off of Killingsworth in northeast Portland –  a contact free drive-up experience with rotating selections from local breweries is filled with enthusiastic patrons.

And in February, 2021, he purchased Baby Doll Pizza on Southeast Stark  – known for its’s New York style pizza.  He didn’t change the name although it now features a number of the excellent Old Town beers on tap.  

Well, the innovation continues and this time it’s “Out of the Barrel…”   As featured in Oregon Live’s Andre Meunier’s new column on beer and breweries (which is an excellent column you should check out) “Portland’s Old Town jumps into hard seltzer market with Upper Left”

“‘On Thursday (9/15/21) (Old Town Brewing) will release its Upper Left hard seltzer brand, becoming one of the first small breweries in the nation to do so,’ (Adam Milne) said. Old Town, no slouch when it comes to brewing awards, will continue to make its full line-up of craft beer, but it will augment that with an initial offering of two seltzers: Cotton Candy and Key Lime, with more flavors to be introduced.

‘The flavors are a throwback to the candies of the ‘70s,’ Milne said. He wanted to capture the retro flavors of confections like Now and Later, Laffy Taffy or Bazooka, or even the vibe of the corner pop shop or a saltwater taffy store. He wants the Upper Left brand to appeal not only to young adults but also to those who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”

Now, I loved Bazooka Bubble Gum when I was a kid and I’m going to give it a try, but I don’t know if a hard seltzer is going to replace my Freeland Bourbon when I embark on my next jigsaw puzzle.  

Cats in Positano, 1000 Pieces, eeBoo | Puzzle Warehouse

That said, I might substitute a mug of Old Town’s Paulie’s Not Irish (American Red) Ale which recently won a Bronze Medal at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival.

A good substitute! *14

External Photo Attribution

*1 – 3  Freeland Spirits Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/freelandspirits/photos/?ref=page_internal)

*4  Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shot_glass#/media/File:Three_shotglasses.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.  Author: Kelly Martin 16 November 2006

*5 – 9  Old Town Brewing Facebook Page  (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby%20Doll%20Pizza/1409561956008482/photos/)

*10 – 11  Baby Doll Pizza Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby%20Doll%20Pizza/1409561956008482/photos/)

*12 – 13  Upper Left Hard Seltzer Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/upperleftseltzer/photos/?ref=page_internal)

*14  Old Town Brewing Website (https://www.otbrewing.com/beer_pnir)

Hail to the Hall – Oakshire Beer Hall That Is!

A home-grown Oregon Success Story

Oakshire Brewing in Eugene is a shining example of a family-owned enterprise that based on creativity, good management and community involvement has thrived since its founding in 2006 by CEO, Jeff Althouse, who attended Oregon State before graduating from the U of O and is a former high school math teacher.

Oakshire Founder and CEO

Thebeerchaser has not been to the Brewery or it’s Eugene Public House to this point, but the opening of its new Beer Hall in Northeast Portland offered a chance to have a Beerchasing gathering and gain my own impressions of this Oregon craft brewery’s excursion to Portland.

The Beer Hall opened in July in Northeast Portland (NE 42nd Ave. on the border of the Cully/Concordia neighborhoods) and now occupies an expansive space in what used to be the popular restaurant Old Salt Marketplace.   

The question below was asked and answered in a July 23rd post on Portland-based New School Beer.com – an excellent website dedicated to craft beer and news and commentary about Northwest beer and cider:

Why open an Oakshire Beer Hall in Portland when its beer is readily available in cans and bottles? Consumers demand variety and like to go straight to the source; this way Oakshire can showcase a much more diverse selection with its signature brand.

Oakshire Brewing is known for its Overcast Espresso Stout, Watershed IPA, Amber Ale and somewhat for its fruited Gose can series. Anyone who has been to the pub in Eugene knows that they offer much more than can be found elsewhere; from crisp lagers to milkshake IPAs, classic pub styles, and their highly underrated barrel-aged mixed culture ales; all are available at the new Portland beer hall.”

Sam Holloway in one of his speaking gigs.

This post will focus just on the Beer Hall itself rather than be a descrition of the Brewery and pub in Eugene and it’s many beers.

I was also interested in covering this new establishment because my good friend and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dr. Sam Holloway, a professor at the University of Portland joined us that day.

