The Cheerful Bullpen

The Cheerful Bullpen - across from JeldWen Fiedl

The Cheerful Bullpen – across from Jeld-Wen Field

One of the earlier bars reviewed on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Bars, Pubs and Taverns was the historic Cheerful Tortoise in 2012.  This noted sports bar adjacent to the campus at Portland State University is owned by Amy Nichols also the proprietor of the Cheerful Bullpen – located right across from Jeld-Wen Field (news flash – now Providence Park.)  The Bull Pen reportedly has had five previous owners and been around for 66 years.

Amy, Denny and our waitress, ___ with Thebeerchaser log
Amy, Denny and our waitress, Ashley with Thebeerchaser log

I was accompanied by Denny Ferguson, who also Beerchased with me at the Tortoise, and persuaded Amy to join us – a good decision.  Amy is a great story, herself, and has owned both bars since 2008.

An airbrushed version....

An airbrushed version….

Denny, who served as President of JBL&K Risk Services, before becoming Director of Business Development at Portland State University, is a Portland “institution.”

He is a formidable golfer and tennis player and a great human being – so positive that he sings along with the music in elevators. His initial months in college at Santa Clara University were a little traumatic because it was the first time he had been away from home —-other than serving in the Marine Corps…..

The name of this bar evokes memories of what once was in Portland – The Portland Beavers, established in 1903 and playing in Vaughn Street Stadium, then Multnomah Stadium and ultimately Civic Stadium before it became a soccer venue.  That’s when there was actually a bullpen at the stadium across from the Cheerful Bullpen!

The Beavers, although only a Triple A farm club for the Cleveland Indians in the 1960’s, had a rich history.   Future major leaguers such as pitchers “Sudden” Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant and left-fielder and then Major League manager, Lou Pinella, thrilled Portland fans and the antics of player/manager Frank “The Flake” Peters (now proprietor of the Grand Café) are legendary.

Pitcher and manager, Walt McCredie, part of the Portland Beavers heritage.

Owner, pPitcher and manager, Walt McCredie, part of the Portland Beavers heritage.

I have fond memories of taking my daughters to Beaver games.  Some consider the fact that one now has to travel to Hillsboro for minor league baseball to be a tragedy.  Given the preponderance of current Cheerful Bullpen patrons who are soccer fans, there are probably those who would advocate a name to something like the Yellow Card Inn or changing to an Irish name such as Kitty O’ Shea’s.  Don’t do it, Amy!!

But we digress – now back to The Cheerful Bullpen…Amy, grew up in Long Beach, Washington and earned her stripes serving as the “only girl deckhand” on an Alaskan fishing boat when she was thirteen, was a beer-cart girl at Heron Lakes Golf Course and then eventually waitressed at both Harvey’s Comedy Club and then the Cheerful Tortoise, where she worked her way up to manager. 

Amy and her staff - not afraid of working hard...

Ashley and Amy – not afraid of working hard…

Former owner, Pat Lockhart, was a mentor and sold the The Tortoise and The Bullpen to her in 2008.

She remembers scrubbing walls at The Bullpen to rid it of built up grease and cigarette smoke stains and investing to make it a quality sports bar experience – and that it is.

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If it's a broadcast sporting event, you are probably going to see it on one of the 21 TVs.

If it’s a broadcast sporting event, you are probably going to see it on one of the 21 TVs.

There are 21 TV’s, two pool tables, Big Buck Hunter video, two fireplaces and a very big patio which holds 50 -60 people – it’s especially popular after Timbers’ games or other athletic events at Jeld-Wen.

The twelve beers on tap that night were:

Bud Light  – Budweiser Laurelwood – Widmer Hef
Alameda Rotator
Bridgeport IPA
10 Barrel Rotator
Deschutes Rotator
Ninkasi Rotator
OakShire Rotator

Two Bullpen Bartender Choice Rotators

They also have a brisk “Beer-to-Go” trade with twenty-two different beers from all over the world in bottles, cans and available for growlers.

           P1010947

You may have one of the twelve draft beers drawn by The Cheerful Mascot.

You may have one of the twelve draft beers drawn by The Cheerful Mascot.

Distinguishing Characteristics

The Food – As with the Tortoise, the Bullpen offers its legendary $2 breakfast (2 pancakes and 2 eggs) all day.  But their most notable menu item is the wings.

