Beerchasing Miscellany – Pondering Suds, Suffrage and Civility

The Hitselberger farm near Seal Rock on the Oregon Coast

Wolf Tree Brewery

While staying in Lincoln City for a week recently, I read an article in Willamette Week about Wolf Tree Brewery – typical of Oregon’s great brewery stories.  Reporter, Martin Cizmar did his usual good job of conveying the story of Wolf Tree’s founder and owner, Joe Hitselberger’s small operation on his 600 acre cattle and timber ranch six miles east of Seal Rock. “A Tiny Coastal Brewery is Becoming the King of Sitka Spruce Beers.”

Since 2013, Joe has specialized in spruce-tip beer – it’s probably the only Oregon brewery to make it year-round.  As described by Cizmar in his article:

“With a mild cotton-candy and strawberry sweetness, Wolf Tree’s barrel-aged spruce bud ale, is the best I’ve ever had and I’m not alone in my opinion. Earlier this month, Wolf Tree came out of nowhere to win a gold medal for best ‘Experimental’ beer at the Oregon Beer Awards.”

Joe Hitselberger sampling some of his spruce tip beer

Since I had some spare time, I called Joe and he agreed to let me interview him and take some photos.  Coincidentally, two guys from Boise who had tasted his beer, showed up at the same time and we sampled both his Spruce Tip Ale and the Camille’s Golden IPA – named after Joe and Taryn, his finance’s, late golden retriever.  The beer is part of their Ranch Dog Series:  

“We created the Ranch Dog Series as a tribute to our furry friends who live here at the ranch.  A portion of sales for these beers will be donated to the Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis.”  

Camilles Golden IPA from the Ranch Dog Series

I’ll cover this brewery in more depth this summer, when they open the planned tasting room on the south side of Newport’s Yaquina Bay Bridge.  But the six mile drive on Beavercreek Road after I left Highway 101 was amazing – including the herd of 25 Roosevelt Elk I discovered grazing in a field just off the road.

Until the taproom is opened, Thebeerchaser will head to Belmont Station, one of four Portland distributors of Wolf Tree’s beer.

Update on 2017 “We the People “Competition

Some members of the Grant Team with Rogers and Westwood on the right

Beerchaser followers were previously informed that the Grant High School Constitution Team won the Oregon competition and was headed for the nationals in Washington DC.

Well, that April trip was successful since they placed second – quite an accomplishment.  More remarkable is Oregon’s record in the last six years in the national competition as shown below:

2012 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place  2013 – Oregon (Grant) first place

2014 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place  2015 – Oregon (Grant) first place

2016 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place, Oregon wild card (Grant) third place

2017 – Virginia first place, Oregon (Grant) second place (10 points behind, out of 1800), Indiana third place (85 points behind Grant)

In fact, those who subscribe to conspiracy theories, have wondered if prior results by both Grant and Lincoln High Schools, persuaded the judges that a school from another state should get some of the glory……

Alice and the proud parents at Washington DC competition

The Grant team has a double Beerchaser connection since team member, Alice Eden Fischer, is the daughter of Amy Faust and Kevin Fischer.   KWJJ Radio personality, Amy, is the most recent Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

And one of the long-term coaches and team advisors is Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood, who received the same recognition from Thebeerchaser in March 2013.  (To read about these two interesting people, click on the link over their names.)

Westwood (second from left) and Padrow on the right

In fact, this story of Oregon in national competition is reminiscent of another remarkable run by an Oregon school – that of the Portland State College team that set records in 1965 in the television competition (The GE College Bowl) that captured the nation as recounted in this article. (Portland State Alumni Association News – May 2, 2005)

“The 415 points scored in their final match ties them for fifth-highest single-game total achieved, and their 1725 points total set a new record at the time, and is fourth highest overall. The March 26, 1965 issue of Time has an article on how the College Bowl victories helped change Portland State’s image as “the flunk-out school” for University of Oregon and Oregon State drop-outs…”

If you look closely at the picture of the Grant Team above, you might recognize the same guy in the Portland State photo.   Yes, that’s the same Jim Westwood who was the captain of the PSC team and possibly learned some coaching techniques from the late, Ben Padrow, who brilliantly guided the four students to their records.

