Beerchaser Miscellany – Early Summer Edition

 

Taking in the Exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews

Approaching Watering Hole # 300

Those of you who follow Thebeerchaser blog might remember that at the end of 2018, my count of bars, breweries and taverns reviewed since I started this retirement hobby in August, 2011 was at 287 – 111 were in the Portland area and the remaining 176 in Europe, numerous parts of the US and throughout Oregon ranging from the beautiful Oregon Coast to Central and Eastern Oregon.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/

The Gemini – Bar # 288 – on Thebeerchaser’s Journey..

Since the beginning of 2019, I’ve added four more Oregon establishments – the Gemini Bar and Grill, Old Town Brewing, the Bantam Tavern and Beachcrest Brewing and eight bars/breweries on our weeklong trip to Phoenix for a grand total of 299.

And after ruminating on what an appropriate watering hole would be to celebrate reaching the 300 mark, I settled on a Portland establishment – one which I initially visited in my early professional career on a regular basis, returned with some friends who are Beerchasing regulars in 2018 and made my customary second visit a few weeks ago with one of the most loyal Beerchasers – Dennis B. Ferguson.

Denny Ferguson with  Kathy Peterson, the owner of The Dockside in 2017.  (See below)

I will be posting the review of that bar when I return from a road trip to Montana in the near future – six days solo starting with two nights in Yaak, Montana – home of the Dirty Shame Saloon.  Then with my wife, Janet, for the second leg of the journey.

I originally talked to owner, John Runkel, three years ago after an Idaho bartender at the Moose Saloon in Coeur d’aline told me that she had worked there and my blog should include a review of the Dirty Shame.

509th Airborne Infantry Logo

John and his partner, Ray Falzone, who are both former paratroopers in the Army’s 509 Airborne Infantry, bought the bar out of foreclosure in 2013.  John, who is a great guy and a true patriot, stated at the time:

“When we came up here, we had to pull bullet slugs out of the wall…One of the owners used to shoot pool balls off the table with his .357, you know.” (Daily Inter Lake, June 8, 2013)

I wrote up the following post at that time and made a vow to ultimately visit Yaak and meet John personally.

https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/john-runkle-owner-of-the-dirty-shame-saloon/

It turns out that he is also the owner of the Yaak River Lodge and I will be staying in the Wolf Room at that hostelry for two nights so I can spend adequate time checking out the bar and interviewing him.

Yaak River Lodge – a shuttle to the Dirty Shame…!

Then on to stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston before picking up my wonderful spouse who is flying into Billings. and is allowing me to make this trip – with the proviso that I reflect, read and get some exercise besides forays into the many historic bars and the new breweries in those and surrounding Montana bergs.

It will be a challenge to keep that pledge because I have spent hours pouring through the fascinating two books by Montana author Joan MelcherWatering Hole – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars (1980) and Montana Watering Holes – The Big Sky’s Best Bars (2009).   The latter was of significant benefit on our 2016 trip to Montana and Wyoming.

It is not surprising that the Dirty Shame is featured in both volumes – which chronicles the tales of many historic bars throughout the Big Sky.  She’s a great writer but I think I will definitely disagree with Joan’s initial statement in her 2009 book:

“I guess someone had to do it.  Someone bought the Dirty Shame and gave it a good cleaning.  More than that, they cleaned up its lifestyle – so much so that many locals won’t step foot in it anymore…..

What I learn is that the Dirty Shame died a raucous death and has been reborn as a law-abiding establishment that is really more of a coffeehouse….The Dirty Shame is dead.  Long live the Dirty Shame.” (Page 54 and 59)

My challenge to Joan’s assertion is based, in part, because times have changed in ten years – especially in Yaak!  Joan’s quote above was after a female stockbroker (Gloria – a sweet smiling non-drinker) who moved from New York’s Wall Street came to Yaak. She and her husband bought the bar in 2007 and cleaned it up – they even had some book readings and a lot of dances. They sold it after a few years to a former Episcopal priest who eventually failed financially trying to operate the bar.

Owner John Runkel and Cora

And yes, “Long live the Dirty Shame!”    I think the evidence will show when I visit that it is absolutely no Starbucks type of place.

