Beerchaser Miscellany – A Compendium of Trivia and Bar-related Information

fireworks beerchaser miscellany with beer glassPeriodically Thebeerchaser blog has a post that departs from reviewing a single bar, tavern or pub and attempts to update you on various topics that may be of interest:

Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Tavern and Pubs –  Initiated in August, 2011, this blog  recorded its 50,000 view on June 9th.   On that date, 51 individuals viewed 71 different Beerchaser posts.  The count included ten visitors from eight different countries including Germany, Australia, Nigeria, the Czech Republic and Coasta Rica. They hit the blog as a result of internet searches.

The 121 individual blog posts since inception (each averaging about 1,500 words) comprise reviews of 63 Portland establishments, in addition to about 71 watering holes in Europe, Colorado, Alaska, Eastern and Central Oregon, Washington, the Oregon Coast and the Southeastern US (not yet posted).

Jud after patrol 65

Cpt. Blakely USMC – after patrol in 1966

This blog has also “honored” twenty-two individuals or groups as Beerchaser-of-the-Month or Quarter ranging from authors, to academics to athletes to those directly connected with beer such as the Beer Goddess (Lisa Morrison) in April 2015.  Perhaps two of the most auspicious are Art Vandelay – CEO of Vandelay Industries and the crew of the USS Constitution.

Jud Blakely, besides being a hero for his actions in combat during the Viet Nam War and an excellent athlete and writer – as documented when he was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in September 2013 – is also a whiz at using technology to communicate.

He is the talent behind the second and current Beerchaser logo and also responsible for the new “business cards” below – I often get requests from those I meet in watering holes to give them the blog address.  (Jud’s creativity is exemplified by the slogan on the back of the card.)

Front and back of new "business cards"

Front and back of new “business cards”

And Thebeerchaser traffic has increased…….Counts and averages for the last four years are as follow:

August – December 2011:  an average of 150 per month

2012:  6,703 views for an average of 558 per month

2013: 15,224 views for an average of 1,269 per month

2014: 18,098 views for an average of 1,508 per month

January through June 2015:  average per month has been 1,701

Bar Closings – A Concern Says Whom?  – I noted with interest a December 2014 article in Willamette Week entitled, “Closing Time” with a subheading, “2014 Was Barmageddon in Portland.”  The article maintained that the closing of notable bars such as Slab Town (reviewed in October 2013), Produce Row, the East Bank Saloon, and others such as Tiga, is the “canary in the coal mine.”  It quoted one bartender as stating, “Every good bar, everything you see is going under.  Everything is going straight to shit,”  

Slabtown - Gone but not Forgotten..

Slabtown – Gone but not Forgotten..

However, the good news is that the article may have vastly overstated the situation.   Anecdotally, Thebeerchaser in multiple visits to the nine PDX bars reviewed so far in 2015, ranging from dive bars such as the Yamhill Pub to genteel venues such as the Pope House Bourbon Lounge to the most recent historic gem, Kelly’s Olympian – has witnessed robust and enthusiastic crowds.

Step up to Joe's Cellar - now reopened

Step up to Joe’s Cellar – now reopened

And bars, like the mythical Phoenix, have a tendency to rise from the ashes.  For example, Joe’s Cellar reviewed September 2011, closed because of structural issues and was reportedly gone for good.  It reopened within a year and is now going strong.

The East Bank Saloon, a 36-year venue, was closed earlier this year and was reopened last month as “the blockbuster new bar” Bit House Saloon.  (“Look for barrel-stave flooring, lots of brick and brass, an atrium and big French doors blowing out to a new fire pit in the back.”)    The same scenario occurred with the Grand Café (reviewed in January 2013) whose proprietor was the well known, albeit controversial icon, Frank the Flake Peters, when he retired.  It closed but has now reopened as the Pour Sports Bar and Grill.

The Not-so-Grand Departure of the Grand Cafe

The Not-so-Grand Departure of the Grand Cafe

A WW article late last year speculated that the historic treasure – the Skyline Tavern (reviewed in January 2014)would be closed and the property developed.  The paper recently updated the news and reported that Scott Ray Becker, a local filmmaker, is the new owner and he plans to improve the bar including serving quality food rather than just micro-wave popcorn and pre-packaged sandwiches.  Produce Row has also reopened.

And there’s Marcus Archambeault and Warren Boothby, who previously have done wonders refurbishing or resurrecting  bars such as Club 21 (reviewed in September 2014) which replaced a lackluster predecessor.

They also opened Gold Dust Meridian (reviewed in October 2012) and the Double Barrel (reviewed in April 2015) – all of which have been visited (multiple times!) by TheBeerchaser and were great bars.

