Pedal(ounge) up to the bar(s)

Anticipating the journey....

Anticipating the journey….

Picture from the Pedalounge website (http://www.pedalounge.com/index.php)
Picture from the Pedalounge website (http://www.pedalounge.com/index.php)

 

Thebeerchaser has seen the vehicle referred to as “Party Bikes” – in various cities ranging from Seattle to Denver to Amsterdam.  In each case, the riders were exuberant and obviously having a good time.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenzie Larson, a group of us hopped aboard this mode of transport on a summer Sunday afternoon to hit a few SE Portland watering holes.

Lloyd, our leader (front center in the gray shirt).  Owner of this small business.
Lloyd, our leader (front center in the gray shirt). Owner of this small business.

Lloyd  the erstwhile driver, owner (his company name is “Pedalounge“), cheerleader, safety officer and coxswain – after collecting our liability waivers, (much less onerous than what I signed before zip-lining in Alaska)  gave us a brief admonition to be cautious and obey the rules.

One of these was no partaking of alcohol while we were pedaling – something that made sense and is not the case in all cities licensing these vehicles.  Another was, “Pedalounge loves good friends, laughs and an ice-cold beer and does not believe that riding a big bike entitles anyone to be rude or annoying.” (emphasis supplied)

Thebeerchaser and Lloyd - an impressive small entepraneuer

Thebeerchaser and Lloyd – an impressive small entrepreneur

Lloyd barked encouragement and a lot of funny lines – some about his native state of Minnesota – he moved to Portland because his watch was two hours slow and he couldn’t fix it.  He measured our pace – at one time an impressive 5 mph – and urged us onward – we responded out of a sense of morbid curiosity.

His recitation of the rules was not necessary, because all of us – even though we were not wearing helmets –  as if anointed by the Goddess of Two Wheels, became subservient in our attitude toward automobiles, self-righteously obeyed all traffic signals and gratuitously wanted to share the road with autos while refraining from operating on sidewalks.

Portland_Pedalounge_ridePerhaps we were reflecting on HG Wells statement, “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race,” although I assume he might amend that assertion if he saw the Pedalounge that day. Lloyd asked us what bars we wanted to visit and helped us formulate a route, which both started and ended at the Green Dragon in Southeast Portland.

The Lucky Lab - first stop....

The Lucky Lab – first stop….

We then pedaled – drawing waves and cheers from envious passersby – to our first stop, The Lucky Lab Brew Pub on SE Hawthorne.   We spent about 30 minutes there and each bar thereafter.  The collaborative effort to develop enough thrust to push our conveyance generated a team spirit which was celebrated at Lucky Lab.P1020527

Rejuvenated, we mounted up and spurred on by Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” attained an impressive velocity.

We arrived at The Baerlic Brewery and Taproom – a new micro-brewery, like many, started by two gents (Ben Parsons and Richard Hall) who for years brewed our favorite beverage in their basement and opened this enterprise in 2013.

 

 

Kenzie Larson adding new meaning to the term, "of barley."

Kenzie Larson adding new meaning to the term, “of barley.”

“Baerlic” is an old-english adjective meaning “of barley.”  The selection is somewhat limited with only three of their beers on tap – and it is a small and sparsely furnished space, but the beer was good – most notably the Invincible IPA.

By this time, we all were thoroughly enamored with Lloyd and his enterprise and since we thought it might be imprudent to nominate him for elective office, we brainstormed ideas to support him.

One was to bring the Pedalounge to the Pendleton Roundup this fall Another was for a cross-country Pedalounge trip.

Sampling Baerlic's ____

Sampling Baerlic’s Invincible IPA

Jamie Magnusson, my son-n-law and an engineer with advanced math skills, started calculating.  It was like the old SAT math problem:  “If one Pedalounge started a cross-country trek from  Portland and another simultaneously headed West from Virginia Beach, when and where would they meet.”

Jamie figured, if the East Coast group, first headed south, they would meet in Salina, Kansas on Interstate 70 at the appropriately named Rendezvous Bar on Santa Fe Avenue.  There could be ceremony reminiscent of the Golden Spike in 1869 at Promontory Summit in Utah when the Union and Central Pacific Railroad tracks met to complete the first US transcontinental railroad.  Unfortunately, the only review of this bar was a 2010 Yelp one-star and this excerpt does not portend a good result.  “Reviews are obviously subjective. Some people clearly enjoy this bar. Due to my preferences, I simply don’t, and would never step in it again.”  (The references to the condition of the bathroom is omitted in the interest of prudence.)

