The Beerchaser Does Eastern Oregon – Part II and Johnny Brose, Beerchaser of the Month

Historic Chapel in John Day

Historic Church in John Day

The second leg of our four-day Eastern Oregon road trip started at Unity Lake State Recreation Site where we had spent the first night.  We headed north through Sumpter for breakfast and to photograph The Elkhorn Saloon. (next trip we will have a beer!)

An historic saloon in an historic Oregon city
An historic saloon in an historic Oregon city
Abandoned school house in Granite

Abandoned school-house in Granite


We drove through Granite and Starkey – a town so small you can wake up next to yourself –  passed an immense camp for firefighters which had about 150 tents, and on to LaGrande – which requires a correction from Installment I of the Eastern Oregon tour on this blog.  We did not hit the two taverns in La Grande (Long Branch Saloon and The Hideout) until the second day and not on day one.

Catherine Creek -

Catherine Creek –

After visiting the aforementioned two saloons, we pitched our tent that night at Catherine Creek State Park, which is accurately described in the website as, “a cool, quiet and peaceful setting.” 

We then contemplated the benefits of escaping from the daily routine and just relaxed in God’s Country as you can see by the picture below………

Away from the daily grind - wait a minute - are those I-Phones??!

Away from the daily grind – wait a minute – are those I-Phones??!

We hit the road again in search of a dinner venue – like a good steak considering all the beef on-the-hoof we had observed.  We heard good reports on the Cove Tavern and Steak House, but it was closed on Mondays and we ventured into the City of Union.

Pick-up Truck at Cove Tavern and Steakhouse

Pick-up Truck at Cove Tavern and Steakhouse


Steve, being an educator and astute observer, stated, “You know, both dogs and pick-up trucks seemed to be ubiquitous in these environs.”  (He then defined “ubiquitous” and “environs” for Dave and me….) As evidence, we saw the following two signs on taverns we visited:


Keep  your dog in your pick-up and not the bar.

Keep your dog in your pick-up and not the bar.


The historic Union Hotel was also rumored to have a great steak and was impressive, but it was closed as was another Union institution –  LG Brewskis, a very interesting looking pub which will have to await our next trip.

As we got back on the road, Dave wondered why there were a number of cities with nautical themes in their names, but without a trace of water around.  Examples included Cove, Island City and Hot Lake.  Our attention span was not sustained long enough to try for an answer.

Unfortunately we could not find out what the LG designated in the name of this pub

Unfortunately we could not find out what the LG designated in the name of this pub

Hungrier now, we ended back in LaGrande, which was fortunate because we had a fantastic dinner at 10 Depot Street, a restaurant which also had one of the most impressive bars we saw on the trip. 

An impressive bar complemented the great food

An impressive bar complemented the great food

Unfortunately, we were not going to be in town for the La Grande Pub Tour “….which kicked off its Celtic Festival,” and for which $10 would secure a ride on the trolley making the rounds.  (10 Depot was the first stop.)

A first-rate LaGrande bar and restuarant

A first-rate LaGrande bar and restaurant



We had a nightcap at the Mt. Emily Ale House – the one disappointment on the trip.  Although it was a Monday night, there was a decent crowd, but the bartender was inattentive and did not have a clue about the products produced by his brewery.  The beer was also not very impressive, which is also the case with their website.

A disappointment for a number of reasons.

A disappointment for a number of reasons.

It was a full moon and we were awakened in the middle of the night by screeches and screams – many more decibels in intensity than the snoring which had started early that night.  It was coyotes.

Dave then awoke with a start and admired the view of the moon and stars before exclaiming, “Where in the hell is my roof?” before we assured him he was not at home and our tent had a vent-hole at its top.

The next  morning, Dave demonstrated his culinary skills with a great breakfast and we headed for Baker.  Upon reaching the city we took picture of two more bars before stopping at the Bull Ridge Brewery and Pub.  A conversation at 10:50 AM between Steve Larson and his wife gives some context:

Culinary skills helped start the day.
Culinary skills helped start the day.

Steve:  Hi Babs, we are in Baker waiting for the Bull Ridge Brewery to open.  We’ve already been to two bars earlier this morning.

Babs:  Isn’t that a little early to start drinking beer?

Steve:  No. No.  You don’t understand.  Don just took pictures of the first two.  All we’ve had this morning is coffee so far.

The Stockman Bar deserves an actual visit on the next trip.

The Stockman Bar deserves an actual visit on the next trip.


To lend credence to Steve’s assertion, the following are two bars in Baker which we photographed but did not visit on this trip although like General McArthur – “We shall return.”


The Idle Hour - interesting, but too early to partake

The Idle Hour – interesting, but too early to partake

Waiting until the Bull Ridge opened at 11:00, we drank what, for us, was an early beer.  Camas, the helpful waitress (named after the flower) told us a little about the establishment which is housed in an historic building – originally a mercantile warehouse and opened two years ago in September.

We had pints of Bull Ridge’s Tumbleweed and Flagstaff Pale Ale, which were excellent.  As a side note and rationale for AM drinking, beer was probably the safest liquid we could consume since Baker City was in the middle of a battle with cryptosporidium which had contaminated its water and sickened dozens of residents.

Dave and Steve in an inarticulate and awkward effort to demonstrate that it was 11:00 when we entered Bull Ridge

Dave and Steve in an inarticulate and awkward effort to demonstrate that it was 11:00 when we entered Bull Ridge

Camas then told us we should see the Brewer for a tour and we met Johnny Brose, who was a smart, articulate and friendly young guy who gave us a personal tour.

He demonstrated real pride and knowledge of his product and the brewing process. I was both surprised and pleased to learn that he is an Oregon State graduate who  earned his degree in Food Science and Technology with a focus on Fermentation Science.  OSU is one of only two  universities in the US to offer a fermentation degree and is home to an internationally recognized hops research initiative

Brewmaster, Jonny Brose and Camas with Thebeerchaser logo

Brewmaster, Jonny Brose and Camas with Thebeerchaser logo

He was a Baker City High graduate and before returning to his home town he interned at breweries and wineries for a year  in Germany learning his craft.

