(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
I’m “back” in the saddle again and out one month + from back fusion surgery – now able to drive, walk around the neighborhood and Beerchase again – no golf for several months and until physical therapy is done.
The new COVID strain is again dampening my efforts to visit new establishments with friends; however, my next post will be about a wonderful dive bar in my Oregon “hometown” – Oregon City (the oldest incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains).
In March, I visited Howell’s Lounge twice in the same week – the first time with two semi-retired lawyers and fellow Oregon City High School grads – Pat Green (’65) and Beerchasing regular and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jim Westwood (’62). I graduated in 1966.
I returned the next evening – a Saturday night for dinner with my wife, Janet, and Pat and his wife, Leona. Both outings were very enjoyable and the memories took us back many years.
The bar’s history – opened in 1929 by the Howell Family, who operated until the twin brothers, Frank and Charlie retired in 1978 – deserves a post of it’s own, so stay tuned.
A “spire” for Greatness, but Don’t Fall “Prey” to Initial Success
In August, 2021, when COVID appeared to be on one of its downswings, I had lunch at the new Steeplejack Brewery in NW Portland. I had talked previously to Brody Day, the co-owner, who with his former college buddy, Dustin Harder, opened the new brewpub in early 2021 in what was previously an historic church in NE Portland.
The church was originally dedicated In 1909 by then President of the United States, William Howard Taft, as the First Universalist Church of Good Tidings which then became Metropolitan Community Church until it moved in 2019.
In a September blog post, I showed some photos illustrating how these two entrepreneurs had done a wonderful job – at great expense – to preserve this building which otherwise, would have become another urban condominium.
And for a number of reasons – maybe Oregon’s only all-female brewing staff (led by Brewmaster Anna Buxton), their commitment to historic preservation, the location and the fact that they brew good beer – the brewery was greeted with enthusiasm. As stated in the July 21, 2021 edition of New School Beer and Cider:
“In this rare instance, the real-life experience of entering the church of beer actually exceeds expectations and presents a truly, stunningly beautiful place that will make you believe in a higher power.”
Day and Harder are entrepreneurs and do not rest on their laurels or pews. In the spring of 2022, a second location opened in Beaverton – an expansive establishment like the original. It seats about 200 people and is the former home of another pub – they remodeled and again made significant capital improvements.
Like the original pub, the menu is somewhat limited – pizza and salads and some sides rice balls, polenta and side dishes. (External photo credits at end of this post *1)
According to New School Beer and Cider (2/17/22) the second location was not a spur of the moment decision:
“(It – the Beaverton location was) in the works since before the brewery even opened their doors as part of a grander plan to serve not only the inner city but the broader Oregon market.
‘We wanted to find the right location where we could be part of the neighborhood and serve our neighbors beer and pizza in an place that is consistent with our flagship location in Northeast Portland,’ says managing partner Brody Day, who co-founded SteepleJack with longtime friend Dustin Harder. ‘We took a significant amount of time and toured a lot of properties to find the perfect location” says Day.'”
Now perhaps, the two young businessmen found a Bible from the church in their original location and read Genesis Chapter 9 – “Be fruitful and multiply…” because their momentum has continued as forcefully as the beer flowing from a keg at a fraternity pre-function. As reported in Willamette Week:
“Just over a month after Steeplejack Brewing launched its second location—and a little under a year after opening its first—the company is expanding again. A third outpost will begin operations on Friday, July 1. 2022.”
The Hillsboro establishment – a 17,000 square foot facility in a former warehouse – “…the home of a taproom, beer garden and kitchen as well as a small production brewery and canning line purchased from the now defunct Wiens Brewing of Temecula, California.”.(New School Beer and Cider 7/12/21.)
Steeplejack was subsequently named “Best New Brewery” at the 2022 Oregon Beer Awards. (*3-4)
Steeplejack is a great story and the co-owners deserve credit for their immediate success. That said, in the eleven years since I started this hobby – and most notably in the last three, I’ve seen numerous breweries – starting off with unbelievable acclaim and positive financial results exceeding any expectation.
These once-bustling establishments are now gone or struggling to stay afloat – and many had effective management and loyal customers, but withered under increasing competition, staffing issues and costs. Admittedly, I know nothing about how Steeplejack is capitalized and the strength of their income statement since opening, but I hope in five years, we can continue to toast their success in all of their locations.
My Way or the Highway??
We’ve all read about small planes which have made emergency landings on highways in the past. For example, the photo below is one from 2012, after a small airplane made an emergency landing on Oregon Highway11 approximately 17 miles east of Pendleton.
