Thebeerchasers’ Best Portland Dive Bars

As I mentioned in my 2018 Annual Report, after pursuing this somewhat unusual hobby for a little over seven years, some might wonder which bars of various types or which breweries are my favorites.  Conversely, which would I not recommend although there are not many in the latter category.

So over the next few months, while still doing blog posts about bars I visit in 2019, I will try to identify my favorites to this point by category i.e. dive bar, neighborhood establishment, sports bar, brew-pub, etc. – without paying undue attention to defining the criteria for the categories.

As one can see by the first logo pictured above, I was originally  going to confine my journey to just Portland watering holes; however, given our robust retirement travel, it has expanded to cover bars in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, a number of regions in the continental US and throughout Oregon from the High Desert to the wonderful and scenic Oregon coast.

I’ll divide each category into separate posts covering Portland establishments and those outside the Rose City.  For each bar, I will provide a brief narrative on my rationale for it being on my “all-star” list.

I might add that one of the joys of this undertaking – especially on our trips, has been sharing the experience with my wife of 39 years.

Janet has transitioned from almost exclusively drinking wine, to enjoying IPAs – especially the hoppy ones.  That said, she demurs when I suggest hitting a dive bar — there have been one or two exceptions when we have been traveling.

I welcome your comments and opinions.  It should be also noted that I am not ranking these within the all-star categories, although I might feel inclined to indicate one that supersedes the others in each specific group.  Most of the narrative about each bar was applicable when I reviewed them.  Things may have changed since then, but hey – with 286 bars down and a lot more to go, I don’t have time to go back and update!

If you want to see the original post for the four I highlight below, you can click on the purple link in the name of the bar which precedes its story.

Cheers and Go Beavs!

Best Portland Area Dive Bars

 The Ship Tavern – December 10, 2012

The Ship, located in nearby Multnomah Village, could make the all-star list just from its unique mural on the exterior front wall, but this bar is a “must visit” for those who appreciate the ambiance of a good dive.

One could assert that it gets some competition as an iconic watering hole from Renners’ Bar and Grill, another great dive just around the corner and reviewed by Thebeerchaser in August, 2017 – unfortunately, now closed because of a disastrous fire.  However, even when both were operating The Ship clearly anchored the exceptional bars in the Village.

It’s aptly described by this Yelp reviewer who wrote: “The ship isn’t anything to write home to Mom about…..heck it probably isn’t even a place I would tell my Mom I went….but it knows what/who it is.”  (Yelp 9/1/17)   

The Ship has been in the same location since 1946 and this site of a former garage has big-time history and character.   If you go on Thursday, your table will have free peanuts in the shell – the shells go on the floor when you are done.

There’s also a great juke box with the favorite plays when I visited in 2012 as follows:

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – “Get a Job”

Bad Company“Bad Company”

The Raconteurs “Steady as She Goes”

Waylon Jennings“Good-Hearted Woman”

When you want to play a song in the juke, you tell the bartender who turns off the stereo. The old-time pinball machine is also great.

Da Bears, Da Cubs and Da Sox! – Now there are several bars in Portland which purport to be Chicago Bears’ bars – these  include the Buffalo Gap and the Hob Nob Grill, but The Ship Tavern is very passionate about their favorite NFL Team.  They also like the Cubbies and White Sox.

The Ship can be considered a Chicago hangout as evidenced by the fact that any time the Bears, Cubs or the Sox play, Pabst Old Style Beer – A Chicago favorite –  is $1.50 per can and margaritas and Bloody Mary’s are $3.50.

Debbie, the friendly bartender, emphasized, “This doesn’t apply to Blackhawk games – we’re not big on hockey.”   

Furthermore, every Sunday during football season they “offer meals that are themed after the opposing team.” The Sunday after my first visit, they played the Minnesota VikingsThe special was Tator-tot-Hotdish and Caesar salad for $5.50.  

According to Wikipedia, “Hotdish is a variety of baked casserole that typically contains a starch, a meat or other protein, and a canned and/ or frozen vegetable mixed with canned soup.  The dish is popular in Minnesota and North Dakota.”