Jonny was extremely helpful and has lofty goals for the brewery.  He  receives Thebeeerchaser of the Month of November in recognition for his enthusiasm for his profession and his competence in his craft – also being a Beaver.

The pub has an excellent selection of beers on tap and wines and a nice menu. Since we visited, Johnny has rolled out several new beers and his creativity is evident in the names:  P1010739

Johnny extracting a sample for us to taste.

Johnny extracting a sample for us to taste.


Haymaker Hefeweizen, Bear Claw Porter, Whitetail Pale Ale, Gun Sight IPA, Rut Dust Amber and Lone Pine Lager.

He plans to roll out a winter ale at the beginning of December, but has not named it yet.  How about Beaver Dam Winter Ale?

We recommend you visit the Bull Ridge Brewery and Pub when you are in Baker and say hello to Johnny Brose.

The Bull Ridge Brewery and Brew Pub      1934 Broadway Baker City

The Bull in Bull Ridge..!

The Bull in Bull Ridge..!

Thebeerchaser Does Eastern Oregon – Part 1

Granite - one of the stops in the Eastern Oregon Beerchaser Tour

Granite – one of the stops in the Eastern Oregon Beerchaser Tour

After visiting pubs in six European countries on a 21-day Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour this summer, a return to basics was in order.  What better description of “basics” could one devise than a four-day road trip through Eastern Oregon – visiting taverns, pubs and bars along the way. (This post is the first of three installments…)

Historic beauty along the highway

Historic beauty along the highway

Psyched to start our 1,300 mile journey

Psyched to start our 1,300 mile journey

Thus, three of us – Thebeerchaser, brother-in-law, Dave Booher and Pendleton teacher and coach, Steve Larson, completed a 1,346 mile four-day trip in August.

We camped three nights and stayed at the wonderful Diamond Hotel, in Diamond, Oregon on the fourthP1010785Diamond, with a population of five, is so small that the “Welcome To” and “Come Again” signs could be on the same telephone pole.  Anyone who has not experienced this historic inn, should make it a bucket-list item.

As one can see from the map, we circled through the “God’s Country.”

The Route - From Prinevill on the West to Baker on the East - Diamond in the South and ending at Pendleton (North)

The Route – From Prineville on the West to Baker on the East – Diamond in the South and ending at Pendleton (North) – 1,346 miles in 4 days.

This trip was a great opportunity to either visit or photograph some of the colorful and historic local watering holes that are institutions in cities such  as Prineville, LaGrande, Baker, Fossil, Burns, John Day, Mitchell and Sumpter.

Solstice - LaGrande's only brewery

Solstice – Prineville’s only brewery


Solstice Brewery Solstice celebrated its second anniversary in July and with a play area for tots (which we did not try) is a family oriented venue.  Shelby, our waitress, was friendly and helpful as was the owner, Joe, who told us it was the only brewery in Prineville and that they have a five-barrel capacity.

Shelby and Dave

Shelby and Dave with Thebeerchaser Logo



The Bar at Solstice

They bought their five-barrel brew kettle from Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise. Their beer was good and we tried the War Paint Red Ale, Show-me-the-Honey Wheat Ale and Walton Lake Lager, three of six Solstice’s own brews.  We also had a good Sunday lunch.

The Horseshoe - Established in ____

The Horseshoe – Established in the 1940’s

Horseshoe Tavern  – Just up the street from Solstice on Prineville’s Main Street we met native Pennsylvanian, Heather, the bartender, who did a great job filling us in on the history of the bar, which is over 70 years old – a fact substantiated by the picture of the original owner, Howard Bose, on opening day.

Horseshoe Founders in 1940

Horseshoe Founders in 1940

Heather told us that her most challenging customers were the off-duty state troopers, who made the trucker patrons look tame.

They have seven beers on tap and we enjoyed the Bombshell Blonde from Cascade Lakes Brewery in Redmond.  This review from “Urban Spoon” summed up the Horseshoe pretty well, “Good food, huge portions.$1 beer, friendly staff.  What more could you want?”

Heather at the Horseshoe

Heather at the Horseshoe

Heather convinced Thebeerchaser to have an “Angry Balls” cocktail which is Angry Orchard Hard Cider (5% alcohol) and a drop of Fireball.  It was very good although evoked no emotional or physical reaction implied by the name.


The Hideout Saloon – Our next stop was in “downtown”, LaGrande, where Cindy, the gregarious bartender who has worked at the Hideout for ten years, hailed from the Land of Sky Blue Waters as did the “Beer-of- the-Day” – a draft Hamm’s.

Thebeerchaser "hiding out..."

Thebeerchaser “hiding out…”


Cindy briefing Dave on the Hideout


Cindy didn’t know exactly when the bar started operating, but said without equivocation, “It’s older than anybody here.”

Old Testament Vintage

Old Testament Vintage

We noted that a number of patrons – other than ourselves –  reminded us of some of the Old Testament characters so we knew the bar was old.

Because they had cheap PBR and Dave was in a nostalgic mood, he harkened back to his days in the Navy’s Submarine Service and used the phonetic alphabet and ordered a “Papa – Bravo – Romeo,” which Cindy understood.

The LongBranch Saloon – Just down the street, we discovered our final LaGrande bar – one that had no lack of character and ambiance.  Patsy, the bartender didn’t know how old the bar was, but said that her grandmother worked there at one time.P1010699

Barbed-wire sculpture added to the atmosphere

Barbed-wire sculpture added to the atmosphere


One young guy came in and she asked for his ID which he didn’t have.  He left – came back and showed his ID – then just got a glass of water….!  The Long Branch also has a quant diner attached that looked like it was from the 1950’s.

Straight from the 1950's..

Straight from the 1950’s..

