A little over eight years ago, I hesitantly walked into my first bar as Thebeerchaser. Having recently retired as COO of the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, I became convinced after visiting Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, Oregon and the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Idaho, that visiting and writing about bars, breweries and pubs would be an interesting hobby.
Thanks to the warm greeting I got at the Brooklyn Park Pub when I told Phoebe, the bartender, in August 2011, that her bar was the first of what I hoped would be many on this somewhat curious project, I was motivated to go forth!
The Beginning of 2019
The count of watering holes I had visited and reviewed (Unless on the road, I virtually always hit a watering hole twice to get a more accurate picture.) was 287 establishments of which 111 were in the Portland metro area and the other 176 in locations ranging from Europe to most regions of the US and all over Oregon – from the coast to the desert in Eastern Oregon.
For the complete list, check out the link below which categorizes them by year and in or out of Portland. https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/
2019 Was a Very Good Year
Now the good news is I visited more bars this year than in any since the blog’s inception – 80. I’m somewhat reluctant to admit that only 8 of those were in the Portland area – another 1 on the Oregon Coast and 3 in Washington.
All of the remaining 68 were on three trips – Phoenix for Spring Training in March (8) and two wonderful road trips – Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas in June (48) and the Southwest (New Mexico and Colorado) in September (12).
To see the list for each trip, click on the links above. The picture below from the Trappers’ Bar in Eureka, Montana was one of my favorites.
The chart below will give you the history by year of “Thebeerchasers 366”
|Year||Portland||Outside Portland||Yearly Total||Composite Total|
I’m pleased to state that Thebeerchaser.com for the fourth year in a row, had over 20,000 “visits” or internet hits – with 20,030 in 2019 by 14,800 individuals – that means each person who reached the blog looked at an average of 1.35 different posts.
Persons from 111 different countries found Thebeerchaser with 17,621 from the US with India in second place at 601 hits.
And even the Ukraine registered 9 although I can’t tell if any were from the Embassy staff. As was the case in 2018, one bold individual from Iraq took at least a momentary glimpse. That’s where internet sites featuring bars and alcohol are probably discouraged…..
While the number of bars I hit was a new high in 2019, I was remiss in “honoring” Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, naming only two last year.
I have already got three good candidates for 2020, so that performance issue will be SOLVed. (That’s a hint for the first quarter as is the untitled picture here.)
Terry McKinsey became a friend when we were shipmates on our first midshipman cruise on a WW II destroyer – the USS John R. Craig – DD 885 – he from the US Naval Academy and me from Oregon State NROTC. We discovered that we attended rival high schools in Oregon – he West Linn and me Oregon City.
Two other middies on that cruise were Larry Walters also USNA and Ken Guest from University of Kansas NROTC. The four of us spent the summer learning about how a ship operates, trying to meet young debutantes at Navy sponsored dances and making fools of ourselves on liberty in Honolulu and San Francisco.
Spike distinguished himself as an aviator and had a remarkable career after the USMC including Base Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard and as the Assistant Chief Pilot for Horizon Airlines.
Terry died last January after a short illness. My reason for trying to honor Terry with his story including the legendary “steamroller escapade” at West Linn High School when he was on summer leave from the Academy is summarized well by this quote from Larry, his classmate and best friend since Academy days:
“I met Terry ‘Spike’ McKinsey in 1966. The country was chaotic and would get worse. But for Terry, the choices were always clear. He was guided by his love of God, family, good friends, and country. He didn’t have to tell you about it, he lived it!”
To read the story and remarkable service of this amazing patriot, athlete and family-man, click on the link above on his name.
After visiting 366 bars, I can say without equivocation, my favorite and the most interesting was the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak Montana. And John Runkle, the owner of both the bar and the nearby Yaak River Lodge where I stayed for two nights in the Moose Room during my two nights in Yaak was a clear choice for Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.
This former paratrooper and California real estate entrepreneur is a prime reason why the Shame got three separate Beerchaser posts and more print in this blog than any of the waterholes during the past eight years.
He bought the Lodge in 2004 and the Saloon at auction in 2013 after the ignominious departure of the former owner left it in foreclosure (after being extradited back to Maryland). John was the driving force to bring this fabled dive back to the status which had made it a destination for bikers, hunters and Beerchasers as well as a community gathering place.
