Barlow Artisanal Bar – where the cocktails are a craft!

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Barlow Artisanal Bar, an upscale cocktail bar opened in September 2014, is right across from the Arlington Club and the Schnitz on the corner of Salmon and Park Avenues in downtown Portland.  Now admittedly, Thebeerchaser is generally more inclined to hit a good dive bar, but my first two encounters with this young bar – over a year apart were both positive.  It is perfectly suited if one is trying to impress your date or your spouse after dinner and the theatre or a concert in the heart of Portland’s Central Business District.

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And from the description in the Portland Tribune a few months after it opened, the assertion was validated:

“…….Barlow has been raking in the late-night, dressed-up, theater-going crowd.”

I enjoyed having a cocktail on the second visit with good friend, businesswoman and Portland civic all-star, Sharon Van Sickle-Robbins, with whom I served on the board for the City Club of Portland – a great organization.

Sharon VanSickle Robbins - civic all-star

Sharon VanSickle Robbins – civic all-star

She served as City Club President, in addition to her stints on the University of Portland Board of Regents, the Planned Parenthood Board and the American Electronics Association/Oregon board and she was also Public Relations Society of America/Portland Board President.

In addition, she chaired the Regional Arts & Culture Council Board and was President of the Public Relations Society of America/Portland – a list of service that could be for three people!  Sharon has been an effective, savvy and conscientious board member and also has a great personality as I found out the first time that we Beerchased together – near the commencement of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs in late 2011.

Great dive bar and hangout for UP Students

Great dive bar and hangout for UP Students

We hit the Twilight Room in North Portland, which brought back memories to Sharon because it was a favorite bar when she was an undergraduate student at University of Portland  (obviously after she turned twenty-one!)

My first foray at Barlow was in late 2014 with lawyer, Jeff Jones, when he visited from the East coast on a trip after his stint at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, where we both worked.

Jeff, after graduating with both an MBA and his JD or law degree from Willamette University worked for several years as an associate at the SWW firm.  He was known as a gifted lawyer and for his sense of humor.   The latter was only marginally appreciated by me as the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, because management was usually the target of his jokes.  Part of the issue may also have been the legal expense we incurred from outside counsel trying to extricate both Jones and the firm from the results of his quirky and irreverent humor.

Jeff Jones during his visit in 2014

Jeff Jones during his visit in 2014

It was a trait appreciated by most folks albeit primarily out of a sense of morbid curiosity.  After several years at the firm, he abandoned a partnership-track position to pursue his dream as a stand-up comedian in Atlanta and write a book.

He succeeded in both goals.  His success during four years as a stand-up comic at the Whole World Improv Theater was honed in Portland by the number of times the judge and jury both laughed hysterically at his closing argument during trials.

His book, A Crash Course in American Law, published in 2015, for a time was #1 on the Amazon e-book legal and legal humor categories.  Having helped him with some of the editing, I knew the book was interesting and funny, but was amazed at the overwhelmingly positive reviews by those who read it (4.5 out of 5 stars) including:

“I was laughing–I mean snorting tea out through my nose and onto my Kindle screen laughing–before I even got to the first page.”  SPR Reviews

“Using his unique brand of fact-driven and often humorous interpretation of law, Mr. Jones acts as our quirky and lovable, if not overly-peppy, tour guide on a behind-the-scenes look into the American justice system. 4/23/15

Clarence Darrow would be proud....

Clarence Darrow would be proud….

Of course, based on a sense of retribution, I first turned to the four (out of 69) critical reviews because potential buyers should be aware of this sentiment:

”  ……I also got the feeling the author really doesn’t care for the American Judicial system or Americans for that matter. (emphasis supplied) 8/16/15

“…….or, in this case, it’s like listening to the incoherent and frankly stupid ramblings of someone who claims to have passed the Bar….this is an utter waste of time…don’t waste your time, or money.”  5/19/15

In the interest of fairness, it should be disclosed that the last review was submitted by a former client in one of Jeff’s trials in Multnomah Circuit Court – I think it was a case about a horse…..

He now has a big-boy job as a lawyer for IMERYS, a multi-national company headquartered in Paris, specializing in the production and processing of industrial minerals.

  But we will return to Jones later — now back to Barlow.

Rather than me trying to describe the space at Barlow – a highlight of the bar, let’s look at a few good descriptions by various print media sources:

“Walk through a door….and you’ll be greeted by the larger-than-life bedroom eyes of silent film star Janet Gaynor, elaborate chandeliers, dark textured walls, swanky etched mirrors, and a Gatsby vibe that aims to distill the roaring 20s into a single night out.”  Portland Monthly 9/4/14

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“In a long room decorated with aviation chairs, shimmer screens, tucked away seating and a menu that hearkens back to an earlier time, Barlow Artisanal Bar plans to bring a slice of old Hollywood to downtown Portland….Barlow was designed to look and feel like being inside a black and white movie.”   Samantha Bakall The Oregonian/OregonLive 8/ 8/14.

“The elegant, but not-too-stuffy, space — with seating at the bar, at the picture windows and in private curtained booths.” Portland Tribune 1/15/15 

Curtained booths

Curtained booths

“(Barlow) aims to feel like a black-and-white movie, which explains the gunmetal-gray upholstery, the dark, flocked wallpaper and the giant image of silent-film star Janet Gaynor on a back wall, presiding over the room like a doe-eyed goddess…….Willamette Week 2015 Bar Guide  

More privacy

More privacy

And it is fun at Barlow to sit by the large windows and watch people walk by as you partake.

Now while they have only three beers and Guiness on tap, it makes sense that one would order a cocktail at Barlow rather than a beer,  just as it makes sense to down a PBR at a dive bar rather than a vodka martini (up with olives).

Meet Nathaniel - a craftsman...

Meet Nathaniel – a craftsman…

Nathaniel, the bartender and Mariah, our waitress, were both very nice people and helpful in explaining the cocktail lineup described in the bar’s website:

“The cocktail program…..brings a modern twist to the classics of the early 20th century. The carefully-curated list celebrates classic Hollywood allure with an emphasis on modern craft cocktail methods, including liquid nitrogen-chilled glassware, clarified syrups and juices, and hand-engraved ice cubes. 

Nathaniel explained that the Glasgow Smile, was the most popular drink which has a base of Scotch and the Draper Daiquari, which is the most potent.   And let’s again rely on some media images which described their mixed drinks –  there are ten on the menu ranging from $10 to $11.

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The Glasgow Smile

“The chic yet playful Prohibition-era space offers a play on the classic Gibson, a martini with traditionally nothing more than gin, vermouth and a pickled olive. Barlow’s Gibson, however, is a punch in the face — a mouthful of red onion flavor that’s been clarified in a centrifuge so that the pulp separates from the juice.   The red onion juice is shaken with Boodles Gin (a British brand) and Dolin Blanc Vermouth, from France.”   Portland Tribune 1/1/15

Sharon had a glass of wine (six on tap ranging from $8 to $12) and then I tried the Glasgow Smile, which lived up to its billing by Mariah although as Thebeerchaser, I still ordered a Double Mountain Kolisch as my first drink.  The beers are $6. Happy Hour prices are $5 for the beer $6 for the wine, well drinks $6 and cocktails $8.

