The Finale – Part IV of Thebeerchaser Does the Central Oregon Coast


The Cruise Inn in Lincoln City - not the Holland America line, but a good bar

The Cruise Inn in Lincoln City – not the Holland America line, but a good bar

We concluded our time on the Central Oregon coast at some bars with real character back in Lincoln City after two days visiting the bars below. The journey started at Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, which was followed by:

The Old Oregon Saloon, the Nauti Mermaid Bar and Bistro, the Cruise Inn and Road House 101 in Lincoln City

The Pelican Brew Pub, the Oar House and the Sportsman Pub and Grub in Pacific City

The Bay Haven Inn, Mad Dog Country Tavern and Hoover’s in Newport

The Tidal Pool in Depoe Bay

2014-08-30 14.58.19

The bar at the Cruise Inn

The Cruise Inn – only a block away from the Old O, is right on Highway 101 in the heart of Lincoln City in an old and somewhat ramshackle pale-blue (for the ocean??) building with what appears to be an ocean liner painted on the side.

Having been on an Alaska Cruise earlier this summer, I can say it was not comparable to Holland America’s Statendam, but a colorful bar with some lively regulars inside.  And how can you lose when you can buy three beers for $8.25.

This set is in the back room after you pass the bar........

This set is in the back room after you pass the bar……..

You could have some great conversation with the regulars as you came in – or pass the bar in a manner of speaking – and go into the back room for a game of pool or to resolve your legal issues using the ten-volume set of American Jurisprudence Legal Forms  – 22,000 legal documents.  What better place to review a stock-purchase agreement or make revisions to a spousal indemnification for joint tax return, than in a coastal dive bar?

And right across the street was another favorite – the Naughty Mermaid, which according to the outspoken and experienced bartender, Di, had previously been home to a lending library, John’s Market, a donation store and finally a second-hand store before it became a bar.P1020711


Di, a fixture in Lincoln City since 1986, has also poured beers in the Old O and the Cruise Inn before taking a job in a bar with a racier name and decorations…..

Di - an experienced bartender with stories to tell...

Di – an experienced bartender with stories to tell…


The presence of an impressive piano on the stage, is explained by the second owner of the Mermaid, who was a classically trained pianist and would not play in public.

Di said that he would come into the bar and practice each morning. There are numerous interesting 33 LP covers hung on the wall in the entertainment area, including artists such as Van Cliburn and Tennessee Ernie Ford, which reflect the owner’s avocation.

Van Cliburn and others....

Van Cliburn and others….

Let's I want Hemingway, Steinbeck or Danielle Steele?

Let’s see…do I want Hemingway, Steinbeck or Danielle Steele?

Although there are no legal forms, if you want to drink your beer while reading, you can sit in a nice over-stuffed chair and borrow a book from the Mermaid’s library.

And like any good coastal dive bar, there are a lot of tacky beach-related knick knacks – such as an ivory sea horse, a scary gargoyle and the descriptive sign on the ladies bathroom.

This mermaid does, in fact, look naughty...

This mermaid does, in fact, look naughty…


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A possible museum piece?

A possible museum piece?







One of the regulars at the Naughty Mermaid...

One of the regulars at the Naughty Mermaid…



And finally, in Taft – the very southern part of Lincoln City – right near Mo’s Seafood, is the Snug Harbor Bar and Grill, an historic bar which Matt Love describes in his blog:

“….exquisitely upholstered red vinyl bar and the thick elevated round tables that have coiled rope around the base….(with a layout) refreshingly atypical for the coast drinking scene: rectangular, narrow, then a step down to a triangular annex where the pool tables and library are (a library appears to be a standard amenity in Lincoln City bars…..)”

A Taft landmark

A Taft landmark

Snug Harbor also has an impressive deck on the second floor which would be a great place to relax over a beer on one of the few balmy days at the Oregon coast.             P1020691

Maybe this was Paul Newman's machine....

