2021 Summer Beerchasing Miscellany – Part II

A Gathering of Oregon City Boys

((Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

In a few recent posts, I have mentioned my years in Oregon City – my youth including graduation from Oregon City High School in 1966 (Go Pioneers!) and my experience as a young adult in this historic community.

The last Beerchaser post was a review of the impressive new (February, 2021) community gathering place named Corner 14.  It was featured along with some of the City’s rich history – the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains. 

The co-owners of this collection of twelve food carts, 24 taps and cocktails (“Great Food, Spirits and Brew”) are former Oregon City Mayor, Dan Fowler and his daughter, entrepreneur, Cherisse Reilly – a 1997 OCHS grad. 

An earlier post during the pandemic entitled “Beerchasing Miscellany – Looking Back” also talked about memories of life in this bustling suburb a few miles south of Portland, Oregon.

Well, I had a wonderful afternoon Beerchasing recently with two other good friends – both OC Pioneers.  I’m somewhat surprised that I had never been to the Falls View Tavern – a classic dive bar that is located right on Highway 99E – and as you might expect – right across from the historic Willamette Falls.  I’ll be writing about the tavern’s story in the next month. 

Jim Westwood, a 1962 graduate, is a retired Oregon appellate lawyer, who along with his Portland State College teammates, made history in 1965 with their unexpected, underdog run on the nationally televised GE College Bowl program.

Jim is also a frequent Beerchasing companion and his story is conveyed in my blog post in which he was a Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2013.  Jim and I also cherish our conversations over single-malt beverages in Portland. 

But we’ve had equally lively, diverse and sometime heated dialogue over beer in some great Portland dives, which have included The Tanker, Belmont Station, Kelly’s Olympian ,The Standard, TC O’Leary’s,  the Yard House and more.

I was interested in a Portland State University Facebook post recently which read, in part:

““One of the College Bowl trivia whiz kids who helped put Portland State College on the map was reunited with an old friend recently.  PSC alum, Jim Westwood, captain of the 1965 National Champion GE College Bowl Team dropped by Smith Hall (named after Mike Smith, a deceased member of the same team) to pose with the trophy the team won for its undefeated run on national TV.  ‘It’s the first time I’ve held it since 1965, he said.’ 

The silver bowl features the names – Westwood, Robin Freeman, Larry Smith, Michael Smith and coach, Ben Padrow – and is stamped March 7, 1965, the date of the 415-60 victory over Birmingham Southern in the final match.  It’s been ….on display…for decades.”

As if Westwood isn’t enough grist for a robust chat, our other companion was Matt Love, who lived in Oregon City during his junior high and high school years and graduated from OCHS in 1982.  He relates this story in one of his excellent books Pioneer Pride, which I read with continuous fits of laughter and nostalgia.

You see, Matt is a prolific author (nineteen books) who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a small publishing company.  His repertoire, to name a few I’ve read, includes Oregon Tavern Age – an exploration of dive bars on the Oregon Coast – something Thebeerchaser relished.

Add to this list, The Bonnie and Clyde Files – How Two Senior Dogs Saved a Middle-aged Man.  In 2009, he won the prestigious Oregon Literary Arts’ Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon history and literature. 

And although I have communicated with Matt multiple times over the last eighteen months by phone, e-mail and ZOOM, the Falls View was the first time I had the privilege of meeting him in person – one that I’ve been anticipating since 2011.  That’s because Matt was a key factor in my decision to launch “Thebeerchaser.com” that year.

It was appropriate that we meet in a dive bar because my first “contact” with Matt was through his blog “Let it Pour.net.” – a colorful and well researched account of his visits to historic dive bars along the Oregon coast from 1999 to 2011, when he discontinued it.

I was so enthralled with his stories and the vivid descriptions of the bars’ history, regulars, staff and stories that I decided that a similar tour of watering holes would be a wonderful retirement hobby to pursue in Portland. 