If you want a full dinner, better head to the Picnic House next door, which shares a kitchen with Barlow, because the bar’s menu is pretty limited consisting primarily of appetizers-type offerings.  The chef at Barlow might not agree with that assessment, but the eleven items on their “nosh” menu are confined to selections such as brussel sprouts, greens, onion dip and a burger, if you want to pay $10.  And I would have a little problem paying $13 for a grilled-cheese sandwich even though it’s accompanied by tomato soup.

The owners of Barlow are social activists and entrepreneurs, Jessica and Aaron Grimmer, who also own the adjacent Picnic House Restaurant (which also has a more extensive menu),  the just opened Chk Chk on NW 23rd which specializes in fried chicken and High Noon, which has a southwest menu and specializes in frybread on NW 2nd.

P1040088How did Barlow get its name? Some commenting on social media were miffed because the name was already claimed by the Barlow Tavern, a dive bar in North Portland and there is also the Barlow Trail Roadhouse in Welches (named for the Oregon Trail pioneer, Sam Barlow) and even the Barlow Room in Dayton for wine tasters.

Or you can travel to Boston; Tucker, Kentucky or Crowley, Texas (Barlow’s First and Last) where there are also Barlow Taverns.  If that doesn’t satisfy you could try Barlow, Kentucky, except you might have to travel a few miles to the Silver Bullet in nearby Paducah, since Barlow has a population of only 675 and no notable dive bars.

But we digress.  Both Nathaniel and Mariah echoed the sentiments of Portland Monthly Magazine which stated that the bar’s name is a slang term for “flapper” – the dancing girls way back in the Roaring “20’s, an era when the Arlington Club next door didn’t even admit women members —- Oh wait!  The staid institution waited until the 1990’s when it finally deigned to allow females on the roster…..   P1040093

Barlow is also referenced as an “Artisanal Bar” –  a reference to the craftsmanship of the bartenders.  This led one critic on Oregon Live to comment:

“What the hell is an “Artisanal” bar? Already this place is sounding very pretentious. Will the wait staff be required to undergo plastic surgery to make them resemble Hollywood stars of the bygone era?”

We’ll leave the trademark issues to the lawyers and speaking of lawyers, Jeff Jones deserves a few more comments. One review described Barlow as “elegant, but not-too-stuffy,” perhaps that is why I invited Jeff to join me at the then newly opened tavern when he was on a trip from the East coast. Because that may be an apt description of the Jones’ sense of humor when he was at the firm as evidenced by the examples below:

Jones - now having to wear a tie - again.

Jones – now having to wear a tie – again.

One day in June, 2004 at 10:40 AM,  one of the firm’s secretaries (she worked for Jones and several other attorneys and as difficult as it is to understand, she also appreciated his humor) sent this frantic e-mail:

“I have lost my ring that my grandmother left me.  It is white gold, band style with 6 diamonds in a row.  Please, if anyone finds it, please return to me.  It has great sentimental value….”

Two and one-half minutes later, this e-mail was sent by Jeff Jones.

“Ring for sale:  Antique, white gold, band-style with 6 diamonds in a row.  Must sell fast. $50 or best offer.”

Those who left their black-berrys unattended might also find an e-mail they purportedly sent (authored by Jones) with a question such as “Can someone tell me how to get to the Courthouse?” (From a sixth-year litigation associate) “Does anyone know where I can buy a Thanksgiving turkey and how to cook it?”  or “Does anyone have some super-glue laying around?”

And finally (at least for this post), the firm urged legal secretaries to assist others if they were light on work.  One very good secretary sent out this e-mail inquiry:

“Let me know if I can help you?”

One minute later, the Jones’ response was”

“Can you build a wine rack?”

Jeff and his wife, Winslow, married in 2015.

Jeff and his wife, Winslow, married in 2015.

In a high stress environment, having outstanding lawyers who did not take themselves too seriously is one factor that made Schwabe Williamson a great place to work and why it repeatedly on the Oregon Business Magazine’s list of “The Top 50 Best Employers.”

————–

Nathaniels workbench!

Nathaniels workbench!

 

 

To conclude, Barlow, while it may be a little expensive and limited on the culinary side, is a creative and welcome addition to the Portland bar scene.   If you don’t want to just be satisfied with one of the downtown hotel lobby or restaurant bars, try Barlow Artisanal Bar.

It has a nice decor, personable and knowledgeable staff and some great cocktails.  And take a friend along like Sharon Robbins or Jeff Jones so the experience is even better.

Barlow Artisenal Bar 737 SW Salmon Street

Sloan’s (Tavern) – It’s a Lot Like Home

Sloans - Like walking into a living room.......

Sloans – Like walking into a living room…….

Having visited seventy watering holes in Portland during the last fifty-four months, Thebeerchaser can assert that there are really no bad establishments in this group of bars, taverns and pubs.  While some may be a little bit drab, the service may be less than stellar or the atmosphere has little charm or ambiance, all can be equated to a bull market – “When it is good, it is fantastic and even when it is bad, it is still pretty good!”

P1040012It can also be stated, however, that a few of the saloons I’ve visited have a charisma or charm that  registers as soon as one enters.   Those gems which I’ve reviewed and come to mind are Crackerjacks Pub in NW Portland, the Old Oregon Saloon in Lincoln City, Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska and The Sink in Boulder, Colorado.

Thebeerchaser outside Sloan's

Thebeerchaser outside Sloan’s

Well, I am adding another Portland bar to that group – Sloan’s Tavern in NE Portland – right near Legacy Emmanuel Hospital.  In an era where many new bars have sleek corporate-type environments with more taps than you could sample in a lifetime, it is refreshing to discover a family-run operation that epitomizes a charming old-fashioned gathering place.

The bar was opened by Bob Sloan and his wife, Shirley in 1979.  The Sloans owned and operated a custom auto body and paint shop next door – started in 1954 and still operating – they specialized in Freightliner trucks.  As evidenced by the amazing pictures in the bar, Bob Sloan also did skilled body and restorative work on classic autos.  When a café next door to the body shop run by an elderly lady closed, they bought the property and opened the bar. (The entire property was originally a creamery that opened in 1926.)

Evidence of the Freightliner legacy on the west wall of Sloans

Evidence of the Freightliner legacy on the west wall of Sloans

A charming aspect of Sloans is the décor, and Shirley, a beautiful and personable lady of 80, who graciously answered all my questions, pointed out that none of the furnishings were purchased new.

The bar stools – described affectionately by one reviewer as “adult high-chairs” – acquired from a diner, are classic as is the supplemental horseshoe bar near the west end of the establishment.  Bob Sloan died in 2013, and Shirley still is owner, manager and does the cooking – and she is an excellent cook.  P1040025

I might add, that one of the factors in making the evening one to remember was being accompanied by two friends:

Beerchaser Regular, West Coast Dave Hicks, a San Francisco-based legal consultant who has been on more Beerchasing expeditions than anyone except yours truly.