I’m not sure that Padrow went as far as Westwood, however, when the Grant coach for the last fifteen years, promised his team in 2013 that if they won, he would get a tattoo to memorialize (so to speak) the victory.  To get the story on the significance of the 1783 date, check out Thebeerchaser post https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/kellys-olympian-bar/

“Stamp” Out Complacency

And having some idea how much effort all the students in the “We the People” competition put forth, I cannot help but again shake my head with the Oregon Legislature’s misguided effort to increase voter turnout encompassed in Senate Bill 683.  The same concept was defeated in 2016, but unfortunately returns in the 2017 Session, thanks to the sponsorship of Senators Richard Devlin and Michael Dembrow.

If passed into law, voters would no longer have to put postage on their vote-by-mail return ballots.  The State of Oregon, which ironically faces a projected $1.6 billion deficit, would cover the forty-nine cent cost of a stamp in each election at an estimated cost of $650,000 to $1.3 million price tag for each biennium.

Original use on (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/28/beerchaser-miscellany-five-years-of-thebeerchaser/

The symbol of the “Stamp Culture”

Ironically, Devlin is the Senate’s chief budget writer and tried to justify the bill because its tough for some would-be voters to afford the cost of a stamp.  Dembrow stated:

“This is especially true for a lot of young people who don’t use stamps.  They’re just not into the stamp culture……”

Original use (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/28/beerchaser-miscellany-five-years-of-thebeerchaser/)

Crossing the Delaware to fight for our right to have postage-paid return ballots.

Perhaps someone should explain to those who are not into the stamp culture, that they might want to consider the walking culture,” since libraries, city halls or courthouses are all locations where ballots can be returned without postage and are usually within a few miles of most voters’ residence.

Thebeerchaser subscribes to the assertion that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  I guess that premise is no longer operable and it’s just $.49.

The Anarchists Tried to Get Their Act Together

Newspaper stories these days are never surprising and the irony of this report in the Oregonian on March 14th makes me shake my head.  A group labeling itself Portland Anarchist Road Care, “working anonymously with one person wearing a mask….” actually filled potholes on Southeast Salmon Street.

The group said it is now exploring alternatives to patching potholes including mobilizing people to fix roads in their neighborhoods.  ……..“By creating structures (emphasis supplied) to serve the same purpose as state structures, organizations such as ours have the ability to show that government is not necessary for society to function.”

From the Chicago Haymarket Affair

While I realize that anarchists sometimes do advocate societies based on voluntary institutions, this seems a bit of a contradiction in terms.   And it begs the question:

If government is not necessary for society to function, who is supposed to control the masked thugs who threw burning objects, blocked streets and damaged buildings during the May Day Parade in PDX? 

Lawyers are trying to figure out the liability issues if the Anarchists don’t fill in the potholes correctly and cause accidents or vehicular damage.  Perhaps they should heed the advice of Mitchell Kapor (the founder of Lotus Software) who advised:  “Inside every anarchy, there’s an Old-Boy Network.” 

A Precursor to the “Digital” Age

Since this is a blog about bars and beer, I typically refrain from political topics, but unless one has been living under a rock for the last eighteen months, it’s difficult to stay above the fray.  While the tripe that emanates from the West Wing becomes more unbelievable and dangerous each day,  one also has to hold the media accountable for the methods of coverage at times.

Source of alternative facts (to be polite…..)

One wonders if we can return to the civility and bipartisanship led by statesmen that characterized the Oregon Legislature e.g. Tom McCall and Hector MacPherson and the US Congress e.g. Mark Hatfield and Tip O’Neill in the 60’s and 70’s. 

Yet, based on the nature of the beast, there were times even in this more refined era (without 24-hour news coverage) when emotions overcame propriety – something which lent some humor and excitement to the news.

Such was the case on September 16, 1976, when Vice President Rockefeller was campaigning with Sen. Bob Dole, who had been selected to be President Gerald Ford’s running mate.   Some student in a group of hecklers gave the finger to the VP and he immediately reciprocated the gesture — with gusto!  I’ve kept the picture below from the newspaper for all these years thinking I could use it at some point and the excerpt below describes the incident: 

“At the time, Rockefeller’s finger flashing was scandalous and the gesture was referred to thereafter as ‘The Rockefeller Salute.’  Rockefeller refused to apologize for his outburst.