The Rocky Mountains and bathroom stops - insurmountable??

The Rocky Mountains and bathroom stops – insurmountable??

We discarded the idea when he revealed that even assuming we averaged 3 miles per hour (probably not going to happen over the Rocky Mountains) and pedaled 12 hours per day with minimal bathroom breaks, it would take each Pedalounge 42 days to reach Salinas.  Although, based on one bike that caught my attention at the Portland Art Museum’s Cyclepedia Exhibit in 2013, one of us could make the trip solo on this bike shown below:

Solo cross-country trip??

Solo cross-country trip??

Lloyd, rounded us up and we headed for our third stop – Apex on SE Division.  He resisted the temptation to play some Gaelic tunes to increase our velocity.

Apex, like the Green Dragon, has an impressive selection of beer (50 on tap) -my favorite was an innovative and very spicy Diablo Rojo En Fuego from Bend’s  Boneyard Brewing ( Poured deep amber/red with a thin head. Great chili pepper flavor without being too heavy on the spice and heat…” – “ratebeer” blog) 

Apex has been named multiple times  (2010 -13) as one of the five Portland bars to make Draft Magazine’s “100 Best Beer Bars in the United States:

“Whether you’re inside the sleek aluminum bar eyeing the real-time digital tap menu or out front tipping back pints on the fleet of picnic tables, Apex’s hoppy list of 50 brews is the perfect intro to the IBU-centric taste of the Pacific Northwest.”  

Over 50 beers on tap.

Over 50 beers on tap.

While the beer selection is memorable, Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland’s Bars, Pubs and Taverns primary focus is the environment and character of the watering holes.  And Apex, like Bailey’s Taproom (Beerchaser review in April 2014) another one of Draft Magazine’s finest, doesn’t have a lot of ambiance and serves no food.

No need to have a Coors Light here.....

No need to have a Coors Light here…..

 

With heavy hearts and full bladders, we headed towards our final stop – the Green Dragon with thoughts about the Circle of Life.  The Green Dragon is a neat pub with a robust selection of beers.  After making the 2011-12 Draft Magazine 100 Best lists,  it fell off the last two years, but this 2012 description still holds:

“……the urbanesque Green Dragon tempts patrons through its garage door entrance, and keeps them hanging around with more than 50 ever-rotating taps—probably none fresher than offerings from Buckman Botanical Brewery, a small-batch brewery set up inside the Dragon. From regular meet-the-brewer nights to the annual Great American Nano Fest, this bar is one of the most craftbeer-centric venues you’ll ever find.”   

The Green Dragon

The Green Dragon

A robust selection of beers at the Green Dragon.

A robust selection of beers at the Green Dragon.

 

 

 

 

While the Pendleton Round-up still might be a possibility for the Pedalounge, the cross-country trip is not, so help us support Lloyd – the epitome of humility – “I owe everything to my parents – especially my mother and father…”

Check out his website below and get a group of friends and reserve the Pedalounge.  The website shows a calendar with available dates,  informs you how to sign up and everything you will need.  And bring some of your own music to play on the journey.  Although avoid certain artists.  For example, Lloyd told me, “I kind of wondered over the years why none of my patrons ever wanted John Tesh numbers.  And then I realized it was because John Tesh sucks….!”

You can pick the bars in Southeast Portland you want to visit although Lloyd’s recommendations were very good.  Thebeerchaser has also found after reviewing over 70 Portland bars and pubs in the last three years, that the SE area served by Pedalounge houses some of the premier establishments in our city.  The Pedalounge price is a great bargain, the camaraderie is memorable and you will want to pay Lloyd a return visit to explore new watering holes.

Pedalounge

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Bazi Bierbrasserie – More Than Just a Walk in the Park!

Another one of Draft Magazine's 100 Best Beer Bars

Another one of Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars

Bazi Bierbrasserie (Bazi) is another one of the select five Portland taverns which made Draft Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars in the USA for 2014.  And Thebeerchaser has done reviews of two of the others in this list – Bailey’s Taproom (reviewed 4/13 – somewhat of a disappointment) and Saraveza (reviewed 3/14).      P1020153

Bazi was a definite favorite with our group, which included Roy Lambert, Mary Maxwell, David and Kate Dickson and Janet, Thebeerchaser’s spouse.  We typically take a walk before eating and drinking – a great way to get exercise and mitigate the guilt from partaking in pub faire.

And Mary, who prior to retirement in 2009 was the Director of Aviation for the Port of Portland, demonstrated her superior planning skills by charting a superb 2.5 mile walk through the Lone Fir Cemetery and Laurelhurst Park on a rare, beautiful spring day.