We then debated where we should camp that evening.  Steve advocated flexibility, but I told him, “Spontaneity on this trip takes a lot of planning…”

We stopped at the Dairy Queen in John Day to assess our options, while I had a chocolate malt, Dave a Dilly Bar and Steve a DQ Sundae.  We couldn’t figure out why Dave told the Drive-thru waitress to make sure that our orders were “To Go.”

Unity Lake at Sunset

Unity Lake at Sunset

We headed east  on Highway 26 and about half way between John Day and Sumpter, we ended up at one of Oregon’s wonderful State Parks – Unity Lake State Recreation Site

“Camping” may be a stretch to describe our accommodations because we stayed in a cabin with bunks, but as you can see from the photos, it was a perfect ending to a day of exploration. 

A toast to God's Country!

A toast to God’s Country!


A Tribute

And this post should end with a short tribute to the man who instilled my appreciation of God’s Country when I was in my teens and he was a carpet salesman for Mohawk Carpets.

My Dad – F. Duane Williams –  on whom we lovingly bestowed the moniker, “FDW”, grew up on the East Coast and thanks to his courage and that of my mom (Frannie), we moved to Oregon from Ohio in 1960 after a three-month camping trip (a VW bus hauling a Nimrod pop-up-tent trailer) across the US.  We missed three + weeks of school in the fall because FDW wrote the superintendent of schools that we were getting an outstanding education on the road.

FDW in God's Country

FDW in God’s Country

We all fell in love with Oregon on the trip and FDW quit his job and moved to Portland while Frannie sold the house and then drove the four kids across the country to our new home in Oregon City.   From that point on, FDW was imbued with “The spirit of high adventure.” 

FDW and his VW

FDW and his VW

Although he did not make much in commissions from his Eastern Oregon territory, he loved the trips. From the geology to mingling with his dealers such as Doc Mosier of Mosier’s Home Furnishings in John Day – founded in 1955 and now operated by Doc’s son he relished the adventure.

I still have a personally autographed copy of famous Oregon cattleman, Herman Oliver’s autobiography, Gold and Cattle Country, with whom my dad had many visits in Grant County.

And no trip was complete without  navigating a little-used Forest Service road in his VW Bus. (We once spent the night sleeping in the VW when we took the wrong turn got stuck on a new spur in the Mt. Emily Road and had to be pulled out the next morning by a bulldozer that was excavating for the new road!)P1010892

Slabtown – A “Slice” of Portland History

An important institution in an historic neighborhood

An important institution in an historic neighborhood

After six posts on pubs and taverns in Europe based on our Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour, Thebeerchaser takes comfort in returning home – to the roughly 700 watering holes in Portland.  And what better way to regain the origins of this blog than reviewing a Portland classic dive bar – Slabtown.

External character in a manner of speaking

External character in a manner of speaking

As evidence of its status, it is the only bar other than the recently Beerchaser reviewed Slammer Tavern (September 2013) that has been named one of the favorite bars in the ”hallowed” – at least in my eyes because of its value as a reference source – Willamette Week Drink Guide (Favorite Bars) for the last six  years.

And as we walk you through our visit to this NW Portland institution, we will provide some highlights from the WW past reviews:

2013“Old-school rock and roll venue, Slabtown is, as ever, a play-town for putative grown-ups (with occasional all-ages shows served up from the back entrance) with pinball, air hockey, Skee-ball and Pop-a-Shot.”          

Old School venue with traditional bar competition
Old School venue with traditional bar competition – Air Hockey, etc.

I was pleased to have Portland lawyer, Scott Whipple, a Beerchaser regular and esteemed graduate of Iowa’s Grinnell College (where they still talk about his accomplishments on the basketball court) accompany me both to this bar and our second stop that night at the Skyline Tavern.

Fred and Scott - A character in a bar with character(s)
Fred and Scott – A character in a bar with character(s)

We sat at the bar next to a great old guy with a white beard, overalls and a baseball cap named Fred, who while I talked to the friendly bartender, Dave, wanted to engage Scott on topics such as “quality trading” in the stock market,  World War II and the global economy.  Ben, another quality barkeeper who has worked there for 4 1/2 years was there working with Dave on my second visit.

Two Class A Bartenders - Dave and Ben

Two Class A Bartenders – Dave and Ben with Thebeerchaser Logo

Dave was very helpful, has worked there for 18 months, is a Wilson High graduate and the grandson of John Howard,  the former and very well-regarded President of Lewis and Clark College.

2011 “….Slabtown has changed, man.  But don’t freak out – it has changed for the better.  

The owners booted the video poker machines for more pinball and video games (this place is like a Chuck E. Cheeses for adults) upgraded the sound system a bit and incorporated a wider range of music into the schedule….The building seems further from collapse than ever before….”

Old style pinball machines replaced Video Lottery --- Good Move!!

Old style pinball machines replaced Video Lottery — Good Move!!

Distinguishing Characteristics

Its History – Slabtown has been around since the ‘70’s under three different owners   It was originally a strip club and was also known as “Cal’s Fort.”   It has an interesting “altar” near the entrance, paying tribute to fabled rock musicians Wendy O’ Williams and Freddie Mercury.  The bar was also used as a set for two scenes from the “Portlandia” show.

The "alter" at the entrance.

The “altar” at the entrance.

The Slabtown neighborhood is also one of Portland’s most historic neighborhoods and oozes with history as evidenced by this excerpt from the July 13, 2013 The Oregonian

“For a century, Wallace Park was the site of trading for Native Americans, (Tracy) Prince writes in “Portland’s Slabtown.” The book (published by Arcadia Press) traces the Slabtown neighborhood’s history……when Native Americans outnumbered white settlers 1,000 to 275, through its blue-collar decades, and into its current “Trendy-third” reputation for its Northwest 23rd Avenue boutiques…..

It was a working-class neighborhood home to marginalized groups — Native Americans, Chinese and European immigrants, gypsies, and black Portlanders.”

