Beerchaser Miscellany – Lockdown Version I

Image created by and courtesy of Pam Williams

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped.)

Since my exploits to new bars and breweries are essentially locked-down temporarily, the next several posts will be entitled “Beerchaser Miscellany” – tidbits I wanted to share – some related to beers and bars and others which, in my opinion, deserve to be told.

We salute the medical providers during this crisis.

The pandemic causes us to reassess priorities, relationships and future goals.   We are all adapting to new restrictions, routines, ruminations, regimens (dietary) and responsibilities – to do our part to stay safe, to help others who are struggling and to use the time we have as productively as possible.

Having two daughters who are nurses, I salute all the healthcare providers and pray for their safety.  Also for parents struggling to balance work and childcare and business owners who face financial jeopardy.  (And speaking of healthcare providers, see the end of this post for a narrative and pictures of one Oregon physician who left a lasting legacy.)

But I’ve been trying to move forward by reading – new material rather than my standard escapist trash fiction, exercise daily, reach out to friends and former colleagues to check on them, expand the scope of movies and documentaries I watch (will still not watch soccer…..), listen to new music genres and even do jigsaw puzzles – we did four 500- piece and then tried a 1,000 piece enigma –  named “The Pottery Shed.”  (Going through old files has also been productive – see below.)

Pontificating on Puzzles

The Potting Shed – Agony or Ecstasy?

I checked on Google to see how long, on average, to complete a 1,000 piece puzzle and the first cite stated 3 to 4 hours which is absurd in my opinion. After reading another post by the Puzzle Warehouse that opined 10 to 24 hours, it made our collective approx. 40 hours over two weeks seem more reasonable and I reflected:

1. After agonizing over the features of a bunch of flowers which predominated, I am comfortable with my intent never to have gardening as a hobby.

2. If one assumes an average reading speed of 70 pages per hour, I could have, for the same investment of time, read each of the books in the photo below which are still unread on the shelves of my home library.

A Must Read!

(“On Bullshit,” is not unread and worth reading again and again – 27 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List in 2005! And if you want more of a justification of that last assertion, check out this former Beerchaser post)

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/03/12/bs-revisited-if-only-i-had-known-in-2012/

3. After spending several hours and telling me “I’m done!”, Janet was eventually lured back and we finished it together – time we spent together which would not have been the case if we had read separate books.

2,860 pages of great reading….

Bar and Brewery News

Fly Boy’s Artistic Logos (And the Pilot’s Peach is a great beer….)

Fly Boy Brewing and Cascade Brewing – I was pleased, but not surprised because of his entrepreneurial spirit, when Mark Becker joined three partners to buy Cascade Brewing, known throughout the Northwest for its sour beers.

Mark, who began brewing in his parents’ house while still in high school, founded FlyBoy with his wife, Kristi, in 2014 and it was featured in Thebeerchaser in 2017:   https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/05/25/navigate-a-course-to-flyboy-brewing/       

Mark Becker – followed his high school passion and took risks

FlyBoy is one of my favorite breweries in the Portland area and Mark is an engaging guy.  Although I had been to the Cascade Barrel House, in 2017, I was not as enamored with its ambiance and sour ale – although I’m in the minority on the beer. I’m looking forward to returning to see what the new owners concoct.

 As  reported  in  BrewPublic  (April  2, 2020)

“(Cascade founder Art Larrance) helped pass Oregon’s Brewpub Law, paving the way for scores of pubs since. He founded Cascade Brewing in 1998, and in 2006, worked with his brewmaster, Ron Gansberg, on an aging and blending program that would lead to countless awards and an entirely new style of beer known as the Northwest Sour Ale.”

Flat Tail Brewing in Corvallis – As I reported in my last post, I was sorry to hear that the cherished Corvallis Flat Tail Brewery appears to have permanently closed – not because of Covid 19 – but because of a dispute with their landlord over their lease as chronicled in a BrewPublic.com post on June 15th entitled “Flat Tail Brewing Closes its Doors in Downtown Corvallis.”

