Beerchaser Miscellany – the Advent of Autumn

Steeplejack Brewing

(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 we move into autumn, my hopes of returning to full-fledged inside Beerchasing are temporarily delayed although my first visit to the new Steeplejack Brewing’s on NE Broadway a few weeks ago convinced me I need to return in the future.

My friend, John Limb, just retired Publisher of the Catholic Catholic Press and I had lunch there and marveled at what co-owners Brody Day and Dustin Harder had accomplished to save this wonderful 112-year-old historic church (which might have otherwise been developed into condominiums) and to refurbish and restore it into a great brewery and brewpub.  

Restored and refurbished

Since I have not a whit of architectural or interior design expertise or comprehension, I will not attempt to give any description other than to say that this church building, originally dedicated In 1909 by then President of the United States, William Howard Taft, as the First Universalist Church of Good Tidings, was breathtaking and impressive.

 The following article from the July 21st New School Beer and Cider article goes into more detail. (see link)  I have been impressed in two phone conversations with Brody’s upbeat, but modest persona – plus his vision including their plans for a second facility in Hillsboro outside Portland, which is now in the planning stages.

In fact on their website, the owners – college buddies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, omit any reference to their own impressive entrepreneurial experience and talk strictly about the excellent brewing, culinary and management staff they have assembled.

Now the menu appears to be somewhat limited at this point, but the Smash Burger and fries we had were excellent and the beer befitting of the experience of the two female Brewmasters, who are both industry veterans.  Anna Buxton was working on a batch on their impressive equipment a few yards from our table. (* external photo attribution at end of post.)

*1 Anna Buxton

I had a pint of the Hermit Kolsch, (5.2 ABV), a lemony, fermented ale with a nice taste and John had the Gravity IPA, for which there was no information on their website.  If these are representative, Steeplejack will not only become known for its architecture, but its suds! 

Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter Update

I have been remiss in 2021 in publishing one of my favorite features of this blog – the Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOQ) features an individual or group that may or may not have anything to do with bars or beers, but has made a contribution to society and has a good story. 

While past “honorees” have included war heroes, athletes, academicians, authors and media personalities – most of whom I’ve know personally, the only recognition bestowed this year was in another one of my posts on lawyers published in May based on my forty years working with these characters:  https://thebeerchaser.com/category/beerchaser-of-the-month-or-quarter/

That will change in the near future, but here’s an update on five past BOQ’s I’ve featured.

Dr. Sam Holloway

Those of you who bemoan the trend of the corporate brewery behemoths to acquire or absorb independent craft breweries will be encouraged to learn that Sam Holloway, who co-founded and is the President of Crafting a Strategy, entered a new partnership in August.  He is also an award-winning professor in the Pamplin School of Business at the University of Portland:

UniteCraft Corporation, a collaboration of three brewing industry veterans, launched UniteCraft.com. This new online platform of web based applications enables the highly fragmented craft beer industry to enjoy the economic benefits previously only experienced by large breweries and brewery collectives.

(UniteCraft) has partnered with Sam Holloway to level the playing field against “Big Beer”.  UniteCraft’s mission is to use its proprietary technology to organize the collective power of independent craft breweries, to expand market opportunities for any brewery, and to help small breweries create healthier businesses.”

Jay Waldron (and Shane)

I featured my former colleague at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, Jay Waldron, as my BOQ in March 2016.    https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/03/29/jay-waldron-rugger-rafter-rider-and-lawyer-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/ 

It was to convey not only his public service contributions including Chair of the Oregon Health Sciences University Board, President of the Port of Portland and Chair of Metro’s Transportation Committee or his accomplishments as a trial lawyer, but his athletic achievements. 