The refurbished Sandy Hut, is the latest example of their genius, and the changes to this historic dive bar  will ensure that the beloved “Handy Slut” will serve a lot more PBR in future years. “..the sort of rearrangement a mother might give her son’s bedroom after he finally moves out: scrub the stink out of the carpets, move some furniture around and open a damn window.” Willamette Week 6/24-30/2015

The "Handy Slut" is refurbished and cleaned up - so to speak.....
The “Handy Slut” is refurbished and cleaned up – so to speak…..

Not to belabor the point, but let’s also consider the new Loyal Legion Bar – scheduled to open in July 2015 at Southeast Sixth and Alder, (“….about 120 seats clustered around a circular bar with kegs kept in a 50-foot long walk-in cooler in the basement .”) serving 99 beers in the historic building formerly housing the Police Athletic Association.

Or there is the once resurrected Bitter End Saloon on West Burnside – a Portland Timbers bar reopened in 2013 – closed again in April 2015, but evidently to be reincarnated again – as St. Helens a new bar.

Ecliptic - one of the 58 in Portland - with more on the way.....

Ecliptic – one of the 58 in Portland – with more on the way…..

And what about breweries and brewpubs?  Portland now has more than any other city in the world – last year, according to the Oregon Brewers’ Guild, 28 new breweries opened in the Portland metro area.  The total is now 83.

Many bemoaned the acquisition of Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing by Annheiser Busch; however, shortly thereafter they opened a new 6,200 square foot pub in Portland on NW Flanders seating 175, with plans for a rooftop beer garden this summer .

Those like Thebeerchaser, who love the unique character and ambiance of Portland’s 750 + bars and taverns,  should be more concerned with trends such as Burgerville, Starbucks, Music Millenium and theaters serving beer – “Entering a movie theater that doesn’t serve alcohol feels like finding a dry county in Nevada.  (“It’s now) get your ticket, get your popcorn, get your pint.   In fact, it suggests that very soon, theaters which serve beer and wine will soon outnumber those which don’t.”

I hope your join me in believing that people should drink their beers at their neighborhood bar – not at a fast food joint, a coffee shop run by an international corporation or a Regal Cinema.  As quoted previously in this blog:

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.”  Samuel Johnson

“A bar is better than a newspaper for public discussion.” Author, Jim Parker

This is not to suggest that bar closures such as Slabtown, with its rich history, are not a loss and sterile corporate brew pubs don’t come close to replacing a venerable neighborhood bar.   However, there are still a lot of new establishments ready to garner a loyal clientele and join the idiosyncratic hole-in-the-walls just waiting to become the new Cheers.  The Lost and Found started by two female entrepreneurs in 2013 in North Portland is a great example.  Another one – Shift Drinks – recently founded by two former Multnomah Whiskey Library employees on SW Morrison.  Another trend is the advent of cider bars.P1020400

I will close this section with evidence from my own journey.  In almost four years, I have reviewed 63 different bars and pubs in Portland. (And almost all of them were memorable…)

Only 29 of these made the “2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide” – their reporters’ 125 favorite watering holes.  I am not worried about running out of establishments to visit on my continuing journey…..!

What About the Lawyers – I have talked to a number of lawyers for whom brewing was initially a hobby – until they realized that they enjoyed their avocation more than practicing law and are now an integral part of the craft brewing scene in Portland.  Examples are the owner of the Occidental Brewery in St. Johns and Kevin Brannon, now a partner in the new Beaverton venue, Brannons’ Pub and Brewery. There are others as well.

It’s also interesting to note how attorneys who are still practicing law are also getting involved in the micro-craft industry.  Even in 2010, the Portland Business Journal reported, “Oregon law firms are swallowing huge chunks of business as the state’s alcohol industry continues to thrive.  The workload of attorneys representing wine, beer and liquor distillery interests have jumped between 20 percent and 30 percent during the last year.”  (PBJ 11/19/2010)

American_Bar_Association_svgGiven some of the developments in the legal profession, perhaps the lawyer-to-brewer scenario will become a trend and lead to new “bars.”   An example is reported in the ABA Newsletter, which cites the Washington D.C. lawyer who is ending his law practice to open a gourmet grilled cheese establishment combined with a wine bar.  “Law lends itself to a certain kind of creativity, but this is a whole different thing.” (ABA Newsletter 2/26/2014)

And as Long as We Are on the Topic of Lawyers – My thirty-five + years  working with lawyers at the Oregon State Bar and the Schwabe Williamson firm made me appreciate the passion, intelligence, commitment to civic and charitable service and communication skills of most of the individuals in this honorable profession.  And one of the most interesting traits is their unabashed creativity in defending their position –  some people mistake this for arrogance…..