‘I was just responding in kind’ he said, neatly avoiding the point that the apology was not expected to go to the hecklers but to the general public.”

A veteran with a Purple Heart and a good sense of humor…..

Bob Dole was asked by a reporter why he didn’t join Rockefeller in “the salute”.  ‘I have trouble with my right arm,’ he replied. (Rarehistorical photos.com October 16,2016)

And in closing, perhaps we need to look at  the anger we see today from all parts of the political spectrum.  As conservative columnist, George Will wrote in a 2007  opinion piece in the Washington Post I saved, but is still relevant:

“Once upon a time, Americans admired models of self-control, people such as George Washington and Jackie Robinson, who mastered their anger rather than relishing being mastered by it. 

Today, however, proclaimed anger — the more vituperative the better — is regarded as a sign of good character and emotional vitality…..Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity:  ‘I snarl, therefor I am.’  Such people make my blood boil.” 

Or the LA Times’,Tim Rutten, who in a  2009 column entitled, “A Crash Course on our Descent Into Coarseness” opened with:

“Incivility is the new secondhand smoke.  Everyone feels impelled to disdain it, but nobody is willing to do away with it entirely.”

Rather than ponder in frustration, “When will all the rhetorical questions ever end?”,  Thebeerchaser would suggest a small step to solve this dilemma harkening back to the 18th century — to one of the Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin.  In 1727, he formed the Junto, a group of “like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.”  (Wikipedia)

Ben Franklin – believed in civil dialogue

When they met they discussed issues of the day, debated philosophical topics and devised schemes for self-improvement.  In a description of the goals of this group, Walter Isaacson, in his 2003, 590-page book, Benjamin Franklin, An American Life states:

“Franklin stressed the importance of deferring, or at least giving the appearance of deferring, to others…… ‘When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him.’ 

Instead, he would agree in parts and suggest differences only indirectly…. This velvet-tongued and sweetly passive style of circumspect argument would make him seem sage to some, insinuating and manipulative to others, but inflammatory to almost nobody.”

Franklin’s Junto was evidently open only to men and they drank coffee rather than alcoholic beverages, but adapting to the times, perhaps we need to have this type of discussion for members of all genders in bars, taverns and pubs while drinking Oregon microbrews.  And even if Ben Franklin, didn’t actually utter the words often attributed to him, the assertion still has merit: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”

Regaining Civility

Cheers!

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The Independent – A Maverick Among Bars….

photo-jan-31-5-37-28-pm

 

 

 

 

 

I ‘ve been to a number of sports bars in the five and one-half years since starting Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs.  Some such as the historic Claudias in southeast Portland stand out and have some character and interesting sports memorabilia – like the picture of my Oregon City High School basketball coach, Dale Herron, who played for the legendary Claudia’s AAU team, after starring for the U of O Ducks in college.  (He played for Claudia’s from 1961-7 during which time they won three NW AAU Championships.)

No. 34 - third from the left in back row - former U of O basketball star, Dale Herron

No. 34 – third from the left in back row – former U of O basketball star, Dale Herron

But many others such as the Marathon Taverna, which purports to be a sports bar doesn’t live up to the label – just a number of big-screen TVs.  That was also the case with the On Deck (downtown location), the immediate predecessor of The Independent.  Prior to that, the Silver Dollar II, another sports bar occupied the space.

However, The Independent – on Broadway near the historic Benson Hotel, is a great sports bar with a theme dear to the heart of most Portlanders – the legendary Portland Mavericks Baseball Team.

Opening day for the Mavericks at Civic Stadium in 1973

The Portland Mavericks have a fabled history as documented in the award-winning documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, produced in 2014.