For example, I submit the text message I got from John Runkel with the following link to a December, 2017 story in the Daily Missoulian entitled:   “Troy Man Charged Following Saturday Night Incident at Yaak’s Dirty Shame Saloon.

As John stated in his text:

 “Don, you will see an article where a guy went nuts in the Dirty Shame with an AR-15 and you will also see the video of me bear spraying him and his brother trying to fight their way back into the bar and another video embedded in that article showing him running around the parking lot trying to shoot me through the window and then almost shooting his brother in the head. 

It was a crazy night. The Dirty Shame is truly still the Wild Wild West!”

So coffee house or wilderness dive bar full of adventure?  Stay tuned for the verdict!

After Billings, we will drive to North and South Dakota to see the three National Parks and Mount Rushmore National Monument besides the Crazy Horse Memorial and the notable Custer State Park.   Then home while listening to audio books on the 1,200 mile drive back to Oregon.  Now I just need to get the gun rack installed on our Prius before I start the trip.

The Oregon Historical Society Beer Exhibit

Janet with David and Kate Dickson

The Oregon Historical Society is a treasure conveniently located in the Park Blocks in the heart of downtown Portland.   And Kerry Tymchuk, the Executive Director since 2011, has made amazing strides to both make OHS financially viable and a showpiece – a change because it had struggled in the prior years.

We joined our friends, Kate and David Dickson, primarily to see the exhibit  “Beer – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews – A Century of Oregon Beer” (ends on June 9th)

“The history of beer in Oregon and the passion Oregonians hold for beer and brewing extends back over two hundred years. This exhibition connects these moments in history, from the Lewis and Clark Expedition to early pioneer hop growers, from the nineteenth century European immigrants who established Oregon’s first breweries to the craft brewery revolution centered here today.” 

The exhibit is fascinating and does a remarkable job chronicling Oregon’s rich brewing history.  

For example, I learned that in the 1870’s the average US adult drank over 10 gallons of beer annually, which increased to 26 in the 1900’s, due in part to German immigration and the introduction of German lager.

Statistics vary, but at least in 2015, according to an article in USA Today, annual US consumption was 28 gallons with North Dakota, the highest per capita state for beer drinkers at 44 according to Beer Marketer’s Insight. (It should be noted that this statistic is not why Janet and I are traveling to North Dakota – it’s to see Teddy Roosevelt National Park….!)

I was also pleased that Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science Program was recognized.  In fact, Cascade Hops were developed in the 1960’s at OSU as part of a USDA breeding program.

The richness of OHS was demonstrated because supplementing the beer exhibit was another current exhibit – “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Beatles” (through November 19th) and the absolute highlight of the day for us – the permanent exhibit Experience Oregon – with multi-media displays and artifacts that will take your breath away.

Make a point of visiting – better yet joining OHS and while you’re there, say hello to Terry.

This native of Reedsport, educated at Willamette University and then Willamette U’s School of Law, absolutely radiates enthusiasm for his organization and a passion for history.

Kerry Tymchuk on the right

He was named 2018 Statesman of the Year by Oregon Business and Industries and also honored by the Portland Business Journal as the Most Admired Non-profit Executive in Portland.

And given OHS’s great location, plan to raise a mug afterwards at one of the many nearby establishments.  

We were rewarded with a terrific happy-hour food and beverage afterwards at the new (May 2018) Xport Bar and Lounge on the roof of the 16-story Porter Hotel with stunning views of downtown high-rises and the Willamette River.

A “Trek” Worth Making – and you don’t  have to Go to the South Pole to get There

The Dockside (reviewed by Thebeerchaser in 2018) is a remarkable Portland watering hole in North Portland owned by Kathy and Terry Peterson since 1986 – a bar with great character and regulars plus friendly staff.

It’s also known for its incredible breakfasts – most notably the hashbrowns:

“I know only one joint in Portland that consistently serves hash browns like you’ll find at any decent Waffle House. I’m not telling you where it is…You can’t have my hash browns.”  (Aaron Mesh – Willamette Week 11/28/2018)

From Thebeerchaser’s 2017 visit

It has now gained another distinction.  As stated in a 2/15/19 Willamette Week article entitled “31 Reasons to Love Portland,” it was singled out by endurance athlete and adventurer, Colin O’Brady.