That goal expanded to include saloons all over Oregon – including some of Matt’s great haunts like the Old O in Lincoln City and the Sportsman Pub and Grub in Pacific City – both on the Central Oregon Coast. Oh yes, there’s also Newport’s Bay Haven Inn, the Mad Dog Country Tavern, the Tide Pool in Depot Bay and……. 

That seemed like a good pursuit, so I embarked on visits to bars and breweries throughout the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) and even a few in Europe. The total before the pandemic approached 400.

Of Dogs and Meaning – and He Really Does Mean it!

And while I’m slightly biased based on my friendship with Matt, I have to rave about his most recent book – one that garners my whole-hearted endorsement even though I’m only 64 pages through the 102-page work entitled Of Dogs and Meaning.

An outstanding read even if you don’t own a dog

I grew to really appreciate Matt’s writing style, his humor and rich descriptions from reading the aforementioned “Pioneer Pride” and his booklet “Oregon Tavern Age,” but his tome on dogs (and life) is absolutely captivating – and I make that assertion even though Janet and I have never had a dog during our 41 years of marriage.

That said, we love our grand-puppy Sullivan in Seattle and sobbed when our other five-year old golden retriever, Wesley Walter (who our 2 ½ year old granddaughter referred to as “Dog Dog,”) succumbed to a heart-attack in April at just 5 1/2 years old.

Matt, at times can be cynical, but his keen insight on both the human and canine condition – often using well-placed rhetorical questions – is overlaid with rich humor and erudition:

“What’s with the phrase, ‘dogging it?’  Football and basketball coaches from my youth always screamed about not ‘dogging it’ during practice.  Was the implication that dogs loaf and humans shouldn’t follow suit when competing at sports?  It makes little sense, but then again it does, because human insults that reference dogs are legion in American speech. 

For example, ‘hot dogger,’ is a derogatory phrase applied to a basketball player who plays with a certain panache and executes theatrical dribble drives, behind-the-back passes and balletic fade-away jumpers.  Pete Maravich was the greatest hot dog basketball player in the history of the sport.  Who wouldn’t want to play basketball like Pete?”

In sixty-four pages in his yarns and anecdotes about canines, I’ve seen references to works by Lord Byron, Ring Lardner, John Steinbeck, Eugene O’Neill, John Irving and Shakespeare.

Besides Matt;s own heart-warming stories from athletics, teaching and most notably, of his own dogs – Sonny, Bonnie and Clyde, and Tex.  He relates canine tales ranging from those involving George Washington, James Madison, John Kennedy, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill and WC Fields.

And of course, his years in dive bars yield a few good anecdotes:

“I met a dog in an Oregon Tavern who fetched cans of Hamm’s for humans from behind the bar, but only Hamm’s. Budweiser was out.”

And to illustrate his points, he uses song titles and lyrics from country legend George Jones, the Monkees, Harry Nilsson, Blake Shelton and the Beatles as well as his own musical piece, which has not yet made the Country Hit Parade:  “I Had to Put My Dog Down. Wish it Had Been My Ex-girlfriend.”

I’ll finish with a long excerpt (but one worth reading in its entirety) from page 16 which made me laugh out loud – one of many times

“In third grade, I fell off a shed and broke my left wrist.  As some sort of therapy, my parents surprised me with a beagle.  I named him Tex and he became my best friend, boon companion….

My most indelible memory of Tex involves leaves and and football.  I would spend hours raking leaves into giant piles that I arranged to resemble an offensive line in football.  Tex would stand on the opposite side of the piles. 

I would toss him a hamburger chew toy, he would snag it with his teech, then bolt back through the piles like the fat fullback he was. I would play middle linebacker and meet him in the hole, tackle him and boy and dog would roll and roll on the grass, and the leaves would fly and fly. He never fumbled……

Tex, the fullback….

We played this game for years.  He knew it was coming when I started raking and waited with the hamburger in his mouth.  When he died my freshman year in college, he was buried in the yard with that hamburger. Raking hasn’t been the same since.