You can get 17 to 20 different flavors and on Tuesdays nights (Tightwad Tuesdays) six wings for $2 in addition to $1 beers.  One patron who heard us talking about the wings called them “really amazing.”                    P1010940

As evidence, here’s an October 2013 Yelp review excerpt:Every Tues starting at 8pm is Wing Night – wings of all flavors for $2…You want to get there before 8 to avoid a $3 cover, and to grab a table especially if there is a big game on. The list if flavors ranges from mild to “burn your face off.”

"Really Amazing" Wings

“Really Amazing” Wings

And on Saturdays – there’s all you can eat pasta dishes from $6.95 (noon until midnight). Otherwise you’ encounter a full menu with burgers, fish and chips, pizza, etc.

Buffalo!!??  If you go to the Bullpen on Sundays during football season, you will encounter scads (as many as 150 – 200) Buffalo Bills fans rooting for their team – an arrangement Amy brokered in 2009. 

Every time the Bills score, the group breaks into song. (In 2013 – 339 points scored (21.2 / game) or 22nd of 32 in the NFL) – so the songs are infrequent enough not to be disruptive!!)

The Buffalo Sabres hockey team also has a fan group as does the American Outlaws soccer team.

Now evidently this doesn’t square with one guy who wrote a Yelp 2012 review and was irate because, “….I found myself here on a Sunday, so everyone else was here to watch football. Yuck. I don’t think the baseball games were on any screen and I’m pretty sure there would have been a brawl if I had requested a channel change on even just one TV.(He could have just gone to The Cheerful Tortoise)

Reviews of the Bullpen were good although some complained about delays after Timber games or summer events at Jeld-Wen when the 60-seat patio and the bar are both filled – to a certain extent, something one would expect. Based on the staff we saw, they are good people who work hard.                    P1010946

Amy Nichols is an entrepreneur, a good marketer and a Portland success story.  She keeps her establishments hopping with events such as Wednesday nights Pub Trivia through the “Geeks Who Drink” organization,  monthly VIP Blazer Packages and sponsors periodic charity events such as golf tournaments.

And when you visit the Bullpen, you just might get to say hello to Denny Ferguson – although he will probably greet you first!

cheerful logo

The Cheerful Bullpen

Denny Ferguson - a man with no closing time and who is comfortable with a Budweiser

Denny Ferguson – a man with no finish line, no closing time and who is comfortable with a Budweiser although he could drink Dos Equis if he chose it

Thebeerchaser’s 2013 Annual Report

Thebeerchaser raising a mug in Amsterdam during our Rick Steves' Best of Europe Tour

Thebeerchaser raising a mug in Amsterdam during our Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour

During the twenty-five + years I worked before retiring in 2011 at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, accountability was “part of the gig,” – the case at most large law firms.  The New Year started with a review of prior year statistics and accomplishments and setting performance goals for the current year.

A Beerchaser tradition at each stop - a photo of the logo - Shelby and Dave Booher at the Solstice Brew Pub in Prineville
A Beerchaser tradition at each stop – a photo of the logo – Shelby and Dave Booher at the Solstice Brew Pub in Prineville

While Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland bars, taverns and pubs, initiated in August of 2011, does not have to worry about billable hours worked, improving client relations or analyzing merger possibilities, the habit of reviewing benchmarks from the past year(s) will take additional time (and more brewskis consumed) to depart my cerebellum.

Slabtown - An important institution in an historic neighborhood

Slabtown – An important institution in an historic neighborhood

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In this spirit (and in preparation for audit….),  I submit the following “Beerchaser Year in Review,” which includes an interesting graphic display by WordPress, the blogging software used.  For those who want to drill down for more detail (there are after all, several tax lawyers who are followers of this blog), you can click on the link below the graphic.

The final part of this posts includes a listing of establishments visited in the last 2.4 years by year and category i.e. dive bar, neighborhood pub, etc and Thebeerchasers-of-the-Month or Quarter who have been “honored” with this recognition.

Brewmaster and Beerchaser-of-the-Month, Jonny Brose and bartender, Camas, with Thebeerchaser logo

Brewmaster and Beerchaser-of-the-Month, Jonny Brose and bartender, Camas, with Thebeerchaser logo

I was pleased that, in 2013, there were approximately 15,000 views of this blog from 143 different countries – primarily the result of my effort to “tag” the names of places visited, individuals, or topics I cover, so people searching on Google, etc. may decide to check out the link.  This compares with 6,700 views from 96 countries in 2012 – so the audience has grown.