An outstanding firm with great lawyers....
An outstanding firm with great lawyers….

 Two of my favorite examples occurred a number of years ago, but are still good examples – both involve prominent Portland attorneys  and the accounts were reported in The Oregonian at the time.  The third is from the weekly American Bar Association newsletter – always a good source of bizarre legal stories

Akin Blitz : While driving his German luxury car over a mountain pass and trying to get ahead of multiple vehicles including an RV – he asserted in court with a Powerpoint presentation supporting his position – that he had no idea  he was traveling  76 mph in a 55 mph zone because of the vehicle’s “handling characteristics.”  The judge, in fining him $182, informed him that Mr. Blitz – not the automaker was at fault.

Marc AbramsEven more creative, this former Portland School Board member, explained his 88 mph speed (in a 65 mph zone) on Interstate 84 by the fact that he was following a deputy sheriff.  Making the case more interesting was the deputy’s response that he was going 75 mph when Abrams first started following him and the deputy increased to 88 mph before he cited Abrams who continued to follow him.  In a two-page letter to the court defending his actions the lawyer stated:

“I therefore have no basis to know my speed, having simply assumed I was within the limits on the basis of actions of the officer who subsequently cited me for doing precisely what he was doing.”

To bolster his position and because at the time, he was an Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General, the intrepid lawyer offered a second defense  – a statute that he asserted gave him immunity as a Justice Department employee (he was driving to Pendleton to meet with another lawyer on a State case).  Unfortunately, neither the judge nor Abrams’ boss at the time – Attorney General Hardy Myers – agreed with this rationale.   One of Myers’ Deputy AGs reportedly wrote in an interoffice memo that

  • The DOJ disagreed with this interpretation of ORS 464.530.
  • Abrams was not authorized to represent to the court that his argument reflects the views of the AG’s office.
  • The AG does not believe that any part of the state law immunizes the department’s employees from prosecution for traffic offenses.

The good news (at least for Abrams) was that the police officer cited him for the 75 mph speed and his ticket was $97 rather than $145 it would have been for the higher figure. (Based on the dollar amounts, you can tell that this was a number of years ago!)

scales of justice from italy

Texas Lawyer, Martin Zimmerman:  When his drunken driving defendant client blamed Zimmerman for his conviction (he didn’t remember his client’s name during jury selection, called no witnesses and fell asleep during the trial.)

“Zimmerman blamed sleep apnea for his naps during the trial….but defended his courtroom performance (rating it) an eight or nine out of ten……Zimmerman is planning on running for a judgeship next year, but he told the (Texas Express News) he doesn’t expect his napping to affect the election.” (ABA newsletter 9/18/13)

Deadwood, South Dakota (circa 1890)

Deadwood, South Dakota (circa 1890)

And Maybe a Lawyer Should be Retained by this Saloon – While Republican Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee has adopted the campaign manifesto “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” a Deadwood, South Dakota saloon has a slight deviation (so to speak).

As reported last year by the Associated Press, his business complex would include a gun shop, pawn shop and a combined shooting range/bar offering expensive cigars to be named The Bullets and Beer Saloon.  (Evidently his plans were successful as the link above is for the home page of their website)

“It’s all the things I like: alcohol, tobacco and firearms,” he stated.

To assuage those concerned about safety, he stated, No one shoots or handles a real gun unless they can blow a 0.00 on a breathalyzer.”   Furthering his business case, the proprietor also offers a simulator used to train law enforcement officers interactively.   “We’re not using live ammo or a live gun or anything like that……It’s almost like gun karaoke.”

And the Deadwood City Council is doing its part by requiring no more than 50% of the business income can be derived from alcohol sales.

Beerchasing on the Springwater Trail

Beerchaser, David Dickson on the Springwater Trail

Beerchaser, David Dickson on the Springwater Trail

Last month, to offer a respite on an 18 mile bike ride along Portland’s wonderful Springwater Trail, Beerchaser regular, David Dickson, and I stopped on the return loop to have lunch and a brewski at the Springwater Station – a great dive bar on 82nd Ave. where the bike corridor crosses.

“From the looks of the building design, both inside and out, this bar/restaurant must have been a beautiful place 20 or so years ago.   It is not currently a dive bar – but just give it a couple more years of neglect and it will easily fall into that category.” (Yelp June 2013)

The Springwater Saloon

The Springwater Station

April, the friendly and informative bartender, who also tends bar at Area 52“a blues bar with great jazz,” located in the Woodstock neighborhood on SE 52nd Str. filled us in.

