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

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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 see...do 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 Letitpour.net 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!”

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMCX6A_Taft_Historic_District_Lincoln_City_OR

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 Letitpour.net)  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…..it 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.

Beckoning.....!

Beckoning…..!

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 the Central Oregon Coast – Part II – Lincoln City and Pacific City

2011-05-08 08.57.16Having hit Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee that late August afternoon, we cruised to Lincoln City for a brewski at the wonderful Old Oregon Saloon (see previous post), the three Beerchasers (Dave, Don and Steve) then drove a few miles down Highway 101 to the Rusty Truck Brewery in what used to be the City of Taft. The brewery is ensconced in a nice pub called Road House 101 for obvious reasons.

Road House 101

Road House 101

P1020594

 

 

 

They brew a number of good beers – although no Pilsners – and we each tried a different one of their ten brews – Moonlight Ride Blackberry Ale, Fender Bender Amber Ale and the Rusty Truck Beach Blond Ale.   Since each was very good, in retrospect, perhaps we should have gone with the sampler and added three more for only $8.

Road House 101 with __ Rusty Truck beers on tap

Road House 101 with – 16Rusty Truck beers brewed here

Support for a good cause

Support for a good cause

 

 

 

 

 

One is struck by the scads of dollar bills on the ceiling through the entire place. Our bartender told us that Brian Whitehead, the owner, since 2005, has supported theTaft High School Booster Club programs with $300 to $500 per year with this upward bound currency.

We ate some delicious onion rings, burgers and fish and chips and ended our first day.

P1020602The next morning, we headed out early, driving North to Pacific City to the Pelican Pub and Brewery.

You can see by the picture below that this August morning was foggy – even the surfers would not venture into the Pacific.  Dave, having taught some high school English Literature before becoming a principal, quoted Kipling: “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”   

The smell of the salty ocean air mixed with malt, barley and hops from the brewery reminded Steve of the aroma of the county fair in Elbert County, Georgia (home of the Blue Devils) on the Atlantic coast even though he had never been there.

It was so foggy that -----

It was so foggy that —–

Public Domain - Wikimedia Commonshttp://commons.wikmedia.org/wiki/File:Elbert_County_Georgia_Courthouse) Calvin Beale photographer

The Elbert County Courthouse in Georgia

—-

———

We had adopted a general rule that we would not drink beer before 11:00 A.M.   At least by then we rationalized, it was 5:00 P.M. at both the Abacos Bar in Amadora, Portugal and at the Naesti Bar in Reykjavik, Iceland.  People were hoisting mugs of beer (or Aquavit) after work. We were supporting them in the same endeavor on the Oregon coast…..”Skal!”

Heres to the brothers in Iceland and Portugal

Heres to the brothers in Iceland and Portugal

But sitting at the bar talking to Rachael, the Assistant Manager, we found out that they had run out of syrup for their Winema Wit Beer.  We decided not to take a chance on other brews, so at 10:50, Steve ordered a Surfer Summer Ale,  Dave, a Tsunami Stout and I toasted them with a MacPelican’s Scottish Ale.  The Pelican Pub also has excellent food and brews six different “core” beers and a number of specialty brews including the award-winning Stormwatcher’s Winterfest.

On the beach in Pacific City
On the beach in Pacific City

Now Pacific City is a small burg with quite a history in the Oregon fishing and timber industries, both of which generated patrons for its watering holes.

With bartender, Matt and Thebeerchaser logo at Pelican Brew Pub
With bartender, Matt and Thebeerchaser logo at Pelican Brew Pub

 

Matt Love – a high school teacher, author and columnist – who now lives in Astoria – for two decades, reviewed coastal bars in his wonderful blog, Letitpour.net.  Although he discontinued the endeavor in the mid 1990’s he reviewed one old Pacific City establishment  – the Tidewater Lounge – overlooking the Nestucca River.

He described this bar – gone and replaced by a bland disappointment now called the Oar House – as follows:

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

“Thank you for the tables near the windows that look out to the Nestucca where I can check out the drift boats and incoming tides rushing up from Nestucca Bay. When a big winter storm coincides with a big minus tide, I love to take in these exciting physics lessons with a black beer and a brown shot. Thank you for the loyal clientele that loves to party and can sweep a visitor away in a cheap vodka wake.”   

We had one quick beer at the Oar House and then found a bar that emphatically retains its historical character – The Sportsman Pub and Grub.

The Sportsman - A piece of coast  history...

The Sportsman – A piece of coast history…

We got there about 1:00 in the afternoon and the six tables were filled so we sat at the bar.   We chatted with “June Bug,” our bartender (she got the moniker because “I ‘bugged’ my mom when I was a kid.”)  It could have been worse and her mom could have addressed her as “Phyllophaga.”

And we talked to a woman working on an i-Pad at the bar who told us she had previously been a bouncer in Bozeman, drove semis for a living, has a graduate degree in math at Oregon State and whose drink-of-choice is Pendleton Whiskey. None of this could be verified, but she typified the mix of Sportsman patrons.

——————–

Dave, Steve and a math major....

Dave, Steve and a math major….

No one could capture the essence of the Sportsman better than Matt, who at one time was the “Resident Writer of the Sportsman,” and wrote:

“Located near the only traffic signal in Pacific City, the Sportsman is the sort of American hangout that must make effete Frenchmen shudder: pool, video poker, darts, ESPN, ESPN 2, an ATM machine, cheap Midwest lagers, cheaper Pacific Northwest lagers,…..expensive micro-brews, and hearty, delicious menu items, including some rugged pizzas that undoubtedly fuel bodies for launching the local dory fleet or clear-cutting the nearby hills…….   

The bar at the Sportsman

The bar at the Sportsman

P1020620

 

 

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Once I heard a loud banging on the front door, as if someone struggled to gain entrance. What?  Immediately several burly guys jumped up, went outside, pulled a man from a wheelchair, and deposited him in a booth. With his buddies, the man proceeded to pound several pitchers of beer in 30 minutes.  His buddies then picked him up, took him outside, seposited him in the wheelchair, and he rolled on down the road in total darkness as it rained sideways—with a can of beer in his lap.”

And Matt didn’t even mention the model bi-plane – made out of Coors Light cans which rivaled the real items in the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville that we visited on the way to the coast.

A model bi-plane made out of Coors Light can adds to the environment
A model bi-plane made out of Coors Light can adds to the environment

 Matt’s review of the Sportsman concludes:

“So the story goes, a veteran patron requested that upon his death, he wanted his wake held in the tavern. Well, the old timer dies, he was cremated, and of course the management obliged him. 

 

So his drinking buddies crowded in the men’s bathroom, hoisted their pints for a second…and flushed his ashes down the toilet.  Top that drug testing, antiseptic, bottom line, unfunky, God fearing, screaming baby, corporate brewpubs!”     

Sportsman Philosophy
Sportsman Philosophy

 

 

We headed back to Lincoln City for our final bar visit that day – The Cruise Inn – a Lincoln City dive bar.  But that was after a stop at the Lincoln City Cold Stone and our mid-afternoon dessert.

Complements the beer...

Complements the beer…