On December 26, 2018, he completed the first unsupported and unaided solo crossing of Antarctica in 54 days.  It was a 932 journey – that’s an average of over 17 miles per day through the freezing ice and snow!

“I’d walk 932 miles for The Dockside’s hashbrowns..”

And The Dockside is his favorite:

“I live across the street from the greatest landmark in all of Portland – the Dockside….You have this old Portland relic combined with New Portland development.  They were like, ‘No, we’re not knocking down The Dockside to build condos, we can have both.'”

 

And Finally – To Dramatic for Words!!

On Memorial Day, I was going through my late brother, Garry’s files and found the picture at the end of this post.  Garry was a 1972 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and after graduation, one of his early duty posts was with the Armored Cavalry – that’s the Tank Corps – in Schweinfurt Germany.

My wonderful and talented brother had a rich and dry sense of humor which was demonstrated in our family’s Army vs. Navy rivalry since both my youngest brother, Rick and I were in NROTC and received our commissions in the latter.  (The picture below was a Christmas present Garry gave to me in 1970…)

From the West Point lingerie shop…

While at West Point, he had some remarkable experiences as a member of the West Point Glee Club, singing at various events, appearing on national television and even a gig at the White House in 1972, where his five-member combo – The Headliners got to pose with President Richard Nixon.

Garry (just to the left of Nixon) with the Headliners in 1972

Garry talked about some of the tank exercises they had in Germany and how the iron behemoth’s chewed up the fields and even roads as they maneuvered.   But this picture takes the cake – I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t one from his platoon, but maybe he kept it just to demonstrate the power and size of this weapon!  (I used this picture once before in the review of the Tanker Bar in Portland, but it is too good not to repeat.)

Hey Soldier – Haven’t you heard the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me….!”

Cheers and Stay Tuned for the 300th Beerchaser Bar

Beerchasing in Idaho – Part I and The Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Mt.

2016-07-09 10.29.10

In July, we had a chance to hitchhike a road trip onto the wedding of my niece, Brooke, and her fiancé, Matt near Coeur d’aline (hereafter CDA), Idaho. The wedding, held at a beautiful, rural setting in Altho, was wonderful and it gave us a great opportunity to spend a day exploring CDA and then several days on a subsequent road trip through McCall and then Stanley, in the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains.

Pam Williams and Janet at the entrance to the historic depot

Pam Williams and Janet at the entrance to the historic depot

And, of course, Beerchasing was part of this trip. The first stop was for lunch at the Ice Harbor Brewery in Kennewick, Washington.   Sister-in-law, Pam Williams joined us on the trip to the wedding.

The brew pub at the marina on the Columbia River is much newer and we checked it out, but opted for the more historic downtown location.

2016-07-08 11.13.08

Adam and Angelique discuss lunch options with Janet and Pam

It’s in an old train depot where you could still see remnants of an old fire on the ceiling and where each time a train passes by, rattling the place to its foundation, patrons have a chance to get a discount on beer based on the result of a spinning wheel on the wall.

P1040458

The “Train Discount” Wheel

Staffers, Adam, who worked in the brewery and Angelique, who was our server, were very nice, talked about the history of the brewery – opened six years ago. I downed their good Tangerine ExBeerience – a gold medal winner at the North American Beer Awards in 2011.

P1040455

The brewery at Ice Harbor

Coeur d’aline

The famous Floating Green - I need a drink.....

The famous Floating Green – I need a drink…..

While there is no question that CDA is a tourist mecca, the downtown has a lot of character. There are a few good brewery/tavern options and one can understand based on the famous Floating Green at the Coeur d’aline Resort where countless golfers have dunked golf balls in the drink, why they want to discuss the experience over a beer.

2016-07-09 10.49.35

Décor’ consistent with the theme at Chained Up

Taphouse Unchained – this new bar with a cycling theme was spotless and sleek and had interesting décor’. It had not opened for the day but Tai and Sarah, who worked there, let me in to take some pictures.