First-time Beerchaser, John Horvick, with West Coast Dave Hicks and Thebeerchaser logo

First-time Beerchaser, John Horvick, with West Coast Dave Hicks and Thebeerchaser logo

Portlander, John Horvick, Vice President and Political Director at DHM Research – Oregon’s premier survey research and polling firm, also joined us.  Unless you have been living in a cave or alternatively blocked all broadcast and print media to escape the 2016 political races,  you have undoubtedly heard John speak or seen one of his quotes in the papers or media.

Young Portland leader, Horvick. Still throws a mean strike...

Young Portland leader, Horvick. Still throws a mean strike…

He is a young leader in Portland as evidenced by his recent term as President of the City Club of Portland.  John was born in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Minnesota after first spending most of his college years at University of Nebraska on a bowling scholarship…..! 

In fact, his dad was a professional bowler and even though John wore loafers rather than bowling shoes while we drank, he was animated when discussing bowling hall-of-famers such as Don Carter, Dick Weber and Earl Anthony (1938 – 2001) who he reminded us was from Cornelius, Oregon.

Hall of Fame Bowler, Earl Anthony - he would love Sloans!

Hall of Fame Bowler, Earl Anthony – he would love Sloans!

When asked about his time in the fast lane(s) – so to speak – John replied, My bowling days were at Nebraska. I bowled for three years, and also taught the University bowling class. My students included NFL players and a first round pick pick in the WNBA.  I had a great run bowling in college, but ……as my coach would remind us, no one ever retired on their bowling winnings.”

John hung up his bowling shoes in his senior year and graduated at Minnesota where he got in-state tuition and funding for a research project.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Sloan’s

The Food – Consistent with the family-owned orientation, the bar closes at 10:00 PM each night and is not open on weekends.  When Shirley stops cooking in the afternoon, there is only a minimal menu of nachos, burgers, etc. available.  But this former North Dakota girl stated, “Lunch is our prize!”  She makes all the sauces and soups and puts together a great sandwich and lunch specials such as fish and chips with slaw ($6.25)  In fact, try the Emanuel Special (ham, turkey and jack and cheddar cheese on a French roll – $6.25) named for the regular lunch customers from nearby Legacy-Emanuel Hospital.              

Reg, the night bartender talking to some patrons

Reg, the night bartender talking to some patrons

And the prices are very reasonable, for example, a great Reuben and fries for $8.25 or a 1/3 pound burger with fries for $7.25.  Although they only have seven beers on tap and a slew of bottled beers, the environment to consume it is certainly far superior to some of the “beer shops” with 50 to 100 taps and the ambiance of a dental reception area.   Besides, you can get a $1.50 draft PBR – all the time!

P1040021The Décor – The individual lamps and bar lighting, wall hangings, carpet, booths and bar stools, the mirror on the ceiling by the bar along with an old time rotating Schlitz beer globe all give a very comfortable neighborhood bar vibe as do the photos of classic cars on the wall.

Shirley describes it as “My living room,” and based on the amount of time she spends at the bar, the description is apt.  While the Freightliner truck cab jutting out the side of the building is notable, the truck grill built into the bar itself, is also pretty cool.

A grill in the bar separate from that in the kitchen.....

A grill in the bar separate from that in the kitchen…..

And in what was described in 2012 by Willamette Week as “the best juke box in Portland”, you can watch a Chicago Coin’s Animatronic Big Band Box go into action while one of your favorite oldies is played.  It’s one of about ten still working in the US and was manufactured in the 1950’s.  As described in the “WW 2008 Bar Guide”:

“The true gem of the place is the jukebox—an ancient machine, it’s capped with a glass dome containing a miniature (eight-piece) plastic band (and singer) that moves in time to the music (mostly oldies).” 

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A classic and outstanding juke box

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There were some comments on social media that referenced Sloans as a dive bar.  From one who has great affection for such establishments (see Thebeerchaser post “Analyzing Dive Bars Head First” – September, 2011), these reviewers don’t have a clue as to what constitutes this category and the mislabel is the equivalent in this wacked-out 2016 political scene of  describing Donald Trump as an intellectual….

I’ll close by quoting excerpts from two authoritative sources – Portland Barfly and Willamette Weeks Annual Bar Guide for an apt picture of what you will encounter at Sloan’s Tavern and why you should visit it:

Portland Barfly:   The absolute cutest bar in North Portland, by far!  A retro-lover’s paradise – everything is vintage, down to the 50s diner coffee-maker.  A former greasy spoon, this spot cleaned up into a perfect date destination with its deep booths, and fantastic mirrored ceiling.  Command the bar in the really fun swiveling captain’s chairs! Beautiful wall hangings, combined with kitschy relics of bars past – it’s like the ultimate estate sale you hope desperately to stumble upon (though, sadly, everything is NFS).                          P1040024

Willamette Week 2013 Bar GuideThroughout a vibrant but never cluttered ’70s interior, the high art of low culture has been lovingly assembled to breathtaking effect utterly shorn of irony or, strange as this may sound, excess….The blend of fashion-forward cocktails with time-swept food (our visit, the food special was beef stroganoff; the drink special, house-infused cucumber gin) reflects a clientele with both neighborhood holdovers and gay and lesbian transplants.

It’s the sort of hard-earned integration of clientele easily spoiled by nightlife tourists, but Sloan’s schedule and locale just far enough from several beaten paths have thus far prevented the wholesale invasion. There’s no better way to avoid weekenders than to avoid weekends.

Sloan’s Tavern             36 North Russell Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps you should check the Lost and Found??

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While there are some Portland bars which have more types of draft and bottled beers and ciders than you could drink during a seven-year college education (approximately four for matriculating and the other three for drinking…) The Lost and Found Bar is not one of these.

Similarly, there are many taverns and pubs with expansive seating, game rooms, big-screen television viewing areas and lavish furnishings.  The picture above and immediately below are evidence that the intent of owners Amai Hart and Leah Erickson is not to dazzle you with extravagant and opulent surroundings when you patronize their establishment.  But stay tuned as to why you should check out the Lost and Found!         P1020395

One might suggest that Portland’s version of this bar be considered “The Little Engine that Could,” compared to its counterparts of the same name in cities such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and Oakland and even Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

It is a small and recent addition (May 2013) to the Portland bar scene and is attracting a loyal following – it’s is a charming neighborhood bistro in the Overlook Neighborhood in North Portland just off Killingsworth.  There’s a great list of original specialty cocktails – all with fresh ingredients and served in Mason jars.  Four of the ten reasonably priced between $7 to $8 are:

  • The Ron Burgundy Buffalo – Trace bourbon, mint, lemon, orange, and bitters

  • The Sweet Dee – Monopolowa vodka, blueberries, lemon, and iced tea
  • The Bill Murricane Myers and Bacardi rum, pineapple, cranberry, and orange
  •  The Bernie Lomax – Bacardi rum, blueberries, lime, and mint

The menu is pretty limited, but adequate for pub faire with a Mexican focus – i.e. tacos, several types of quesadillas, frito pie and nachos.   There are only four draft beers, but their rotating taps of Northwest beers were great.  P1010918

During my three visits, we had

Ft. George Quick Wit *     

Double Mountain Vaporizer    

Good Life Descender IPA    

  Hub Lager

*  My favorite    —  And, since one of my visits was on a Tall Boy Tuesday, I had a Miller High Life TB for $1.  (The same price as the daily Oregonian and a lot more substance…….)