Timber is a key to the "roots" of Slabtown.

Timber is a key to the “roots” of Slabtown.

Why the name “Slabtown?  “….back in the industrial days of lumber milling, the slabs of the rounded tree edges made good fuel and were to be found all over this area.” ( 9/7/2010).  The slices of wood piled up at the George Weidler Lumber Mill on NW Northrup Street commencing in the 1870’s.

The Menu – It’s entirely vegan since last June!  This is the first time Thebeerchaser has encountered this situation although it was not a problem.  Neither Scott nor I could tell the difference between the excellent large order of vegan french fries we had that night versus what we are used to……..

A very positive change initiated in July 2012 was the introduction of Falafel to their kitchen with a new chef.  You can see the reviews are superb:

Yelp 6/6/13:  “Dive BAR! but right now they are renting the kitchen out to an amazing FALAFEL CHEF… So good you must try…”

Although a limited menu, the food gets high marks.
Although a limited menu, the food gets high marks.

Yelp 5/9/13:  “Best falafel sandwich I’ve had in Portland and quite surprising to find it at a dive bar.”

Yelp 10/12/13:  “Lover’s of delicious food: this is a serious find. It is a serious dive……But the people who make the falafel are serious about their craft. I’ve never had a better gyro, and I’ve been to Greece and eaten them there, so I feel like I am qualified to speak to Gyro power.”

Drum sticks and guitar strings - A unique feature

Drum sticks and guitar strings – A unique feature

The Vending Machines – It may well be that Slabtown is the only bar in Portland where one can purchase both guitar strings and drumsticks (not the kind one eats) from a vending machine.

You can also see Scott waiting in anticipation at the kissing booth, which, understandably,  did not get any participants when we were there.  There are also a number of old classic pinball machines, air hockey and skee-ball and Pop-a-Shot that did see a lot of action.

"Better not give up  your day job, Scott."
“Better not give up your day job, Scott.”

2010 “…You can order a basket of French fries and  play pinball for three hours and no one is going to try to grab your boobs…”

Pop-a-Shot - The score reflects Whipple regressing to his college days at Grinnell...

Pop-a-Shot – The score reflects Whipple regressing to his college days at Grinnell…

But perhaps the machine that ended up with more than several of our dollars in its belly, was Pop-a-Shot.

Scott immediately gravitated to the machine and we played no less than five games in which he marginally came out on top in four of them. Scott sang the Grinnell Fight Song as he shot.  After we went back into the bar, Dave the bartender, said to me, “He’s a competitive guy, isn’t he?” (If  you only knew, Dave….)

As a Concert and Performance Venue – When I asked Dave and Ben how they would best describe Slabtown i.e. Dive Bar, Neighborhood Bar, Music Venue, Ben stated, “It’s something different to each person and can be each of those.”  Dave, however, chose the Performance Venue option because of the history and the percentage of the bar’s receipts resulting from these shows.

Indeed, check out the calendar on the Slabtown Website or Facebook page – a full calendar with different types of music – live and otherwise – some with cover charge – some free – almost every night.  They also have all-ages shows to open it up for more patrons and obviously, closely control the alcohol for underage folk.  Also Bingo and Industry Night events on Tuesdays.

2008“….Slabtown strikes a near perfect balance between style and scum with dirty rock and plenty of breathing room to relax over cheap food and plentiful beer…A fine after-work drinking spot if there ever was one.”           

Scott at the "Bar" - making a closing argument to himself

Scott at the “Bar” – making a closing argument to himself

As a sign by the entrance said at one time, “This isn’t the Pearl – It’s  Slabtown!  You’ve been warned.”

So noted!  And that’s a good thing.  Check them out while you have a gyro….

Slabtown       1033 NW 16th

The Beerchaser Goes International – The Final Chapter

The Wonderful Arc de' Triuph

The Arc de’ Triomphe

After leaving the wonderful Cinqua Terra on the Mediterranean Coast of Italy, we headed for the final two stops on our Rick Steves’ 21-Day Best of Europe Tour.  From Italy, we hit Beaune, France for a night followed by the last two of our trip – Paris.

Tasting at the ___ Winery

Tasting at the Bouchard Aîné & Fils cellars

Beaune (pronounced “bone”) is a delightful and historic city of about 25,000 people in eastern France, right in the wine capital of Burgundy.  The city still has a good portion of the wall, ramparts and moats constructed during the Roman era to protect it. Although my preference was obviously beer, we had a very interesting tour of Bouchard Aîné & Fils cellars – one of the many located in and around the city and established in 1750. .

We also visited the Hospice de Beaune, a charity hospital built in the 15th century after the devastating Hundred Years’ War and the Plague left more than 90 percent of the town’s population destitute .

I then ventured into a majestic cathedral right across the street from our hotel – which turned out to be Notre-Dame de Beaune – one of the largest Romanesque churches in Burgundy.  It dates to the 12th century and was not completed until the 1600’s and has marvelous tapestries from the 1500’s inside.

The majestic Notre-Dame de Beaune

Notre-Dame de Beaune – dates from the 12th Century

Unfortunately, we left early on a Saturday morning when the merchants of Beaune were just setting up the notable food market which features cheese, wine, fruits and other delicacies from all over Burgundy.

Before an excellent dinner, we had a beer in one of the most delightful pubs we encountered on the trip – The Publican.  Unlike my experience in Paris the next day, the bartender was very friendly and spoke excellent English. (I considered myself to be bilingual because I knew how to say “hello” in French.)

A wonderful little pub....

A wonderful little pub….

Nice selection of beers and great atmosphere at The Publican.

Nice selection of beers and great atmosphere at The Publican.


They had a nice selection of beers and a great little deck where we joined a number of other patrons and enjoyed the afternoon.

We concur with this excerpt from a Yelp review in late 2012:

“Best bar in town!”   The owner is great. The prices are perfect …The seating is all couches and nice chairs, very comfortable! Very English friendly but we also saw a number of local youth (18-25 years old). The wine they serve is from the owner’s in-laws and very good for the price. We didn’t have any food, but the meat and cheese plate looked good.”