The team, formed in 1973 by Hollywood notable, Bing Russell, was the only independent baseball team in America at the time.  As described in the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) summary:

“Bing operated without a Major League affiliation while playing in a city that was considered a wasteland for professional baseball.  Tryouts for the Mavericks, which were open to the public, were filled with hopefuls who arrived in droves from every state in America, many of whom had been rejected by organized baseball. Skeptics agreed it would never work………

The Mavericks’ in your face attitude was contagious to fans, and during their short reign, they – and Bing Russell – basically held up their middle finger to the sports establishment and said we’re playing this game on our terms, not yours. They were the real life Bad News Bears.”

A rear view (and perhaps more photogenic one) of Faust at the Independent across from Alice, his wife, and lawyer Jim Westwood

Joining us for beers that day, wearing his Portland Mavericks jacket, was a man who was integrally involved in that history – Beerchaser regular and retired Portland appellate lawyer and broadcaster and most importantly, a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jack Faust. https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/02/john-r-jack-faust-fall-2014-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

Faust with former Portland Maverick Manager, Frank “The Flake” Peters while Beerchasing at the Grand Cafe

Jack appears in the movie and you can read about his role as Bing Russell’s lawyer in the underdog legal victory in his suit against the Pacific Coast League in the Beerchaser post.(Russell was awarded $206,000 in a final arbitration – the League had made a final pre-arbitration offer of $5,000!):

Besides the interesting sports memorabilia, The Independent is spacious, has a cool wrap-around bar, a good selection of beers (20 on tap, which include five rotating and a $3.50 PBR Tall Boy) and a host of wide screen TVs (32) with various sporting events:

“Come catch a game on one of our 32 flat panel TV’s and a projection system for big games.  Your team will be on!

You’ll also find …..vintage hockey masks, boxing gloves, baseball bats ad a vertical collection of USA Men’s Soccer jerseys dating back to the ’70’s on loan from Nike.”

Corey, our jovial and helpful server

And we were fortunate to have an outstanding server that day.  Corey Lewis was personable, very helpful on beer selection and background of the bar while also having an interesting story (see below)

 The others enjoying The Independent’s beer and environment that day were Jack’s wife, Alice, son Charlie, his daughter, Amy, lawyer Jim Westwood, Denny Ferguson and Thebeerchaser’s spouse, Janet.  (Denny stuck to his values and ordered a cold Coors Light draft.)

Thebeerchasing crew with the traditional logo

As usual, the company on these Beerchasing events is always a highlight regardless of how good or bad the watering hole in which we raise a mug(s).  Such was the case at The Independent in which Jack Faust refreshed us with some Mavericks’ lore including the antics of his friend, Frank Peters.

Alice Faust – 1941 Adventure..

We also heard the amazing story of Alice Faust’s experience when she personally witnessed the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack.  As a 7-year-old living in Honolulu near Pearl Harbor, she heard and saw Japanese bombers and fighters flying over their house and heard the bomb blasts from the harbor as Japan launched World War Two in the Pacific. Her father, a naval reserve officer recently called to active duty, drove off in a Chevrolet to war at the base.

Raising the Grant High 2017 trophy (Alice is on the right)

And who could resist the dialogue between two of the smartest Constitutional experts I know – Faust and Westwood (the latter, also a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and a coach of this year’s Grant High School’s Oregon Constitution team on which Amy Faust’s daughter, Alice, is a member and will soon depart for the national competition in Washington, DC.)

Faust and Westwood – The beer sweetened the dialogue….

Their discussion focused on the next step and the likelihood that the White House would prevail after a federal district court and then the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Trump’s first travel ban.

(“The three judges from the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.”)

Note 1:  The President, learning from his first mistake and in an effort to have the “terrible judges” reconsider, issued a revised Executive Order in March, which just last week was also frozen by a Federal District Court Judge in Hawaii.

Note 2: Faust’s amazing legal career includes serving at Richard Nixon’s lawyer in Oregon for his 1972 re-election campaign.

Twenty draft beers including five rotating taps

Since it opened only in 2015, The Independent does not have scads of social media reviews, but most are very positive based on its location near Portland hotels, the food, the ambiance and the service.

As expected, there were some early negative reviews complaining about the service, but if our example was typical, they have addressed the issue.  And one thing that was impressive was the fact that the negative comments, when they were reasonable, often generated a response by Linda Addy, Director of Operations for Independent Restaurant Concepts, who either apologized or offered to rectify the problem if the complainant contacted her.  I also chatted with Linda by phone and she is a real pro, interested in providing a great experience at her firm’s venues.  

