Look-out for the Ranger Station

P1040390

There are a number of classic dive bars in Portland’s noted Barmuda Triangle in southeast Portland.  Thebeerchaser has enjoyed a number of these including the Bar of the Gods and Tanker Bar (see posts on 10/3/12 and 4/29/13).  It was therefore a nice surprise to discover a relatively new neighborhood bar at 42nd and SE Hawthorne.

P1040389The Ranger Station has only been around for a little over two years and its previous incarnations during the last ten years were also bars – Vertigo (closed in 2012) and then the Thorne Lounge.

Consultant, Dave Hicks

Consultant, Dave Hicks

My first of two visits to the Ranger Station was with San Franciscan, Dave Hicks.  “West Coast Dave” gets to Portland regularly on consulting trips and besides being my favorite Princeton graduate, is a Beerchaser regular, having visited the Double Barrel, Sloans’ Tavern and Crackerjacks among others on prior Beerchasing ventures.

The Ranger Station is a quaint a low-key bar, but has some limitations – the primary one being space. “There’s probably at least one snow-bound Alaskan ranger with a larger liquor cabinet than this pub..” (2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide)  It’s essentially a one-room rectangle with a small patio area adjoining and this may be one of the reasons that the duration of the prior two bars in this space is comparable to the half-life of a college education.

Small patio area

Small patio area

The room fills up quickly, especially since they have live entertainment most evenings and there are only a limited number of booths and tables.

The weeknight we were there, people were standing in rows between tables waiting for seats to open since the entry area is also pretty small.

Live entertainment in close proximity......

Live entertainment in close proximity……

Given acoustical and space limitations, it’s almost too small to have live music – the night we were there, a four- piece blue grass group played and in addition to not being overly talented, they eliminated the ability to have any ongoing conversation.

Dave Hicks savors his

Dave Hicks savors his “Half Bird”

That said, the food at the Ranger Station is a strength – particularly the elk burger ($12), which I devoured and the venison stew ($8) with meat purchased at Nicky USA Farms in Aurora and the Bucker’s Brussels ($7) – deep fried and slow seared with bacon, carmelized onion and a mustard vinaigrette sauce.

I chatted with Coltonan amiable part-time chef, and he expressed pride in the menu  and their skill with the grill.  Reviews of the food on social media are generally positive including this one from Dude on Yelp last November, which might be a tad over-stated:

“The food here is so good it makes me wanna climb the highest peak and punch the face of God.”  Perhaps this guy had too many Campfire Coffees (coffee with Makers Mark bourbon and cream and sugar)!

And the prices are pretty reasonable: for example you can get a happy-hour Ranger Burger for $6.50 or Tacos for $5 and try the chef’s choice of flavored pop-corn for only a buck.  Colton emphasized the reliance on local vendors such as Sheridan FruitGrand Central Bakery and Newman’s Fish Market.

TJ, the bartender, serving "Murph: - a Ranger Station regular

TJ, the bartender, serving “Murph: – a Ranger Station regular

Another limitation, however, appears to be lack of staffing especially given the bar’s popularity.  You order both your drinks and food at the bar and the night we were there the only individual taking orders and making drinks was quite harried and spent a lot of time in the kitchen which created a line waiting to order.

Servers bring the food, but the expectation appears to be that you bus your own dishes after your finish. “There is also a dish bin conveniently located for customers to bus their own tables and a tipping option – before the food is prepared.”  (Yelp 6/6/16)

Low-key decor

Low-key décor

The décor is cool and understated.  According to TJ, the bartender I talked to on my second visit and who has worked there since the opening, the owner did all the work on the knotty-pine bar and booths, himself.

There are items such as shovels, axes, lanterns, cross country skis, etc.  hanging on the wall to convey a forest-type environment.

“If you somehow woke up inside the Ranger Station, it would be easy to believe you were actually inside a ranger station. The tiny and rustic Hawthorne District bar looks very much like a Roosevelt-era public works cabin, from the picnic-table-style wooden benches to slatted lawn chairs.

Framed topographic maps and acoustic guitars hang from the walls, and a malfunctioning stove hood provides a cool draft from the kitchen. It’s a decidedly simple place.”  (2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide)

P1030928

The Hug Point

Hicks raved over the Hug Point (Hornitos tequila, grapefruit and cranberry) one of five cocktails they serve, and on my first visit, I downed a strong Czech Pilsner from Bouy Beer Company in Astoria  (6.2 ABV – 35 IBU), one of the seven draft beers and one cider available.  My next visit, I attacked a good Hood River beer – a Double Mountain Kolisch (5.2 ABV – 40 IBU)

And perhaps I digress, but as long as the subject is ranger stations and a forest-type environment, it provides an opportunity to praise an absolutely marvelous book by New York Times columnist and author, Timothy Egan –  The Big Burn – which weaves a fascinating narrative on two topics:

  • Teddy Roosevelt’s and Gifford Pinchot’s efforts to fight the robber barons of the timber and mining companies and the railroads to preserve the public lands as a national treasure for every citizen.
  • The fire which started in August 20, 1910 that moved through the parched forests of Oregon, Idaho and Montana in a raging inferno, killing many and devouring towns:

P1040388

“Forest rangers had assembled nearly 10,000 men – college boys, day-workers, immigrants from the mining camps – to fight the fire.  But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers or anyone else knew how to subdue them……

….The Big Burn saved the forests even as it destroyed them: the heroism shown by the rangers turned public opinion permanently in their favor and became the creation myth that droved the Forest Service….”