Part of the lore was also supplied by former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jay WaldronThe bar was a hangout for the Portland Rugby Club (of which Waldron is a charter member) and they had their Book-and-Brew discussions at The Ship.  (I didn’t ask what percentage was brew and the allocation of book, nor the nature of the literature purportedly dissected.)

The overall character and décor make this bar the epitome of a good dive bar including the pictures and memorabilia – and the stories surrounding each one of them.  In the words of one patron:

“The Ship is simply your quintessential dive bar……It’s an ultra local joint with good history…….that dark and dank local bar with a handful of guys in trucker hats and grey mustache’s…..”(Yelp 2/29/12)       

Candace, the friendly bartender

The Ship Tavern        7827 SW 35th Ave.  Portland (Multnomah Village)

Gil’s Speakeasy – May 9, 2017

When they named it a speakeasy, they weren’t kidding.  There is no sign with the name and other than a few innocuous beer signs in the front windows, no indication that this is actually a bar.

It’s on the ground floor of a multi-story apartment building and based on the surrounding structures, you could walk right by it if you didn’t know it was there.  Perhaps that’s why PDXbars.com described it as, “Small, hard to find bar, with a huge personality.”

A viewing slot like a traditional speakeasy

And this is okay with Brett Gilhuly, who bought and renamed the bar in 2004 – it’s been around since 1939.  He stated in a media interview, “If you could find it, you were more than welcome. And if you couldn’t, – find something else.”

Brett also originated their advertising slogan, “The nicest assholes in town!.”  Gil’s wife, Katie is the co-owner and bartender and a very nice person….The dingy, although spacious bar, is also distinguished by its collections of signs, old bottles, photos and memorabilia.

 

Katie and bartender, Judd – “the best bartender in town!”

It features one of the few full-length shuffleboard tables remaining in Portland bars and has a great juke-box with a slew of albums ranging from Otis Redding and Sam Cooke to Pearl Jam and Guns ‘N Roses.

Although possibly a little inconsistent with the preferences of the typical dive bar regular, they even have “Teenager in Love,” by Dion and the Belmonts – it hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.

Dion and the Belmonts!!

But the best feature is their daily food special – you’ll have to go to my original blog post to see all of them, but to give you an idea, on Monday – which is also Dirty Bingo Night, you can get three tacos for a buck and on Friday (when I ate there) – a Sloppy Joe with chips – also for $1.

The Friday special for $1

The large pool table with red felt is a nice touch and is in a comfortable adjacent room.  They have a good tap list and beer is cheap.

Even the coin-operated breathalyzer is a nice feature and one which is not found often in Portland Bars.

Summed up in a dated, but still very accurate Yelp review on 4/17/14:

“In my top 5 dives in Portland. this place is great. drinks are reasonable, strong pours, and the food is great and affordable. check out their turkey dinner. delicious, home made, cant be missed. place is cozy.”

Gil’s Speakeasy         609 1/2 SE Taylor

Mock Crest Tavern – May 23, 2012

The Mock Crest is definitely a classic and borders on being a neighborhood establishment rather than classified as a dive; however, although it has some great features, it’s characterized by the wonderful environment of a dive bar.  Perhaps, this Yelp comment summed it up best although the reviewer equivocates to some extent:

“Hmmmm…I cannot classity this as a Dive Bar.  I’ve been to a generous handful in my day, and this is upscale divey, if not a classy dive bar.  It is a gem.”

Yep. It’s a dive albeit a classy one…..

So what are some of the distinguishing factors of this historic establishment which has operated for about 70 years and was named after North Portland entrepreneur and philanthropist, John Mock.

North Portland icon

A pharmacy and butcher shop/meat market occupied the building before the bar.  A picture of Mock hangs on the wall as you go out to the bar’s outside patio – not fancy, but a great place to contemplate the God’s gift of beer!

Mock Crest has eight rotating draft beers and about 21 bottled and cans.  Happy Hour is twice each day – from 3 to 6 P.M.and 11 PM to close.

Good food can be an exception to the rule at dive bars, but the bar has a good menu (including fried pickles) and gets favorable comments about its food including breakfast.

When we were there six years ago, the menu stated, “Breakfast served – any time.”   My colleague, Intellectual Property lawyer, John Mansfield, decided to be coy and stated, “Okay, I’ll take French Toast from the Renaissance Era.”  I see that they now serve it only until noon on weekdays – probably so they never have to listen to that comment ever again…..