These include induction into the US Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017.  Oh yeah, then there’s his rafting adventures on the Upper Yangtze and his motorcycle racing and treks. As pointed out in a January 2021 article on NBC Northwest in January by another BOQ, Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes:  

“But (Jay) is not the most famous person in the family these days — at least since last week, when his son, Shane, was named offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks……

After growing up on five acres in the family log home in Carver, Shane played football at LaSalle High School, Phillips Academy Andover and Tufts University in Massachusetts. After his playing career as a tight end and long-snapper at Tufts, he caught on as an operations intern with the New England Patriots, launching a career that carried him all the way to the Seahawks

…..with stops at Notre Dame, New England (again), U-Mass, the Washington Football team, Eventually he was hired by the Rams as a tight ends coach, then became passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach under head coach Sean McVay.”

As an aggressive litigator, it would not be surprising if Jay, based on his rugby exploits, tried to persuade Shane to toughen up his players by eliminating helmets and implementing a “scrum-type” offensive strategy.  Fortunately, his son will be getting his direction from Seahawk Head Coach Pete Carroll.

John Terry

A superb historian and writer

Former Oregonian long-time history columnist, John Terry was one of my first BOQ’s. Many of us looked forward to his superb and interesting weekly accounts of Portland’s fascinating and colorful heritage and were aghast when first, the Oregonian reduced it to a monthly gig and followed by discontinuing it permanently.

As another BOQ, Portland attorney, Jim Westwood lamented:

“When The Sunday Oregonian discontinued John Terry’s weekly articles on Oregon history, I sighed and told myself I’d get used to turning to something else first thing every Sunday morning. How wrong I was. How long has it been now, a couple of months? It’s an eternity. I miss John Terry’s lively, superbly researched articles.

I miss them desperately. I’m frustrated and angry that The Oregonian could have taken them away without considering making them at least a monthly feature. Sunday will never be the same, and it hit me again this morning…..The Oregonian (should) resurrect John Terry and his wonderful works on the history of our state and its people.”

I sought John’s advice in 2012, shortly after I started this blog for resources on historic bars in Portland.  In his quiet and unassuming manner, he gave me a wealth of advice.  This lunch was followed by a Beerchasing event with the aforementioned Jim Westwood at the legendary Goose Hollow Inn (reviewed 1n 2012) owned by Portland’s former and most charismatic Mayor, Bud Clark.

Mayor Clark spent ninety minutes enthralling us with stories ranging from the political campaign in which he pulled off a stunning upset of the incumbent, to the unbelievable tale of how what was supposed to be a photo highlighting a campaign to combat venereal disease (“Zap the Clap”), became an internationally famous poster which still hangs in the Smithsonian Institute entitled (as will be obvious from the photo below) “Expose Yourself to Art!”

“Zap the Clap didn’t “fly”…….

We were saddened to hear that John passed away unexpectedly after a short hospitalization on March 8th.  His legacy will live on.

Jack and Jan McGowan

Oregon Environmental, Sustainability and Public Service Icons

This dynamic couple whose contributions to Oregon’s environmental health and public awareness, spanned eighteen years as founders and co-directors of SOLV (Stop Oregon Littering and Vandalism.)   (The non-profit dropped the words from its name to just the acronym in 1998 and added the E in 2012 to reflect its expanded mission in the community and environment.)

When I interviewed them in 2020 at their ranch in Sisters, Oregon, Jack smiled when he stated, “When I started SOLV had no staff, no office, no phone, 100 sheets of letterhead and $12,000 in a checking account.” The office for the first five yeas, was in the family room of their house in Helvetia.   

And from that staff of one and a budget of $12,000 to the time of their retirement in 2008 (Jan still has a thriving non-profit consulting firm) , it grew to a staff of twenty-six (now 32) and a budget of $2.6 million and tens of thousands of volunteers.

September 11, 2021 is the twentieth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as summarized in this excerpt from History.com:

“On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States.

Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defined the presidency of George W. Bush.”

No caption is required for this photo…….* 11

So how does the anniversary of this catastrophe relate to Jack McGowan and his actions along with almost 1,000 intrepid Oregonians about one month after the attack? 