Perhaps this should be labeled "The Beer Walk"....

Perhaps this should be labeled “The Beer Walk”….

Strolling through the Lone Fir was very interesting and we learned about the ties with Portland’s Russian community – as evidenced by many of the family plots with pictures engraved in the stone monuments.

” ….Russian immigrant graves  which are distinguished by colorful plantings of genuine, live flowers, creating a patchwork of color among the somber greens. The Russians are particularly fond of a kind of black granite which they have laser-etched with their likeness and, usually, a highly romantic scene. (Flickr – “Dead Man Talking”

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Laser-etched likeness….

For those interested in Portland history, Lone Fir Cemetery “….reads like a good book, telling the story of the many eras of settlement and development that have transformed the Portland area since the cemetery was founded in 1855. This 30-acre property is the resting place for more than 25,000 people, including famous Portlanders with names like Lovejoy and Hawthorne. Visitors will also find notable trees and shrubs, giving Lone Fir the feel of an arboretum.” (Metro website)  P1020142

 

We then walked through Laurelhurst Park, which on one of the first nice days in many moons, teemed with people and activity.  The 27 acre park was purchased by the City of Portland in 2011, and in 1919, the Pacific Coast Parks Association named it the “most beautiful park” on the West Coast. It was also the first city park ever to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A Portland Gem!
A Portland Gem!

Although the walk was great, the biggest treat was still to come – drinks and great food at Bazi.  And it was evident by the total experience why this bar made Draft’s Top 100 list.

The beer selection is extensive, the staff is knowledgeable and the food really good.  “Bazi is a Dutch word for lovable crook or scoundrel….Bierbrasserie is a noun used in Flemish Belgian to describe establishments that have great food and a killer beer and beverage selection.” (Bazi website)

The Portland Barfly summary is apt:

A great place to watch Timber (or Blazer games.
A great place to watch Timber (or Blazer games.

“Suds snobs rejoice! This friendly Hawthorne neighborhood hang has more than 15 Belgian-style brews on tap, including locals like Double Mountain, Pfriem, and Commons. It’s a dandy spot to watch Portland Timbers games on the 119″ big screen, and the food is surprisingly awesome….”       

 

An extensive selection of Belgian beers.

An extensive selection of Belgian beers.

 

One of the distinguishing features for Bazi is its management –  Hilda Stevens is the owner.  I was surprised to find while researching before my visit that she responded to many comments from sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor – most notably, the critical ones – which often times are really trite and unwarranted.

Hilda, the owner, (holding the logo) with our group.

Hilda, the owner, (holding the logo) with our group.

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An example was a complaint on Yelp, by a customer who thought the food service was too slow:

“Thanks for taking the time to write. Can you let me know when you visited recently that you experienced slow service?….

I’ve also been monitoring our food tickets and they’ve been in the 5-25 minute range. Considering we make everything from scratch that’s within industry standards. The more information you can send me as to your recent visit the more valuable it will as I investigate the situation. Thank you again for being a return customer. I value everyone’s feedback, but specially those who continue to support us.” Hilda

I have to admit, given the ongoing success of the bar, which opened in May, 2011, and was an immediate hit and the moniker, “Hilda,”  I was expecting the proprietor to be a much older person.  When we chatted with her, however, we met a delightful, young entrepreneur, who was raised and went to college in Texas.   She traveled extensively in Europe and did a bunch of research – most notably on Belgian beers.  She completed her Masters’ Degree at Oregon’s George Fox University and developed a smart business plan – to specialize in Belgian beers – and capitalize on service and quality – this was evident.

The bar at Bazi

The bar at Bazi 1906 reclaimed wood from the Jim Beam distillery in Lexington, Kentucky!

Our server, Sydney, was also very knowledgeable and offered specific and detailed comments on several of the seventeen beers on tap, which helped in our selection – we tried a few including Oakshire Frederic’s Lost Arm Farmhouse Ale and the Bavik Premium Pilsner – all very good.

In retrospect, given the superb selection, we should have done a flight of four 5oz. pours ($10 Domestic and $15 Imported.)

Given the outstanding line-up of handcrafted cocktails, Thebeerchaser also tried the $5 Happy Hour Cocktail which that day was “Sleepless in Oostende” (Jim Beam, lemon and orange juice and orange bitters.)  The cocktails are named after Belgian cities.