Mansfield – he’s welcome back provided someone else orders the food!

Live Music –  Although the size of the bar is pretty limited, it is well known for its long history of good live music.  Their website states:

“(We) play host to NoPo’s best live music every Thursday thru Saturday. From Rock ‘Roll and Country, to Jazz, Pop, Blues and R&B, you’ll enjoy local legends, touring artists, as well as up and coming stars.  Best of all there never a cover charge – ever.”

The evening we were there we got to hear the Eagle Ridin’ Papas featuring legendary musician, Johnnie Ward, who was described as “a living study of Northwest Roots and Blues Movement with nearly 40 years of performance art to his credit.”  You are close up to the musicians and they like to interact.

At least one reviewer (Yelp 10/7/16) objects to the space constraints although most patrons (including John and I) like this intimate set-up:

“Want to have a conversation with some friends?  Forget it.  Want to use the bathroom?  Forget it, unless you don’t mind making direct eye contact with the lead singer while you squeeze through the drummer’s floor tom and the bass amp.”  (I guess Johnnie Ward realized how old I was because he smiled and nodded empathetically when I made the trip…..)

Johnnie Ward – up close and personal..

Mock Crest describes itself with several nice slogans – all of which are apt:

Home of the North Portland Blues

Easy to Find – Hard to Leave

Where Friends Meet

And in far North Portland, it’s a bit out of the way, but well worth a visit – one of the classics to which I will look forward to returning.  The character is best described by this one succinct review.

 “Small, hard to find bar with a huge personality.”

Mock Crest Tavern       3435 N Lombard Street     Portland

The Standard – June 26, 2018

While with the Mock Crest Tavern, one can make an argument that it is not a traditional dive bar, that is not the case with The Standard.  The entrance, shown above, confirms before you enter, that you are arriving at a true dive – and this is affirmed when you see the interior.

You walk in through the covered patio, which is vaguely reminiscent of the days before Oregon’s smoke-free legislation passed in 2008 and the interior of every dive bar had a hazy, smoke filled environment, which would be hazardous for anyone without pristine lungs. (The second-hand smoke during  the times I was there was pretty minimal, however.) 
Individuals and groups sit at the picnic tables chatting, smoking and working on computers – often accompanied by their pets. And they drink cheap beer.

It’s a bar, which even with a great reputation, has been below the radar in an inconspicuous location on NE 22nd Avenue – just off Burnside.  And some might assert that with the dark wooden fence with a dumpster in the middle, fronting the bar, it looks like a recycling center. Opened in 2007, it doesn’t have the long history of some other classic bars, but demands recognition.

It’s replete with old-style pinball machines and games, a pool table and even a photo-booth.

There’s also a curiously-short shuffleboard – with empty kegs underneath,  old beers signs, tacky art, an idiosyncratic (or bizarre) cracked mirror – the full length of the bar – and well, a lot of stuff that just  makes you feel welcome.

Another distinguishing characteristic is a noticeable affinity for Hamm’s Beer.  It’s manifested by its Wednesday all-day $1 Hamm’s pints, numerous logos and a notable stuffed Hamm’s Bear over the bar wearing a Portland Trailblazer jersey. The Standard, like a lot of dives, is not the go-to place for quality pub food.  Its line-up is confined to items such as chips and salsa, a few sandwiches (micro-waved), mini-corndogs and fried ravioli(?)

They also have a drink special each day which includes the aforementioned Hamm’s special on Wednesday.

I don’t know why I loved this watering hole so much.  Was it the overall environment, the sense of community – reflected by such features as their Crappy Book Club“Bring your crappy books and trade them for other crappy books,”  the annual chili cooking contest, the Christmas decorations and showing of Santa Horror Movies?

Or was it just the people with whom I experienced the bar – a group of some of my favorites Beerchasing regulars.

But The Standard ranks as my favorite dive bar to this point in the seven and one-half years of this pursuit.  Perhaps it’s best conveyed by former Willamette Week Project Editor, Matthew Korfhage

In 2017, he garnered first place for his columns on food writing in the American Association of Alternative Newspapers.  Matthew has reviewed establishments while living in St. Louis, Chicago, Munich and Bordeaux.   He wrote the following in the annual Willamette Week Best Bars Guide.