Rooting for its return in a new location

It showed its mettle when it took on Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing on use of Flat Tail’s slogan “Dam Good Beer.”

“(Dave) Marliave was dismayed when he learned that 10 Barrel Brewing Co. — a Bend brewer now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the largest brewing company in the world and the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light — had taken the slogan for itself.   A semi-trailer from 10 Barrel with the phrase even drove right past the downtown Corvallis brewery earlier this week, Marliave said.”

“Dam” pleased with their slogan…..

We certainly hope the ten-year old brewery with the slogan “Dam Good Beer,” finds a new location and reopens in the near future.

Renner’s Bar and Grill – This historic dive bar in Multnomah Village – opened in 1939 – which closed after a disastrous fire in April 2018, just reopened in June as reported in Portland Food and Drink.com   

Just around the corner from another one of my favorite bars – The Ship Tavern, I reviewed Renner’s in 2017 and unlike the stereotypical dive bar, it has great food.

Re-opened. Go check out the food!

As stated by co-owner, Josh “Uncle Stumpy,”“My goal is to maintain the dive bar experience, but offer superior food from scratch and a neighborhood bar charm.”

And the food is inexpensive and delicious with a surprisingly varied menu.  And, of course, a short walk to The Ship, which made my list of Best Dive Bars in Portland in 2019 is also a must for a nightcap.

One of Portland’s Best – especially if you go on a Sunday during a Packers’ Game

The Standard – This classic made the list as my top dive in the 2019 post for a reason best stated by Mathew Korfhage, former Willamette Week columnist, when he stated:

“The bar is cheap, no-nonsense fun in a way that takes all comers and yet is loving towards its long-time regulars.  These days in Portland that makes The Standard not very standard at all.  It makes it a GD treasure.”

Gone but not Forgotten

Fortunately, The Standard reopened on June 19th.  Unfortunately, it’s trademark Happy Hour and all-day Wednesday $1 Hamm’s Drafts are gone but not forgotten – thanks to their insurance company and its lawyers.

WWeek told the story in a July 2019 article, “A Beloved East Portland Dive Bar is Being Forced to End One of the City’s Cheapest Beer Deals.”

Owner Reed Lamb said, “After over 11 years with no claims, zero OLCC violations, & a spotless payment history, they chose not to do business with us anymore.”   Hamms’ Drafts are now $2, but they could be twice that and The Standard would still be a must.

And Speaking of Lawyers

Although not an attorney, I worked with lawyers for over forty years in three different organizations and loved Legal Management and the lawyer personality. The Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm from which I retired in 2011, after twenty-five years, was a wonderful firm with lawyers who were skilled advocates and with great character. (Okay, there were some exceptions, but very few…  You’ll have to wait for my book to see the specifics….)

I was therefore surprised when the Oregon Supreme Court in a 4 to 3 vote, approved waiving the bar exam – not just temporarily, but permanently, for any 2020 law grad in the State of Oregon.   The Washington “Supremes” took the same action for grads to the North – a benefit that the State of Wisconsin has long offered their grads.  Law School Deans lobbied for this course of action which was opposed by the State Bar.

I have not talked to any of my friends, but it would not surprise me if many practicing lawyers – who went through the long and arduous prep and grueling two-day exam (with an average pass-rate of 75%) have the same opinion as a July 1 Oregonian editorial entitled, “No bar exam – no problem – except for the public.”

And Files to Go Before I Sleep

Since a good part of my career involved communication – most notably with lawyers who were trained in the nuances of the language and relish analyzing and attacking, others’ oral and written discourse, I saved many e-mails, memos and articles from my 40+ years working with attorneys.

For future social science classes??

Also pictures and memories from college days, civic work, grad school papers, newspaper articles on travel and entire newspaper editions on significant events such as the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the OJ Simpson Trial in 1995 and the Impeachment Trial of Bill Clinton in 1999.

I also saved a number of Newsweek Magazines from events of similar magnitude.

From the garage archives….

And at a charity auction, I even paid a relatively handsome amount for the January 1, 2000 Editions of seven notable US Newspapers – the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Boston Globe and the Miami Herald.