And since I opened the door with a small side trip about Tim Egan’s book, to give you another sample of his colorful writing, check out his New York Times opinion piece on 6/9/16 entitled, “Lord of Lies.”  While Thebeerchaser does not usually venture into the political realm, this one is too relevant and noteworthy to ignore:

I no more expect CNN to set Wolf Blitzer’s beard on fire than to instantly call out the Mount Everest of liars. Trump lies about big things (there is no drought in California) and small things (his hair spray could not affect the ozone layer because it’s sealed within Trump Tower). He lies about himself, and the fake self he invented to talk about himself. He’s been shown to lie more than 70 times in a single event.

Professional truth-seekers have never seen anything like Trump, surely the most compulsive liar to seek high office. To date, the nonpartisan PolitiFact has rated 76 percent of his statements lies — 57 percent false or mostly false, and another 19 percent ‘Pants on Fire’ fabrications. Only 2 percent — 2 percent! — of his assertions were rated true, and another 6 percent mostly true. Hillary Clinton, who is not exactly known for fealty to the facts, had a 28 percent total lie score including a mere 1 percent Pants on Fire.

But back to the Ranger Station bar……..

A small but diverse group of micro-brews on tap

A small but diverse group of micro-brews on tap

There are a slew of good bars in the Barmuda Triangle – sometimes known as the Stumble Zone in southeast Portland.

While the Ranger Station space has limitations which may ultimately have led to the demise of its forerunners, it still has a good vibe and some loyal regulars who enjoy the music and the opportunity to have a drink and some good food close to home.

Before the crowds arrive

Before the crowds arrive

 

But you may want to get there early, so you can then move on to some other watering holes that are more expansive in both their space and their vision.

Of course, if the owners have a strong perspective and want to promote their venture, they would be smart to negotiate with the owner of the adjacent space which is even connected to the Ranger Station by a hallway – they also use common restrooms.

P1030925While some of the neighbors in the area might not want to lose the Fat Straw, (coffee, bubble tea and sandwiches), it could provide the room for the Ranger Station to adequately fit the bands, bar regulars and even some mountain men from the forest that might amble in searching for a good mug!

The Ranger Station  4260 SE Hawthorne

 

Thebeerchaser Rambles on N. Mississippi Ave.

P1040195

Historic North Mississippi Avenue, while it does not have the overall quantity of watering holes as the fabled Barmuda Triangle in Southeast Portland, has become a gold mine for good bars.

P1040172Past visits to establishments such as Prost, Interurban and Sidecar 11 (see  posts dated 11/24/12 – 5/13/12 and 6/6/13) were notable and there are additional venues beckoning such as Bar Bar, Crow Bar and the Liberty Bar and Grill.

My three visits to The Rambler, however, were a pleasure – a quaint and classy neighborhood bar now owned by an entrepreneur who deserves to see his efforts come to full fruition after opening only about ten months ago.

Entrepreneurs with class and vision

Christian – an entrepreneur with class and vision

The ambiance and friendly environment of the Rambler – in a spacious old house was especially appreciated after the sterile, corporate hew permeating the last bar reviewed – The Yard House in Pioneer Place.  The 100+ beers on tap could not compensate for what it totally lacked in ambiance.

I visited the Rambler with my friend and fellow Portland State MPA graduate, Greg Wallinger, who until very recently, was the heart of the City Club of Portland’s respected research program, having served as Research and Policy Director from 2012 to 2016.

Wallenger with the traditional Beerchaser logo

Wallenger with the traditional Beerchaser logo

The Rambler replaces two prior establishments, Casa Naranja and then the Bungalo Bar, which was described by a neighbor in a 2015 Willamette Week article as “a magnet for dirtbags……evidenced by OLCC violations, noise complaints and license suspensions.”

After some lengthy and heated negotiations for the building, there was extensive remodeling to rebuild the bar, salvage the flooring and redo the front of the historic 1920’s bungalow while adding two patios and other features.

Outside by the bocce pit.

Outside by the bocce pit.

Christian Lee, the owner, who relocated to Portland from San Francisco, has established a neighborhood venue which draws rave reviews for the changes including adjectives describing the interior and exterior as, “stupendous, admirable, comfortable and awesome.”   

P1040181

The back patio – like being at the beach……

“Here the fire pit(s) and tasteful stained-wood picnic tables are joined by – wonder of wonders – an outdoor flatscreen.  There’s another patio in the front, and in the sideyard, there’s a bocce pit.  You might as well be at the beach.” (2016 Willamette Week Bar Guide)                                         

P1040177Christian is described as “career bartender” and knows his craft well.  The Rambler has eight beers and five wines on tap – limited but adequate including one very interesting brew  premiered from Portland’s Grateful Deaf Brewery.

