Beer and Politics – Part 1

The Oregon State Capitol Building *1

Thebeerchaser studiously avoids political controversy although sometimes making observations on policy issues.   That said, if you read the last blog post entitled “Thebeerchaser’s April Acknowledgements,” you will read about an admirable young man named Kevin Frazier – graduating this spring from Berkley Law to take a one-year clerkship for the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court. 

Besides his other accomplishments, Kevin, has been the Editor of an outstanding newsletter/blog named “The Oregon Way,” – a compendium of articles on public policy and current political issues by writers throughout the state.

Kevin suggested that I write several articles recommending the perfect bar or brewery for each of the major Oregon Gubernatorial candidates (there’s a slew as you’ll see below) to visit – to chat with constituents to find out what was on their minds outside of a political rally.

Now I know that many followers of this blog live a long way from Oregon, but I’m suggesting a model which is transferable to any jurisdiction.  What better place to have meaningful dialogue than over a pint of beer in a watering hole?  Regardless of whether someone is running for office in Missouri, Montana or Mozambique, they should belly up to the bar!

Below is the first of a number of installments that were published on The Oregon Way.  Check it out and consider subscribing.

The Oregon Governor’s race has received intense scrutiny in recent months. From the controversial lawsuit regarding, former New York Times Columnist, Nicholas Kristof’s residency to the late entrance of additional candidates from both parties and the viable candidacy of an “unaffiliated” candidate, speculation, speechifying, and sound bites have defined the May 2022 Primary.  (* External photo attribution at the end of the post).

Sorry Nick – you didn’t qualify for the ballot….*2

But how does one who wants to go beyond the surface of these candidates’ (16 Democrats, 21 Republicans and 1 Independent) platforms determine substance. As Jeff Gudman wrote in a recent piece for The Oregon Way, entitled “Oregon’s Next Governor:”

“….it is easier to speechify, bloviate if you will, then to do the hard follow up work that is not as exciting as making a pronouncement of some new program or initiative. Don’t talk in platitudes like investing in the 21st century workforce or serving the under-served. Be serious, be specific and then provide the sound bites.”

That’s a great point, but it occurred to me, “I want to know what makes these people tick. How do they relate to others, what’s important in their lives besides politics and what do they think about day-to-day issues Oregonians face?”

The Oregon Legislature *3

To really understand a candidate and his or her ability to relate to everyday voters, you have to do more than know their party affiliation. I’ve been a member of both political parties and unaffiliated and I worked for five years in the Clackamas County Elections Department, so I have a decent grasp of each party’s values, attitudes, and without stereotyping – the personalities of their candidates.

I propose a remarkable, albeit improbable solution to get a better sense of the true character and relatability of each candidate. It’s a solution based on my main avocation since 2011 when I retired as the COO of a large regional law firm based in Portland.

My hobby is visiting and reviewing bars and breweries and writing about the experience in my blog entitled Thebeerchaser.com. The narratives aren’t about beer but the watering holes themselves – the history, the regulars, the bartenders, and distinguishing features.

Originally the goal was to include just Portland bars, but with retirement travel, it expanded. After eleven years, I’ve reviewed almost 400 establishments – all over Oregon and throughout the US and a few in Europe. And the conversations have been remarkable.

Essayist Samuel Johnson (not candidate Betsy’s Dad!) reinforced this idea about the suitability of a tavern for this dialogue:

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn … As soon, as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience an oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude: when I am seated…(wine/beer) there exhilarates my spirits, and prompts me to free conversation and an interchange of discourse”

Samuel Johnson *4

In future articles here on the Way, I’ll suggest some specific watering holes for the individual candidates to get a better sense of Oregon, but I’d first offer these two bars as a great option for all Democrats and Republicans.  And these two favorite Beerchasing establishments are both within two blocks of each other in Multnomah Village.

The Ship Tavern

The Ship Tavern would be a perfect place for all candidates to chat with Democrats and get a better sense of their perspective. Opened in 1946 in what was once a garage, it serves peanuts in the shell which the patrons throw on the floor. As one reviewer stated:

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.