Maybe this was Paul Newman’s machine….

There are some great decorations including a gigantic chain saw and some posters including the one below that describes the Redhead Round-up.



According to a Taft Historic District blog, “The first annual Redhead Roundup, originated by Taft Resident Manville Robison (a red-head himself), was held on August 23, 1931 and lasted into the 1940s. The beauty pageant culminated each year in the crowning of a Redhead Queen and King Eric the Red.  Decked out with banners and posters.

Where is Lindsay Lohan, when she could be useful?

Where is Lindsay Lohan, when she could be useful?

Taft was a festive scene, its hotels and rental cottages full, its streets lined with cars and busloads of people from near and far.”

Evidently, there was an effort to revive this tradition in 2011, based on the following appeal: “Redheads unite during the 2011 Redhead Round-Up and Photo Contest! Send in your best redhead picture in one of our fantastic ginger loving divisions including: curliest red hair, most freckled redhead, redheaded pet and more!”

Thebeerchaser will "regress" to gin martinis when steak is on the menu

Thebeerchaser will “regress” to gin martinis when steak is on the menu


A "Goodwill" gesture...

A “Goodwill” gesture…

As we returned to our shelter for the last night, we realized that we had no grill, but a strong desire for red meat – like in steak!

We reveled in our in resourcefulness after we rigged up the contraption below with a grate – purchased at the local Good Will store for $4.50 –  and some coastal rocks for a platform.  The end result is shown in the photos.

P1020708So what were the highlights of the coast trip and were there any trends we could identify from the 13 establishments we visited in the 3.5 days.

  1. 1.  Great bartenders
  2. 2.   Old and idiosyncratic buildings with hallways and side rooms that add to the character.
  3. Great stories from the regulars reinforced by the memorabilia “decorating” the bars.
  4. 3.  Steve’s affection for old-school beer – “Beer that you can see through….”        

    Translucent beer??

    Translucent beer??


4.  Steak and Tide Pool Bar pizza

5.  Dave’s erudition, reflecting his career as an educator, “Remember guys – ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ – and  Budwieser.”

And although it was not a highlight, one ubiquitous presence  –  video poker and slots as a revenue generator. We saw this first-hand at Lumpy’s, the Mad Dog and Hoovers when patrons with morbid intensity, each tossed away big bucks in record time.

This fact has had a negative impact on the bar environment as passionately stated by Matt Love.   While I wouldn’t go as far as Matt in his final blog post.  He asserts that the lottery has led to the death of bars.  While we may not accept that premise in its entirety, we did see that it has led to a degradation of their character:


The video poker sign above the name may be one reason this venue is now mediocre and lacks character

A death knell??

I love these taverns, so much in fact, that six years ago I began writing about the ones on the Oregon Coast where I live.…(in his excellent blog  After all this exploration, doubtless I am an expert on Oregon taverns. Thus, it is with sadness that I declare the unique cultural institution of the independent Oregon tavern is dead.

The state of Oregon seriously wounded it with video poker, and more recently with the introduction of line games, (slots) killed it altogether.….In 1991 when the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Lottery to allow video poker in taverns and bars… was a frenzy.

Then in 2005, line games were introduced into Oregon’s taverns and bars…..Sure, the pool and darts continue, but these taverns are not the same, and I know because I drank beer in them before they were enlisted by the state to raise revenue from the pockets of vulnerable, occasionally inebriated people.   What is especially sad is to have witnessed how video poker slowly transformed taverns from gritty bastions of independence into de facto tax collectors for the state….Rest in peace Oregon tavern.”

Notwithstanding the video poker issue, the three of us were so enamored with the coastal bars – they reinforced the enjoyment of our tour last summer of Eastern Oregon watering holes – that we ended by dreaming of a road trip next summer.