I can’t remember if I told her how much I paid, but it did have a Certificate of Authenticity!

My wife, Janet, insisted with good reason during the lock-down, that I start going through and recycling at least 50% of the eleven file-cabinet drawers and multiple boxes I have filled with this (junk?)  She even helped me and one day when I was in doubt, she said, “Don, we are not going to use an 1998 article about a brewery in Des Moines for a future road trip.”

Just part of the “collection” in the garage…

And when I asserted that our grand kids could use the historic newspapers in their future social science classes, she just rolled her eyes and laughed.  (And the Kodak carousel trays with slides from my Mt. Hood climbs and Scout backpacks had to go since I had not looked at them in over fifty years.)

Janet wouldn’t let these slide…..

 

So with some diligence, I began attacking this mass (mess?) so our kids would not have to in the future……  Some of the job-related material I’ll save for the aforementioned book, but even the bulk that I recycled gave me a good chuckle that was welcome during a pandemic.   One of my favorite examples is below and I’ll save some others for the next post.

An Oregon Medical Icon – Dr. Cameron Bangs

Cam Bangs, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 78, was a unique individual and physician who practiced for thirty years in Oregon City.  I had the privilege of having him a my primary-care physician for a number of years.

I loved Dr. Bangs and one of my most prized letters was from my home medical records file following a physical exam in 1990 when I was 42.   But, first, a few words about Dr. Bangs.

Mountain Man and Medical Expert

In his younger days, he had the appearance of a Mountain Man – a big red beard and long untamed hair, and he usually wore wilderness duds.  That’s because he essentially was a Mountain Man – climbing major peaks all over the world and developing the expertise to become one of the worlds’ expert in mountain medicine and hypothermia.

Not Dr. Bangs but a similar experiment

In fact, I remember one time that I saw him, he had just participated in a hypothermia research project in which he immersed himself (I think with a companion researcher) in a tank of freezing water so his bodily responses could be monitored.

Southcoast Today 10/31/2015“……with a renowned expertise in mountain medicine, cold weather injuries and treatment, and mountain rescue. He participated in more than 50 rescues of climbers and skiers on Mt. Hood, in Oregon, and set up the local hospital’s frostbite and hypothermia treatment facility.

In the 1970s, he was given national recognition for his work in mountain medicine and was awarded Oregon Doctor of the Year.”

Photo by Don Williams on backpacking trip

Dr. Bangs was generous with his time – helping others and also a non-conformist, of sorts, who railed against the establishment and ostentation as evidenced by this article from People Magazine in 1977:

“The 40-year-old internist is a member of Oregon’s mountain rescue service. Usually working as part of an Army National Guard helicopter squad (nicknamed the “Flying St. Bernards”), he has helped save an estimated 75 lives in 55 rescues over the past nine years, and has treated hundreds of cases in hospitals for climbing injuries and exposure…..‘I deplore the kind of thing where a doctor joins this or that because he might pick up a few referrals. And frankly, many of my colleagues bore the hell out of me.’” (emphasis supplied)

And any Baby Boomer Oregon resident will remember the 1970 rock festival held near Estacada – Vortex 1: A Biodegradable Festival of Life at an Oregon State Park that hosted between 30,000 to 100,000 protesters – against Richard Nixon who was scheduled to appear at an American Legion Conference to be held in Portland.

Based on the courageous decision of then Governor Tom McCall’s – a Republican who showed remarkable foresight and integrity throughout his term – it remains the only state-sponsored rock festival in United States History.”  (Wikipedia)

And Cameron Bangs was the supervising doctor for all medical care at Vortex 1 as written in the Clackamas Review by his friend, Matt Love, to whom Dr. Bangs gave his “entire 20,000 word-in-the-moment diary of Vortex” for a book this prolific author wrote  entitled “The  Far Out Story of Vortex  1″                                       

Not your average Doc. In younger days at Vortex. (Courtesy of Matt Love)

“Dr. Bangs joined me at several events to promote the book and charmed audiences with his candid and humorous memories from the festival, particularly his assertion that he had set a world record for treating the most sunburned breasts and penises in a single time period…..