The bar was once home bar for the Portland Rugby Club and the two most popular recording artists on the juke box were Jackson Browne and Waylon Jennings. And in tradition of a notable Democrat – former Mayor Richard Daley – the Ship is a Chicago hangout as evidenced by the fact a few years ago, any time The Bears, the Cubs or the White Sox played, Pabst Old Style Beer – A Chicago favorite – was $1.50 and margaritas and Bloody Mary’s $3.50. 

The Democratic candidates might be uncomfortable with the Big Buck Hunter video game, but would otherwise love this place with 24 taps.

Rennners’ Bar and Grille

Conversely, Renners’ Bar and Grill is a more “establishment” bar focusing on cocktails rather than beer. Established in 1939, it’s a “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” kind of place Republicans would like – the bar burned completely down in 2018, but fought back and reopened in 2020. It’s known as a tough place with stiff drinks.

And the Republican political chats should  be held in Renners’ Suburban Room – at the back of their bar – “it’s dark, it’s a little gritty…… Fleetwood Mac is somehow always playing and the food is greasy in the best way possible……The wells are a dollar instead of the drafts, and…. they’re the strongest you’ll get west of the river.”

The clientele is very different than the Ship – I talked to a nice guy who was an insurance adjuster. The guy on the other side actually ordered a vodka martini – wanted it shaken not stirred! Republican candidates could get an earful on their campaigns.

In closing, I should add that visiting a bar doesn’t imply nor necessitate drinking in excess (or drinking at all !), the most important thing is to engage in an open conversation with whomever happens to sit down next to you.  Stay tuned for further discussion of “Beer and Politics!”

Cheers!

At the Horner Pub in the Lauterbrunnen, Valley of Switzterland

External Photo Attribution

*1  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_State_Capitol#/media/File:Oregon_State_Capitol_1.jpg)  This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Aboutmovies at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide. Author:  MO Stevens – 16 March 2007

*2  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicholas_D._Kristof_-_Davos_2010.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Author:  World Economic Forum   30 January 2010

*3  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (http://, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.)  Author:  M.O. Stevens 12 January 2009.

*4 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dr-Johnson.jpg)  This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer. Source: The Gallery Of Portraits With Memoirs encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1833.

Thebeerchaser’s 2017 Annual Report

Cheers from Thebeerchaser

I would suggest that 2017 was a year of good cheer – but isn’t that what you would expect from the author of a blog entitled “Thebeerchaser.”  While there were national and international events which make me shudder, the following speaks strictly to my idiosyncratic retirement hobby i.e. visiting bars, taverns and pubs and then blogging about them.  The following is my rationale for asserting, “It was a very good year.”

Buffalo Bill’s Saloon in rural Beavercreek

Blog Statistics – while I would still pursue this hobby even if the only people reading my posts were family members (out of a sense of obligation), it is gratifying to see that the number visiting the blog has increased – a lot – each year from my first full year in 2012. 

The chart below shows the total number of views with the darker blue being the number of visitors each year.  

The unique Multnomah Whiskey Bar

For example in 2017, I had 24,577 views from 18,623 visitors – meaning each visitor looked at an average of 1.32 different posts.

This compares to 2013 when the views rang in at 15,223 by 10,031 people – a 60% increase in views over that four year period. My first full year, only 6,704 ventured in, so the increase has been gratifying.

Thebeerchaser’s Statistics from 2012 – 2017

Since its inception in August, 2011, I have published 189 posts – each one averaging about 1,500 words.  In 2017, followers of the blog saw twenty-nine posts, which is pretty close to the annual average over the six full years I have been on this “Tour.”   But in 2017, since we were on the road more, we visited more different public houses than in any prior year.

Wonderful scenery (and breweries) along the S. Oregon Coast

When we travel, I describe multiple bars and breweries in each post.  For example, in September we headed down the Southern Oregon Coast through Redwood National Park to Eureka.

In three different posts, I described eleven breweries, one bar and one bottle shop that we visited on that trip including our favorite, Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake California.