Perhaps it will be Montana or better yet, Wyoming, where Steve and his wife, Babs, taught school for many years in Thermopolis, (“A past to behold and a future to uphold.”) and can attest to the culture – one consistent with Beerchasing.  For example, at the Safari Lounge or Shirley’s Bar – Steve’s favorite bars – and the latter, one of the few watering holes I know with a drive-in window for customers on the run.



These may have been replaced by Loonie’s Bin and the Flying Dutchman on Highway 20, which “…is the place to do it. The drinks are strong, the atmosphere laid back and welcoming,”  but some interesting bars need exploration.

And if we don’t find the right bar in Thermopolis, we can take a short hop to East Thermoplis and find a viable alternative.

That said, with its range of options, Thermopolis should maintain our interest with attractions  –  such as the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, a blue-ribbon trout stream (the Big Horn River), the breathtaking Wind River Canyon, world-class waterfowl and big game hunting.”

We’ll report to you next summer.

Thebeerchaser Does Alaska – Part II – Haines, Glacier Bay and Juneau

The Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau

The Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau

As we continued our cruise on the Holland America ship, Statendam, after a day and one-half cruising through the Gulf of Alaska from Seward, we had our first port call at Haines, Alaska.  At first, I was skeptical.  Why would we want to stop at a city named after an underwear brand….? (actually that is Hanes – America’s first name in comfort since 1901), but it was one of our favorite stops on the cruise.   Wikimedia Commons(  Author LCGS Russ 7 May 2011

Haines – beautiful in its isolation – has a population of only about 1,800 and is 90 miles north of Juneau.  In 2011-12 season they recorded 360 inches of snow.  It was actually named in 1884 to honor Frances Electra Haines, who established a mission for the Chilkat-Tlingit natives – the two native tribes populating the area.

2014-06-25 13.54.24We took a nine mile bicycle tour to Lake Chilkat in the morning, thrilled by the bald eagles swooping to land salmon, and later that day, I got to visit the wonderful Haines Brewery Co. on another excursion.

Our tour-guide in the afternoon from Rainbow Glacier Adventures was a great lady named Cheryl Mullins –  a transplant to Haines – “When I was young, I followed a guy from Indiana and ended up liking Haines a lot more than I liked him….”   She fishes, hunts, was an extra in the 1991 movie White Fang – filmed in Haines – and even did her moose call for our tour group of eight.

She is evidence of W.C. Fields great quote: “”Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.”  Based on her energy and spunk, she would probably be the thrower rather than the throwee.

P1020447Paul Wheeler, and his wife, Jeanne Kitayama, are the owners and operators of the Haines Brewing Company.  Paul, the brewer, briefed our group, conveying his passion for brewing good beer – originally a hobby in the 1980’s – and we tasted what were all outstanding brews.

The small brewery, founded in 1999, produces only 380 barrels per year – 90% of which is sold in to nine accounts in Haines, Juneau and Anchorage – and fortunately will be expanding to a much larger site in downtown Haines that will be constructed later this year.

Listen to the video below and you can see the passion and enthusiasm Paul has for his craft.

We sampled four of the ten beers they were currently brewing:

Buster Board Lager    Dalton Trail  Pale Ale  

Captain Cook Spruce Tip #        Lookout Stout  

 #  my favorite and the most interesting to brew and taste

Lined up for tasting
Lined up for tasting
Thebeerchaser and Peter with Spruce Tip Lager and the "logo"

Thebeerchaser and Peter with Spruce Tip Lager and the “logo”



We did not have a chance to visit two of the bars we saw in Haines, but the pictures below show they are interesting..

The Fogcutter Bar in Haines - awaiting our next visit....

The Fogcutter Bar in Haines – awaiting our next visit….




The photo below is courtesy of JudyAnn Mathews who has a gallery in Auburn, Washington and was gracious in sending the print and some of her other work which is outstanding – check out her gallery on-line.