David and I sat at the bar with some friendly regulars and consumed a draft beer while wolfing down a wonderful three-piece fish and chips special for the unbelievable price of $4.50.  (We decided to splurge rather than opt for the two-piece option for $3.50.)  If you are cycling or jus driving SE 82nd, stop and say hello to April.

April, the friendly bartender

April, the friendly bartender

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Morrison – The Beer Goddess – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

Lisa Morrison - Beer Goddess and outstanding human being!
Lisa Morrison – Beer Goddess and outstanding human being!

 “Lisa Morrison is first and foremost, a great human being.  She also happens to be a beer industry visionary and leader, who wrote the book (literally) on the Oregon craft beer scene.”  Dr. Sam Holloway, University of Portland School of Business Administration Professor and craft brewing consultant.

Former Oregon State and NFL defensive tackle, Craig Hanneman, on Mt. Everest climb

Former Oregon State and NFL defensive tackle, Craig Hanneman, on Mt. Everest climb

Thebeerchaser each quarter recognizes an individual or group that in his sole discretion, deserves recognition for contributing to humanity – regardless of whether it has anything to do with beer or bars.

Bronze Star Awardees (and Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter) Steve Lawrence and Jud Blakely
Bronze Star Awardees (and Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter) Steve Lawrence and Jud Blakely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past recipients have been authors such as Dr. Harry Frankfurt (On Bullshit) or Portland’s own Brian Doyle (Mink River and The Plover), athletes such as former All-coast and then NFL tackle, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman and Viet Nam veterans and heroes, Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence.

Thebeerchaser and the Beer Goddess with her book

Thebeerchaser and the Beer Goddess with her book

The new Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, however, is all about beers and bars.  Lisa Morrison, more commonly known as The Beer Goddess is a Northwest institution.

Before telling you about Lisa, who my wife and I met at one of her book-signings and I subsequently interviewed at Belmont Station (she is now the co-owner), I will confess that my experience with Goddesses is very limited.

The late Tom Nutter, my sophomore literature teacher at Oregon City High School in 1963, introduced our class to mythology.  We read with trepidation, of the anger and retribution of mythical females such as Hera (“who turned a competitor into a crane and proclaimed that her bird descendants should wage eternal war on the Pygmy folk.”)  Or consider the Moirai who “were usually described as cold, remorseless and unfeeling, and depicted as old crones or hags.” (Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, we did not study two that are relevant to this blog:

Sekhmet - the Egyptian Beer Goddess - not covered in Mr. Nutter's class

Sekhmet – the Egyptian Beer Goddess – not covered in Mr. Nutter’s class

“The immense blood-lust of the fierce lioness (Egyptian) goddess  Sekhmet – only sated after she was tricked into consuming an extremely large amount of red-colored beer: she became so drunk that she gave up slaughter altogether and became docile.” Wikipedia

or

Ninkasi…..the goddess of brewing or alcohol, born of “sparkling-fresh water”. (Wikipedia)

The contemporary Ninkasi...

The contemporary Ninkasi…

 ——-

My next exposure to a Greek goddess – defined, as a woman idolized or adored by a man,”  was at a sorority house dance when I saw Oregon State cheerleader, Pi Beta Phi sorority coed and future New York model, Kathy Loughry  – unfortunately for OSU males, she was already the steady girlfriend of Bobby Mayes, the second-string OSU quarterback.

But we digress

A definitive work by the Beer Goddess

A definitive work by the Beer Goddess

I was therefore enthused when earlier this year, Lisa Morrison, gave an informative and entertaining talk about the NW craft industry, signed her book, Craft Beers  of the Pacific Northwest:  A Beer Lover’s Guide to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia and agreed to let me interview her and add the “honor” of ”Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter” to her distinguished resume.

Lisa and I then met at Belmont Station – she became the co-owner of this bar in 2013 – a venue which has been repeatedly named by Draft Magazine as one of “America’s Top 100 Beer Bars” (six of those are in Portland).   Thebeerchaser reviewed the bar in 2012, but there have been some changes which will be covered below. (Click this link for the prior review)

One of America's Hundred Best Beer Bars

One of America’s Hundred Best Beer Bars

Lisa was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and received her high school and college education in Colorado, the latter at Colorado State University in Fort Collins – now home to the New Belgium Brewing Co. and a lot of great bars and pubs.  After graduation, she served as a television news reporter and anchor and moved to Oregon in 1989, where she went to work for KOIN TV and became their webmaster.