2016It’s the best little bar in Portland, and I won’t hear otherwise.”

2017: “The bar is cheap, no-nonsense fun in a way that takes all comers and yet is loving towards its long-time regulars.  These days in Portland that makes The Standard not very standard at all.  It makes it a GD treasure.”

So take in The Standard experience.  And while they have some good craft beer on tap, in the interest of honoring the character of this establishment, belly up to the bar and ask bartender, Tyler, for a draft Hamm’s.

The Standard        14 NE 22nd Ave.     Portland

Well that’s it folks and stay tuned in the coming weeks for a similar all-star list of dive bars outside of Portland.  And remember when you are contemplating this topic, the wisdom of Seattle author, Mike Seeley in his book Seattle’s Best Dive Bars:

“But really, no collection of characteristics can be melded to truly define what makes a bar a dive…..The term ‘dive’ is bestowed with a spoonful of love….What they have in common aren’t so much attributes, but a state of mind — you just know one when you see one.” (Pages 9-10)

 

Wait — Did you say “Handy Slut…..?”

The Sandy Hut - A great neighborhood/dive bar - not a restaurant

The Sandy Hut – A great neighborhood/dive bar – not a restaurant

The outlandish and long purple building known as The Sandy Hut, looked intriguing when I passed it several months ago on the way to review another great Portland dive bar on Sandy Blvd. – The Slammer.Entrance

I was also surprised to learn the Voodoo Donuts has a second Portland location – Voodoo Too right across the street.

While the “Handy Slut,” as it is known to regulars and operating since 1923, has been missing for several years from my favorite bar reference guide – The Annual Willamette Drink Guide, the descriptions from these 2008-9 excerpts were still spot on:

2009 – “When people from outside the area—say, writers for The New York Times—think of Portland, they imagine we all look like the eclectic mix of customers at the Sandy Hut. Even post-smoking ban, if you look at the Sandy Hut in the right light, you can still feel the nicotine fog filling every cubic inch of the air.   

P1010977

It’s the sort of place you can wear a leather choke collar and no one will bat an eye, but a full suit and tie will lead to exclusion from the bar’s spontaneous bouts of insanity.”            

A great group of "regulars"

A great group of “regulars”

2008  “The Handy Slut, as regulars and the bar’s merchandise call it, is a lurid, windowless utopia. It looks like it once housed the Rat Pack—and hasn’t cleaned since the party ended.

The drinks pack enough alcohol to fuel a racecar, and often mere eye contact constitutes consent. The east side loves you, Sandy—you dirty little slut.”

Mansfield admiring the poster by  on an exterior wall and wondering if it is copyrighted.

Mansfield admiring the Jackie Danger mural on an exterior wall and wondering if it is copyrighted.

———

One of Thebeerchaser’s most frequent and entertaining regulars, Portland lawyer, John Mansfield, (His firm’s slogan is “Smart Law – Smart Clients!”) accompanied me He was also present at The Slammer, Church, The Ship Tavern and Mock
Crest Tavern).

John, who focuses on Intellectual Property law and litigation, and I always have interesting conversations while raising our mugs, and the Sandy Hut was no exception, to wit:

  • He expressed concern about the proliferation of “patent trolls,”  i.e. individuals or groups which buy obscure patents and then threaten lawsuits against hundreds or even thousands of people and businesses to coerce them to pay cash to make what is a specious lawsuit, go away.
These patent trolls may have good costumes but did not graduate from accredited law schools
These patent trolls may have good costumes but did not graduate from accredited law schools

While John deplored the tactics, he did think it would be a kick to attend his next Halloween Party in a patent troll costume.

  • We also talked about innovative, but ill thought out patents, and as evidence, I showed him a news article to demonstrate:

Dr. Calvin Rickson, a scientist from Texas A & M, invented a bra that keeps women’s breasts from jiggling, bouncing up and down and prevents the nipples from pushing through the fabric during cold weather.”  

The article goes on to state that, “At a news conference, after announcing the invention, a large group of men took Dr. Rickson outside and kicked the crap out of him.”