Beer with attitude - er, I mean altitude..!  The James Bond Bar at the summit of the Schilthorn in Switzerland

Beer with attitude – er, I mean altitude..! The James Bond Bar at the summit of the Schilthorn in Switzerland

H. G. Wells warned, “Satan delights equally in statistics and in quoting scripture….” and notwithstanding that admonition, the following provides some grist for the number-crunchers – note that I am not including bars visited on our Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour, but do count the wonderful venues visited on the four-day road trip to Eastern Oregon.   

The bar at the Central Pastime. Patty was camera shy but impressed with the city slickers passing through.

The bar at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns. Patty, the bartender,  was camera shy but impressed with the city slickers passing through.

Thebeerchaser reviewed 20 bars in 2013, compared to 24 in 2012, which equates to one bar every 18.3 days – slightly less ambitious than the 15.2 days in 2012 and the 17.1 during the partial year of 2011 with eight establishments.

This averages out to a non-weighted mean of 16.9 for the three years with a respectable, albeit somewhat mundane, standard deviation of 1.563 days to accomplish the review of 52 establishments.  And remember, many required more than one visit for the due diligence.

Note for the accountants – this figure does not include “accruals,” if  you will, i.e. the two bars and one brewery that were visited in 2013, but not yet reviewed and posted (will occur in January.)

The Sasquatch Brewing Company from our August visit

The Sasquatch Brewing Company from our August visit

Shown below the WordPress report is a compete listing of the watering holes – by category visited since inception.  Of course, bearing in mind the case of the man who drowned crossing a stream with an average depth of six inches, one should be cautious about using averages.

For example, our European Tour of 21-days was a respite from Portland taverns and thus the 2013 work ethic should not be demeaned.

New City Club Executive Director, Sam Adams, at the entrance to the Tug Boat Brewery - right in Downtown PDX

New City Club of Portland Executive Director, Sam Adams, at the entrance to the Tug Boat Brewery – right in Downtown PDX

Here’s an excerpt from the WordPress report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Twenty Establishments Visited in 2013 *

A nice part of the de'cor at Beer - a bar with an appropriate name

A nice part of the decor at Beer – a bar with an appropriate name

Neighborhood Bars – Sidecar 11, Belmont Inn , Belmont Station, Beer

Beerchaser and Big Buck-Hunter David Dixon at the Belmont Inn lamenting, "If only I had spent more time shooting and less time studying in Palo Alto...."

Beerchaser and Big Buck-Hunter David Dixon at the Belmont Inn lamenting, “If only I had spent more time shooting and less time studying at Stanford….”

Dive Bars – Slammer, The Tanker

Historic or Classic Bars – Slabtown, Horse Brass Pub,

Grand Cafe

Portland appellate lawyer and former Town Hall Moderator, Jack Faust, with Frank Peters - "proprietor and cook" at the Grand Cafe

Portland appellate lawyer and former Town Hall Moderator, Jack Faust, with Frank Peters – “proprietor and cook” at the Grand Cafe

Bars that Defy Classification – Davis Street Tavern, Church

Breweries/Brew Pubs – Tug Boat Brewery, Sasquatch Brewery,

Bars Outside of Portland – Solstice Brew Pub and Horseshoe Tavern (Prineville), Hideout Saloon and Long Branch Saloon (LaGrande), Bull Ridge Brewery and Mt. Emily Ale House (Baker City) and Central Pastime Tavern (Burns)

*  Does not include European Bars

The Horseshoe Tavern in Prineville
The Horseshoe Tavern in Prineville

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Twenty-four Establishments Visited in 2012

Clearing the Air - Tanya, our Waitress and 4 Environmental Lawyers at County Cork

Clearing the Air – Tanya, our Waitress and 4 Environmental Lawyers at County Cork

Neighborhood Bars – County Cork, Muddy Rudder Public House, Hawthorne Hideaway, Laurelthirst Pub

Dive Bars – Ship Tavern, Bar of the Gods, Dixie Tavern       

The Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village - an outstanding dive bar
The Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village – an outstanding dive bar