Drinking with the friendly staff of Mad River Brewing

And I am always amazed to see the locations at which the visitors to Thebeerchaser are doing their Google searches which bring them to my domain.

For example, in 2017, 85% of the views were from the US, but 3% were from India, followed by 1.8% from Canada and even ten views from Saudi Arabia.

Known to roam both New Guinea and Khazakstan

Perhaps that’s some people getting vicarious thrills from reading about watering holes because Saudi Arabia has a complete ban on alcohol – it is illegal to produce it, import it, or consume it.

In fact, in 2017 I even had two visitors from New Guinea and one from Khazakstan.  Perhaps they got to my blog by mistake and they meant to do a search for The boar chaser……

Thebeerchasing Itinerary

At the wonderful dive bar AC Tap outside Sister Bay in Door County, Wisconsin

My practice when Beerchasing in the Portland area is to generally visit an establishment at least twice – that gives me a better feel for the place and more opportunity to meet patrons and talk to the bartenders or staff about the bar or brewery’s history and distinguishing characteristics.

Now 2017 set a record for the most venues visited.   Although the Portland area total was lower than most years at fifteen bars and breweries, this number was supplemented by twenty-seven outside Portland including multiple entries in Wisconsin, California and the Oregon Coast.

Lakefront Brewing in Milwaukee

You can see the list for both categories at the end of this post.  And one brewery is in a special category – the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel which will be discussed below.

Friendly owner Tom O’Leary

 

For Portland establishments, I devote the entire post to one venue.  For example, my favorite bar in 2017 of the nine Portland area watering holes, was TC O’Leary’s Irish Pub where I got to know the owner, Tom, a former star from Ireland’s most popular soap opera.

And the brewery which captured my imagination of the five Portland area enterprises reviewed was Tigard’s Flyboy Brewing.  The outstanding people in these establishments gave them the nod plus you haven’t lived until you have tasted their Pilot’s Peach Pale Ale.

Michelle Faubion and Mark Becker of Flyboy Brewing

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

Each quarter I also write about an individual or group for which I bestow the “honor” Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOTQ).  In the past, these have included authors, athletes, war heroes, media personalities and even my graduate school Professor of Public Finance, Portland State’s Dr. John Walker.

The only Beerchaser-of-the-Year was named in 2016 – my wife of thirty-eight years, Janet, who has shown the patience and given her support for the time I spend checking out these colorful and many times historic, public houses.

The only Beerchaser-of-the-Year

Fortunately, she has grown to have a fondness for IPAs (Buoy Brewing’s of Astoria is her favorite) – a change from generally consuming an Oregon Pinot when we dined out in prior years.

Amy Faust of 99.5 – The Wolf

 

 

 

I was somewhat remiss this year and only named three BOTQ – Portland radio personality, Amy Faust, of the Mike and Amy Show and then a  tribute to the late author and my friend (as a result of this blog) Brian Doyle.

And then there’s Father Martin Grassel, who is the head brewer at the Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey (in addition to being the Procurator for the Abbey – a very big responsibility.) He is a wonderful man with a fascinating background.

Father Martin of the Benedictine Brewery

Stay tuned for a catch-up effort in 2018, when my first BOTQ will be Portland developer and civic leader, Mark Edlen.

For a list of past recipients of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, see the tab so designated on the header at the top of this post.  These people are interesting and have compelling stories and you probably know some of them.

Looking Back and Reflecting……

Dave Booher and Steve Larson at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns

Since my visit to the Brooklyn Park Pub in August, 2011, my first bar on what has been a six and one-half year journey, I have visited and reviewed a total of 257 different watering holes.

While my initial intent was to restrict these visits to Portland locations, our retirement travel was conducive to telling you about bars in Europe and Alaska, Hawaii,  Montana and a bunch of other states in addition to saloons all over the state of Oregon – from the coast to John Day and Baker.