A lot more people should know what Dr. Bangs and many other Oregonians did at McIver Park 45 years ago. It was so much more than just a big party to avert potential violence. And Cameron Bangs was so much more than just a doctor.”

A State-sponsored Rock Festival!

He also served on the Portland Trailblazers’ medical staff during the ’70’s and had a 45-acre farm outside Oregon City where he raised a variety of farm animals.  His herd of cows started when he took a pregnant cow as payment for a medical bill.  https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2015/09/cameron_bangs_hypothermia_and.html

So what story do I have that can contribute to the engaging accounts above.  Well, in 1990, I was having a lot of intense migraine headaches.  My wife and I both had demanding jobs and were the parents of two fantastic young girls in grade school.

Migraines and out of shape….

I got little exercise and hadn’t had a physical exam in awhile, so I made an appointment with Dr. Bangs, knowing this visit would be a lot more pleasant than our previous appointment.

It should make any person who complains about the current prep process for a colonoscopy think of one word and thus be thankful for progress in medical technology i.e. “sigmoidoscopy” but that’s another story……

Not Thebeerchaser – I was only 42 at the time!!

He decided I should have an electrocardiogram – a treadmill test – after the rest of the exam and lab tests.   (Keep in mind that I was 48 years old.)

Afterwards we went into his office and he said, “I’ll send you a letter, but I can tell you now how you did on the treadmill.”  Our conversation went like this:

Dr. Bangs:  Your results compare to an average 35-year old male.

Beerchaser:  That’s encouraging news.

Dr. Bangs:  That’s one way to look at it.  Personally, I wouldn’t be satisfied with average anything!

Beerchaser: Dr. Bangs – this advice from a guy who just got back from a trip to Asia where he climbed several peaks over 15,000 feet and ran a marathon before that?

Dr. Bangs:  (Smiles) Get out of here!

So a week later I get a letter – excerpted as shown below. (Note that this was before e-mails, when a mailed letter took a lot more time and effort).

When I saw the P.S. above I started laughing, but the next day joined the 24-Hour Fitness near my office and began a regular exercise regimen (and subsequently lost seven pounds).

Well Beerchasers.  I hope you had a Happy Fourth of July. Stay safe, wear a mask and catch more Beerchaser Miscellany in the coming weeks..

A Monumental Day for America!

Thebeerchasers’ Best Portland Dive Bars

As I mentioned in my 2018 Annual Report, after pursuing this somewhat unusual hobby for a little over seven years, some might wonder which bars of various types or which breweries are my favorites.  Conversely, which would I not recommend although there are not many in the latter category.

So over the next few months, while still doing blog posts about bars I visit in 2019, I will try to identify my favorites to this point by category i.e. dive bar, neighborhood establishment, sports bar, brew-pub, etc. – without paying undue attention to defining the criteria for the categories.

As one can see by the first logo pictured above, I was originally  going to confine my journey to just Portland watering holes; however, given our robust retirement travel, it has expanded to cover bars in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, a number of regions in the continental US and throughout Oregon from the High Desert to the wonderful and scenic Oregon coast.

I’ll divide each category into separate posts covering Portland establishments and those outside the Rose City.  For each bar, I will provide a brief narrative on my rationale for it being on my “all-star” list.

I might add that one of the joys of this undertaking – especially on our trips, has been sharing the experience with my wife of 39 years.

Janet has transitioned from almost exclusively drinking wine, to enjoying IPAs – especially the hoppy ones.  That said, she demurs when I suggest hitting a dive bar — there have been one or two exceptions when we have been traveling.

I welcome your comments and opinions.  It should be also noted that I am not ranking these within the all-star categories, although I might feel inclined to indicate one that supersedes the others in each specific group.  Most of the narrative about each bar was applicable when I reviewed them.  Things may have changed since then, but hey – with 286 bars down and a lot more to go, I don’t have time to go back and update!

If you want to see the original post for the four I highlight below, you can click on the purple link in the name of the bar which precedes its story.