lisa at microphone

It’s Beer O’clock!! (Courtesy of Ginger Johnson and Women Enjoying Beer (http://www.womenenjoyingbeer.com/)

——-

In the late ‘90’s, after negotiating with the station, she started writing a column too – “First Draft,” picked up the rights to the URL “Beer Goddess” and started an hour-long weekly radio show – “Beer O’Clock,” which continued until early in 2015.  Sam Holloway, who is recognized nationally for his consulting work in the brewing industry, described her broadcasts by stating:

“The Beer Goddess and Beer O’clock Radio give an authentic and incredibly knowledgeable voice to the craft beer industry. Not only does Lisa know her stuff, but the lineup of experts on her show, each week, gives anyone with a passion for craft beer access to the best and brightest minds in the industry.”  

Two years ago, the owner of Belmont Station approached her about a partnership in the well-known bar and bottle shop and she became the majority owner.  Her writing and management responsibilities precluded continuing the radio show.

Lisa describes researching and writing her book in which she did all the work on her own as “a labor of love.”  For example, she stayed in Seattle for five days and moved into different hotels so she could walk – not drive – to the different brew-pubs she reviewed.   She talked to hundreds of beer drinkers around the region.

Lisa, autographing her "labor of love."

Lisa, autographing her “labor of love.”

Her book was labeled by one reviewer as “the standard-bearer” and Fred Eckhardt, Dean of American Beer Writers, stated:

“Lisa, true Beer Goddess, is one of our country’s foremost beer and brewing authorities….Now her tremendous knowledge can help you enjoy the very best of our Northwest accomplishments.”

Lisa has had a busy career – she wrote for nationally syndicated publications, became the first female recipient of the national Beer Journalism Awards by the Brewers’ Association and also founded the Portland Beer Week, the Oregon Craft Beer Month and FredFest (named in honor of the aforementioned Dean of Beers)

P1030286

Belmont Station – both a bottle shop and a bar – and remember, it’s on Stark Stree!

The Beer Goddess is now focused on Belmont Station, which is appropriate given its reputation in the region.  Opened in 1997, it was originally on NE Belmont Street next to the famous Horse Brass Pub.

They outgrew the quarters and moved to the present Stark Street location – keeping the original name – eventually expanding from five taps to twenty-one rotating draft beers including their own Barley Brown’s Belmont Black plus three ciders.  (While interviewing her, I contentedly consumed a pint of Oakshire Perfect Storm IPA.)   If you can’t decide on one brew, try the “Flight of the Day” – four different selections for $13.

Susan, bar tender at Belmont Station with Lisa and Thebeerchaser logo

Susan, bartender at Belmont Station with Lisa and Thebeerchaser logo

 

The adjacent bottle shop which is connected to the bar has over 1,300 beers and ciders from around the globe.  If you want to drink a beer not available on tap, just buy it at the bottle shop and use their chiller at the bar for a minimal $1.50 cappage fee.   If you prefer wine, try a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay for $5 per glass.

Try one of the 1,300 bottled beers from around the world.

Try one of the 1,300 bottled beers from around the world.

 

Other changes include a new back patio and expanded covered area adjacent to the Italian Market food cart – you can bring your order into the bar or alternatively munch on the pretzels, potato chips or Sriracha cheese puffs on the Belmont menu.

Expanded back room and patio

Expanded back room and patio

 

 

Lisa has seen the incredible growth to what is now a $2.83 billion Oregon industry employing close to 30,000 people and she’s witnessed the rapid change – even in the name from micro-brews to craft beer.   Portland alone now has 53 breweries – more than any city on the globe.

I asked if we are at the saturation point and she replied in the negative citing the over 3,000 establishments now operating in the United States.  This may be less per capita that immediately before the commencement of Prohibition.

Lisa looking out of beer machineLisa Morrison has earned the name Beer Goddess and her statement below validates that title:

“(Beer is) not just a beverage.  It’s our social lubricant.  Especially in Portland, it’s a thread of our community that is so important.”

And when we initially discovered that we both knew Dr. Sam Holloway, I said, “Lisa, it’s a small world,” to which she immediately responded, “No Don.  It’s a large brew pub!”

So stop by Belmont Station, have a brewski and say hello to the Beer Goddess, the first Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2015.  It’s too bad she wasn’t around in 399 BC to promote her craft.  Perhaps Socrates would have decided to consume a Dead Guy Ale rather than drinking the hemlock!

Susan at the Belmont Station bar

Susan at the Belmont Station bar

An extensive history of rotating taps

An extensive history of rotating taps

 

 Belmont Station

4500 SE Stark Street

Portland, Oregon