The personable Phoebe of the Brooklyn Park Pub

By the way, I was very happy that I returned to the Brooklyn this summer and had a visit with their wonderful bartender Phoebe Newcombe, one of my favorite of many dynamic personalities (also third place in Willamette Week’s Best- of-Portland Bartenders) I have had the pleasure of interviewing since 2011.

Darwin’s Theory – An OSU Beaver in Anchorage

So of that total (257) 114 have been in Portland and 143 in the aforementioned other geographical locales.  (Sometime if we have a beer, I will tell you about our visit to the bar right below the summit of  top of Mt. Schilthorn in Switzerland – at an altitude of 9,744 feet.)

Or there was my favorite dive bar of all time – Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska – owned by an Oregon State University alum.

The Schilthorn Taverne in Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve got to be kidding? Beer at 9,500 feet!

The List of 2017 Venues

The charts below show the name, location type of establishment and date of the post for each place reviewed in 2017 – separated by those in the Portland metropolitan area and those outside the Rose City.

Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
Multnomah Whiskey Library Downtown Whiskey Bar January
Nineteen 33 Taproom West Linn Neighborhood February
Buffalo Bill’s Saloon Beavercreek Neighborhood February
Ancestry Brewing Tualatin Brewery February
The Independent Downtown Sports Bar March
NEPO 42 Northeast Neighborhood April
Burnside Brewing East Brewery April
Gil’s Speakeasy Southeast Dive Bar May
Flyboy Brewing Tigard Brewery May
Cascade Brewing Barrel House Southeast Brewpub June
Labrewatory North Brewery June
Renners Multnomah Village Dive Bar August
Slow Bar Southeast Neighborhood October
TC O’Leary’s Irish Pub Northeast Neighborhood October
ZARZ Downtown Whiskey Bar December

Wisconsin Beerchasing

On the Oregon Coast

 

Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
Nauti Mermaid Beach Club Lincoln City, OR Neighborhood July
Scooters Pub Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood July
Dukes on the Water Milwaukee, Wisc. Dive July
Water Street Brewery Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery July
Badger State Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
Hinterland Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
Door County Brewing Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Brewery August
AC Tap Sister Bay, Wisc Dive August
Coyote Road House Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
Cornerstone Pub Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
Pourman’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
Lake Front Brewing Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery September
McGillycuddy’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
Bar None Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
The Aly Asylum Riverhouse Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewpub September
Yachats Brewing Yachats, OR Brewery November
Defeat River Brewing Reedsport, OR Brewery November
Seven Devils Brewing Coos Bay, OR Brewery November
Bandon Brewery Bandon, OR Brewery November
Broken Anchor Bar and Grill Bandon, OR Neighborhood November
The Beverage Barn Bandon, OR Bottle Shop November
Arch Rock Brewing Gold Beach, OR Brewery November
Chetco Brewing Brookings, OR Brewery November
Six Rivers Brewing McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
Humboldt Regeneration McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka, CA Brewery December
Mad River Brewery Blue Lake, CA Brewery December
Benedictine Brewery Mount Angel, OR Brewery November

The Benedictine Brewery

Sign designed and created by Brother Andre’ Love

Fans of great beer and the rich history of brewing can look forward to the opening of the Benedictine Brewery and Taproom in mid-2018.   After an incredible community timber raising on November 11th, the Brewery is now framed and its flagship beer, Black Habit got a wonderful review at this link in Willamette Week.  http://www.wweek.com/bars/beer/2017/12/12/in-a-bavarian-village-in-oregon-you-can-drink-beer-brewed-by-benedictine-monks/  

I have been working as a volunteer on this project for the last fifteen months – it’s a vision of Father Martin Grassel.  When completed, it will be the only brewery west of the Mississippi in which the ownership and brewing is by monks – in this case those at the Mount Angel Abbey, established in 1882.

To see some videos which will amaze you and give you an idea of the energy and spirit shown at the timber raising at which about 100 monks, seminarians and friends from the Mt. Angel community worked as a team all day,  check out the following link from my post on 11/21.

 

Updated picture from 1/4/18

 

 

 

 

 

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/21/the-benedictine-brewery-beam-me-up/

Happy New Year!