When we had a discussion in the bar with, Todd Berget – who died later last year – John described his friend as a guy “having a political philosophy slightly left of Stalin…”
Todd and I tried to tell him without result that his politics were somewhat misguided and John needed to shift back and reflect some of his California upbringing, but at least we all ended laughing, shaking our heads and toasting rather than cursing each other. (Rest in Peace, Todd!)
As author, Joan Melcher, wrote in her second book Watering Holes – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars (Page 88):
“The Dirty Shame is the fresh, sharp smell of pine, and the dank odor of dirt-laden, beer-splashed floors, wild nights of revelry and mornings of shared pain.”
The Dirty Shame was on my bucket list before my trip and now is the only item on that dwindling slate that returned to the list after getting there. If John Runkle stays in Yaak, you should add it to yours’ as well.
And 2019 Final Highlights
Beerchasing has been a wonderful hobby for a guy whose friends and family wondered how he was going to “survive” retirement. As I’ve stated before, “I really like beer – especially a $2.50 Happy Hour PBR – but I could go to the bars and drink soda water rather than alchohol and continue this hobby indefinitely.”
My wife, Janet, has been a wonderful Beerchasing companion on our trips and even flew into Billings to join me so I could spend the first six nights solo – driving through Montana (in a Prius with no gun rack and a Starbucks mug) meeting bartenders and regulars at thirty historic bars before we continued to Wyoming and the Dakotas.
One of the highlights was hitting my 300th bar in June at the Leaky Roof in Portland, which was more memorable because I was joined by my friend of forty years, Denny Ferguson.
And for those of you who followed Thebeerchaser from the beginning and have continued through this post in January, 2020, you have read 241 posts which filled you with 372,173 words about bars, breweries and interesting people. Thanks for sharing your time on this pursuit with me.
The people I met this year continue to be unforgettable and supportive ranging from Ernie Bob at Second Street Brewing in Santa Fe to Edmonds Wash. Daphne’s Bar, legendary mixologist, Demond van Rensberg.
I met Pete at Daphne’s after coming across one of his posts when I was researching the history of the Caroline Tavern in Seattle.
And I can’t forget James “Horse” McHorsney, who is a regular at Eiler’s Place in Pueblo, Colorado. Horse is in both of the pictures you see here and to learn the story, click on the following link: https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/28/pueblo-rich-in-history-and-dive-bars/
The Benedictine Brewery
Followers of the blog know I have been involved with this unique project for the last three years as a volunteer and I am proud to report that since the Brewery and St. Michael’s Taproom opened in September, 2018, it has been an impressive success.
The Brewery is one of only three in the US where the monks own and operate the enterprise. Plan on coming to the Taproom in Mt. Angel and visiting the beautiful Abbey Hilltop.
In October, about thirty Beerchasing friends gathered at the Oakshire Beer Hall in NE Portland to try out the establishment which opened in July – a Portland addition to the popular Oakshire Brewery in Eugene. One of the attendees was Oakshire Brewing Board member, Dr. Sam Holloway, a professor at the University of Portland, President of Crafting a Strategy and a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.
Thanks to the followers of this blog for their support and if you have suggestions for bars or breweries to add to my travels in 2020, please let me know by a blog comment or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although some might think it redundant, I loved the piece by Edgar Allen Poe which I used to end 2018. While he is not known for a positive outlook, Poe got this one right!
Happy New Year.
Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.
The list of the bar’s outside Portland can be found at the links in the narrative above. The list of Portland establishments is shown below:
2019 Portland Area Bars
|Name||Location||Type||Date of Post|
|2018-1||The Gemini Bar and Grill||Lake Oswego||Neighborhood||January|
|2018-2||Old Town Brewing||NE||Brewery and Pub||February|
|2018-3||Xport Bar and Lounge||SW||Hotel Bar – Hotel Porter||June|
|2018-5||The Leaky Roof||SW||Neighborhood||June|
|2018-6||Roots||Lake Oswego||Non-profit Neighborhood||August|
|2018-7||Oakshire Beer Hall||NE||Brewpub||October|
|2018-8||Mad Hanna||NE||Dive Bar||October|