Cathedral of Notre Dame

Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris

The bus driver, as we arrived in Paris, gave us a quick tour, of sorts, through the city.  Seeing the Eifel Tower, the Seine River and the Arc de Triomphe was amazing – as was our subsequent tour of the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and the incredible Church of Sainte-Chapelle.

The magnificent stained glass of the Chapelle de Saint

The magnificent stained glass of the Chapelle de Saint


I found another amazing cathedral – this one the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – established in 1861 and the first Russian Orthodox place of worship in Paris.

The Greek Orthodox Cathedral

The Russian Orthodox Cathedral


And while we really enjoyed Paris, Thebeerchaser had his only negative experience in a Parisian bar after visiting over sixty in America and six European countries since I started this blog in 2011 – a validation of the stereotype of rude and snobbish French servers and a justification for presenting this bad bar joke before I relate my experience:

A Frenchman with a parrot perched on his shoulder walks into a New York bar:

Bartender “Wow, that’s really neat!  Where did you get him?”

Parrot “In France. They’ve got millions of them……”        

Millions of Frenchmen available....
Millions of Frenchmen available….

Thebeerchaser is Chastised!

Our hotel was only one block off the famed Champs-Elysees – one of the world’s most famous boulevards.  The night before, I saw a pub with the inauspicious name “The Beer Station” only about two blocks from our hotel and I took a picture of the sign on the outside.

After visiting the Russian Cathedral, I decided to take a picture of the interior on my way back even though I did not have time for a beer – I wanted to at least mention one bar in Paris.

The Beer Station - not one of Paris' finer bars..

The Beer Station – not one of Paris’ finer bars..

So on a late Sunday afternoon, I popped in and took a quick photo of the bar which had about four patrons sitting at it.  After I left, the bartender came running out yelling, “Monsieur, Monsieur, you did not ask permission to take this photo.” 

I explained what I was doing and showed him the two pictures – one of their sign and one of the bar with its beer taps.  In righteously indignant and broken English, he informed me that he wanted me to delete the picture of the bar.  Rather than argue – I did.

Everything turned out fine, because I walked a block to the La Vin Couer  a classy bar and one in which the bartender and his staff were more than happy to pose for a Beerchaser picture.

_________ A classy alternative to the Beer Station - and friendly!

La Vin Couer –  A classy alternative to The Beer Station – and friendly!

It made me wonder why the bartender was so prissy about pictures which admittedly did include a few patrons.  I assumed, however, that an important corporate officer or high-ranking politician who did not want to be seen at a bar would patronize a place other than one called “The Beer Station.”

Then it occurred to me that a bar with this moniker only one block off the classy Champs-Elysees is tantamount to Leonardo de Vinci, naming the subject of his famous work – “Gertrude.”

De Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre – did not name his famous work “Gertrude”

And after reading this April 2012 Yelp review, it made me think that I was better off skipping The Beer Station anyway:

“What you see is what you get.

Eating here was not a highlight of my recent trip to Paris. It was raining, I was tired, so we decided to find a place near the hotel to eat. This place filled that void. We had below average food and wine at a below average price.”

And the bar down the street – La Vin Couer was classy and favorably reviewed in this December 2012 Yelp review excerpt:

“This seems to be an ‘in’ place with the crowd as it is relatively close to the Arc de Triomphe… It is a popular place. They were very pleased that we asked “Parlez vous Anglais?” even though they spoke perfect English – just made mention that it was nice that we even inquired!  Food was very good and prices were reasonable – for Paris…Good sized servings, good taste, easy access…… “

And so ended our outstanding 21-day Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour – one that we would strongly recommend for anyone making their first trip to Europe.  We saw majestic scenery, living history, met wonderful people and visited a few great bars.

We will return.  Thanks Rick Steves!

We will return. Thanks Rick Steves!

That said, it will be nice to return to Portland and the comforting ambiance of the Barmuda Triangle…!  Stayed tuned for our next review of Slab Town in NW Portland.

A Brewski at 9,744 Feet? Thebeerchaser Goes International – Part V

Mt. Schilthorn in the Swiss Alps - Beer with attitude - er...I mean altitude!

Looking out from the Schilthorn (mountain) in the Swiss Alps – Beer with attitude – er…I mean altitude!

After leaving Rome on our Rick Steves’ 21-day Best of Europe Tour, we spent three days in the Cinque Terra on the rugged Mediterranean coast of Italy – an extremely picturesque series of five villages or small towns i.e. Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore After two days on the coast, we headed for the Swiss Alps.

Beauty on the Mediterranean coast

Beauty on the Mediterranean coast

A major part of the charm is that the villages are inaccessible by car – you can choose train, boat or just walk on the path connecting the villages.  And notwithstanding the many tourists, one experiences the charm of a true Italian village.        P1010213


With the exception of one small bar we visited in Monterossa, most of the drinking establishments were attached to cafes’ but we had some great food at two locations La Cantina Di Miky and Restaurant Belvidere.



The Blue Marlin bar and restaurant in Vernazza


The trail between the villages – most notably Monterossa and Vernazza – was closed because of mudslides, but the train and boat made it easy to commute between each of the villages.

Composer, Guiseppe Verdi, once said, You may have the universe if I may have Italy,” and all of us on the tour talked about returning to this part of Italy, but that was before we were exposed to the surreal beauty of the Swiss Alps.

A little warmer than the beaches in Oregon....
The beach at Monterossa – a little warmer than the beaches in Oregon….

The highway to the Alps was stunning and it just kept getting better as we entered the Lauterbrunnen Valley and traveled to the village of Murren.

The beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley

The beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley

On our first day in the Alps we ascended the Schilthorn, by two separate tramways that took us to the top of the 9,744 foot mountain. It is one of the highest peaks in the Bernese Alps.