And in our current time of a pandemic, multiple crises ranging from wildfires to tropical storms and national controversies that have polarized our country, how can the actions of this group in 2011 be an example of attitudes and actions which can help heal the divide.  Read about the remarkable Oregon Flight for Freedom:

The following is an excerpt from Thebeerchaser.com post on Jack and Jan McGowan.

 “In 2001, we were all stunned by the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.   But Jack, having grown up there (Jackson Heights) said, ‘When I saw the Towers go down, it affected me viscerally.’

Portland travel agency icon, Sho Dozono, his wife Loen, the late Commissioner Nick Fish and Oregon Congressman David Wu, John Ray along with Portland influencers, Len Bergstein and Elaine Franklin collectively began orchestrating the concept in the lobby of KGW television studios shortly after the attack on NYC.

At the time, Jack was co-hosting the local part of a national broadcast and pledge drive for the rescue workers.  Elaine Franklin originated the name “Flight for Freedom” and Loen Dozono came up with the vision of a “Reverse Oregon Wagon Train” – only by air.

When New York City was struggling with the aftermath and people were avoiding airline flights as being too hazardous, they decided let’s get a group of Oregonians and “Fly to New York City, look terrorism in the face and not blink!”  *12

Jack and John Ray went three days early as an advance party to pave the way for the official flight, which included Oregon dignitaries including Mayor Vera Katz.

The unique group of about 500 flew into Manhattan where the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel was virtually empty.  (Delta Airlines gave a great deal on cost of the flight.) Few people were going to Manhattan unless they absolutely had to – especially tourists. 

The Oregonians filled the hotel –  the only cost was for the room tax.  All other lodging expense was gladly absorbed by hotel management.  The Flight was covered by national and international print and broadcast media. And according to Jack:

‘New York City went crazy!  Cops hugged us.  We went to a restaurant and when the maitre’d announced that we were the group from Oregon, we got a standing ovation and multiple parties debated as to whom would pick up the bill for the meal.

We met with Rudy Guliani and Governor Pataki and had appearances on Good Morning America and Today.'”

This post is already too long and I won’t include one of the best Jack McGowan stories I’ve heard – and there are many – (It brought tears to my eyes when he told it.)   

The picture above shows when Jack and several of the Oregon delegation rang the traditional opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange with Richard (Richie) Grasso the President of the New York Stock Exchange in their midst.  (Check this link so you don’t miss it….)

And in Closing……

Stay safe, get vaccinated, wear a mask, help your neighbor, patronize your local restaurants, bars and breweries – even if it’s eating outside or getting take-out and pray for our health-care workers, emergency responders and teachers.

*17

External Photo Attribution

*1-3  Steeplejack Brewing Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos)

*4-6 Crafting a Strategy Website (https://craftingastrategy.com/users/sam-holloway) and Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/craftingastrategy)

*7-8 Shane Waldron Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/shane.waldron.14/photos)

*9 Oregon Business Magazine – December 2003 Issue https://www.oregonbusiness.com/component/search/? searchword

*10  SOLVE Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SOLVEOregon/photos/?ref=page_internal

*11 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_face_south_tower_

(This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Robert on Flickr

13-16 Oregon Flight for Freedom Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/Flight-For-Freedom-191666124219332/photos 

*17  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syringe2.jpg)  

 Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

2021 Summer Beerchasing Miscellany – Part I

Now That Really is a Dirty Shame!

While I’m happy for my friend, John Runkle, the owner of the World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana, I lament for the rich history of legendary dive bars, that John has sold the bar – the new owners take over in late August.  Originally there was talk that they would change the name, but that appears to be a false rumor.

After reading about the history of the bar in Joan Melchers’ two books “Montana Watering Holes,” I called John and arranged a visit and stay in 2019 at the Yaak River Lodge, which John also owns – located on 7.5 acres along the beautiful Yaak River.