Cheers and Go Beavs!

Best Portland Area Dive Bars

 The Ship Tavern – December 10, 2012

The Ship, located in nearby Multnomah Village, could make the all-star list just from its unique mural on the exterior front wall, but this bar is a “must visit” for those who appreciate the ambiance of a good dive.

One could assert that it gets some competition as an iconic watering hole from Renners’ Bar and Grill, another great dive just around the corner and reviewed by Thebeerchaser in August, 2017 – unfortunately, now closed because of a disastrous fire.  However, even when both were operating The Ship clearly anchored the exceptional bars in the Village.

It’s aptly described by this Yelp reviewer who wrote: “The ship isn’t anything to write home to Mom about…..heck it probably isn’t even a place I would tell my Mom I went….but it knows what/who it is.”  (Yelp 9/1/17)   

The Ship has been in the same location since 1946 and this site of a former garage has big-time history and character.   If you go on Thursday, your table will have free peanuts in the shell – the shells go on the floor when you are done.

There’s also a great juke box with the favorite plays when I visited in 2012 as follows:

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – “Get a Job”

Bad Company“Bad Company”

The Raconteurs “Steady as She Goes”

Waylon Jennings“Good-Hearted Woman”

When you want to play a song in the juke, you tell the bartender who turns off the stereo. The old-time pinball machine is also great.

Da Bears, Da Cubs and Da Sox! – Now there are several bars in Portland which purport to be Chicago Bears’ bars – these  include the Buffalo Gap and the Hob Nob Grill, but The Ship Tavern is very passionate about their favorite NFL Team.  They also like the Cubbies and White Sox.

The Ship can be considered a Chicago hangout as evidenced by the fact that any time the Bears, Cubs or the Sox play, Pabst Old Style Beer – A Chicago favorite –  is $1.50 per can and margaritas and Bloody Mary’s are $3.50.

Debbie, the friendly bartender, emphasized, “This doesn’t apply to Blackhawk games – we’re not big on hockey.”   

Furthermore, every Sunday during football season they “offer meals that are themed after the opposing team.” The Sunday after my first visit, they played the Minnesota VikingsThe special was Tator-tot-Hotdish and Caesar salad for $5.50.  

According to Wikipedia, “Hotdish is a variety of baked casserole that typically contains a starch, a meat or other protein, and a canned and/ or frozen vegetable mixed with canned soup.  The dish is popular in Minnesota and North Dakota.”

Part of the lore was also supplied by former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jay WaldronThe bar was a hangout for the Portland Rugby Club (of which Waldron is a charter member) and they had their Book-and-Brew discussions at The Ship.  (I didn’t ask what percentage was brew and the allocation of book, nor the nature of the literature purportedly dissected.)

The overall character and décor make this bar the epitome of a good dive bar including the pictures and memorabilia – and the stories surrounding each one of them.  In the words of one patron:

“The Ship is simply your quintessential dive bar……It’s an ultra local joint with good history…….that dark and dank local bar with a handful of guys in trucker hats and grey mustache’s…..”(Yelp 2/29/12)       

Candace, the friendly bartender

The Ship Tavern        7827 SW 35th Ave.  Portland (Multnomah Village)

Gil’s Speakeasy – May 9, 2017

When they named it a speakeasy, they weren’t kidding.  There is no sign with the name and other than a few innocuous beer signs in the front windows, no indication that this is actually a bar.

It’s on the ground floor of a multi-story apartment building and based on the surrounding structures, you could walk right by it if you didn’t know it was there.  Perhaps that’s why PDXbars.com described it as, “Small, hard to find bar, with a huge personality.”

A viewing slot like a traditional speakeasy

And this is okay with Brett Gilhuly, who bought and renamed the bar in 2004 – it’s been around since 1939.  He stated in a media interview, “If you could find it, you were more than welcome. And if you couldn’t, – find something else.”

Brett also originated their advertising slogan, “The nicest assholes in town!.”  Gil’s wife, Katie is the co-owner and bartender and a very nice person….The dingy, although spacious bar, is also distinguished by its collections of signs, old bottles, photos and memorabilia.