The James Bond movie, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, was filmed at the top where there is a revolving restaurant – the Piz Gloria – and the James Bond Bar.

This was the only Bond movie in which Bond was played by George Lazenby and his enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofield, had his laboratory at the top of Schilthorn

Piz Gloria which houses the James Bond Bar

Piz Gloria which houses the James Bond Bar

Besides paragliding, one of the activities in the Lauterbrunnen is BASE jumping – one which almost requires a drink to discuss. P1010295

We walked down to Lauterrunnen’s Horner Pub, where we drank beer with BASE jumpers , some of whom were smoking majuijuana – fortunately after, rather than before, their jumps.  We also proved that beer can taste good even when there is a difference of 5,000 feet in altitude.

For the uninformed BASE jumping is an activity where participants leap from fixed objects and use a parachute to break their fall. “BASE” is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: buildings, antennas, spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs) – Wikipedia.  In the Alps, the relevant category is obviously “earth.”

Cheers - regardless of whether it is 9,744 or 5,000 feet - or in Amsterdam, at sea level!

Cheers – regardless of whether it is 9,744 or 5,000 feet – or in Amsterdam, at sea level!

Having worked in the legal profession for over thirty years, when researching the sport, I first noticed a Third Party Liability Insurance Offer including Basejumping.”  And then the website entitled:

“Lauterbrunnen BASE Fatality List”

It had a list of 35 persons who had died in this region in BASE jumping accidents since 1994 – the last one was the week before we got there.  The following admonition helped put it in perspective:

The Horner Pub - Beer after the jump....

The Horner Pub – Beer after the jump….

“Too many jumpers died in this valley!

Don’t become a statistic.

Life is precious, play safe.

No Littering!
Know your limits, stay safe & pull high!”

 Our group, while drinking beer at the outstanding Horner Pub complied with the “no littering” requirement……And the following quote from a BASE jumper interview, typifies the grit of those who love this activity as a hobby:

“Let me put my cigarette out before you interview me on camera. My mom knows I BASE but she doesn’t know I smoke.”                                                   

Hiking down to Lauterbrunnen and the Horner Pub

Hiking down to Lauterbrunnen and the Horner Pub

 Our beers at the Horner Pub were a perfect ending to our two days in the Alps.  A Trip Advisor review from September 2012, aptly described this quaint pub in Lauterbrunnen:

“Horner pub-not just for beer!

The Horner Pub has some of the best meals in Lauterbrunnen…..This is a great place to unwind after hiking all day. Frequented by BASE jumpers, we met some very interesting people and learned a lot about the sport base jumping.”

A delightful pub in the Swiss Alps

A delightful pub in the Swiss Alps


The scenery was so spectacular and such a blessing it made me chuckle at the dilemma of the atheist who, struck by the spectacular beauty of his surroundings, wanted to express his profound gratitude, but didn’t know who to thank!

Fortunately, Thebeerchaser did know Who to thank and kept this in mind as we headed off to France for our last leg of our 21-day European journey.

Profound gratitude for the natural beauty....

Profound gratitude for the natural beauty of the Swiss Alps

His house is in the village though.....from a church in Lauterbrunnen.

His house is in the village though…..from a church in Lauterbrunnen.

If You’re Good, You May End Up in The Slammer……

One of Portland's Classic Dive Bars

One of Portland’s Classic Dive Bars

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land: it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

The most recent Beerchaser posts have been on pubs and sights encountered on our Rick Steves’ 21-day Best of Europe Tour.  In light of a recent reading of famed British philosopher and author, Lord Chesterton‘s above quote, however, it was a vivid reminder that Portland’s bars, taverns and pubs are second to none in both the US and the globe!

Oozing with character and history......

Oozing with character and history……

And The Slammer is a Portland classic.  As evidence,  Willamette Week publishes a “Best Bars” or “Drink Guide” supplement each year.  Thebeerchaser has kept printed copies of these going back to 2007 and they include 100 to 125 of the approximately 700 total Portland bars each year.  They are an invaluable resource for this blog.

Well, The Slammer (and Slab Town – visited already and to be reviewed next month..) appear to be two of the few, if not the only, establishments to make the list each of the last seven years.  Let’s look at a few excerpts:

“…The Slammer is maybe the friendliest bar in town ……It is a family-run dive bar of the old school, an after-softball hangout….and a place that will suffer fools but never assholes, one of the few places in town where widely disparate strangers talk to each other……It is a heartening place, and its very bad for your liver.”  (2013)

A great group of regulars and memorabilia from the '70's

A great group of regulars and memorabilia from the ’70’s — that’s a Tonka Truck…….

“…the Slammer’s core clientele of square-jawed stalwarts with uncomplicated wardrobes (Eagles jackets shelved at the first flush of Slammer Softball jerseys…) that once typified the East Side Industrial District.”  (2012)

“Walk into the Slammer and be transported back into a reassuring hybrid of your uncle’s basement den and freshman-year college parties. Intimacy presides in this former speak-easy. A cigarette vending machine, pinball and Big Buck Hunter offer ample distraction…. Escape the no-man’s land of industrial Southeast Portland and be welcomed home to a strange, rowdy and delightful den of locals.” (2011)

I was fortunate to have my friend and Beerchaser regular – Portland attorney, John Mansfied, join me for the visit and he could have been a regular based on the way he commandeered the old Skee Ball machine – one of the few in Portland.

Beerchaser followers may remember John as the skilled intellectual property lawyer who has a propensity to interpret language literally.   For example, at the Mock Crest Tavern (May 2012 blog post), the menu stated, “Breakfast Served – Any Time.”  John asked for French toast from the Renaissance Era…..To see another one of his “literal” stories, see the end of this blog post.