I once told a woman I was dating that I grieved more over the death of Tex than my grandfather.  She later cited that as the moment she knew she was going to dump me.  Another woman I dated suggested that my three dogs sleep in my truck outside her home.  It was over right there.  Another woman I dated told me it would never work because I had three big dogs.”

You can order this book for only $20 from the Nestucca Spit Press.  I guarantee that you will become a fan of this talented writer.

:

Photo Attribution

Multiple photos courtesy of Matt Love and the Nestucca Spit Press, the City of Oregon City, Corner 14 and Portland State University

*1.  Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare#/media/File:Shakespeare.jpg

*2.  Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hamms_Logo.jpg

Bar Culture – Part II

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_tube#/media/File:Two_small_test_tubes_held_in_spring_clamps.jpg

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

In the last post on this blog, I captured one of the five questions posed by Cassie Ruud, Editor of the Portland online newsletter Bridgeliner in a 4/23 article on bar culture

Check out the link below to see Thebeerchaser post on which it was based, which includes a lot of great pictures illustrating the eclectic elements of bar culture I’ve witnessed in reviewing almost 400 bars and breweries in the last ten years:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/05/03/a-petri-dish-bar-culture-part-i/

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This post will address the second question posed by Cassie in the Bridgeliner article entitled “The Foamy Culture of Portland Pubs with Beerchaser Don Williams.”

My major premise, based on personal experience, is that Portland bar culture doesn’t differ significantly from that of bars in Eastern Oregon, on the Oregon Coast, New England, Savannah or Charleston in the Southeastern US, or for that matter, Amsterdam or Venice.   

The pictures below illustrate my premise that while each bar has different and interesting external trappings, the overall culture of bars throughout the world – the abstract meld of all the elements ranging from furnishings to music to the unique blend of personalities of the staff and regulars – is shared in these establishments 

2018-09-09 18.16.07

Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine in 2018 where we entered Beer Heaven.

In the ten years I have been Beerchasing, I have been to almost 400 bars and breweries from my home in Portland, Oregon to watering holes throughout the state – the Eastern Oregon desert to the beautiful coast. 

I visited bars like Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, to those in the southeastern US from Charleston to Atlanta to Savannah, where at The Original Pinkie Masters bar shown in the picture below, the 3/4/13 edition of the Savannah Morning News reported:

“As the oldest running watering hole downtown and one made famous when President Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy while standing on the bar…..” 

I was welcomed in each and they all felt like home!

There is the dark ambiance of historic Durty Nelly’s in Boston, or the spacious charm of  the Horner Pub – surrounded by majestic peaks in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland – where tourists like us rubbed shoulders with the amazing “cliff divers” or the farmers, foresters or innkeepers who live in the village of  2,300 at the foot of 9,744 Mt. Schilthorn, where there is also a Taverne right near the summit.

But I can also experience the vibe by just driving twenty-five minutes to downtown Portland – only about seven blocks from the high-rise office building where I worked for twenty-five years – to the Yamhill Pub – one step below a dive, but a grunge bar that at one time sold more PBR than any watering hole in Oregon.

Staying in Oregon, I can drive across the beautiful Cascade Mountains through the Central Oregon desert and visit one of the cowboy bars in Eastern Oregon such as the Long Branch in LaGrande – “well known for its home style cooking and the most reasonably priced food and drinks in town.”

Cassie’s second question in the Bridgeliner article was:

Has the culture gone through any observable changes from your perspective? If so, what kind?

It goes without saying, we have to separate pre and post pandemic.  I’ll base this on the nine years I’ve been Beerchasing prior to the pandemic.  During that time, I’ve witnessed minimal change in what we are describing as culture. 

That said, if one goes back further, there were some monumental changes affecting the character, operation and economics of bars and taverns. 

I’ll defer to my friend, author Matt Love, who for thirty years, studied and wrote about bars on the Oregon Coast. I originally met Matt through his blog – Let it Pour – (Thebeerchaser is modeled after it) where he wrote about his experiences and love for the dive bars up and down the coast.  