What is the appropriate male patron to urinal ratio in a sports bar???

 

As always, there were some interesting critical comments – ranging from the gratuitous such as the typical whiners who didn’t get to see their specific sports team or wanted every television in the place to broadcast the Duck’s game…. to the irritated (and probably older) guy who was irate: “Had to change the place to 1 start – a sports bar with 1 urinal!!!  What an oxymoron!!!” 

(At first, I laughed at this comment, but considering that many of the reviews talk about the great crowds at the bar, perhaps this is something that management  may need to address although there are two bathrooms in the bar.)

The bar is locally owned according to a June, 2016 announcement in Portland Eater: “Brandon and Brian Anderson own the 225 SW Broadway Building and  they’re teaming up with IRC – the restaurant group behind Produce Row Care, Circa 33 and others.”  (See Thebeerchaser review on the impressive resurrection of the historic Produce Row Cafe) https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/12/07/produce-row-cafe-take-a-hike-and-have-a-brewski/

The Man Cave

The menu is pretty typical with some good bargains at happy-hour which is 3:00 to 6:00 each weekday – a buck off on all beers,  a cheeseburger for $5 and both nachos and a Coney dog for $6 and a $2 salad which got a favorable review.

One 9/1/16 Yelp reviewer commented, “Much better food selection than your average sports bar.  Gluten-free options are always a plus.  Good service, clean dining areas.

I mentioned that Corey, our server, has as interesting story.  He is a native Montanan and trans-planted Texan who is both an actor and musician.  He told us about his four-piece rock band, The Misery Men, in which he plays a mean rhythm guitar and does vocals in addition to being  “Chairman of the Board. “

According to one 2016 reviewer: http://doomedandstoned.com/post/138441988863/themiserymen

The Misery Men with Corey in the center

“Corey G Lewis is a man of many names, A.K.A. “Mr. Misery,” “Vortex Conductor,” “Snakecharmer,” “The Magician,” and (my personal favorite) “Viking Jesus of the Utopia.” Corey claims responsibility for the band’s vocals, screams, growling, lyrics, and riffs. 

He’s a jack of all trades, counting among his specialties: vortex conductor, time traveler, quantum theorist, worshiper of cats, crow whisperer, and aficionado the quantum world! A well-travelled dude, he’s called Missoula, Denver, NYC, NOLA, L.A., and Austin his home and, since 2011, Portland, Oregon.”

The Independent also has some interesting cocktails and this led to my only disappointment that afternoon.  I was anticipating with relish their “go to” cocktail – the Maverick  but was denied that experience because they actually ran out of Old Overholt:

“A shot of Old Overholt + icy-cold Rainier 8 (Old Overholt is the oldest of The Olds, a relic you can drink.  This famous Straight Rye Whiskey has a distinctive flavor and appeal that after Prohibition, made it the most popular spirit in the country…)”

Old Overholt – Rye Whiskey that demands a return to the bar….

Fortunately, I had a great Fort George Vortex IPA (this and the Breakside IPA are their most popular beers) which eased the psychological trauma.  More importantly, it gives me an excuse to make a another visit to The Independent – a sports bar that merits a return.  Besides, I want to check out the featured “Man Cave” (Leather couches, wingback chairs, and things like vintage medicine balls and a punching bag.)

And when you go, say “hello” to Corey and find out where his band is playing next.

The Independent      225 SW Broadway #100   


Note:  I paid another visit to The Independent on St. Patrick’s Day and it was rocking.   1080 – The Fan was broadcasting and the bar was filled with revelers.

And the Man Cave was impressive with the party in the picture above enjoying more nachos than I think I have ever seen in one confined space previously.

I still need to return for The Maverick Cocktail as I couldn’t resist having another Ft. George beer.

Dirt and Sprague from 1080 in broadcast mode…

 

The Yard House – Does it Measure Up??

Is this the entry to a bar or a Fortune 500 corporation?

Is this the entry to a bar or a Fortune 500 corporation?