Four beers  on tap and   bottled and canned brews besides wine and cider

Four beers on tap and twelve bottled and canned brews besides wine and cider

We toasted these gents – me with a $2.00 PBR Tall boy (available all day) and John with a Lagunitas IPA, one of the four beers and one cider on tap at the Sandy Hut – they also have   twelve canned and bottled beers.  And don’t forget about the Jell-O Shots for a buck!

Christopher, our friendly and very well-informed bartender, explained their menu, which includes breakfast, a focus on Mexican food and the old pub standards such as burgers, pulled pork, fish and chips, etc.  They also have a “lighter” menu that starts at 5:00.

Christopher the bartender - helpful and competent
Christopher the bartender – helpful and competent
"Breakfast" Burrito - gigantic and delicious...
“Breakfast” Burrito – gigantic and delicious…

—-

I had a very large and delicious Breakfast Burrito and John, thinking he was going to have to lose some weight to make it into a troll costume, chose the Mexican Wedge Salad – a two-thumbs up option.

Christopher also introduced us to the weekend cook, and touted the guy’s original tamale recipe – which is so popular, they have a brisk “to go” business.

One of the highlights of many dive bars – and The Sandy Hut was no exception – is the patrons and this old, but still accurate, Google Review by Andrew summed it up well:

Free shuffleboard and a number of video games

Free shuffleboard and a number of video games

“Is it the dark, windowless dim lighted bar? Is it the jello shots? Is it the shuffle board? Is it the diverse group of people, from hipsters to old locals? (emphasis added) It has to be a mix of all of those factors because this is a great dive bar with a great bar staff and an amazing jukebox. The sum of the parts? A great, great time.”

Kevin – a friendly regular we sat next to at the bar epitomized this.  He welcomed us and stated he has frequented the bar since 1979 when he moved from Phoenix.  He said the bar is filled with people who work nearby or who live in the neighborhood.  “These people take care of you,” Kevin stated – which seemed to include both the staff and the twelve to fifteen people sitting at the bar, including Kevin’s wife.  He said there is a younger group who frequent the bar at night – we were there at about 5:30.

Kevin, John and Thebeerchaser Logo

Kevin, John and Thebeerchaser Logo

I inquired what the NHRA logo (National Hot Rod Association) was on his coveralls and learned that he is a master mechanic at Gibson Auto and Electric (an independently family owned & operated business since 1983).

It’s a full-service shop but Kevin focuses on Porsches and the computer and electrical systems of other autos.  John and I talked about buying Porsches just so we could attest to Kevin’s good work…..

The Sandy Hut makes good use of its roomy, long rectangular environ and has a pool table, free shuffle-board, a number of video games – including an imposing Golden Tee golf game by Incredible Technologies with a 47 inch flat screen.

Not a shirt - but you can test your iron play

Not a shirt – but you can test your iron play

Blazers 40 - Houston 55 in Third Quarter - it didn't get better

Blazers 41 – Houston 55 in Second Quarter – it didn’t get better

—————-

You will also find four TVs including a 100-inch projector screen – which unfortunately amplified the poor play of the Blazers against the Houston Rockets (Lost 101 to 116) when we were there.

And don’t forget their juke box which, “….is internet based, so you can choose nearly any song you want to hear.”

Juke Box is Internet-based so how about some Count Basie or Benny Goodman??

The Juke Box is Internet-based so how about some Count Basie or Benny Goodman??

Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland bars, tavern and pubs which started in August of 2011, has visited some great dive bars and the Sandy Hut ranks up there with all of them.

And don’t forget to check out the interesting mural on the outside (see picture above) by California artist Jackie Danger.  It reflects her “edgy and rebellious presence.”

The Sandy Hut    1430 Northeast Sandy Blvd  (503) 235 7972

If You’re Good, You May End Up in The Slammer……

One of Portland's Classic Dive Bars

One of Portland’s Classic Dive Bars

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land: it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

The most recent Beerchaser posts have been on pubs and sights encountered on our Rick Steves’ 21-day Best of Europe Tour.  In light of a recent reading of famed British philosopher and author, Lord Chesterton‘s above quote, however, it was a vivid reminder that Portland’s bars, taverns and pubs are second to none in both the US and the globe!

Oozing with character and history......