Not available from The Good Humor Man....

Not available from The Good Humor Man….

And for a change of pace, why not try a Boozicle – something the Good Humor Man from your childhood wouldn’t carry.  As one patron stated:  “It was a delicate mixture of vodka and juice.  Well made.  Some sort of Guava concoction.” 

And while the retractable garage doors as the entrance are a bit austere, the interior has some nice custom art work and two old-fashioned pin ball machines which enhance the ambiance.

Interesting "suit case" art from _______

Interesting “suit case” art from Upper Case Studios adorns the walls.

 

For example, there are a number of small suitcase lamps with various designs hung on the wall from Upper Case Studios..

As described in one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite references, The Willamette Week Bar Guide (2014):

The bunker-brick walls are painted the colors of ocean and sky, and sport cheery lamps made of suitcases, with shapes cut out for deer, bears and inadvisable airplane procedures. Other lampshades are made of cymbals.

P1020387 A brightly painted, 3-foot-wide cross section of a tree stump—hanging precariously over the broad selection of booze—turns out to be Styrofoam. The bar’s lovely art is made by UpperCase Studios’ Mich Conklin, who started her business shortly after making the art for her daughter’s bar.”

Todd Walberg photos

Todd Walberg photos

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Also photos of rock bands from Todd Walberg – ” (he) will go to shows, take electric, high energy photos of bands and give the music world free range of them. He’s taken photos for practically every up-and-coming musical act in the area.”) Rip City Review“The Ten Coolest People in Portland Music.” (8/10/13)

 

So while the Lost and Found is not a unique venue from the standpoint of drink or food menu, furnishings or otherwise, why is it recommended?  Very simple:

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Classic pinball machines

It is another example of one of the many establishments founded by young, eager entrepreneurs who invest their capital for a labor of love – also having no experience in the restaurant or bar industry. In this case, Amai Hart and Lea Erickson who bought the establishment which was previously  the Palace of Industry – a vintage store that served wine and beer.

They completely remodeled the interior and immersed themselves in developing a neighborhood gathering place with a caring and friendly staff – we can attest to that.

Amai’s background was of interest to me since she is also a full-time legal assistant  – still working at a Portland employment law firm for about seven years  – after graduating from St. Mary’s Academy and the U of O – the wonderful female-only high school in downtown Portland with a sterling academic program.

Julia the bartender with Sharon ___ Robbins and Thebeerchaser logo.

Julia the bartender with Sharon Robbins and Thebeerchaser logo.

I was pleased to be joined by a good friend, Sharon VanSickle-Robbins, herself a successful entrepreneur in multiple endeavors and one of Portland’s most dedicated civic/charitable activists including past President of the City Club of Portland.

She also accompanied me to the Twilight Room –  in 2011 on only the fifth of what is now 66 taverns reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland bars, taverns and pubs.

So visit the Lost and Found – the expansive patio as described by one neighborhood regular on Yelp offers all the motivation needed:

“An inviting space with friendly service and great drinks is very refreshing. I plan to spend a good portion of my summer out on that patio.”           P1020394

 

The Lost and Found Bar                5426 N. Gay Avenue

(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

 

Away in a (Beer)Monger(s)……

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Former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, was hired as Executive Director of the City Club of Portland in February 2013.  Shortly thereafter, Sam and I had a few beers at The Tugboat Brewery in downtown Portland to talk about the challenge ahead at City Club – I have been a member of that great organization for 43 years…..

The Tugboat Brewery on SW Ankenny Street

The Tugboat Brewery on SW Ankenny Street

I thought it was time for us to have another chat, so I invited Sam for a Beerchaser Event at the Commons Brewery in SE Portland.    We headed there late in the afternoon, but it was closed, so we started a search in the nearby blocks.

We encountered one of Portland’s nice dilemmas – and one which reaffirms the premise of this blog – Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs – a corner in SE Portland with three great bars facing us:

The Double Dragon           Apex            The BeerMongers

The guy with the cell phone is on the left edge of the picture!

The guy with the cell phone is on the left edge of the picture!

I somewhat arbitrarily chose The BeerMongers and I could tell it was a good choice when we walked up to the entrance.  A guy was standing immediately outside talking on his cell phone and exclaimed, “Sam Adams.  Wow!  Will  you say hello to my girlfriend?”  Sam obliged and we went into this combination bottle shop and taproom that has  great ambiance. 

We had just ordered a beer when a young woman came up to our table and said, “Sam Adams, we really miss you.  I want to buy you guys a pizza!”  The woman was the owner of Portobello a vegan trattoria in the same building as the bar and in between Beer Mongers and a tattoo shop!

____ the owner of Portobello

The owner of Portobello

Besides having some great beer that day, I had my first vegan pizza – an arugula pesto with toasted walnuts and smoked Portobello mushrooms – it was excellent.

The Arugula Pesto Pizza was a winner.

The Arugula Pesto Pizza was a winner.

While BeerMongers is small, it was lively on both visits and has a group of regulars and oozes character.  The following two reviews from Yelp give apt descriptions:

Man oh man, I love this place. First time I came, it was with my father and step-mother on a hot, long summer day. The exceedingly kind bartender (slash…beer curator?) handed us glasses of Radler, and I fell in love instantly. Not with the bartender – with Beermongers itself…….

While they do their most business as a bottle shop, I always come here for the small but well-selected tap list. These folks really know their stuff, and they love to both introduce people to new experiences and provide bottles of old favorites.” (12/13)

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“This isn’t the best bottle shop in the city; it isn’t the best bar in the city, but for doing both, it’s pretty awesome.” 8/13

One of the best features of this bar  was Jim, the bartender – and he definitely did know his stuff.  I was also impressed, because when I went back for my second visit about two weeks later, he pointed to Thebeerchaser logo he had pinned to the wall and addressed me by name.

Jim the Bartender - friendly, helpful and knowledgable

Jim the Bartender – friendly, helpful and knowledgable

I also got to meet Sean Campbell, the manager, who opened the bar four years ago, after 18 months looking for leased space and researching the concept – to offer a small group of well thought out and select beers on tap, in addition to a wide selection of very reasonably priced bottled beers (about 600 including 100 ciders).

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BeerMongers introduces about 20 new bottled beers per week and is a destination for Portland beer tours — understandably, with three bars on the corner of 12th and Division (Double Dragon and Apex)

The eight taps on our first visit were:

1. Cider Riot! Burncider  2. Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale   3. Baerlic U.S.A.  4. Heater Allen Pils    5. Hair of the Dog/De Proef Flanders Fred ’12   6. Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter   7. Widmer 30 For 30 Festbier    8. Crux Outcast IPA       

P1020172They keep the overhead and prices low, in part, by not having a kitchen, but you can bring in food – like from Portobello!!   Sean learned a lot by working for McMenamins for 15 years.