Matt is the owner of the Nestucca Spit Press – a small publishing house he formed in 2002, and you should check out its offerings.  In 2009, Love won the Oregon Literary Arts’ Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon history and literature.

He conveys the contrast between contemporary bars and those in the ’60’s – 70’s in the Introduction of his marvelous book-within-a magazine entitled, “Oregon Tavern Age”:

“It was the halcyon days of Oregon tavern life; no liquor, no craft beers, no meth, no video poker or slots, smoke-filled, and the classic cheap Pacific Northwest lagers brewed in the Pacific Northwest by union men reigned supreme….Customers watched Perry Mason on low volume and read mildewed Louis L’Amour titles from the lending libraries tucked away in dark corners.”

In a three and one-half day tour of bars and breweries on the Central Oregon Coast in 2014, I found that many of the dives Matt reviewed still maintained the atmosphere and character which captivated both of us in these “institutions.” 

The pictures below show some of the favorites: The Sportsman Pub and Grub in Pacific City, where Matt was the “Writer in Residence,” the Old Oregon Saloon (“The Old O”) and the Cruise Inn – right in the heart of Lincoln City.

Don’t forget the Bay Haven Inn that goes back to 1908 along the docks in Newport, or the Mad Dog Country Tavern up the Bay about a mile, where you could get some hardboiled eggs or Hot Mama pickled sausages both of which had been “fermenting” in large jars probably since the second FDR Administration….P1020651

And the unforgettable Tide Pool Pub in Depoe Bay, where Vicki, the owner, claimed (with some credibility) she made the best pizza on the Oregon Coast.  She also told us about how her dad took her to one of the first “Take Your Kids to Work Days” when she was in grade school in Chicago and her dad worked in a slaughter house!

One final note on the Tide Pool which will give you an idea of why Matt Love is such a good writer, is his description of the bar’s Tank of Death – a fascinating and bizarre “aquarium” which captures the attention of anyone entering the bar:

“……..a salt-water glass coffin called the Tank of Death.  It is packed with all manner of marine creatures caught by local fishermen who bucket in their curious finds and dump them in.  Eels, crabs, sea bass, perch, Dick Cheney, octipi and urchins all end up in the mix……….

According to the bartender, aquatic creatures regularly stage a battle royal to the death and the tank serves as a Roman arena of savagery and merciless predation  – with bets slapped down and accelerated drinking when the water turns a creamy, cloudy red.”   

Matt alludes to two monumental shifts altering bar culture – the advent of video poker – in the late 80’s and the end of smoking inside Oregon bars in 1984.   Why? Because much of the dialogue and story-telling disappeared. 

Instead of thick plumes of nicotine laden smoke from Camels, Winstons or Marlboros circling above the heads of those at the bar or at individual tables where they told tales, the smokers escaped frequently to the front or rear exits – maybe a small patio – where they puffed in solitude.

In fact, one wag stated that he was concerned about the end of smoking at Portland’s legendary Horse Brass Pub, not because of losing the clientele, but “we assumed its billowing, milkshake-thick clouds of cigarette smoke were load-bearing structural elements of the building without which the sprawling pub would collapse.” 

The ubiquitous video slots with their Siren Song began beckoning those who rationalize that they are helping to fund a playground or civic center with this “sin tax” on Oregon gamblers. (Twice, I have witnessed patrons frantically go through several hundred dollars while I was having a pint.)

While these two developments forever changed certain elements of bar culture not only in Oregon, but throughout the US and Europe, I am not as pessimistic as Matt Love appeared to be in the final entry to his blog in 2004.

Institutions adapt and while the advent of video poker altered the physical trappings and interpersonal interactions, watering holes acclimated and most survived – just as most will emerge from the pandemic as the familiar gathering place of regulars.

I’m looking forward to discussing this with Matt when we have a beer this summer!

Appendix by Matt Love from his blog – Let it Pour”

“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.”

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 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.

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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

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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…