I stayed for two nights in the Moose Room (the Wolf Room was already occupied) – waking to John’s home-cooked breakfasts of bacon, hashbrowns and blueberry pancakes.  In the near term, He will continue to operate the Lodge – a rustic retreat shown below which is about one mile from the Saloon.

My enthusiasm for the Bar, John and his staff as well as the entire Yaak community of about 250 people, is evidenced by the four blog posts I wrote – necessary to adequately convey John’s and the “Shame’s” amazing stories. 

The last one entitled “Thebeerchaser’s Final Thoughts on the Dirty Shame Saloon,” published in October 2019, contains only some of the tales I heard there.  Check it out and the others to understand some of the reasons why this remains my favorite bar in ten years of Beerchasing.

So what’s in store for this soon to be father of three kids under six after his wife Dallas Runkle’s projected delivery date in September.  They live much of the time in the Tri-City area in Washington where Dallas is completing her graduate studies in education and counseling.

A conversation this week with John went like this:

Beerchaser: “Are you going to sell the Lodge at some point?”

Runkle: “Yes, we’ve temporarily taken it off the market, but when Dallas finishes her educational requirements in about a year, we’ll probably move to Texas.”

Beerchaser:  “What are you going to do, John – Run another saloon, run for office, run a marathon…” (John is a staunch conservative and we had some great debates about politics and life during my two days in Yaak while we drank beer.)

Runkle:  “Since Dallas will be working and at sixty, I’ll be the oldest dad in the world with three kids under six, I’ll probably be taking care of my offspring.  (Laughing) Joe Biden’s child-care credits will help me do that!”

John hasn’t met the new owners of the Dirty Shame yet, but they are a group of radiologists from San Luis Obispo, California, who also bought the Yaak River Tavern across the street from the Dirty Shame and evidently acquired the nearby  Overdale Lodge as well.  Does this seem a little like the premise of the series “Yellowstone?”

Regardless of the name change, the bar will not have the same character as when John was the owner and what he has made of this legendary watering hole since he bought it out of foreclosure in 2013. 

John’s humor, great heart and sense of community, have made this a focal point for the community and miles around for events such as the Sasquatch Festival, the Crawfish Festival, the Adult Easter Egg Hunt or the “Yaak Attack.”  After the two previous owners failed, John’s business acumen prevailed and the saloon has increased revenue every year except in 2020 with COVID.  It has never been more profitable.

He ended our phone call by saying, “Don, don’t forget that on July 31st, we will have the last staging of Female Cream Wrestling (last year it was canceled because of COVID) and the farewell party with live music will be on August 28th.”  

Let’s see – it’s 520 miles or 8 hours and 29 minutes from my house to Yaak.  And, if I hurry, I might be able to get a reservation in the Moose Room again…..(See the end of this post for another photo album of my visit to the Dirty Shame.)

Back to Beerchasing but Farewell to Some Favorite Haunts

With vaccination rates at a good level and restrictions lifted in Oregon, Thebeerchaser is back in business – visiting new bars and breweries to add to the total – now approaching 400 – since starting this retirement hobby in August 2011.  My most recent post related my four great visits to Corner 14 – a wonderful community watering hole in Oregon City which opened in February of 2020.  Stay tuned…..

That said, the pandemic and lockdown were brutal to hospitality establishments and some of my favorite bars and a few breweries didn’t make it.  And while we lost a number during the pandemic, it exacerbated an already tough economic environment.   An 4/4/21 Oregon Live article entitled, “Brewers Were Soaked by the Pandemic” stated in part:

“Oregon breweries were already undergoing a generational transition in the months before the pandemic hit.  In 2018 and 2019, Lompoc, Bridgeport, Portland Brewing and Widmer Brewing all closed restaurants and/or bars.  Alameda Brewhouse, Columbia River Brewing and Burnside Brewing shut their doors too.”  (Click on the links to see Thebeerchaser reviews.)