According to some of the social media reviews on Yelp, they are still working out some of the customer service kinks.

The Moose Lounge – for Thebeerchaser, the best bar option because it reeked of character and Tara, the bartender, besides being a very interesting and attractive woman, was a wealth of information.

Bartender, Tara, at the Moose Lounge

Bartender, Tara, at the Moose Lounge

She was originally from Las Vegas, but does not like big cities.  On her journey, which eventually brought her to Idaho, she worked at the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana – a notable dive bar which will be visited on another road trip.  (see note and pictures at the end of this post for more  interesting info on the Dirty Shame)

The Moose Lounge has  animal heads (and skins….) and classic beer signs hanging from the walls, American flags, tons of old memorabilia and a large space where bands play on many evenings.  They also have karaoke and a great Trivia Night. 2016-07-09 11.08.56

While I drank a draft Blue Moon, Tara also showed me the “Moose Mug” – a 34 ounce monstrosity.  The social media reviews of this quaint place are good and unfortunately, we were not there for an evening visit, but it would definitely be worth a stop.

She also told me that the Corner Bar, although off the main drag, was a dive bar worth visiting.

2016-07-09 11.08.21

The “famous” 34 ounce Moose Mug next to my pint of Blue Moon.

2016-07-09 11.27.46

 

 

 

 

 

The Corner Bar  – We made a short visit to this classic dive and the second-hand smoke would hold up the ceilings if a load bearing beam ever collapsed.  Evidently Idaho law still allows smoking in some bars although I did not attempt to analyze the idiosyncratic regulations in detail.

A dive bar where you can smoke inside

A dive bar where you can smoke inside

2016-07-09 13.20.54

 

 

 

 

Crafted Taphouse and Kitchen – we had lunch at the very popular and relatively new pub, which has a spacious patio in front, fifty beers on tap and great gastro-pub food. The seafood chowder was incredible.   Crafted reminded me a bit of the Ecliptic Brewery in Portland.  Great beer selection and good food, but a little too sleek and glossier than the dark ambiance of the Moose Lounge or any dive bar for that matter.2016-07-09 10.21.41

That said, based on their website they do take pride in their venture and distinguishing their establishment from others.  “Each member of our bar staff has formal Cicerone training.” (that could be more marketing than substantive training….)

Outstanding!

Outstanding!

 

I appreciated the sign below at the front of the patio, but I guess they did not follow this warning literally as we did not see any amped up kids wandering around and Humane Society volunteers were nowhere to be seen.  It did, however, make me wonder about the converse of the statement on the sign…..2016-07-09 10.22.34

2016-07-09 12.14.54

Fifty Beers on Tap at Crafted

The CDA Hotel Bar

The CDA Hotel Bar

Finally, we strolled down to the Coeur d’aline  Resort – a luxury hotel on the water, with a great golf course and other amenities.  The bar looked pretty spiffy as well although I’m sure one would pay premium bucks for a draft beer…2016-07-09 11.52.08

 

 

 

McCall

We spent the first night in the historic Hotel McCall – opened in 1904.  McCall still maintains its charm although the city has grown tremendously as a year-round tourist mecca. Some of the best skiing in Idaho takes place at Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort.  McCall dubs itself “Ski Town – USA.”

Rachael - a future architect.

Rachael – a future architect.

We talked to Rachael, a server in the very cozy, nook bar at the hotel, who was a delightful and sharp young woman – a recent Washington State graduate who will start her Master’s in Architecture at the University of Oregon in the fall.

We drank one of the outstanding Grand Teton 208 beers that we first downed on our trip to Wyoming last year and learned that the beer is named after the Idaho Area Code 208.  Perhaps the brewery will develop another “numeric” beer soon, as Rachel reported that Idaho would soon get a second area code.

The Salmon River Brewery

The Salmon River Brewery

The Salmon River Brewery is one of three in McCall and although the space is limited, was a nice venue with some good beer and outstanding fish and chips. It is adjacent to the Hotel McCall.