The rotating taps on the second visit

The rotating taps on the second visit

I chuckled when he told me that his first employee – a guy named, Sam – was a lawyer who graduated from Dayton University Law School.  One of Sean’s principles is to hire well – as evidenced by Jim, but I got the impression that lawyer Sam did not work out……

A small sample of the 600 beers/ciders available.
A small sample of the 600 beers/ciders available.

 Another one of Sean’s operating guidelines is, “Don’t BS and know your product well.”  He didn’t remember how they selected the name, Beer Mongers, but it is appropriate since a fish monger is defined, in part, as:

One trained at selecting and purchasing, handling, gutting, boning, fileting, displaying, merchandising and selling their product.”  (Well – okay, not even Hog Heaven Ale requires gutting, boning and fileting, but one could assert that Steelhead Extra Stout and Trout Slayer might…?)

Fish mongering - presumed to be followed by brewskis....
Fish mongering – presumed to be followed by brewskis….

———–

While Sam and I enjoyed our drafts, we talked about City Club.  I told him that I was one of a number of people who had questions about how good a “fit” he was for the Exec. Director slot; however, his performance and energy has converted the skeptics.

Sam and Jim with Thebeerchaser logo

Sam and Jim with Thebeerchaser logo

 

 

City Club membership has increased by 25% to 1,800 and the membership is much more diverse as is the Board of Governors – a long-term City Club goal.

Corporate sponsorships have doubled, the Club has a new communications strategy, website and logo.  In addition, under Sam’s leadership, there are now new and innovative programs including Civic Drinks and Friday Night Forums and the proposed Civic Scholars Initiative.

 

City Club Logo

Finally, the City Club Research program – nationally recognized – has grown from two studies to eleven – the most since 1987 and eight of the eleven research committees are chaired by minorities.

We also discussed Sam’s work for the last several years with Christian evangelist, Kevin Palau, President of the Luis Palau Association and his organization – working to connect the evangelical church with political leaders and to collaborate for positive change.   This includes aiding in charitable activities from city park renovation to counseling people in need.

They recently returned from meeting with leaders in New York City – as they have done previously in Atlanta, Nashville and the Bay Area.  They are promoting the Season of Service concept initiated six years ago in Portland with great success.

P1020349The BeerMongers is worth a visit both to sample one of their drafts and to take home a beer or cider you have never tried before.  And while you’re at it, bring in one of the Portobello entree’s – it’s a great combination.  They’re vegan so they don’t have to be gutted, boned or fileted.

The BeerMonger’s website doesn’t do justice to what this venue has going for it, but you can learn a lot about beer by checking out the Beeriodic Table (shown above) and clicking on one of the types of beer which brings up interesting details.

They also have a Facebook Page and are even advertising as of June 4th for an Assistant Manager/Beer Buyer:

“Full time position starting at 30-35 hours a week. Duties include: Curation of bottle and draft selection, event planning, brewery relations, beverage service, inventory management/stocking, payroll, staff management/scheduling, cleaning, social media coordination, website maintenance… and more!  You will be busy!”

Tell them Thebeerchaser sent you.

 The Beer Mongers        1125 SE Division

 (To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

 

Sasquatch Brewery – Anything but Abominable!

The Sasquatch - A Brewery and a Brew Pub

The Sasquatch – A Brewery and a Brew Pub

Note:  After two “Thebeerchaser Goes International” posts, we should return to a review of a Portland establishment before continuing the narrative of our European trip.

The Sasquatch Brewery and Pub in Hillsdale brought back memories from Thebeerchaser’s past – many years past – where for years a few blocks up from the Sasquatch site located on Capitol Highway, stood a wonderful bar named “No Dogs Allowed.”  In fact, it was about the same time that the group “Three Dog Night” was on the charts and appeared in a memorable campus gig at Oregon State.

Anyway, I joined my friend, David Kish, for some frosty mugs.  Sasquatch is in his neighborhood and where a former Italian restaurant became this quant pub which makes great beer and has good food – It’s worth a visit.

A Quality Addition to the Hillsdale Neighborhood

A quality addition to the Hillsdale Neighborhood

We talked to owner, Tom Sims, another OSU grad, who while in the paging business,  brewed beer in his garage as a hobby.  Like other Oregon micro-brew entrepreneurs, he pondered whether he could expand his hobby into a business.“Maybe I can build a small brewery.”                                                              

Built from the Ground Up with a Lot of Thought

Built from the ground up with a lot of thought

He bought his first eight-barrel boil kettle on Craig’s list and poured over drawings of the historic building – once a Trolley Station on the Red Electric Line which carried commuters from Portland to Hillsboro and Forest Grove.

That was a little over two years ago and he now brews about 700 barrels annually.  The Sasquatch Website is outstanding. It’s includes photos and brief narratives chronicling their journey from designing the brewery to working on a “Good Neighbor Agreement” with surrounding residents and the hoops to get their liquor license. The values conveyed in their website and talking with the owner and staff on our visit, make me root for the future success of their enterprise:

Kish and Waitress ____.  Friendly staff and good values....

David Kish and our server. Friendly staff and good values….

“Sasquatch Brewery believes in strengthening our community by creating the opportunity for spontaneous meetings, serendipitous connections and celebrations…..We are a family-owned brew-pub that strives to support local and sustainable farmers….

Our beers are brewed on site from a seven-barrel system with the quality ingredients and care that Oregonians expect. We pride ourselves on being a friendly place for our neighbors to unwind and enjoy great food and great handcrafted beer with family and friends.”

Because I knew that Kish also had an interesting history, I quizzed this one-time beer-related entrepreneur and outstanding former Oregon public servant about his story.  I loved the tale about how he became known as “The Beerman” in the late 1960’s at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst when he and some buddies successfully franchised the distribution of beer to twenty of the twenty-two fraternities on campus.  (We both agreed that statutes of limitation for the eleven or so state and federal laws this arrangement possibly violated, have in all probability, tolled.)

The "Beerman" was also a dedicated public employee and bar owner.

The “Beerman” was also a dedicated public employee and bar owner.

While it has become fashionable to demean public servants, I know from his personal work ethic and expertise, which I witnessed working with him at City Club of Portland, David Kish was a dedicated and very competent public manager.

Let’s look at a summary of his public service which started as an officer in the US Army. He worked on the Model Cities program and Portland urban renewal before becoming former City Counselor, Charles Jordan’s lead assistant in 1974.

He then owned and operated a Portland bar for six years (1976-82 – The Storm Cellar Tavern on Burnside which became a soccer bar – The Bitter End closed last year, but rumored to be re-opening.)  A stint in the solar energy business with former Portland Planning Director, Ernie Bonner, and he then became the Director of Budget and Energy Management in the Oregon Dept. of Energy.

He was recruited back to the City as Portland’s Director of General Services and then Mayor Bud Clark’s (See July, 2012 Beerchaser post on the Goose Hollow Inn under “Historic Bars tab) Chief of Staff for two years before resuming his position in General Services until his retirement in 2000.  Thanks for your service, David!