Mansfield  - His victorious expression has an inverse relation to his score at Skee Ball

Mansfield – His victorious expression has an inverse relation to his score at Skee Ball

“…’s safe to say the Slammer was pulled from somebody’s dive-bar fantasy and realized with a hasty affection. The bar has a cozy, funky atmosphere….filled with a mix of old regulars and neighborhood youngsters.”  (2010)

“….. but the Slammer is a corner bar so enchanting you may be moved to stand on an outdoor table and sing along to “Rocket Man” playing on the loudspeakers. After which the regulars will come outside and congratulate you.”  (2009)

P1010590Chris, the bartender, maintained the tradition of just about every one of the fifty-plus bartenders I have interviewed on Thebeerchaser tour of Portland bars and taverns – he was extremely friendly and helpful in giving us information about their bar.  He’s the son of the female owner.

Bartender Chris and John Mansfield with Thebeerchaser logo

Bartender Chris and John Mansfield with Thebeerchaser logo


The Slammer opened thirty-four years ago and Chris’s mom bought it eighteen years ago.  He thought that one of the distinguishing characteristics is the great mix of clientele – WW agrees with him.

“Plopped on the weird convergence of Southeast Stark Street, 8th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, Slammer’s the kind of place that’s slightly different every time you go in… thing’s certain—the door on the bathroom is still nonexistent, and you’ll probably hug the bartender before leaving.”  (2008)

The sign says a lot about the character of this quirky establishment.

The sign says a lot about the character of this quirky establishment.

Based on our visit, Slammer was a great bar with friendly regulars and a solid and endearing character, but it has not always been this way.  In fact, one of my friends – a former Portland police officer who has been on Beerchasing visits, advised me to avoid it for our own welfare based on his experience as a cop.

When queried for specific examples, he stated, “The guy who did a car prowl and ran into the bar to hide.  Noise complaints not uncommon.  The occasional bar fight we were called to suppress – usually a boyfriend/girlfriend argument when they had too much beer.

Honestly, probably not any more incidents than a bar of comparable size.  The patrons more often got in trouble walking home and peeing on the side of the building or passing out on the sidewalk.”

Chris noted that a number of years back, they had a few “burps,” but those are from days gone by.  A group of regulars sitting at the tables on the “patio” right outside the door stated, “Slammer is the best (and friendliest) bar in Portland.”  

"The Friendliest Bar in Portland."

“The Friendliest Bar in Portland.”

Slammer doesn’t have a bunch of beers on tap or an expansive menu (essentially sandwiches, tacos, chili and sides), but the food and beer is cheap and they have a reputation for strong drinks and friendly bartenders.

This old, red Victorian house with two renovated apartments up-stairs, the small bar on the ground floor and a bunch of Christmas lights strung all over the exterior is worth a visit.

I will conclude by stating that it is always a treat to drink beer with attorney Mansfield.  Besides being honored as an Oregon Super Lawyer since 2009, he is a talented musician and in his younger days played in a rock band.  Another example of his tendency to analyze and interpret language literally is evidenced by this communication with the police dispatcher when he was at the U of O and a wild and crazy guy:

Dispatcher:  “Eugene Police Department”

Mansfield:  “I’d like to report a theft at our residence.”

Dispatcher:  “What is your street name?”

Mansfield:  “Bubba”

The Slammer  500 SE 8th Street       

Bar to Exterior

Thebeerchaser Goes International – Part Deux

A Frosty Mug of Leffe Bier which is a product of ....

A frosty mug of Leffe Blond Bier which is brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven, Belgium

The last post summarized our recent 21-day Rick Steves’ tour of Europe.  From Amsterdam, we headed south through the Rhine Valley in Germany and then Austria.  (The Rhine joins the Willamette in being one of only about 30 rivers in the world to flow north.)  While the coffee in Europe was found wanting (one either has a mini espresso or a small and watered-down Americano rather than a mug of java), the beer – or bier – was great.  I’m sure you’ll agree that experimentation in the different countries was mandated.

To quote the late musician, Frank Zappa: “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”

Before leaving the Netherlands, we stopped at the Arnhem Open Air Museum – a “village” with farmyards, historic cottages, businesses, shops and a wonderful little brewery – a permanent exhibit since 1996.  The title of the exhibit is appropriately “Bier is dranck voor alleman” (Beer is a drink for everyone).  Arnhem is noted as the site of the World War II Battle of Arnhem, commemorated in the 1977 movie, “A Bridge Too Far.”

The Bier Brewery in Arnhem, Netherlands
The Bier Brewery in Arnhem, Netherlands

There is a restored 1750 brewery from the Dutch village of Ulvenhout and a new building next to it (shown in the picture).  Although I’m Protestant, given the preponderance of Catholic churches in Europe, I need to confess that I spent the most time here rather than lingering at the historic bakery, apothecary, sawmill, etc..

The friendly brewer briefing Janet on their process.
The friendly brewer briefing Janet on their process.


And the two brewers were friendly and gave Janet and me an informative briefing — and samples — of their product.

The process was different in the ___, but the end product still tasted good.

The process was different in the 1700’s but the end product still tasted good.

After two nights in historic (I guess “historic” and “village” or “city” in Europe are superfluous..) Bacharach, where we enjoyed a two-hour boat trip on the Rhine, we headed for one of my favorite cities – the walled city of Rothenburg.

The beauty of Bacharach

The beauty of Bacharach

Rothenberg attracts tourists from all over the world based on its notable roots in the medieval era.  The incredible wall with guard towers, which can still be traversed around most of the city, was constructed in the 1300’s.  It again brings to mind, one wag’s view of the difference between democracy and feudalism – “In democracy, your vote counts while in feudalism, your count votes.”

"The Walled City" is no exaggeration.

“The Walled City” is no exaggeration.

Rothenburg also has World War II notoriety after initial destructive Allied aerial bombing, when US Secretary of War, John McClory, personally aware of the beauty and historic significance of the city, ordered American troops to refrain from artillery bombardment.  Most of the city fortifications and artifacts were saved and it was occupied by the Allies in March, 1945.

