Beerchaser Miscellany

Thebeerchaser’s tour of Portland pubs, taverns and bars and this blog commenced in August 2011.  My education on blog software is continuing and I hope to make it easier in the future to find items on the site; however, it may be helpful until that time to recap the venues reviewed in categories during the last ten months.

The next review will be posted this week and recaps our visit to Interurban, which will be followed by a visit to the historical Mock Crest Tavern.

Neighborhood Bars

  • Brooklyn Park Pub
  • Gladstone Street Pub
  • Hawthorne Hideaway
  • Laurelthirst Public House
  • Muddy Rudder Public House

“Taking the Plunge…”

Dive Bars (Not a negative connotation – see post entitled “Analyzing Dive Bars – Head First” from September)

  • Ash Street Saloon
  • Dixie Tavern
  • Joe’s Cellar
  • Yukon Tavern

Brew Pubs

  • Amnesia Brew Pub
  • Coalition Brew Pub
  • Migration Brew Pub

Miscellaneous Bars and Pubs – In a Class of Their Own

  • The Buffalo Gap Saloon
  • Proust
  • The Twilight Room (Could be considered somewhat of a neighborhood pub but also a traditional  “hang-out” for watering hole for University of Portland students)

Followers  of the blog have asked if I have identified a favorite establishment to this point.  While every visit has been positive, probably two tie as favorites for different reasons:  The Laurelthirst and The Twilight Room.

Beerchasers of the Month

This label above is a misnomer because only five of the ten months have named an “honoree” as follows:

  • Princeton University professor and author of On Bullshit, Dr. Harry Frankfurt
  • Crime novelist, James Crumley
  • Retired chemical engineer and drinker, Harold Schlumburg
  • The bartenders of the Brooklyn Park Pub, the Gladstone Street Pub, Prost and the Twilight Room

Efforts will be made to bestow that honor more frequently, however, my favorite to this point is the esteemed Dr. Frankfurt, who responded to thebeerchaser’s e-mail informing him of the distinction and he became a follower of the blog.

BS Expert – Dr. Harry Frankfurt

Beer-related Lawsuits

Having worked in a law firm for twenty-five years and at the Oregon State Bar prior to that time, I collected a lot of law-related articles and memorabilia. In reviewing old files, I came across my favorite law suit – reported in The Oregonian in 1976. It documents a $53,000 suit filed against the Mount Angel Oktoberfest in Marion County.

The plaintiff, Robert Rispler, claimed the portable toilet he entered at the annual Oktoberfest was pushed over by unruly patrons and he was “violently thrown about inside said portable toilet, became intimately mixed (emphasis supplied) with the contents thereof and sustained a fracture of his right wrist and other contusions and abrasions.”                                                          

A Lawsuit Dr. Frankfurt Might Appreciate

Unfortunately additional research on the results of this suit are beyond the resources of thebeerchaser although a quick search of the internet found two Robert Risplers – one, a 1974 graduate of Reynolds High School in Portland (he would have been too young to drink legally….) and one who is now Director of Accounting at Fannie Mae in Washington DC.  Thebeerchaser avoids political commentary (at times) and will omit any direct or indirect implications related to federal agencies.

Favorite Bar Jokes

Although my archives has more lawyer jokes than bar jokes, this blog needs to return to more relevant topics in this post and will finish with a few bar jokes, which will also grace future posts:

  • A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey, that’s really cool.  We have a drink named after you. The grasshopper looks at him skeptically and says, “You have a drink named Murray?”

  • A piece of toast, a glass of orange juice, some hash browns and a side of eggs walk into a bar and they order four beers.  The bartender says, “I’m sorry we don’t serve breakfast here.”
  • A physician, a nurse, a rabbi and a bulldog walk into a bar and the bartender says, “What is this, some kind of joke?”

Spring Training in Phoenix

Thebeerchaser and spouse were privileged to take in a few games during Spring Training in Phoenix in March.  While the tour of pubs is restricted to Portland, we visited and observed a number, which generated these observations:

It seemed like every bar we passed was jammed with people especially from about 4:30 to 7:00 and not necessarily because of Happy Hours.  It may be that given urban sprawl in this badly planned metropolis, that people don’t try to drive during rush hour and just hit a bar each day.  Rotating designated drivers keep things legal.         