Oozing with character and history……

And The Slammer is a Portland classic.  As evidence,  Willamette Week publishes a “Best Bars” or “Drink Guide” supplement each year.  Thebeerchaser has kept printed copies of these going back to 2007 and they include 100 to 125 of the approximately 700 total Portland bars each year.  They are an invaluable resource for this blog.

Well, The Slammer (and Slab Town – visited already and to be reviewed next month..) appear to be two of the few, if not the only, establishments to make the list each of the last seven years.  Let’s look at a few excerpts:

“…The Slammer is maybe the friendliest bar in town ……It is a family-run dive bar of the old school, an after-softball hangout….and a place that will suffer fools but never assholes, one of the few places in town where widely disparate strangers talk to each other……It is a heartening place, and its very bad for your liver.”  (2013)

A great group of regulars and memorabilia from the '70's

A great group of regulars and memorabilia from the ’70’s — that’s a Tonka Truck…….

“…the Slammer’s core clientele of square-jawed stalwarts with uncomplicated wardrobes (Eagles jackets shelved at the first flush of Slammer Softball jerseys…) that once typified the East Side Industrial District.”  (2012)

“Walk into the Slammer and be transported back into a reassuring hybrid of your uncle’s basement den and freshman-year college parties. Intimacy presides in this former speak-easy. A cigarette vending machine, pinball and Big Buck Hunter offer ample distraction…. Escape the no-man’s land of industrial Southeast Portland and be welcomed home to a strange, rowdy and delightful den of locals.” (2011)

I was fortunate to have my friend and Beerchaser regular – Portland attorney, John Mansfied, join me for the visit and he could have been a regular based on the way he commandeered the old Skee Ball machine – one of the few in Portland.

Beerchaser followers may remember John as the skilled intellectual property lawyer who has a propensity to interpret language literally.   For example, at the Mock Crest Tavern (May 2012 blog post), the menu stated, “Breakfast Served – Any Time.”  John asked for French toast from the Renaissance Era…..To see another one of his “literal” stories, see the end of this blog post.

Mansfield  - His victorious expression has an inverse relation to his score at Skee Ball

Mansfield – His victorious expression has an inverse relation to his score at Skee Ball

“…..it’s safe to say the Slammer was pulled from somebody’s dive-bar fantasy and realized with a hasty affection. The bar has a cozy, funky atmosphere….filled with a mix of old regulars and neighborhood youngsters.”  (2010)

“….. but the Slammer is a corner bar so enchanting you may be moved to stand on an outdoor table and sing along to “Rocket Man” playing on the loudspeakers. After which the regulars will come outside and congratulate you.”  (2009)

P1010590Chris, the bartender, maintained the tradition of just about every one of the fifty-plus bartenders I have interviewed on Thebeerchaser tour of Portland bars and taverns – he was extremely friendly and helpful in giving us information about their bar.  He’s the son of the female owner.

Bartender Chris and John Mansfield with Thebeerchaser logo

Bartender Chris and John Mansfield with Thebeerchaser logo

——–

The Slammer opened thirty-four years ago and Chris’s mom bought it eighteen years ago.  He thought that one of the distinguishing characteristics is the great mix of clientele – WW agrees with him.

“Plopped on the weird convergence of Southeast Stark Street, 8th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, Slammer’s the kind of place that’s slightly different every time you go in…..one thing’s certain—the door on the bathroom is still nonexistent, and you’ll probably hug the bartender before leaving.”  (2008)

The sign says a lot about the character of this quirky establishment.

The sign says a lot about the character of this quirky establishment.

Based on our visit, Slammer was a great bar with friendly regulars and a solid and endearing character, but it has not always been this way.  In fact, one of my friends – a former Portland police officer who has been on Beerchasing visits, advised me to avoid it for our own welfare based on his experience as a cop.

When queried for specific examples, he stated, “The guy who did a car prowl and ran into the bar to hide.  Noise complaints not uncommon.  The occasional bar fight we were called to suppress – usually a boyfriend/girlfriend argument when they had too much beer.

Honestly, probably not any more incidents than a bar of comparable size.  The patrons more often got in trouble walking home and peeing on the side of the building or passing out on the sidewalk.”