 

Katie and bartender, Judd – “the best bartender in town!”

It features one of the few full-length shuffleboard tables remaining in Portland bars and has a great juke-box with a slew of albums ranging from Otis Redding and Sam Cooke to Pearl Jam and Guns ‘N Roses.

Although possibly a little inconsistent with the preferences of the typical dive bar regular, they even have “Teenager in Love,” by Dion and the Belmonts – it hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.

Dion and the Belmonts!!

But the best feature is their daily food special – you’ll have to go to my original blog post to see all of them, but to give you an idea, on Monday – which is also Dirty Bingo Night, you can get three tacos for a buck and on Friday (when I ate there) – a Sloppy Joe with chips – also for $1.

The Friday special for $1

The large pool table with red felt is a nice touch and is in a comfortable adjacent room.  They have a good tap list and beer is cheap.

Even the coin-operated breathalyzer is a nice feature and one which is not found often in Portland Bars.

Summed up in a dated, but still very accurate Yelp review on 4/17/14:

“In my top 5 dives in Portland. this place is great. drinks are reasonable, strong pours, and the food is great and affordable. check out their turkey dinner. delicious, home made, cant be missed. place is cozy.”

Gil’s Speakeasy         609 1/2 SE Taylor

Mock Crest Tavern – May 23, 2012

The Mock Crest is definitely a classic and borders on being a neighborhood establishment rather than classified as a dive; however, although it has some great features, it’s characterized by the wonderful environment of a dive bar.  Perhaps, this Yelp comment summed it up best although the reviewer equivocates to some extent:

“Hmmmm…I cannot classity this as a Dive Bar.  I’ve been to a generous handful in my day, and this is upscale divey, if not a classy dive bar.  It is a gem.”

Yep. It’s a dive albeit a classy one…..

So what are some of the distinguishing factors of this historic establishment which has operated for about 70 years and was named after North Portland entrepreneur and philanthropist, John Mock.

North Portland icon

A pharmacy and butcher shop/meat market occupied the building before the bar.  A picture of Mock hangs on the wall as you go out to the bar’s outside patio – not fancy, but a great place to contemplate the God’s gift of beer!

Mock Crest has eight rotating draft beers and about 21 bottled and cans.  Happy Hour is twice each day – from 3 to 6 P.M.and 11 PM to close.

Good food can be an exception to the rule at dive bars, but the bar has a good menu (including fried pickles) and gets favorable comments about its food including breakfast.

When we were there six years ago, the menu stated, “Breakfast served – any time.”   My colleague, Intellectual Property lawyer, John Mansfield, decided to be coy and stated, “Okay, I’ll take French Toast from the Renaissance Era.”  I see that they now serve it only until noon on weekdays – probably so they never have to listen to that comment ever again…..

Mansfield – he’s welcome back provided someone else orders the food!

Live Music –  Although the size of the bar is pretty limited, it is well known for its long history of good live music.  Their website states:

“(We) play host to NoPo’s best live music every Thursday thru Saturday. From Rock ‘Roll and Country, to Jazz, Pop, Blues and R&B, you’ll enjoy local legends, touring artists, as well as up and coming stars.  Best of all there never a cover charge – ever.”

The evening we were there we got to hear the Eagle Ridin’ Papas featuring legendary musician, Johnnie Ward, who was described as “a living study of Northwest Roots and Blues Movement with nearly 40 years of performance art to his credit.”  You are close up to the musicians and they like to interact.

At least one reviewer (Yelp 10/7/16) objects to the space constraints although most patrons (including John and I) like this intimate set-up:

“Want to have a conversation with some friends?  Forget it.  Want to use the bathroom?  Forget it, unless you don’t mind making direct eye contact with the lead singer while you squeeze through the drummer’s floor tom and the bass amp.”  (I guess Johnnie Ward realized how old I was because he smiled and nodded empathetically when I made the trip…..)

Johnnie Ward – up close and personal..