He is also a consultant on the craft brewing industry and serves on the Oakshire Board of Directors. The story of how he and Jeff Althouse met and Sam got on the Board is interesting and can be gleaned at the second link below:

Sam is also President of Crafting a Strategy – a global consulting firm and resource for micro-brewers.   See Sam’s interesting background by clicking on the link below: https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/08/25/sam-holloway-educator-craftsman-and-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/    

The picture below shows Sam with Brother Thomas Buttrick, OSB and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Fr. Martin Grassel – both monks from the Mount Angel Abbey near Salem. Fr. Martin is also the General Manager and Head Brewer of the Benedictine Brewery.

Fr. Martin is a devoted follower of the Crafting a Strategy resources in business planning for the Mt. Angel Brewery – one of three in the country owned and operated by Benedictine monks.

Dr. Sam with Brother Thomas and Fr. Martin Grassel.

While the Beer Hall exceeded expections, like every Beerchasing escapade, the companionship was the highpoint, but I will address that below.  However, it needs to be stated up front that this was the first time ever that six Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter congregated in the same room.

Constitutional scholar Westwood – prior civic commitment

It would have been seven but for attorney, Jim Westwood’s prior commitment as the Constitution Team Coach for De La Salle North Catholic High School at the same time.  (And if there is ever a time when knowledge of Constitutional principles is important……..)

You can see most of these in the photos below and Thebeerchaser is kicking himself for not getting a group photo of this august group.  (I guess it will have to wait until they are all in the ethereal realm with mugs of I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost – a sour Berliner Weise – listening to Jack Faust recite from Goethe.)

Jack Faust  – https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Dr. Sam Holloway –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/08/25/sam-holloway-educator-craftsman-and-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Fr. Martin Grassel –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/07/26/father-martin-grassel-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Jay Waldron – https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/03/29/jay-waldron-rugger-rafter-rider-and-lawyer-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Amy Faust –  https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/04/11/amy-faust-beerchaser-of-the-quarter-and-mandolinist/

Art Vandelay – https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/01/31/beerchaser-of-the-month-art-vandelay/  (He sometimes adopts the moniker Carson Bowler)

Now let’s take a look at why this place is recommended by Thebeerchaser:

The Beer:  I was amazed that the number of taps at this outpost was rivaled the number of “Breaking News” captions on a Cable New Broadcast in an hour.

The Beer Hall has twenty-two of its own beers on tap with ten more offering draft white and red wine, guest hard cider and kombucha.  The taps are displayed behind the attractive dark wood bar and also on an electronic display to the side.

I stuck to the “core” offerings rather than the “vintage” or “pilot” options – these three comprise Oakshire’s distinct small-batch brewing programs.  Their brews are also available in cans and bottles distributed throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Colorado.

The ability to get some of Oakshire’s hard-to-find caged and corked barrel-aged clean and sour wild ales in a refrigerated case for purchase is also a good feature.

For example, Jim Finn, a retired litigator Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt who was there with his wife, Alanna, reveled in the name and description of the pilot program’s new Dinosaurs Will Die Brachiosaurus.

He did so with the same enthusiasm he showed when he approached the jury for his final argument in trial – “hazy and brewed with galaxy, mosaic, motueka and citra hops” – this is the description of the beer, not Jim’s oratory.

Fr. Martin and Jack Faust – two former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

Similary, Fr. Martin was curious about both the contents and the theological implications, if any, of the Hellshire IX “Imperial Stout aged in freshly dumped Kentucky Bourbon Barrels.”

Theological implications???

 

 

(I also assume he will be interested in comparing Oakshire’s Smokin’ Hell Helles Lager brewed with smoked Oregon Spruce Tips to his own Helles Lager – he brews it at the Benedictine Brewery to rave reviews.

He discussed homebrewing with another retired Schwabe lawyer – Jack Faust – who in addition to being one of Oregon’s premier appellate lawyers, is still a homebrewer notwithstanding the results when he tried to brew his infamous “Rasberry Red Ale.” 

(Faust may also have been asking about the possibility of indulgences for that experiment in his basement years ago although he maintains that his current batch of Dark IPA is one to die for….) 

Brian and Hannah brief us on the new release

The staff stopped us at one point to announce in advance introduction of the new Oakshire’s new Novemberfest Lager – their second lager and one with an orange hue.  Evidently, they announce a new release at the Beer Hall every Tuesday at 6:00 PM.

The Space and Ambiance – We had about thirty people there, all of which fit comfortably in the half of the establishment’s space dedicated to the bar.   Besides seating at the bar, there were two nice long tables and several booths.