Harbor Bar in Winter by JudyAnn Mathews Fine Art Photography

Harbor Bar in Winter by JudyAnn Mathews Fine Art Photography

The Statendam headed for Glacier Bay – not a formal port stop but a destination which we viewed for over two hours – an unforgettable experience.  Naturalist John Muir’s description of The Margerie Glacier – twenty-one miles long, one mile wide and 300 feet high – as “Miraculously Wondrous.”   It’s almost an understatement as one contemplates the scope and magnificent beauty of this bay.    2014-06-24 18.14.01

2014-06-24 18.37.54Take a look at the video below to show part of that action – what sounded like a rifle shot, then a rumble, before a large chunk of glacier (tons of ice) slides into the bay and creates a wave which rocked the Statendam from side to side.




We then headed for a day in Juneau – the “island” capital of Alaska – population of about and

P1020460 A whale-watching excursion on a catamaran was next – with a substantial discount if you don’t see whales – there was no need for a return of cash at the end of the trip!  We learned from our guide, who is a PhD candidate in marine biology, that the humpback whales in the area eat about a ton of food per day although their throats are fairly narrow.

A rare opportunity let us witness them in a cooperative feeding technique in what is described as a “Bubble Net:”

“In this technique, which is unique to humpback whales, the animals exhale through their blowholes while swimming in a tightening spiral so as to create a cylindrical wall of bubbles under the water. The wall of bubbles acts as a net that fish are reluctant to swim through. The whales then suddenly swim upwards through the bubble net, mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in each gulp……Some whales take the task of blowing the bubbles, some dive deeper to drive fish towards the surface, and others herd fish into the net by vocalizing.  (Wikipedia)

You can see the gaping mouth in the incredible picture I took below and the video leading up to it:

The Bubble Net climax...

The Bubble Net climax…



On the way back to Juneau, we stopped for a visit at the Mendenhall Glacier – another massive ice flow and incredible natural sight.

The Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier

Our excursions kept me from exploring Juneau’s bars and pubs other than to take some pictures and walk in the Red Dog Saloon – supposedly “world famous” but any bar with a line to get in strikes me as a tourist trap rather than a venue worth Beerchaser review.

Perhaps "world famous," but no ambiance....

Red Dog Saloon – Perhaps “world famous,” but no ambiance….


Worth exploring...

Worth exploring…


That said, the Imperial Saloon, both from the exterior and interior, looked like a place worth exploring in the future as did the Arctic Bar.

Intriguing from the outside...

Intriguing from the outside…

Much better character and possibilities....
The Imperial — much better character and possibilities….









We departed Juneau in the early evening and sailed that night to Ketchikan.  The rangers, when briefing us about both of the large glaciers and the resulting typography mentioned “glacial rebound.”  This is the gradual rise of land masses that were forced downward by the huge weight of ice sheets.

Leaving the pier in Juneau

Leaving the pier in Juneau

It sounded to me more like recovery from a hangover after hearing some very detailed and technical information about geology.  And there was no draft beer on the ship to mitigate this rebound.

Fortunately, the Stantendam had other resources – one which Thebeerchaser honors when not drinking his favorite brew –  and that is a gin martini (up and with olives) – a bargain at $6.99!

Gin rather than vodka - up and with olives....

Gin rather than vodka – up and with olives….

I was somewhat curious why the ship did not have a few kegs to provide draft beer, rather than just bottled beer, but for those of you who are true beer aficionados and still want to cruise, there is also a remedy.

Click on the link below to get information on The Top Seven Beer Cruises.”  These cruises cover all parts of the globe – and one in Alaska :
“Now in its 16th year, the Alaska Beer Cruise sets sail Sept 5 to 12 and includes seminars, onboard beer talks, beverage themed activities and tastings led by experts. The tour includes specialty hard-to-find brews distinct to the Northwest region and features a trip to remote breweries in Alaska’s capital city Juneau. The cruise departs from and returns to port in Seattle.”