Like the Ice Harbor Brewery in Kennewick (above), our server, Cynthia, told us that it’s housed in an old railroad depot – their second location for the pub.  Salmon River was hopping on that Sunday night .  The fire pit is a nice feature and I’m sure appreciated by skiers in the winter and their art is also eye-catching.2016-07-10 18.16.12

Innovative art - this is a salmon.....

Innovative art – this is a salmon…..

 

 

 

 

Their PFD Pale Ale was a silver medal winner at the 2013 North American Beer Awards.  They  have about thirteen of their own beers plus a few rotating taps which makes a nice selection of eighteen drafts.

SRB - good selection of beers

SRB – good selection of beers

SRB has an Oregon connection as explained on their website:

“Salmon River Brewery’s Co-founding owner/brewer, Matt Hurlbutt has a direct family connection to the hop fields of Oregon’s famed Willamette valley. Matt’s sister Kelly, and brother in-law Monty are the owners and operators of Weston Bend Farms. The farm is named for the location, which is situated on the most westerly bend of the Willamette river.”

The next morning we drove around Payette Lake and walked through the compact downtown area.   Janet dropped into the Country Treasures Store to browse and was a little surprised by the request made by the staff.   The propietor asked my wife, Janet, if she would mind the store for about ten minutes while she went to the grocery and bought toilet paper.   I then walked in and may not have looked as trustworthy, as proprietor then said that she would make the trip at noon!

P1040462

On the Idaho trip, we visited three good breweries, but our favorite was clearly the McCall Brewing Company.   Perhaps it was their outstanding second-floor patio overlooking Payette Lake or the more spacious quarters.  Those factors helped, but it was the graciousness and charisma of the staff and owner which sent it to the top.  P1040465

It started with Carl, the bartender, who patiently let us sample multiple beers of the twenty-four they had on tap (of which ten are their own brews) and explained each beer and the history of the brewery.

Carl, the helpful bartender

Carl, the helpful bartender

Edgar, the brewmaster, although busy, met with me and stopped so I could take pictures.  He also hailed the owner, Louie, who was a dead ringer for Sam at Cheers (Ted Danson) and they both gave a tour through the micro-brewery – right in the middle of the building and slated to expand.

Edgar - Shouldn't a good brewmaster contemplate his craft?!

Edgar – Shouldn’t a good brewmaster contemplate his craft?!

Although it had not opened for the day, he took us up to the patio and explained the interesting tail of how he became the owner in 1994.

And their beer was superb, most notably the Hippie Hopped Pale Ale which has as it’s logo a VW Bus – one that brought back memories of my dad’s red and white VW in which we toured the US in 1959 and resulted in us moving from Ohio to Oregon.

Louie on the patio - we looked for Shelley Long but she was out....

Louie on the patio – we looked for Shelley Long but she was out….

Hippie Hop Pale Ale

Hippie Hop Pale Ale next to the model of my dad’s VW

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Our last day and night 2016-07-11 19.28.49 in McCall was a real treat for both Janet and me.  My Oregon State SAE fraternity brother, Gary Barton and his wife, Kathy, live in Boise, where Gary is an investment consultant, but have a cabin just outside of McCall.   P1040474

(Gary and I sat up late reminiscing about house dances, keggers, the highlights of his time on the OSU football team under Coach Dee Andros and our college nicknames – his was “Golden Boy” and I was (and still am) “Dirt,” which may be some comment on our respective social strata in Corvallis……

They picked us up and Gary, Janet and I took a beautiful four mile hike to Boulder Lake.  Kathy cooked a wonderful dinner and we took off for Stanley in the Sawtooth Mountains – about 150 miles away, the next morning after breakfast.

Trailhead to Boulder Lake

Trailhead to Boulder Lake

The scenery and the Barton hospitality were a treat.  2016-07-11 16.39.28-1

 

Supplemental Notes on the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana

dirty shame

One of the pleasures of my Beerchasing hobby, has been the people I’ve met and what should possibly be described as the “six ABV’s of separation” in what I will label the “beer and bar community.”  Examples abound – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dr. Sam Holloway from the University of Portland (see TheBeerchaser post on 8/25/15) an internationally traveled brewery consultant, is a good friend of The Beer Goddess – Lisa Morrison (see Thebeerchaser post on 4/9/15), also a prior Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  Another coincidence is that former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence and I all cherish $2 happy hour draft PBRs.