And $1 off during Happy Hour

And $1 off during Happy Hour

But it is the craft cocktails that garner the praise and descriptions such as “expertly-crafted and inventive.”          

“……a kegged cocktail named for Doc Brown, plus a host of $8 to $10 variations on the Manhattan, Old Fashioned and vodka fruit punch.”

——

 

Christian's boulevardier - bourbon, sweet vermouth and campari

Christian’s boulevardier – bourbon, sweet vermouth and campari

There are eighteen menu items – no heavy entrees’ but interesting sandwiches and appetizers. Christian stated that they have good dinner crowds.

Almost all of the reviews and comments on the food are favorable with emphasis on the Frito Pie, fried Brussels sprouts with charred onion, fish tacos, smoked brisket chili and a “$13 burger stuffed with more proteins than a vegan bodybuilder’s medicine cabinet.” Willamette Week 2015 Bar Guide.

Good results from the kitchen

Good results from the kitchen

“The Fritos pie and (pork belly) bahn mi (Vietnamese bread) are galactic affairs. Unequivocally great.  From a New Yorker in an April, 2016 Yelp review.

“The bartenders were fantastic, the fish tacos were delicious, and the overall atmosphere of the bar was just awesome.”  From two San Francisco visitors in a 9/15/15 Yelp review.

Lee at work on the brussel sprouts while downing a Portland Skies.....

Lee at work on the brussel sprouts while downing a Portland Skies…..

I did not eat on any of my three visits to The Rambler, but having a great chat with amiable neighborhood regular, Lee, who was eating the Brussels sprouts while consuming the special cocktail of the day as shown in the picture, tempted me to grab a fork and sneak several bites.

Christian explaining the special punch - gin, violette, lavender,lemon

Try the special punch – gin, violette, lavender and lemon topped with bubbly!


 

Of course, the quaint atmosphere of the bar fit well when one is chatting with an erudite fellow like Wallinger, who shepherded twenty-three volunteer-produced research reports through the City Club’s rigorous review process ranging from studies on property tax to marijuana legalization during his tenure.  He felt the one with the most impact was that on Portland’s Street Fees and Gas Tax.

Greg’s undergraduate degree at Susquehanna University was followed by work as a paralegal in a Virginia law firm where he worked on real estate, bonds and tax matters.   Two years followed as an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer working on substance abuse issues for children in Helena, Montana, where he also met his wife, Stephanie.

After living in Reno for two years, they moved to Portland and he earned his Master’s at Portland State, followed by work for Stand for Children and then the City Club stint.   They have an eleven-moth old daughter.

Last day at City Club where Greg (center) left a legacy

Last day at City Club where Greg (center) left a legacy

To momentarily digress and since the City Club studied the issue of marijuana legalization, it is also interesting to note that the old house – next door to the bar is one of the five Nectar group’s recreational cannabis locations:

“Nectar is one of the largest Marijuana dispensary chains in Oregon. We pride ourselves on a phenominal staff, great selection of quality products and a wonderful atmosphere.”

Changing times in PDX...

Changing times in PDX…

I still haven’t figured out why they have a person regardless of the weather, continually sitting on the front porch (she’s hidden by the column).  I guess she is a “bouncer” of sorts, and checks IDs…..

Now while the emphasis so far has been on the downstairs woodwork and the rear patio, any description of this reconditioned bungalow bar needs to mention the upstairs

Walinger, showing he has athletic skills in addition to intellecualism

Wallenger, showing he has athletic skills in addition to a keen intellect

Its a cozy attic-type space with a pool table with “pristine red felt” and “a record player where you can play your own records!!!”           

P1040166

Space for a cozy chat or to watch a game.

The art work, while it would not hang in a Park Avenue gallery, is cool and very much in keeping with the atmosphere intended.

And if one wants a cozy nook to either watch a sports event or just chat away from the crowd, there is a room right off the patio to accomplish that

Second-floor artwork

Second-floor artwork

There were good comments about the background music at the bar and since the Rambler reminded me of an old road house, in a fit of nostalgia I started thinking about all the tunes over the years with “Ramblin” or “Rambler” in the title or lyrics.

From Nat King Cole’s “Ramblin Rose” to the Rolling Stone’s “Midnight Rambler,” to the Allman Brothers Band’s “Ramblin Man.”

And don’t forget Dylan’s “Rambler Gambler” or my favorite – “Colder Weather,” by the Zac Brown Band, with these great lyrics:

He said I wanna see you again – But I’m stuck in colder weather –  Maybe tomorrow will be better,  Can I call you then?

She said you’re a ramblin’ man – You ain’t ever gonna change – You got a gypsy soul to blame  – And you were born for leavin’.

Zac Brown Band - they would like The Rambler too.....

Zac Brown Band – they would like The Rambler too…..

Well, while retired and not on a road trip or stuck in a truck-stop diner in Lincoln thinking of a girl left behind in Colorado, Thebeerchaser is definitely a Rambler Man.

I loved this bar, applaud Christian for what he has created and urge you to pay the Rambler a visit to say “hello.”  I might see you there.

The Rambler                 4205 North Mississippi Avenue

P1040190P1040178

 

 

 

 

 

53 Months of Thebeerchaser’s Tour – Where we’ve been and you should go!

Thebeerchaser outside Crackerjacks Pub - probably his favorite bar on the Tour to this point!