Oostende is a Belgian city located in the Flemish province of West Flanders.  The “sleepless” reference might result from worry that the series of the dikes that keep the North Sea from flooding this town would fail.  Or perhaps it is in recognition of the City’s guards during The Siege of Oostende (1601 -1604) of which it was said that “the Spanish assailed the unassailable and the Dutch defended the indefensible”  (Wikipedia).  The siege resulted in 80,000 combined casualties – the single bloodiest battle of the Eighty Years’ War.

Bazi also has an extensive list of bottled beers and ciders, a nice wine selection, a bunch of hard liquor selections you can get by the shot, and you can also fill your growler.

Impressive Happy Hour menu.

Impressive Happy Hour menu.

You can see from the picture that they have a robust Happy Hour menu.  The Baon burger, fried chick peas, brussels sprouts, veggie burger and most notably, the Stoemp (Yukon mashed-potatoes and veggies) were all scrumptious.

Great food - made from scratch....
Great food – made from scratch….

The patio was full that day and it was obvious that it was both dog and family friendly.

The Patio

The Patio

As stated in the most recent Beerchaser post, I have conceptual difficulties with rankings; however, having visited five of the eight Portland bars making the Draft Magazine Top 100 Beer Bars in the last five years, Bazi is my favorite so far.  (The Horse Brass Pub (reviewed in 5/13), Concordia Ale House, the Green Dragon and Imperial Bottle Shop have also made the list in prior years.)

And when you visit Bazi, try a walk in the park and a stroll through the burial grounds – it’s a hike with a plot!

P1020148

Bazi Bierbrasserie           1522 SE 32nd Ave Phone (503) 234-8888

Old-growth timber in Laurelhurst Park

Old-growth timber in Laruelhurst Park

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(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)

Bailey’s Tap Room – Keep a Stiff “Upper Lip”

Bailey's - Repeats on the Top 100 Beer Bars

Bailey’s – Repeats on the Top 100 Beer Bars

As was the case with The Tugboat Brewery, (reviewed in March, 2013), Thebeerchaser was embarrassed that he worked downtown – right on the Portland Transit Mall for many years and had never visited – or even known about Bailey’s Tap Room.  For five straight years, it has made Draft Magazine’s Top 100 USA Beer Bars.  It even got special recognition in the preface to the list with the following quote:

“We want you to go to Bailey’s Taproom in Portland, Ore., which cares so much about beer freshness, the digital menu says when each keg was tapped and how much is left. We want you to go to all 100 of these places, because they really are a cut above the rest.” (Actually, part of this statement is incorrect – the digital display shows how much of the keg is left, but does not give the date it was tapped, although it does have the designation, “Just Tapped” for a few selections. )

Charlie and Jack Faust with Thebeerchaser logo

Charlie and Jack Faust with Thebeerchaser logo

Accompanying me were Oregon appellate lawyer, Jack Faust, – who before retiring, made it on a number of list for many years – that of Oregon’s and America’s best lawyers.  Jack, who was also the award-winning moderator of KATU’s Town Hall program, was joined by his son, Charlie.

Bailey’s has also made Willamette Week’s Annual Bar Guide, featuring the paper’s favorite Portland bars every year since its opening in 2007, but let’s examine the rationale for Bailey’s –  BEER!!! (not that there’s anything wrong with that….)

Scott - one of the knowledgeable and helpful bartenders

Scott – one of the knowledgeable and helpful bartenders

"Beer-me-up, Scotty!"  The space-age display

“Beer-me-up, Scotty!” The space-age display

The twenty-four rotating taps of West-coast beers – according to Scott, the friendly and knowledgeable bartender – they tap about five new ones each day – are an eclectic and impressive list supplemented by spotless showcases featuring over fifty bottled beers from all over the USA.

An impressive selection of bottled beers too!

An impressive selection of bottled beers too!

But the title of 100 Best Beer Bars begs the question, “How come?”   The Beerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs is not primarily about the beer.  It’s about the ambiance and distinguishing characteristics that make you want to return to an establishment with your friend(s).

And that’s lacking at Bailey’s as evidenced by the following excerpts from the Willamette Week guide:

2009“What it lacks in atmosphere (white walls, bright lights and sparse decorations give off the vibe of an operating room) Bailey’s makes up in suds.”

2012“Simplicity is the name of the game at this busy downtown beer bar.  No liquor, no wine, no food, no games – just 20 taps of craft beers and a dozen tables filled with mostly male computer programmers, loan officers and other assorted cubicle drones.”

2014 –  “Really, the people are the only problem at Baileys.  First, there are always far too many of them crammed into the SW Broadway space, bird-dogging tables even when somebody just gets up to go the restroom.”