The dark wood and basic décor makes it inviting and there is substantial additional space available in the other half of the room – separated by a wood panel – where the food offerings are prepared.

There are plans in the future to put in an a large room for events and a beer garden where there is now an adjacent parking lot.  (They currently are having a Trivia NIght every Monday evening.)  Several small tables on the sidewalk in front offer additional seating.  Ample street parking is another benefit.

One factor which added to the experience on both of my visits was the personable staff – friendly, but also very knowledgeable about all the beer offerings and very accommodating in offering samples to determine one’s preference for a pint. Brian, Jake and Hannah were great ambassadors for their company.

The Food – Only a few in our group took the time to eat during the event.  While there is discussion about multiple food carts at the site in the future, a very interesting and attractive option is offered inside the Beerhall currently. 

Good and interesting food option

As stated in a recent review in the Portland Mercury:

“:….BIBA! CHamoru Kitchen, operated by Ed Sablan….BIBA’s menu showcases the cuisine of Guam with an emphasis on grilled meats and bright spice…….

The kelaguen is unique and habit-forming although for something more traditional you can go for the fiesta plates, with barbecued chicken, pork spareribs or veggies.  They’ve got an array of of starters and snacks too; the shrimp fritters were a perfect blend of airy puff, crispy batter and shrimpy succulence.”

Fr. Martin talking to Amy Faust while eating a spicy dish from BIBA!. *1

Since it is new, there are few reviews on social media, but almost are all positive and this one was typical (9/14/19 Yelp):

“Great addition to the neighborhood! Nice place, nice people, very prompt and helpful service.  The food was all stellar, I’m super excited to go back and try the rest. All very fresh and delicious.
Highly recommended!

Bargain sale…….

*1 It should be noted that in the picture above, Amy Faust and Fr. Martin are having an animated discussion about cats since both are feline fanciers.

Amy’s Facebook posts are filled with references and she even embarked on a self-admitted foolish business scheme to sell cat-related merchandise “made for my talking cat, Ted, for the recent Cat Festival in Portland.”  (If you are interested, check out this Instagram post.  This cat also is involved in an Internet romance – but that’s another story….)

Cecelia

Fr. Martin adopted a stray cat forteen years ago in the hills above the Seminary and Monastery and “Cecelia” now follows him around the Abbey Hilltop and sits on his desk each day.

“There are a lot of feral cats in Rome and I took comfort feeding some of them.  I was the only one they would approach.  Feral or abandoned cats roam our grounds, too, one of which was Cecelia.  I started feeding her and she adopted me.”  

Especially vocal in their praise were the present and former members of the Schwabe Natural Resources Group who have been loyal Beerchasers from the beginning.  Many of the lawyers in this group attended that day (Brian Flanagan – Group Leader, Patty Dost, Jay Waldron, Cheryl Rath, Carson Bowler and even Tim Sullivan who is now practicing in a law firm in Baltimore.)

Cheryl Rath, Tim Sullivan and Carson Bowler (aka Art Vandelay)

A watershed IPA moment – creative advertising too….

They were drinking and particularly interested in the Watershed IPA – not because it might pose some issues that would generate billable hours.

The description of this beer simply reflects their collective personality and approach to Super Fund sites:  “strikes a balance between bitter and sweet, finishing crisp and clean.”

Note:  One of those sites may be Jack Faust’s basement where he disposed the remains of the batch of Raspberry Red down his drain.

That reference also allows me to finish with another kudo to Oakshire for supporting the environment.  They have partnered with the McKenzie River Trust:

“One percent of Watershed IPA sales revenue is set aside for the protection of local watersheds in the territories where the beer is sold, helping to preserve the clean water that is so vital to our community and our beer.”

Oh yes. I forgot – it’s a family-type place and kids are welcome until 11:00 PM.  One of the stars that day was my youngest granddaughter, Rylee Dawn Keene.  This ten-month bundle of joy is shown here with her other grandfather, Ron Keene.

To sum it up, the Oakshire Beer Hall deserves its recent designation in Willamette Week as one of the five best places in Portland to get a drink.  (The week of September 11th)

Whether its the beer, the nice space, a chance to sample good food from Guam or you just want to support an Oregon company with great values, you will not be disappointed.  The feedback I got from the group attending was universally positive.

 

 

 

 

 

Oakshire Brewing Beer Hall    5013 SE 42nd Avenue  Portland