Thebeerchaser outside NW Portland’s Crackerjacks Pub – probably his favorite bar on the Tour to this point!

Denny Ferguson at the historic Cheerful Tortoise downtown

Denny Ferguson at the historic Cheerful Tortoise downtown

 

Since the inception of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs in August 2011 I have had the pleasure of visiting and writing-up sixty-nine Portland establishments.   And what was originally intended to be posts about the history, regulars and distinguishing characteristics of watering holes strictly within the Rose City, transformed into an expanded mission based on our retirement travel.

These trips resulted in visits to 97 additional saloons in Europe, Alaska, the Southeastern US, Montana, Wyoming, Washington and central and eastern Oregon and the Oregon coast described in Thebeerchaser posts.

Laura Williams, Ryan Keene and Kenzie Larson outside Stammtisch – a great NE Portland bar

Besides being able to list the alehouses visited, as a tool for Thebeerchaser followers and visitors I have now categorized those Portland watering holes by sector of the city for those who are looking for a place to raise a mug in a certain geographical area.

Former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, Beerchasing at the Beer Monger in SE

Former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, Beerchasing at the Beer Monger in SE

 

 

 

 

—–

 

They are broken down into Northeast (10 bars), Southeast (23 bars which includes the fabled Barmuda TriangleNorth (11 bars in the vicinity of Mississippi, Killingsworth and Interstate Avenues and St. John’s), Northwest (13 bars) and Southwest (10 bars which includes downtown or the Central Business District and Multnomah).

There was one bar in the suburbs (Brannons in Beaverton which unfortunately is now closed) and the Pedalounge – a traveling chariot which visits several bars on its amazing tour of Southeast Portland.  Towards the end of this post, the bars and brewpubs outside the Portland area are listed.

University of Portland's Dr. Sam Holloway and Brian Doyle at the St. John's Pub

University of Portland’s Dr. Sam Holloway and Brian Doyle at the St. John’s Pub

The 2016 Addendum is enumerated at the bottom of this post.

How to Use this Chart

If you are interested in finding more about one of the taverns on the list below, there’s two ways to do this:

In the second column on the listing below, you will see the year and the month of the post for the bar.  On the right side of your computer screen, you will see an enumeration of the years and months of all the Beerchaser posts.  Click on the month to get to the write-up. There may be several posts that month so you might have to screen down.

OR

Just go to the upper right corner of your screen and enter the name of the bar in the search field and those posts were it is mentioned should show up.

# Year/Month Area Name Type
1 2012 – 2 NE Migration Brewery Brewery
2 2012 – 2 NE Laurelthirst Pub Neighborhood
3 2012 – 6 NE County Cork Neighborhood
4 2012 – 7 NE Bottles Bottle Shop
5 2012 – 12 NE 1856 Bottle Shop
6 2013 – 12 NE Church Neighborhood
7 2014 – 2 NE Sandy Hut Dive
8 2014 – 7 NE Stammtisch Neighborhood
9 2014 – 9 NE Club 21 Dive
10 2015 – 3 NE Oregon Public House Neighborhood
 
1 2011 – 11 SE Coalition Brewery Brewery
2 2011 – 8 SE Brooklyn Park Pub Neighborhood
3 2011 – 8 SE Yukon Tavern Dive
4 2011 – 9 SE Gladstone Street Tavern Neighborhood
5 2012 – 3 SE Hawthorne Hideaway Neighborhood
6 2012 – 4 SE Muddy Rudder Public House Neighborhood
7 2012 – 8 SE Lutz Tavern Historic
8 2012 – 10 SE Gold Dust Meridian Neighborhood
9 2012 – 10 SE Bar of the Gods Dive
10 2012 – 11 SE Claudia’s Historic
11 2013 -1 SE Grand Café   *1 Historic
12 2013 – 3 SE Belmont Inn Neighborhood
13 2013 – 4 SE Belmont Station Neighborhood
14 2013 – 4 SE Tanker Bar Dive
15 2013 – 4 SE Beer Neighborhood
16 2013 – 5 SE Horse Brass Pub Historic
17 2013 – 8 SE Slammer Dive
18 2014 – 1 SE Nest Neighborhood
19 2014 – 4 SE Bazi Bier Brassiere Neighborhood
20 2014 – 6 SE Beer Monger Bottle
21 2014 – 11 SE Richmond Bar Neighborhood
22 2015 – 4 SE Double Barrel Neighborhood
23 2015 – 12 SE Produce Row Historic
 
1 2011 – 9 N Twilight Room Historic
2 2011 -11 N Amnesia Brewery Brewery
3 2011 – 11 N Prost Neighborhood
4 2012 -5 N Mock Crest Tavern Historic
5 2012 – 5 N Interurban Neighborhood
6 2012 – 11 N White Eagle Saloon Historic
7 2013 – 6 N Sidecar 11 Neighborhood
8 2014 – 3 N Saraveza Neighborhood
9 2014 – 6 N Lost and Found Neighborhood
10 2015 – 5 N Ecliptic Brewery Brewery
11 2015 – 11 N St. John’s Pub Historic
 