Historic or Classic Bars – Claudia’s, White Eagle Saloon, Lutz Tavern, Cheerful Tortoise, Mock Crest Tavern, Goose Hollow Inn and The Twilight Room

Beerchasers-of-the-Month, Jim Westwood and John Terry with former Mayor and Goose Hollow owner, Bud Clark

Beerchasers-of-the-Month, Jim Westwood and John Terry with former Mayor and Goose Hollow owner, Bud Clark

Bars that Defy Classification – 1856, Gold Dust Meridian, Bottles, Interurban, Ash Street Saloon

Beerchaser, Chuck Mitchell with bartender, Matt at 1856
Beerchaser, Chuck Mitchell with bartender, Matt at 1856

Breweries/Brew Pubs – Migration Brewery Pub

Beerchaser Dave Booher enjoys a draft and a bucket of fries at the Desdemona in Astoria

Beerchaser Dave Booher enjoys a draft and a bucket of fries at The Desdemona in Astoria

Bars Outside of Portland – Embers Brew House (Joseph), The Desdemona and Wet Monkey Café (Astoria), PourHouse (Port Townsend, WA)         

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Eight Establishments Visited in 2011 (August – December)

The Brooklyn! -The very first stop on Thebeerchaser Tour

The Brooklyn! The very first stop on Thebeerchaser Tour

 Neighborhood Bars – Brooklyn Park Pub, Gladstone Street Pub,

Dive Bars – Yukon Tavern, Joe’s Cellar

The Yukon Tavern - one of the proverbial Dive Bars visited in the first year of The Tour
The Yukon Tavern – one of the proverbial Dive Bars visited in the first year of The Tour

 Historic or Classic Bars – Buffalo Gap Saloon

Bars that Defy Classification – Prost

Getting the Boot from Emily the Bartender at Prost in 2011

Getting the Boot from Emily the Bartender at Prost in 2011

Breweries/Brew Pubs – Amnesia Brew Pub, Coalition Brew Pub

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Beerchaser Honorees

Several times during the year (we fell down slightly on this goal in 2013), Thebeerchaser names a person, group or organization as Beerchaser-of-the-Month or Quarter.  These may or may not have any relevance to the primary goal of this blog, but deserve to be “honored” or recognized in some manner.  They are shown below and we can all be confident that they do not update their resumes to reflect this acclaim.

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

2013 – Jud Blakely (Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient in Viet Nam War), Johnny Brose, (OSU Graduate and Brewmaster at Bull Ridge Brewery in Baker City), Jim Westwood (Portland lawyer, civic activist and former captain of the GE College Bowl Team from Portland State College).

Jim Westwood, Coach Padrow and the PSU College Bowl Team

Jim Westwood, Coach Padrow and the PSU College Bowl Team

                 

Former OSU and NFL start, Craig Hanneman on successful Mt. Everest climb in 2012

Former OSU and NFL start, Craig Hanneman on successful Mt. Everest climb in 2012

             2012 – Forrest Green (Musician and consultant), Coach Mike Riley and the 2012 OSU Football Team, Craig Hanneman (retired Willamette Industries executive and former OSU and NFL football player), The Crew of the USS Constitution, Dr. John Walker (Professor of Finance at Portland State University), John Terry (retired history columnist and reporter for The Oregonian) and Dr. Harry Frankfurt (Emeritus Professor of History at Princeton University and author of the book On Bullshit)

Late crime novelist and beer drinker, James Crumley

Late crime novelist and beer drinker, James Crumley

2011 – James Crumley (late crime novelist from Montana), Harold Schlumberg (retired chemical engineer), Phoebe, Emily, Dave and Natasha (bartenders at the bars the Brooklyn Park Pub, Prost, the Twilight Room and the Gladstone Street Pub.

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I appreciate the followers of Thebeerchaser for their comments and suggestions and am especially thankful to Janet – Thebeerchaser’s spouse of 33 years for letting me indulge in this retirement hobby.

Thebeerchaser and Janet in Paris - summer of 2013

Thebeerchaser and Janet in Paris – summer of 2013

While reviewing 52 establishments in 2 years and five months is noteworthy, the fact that Portland has approximately 750 bars, taverns and pubs is somewhat overwhelming and begs the question as to whether retirement should have started while I was in my twenties…..Convey your suggestions regarding future venues in the blog comments.

Happy New Year