Mock Crest describes itself with several nice slogans – all of which are apt:

Home of the North Portland Blues

Easy to Find – Hard to Leave

Where Friends Meet

And in far North Portland, it’s a bit out of the way, but well worth a visit – one of the classics to which I will look forward to returning.  The character is best described by this one succinct review.

 “Small, hard to find bar with a huge personality.”

Mock Crest Tavern       3435 N Lombard Street     Portland

The Standard – June 26, 2018

While with the Mock Crest Tavern, one can make an argument that it is not a traditional dive bar, that is not the case with The Standard.  The entrance, shown above, confirms before you enter, that you are arriving at a true dive – and this is affirmed when you see the interior.

You walk in through the covered patio, which is vaguely reminiscent of the days before Oregon’s smoke-free legislation passed in 2008 and the interior of every dive bar had a hazy, smoke filled environment, which would be hazardous for anyone without pristine lungs. (The second-hand smoke during  the times I was there was pretty minimal, however.) 
Individuals and groups sit at the picnic tables chatting, smoking and working on computers – often accompanied by their pets. And they drink cheap beer.

It’s a bar, which even with a great reputation, has been below the radar in an inconspicuous location on NE 22nd Avenue – just off Burnside.  And some might assert that with the dark wooden fence with a dumpster in the middle, fronting the bar, it looks like a recycling center. Opened in 2007, it doesn’t have the long history of some other classic bars, but demands recognition.

It’s replete with old-style pinball machines and games, a pool table and even a photo-booth.

There’s also a curiously-short shuffleboard – with empty kegs underneath,  old beers signs, tacky art, an idiosyncratic (or bizarre) cracked mirror – the full length of the bar – and well, a lot of stuff that just  makes you feel welcome.

Another distinguishing characteristic is a noticeable affinity for Hamm’s Beer.  It’s manifested by its Wednesday all-day $1 Hamm’s pints, numerous logos and a notable stuffed Hamm’s Bear over the bar wearing a Portland Trailblazer jersey. The Standard, like a lot of dives, is not the go-to place for quality pub food.  Its line-up is confined to items such as chips and salsa, a few sandwiches (micro-waved), mini-corndogs and fried ravioli(?)

They also have a drink special each day which includes the aforementioned Hamm’s special on Wednesday.

I don’t know why I loved this watering hole so much.  Was it the overall environment, the sense of community – reflected by such features as their Crappy Book Club“Bring your crappy books and trade them for other crappy books,”  the annual chili cooking contest, the Christmas decorations and showing of Santa Horror Movies?

Or was it just the people with whom I experienced the bar – a group of some of my favorites Beerchasing regulars.

But The Standard ranks as my favorite dive bar to this point in the seven and one-half years of this pursuit.  Perhaps it’s best conveyed by former Willamette Week Project Editor, Matthew Korfhage

In 2017, he garnered first place for his columns on food writing in the American Association of Alternative Newspapers.  Matthew has reviewed establishments while living in St. Louis, Chicago, Munich and Bordeaux.   He wrote the following in the annual Willamette Week Best Bars Guide.

2016It’s the best little bar in Portland, and I won’t hear otherwise.”

2017: “The bar is cheap, no-nonsense fun in a way that takes all comers and yet is loving towards its long-time regulars.  These days in Portland that makes The Standard not very standard at all.  It makes it a GD treasure.”

So take in The Standard experience.  And while they have some good craft beer on tap, in the interest of honoring the character of this establishment, belly up to the bar and ask bartender, Tyler, for a draft Hamm’s.

The Standard        14 NE 22nd Ave.     Portland

Well that’s it folks and stay tuned in the coming weeks for a similar all-star list of dive bars outside of Portland.  And remember when you are contemplating this topic, the wisdom of Seattle author, Mike Seeley in his book Seattle’s Best Dive Bars:

“But really, no collection of characteristics can be melded to truly define what makes a bar a dive…..The term ‘dive’ is bestowed with a spoonful of love….What they have in common aren’t so much attributes, but a state of mind — you just know one when you see one.” (Pages 9-10)