Chris noted that a number of years back, they had a few “burps,” but those are from days gone by.  A group of regulars sitting at the tables on the “patio” right outside the door stated, “Slammer is the best (and friendliest) bar in Portland.”  

"The Friendliest Bar in Portland."

“The Friendliest Bar in Portland.”

Slammer doesn’t have a bunch of beers on tap or an expansive menu (essentially sandwiches, tacos, chili and sides), but the food and beer is cheap and they have a reputation for strong drinks and friendly bartenders.

This old, red Victorian house with two renovated apartments up-stairs, the small bar on the ground floor and a bunch of Christmas lights strung all over the exterior is worth a visit.

I will conclude by stating that it is always a treat to drink beer with attorney Mansfield.  Besides being honored as an Oregon Super Lawyer since 2009, he is a talented musician and in his younger days played in a rock band.  Another example of his tendency to analyze and interpret language literally is evidenced by this communication with the police dispatcher when he was at the U of O and a wild and crazy guy:

Dispatcher:  “Eugene Police Department”

Mansfield:  “I’d like to report a theft at our residence.”

Dispatcher:  “What is your street name?”

Mansfield:  “Bubba”

The Slammer  500 SE 8th Street       

Bar to Exterior

Some More Miscellany and 2012 in review

Looking Back and Moving Forward
Looking Back to Prost (November 2011 post) and Moving Forward

——————-

So far in 2013, Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Taverns has been in low gear with only The Grand Café (which was a grand stop) and the Davis Street Tavern reviewed.  Three additional establishments will be visited next week including one brewery and posts will follow.

So during the interim and after contemplating some historic treasures below, I present the 2012 Beerchaser.com Annual Report compiled by WordPress.  For those of  you who are considering blogging, WordPress is a great option for your software.   There are some interesting statistics in the report, and although it is a bit tardy, take a quick glance below and click on the link:

Besides 6 rotating draft beers, over 400 varieties of domestic and imported beer at 1856 in NE Portland.

Besides 6 rotating draft beers, over 400 varieties of domestic and imported beer at 1856 in NE Portland.

———————–

Wisdom in Words

Those of  you who follow this blog know that Thebeerchaser loves wisdom imparted through quotations – many by statesmen and notable philosophers on beer-related topics.  Consider the following:

——————

G. K. Chesterton                                                     

A brilliant essayist and philosopher who also appreciated a brewski at times.

A brilliant essayist and philosopher who also appreciated a brewski at times.

This brilliant British essayist, philosopher, newspaper columnist and novelist lived from 1874 to 1936 in London and was often known as GKC.  He defended Christians although he would not hesitate to take jabs at any institution.

“No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness – or as good as drink.”

His dry wit and erudition is remarkable. An internet search of his many remarkable  quotes will entertain and impress you including two of my favorites below:

“Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.”

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Winston Churchill

The Prime Minister showed remarkable courage, foresight and political savvy during the War years.  He was also the master of a dry wit  – which might require moisturizer lotion even on a rainy Portland afternoon. (courtesy David Dickson):      

V for Victory and Cigars and a Good Whiskey...

V for Victory and Cigars and a Good Whiskey…

“Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me.”

—————————

The Pilgrims

And yes, even the Puritans who were stern and unyielding in their moral hygiene, understood the importance of ale when considering their course of action as evidenced from the following excerpt from the log of The Mayflower:

“For we could not now take time for further search (to land our ship), our victuals being much spent, especially our beer .”                                     

Some of the Ballast had Malt, Barley and Hops....

Some of the Ballast was Malt, Barley and Hops….

              

2012 Annual Report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mock Crest Tavern – A North Portland Classic

Founded in 1947 and Going Strong!

This wonderful neighborhood bar in the historic Kenton District of NE Portland is on N. Lombard – about two miles east and slightly north of the University of Portland and one of thebeerchaser’s other favorite venues – The Twilight Room (see review from September 2011)

The visit was prompted by the following:

Its history – operating for 60 + years, named after North Portland icon, John Mock, and previously operated as a meat market and an ice cream parlor.

Classic Furnishings and Ambiance

Identified repeatedly as a “Classic Portland Bar”  – affirmed by the fact that the only “substantive” negative comment in five years of reviews on websites was one guy’s gripe that there were red onions served with his salad.