 
1 2011 – 9 NW Joe’s Cellar Dive
2 2012 – 2 NW Dixie Tavern Dive
3 2013 – 2 NW Davis Street Tavern Misc.
4 2013 – 10 NW Slabtown   *2 Historic
5 2014 – 1 NW Skyline Tavern Historic
6 2014 – 4 NW Bailey’s Tap Room / Upper Lip Misc.
7 2014 -4 NW Crackerjacks Neighborhood
8 2014 – 4 NW Quimby’s Neighborhood
9 2014 – 4 NW Sniff Café Misc.
10 2014 – 12 NW Marathon Taverna Sports
11 2015 – 6 NW Low Brow Lounge Dive
12 2015 – 6 NW Pope House Bourbon Lounge Misc.
13 2015 – 11 NW Lompoc Tavern Historic
         
1 2011 – 11 SW Buffalo Gap Tavern Historic
2 2012 – 2 SW Ash Street Saloon Misc.
3 2012 – 6 SW Cheerful Tortoise Historic
4 2012 – 7 SW Goose Hollow Inn Historic
5 2012 – 12 SW Ship Tavern Dive
6 2013 – 3 SW Tugboat Brewery Brewery
7 2013 – 7 SW Sasquatch Brewery Brewery
8 2014 – 2 SW Cheerful Bullpen Sports
9 2015 – 5 SW Yamhill Pub Dive
10 2015 – 8 SW Kelly’s Olympian Historic
         
1 2015 – 3 Burbs Brannons in Beaverton   *3 Brewery
         
1 2014 – 8 Peda Lounge Misc.

*1 Franks Peters’ Grand Café closed in 2014 and Pour Sports has now opened in the historic building.

*2  The historic and iconic Slabtown closed in 2015 and unfortunately has not reopened.

*3   Kevin Brannon’s brewery and pub – Brannons’ in Beaverton closed in 2015.

The Dicksons, Lamberts and McAdams at Produce Row

The Dicksons, Lamberts and McAdams at Produce Row

And in closing this post and 2015, it needs to be stated that besides the adventure of exploring so many new and interesting saloons, it has been wonderful meeting the bartenders, the regulars and sharing stories with those who have Beerchased with me.

The Faust clan, Jim Westwood and Jennifer Johnson at Kelly's Olympian

The Faust clan, Jim Westwood and Jennifer Johnson at Kelly’s Olympian

 

 

Swift, Eller and Jones with waitress, Jennifer, at Pope Bourbon House

Swift, Eller and Jones with waitress, Danielle, at Pope Bourbon House

P1010302

Proost!  Salud!    Skal!

And finally – a special thanks to the 2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year, Janet Williams, my spouse of 35 years who has good naturedly switched from wine to beer when we have visited watering holes in Oregon and all over the U.S. and Europe.   

2016 Addendum

1 2016-7 SW MoMo Bar Maximo Dive
2 2016-6 SE The Ranger Station Neighborhood
3 2016-5 N The Rambler Neighborhood
4 2016-4 SW The Yardhouse Misc.
5 2016-3 NW Life of Riley Dive
6 2016-3 SW Barlow Artisenal Bar Misc.
7 2016-2 SE Hair of the Dog Brewery Brewpub
8 2016-2 SE Sloan’s Tavern Neighborhood
9 2016-1 Lake Oswego The Hop’N Cork Neighborhood

 

Don’t “Sniff” at Quimby’s

Quimby's - formerly known as Cheers
Quimby’s – formerly known as Cheers

If you glance at the new Beerchaser map (see link below), you will see that most of establishments visited on Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs, commencing in August 2013, are located on the southeast side of Portland – in what includes the infamous and beloved Barmuda Triangle.

Sniff -- Anyone for a Hair of the Dog IPA??
Sniff — Anyone for a Hair of the Dog IPA??

It is thus fitting, to hit a Northwest venue – the last one was Slabtown last October – especially when two are located in the same block.  And Sniff Cafe may be accurately labeled a “unique” watering hole in Portland in that it appears to be the only one that is integrated with a canine day-care and hotel.

My initial reaction was to harken back to Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Eastern Oregon last summer when I witnessed the antithesis of Sniff at the entrance to two different taverns – one in Burns and one in Prineville.  Take a look at these two signs greeting patrons at the doors of these bars.

————–

P1010724

Non-ambiguity re. furry friends.....

Non-ambiguity re. furry friends…..

To the contrary at Sniff, if you stop in for a glass of beer or wine during the Happy Hour times of 5:00 to 7:00 P.M., you get a $1 discount on beer and wine — plus, your pooch gets a free romp in the pet indoor play area – even getting occasional personal attention by one of their attendants.  You also get to view not only your pooch, but the other dogs cavorting in this puppy play pen.

One wonders if they may be playing, "Duck,  Duck -- Goose!"

One wonders if they may be playing, “Duck, Duck — Goose!”

____ serving a beer.

Taylor serving a beer.

Sniff is a neat little bar – it does not have hard liquor, but beer, wine, coffee and snacks ranging from pastries to pizza to wraps.  According to our bartender Taylor, who has been at Sniff for two years, it has been successful since it opened in 2010  – even to the extent of recently expanding as can be seen from the picture below.