The Yard House (hereafter “YH”) in downtown Portland is one of sixty-six establishments (mostly west of the Mississippi) in this national chain.  Thebeerchaser’s affinity for dive bars and neighborhood taverns would keep him a distance from this type of bar, but it provided a convenient gathering place for several Beerchaser regulars to hoist a mug, so we gave it a try.

Westwood, Kevin and Amy, Jack Faust and Thebeerchaser

Westwood, Kevin and Amy, Jack Faust and Thebeerchaser

The company included lawyers Jack Faust and Jim Westwood, in addition to local radio icon, Amy Faust and her husband of twenty-four years, Kevin – more about this interesting couple below.

And while YH had an impressive selection of beers, I will not be hitting this or another YH again for the reasons set forth below.

P1040027

Now when I step into what is usually the dim and cluttered entry to a bar, a quick scan of the environment will reveal some regulars who look interesting, a few alcoves with some old Schlitz or Olympia signs above them to elicit good memories.  Also expect either a stuffed animal head or a sign that says something like, “Our beer is colder than your exe’s heart.”

Décor at the Club 21 in NE Portland

Décor at the Club 21 in NE Portland

Don’t expect that at the Yard House.  As you enter the sterile, corporate-like lobby area, you will be greeted by what one Trip Advisor reviewer aptly described as a “…..snooty, ‘I’m too sexy for this podium host.'” 

The host(s) – there were actually three when I entered – probably recent Portland State University Communications majors, aggressively steer you to a table in the massive basement-level space.  They don’t want to hear that you just want to sit at the bar or seat yourself.  

Environmentally safe transport from the source....

Environmentally safe transport from the source….

The large bars are impressive and the overhead tubes trans-porting one of the approximately 100 beers on tap (shown on an illuminated digital display) from the overhead kegs are visually stimulating and kind of cool:

“Our glass-enclosed keg room is the pulse of the operation. Each keg room houses as much as 4,000 gallons of beer kept at an ideal 36-38 degrees, and delivered to our island bar through five miles of individual beer lines stretching overhead. Every draught is fresh and perfectly chilled.”

But the YH has the ambiance of an Applebee’s or a suburban branch of Citibank. In fact, since the YH bars are owned and operated by the Darden Restaurant chain, I should change the named restaurant comparison to The Olive Garden – the chain’s flagship brand!    P1040029

Perhaps a Yelp reviewer on a visit from Seattle, in an effort to be positive, made my case more succinctly than anyone when he stated, “This place is like Red Robin but an upscale, classier and better version. I really enjoyed this.”  Really!!??

Affable and competent server, Jason.

Affable and competent server, Jason.

Now I will admit that Jason, our server, was a very personable and helpful young man, who knew the beer list well even though he had only worked there two months.  He suggested a Six-Pack Sampler with six different beers which was great – although we traded in the Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourban Barrel Stout for a second sample of the excellent Fort George 1811 Lager from Astoria. I had a pint of the Green Flash West Coast IPA – a very nice beer.

One of the distinguishing highlights at the YH is the option to buy a half-yard of beer – delivered in a very tall and impressive glass (see the picture below).  And you can see why the recipients of that mug are smiling……

A good option at the Yard House

A good option at the Yard House

It was no surprise to us that Jim Westwood volunteered to be our half-yard participant.  You may remember from prior posts on this blog that both Westwood and  Faust are past Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter. (see posts of 3/28/13 and 9/2/14

Westwood - Ben Padrow would be proud!!

Westwood – Ben Padrow would be proud!!

 Westwood was the captain of the legendary Portland State College team that captured the hearts of the nation when it went undefeated in the 1964-65 GE College Bowl television quiz in what NBC producers labeled as, “the most outstanding team performance in College Bowl history.”

He’s so smart that he converted the half-yard height of the mug into the metric system while taking the first gulp – 42.75 centimeters…!

Distinguishing Characteristics

Despite the somewhat sterile atmosphere, one does have to applaud the variety of not only beers (over 100 drafts in nine broad categories ranging from “hoppy/floral” to “strong/spiced”) at the YH, but they also have an impressive list of cocktails (21), house martinis (10) and even five different sake drinks for those who are adventurous. (Try the Snow Maiden which is tozai, junmai and nigori.)