The Beerman joins Thebeerchaser tour.

The Beerman joins Thebeerchaser tour.

From the selection of ten Sasquatch Brews and four rotating taps, David had their Oregon Session Ale, a pilsner, that he enjoyed, while I opted for the OR-7 Amber Ale which lived up to its billing: “Easy-drinking, malty and medium bodied with a rich amber hue….worthy of a second pint.”

They do not serve liquor, but also have a nice selection of wine and what manager, Alex, described as a “robust selection” of six hard ciders.  Neither one of us had the courage to imbibe, but our curiosity was piqued by the “Beer Float” (Hairy Knuckle Stout, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce)

Family-type Ambiance and Family Faire on the menu.

Family-type Ambiance and Family Faire on the menu.

The menu is diverse with kid plates, small platters and dinner servings with snacks, sandwiches and a variety of entrée’s and desserts.  We each had a Chicken Basil Sausage (marinated in the Amber Ale) with sauerkraut, which was excellent.

And in case you were wondering, the Abominable Snowman or Yeti was the term coined in 1921 by a newspaper reporter, Henry Newman, when he interviewed porters for a Mt. Everest expedition, when they discovered large human-type footprints of unknown origin.

The Poster is of Vastly Higher Quality than the Movie!

The Poster is of Vastly Higher Quality than the Movie!

And the poster of the 1977 film “Sasquatch – The Legend of Big Foot,” in the Brewery provides evidence that the artwork was a lot better than the movie unless you are fans of the actors (George Lauris, Steve Boergadine and Jim Bradford), who perhaps went on to jobs in micro-brewing that were more notable than their film careers.  A review in the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) by The Film Geek is not exactly gushing……

“Unfortunately the script and acting are weak. The dialogue is forced and clunky and the characters are little more than stereotypes. The pacing is also very slow, little of note happens in the film until the last 10 minutes……Overall the film is an oddity, it veers from a leisurely nature trek, to weak animal-based comedy, to a tension-filled finale….”

Since I am harkening back – when did the Abominable Snowman become Sasquatch?  Was it the same politically correct people who felt that the beast should be gender neutral, and that it was unfair to the burly hirsute females who wandered through the NW wilderness, to assume that they were of the male gender?

And to further digress, perhaps, it’s the same people who are now obsessed with renaming high school mascots such as “Braves” and “Warriors” into more contemporary and refined mascot monikers such as the “Pummeling Pomegranates” or “The Fighting Arborvitae”  – but that’s another topic.

The bottom line is that you should pay a visit to The Sasquatch – you’ll be glad that you did.

Sasquatch Brewing Company                 6400 Capitol Highway

Portland Attorney, Jim Westwood Beerchaser of the Quarter for January – March, 2013

Attorney and Model Citizen, Jim Westwood

Attorney and Model Citizen, Jim Westwood

It is fitting and proper to recognize those who distinguish themselves, not only in their trade or profession, but also for their contributions to the overall community. Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood, is the epitome of civic virtue and an accomplished appellate lawyer.  Besides, he and Thebeerchaser are alums of both Oregon City High School and Portland State University.

He therefore joins such luminaries as Princeton Professor Emeritus, Dr. Harry Frankfurt, author of “On Bullshit,” crime novelist, James Crumley, former Oregon State Beaver and NFL football player and mountaineer, Craig Hanneman, and even the crew of the historic USS Constitution as a Beerchaser honoree.

We spent a recent evening drinking beer at The Tanker and Beer, two more establishments on Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Taverns, Pubs and Bars.  Reviews of both venues will be posted on this blog in the next ten days.

Westwood at Beer drinking beer....

Westwood at Beer drinking beer….(stay tuned for the forthcoming  review of Beer)

Those of you old enough to remember black and white TV sets, will probably also remember the “GE College Bowl” quiz show.  It pitted a four-person college team of erudite students against another school for a half-hour showdown each Sunday evening during the 1960’s and ’70’s.

Westwood, Coach Padrow and the PSU College Bowl Team

Westwood (Center – left) , Coach Padrow and the PSU College Bowl Team (Portland State University Magazine May 2, 2005)

Westwood was the captain and is the only surviving first-team member of the legendary Portland State College team coached by legendary speech professor, Ben Padrow.

The PSC team played the same upset role Florida Gulf Coast University has so far in 2013 March Madness, by defeating their opponents for five straight weeks before they retired as champions with the sum of $15,275 in scholarships.

The legacy of the PSU scholars is evident:

“The 415 points scored in their final match ties them for fifth-highest single-game total achieved, and their 1725 points total set a new record at the time, and is fourth highest overall. The March 26, 1965 issue of Time has an article on how the College Bowl victories helped change Portland State’s image as “the flunk-out school” for University of Oregon and Oregon State drop-outs…” (Portland State Alumni Association News article by Kathryn Kirkland, May 2, 2005)

Portland State University Campus
 Portland State University Campus – now rivals the U of O and OSU

Rod Hill

 Jack Cappell

 Bruce Sussman 

  Jim Westwood   .

beer weather bureau

An IBM meteorologist console in 1965   (From Wikipedia – a work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin. – public domain)

What do all these gents have in common?  Well, all are current or past meteorologists for Portland Network TV stations.  Jim helped pay his college tuition by predicting low pressure fronts and daily temperatures for KGW in the ’60’s.

Last year, he again used his experience in front of the camera to play a nutty professor in a video published by the Multnomah Bar Foundation to teach students about the US Constitution.

Nutty Professor??

Nutty Professor or a former Jason Bourne??

—————

He changed from physics to history as a major “because of the math….”.  After graduation from Portland State, Westwood served in the military as a Naval Intelligence Officer for several years.  Because of his superior language skills, he spent a year learning Thai – an extremely difficult language to master.

While he still cannot talk about what he did in the military, Jim’s tenure as a “spook” may have led him to subscribe to the following premise:  “When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command.  Very often, that person is crazy.”

After the military, he spent three years and graduated from Columbia Law School in New York City, which in 2012 was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the top law school in the US for future employment of law grads.  After serving for two years as the Assistant to the President of PSU, he’s practiced law in Portland since 1978 at both the Miller Nash firm and Stoel Rives, where he is now a senior counsel.

He is considered a constitutional scholar, and has been designated from 1998 to 2013 in Best Lawyers in America and as an Oregon Super Lawyer.  Jim has volunteered for 11 years as a coach for “We the People” high school constitutional law teams for Grant High and De la Salle North Catholic High School.  Marilyn Cover, Executive Director of the Classroom Law Project (CLP), stated, “He’s a great teacher, a great coach and a great model citizen.”  He was honored last year as the 2012 Legal Citizen of the Year by the CLP.

Ok - the answer is "Nutty Professor!"

Ok – the answer is “Nutty Professor!”

His other civic and professional contributions are too numerous to mention but include a term as President of the City Club of Portland (1991-2) and the Board of the Multnomah Bar Foundation.