Expanded bar areas at Sniff

Expanded bar areas at Sniff

Instead of hard-boiled eggs, pickles or other unhealthy stuff placed on the bar for snacks, Sniff had dog biscuits!!

Healthier than Pickled Pigs Feet....
Healthier than Pickled Pigs Feet….

————————

—————

I did not have the guts to ask Taylor if he had heard the joke about the dog who walked into the bar and asked the bartender, Have you seen the guy who shot my paw??? ” 

Sniff also has some rules for their pet guests that might be a good idea for some bars to institute as well – especially dive bars with a rough clientele.  For example, check out these guidelines below.  Substitute “you” for the canine equivalent in the following and you’ll see what I mean:

We want all our guests to play nice. That’s why we pick and choose which guests will socialize the best…..Call ahead and schedule your free temperament evaluation.

 

Leaving an  impression...

Leaving an impression…

WHAT IF MY DOG DOESN’T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS?  If your dog is not social, or requires one-on-one attention, for the safety of our guests, he or she is required to stay in a private suite and participate in private play sessions and/or walks; additional fees will apply.”

Artwork to keep the guests comfortable...
Artwork to keep the guests comfortable…

To further the above premise, they also have special rules for females in heat, because they “can stress our male guests…” 

Sniff has only four beers on tap (inexplicably no Hair of the Dog Brewery products) but seven additional bottled beers.  Also three white and three red wines to try.

To momentarily digress, Sniff also reminded me of my favorite Beerchaser regular, Portland lawyer, John Mansfield.   He tends to view phrases literally and on one of our bar trips after he saw a sign stating, “Temporary Dog Play Area,” commented, “Given my scheduling constraints, I would be interested in getting one of those temporary dogs.”

Okay, so let’s assume you either don’t have a dog or you just dropped off Fido at the Sniff Hotel and want to have a nightcap in the vicinity.  Just walk one block to a neat little neighborhood bar at 19th and Quimby.

The bar at Quimbys.

The bar at Quimbys.

Quimby’s prior to 2011 was named Cheers, which allows mentioning one of my favorite quotes from Cliff Clavin – intrepid regular at the beloved television bar:

“Well Norm, it’s like this.  A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.  And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first.  This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole….because the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:American_bison_k5680-1.jpg) US Department of Agriculter

The beer vs. buffalo analogy as framed by Cheers’ Cliff Clavin (Wikimedia Commons – public domain)

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.  In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s always why you are smarter after a few beers.”

Quimby’s is a quaint and typical neighborhood bar – with seven beers on tap.  Although they have a decent menu including sandwiches, pizza, good soups and more, the bar has a partnership, of sorts, with six food carts immediately adjacent to the back entrance and patrons can bring their cart cuisine inside while consuming their favorite beverage.

The patio and adjacent food carts

The patio and adjacent food carts

According to Steve, the affable bartender, who has been in the business 16 years, although he had just started at Quimby’s that day, their specialty is Buffalo Wings – we verified that they were really good.

They also serve reasonably priced breakfast all day, although when I tried to order one of the breakfast combinations in the early afternoon of my second visit, was informed that they had run out of eggs.

I had heard that the bar could be rather sparsely populated although the late afternoon of my first visit with my daughter and her boyfriend, Ryan, on a Thursday, we had to scramble for a table because it was Trivia Night and people came early for what is usually a big and raucous crowd.  The neighborhood is growing by leaps and bounds and patronage at the bar will continue to grow – especially in the summer with the patio area available.

Laura and Ryan with Thebeerchaser logo

Laura and Ryan with Thebeerchaser logo

There is both a free pool and ping-pong table plus darts, pinball and three big screen TVs which have PAC 12 and Big 10 broadcasts – evidently Ohio State and Michigan State fans frequent the bar to root for their teams.  Happy Hour is every day from 3:00 to 6:00 and they have specials each night such as Taco Tuesdays, Whiskey Wednesdays, etc.        P1020008

A recent Yelp review summarized pretty well by stating:

“The service is rather impeccable.  Attentive, kind and respectable bartenders round out an overall enjoyable experience.”   

     

So the next time you’re in Northwest Portland, give both Sniff and Quimby’s a visit.

P1010965

———–

Sniff Café             1528 NW Raleigh Street

Quimby’s                   1502 NW 19th

(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

Road Trip — To the Skyline Tavern

The Historic Skyline Tavern

The Historic Skyline Tavern

There are many bars – most notably in what is known as Portland’s Barmuda Triangle in Southeast Portland, where the setting for many bars is a busy urban intersection on Powell or Belmont, or one walks out into a strip-mall along a the busy street.  The attraction is thus, the interior design, the selection of beers and the character/clientele of the bar – not the setting.

The Skyline Tavern is the antithesis – an historic building that looks like a road-house in the woods on Skyline Drive near Forest Park – 9.7 miles from downtown Portland.  There are only four beers on tap – and the Terminal Gravity IPA was gone on that August evening we visited.  They do, however, have a bunch of bottled and canned beers, but no cocktails or hard liquor, and the only food is essentially microwave faire.  And by the way, bring cash or you may end up washing dishes – no credit or debit cards at this venue.