P1020110
Now it’s certainly true, that we had an excellent sampling of esoteric beers – and it helps that  they have both large and small glasses (4 ounces) for a number of brews, so you can get a good sampling and maintain your equilibrium and your wallet.

And Scott and Janelle, the bartenders, were extremely helpful and patient in explaining each one – but the overall atmosphere was more like that of a cafeteria (without the food…) than a bar or pub.

Between the four ounce glasses and sharing some pints, we tasted the following beers:

Green Flash White IPA (Belgian)         Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout

Ninkasi Critical Hit      Kermit the Hop IPA        Stillwater French Farm Ale

Heater Allen Pilsner (McMinnville)      Ballast Point Navigator Doppelbock

New Belgian Gruitt (horehound, bog myrtlle, yarrow, wormwood and elderflower)

All of them were great except the Espresso Stout, which would have been better at Starbucks.

No food except what comes in externally - thanks Charlie!

No food except what comes in externally – thanks Charlie!

Fortunately, Charlie Faust had the foresight to bring some pretzels we could munch on and a number of reviews talk favorably about Santeria, the Mexican restaurant across the street that will deliver orders to go to the bar, and evidently has great food.

The lack of atmosphere and food means you focus the conversation on the beer and your compatriots – that’s not a bad thing given the background of the Fausts:

For example, I learned that Charlie, after graduation from U of O, traveled for a year in Europe and SE Asia, then worked as a staffer for Senator Bob Packwood.  That prepared him to weather the storms when he worked for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and had the experience of being on the crew in a NOAA hurricane research plane during Gloria in 1985 – peak winds of 155 mph.

Charlie's plane was in there someplace....
Charlie’s plane was in there someplace….

 

Jack Faust - Brews his own beer besides doing some other stuff....
Jack Faust – Brews his own beer besides doing some other stuff….

And drinking beer with Jack Faust, means chatting with a very interesting and intelligent guy – after all, for years he had a hobby of brewing beer in his garage.  (once brewed a raspberry ale that was the color of sweat…)

He graduated first in his class at U of O Law School, was editor of the Law Review and still stimulates conversation with queries such as, “When will all the rhetorical questions end…?”

I shifted the conversation to past cases before the Oregon Court of Appeals and Supreme Court after he told me that he would have to kill me if I asked any more questions about his service as a Special Agent in the Far East Command of the Army Counterintelligence Corps during the Korean War.

I will have to admit, however, that Charlie and I were both fascinated by his recounting the details of his arguments in the 1986 Oregon Supreme case Oregon Republican Party v. State of Oregon.  Did the Party violate the Oregon Corrupt Practices Act provision that “[n]o person * * * shall directly or indirectly subject any person to undue influence?”

And  finally,Thebeerchaser’s standard practice of visiting each bar reviewed twice, paid off because Scott the bartender, casually mentioned that I should visit “Bailey’s Upper Lip.”  My response was to ask whether I needed a secret code word or a note from the bartender, but that wasn’t the case.

The entrance to the Upper Lip on Ankeny Street

The entrance to the Upper Lip on Ankeny Street

And walking part way down Ankeny Street to an inauspicious doorway with only a bottle on the door, and then up a dark, narrow stairway heightened the anticipation of what awaited.

Willamette Week’s 2014 Bar Guide sums it up well:  “There, you’ll find six well-chosen taps and a massive case of bottles ranging from Belgians to small-batch bourbon stouts.   P1020166

There’s a short bar, a long table for groups, a digital tap list, a bartender, a few high-top tables set on barrels…..”

There were less than ten people, while the Taproom below was very crowded and Luke, the bartender, told me that the group was typical – evidently a lot of people are just not aware of the speakeasy-type addition to the main floor bar.   I decided to be bold and had a small glass of Nebraska Brewing’s Sexy Betty Imperial Stout.  (Betty was, in fact, hot….)

Bartender Luke and the bar at The Upper Lip

Bartender Luke and the bar at The Upper Lip

If you want a to sample a wide variety of draft or bottled beers from all over the world and receive expert guidance and advice from the staff, Bailey’s is your place. 

Bottled beers from all over -- to say the least

Bottled beers from all over — to say the least

If you want the ambiance of a neighborhood bar with good food and interesting regulars, Thebeerchaser suggests going Off Broadway…..    

Long tables upstairs

Long tables upstairs

 

 

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If you want to view all a map with all the establishments previously reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click the link which states, “View Larger Map” below.

Bailey’s Tap Room and The Upper Lip                  231 SW Broadway