It also seemed that many of the venues had multiple levels to accommodate all the patrons (see pictures below).  Perhaps it was also the hot weather.  It was ironic that it cost $4 for a bottle of water at the baseball games when one could get a PBR for $1.50 at the pub across the street.  It brought to mind, beerchaser of the month, Jame’s Crumley’s  request from his main character, C.W. Sughrue, “I want a beer as cold as my ex-wife’s heart.”

Of special interest was the Irish Pub, shown below, that also served as a saddelry.    

Did you hear the one about the horse that walked into the bar? **

*Bartender says, “Hey! Why the long face?”                     

The Muddy Rudder Public House – Chart a Course Here!

Sellwood’s Muddy Rudder Public House

The Beerchaser’s favorite nautical quotation is by Admiral David Farragut during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864.  The Admiral, in his flagship the USS Hartford, while lashed to his observation post in the rigging, yelled “Damn the Torpedoes – Full Speed Ahead!”  This is still good advice if you are on the Willamette River near Sellwood.  Chart your course to the Muddy Rudder. 

No Muddy Rudder Would Deter Admiral Farragut

While we didn’t have to dodge naval ordnance, the weather was terrible (rain and hail) which made the pub’s warm atmosphere better the night we had a great visit with our friends, Kate and David Dickson.  Note that the picture above is taken in the summer when you can enjoy the Rudder’s neat beer garden.  “If you do go, try to sit in the lovely outdoor garden during warm weather.”

Coincidentally, if you are searching on the Internet, you should be aware, there is also a great seafood restaurant and bar of the same name near Portland, Maine – named for the tugboat, PORTLANDwhich sank in the Cousins River “when a harsh nor’easter besieged the boat at its mooring and strong winds grounded and overturned her.” – so much for nautical lore, now let’s talk about a great pub in our Portland.

The “Rudder” would be easy to miss because its roots as an old house are still evident and there is little signage.  It’s only two blocks from the east end of the Sellwood Bridge. on Tacoma and 7th.   As one reviewer stated:  “What had been a little decaying rental had been pushed out and up and seemed to be preparing for a second life as some sort of storefront. But that second life had to wait a couple of years while owner Jim Sheehan, a custom woodworker and motorcycle fanatic, toiled away reworking the cabinetry, floors and woodwork.”

One less complimentary description was:  “It’s like a commercial version of the residential renovations and partial tear-downs you see throughout gentrifying Sellwood. The successful, upper-middle class, white people in their 40s and 50s with kids and dogs who live in those houses find a regular watering hole in the Muddy Rudder.”  However, the above quote is followed by good advice:

“But don’t let this stop you from visiting (or even frequenting) the Muddy Rudder. It’s a great spot with excellent food and drink, and one of the only establishments at the far west edge of Sellwood. You “should” really like it a lot.”

So What’s to Like?

  • The atmosphere is cordial and classy.  There are old nautical charts and maritime accoutrements throughout the two levels.  The round tables and wooden chairs, cabinetry and wood bar, give it the feel of a great neighborhood pub.                                                                 

    The Food Focus…

  • The food was great and reasonably priced. Most of the menu items ended in vowels, (pizza, Stromboli, bruschetta, zucchini, antipasto, chili,…)  Being in the spirit, thebeerchaser ordered his first cocktail on this tour of beer joints – an excellent dirty martini!  We had a superb meatball sandwich and a pizza.
  •  The Entertainment – there is music (no cover charge) most nights and if you get there in time to sit on the second level, you’re right next to the band.  In our case, it was a great group called the “Sleepy-eyed Johns” – a wonderful five-piece combo (fiddle, mandolin/guitar, bass and banjo). From their first tune – “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” to the end of the evening, they captivated the crowd.

Wake up to the Sleepy-eyed Johns

  • The Beer – a nice selection of micros on tap at a reasonable price.

    What’s on Tap

In fact, the only down-side of the Muddy Rudder, which was totally offset by the positives, was the service – the pace and not the people themselves.

Our waitress Marissa (Mo) was wonderful and Todd the bartender was great, but they are just understaffed.  Mo did a heroic job, but she was the only waitress for the entire pub.  Many of the reviews indicate that this has been an ongoing problem as evidenced from this one in early 2009:

You can’t get through a visit without wondering where your food is, or having the servers apologize for being short-staffed, or having to go up to the bar to ask for napkins or forks.”

One patron’s overall sentiments about this pub seemed right on target when she stated: “I kinda love this place. I hope other people don’t come here so that there is always a place for me when I want to go.”

The Muddy Rudder Public House  9195 SE 7th in Sellwood