“Oregon breweries shed 1,000 jobs between the summer of 2019 and the pandemic, nearly 12% of the sector’s employment.  Then 3,500 jobs vanished in the spring of 2020.

Employment….tumbled 43% in the first months of the pandemic.   While many of those jobs bounced back over the summer as the state gradually reopened, brewery jobs remained down nearly 29% — a greater fall than at restaurants and bars, overall.”

Ironically, liquor sales jumped 20%, last April, during the first month of the pandemic to a record high. But there is good news on the brewery front. 

A number are expanding their locations including Pelican Brewing in Lincoln City, Lake Oswego’s Stickman Brewing and Baerlic Brewing in NE Portland.  Chuckanut Brewing of Bellingham, known for its lagers, has filed to open a SE Portland beer hall.

I’m very excited to check out a new Portland brewery.  Steeplejack Brewing is scheduled to open in an historic church building (112 years old) in July.  (Soft opening on 7/16 and grand opening on 7/31.) .  Two University of California – Santa Cruz college buddies – Brody Day and Dustin Harder are partnering to restore this wonderful NE Portland landmark  (Willamette Week 2/20/21)

Demolition and rebuilding is underway as crews are digging up a section of the main hall of worship for a sunken brewery, but Steeplejack plans to keep many of the most iconic and timeless elements of the building intact.

William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, actually laid the cornerstone of the church at a ceremony in front of thousands of onlookers back in the day. But the primary feature is the 65’ ft. high steeple and bell tower from which the brewery gets it’s name.”  (“Steeplejack Brewing drafts All-Star Team for upcoming Portland brewpub in restored church.”  (The New School 4/20/21)

I  had a good telephone conversation with co-owner Brody Day and challenged him on the headline of the second article above asking, “What makes your team of the All-Star caliber?”  His response was good.

Steeplejack’s Head Brewer and Lead Brewer, Anna Buxton and Anne Aviles both have extensive experience in the brewing industry.    Anna at the  innovative Modern Times Brewing and Anne in the Experimental Brewing aspect at both DeGarde Brewing on the Oregon coast and Portland’s award-winning Breakside Brewing.  

The pent up desire to socialize with friends and family over a good beer portends a robust summer and fall for Northwest watering holes – that is if they can find adequate help.  The new Pelican pub in Lincoln City advertised a $2,500 signing bonus for cooking staff.

A late June visit one of our favorites on the Central Oregon coast – Depoe Bay’s Horn Public House and Brewery – had a big crowd, but the upstairs section of the pub was closed because they didn’t have enough kitchen help to accommodate the demand.

I’m also pleased to see the ill-conceived recent plan of a few Oregon Legislators in House Bill 3296 to raise the Oregon beer and wine tax by 2,600% and 1,400% respectively according to Willamette Week, died a well-deserved death before it even got out of Committee during the 2021 Session.

That said, I was saddened to see in a visit to Lincoln City that a favorite community dive bar for decades – the Cruise Inn, which I reviewed in 2014, appears to have closed its doors. Although I haven’t found any formal notice, the furniture, equipment and “library,” including the complete set of American Jurisprudence Legal Forms are gone and the phone disconnected.  

Check out a few photos from my posts on the Dirty Shame Saloon.

Photo Credits 

*1. Pelican Brewing Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/PelicanBrewingCompany/photos/10158384649633435

*2. Stickman Brewing Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/stickmenbeer/photos/a.254878121231579/

*3.  Baerlic Brewing Facebook Page  https://www.facebook.com/baerlicbrewing/photos/1360228664170193

*4.  Steeplejack Brewing Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos/106659551525747)

*5.  Steeplejack Brewing Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos/a.107641808094188/

*6. The Horn Public House and Brewery Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/thehornpublichouse/photos/878078125931167

*7.  The Horn Public House and Brewery Facebook Page   https://www.facebook.com/thehornpublichouse/photos/a.221404098265243/

Beerchaser Miscellany – The Bad, the Unfortunate and the Good!