So join Thebeerchaser in hoisting a mug to Jim Westwood.  Your toast might be more appropriate if you convey it in Thai as a tribute to his military service.  If you need a tutorial, the following excerpt from Wikipedia may help.  While drinking, keep in mind the last sentence below:

“From the perspective of linguistic typology, Thai can be considered to be an analytic language. The word order is subject – verb- object, although the subject is often omitted.  Verbs do not inflect. Duplication conveys the idea of doing the verb intensively.”    (Some of the Thai vowels are illustrated below)

unrounded unrounded rounded
short long short long short long
Close /i/  -ิ /iː/  -ี /ɯ/  -ึ /ɯː/  -ื- /u/  -ุ /uː/  -ู
Close-mid /e/ เ-ะ /eː/ เ- /ɤ/ เ-อะ /ɤː/ เ-อ /o/ โ-ะ /oː/ โ-
Open-mid /ɛ/ แ-ะ /ɛː/ แ- /ɔ/ เ-าะ /ɔː/ -อ

Say “Tug Boat (Brewery)” Ten Times Really Fast……

Sam Adams at the entrance to the Tug Boat Brewery

Sam Adams at the entrance to the Tug Boat Brewery

Wait a minute, I guess “Toy Boat” is the phrasing that’s supposed to mess up your diction when rapidly repeated.  However, Portland’s Tug Boat Brewery, is a treasure waiting for you on SW Ankeny Street in downtown Portland.  Notwithstanding the fact that I worked downtown every year since its founding in 1993, I had never even seen it.  Ankeny Street reminded me of my long-ago trips to Dan and Louis’ Oyster Bar (near what is now Voodoo Donuts) where I used to take dates in high school.

I spent a productive and enjoyable two-hours at the Tugboat with former Portland Mayor and now, the new City Club Executive Director, Sam Adams, talking about issues and his vision for the City Club of Portland, which Thebeerchaser joined in 1971 after graduating from Oregon State.  Established in 1916, the City Club is Oregon’s premier public affairs forum and promotes civic engagement through its volunteer research and other activities.  Sam was selected from a pool of 80 very qualified applicants.

He was in a good mood (I suggested that it resulted from not having to listen to Randy Leonard on a daily basis anymore) and has dynamic ideas for City Club.  He did not fall for the joke I tried to pull, however.  (Have him order a Samuel Adams Lager and the bartender bring a picture of the former Mayor to the table.)

Sam Adams, new Executive Director of the City Club of Portland

Sam Adams, new Executive Director of the City Club of Portland

Sam suggested we visit the Tugboat, described by the following excerpt from Willamette Week’s 2011 Drink Guide:

You’d be forgiven for mistaking Tugboat for a classy Prohibition-era speakeasy.  The dimly lit microbrewery, Portland’s smallest and downtown’s oldest, brews tiny batches of browns, ambers and stouts………the laid back pub is surrounded by books; regulars strike up conversation behind a battered copy of Ulysses. “

Note:  Not to digress, but the only problem I have with the above quote is that assuming the WW reporter was old enough to visit a speakeasy, he or she would have to be about 110 years old to make this assertion!         

No legal beer?  No wonder there were speakeasys.

No legal beer? Glad that none of us were around to experience this period.

“The place even has an Emmy on display (Thebeerchaser verified that this is correct and the father of one of the bartenders was the Director of “Rich Man, Poor Man”)…..It has nabbed some much-deserved medals for its unfiltered beers, making it a perfect environment for casual drinkers looking for peace and conversation. “ 

A Limited, but Quality Selection of Drafts

A Limited, but Quality Selection of Drafts

Matt, one of the bartenders, was extremely helpful and based on his prior employment as a pedi-cab tour operator giving Portland brewery tours, also knowledgeable.

He stated that the Tugboat location was originally a coffee shop.  The interesting furnishings as described above and below are all remnants from the prior tenant.

Matt and Thebeerchaser with the famous logo.....

Matt and Thebeerchaser with the famous logo…..

————–

Distinguishing Characteristics

The Beer:  Unlike most breweries, Tugboat does not distribute their beer – they produce  just enough – only eight kegs per batch – to serve in the brew-pub – it’s truly a craft beer.

Because they do not mass produce it, the beer is not filtered. “…our ales retain their freshness because the yeast is allowed to live…The pasteurization process that strips body and color from beer is a necessary evil in ‘big batch’ commercial brewing.  But, thankfully, that ain’t us.  We filter our coffee. Not our beer.”

Although the number of Tugboat brews available that night was limited to about four, Sam and I thought their beer was very good (we had a Red Cloud and Snow Plow IPA).  They also have other draft beer available.  Since I was driving and Sam rode his bike, we did not have the courage to try their Chernobyl Stout (13.5%!)  I also tried a Pear Cider which was excellent.

Almost all of the Internet reviews were positive although some, such as this somewhat pretentious critique by PortlandBarFly asserted that the beer is too hoppy: “….Leftist bike messengers, fauxhemians, silly old men that wish to be taken for professors, the sort of couples that enjoy playing board games before strangers – there’s a suffering self-satisfaction about the crowds keeping Portland’s smallest brewery afloat that makes one wish to jump atop the bar and force regulars to admit their beer just isn’t very good. The emperor has no clothes and far too many hops.”

Is there really a copy of "Ulysses" in this collection?

Is there really a copy of “Ulysses” in this collection?

————–

In contrast, some out-of-town visitors were impressed, “I LOVE THIS PLACE!….an eclectic mix of people and everyone’s so approachable and nice!  I wish I could live here. (They did not clarify whether they meant Portland or in the Brewery itself…)  “I’m ready to crown it one of the friendliest establishments in Portland.”  (Bing – 4/29/12)

—————-

The Interior and Furnishings: “This place is awfully unassuming from the outside – just a door down a side street and some heavily tinted windows.  But that adds to the effect of being inside and feeling like you stepped into someone’s basement rumpus room.”  (Bing – 8/21/12)                                                                  

A comfortable "rumpus room" environment...

A comfortable “rumpus room” environment…

On one wall, there are thirty-five 33 RPM album covers from the  past – and speaking of eclectic, one row consisted of The Village People, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Grand Funk Railroad, The Royal Marines and Peter Nero’s “Summer of ’42.”

Before CDs and Pandora.....

Before CDs and Pandora…..

One person suggested that there was even a secret door to Portland’s infamous Mary’s Club in the back, but the bartender stated that this was true of the Mexican restaurant next door.

The food is pretty limited, but reasonably priced and good: “When the pita plate came out, everyone raved about the
hummus, but when the nachos came out, jaws dropped. I would have to guess there
was an entire bag of chips on the plate, loaded up with cheese, peppers,
olives, etc. for just $7.” (Bing – 8/21/12)

Grand Funk - old but after Prohibition....

Grand Funk – old but after Prohibition….

—————

Tugboat has only one wide-screen TV which purportedly cannot be tuned to any sports channel….. 

Terry Nelson (husband), Megan McEnroe-Nelson (wife), and John McEnroe (father-in-law/father)     are proud of their own owner-operated brewery and have an establishment with good beer and an environment with great character and ambiance.

———————-

————–

Tugboat Brewery                      711 SW Ankenny

45 degrees latitude        132 degrees longitude

A limited menu but good food at a reasonable price.