TrinketsThe saloon does have a few interesting antique trinkets and signs.

Oh Schlitz, where have thy gone when we need you now......

Oh Schlitz, where have thy gone when we need you now……

Unless your commute takes you by the pub, however, it would be best to save your visit for a cloudless day when you can take advantage of the expansive patio, the wonderful view of the Willamette Valley and the fire-pits where you can grill your own food and eat at one of the picnic tables in the beer garden or play Ping-Pong on the porch.  They also have a good juke box.

Of course, some readers would point out that waiting for a cloudless day in Oregon limits the opportunity to about 47 days per year.

Old - growth timber is improved over a brewski

Old – growth timber is improved over a brewski

I hit the Skyline with Beerchaser regular, Portland lawyer, Scott Whipple, the same afternoon we visited  another historic Portland bar – Slabtown last August.  Scott was still on an adrenaline high from our intense Pop-a-Shot competition in the back room at Slabtown, and immediately suggested we play pool – I might add that it was harder trying to hold a cue stick with buttered micro-wave popcorn on our hands, but Scott probably knew that.

Still riding an adrenaline high from Hop-a-shot at Slabtown
Still riding an adrenaline high from Pop-a-Shot at Slabtown
The chalk was only partially helpful in absorbing the popcorn butter
The chalk was only partially helpful in absorbing the popcorn butter

——————

We talked to friendly bartender, Diane, a Scappoose High School graduate, who has worked at The Skyline for seven years.

Diane and Thebeerchaser with the old logo

Diane and Thebeerchaser with the old logo

———

This excerpt from an October 2012 review in Portland Monthly Magazine, describes the venue perfectly:

“The Skyline is like a summer camp for casual drinkers:  The metronome of ping-pong balls clacking on the back porch, the clang and thunk of horseshoes thrown in the pit, the smell of burgers sizzling on the BYO – meat community grill, all played out in front of a tree-lined view of the Willamette Valley that’ll put a lump in your throat……”                                                                   

"The metronome of Ping-Pong balls....."

“The metronome of Ping-Pong balls…..”

Diane said that their biggest seller is 16 ounce PBR Tall Boys and that if you come on a summer evening or weekend, you will probably encounter a bunch of cyclists or motorcyclists at the end or on a break on their road trips.

——————

Not much in the way of draft beer, but plenty of bottles and cans. Have a PBR tall-boy
Not much in the way of draft beer, but plenty of bottles and cans. Have a PBR tall-boy!

The Skyline was pretty laid back and we were the only ones there besides Diane and a “regular.”

Scott did spice up the evening on the return trip by pointing out a forested spot on the off Thompson Road that “used to be the site of some memorable Sunset High School keggers…

I might add that since our Beerchaser Trip to Slabtown and The Skyline, Scott has shed ten of a planned forty-five pounds on his New Year’s diet – “I am shooting to lose 45 pounds by the time I turn 45..”  – some of which can be attributed to the stress of coaching The Sting his sons’ basketball team.

Stay tuned for a more svelte and conditioned Whipple - both mentally and physically

Stay tuned for a more svelte and conditioned Whipple – both mentally and physically

Some might object to the “minimalist” approach of the bar. This October 2013, Yelp review excerpt from a woman, whose initial paragraph in the review expressed shock that when she exited the bar, there were two guys inspecting a rifle that was pointed right at her votes for the status quo:

“But let’s be real here , I’m not a mans man. I am a lady who loves a nice game of horse shoes, pool or darts. I am also a lady who loves porch chillin’.

Skyline has an amazing back patio. Every time I’m here I have this horrible thought ‘If they just cut down all these trees, they would have any amazing view.’ You can, however, peek between the trees to enjoy a breathtaking view.  

As others have mentioned this bar is Cash Only – talk about no frills. If you’re reading this Skyline, don’t you change a f…ing thing. You keep it real, and I like it.”

And perhaps on a cloudless day in June, Scott and Thebeerchaser will return and toast his successful diet….??!!!

The Skyline Tavern    8031 NW Skyline Blvd.

Tanker Bar – Here Comes the Armored Cavalry….But Wait…..

the Tanker 018

Tanker is another one of the great taverns located in Portland’s “Barmuda Triangle” (BT) on Hawthorne Street (see Beerchaser post on October 3, 2012).  And while it might be assumed that the moniker for this bar is a tribute to the “iron beasts” that General George Patton used when he commanded the US Third Army to help defeat the Germans in World War II, it is actually named for the magnificent and mammoth ships that haul cargo in the Columbia and the world’s various waterways.

An excerpt from Portland Barfly gives a very apt description of this combination neighborhood tavern and dive bar.  (Note that we learned from Jessie, our friendly Tanker bartender, that the BT is also known as “The Stumble Zone”  — for obvious reasons to those with any kind of deductive reasoning capabilities.)

Jessie the Bartender with Jim Westwood

 “…..in the heart of the Stumble Zone, lies the capsized hull of The Tanker. The sea-worthy attention to detail shows freshly swapped decks and a total lack of barnacles…….