In one of my last posts entitled “Destiny of the Dives,” I listed a number of Portland bars and breweries that had closed based on the pandemic and resulting lockdowns and the civil disorder that was rampant in Portland last year.  Unfortunately, there’s a couple more, both of which I had hoped might reopen, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Bailey’s Tap Room – right on Broadway in downtown Portland and known since 2007 for its robust tap list (its twenty-six rotating taps were displayed electronically) will definitely not reopen although that was the intent when it first closed.

Unfortunately, the Upper Lip – a great lounge on the upper floor of the same building – is also gone.  The building was quickly sold and who knows if another watering hole will eventually take over the space.  An article in Brewpublic.com echoed the same pessimistic outlook.

One of the first electronic displays of its kind

Willamette Week reported in a  January article headlined  An Oregon economist could not think of another example of ‘an area that has so quickly fallen into disfavor.’”:

“Portland plunged from one of the most desirable cities for real estate investors to 66th among 80 cities (Urban Land Institute)….The reputational damage is what’s going to exacerbate or prolong what we saw unfold in 2020.”

Grixen Brewing – my former neighbor was one of the partners in this brewery opened in 2013 in SE Portland that featured a spacious taproom and good beer.

Great taproom and quality beer…

Grixen — Sorry to see them go…..

It was announced in August that they would temporarily close although their website now states:

“We have permanently closed.   We are still navigating a way to keep the beer alive.  Follow us on social channels for announcements.” 

Well, there is nothing in social media or on the internet that updates that info except a piece in NewSchoolBeer.com in October stating “Lease the Former Grixen Brewery.”  I hope I’m wrong, but don’t count on seeing them again.

Tax and Legislative Changes and Lifting of Restrictions

Fortunately, at least in Oregon, there are some positive developments which will now help bars and breweries after a tumultuous year.

Oregon Craft Brewers avoided what would have been a 100% tax increase:  “The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress Dec. 21 includes a set of tax breaks that offer substantial relief for Oregon craft brewers, distillers, winemakers and cider makers, who are among the small businesses hit hard during the pandemic.” 

As an example, a brewery that produces 10,000 barrels a year would have jumped from paying $35,000 a year to $70,000 a year in excise taxes

My favorite cocktail — gin – up with olives

  At the end of 2020, Oregon Legislators passed a bill that allows bars and restaurants to sell mixed drinks for offsite consumption – something the industry has been seeking for the last year statewide.  It requires food with the drink order, but that’s a start.

Well, it took long enough, but at least they got this one right!

  Because of falling COVID rates, “For the first time since November, restaurants, bars and brewpubs in the Portland metro area will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining rooms at a limited capacity at the end of the week.”  (2/12)

So on 2/12, Portland area Beerchasers, while still practicing social distancing and wearing masks, could go out and support their local watering holes and not just  sit in the cold with portable heaters.

And to show how it goes, just when the COVID restrictions were loosened, Portland and the burbs got hit with an incredible ice storm that closed roads, led to hundreds of thousands losing power and trees either coming down altogether or large limbs breaking under the weight.

Matchsticks….! My sidewalk and street

I’ll take a pint over push-ups or pilates…..

Our own street and sidewalk looked like a behemoth tossed limbs like match-sticks.

But I’m confident normality will resume In Oregon.  It’s just a matter of when and how one defines “normality!”

After all, it was reported by Willamette Week, that a recent national survey by the American Addiction Centers revealed that bars won out over gyms on which adults missed most.  In Oregon bars won by a decent margin: 59% to 41%.  Go figure!

The Evolution of Darwin’s Theory and a Sad Farewell..

Followers of this blog know that one of my favorite dives outside Oregon is Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage Alaska.  I first came across this unique watering hole in 2014 and it has been serving beers (not on tap – just bottles and cans) for over forty years.