Those in the “fraternity,” appear to be collaborative and supportive rather than competitive to others in the business.  It may also give some insight why Thebeerchaser.com is primarily about bars – their history, the bartenders and the regulars – rather than a technical analysis of beer.

That was evident on the Idaho trip.  McCall Brewing Company’s owner and brewmaster (Louie and Edgar), both told me to look up their friend and former colleague, “Mikey,” when we went to Stanley, Idaho (my next Idaho post) where he now works in the Casino Club Saloon.  The McCall Brewing staff was also trained on their bottling machine by the staff at Ice Harbor Brewery (see above) in Kennewick, WA., home of the machine’s manufacturer.

Dirty shame 3Tara, the bartender at the Moose Lounge in Coeur d’aline told me she had worked in the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana (population 248 and the most northern community in Montana) and it was a wonderful dive bar.  When I finally got in touch by phone with John Runkle, the current owner, he remembered Tara and notwithstanding the fact that his cook was gone that day and he was manning the grill, spent time chatting about his bar.

And the Dirty Shame Saloon has an incredible history which may best be appreciated by reading the two articles from the links below:

“The Not-So-Dirty-Shame Saloon” by Bill Schneider from 8/17/09 Newwest.net

http://newwest.net/topic/article/the_not_so_dirty_shame_saloon/C41/L41/

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/members/biker-bar-bounces-back/article_8ee1d2a4-cfe6-11e2-9602-0019bb2963f4.html

Dirty shame logoJohn appeared to be a guy with whom anyone would love to raise a mug and he laughed when I told him that both the Dirty Shame bars in Garden Valley, Idaho and John Day, Oregon had identical names to the original Montana Dirty Shame establishment which has trademark and copyright protection.  The John Day version on the Facebook page labels itself as “It’s a Dirty Shame Saloon,” evidently in a misguided effort to get around the intellectual property legal issues, but still uses the abbreviated name on their building etc.

John, however, seemed to be the kind of guy who is more interested in preparing for the Yaak Crawdad Festival (which he originated), Yaak Attack and the Yaaktoberfest, than lawyering up. The Crawdad Fest was moved from the spring when John maintained it was “too butt-stinging cold…”

And you will see the Dirty Shame story continues to evolve.  In the first article, Bill Scheider talks about meeting the new owner, Don Belcher, and his wife of twenty-five years, Gloria, while on a Montana cycling trip.  It turns out that Belcher, who was 81 at the time of the article, was convicted in 2011 of molestation charges and sentenced to five years probation.  The bar went into foreclosure.

John, who also owns the Yaak River Lodge, and his former partner, Ray Falzone, both of whom were paratroopers in the Army’s 509th Airborne Infantry Battalion, invested a lot of capital to bring the bar’s plumbing and interior to par.  Dirty shame before remodel

“Over the years, the Dirty Shame earned a reputation as a tough biker bar……Locals said the most captivating stories about the Dirty Shame would be inappropriate for a family newspaper.  

 ‘When we came up here, we had to pull bullet slugs out of the wall,’ Runkle said. ‘One of the owners used to shoot pool balls off the table with his .357, you know.’”

I ended my phone call by stating that an ideal future Montana road trip would include a stay at his lodge (where you can get the Moose Room for $149 per night) during the Crawdad Fest and having a beer in the Dirty Shame after visiting the world famous Clinton Testicle Festival (“Testy Festy”)  which was August 3-6th this year. Or you could stay until Thanksgiving when veterans eat for free.

Of course, those events are in the summer and fall, but if the trip was in the spring, at least we could hit the Dirty Shame’s Adult Easter Egg Hunt.  Better get your reservations soon, however, Flathead Livng Magazine recently (6/10/16) named the Dirty Shame Saloon as a gem in its Brief manual for the off-the-beaten-path seeker of roadside burgers and beer!”  Dirty Shame easter egg

The World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon       Yaak, Montana

(Photos from Dirty Shame Facebook page used with permission of John Runkle)