  • The urging of my friend and former colleague, John      Mansfield – one of the excellent Intellectual Property (patent, trademark, copyright, cyber security, etc.) lawyers at the Schwabe Williamson firm.  John, who is a litigator, had previously used John Batchellor, the co-owner of Mock Crest, as an expert witness on a computer software case with good results.

    Attorney John Mansfield

Mock Crest Tavern has a number of colorful slogans to describe the venue – all of which seemed very accurate:

Home of the North Portland Blues

Easy to Find – Hard to Leave

Where Friends Meet

Laurie, the Director

Some might wonder about the wisdom of hitting a bar with any lawyer, but especially an IP lawyer (people whose Cliff Notes in college were on quantum mechanics rather than “orginating”  ideas for an essay on Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities).  

John is a Renaissance Man, however, having graduated magna cum laude from Cornell Law School, after undergraduate degrees at both Portland State and U of O (in music!).  For example, he played the keyboard in a four-person 80’s funk and rock band named The Core “one of the least successful bands to come out of Eugene in decades…”  — possible reunion tour on tap?  John has also appeared in many Portland theatrical productions ranging from “Pump Boys & Dinettes” to “Rocky Horror Show”.

Mansfield and “Core” Values in Eugene

Besides, how can one resist drinking with a person who recently authored a stimulating article entitled, “Metadata and Public Records Requests.”

Mock Crest has 8 draft and 14 bottled beers in addition to classic 16 ounce cans of Hamms and Rainier.  We started with a Miller since at Mock Crest “Every Day is Miller Day” and a Miller draft is $1.50 from 6:00 to 7:00 PM. (we couldn’t figure out why Miller Lites were $1.75 except for possible paternalism by the owners)

I was watching the Mariners lose 3 to 1 on one of the multiple wide-screen TVs when John then told his first Intellectual Property bar Joke:

A neutron walks into a bar and says, “I’d like a beer.”

The bartender serves him and says, “For you – no charge!”

Free Beer for Neutrons….

The staff at Mock Crest adds to the bar’s charm.  We talked to Laurie, the Director, who has worked there for ten years with the original intention of staying only two months.  She was very helpful, let us see the deck area, which is temporarily close while being extensively reconstructed and told us about the rich history of the pub.

Deck – A Work in Process

Lisa, our waitress, was wonderful and gave us some complimentary jello shots besides being the epitome of good service and courtesy.

For example, she did not get mad when after seeing the caption on the menu, “Breakfast Served – Any Time,”  Mansfield ordered “French Toast from the Renaissance Era.”  I tried to apologize for the endearing practice of lawyers to take things literally.

Would You Believe French Toast??

Distinguishing Characteristics

The Ambiance – It was described by one patron as just small enough to be cozy, and just big enough to be comfortable.”  Besides the friendly staff, its interior of dark wood and a great bar reflect its history.

There are neat signs with slogans such as “No Sniveling”and they have fried pickles and other gems on the menu – reviews were overwhelmingly favorable on the food.  (We had sandwiches and tator tots which were great..)  They have Texas Hold-em Poker nights every Sunday and Monday nights.

Lisa, John and theBC logo – she even laughed at his jokes….

The Music – there’s live music, described in one review as “quite an eclectic mix” (and no cover charge) on Tuesdays-Sundays .   For example, on May 1st we heard “Eagle Ridin Papas” featuring Johnny Ward.”

Jonnie Ward and Crew and No Cover!

An excerpt from a NW jazz publication stated, “Johnnie Ward is a name we all say often and with much love and respect……..an extraordinary musician, composer, American Folk Artist, and native Portlander….. a ‘living study’ of the Northwest Roots & Blues Movement with nearly 40 years of performance art to his credit…..”

As we listened to Johnnie Ward, Mansfield felt compelled to attempt his final science-laden bar joke:

An atom walks into a bar and says, “I lost an electron.”

The bartender says, “How can you be sure.”

The atom says, “I’m positive.”

Harkening back to my Cliff Notes on Charles Dickens, this led thebeerchaser to conclude that the visit to Mock Crest was, in fact, “the best of times and the worst of times….”  and it also negated the Mock Crest slogan,Hard to Leave.”

Mock Crest Tavern    3435 N Lombard Street