I always look forward to their pithy and biting quarterly newsletter – until I can return, but was glad to see in the latest edition that they reopened in late January:

“Several establishments won’t be opening at all.  Some were old, established icons around town.   (We will reopen) with the same wonderful staff that are known and loved – some as long as twenty six years.  Some minor tweaks were done during the shutdown, but the same free popcorn and free Jukebox will still be there too…..So get vaccinated and let’s end this crap.” 

My last mention of Darwin’s was to post a picture sent by Jon Magnusson’s – father-in-law to our older daughter when he and his wife, Nancy and two good friends, Dr. Bob and Stephanie Thompson visited Anchorage on a trip to see the Northern Lights in February, 2020.

I told them they had to check out Darwin’s and I got a text from Jon with the picture below and the comment, “Exploring Darwin’s – Great Place.”

From left – Jon and Nancy Magnusson and Stephanie and Dr. Bob Thompson at Darwin’s Theory in February 2020.

We were shocked and saddened to learn that Dr. Bob passed away last week following a heart attack while swimming.   He practiced Family Medicine in Seattle and was loved and respected by patients, colleagues and all who knew him.

In 2013, he was honored as the Outstanding Health Care Practitioner in Washington State and as stated by the CEO of the Valley Medical Center where he practiced for over thirty years:

“Dr. Bob, as he is fondly known, has worked at Valley for over 25 years and he is an emblem of what it truly means to be a tireless and compassionate care giver, committed to helping people in need.”

Dr. Bob Thompson was an outstanding person-of-faith who worked on many volunteer medical missions including Belize in Central America and Albania.  He was active in numerous charitable organizations and a loving husband, father and grandfather.  We will miss him.

New Times for Old Town

In an 8/16/20 Beerchaser post, I mentioned how entrepreneur, Adam Milne, the founder of the iconic Old Town Pizza in 2003 and his later expansion to Old Town Brewing, faced challenges during COVID and the riots/protests in Portland this summer.

Adam Milne – a bright and creative businessman

They caused him to temporarily close one of his his two establishments – the downtown location as reported in a July 12 Willamette Week:

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

While Old Town Pizza is still closed, he has not been sitting idle and will expand with another eastside location besides the Northeast Brewery.

Just this month, he purchased Baby Doll Pizza on Southeast Stark – he won’t change the name although it will now feature a number of the excellent Old Town beers on tap.  Baby Doll is known for its’s New York style pizza.

Congratulations Adam.

Parting with Encouraging Words

In my recent post, Destiny of the Dives, I bemoaned the loss of some historic Portland watering holes, but parted with a hint of optimism – that during and after the pandemic – required restrictions, a number of establishments have either expanded or innovated to stay open and in some cases, grow and prosper.  The pent-up demand caused by isolation would be a beacon to Beerchasing…..

And then I came across an outstanding January 12th article from New School Beer.com that was stunning in the expansiveness of such plans in 2021 —  The Most Anticipated Upcoming Oregon Breweries and Taprooms of 2021 — New School Beer + Cider

The most exciting news is the info about Steeplejack Brewing – plans to open this summer – a heartening story not only because of the spirit of the co-partners (Brody Day and Dustin Harder) who are two college buddies, but because their partnership and cooperative efforts with the Metropolitan Community Church.

Portland’s Metropolitan Community Church

The result – a wonderful historic landmark will be saved and still serve as a community gathering place.  This is an incredibly ambitious project. Stay tuned and Godspeed!

“The church at NE 24th and Broadway is a landmark of Portland’s Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood known for it’s ornate steeple and long history.

The building’s most recent owners Metropolitan Community Church left the building in 2019 and it narrowly avoided being demolished. Turning down competing bids, the MCC leaders chose to sell the space to two homebrewers who wanted to keep the building intact and as a central hub or the community.”

Conceptual photo of the planned brewpub

Amen!!