We drank rather than ate at the YH.  Given the Dresden Inc. ownership of the Olive Garden along with the YH, I expected to see a menu which included unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks, but the YH does appear to offer a good selection of edibles ranging from appetizers, soups and salads to steaks, burgers and ribs to seafood and deserts.

Scads of TVs if youre not into conversation

Scads of TVs if you’re not into conversation

The tacos drew good comments in the reviews such as this one on Trip Advisor in November, 2014:

“(the taco was amazing…..with rice and beans on the side and the rice is the best Mexican rice I have had in a long time. It’s spicy, but not what I expected from a bar food joint. They also had a long list of desserts, I think we tried most of them. Very tasty.”

What if these guys were around in 2016?

What if these guys were around in 2016?

Drinking beer while hearing Westwood and Jack Faust debate the implications of the 1783 Treaty of Paris (negotiated by John Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin in which the British agreed that the thirteen US Colonies were free, sovereign, and independent states) was stimulating.

And it grew more animated when they theorized that these statesman could have achieved more favorable terms than Secretary of State, John Kerry, in his negotiations with Mohammad Javad Zarif in the US/Iran Nuclear Deal of 2016.

However, I was more interested in chatting with Amy and her spouse, since this was Kevin’s first Beerchasing adventure.  Amy is the female half of the popular Mike and Amy Show on KWJJ – The Wolf (see Beerchaser post on 8/14/2015).   Kevin is a fascinating and transplanted East Coaster who met Amy when they were living in New York.   mike and amy

August will see their 24th wedding anniversary after they originally met in Brooklyn at a party in a loft in what was once an Ex Lax factory.   As Amy recalls, “It was called the Ex Lax building and things have been going smoothly ever since……”

BillboardKevin taught architecture in Ireland after teaching on Long Island and worked for architects in NYC and in Dublin as well.  He graduated from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in New York City in 1859 and which is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education.

At his graduation, our fellow Beerchaser gave the valedictory speech from the same stage on which Abe Lincoln delivered  what has become known as his “right makes might” address” in 1859.

And there is a connection with Westwood, who is also a long-time coach of the former National Championship, Grant High School Constitution Team.  Kevin and Amy’s daughter, Alice, was selected for the team and will participate in the competition this coming year.

 

Abraham Lincoln speaking in Cooper Union's Great Hall February 27, 186

Abraham Lincoln speaking in Cooper Union’s Great Hall February 27, 1859

Notwithstanding my outstanding drinking companions, the aseptic ambiance of the YH was as pervasive and cloying as Jan in the Toyota commercials.   It made Thebeerchaser yearn for a dive or neighborhood bar environment.

For example, the YH highlights its art collection:

The stunning, original art featured on our walls is a major contributor to the very special vibe of every Yard House. The Yard House Original Art Gallery Collection has been created by artist Jerome Gastaldi.

Each piece is uniquely handcrafted to reflect the regional environment, the energy within the Yard House restaurants, and the core values of the company.”

Commissioned art by in the Portland Yard House

Commissioned art by Gastaldi in the Portland Yard House

Now, while neither the wonderful Nest Tavern in SE Portland nor the Low Brow Lounge in the Pearl have famous artists on retainer, their “works” reflect an underlying character and personality that will keep yours truly seeking this type of establishment on Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Pubs and Taverns.

Original art at the Nest Tavern in SE Portland

Original art at the Nest Tavern in SE Portland

So while the ambiance of the Yard House was like being buried three-feet under, you might check it out the YH for its beers or cocktails if you want a convenient place in downtown Portland.  But I would harken back to the Sandy Hut, the Ship Tavern or Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage or another dive bar for a fulfilling experience. (All reviewed on Thebeerchaser.com)

While these classic bars don’t have a “glass-enclosed keg room that keeps the beer at an ideal 36-38 degrees,”  you can get an ice-cold draft $2.50 PBR to die for!

Creative work at the Low Brow Lounge

Creative work at the Low Brow Lounge

 

                    The Yard House  

                  Pioneer Place

                        Portland, Oregon