While you won’t mourn for the lost souls of lonely sailors, you will enjoy friendly service, tasty grinders and possibly the most reliable Wi-Fi in all of Portland.”

A Seaworthy Version of the Namesake

A Seaworthy Version of the Namesake

After having a beer at Beer on Belmont Street (see Beerchaser post on April 7, 2013) Portland Attorney and Beerchaser of the First Quarter of 2013, Jim Westwood, and I hit Tanker for dinner and a nightcap.

You might remember that Westwood has advanced linguistic skills and his late and wonderful mom, Catherine, happened to be both his and my Latin teacher at Oregon City High School, which was fortunate that night.

While the only Latin words I remember – understandably never successful in high school or college as a pick-up line – were “pulchra puella” (beautiful girl), Jim translated the Latin phrase used in Tanker’s coat-of-arms below, which is a very appropriate motto:

And who says High School Latin was not a useful course??

And who says High School Latin was not a useful course??

“In heaven there is no beer, so that’s why we drink it here.”

That promoted discussion of the converse assertion, which we decided should be, “In hell, you can drink all the beer you want, but there’s none available except Keystone Light.”

Tanker has pinball machines, Pacman Battle Royale, and as one might expect, the Big Buck Hunter Safari video game.  According to the Willamette Week 2010 Drink Guide, “….the nautically themed waterhole has the most avid followers of the game (in Portland).” 

A game in which one tries to shoot the life out of galloping electronic gazelles led me to question Jim about his prior legal work in Oregon Firearms Education Foundation v. State Board of Higher Education, a 2011 case regarding regulation of firearms on Oregon university campuses.

The real type of pinball machine

The real type of pinball machine

While the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled against Jim’s client being able to regulate guns by Administrative Rule, the court opened the door by affirming the State Board of Higher Education’s authority to control its property.  This enabled the Board in 2012 to unanimously adopt a policy that bans guns from most corners of campus life.

Mandatory Background Checks for BBH as a start???

Mandatory Background Checks for BBH as a start???

I suggested that possibly a reasonable first-step towards rational gun control policy would be to persuade Wayne LaPierre, of the NRA, to agree to support mandatory background checks for people who play Big Buck Hunter.

Possibly a good strategy, but he would undoubtedly bemoan government intrusion while asserting that the Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment to include electronic weapons and besides, Big Buck Hunter provides a training ground for a well-regulated militia.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Naughty Bingo on Tuesday nights:  As described in a Tanker review: “Win Adult novelties playing bingo……drink discounts as well as a signature cocktail list featuring The Naughty Bingo Martini. Everybody wins something.”

Name Your Tall Boy!

Name Your Tall Boy and Join the Can Clan….

Tall Boys and Whiskey Selection:
Besides their 15 Taps, Tanker has 42 different varieties of Tall Boys and more than 30 whiskeys.
———–
Drink one of each type of Tall Boy and you become a member of the “Can Clan” and get a free t-shirt and a $1 perpetual discount.  The same is true once you have downed one shot of each of their 30 varieties of whiskey.
They have a lot of “regulars” for the variety of events they host and feature Trail Blazer and Portland Timber games on their five big-screen TVs with drink discounts.
———————
And While we are on the Subject, A Brief Tribute to My Favorite Tanker….

Garmo cadet pictureThebeerchaser’s brother, Garry, was a West Point (Class of 1972) graduate who chose the Armored Cavalry i.e. Tanks, as his occupational specialty.  During his time at West Point, he was a member of the West Point Glee Club and a small combo in that group called The Headliners

As the picture below shows, they played at the White House for President Nixon and also appeared on the Mike Douglas show on CBS national television.                        

"Don't worry, Cadets, your performance has been recorded....."

“Don’t worry, Cadets, your performance has been recorded…..” (Cadet Williams to the immediate left of Nixon)

Garry had billets at Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort Knox in Kentucky (where the CO was George Patton V) and an extended assignment in Schweinfurt, Germany.  He was an outstanding junior officer during his six years in the Army as this excerpt from a 1974 fitness report, written by a Colonel, demonstrates:

“Lt. Williams judgment is of the highest order – totally dedicated to improving his subordinates – devoted to his duty and the battalion. 

He has a perspective and understanding which far exceed any other officer in his battalion….He is the best young officer I have ever known. His talents are so far beyond those expected of even the most outstanding officer that no narrative can do him justice.”

“Soldier, obviously you haven’t heard of the slogan, ‘Don’t Tread on Me.'”

——————-

After the military he worked at Tektronix for several years and married a beautiful lady named Pam.  Unfortunately, Garry died in 1989, but this post and a round of beer is dedicated to his memory.

——————–

—————

When you’re in the Stumble Zone, give Tanker a try even if it is not on a Naughty Tuesday Night.  As one Barfly reviewer summed up quite succinctly, “good bar, good times, good vibe…”And the food was good too – ask for the chicken quesadilla which Jessie cooked himself and was one of a number of good items on Tanker’s menu.

Jessee, the Bartender and Thebeerchaser logo
Jesse, the Bartender and Thebeerchaser logo

——————

Tanker        4825 SE Hawthorne