The highway was closed for a short period to move the aircraft off the main highway and then was closed again for a short time to allow the plane to take off. (*4)
But the one last week in Missouri is worth noting for two reasons:
- The plane was piloted by a student pilot without another pilot in the plane and ran out of gas.
- The student pilot was arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
According to NBC News:
“A student pilot who landed a small plane on a Missouri highway early Friday was arrested on charges including driving while intoxicated, authorities said. (emphasis added)
The pilot of the single-engine Piper Cherokee landed the plane about 2:45 a.m. on Interstate 70 near Grain Valley, a city about 22 miles east of Kansas City, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol tweeted that the plane ran out of fuel, hastening the freeway arrival, and hit a guardrail.
……35-year-old John T. Seesing, was hospitalized with a minor injury before being booked into jail, according to highway patrol….Seesing also faces allegations of careless and imprudent driving involving a crash, felony drug and gun possession, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to an arrest report.”
It will be interesting to see how his lawyer fights the charges e.g. does DUI apply to an airplane on a highway, does the Highway Patrol have jurisdiction, etc.
It reminds me of a fascinating case in Lincoln City, Oregon on the Coast Highway 101, on October 16, 2012. One James Greene, exited a bar in his motorized wheelchair and proceeded across the crosswalk whereupon he hit a moving pickup truck. (*5)
He was subsequently convicted of DUI by a jury, fined $1,500, had his driver’s license suspended – ultimately for three years – and lost his insurance. But when he appealed, a 2016 panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals unanimously reversed his conviction with the logic “…..that a person merely crossing the street should be considered a pedestrian, and therefore not a ‘person who drives a vehicle.'” (emphasis added)
The Court carved out this exception and didn’t buy the State’s assumption that a vehicle is “any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway and includes vehicles that are propelled or powered by any means.” (*6)
Had Greene been in the bicycle lane or on the roadway, his appeal would probably been unsuccessful.
So will a Missouri jury buy the the assertion that an airplane (and one out of gas no less) “operating” on a public highway is a “vehicle” and will the pilot’s arrest for DUI stick. The lawyers will love this one!
Darwin’s Theory Evolves…
Those who follow this blog know that one of my favorite dive bars is Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska. And my affection for the bar is not just because Darwin, the owner, is an Oregon State University alum.
There’s no draft beer or hard liquor, but free popcorn, a great juke box, the “Heavy Petting Zoo” in the backroom!.. and the staff and patrons are wonderful (including the late and great bartender, Mary Jean, shown in the picture above.)
This Yelp review will help affirm my sentiments:
“When you step inside, you’ll realize that this is no hipster dive bar. No sir! This has been a dive bar since inception and doesn’t appear to have changed. Beer in the bottle, great service, and interesting patrons round out the perfect dive-bar experience.” Yelp – 11/13 by Eric from Nevada City, CA
And I’ll always remember my conversation with a friendly guy I sat next to at the bar. (This was in 2014 and we had eaten dinner at a brewery earlier, but at 9:30 it was still total daylight – I couldn’t sleep – so I left Janet in our hotel room and walked the two blocks to Darwin’s).
Bill was in his fifties and an oil field worker, in addition to having fished in the Bering Sea and running marijuana from Mexico to the East coast in the ’70’s. “I had an old Lincoln with really big fenders….” I also asked him about bars in Anchorage and he said to be careful because in the last few years there had been a few shootings at bars close by.
Well, Darwin publishes a quarterly newsletter and for those who are planning to visit Anchorage, I’m pleased to report that they have not let supply-chain issues deter them in 2022:
“The popcorn machine after nine years of constant production of our famous (free) popcorn, died. You wouldn’t think finding a new machine would be so difficult. But it was!
The Ice Machine was a different matter. After 17 years it too gave out. That replacement was ‘easy squeezy. There was one in town just waiting. The same-day replacement put Darwin’s back in business with anyone noticing.” (*8)
External Photo Attribution
*1 Steeplejack Beer Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos/408349128023453)
*2 Steeplejack Beer Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos/a.106656934859342/)
*3 Steeplejack Beer Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SteeplejackBeer/photos/430725372452495)
4 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plane_takes_off_from_Oregon_11_.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Oregon Department of Transportation – 8 November 2012.
*5 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Electric-powered_wheelchair_Belize1.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Author: Memas 15 June 2010.
*6 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Eo-scale_of_justice.gif) The copyright holder of this work, releases this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. 2004
*7 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1979_Lincoln_Continental_Town_Car_) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Greg Gjerdengen 28 May 2016.
*8 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_Popcorn.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: Ssgapu22