A limited menu but good food at a reasonable price.

All Hands on Deck at the Ship Tavern

The Ship with Two Regulars in the “Smoking Lounge”

“The Ship isn’t anything to write home to Mom about . . . heck it probably isn’t even a place I would tell my Mom I went . . . but it knows what/who it is.” (Yelp/9/17/11)

I wanted to hit a tavern on the west side for the next stop on Thebeerchaser tour.  My  Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt colleague, John Mansfield, and I were meeting former  Schwabe lawyer, Chris Lewis, and Multnomah Village seemed to be a good location.  I was drawn to The Ship Tavern (hereafter “The Ship.”)

Mansfield and Lewis — Not the Physique, but each has the face, if not the intellect of a Rugby Player.

A little due diligence almost resulted in a veto, however.  Jay Waldron is also a Schwabe lawyer – one of the best environmental and energy lawyers in the NW and a man of varied interests.  When I was the COO at Schwabe, he used to motivate me with quotes such as that from Scottish writer and essayist, Thomas Carlyle, “A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.” (The quote seems appropriate for a post about this bar…..)

Not a rugby player, but like Waldron, a strict Cavlinist

Not a rugby player, but like Waldron, a strict Calvinist

Waldron is a director of the U.S. Rugby Foundation and has played, coached and broadcast rugby on a regional, national and international level. He has also been on whitewater rafting expeditions (successfully tackling the Upper Yangtze River in China) and motorcycle adventure trips on six continents.

A man of varied interests who has visited The Ship

Jay is a follower of this blog and was very positive about The Ship even noting that it had been a long-ago hangout, of sorts, for Portland Rugby Club players.  This raised some initial concerns on my part as I wanted to drink from a glass rather than eat one……A little more research, however, uncovered the fact that their impact was relatively mundane – the site of the Rugby Club’s “Book and Brew” discussions which will be addressed below.

The Ship is the epitome of a dive bar.  Quoting from one of Thebeerchaser’s posts (September, 2011) and the notable reference book, “Seattle’s Best Dive Bars,”  this 70 + year Multnomah Village institution fit the definition to a tee:

” “Some dives have vomit-caked toilet seats in the bathroom; others have cracked vinyl booths in the barroom.  Some have nicotine-stained murals dating back to the Depression; others have drink prices that seemingly haven’t wavered since then……..But really, no collection of characteristics can be melded to truly define what makes a bar a dive…..The term ‘dive’ is bestowed with a spoonful of love….What they have in common aren’t so much attributes, but a state of mind — you just know one when you see one.”  (Seattle’s Best Dive Bars by Mike Seely – pages 9-10)

An Invaluable Resource for Thebeerchaser

In the words of one Portland patron: “The Ship is simply your quintessential dive bar……It’s an ultra local joint with good history…….that dark and dank local bar with a handful of guys in trucker hats and grey mustache’s…..”(Yelp 2/29/12)       

—————-       

The Bar at The Ship

  Distinguishing Characteristics

Da Bears…..The Ship is a Chicago hangout as evidenced by the fact that any time The Bears, the Cubs or the White Sox play, Pabst Old Style Beer – A Chicago favorite –  is $1.50 per can and margaritas and blood mary’s are $3.50.  Debbie, the friendly bartender, emphasized, “This doesn’t apply to Blackhawk games – we’re not big on hockey.”        

Ditka Would Love The Ship

Mike Ditka Would Love The Ship

And for Bear fans, every Sunday during football season they “offer meals that are themed after the opposing team.” 

For example, on a recent Sunday when they played the Minnesota Vikings, the special was “Tator-tot Hotdish” and Caesar Salad for $5.50.  According to Wikipedia, Hotdish is a variety of baked casserole that typically contains a starch, a meat or other protein, and a canned and/ or frozen vegetable, mixed with canned soup.  The dish is popular in Minnesota and North Dakota.”

Harry Carey (RIP) Would be Proud

————————

What do  You Mean Credit???   The Ship may be one of the few bars or pubs in Portland to totally disdain credit cards.  It’s cash only and no tabs – pay as you imbibe!  Times change, however.  Last year was the first time The Ship offered liquor and Candace, the Manager, (who was also very helpful) said they might consider credit next year.                     

All of the people in the photo collage at The Ship have one thing in common -- they paid cash for their beer!

All of the people in the photo collage at The Ship have one thing in common — they paid cash for their beer!


Peanut Demolition Day – Each Thursday – the day we were there –  each table has free peanuts in the shell all day.  The shells hit the floor when you discard them……..

Other Interesting Fixtures – You will see five TVs, a bunch of video poker terminals, one old-fashioned pinball game (“Medieval Madness – King of Evil”) and while many bars have video games, the one at The Ship was particularly interesting and fitting i.e. “Big Buck Hunter.”

Doe Tags are Not Valid on This Machine

Doe Tags are Not Valid on This Machine

The rules on the two pool tables are also worth noting.  If you drop a cue, the fine is 25 cents and 50 cents if a ball goes off the pool table – according to Debbie, the bartender, it is a “maintenance fund” for pool table repairs.

You will find no menus at The Ship.  The food, which is what  you would expect at a dive bar – that’s a compliment – is on a blackboard above the bar.

From L to R - Debbie and Candace standing below "The Menu"

From L to R – Debbie and Candace standing below “The Menu”

———

The Juke Box at many bars will reveal a little about the regulars.  When you want to play it at The Ship, you inform the bartender so the stereo can be turned off.  The “hottest plays” were the following:

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – “Get a Job”

Bad Company“Bad Company”

The Raconteurs “Steady as She Goes”

Waylon Jennings – “Good-Hearted Woman”

"Hey Debbie - Turn off the Stereo"
“Hey Debbie – Turn off the Stereo”

And the Rugby Club’s past  “Book and Brew” discussions???  As an example, there was heated debate on the non-fiction classic, “The Iron Man – How Shelby Donovan Revolutionized the Chicago Dry Cleaning Industry” and some awkward moments when former Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh’s presentation, “What Can Your Rug Be?”  was not quite what the rugged jocks expected…….

The scene at The Ship during a heated debate by "The Beef and Brew" group.

The scene at The Ship during a heated debate by “The Book and Brew” group.

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My apologies to Jay Waldron for the above, although he deserves legitimate credit for his perfect delivery of one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite bar jokes at the City Club of Portland when he was a presenter on Metro area transportation planning two years ago:

“A traffic engineer walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says to the bartender, ‘Give me two beers –  one for me and one for the road.”

The Asphalt prefers Budweiser....

The Asphalt prefers Budweiser….with an oil chaser…..

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The Ship has been in the same location since 1946 and this site of a former garage has big-time history and character. Visit The Ship and remember the intent of James Lawrence’s (skipper of the USS Chesapeake)  famous last declaration in 1813 – paraphrased – “Give up the Ship??? — Knot!!”         

Three rotating taps -- microbrews and all these beers in cans available...

Three rotating taps plus several microbrews and the old standards like PBR on tap —  plus all these beers available in bottles and cans…

The Ship Tavern             7827 SW 35th Ave                       Portland