View of the wall of Rothenburg from the wall of Rothenburg

View of the wall of Rothenburg from the wall of Rothenburg

Since we had some free time to explore Rothenburg, Janet and I split up and she joined our two new female friends on the tour to hit the shops in town.  (I had contracted laryngitis, so I was  worthless as a companion for conversation – but it did eliminate any language barrier with the locals.)

Now, many males view accompanying their spouses shopping as tantamount to torture – so consistent with the analogy, I spent a fascinating two hours in Rothenburg’s Museum of Crime and Punishment. 

Four floors of exhibits – most notably instruments of torture and items used in the execution of sentences (literally!) – costly books, graphic arts, documents of emperors, princes, the nobility and towns were interesting and in some respects, bizarre.

Does it get any better than this??

Does it get any better than this??

A beer and dinner were a welcome respite after the museum experience and we had an excellent dinner of bratwurst and sauerkraut before embarking on a colorful Night Watchman Tour of the city.   Hans Georg Baumgartner, the Watchman, whose comic timing in his colloquy, would make Jerry Seinfeld envious, took us on a wonderful walking tour of the city.

Only the grave digger and the executioner had lower status...

Only the grave digger and the executioner had lower status…

He pointed out that the watchman job – starting in the Middle Ages and continuing in Rothenburg until the 1920’s – was dangerous.  Guarding the city at night was like a policeman, but the pay was low and the job was a dishonorable one. “Only the gravedigger and the executioner were lower.”

Hell’s Tavern (Zur Höll) – We finished off the Watchman Tour with one of Baumgarter’s best lines.  This pub is in Rothenburg’s oldest house and the foundation of Hell was laid in 970….   He stated, in effect, “If a citizen in Rothenburg admonishes you to ‘Go to Hell,’ it is a good recommendation.”

Hiur Hell - one of Rothenburg's oldest buildings
Zur Höll – in one of Rothenburg’s oldest buildings

And of course, we descended a few steps from where he concluded into the “Gates of Hell,” if you will, which unfortunately due to its restricted size and the tourist season, was full.  It has an extensive wine list and some exotic brandies (apple, grape, pear, cherry and small yellow plums) although a limited number of draft beers.  P1000853


So ended our time in Germany.  It was one of the tour’s highlights for me.  But after the tour in the Torture Museum, it may force a double-take in future Portland bars with pool tables, when I hear the term,Rack-em Up!”

An extensive wine list and some exotic brandies

An extensive wine list and some exotic brandies

Rothenburg was our fifth day of the tour and I realized that except for a few minor snippets on BBC, we were clueless on current events.  Of course, that also meant that since we left Oregon we had not had to hear the ubiquitous and chirrupy expression, “Hi, I’m Jan from Toyota,” for a week!

Stay tuned – on to Italy!

The Beerchaser Goes International…

Our final night in Paris

Our final night in Paris

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.”

Although Thebeerchaser and his wife, Janet, did not have these words by St. Augustine in mind when signing up for a Rick Steves’ “21-Day Best of Europe Tour, they had new meaning when we returned – for we had never been to Europe previously. And after the journey, we felt like we had read a Classic.  It was an intense and absolutely wonderful way to hit the highlights of that continent.

Most of the recommendations in this blog are for taverns, but there’s an exception for Rick Steves – whether it’s a guided tour, his travel consulting or Steves’ publications, check them out with the link above.  You can see from the map, we hit six countries in 21-days and our wonderful tour director, Lisa Friend, was a mentor, history teacher and yes – a  “Friend”….

Rick Steves

Route of the 21-day Best of Europe Tour (Parens indicate number of nights in each stop)


The best bus driver in Europe - Richard - with Lisa Friend

The best bus driver in Europe – Richard – with Lisa Friend

We traveled by bus – 28 of us, on a classy sixty-seat bus.

Charles Kuralt once observed, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”

However, the bus was a superb way to travel through Europe, and the scenery – whether viewing castles through the Rhine Valley in Germany, the Mediterranean in Italy’s Cinque Terra or the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland – was breathtaking.

Since I was away from Portland, I tried to hit one bar or public house – even if just for a photo – in most of the stops along our journey.

The tour of bars, pubs and taverns continued on the trip

The tour of bars, pubs and taverns continued on the trip


And there are some differences, which brought home, so to speak, why I love Portland bars.  Those in Europe tend to be part of a hotel or restaurant – “Cafes” – if you will, rather than just a neighborhood watering hole for beer drinkers like the approximately 550 to 750 bars in Portland – depending on your source and the definition used.

When we return to Europe, I will do some research before the trip using a good website – to better explore Europe’s best bars:

The Classic (and my favorite) Dive - The Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village

The Classic (and my favorite) Dive Bar – The Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village

While not having a lot of time to search for them, I didn’t see a great dive bar in Europe – one that validates this apt description of these joints, to wit:  “Like saints, dive bars should always be guilty until proven innocent — they always stagger  on the precipice of becoming popular and thus ruined.”  (Willamette Week 2010 – “One Hundred Favorite Bars”)

In the next several posts, I’ll include some pictures and brief comments from the establishments below visited on our trip.  Besides the cafes and pubs, other highlights are pictures from some of the wonderful churches and cathedrals at which I marveled – most of which were not on our tour, but I sought out in the free time.  A perfect example is St. James (Jakobs) Lutheran Church in the historic German city of Rothenburg.

St. Jakobs (James) in Rothenberg

St. James (Jakobs) in Rothenburg

Oh, the history!  The church was built between 1325 to 1485 and in 1525 the peasant leader, Florian Geyer, read aloud the articles of the revolting peasants from its west chancel.

St. James Cathedral, built between 1311-1484. The church was consecrated in 1485 by the Bishop of Würzburg.

St. James Church, built between 1311-1484 – consecrated in 1485 by the Bishop of Würzburg.


in Rautenberg, Germany
The Holy Blood altarpiece of the Wurzburg wood-carver, Tillman Riemenschneider, carved 1500 to 1505 and located in St. James Church.





The cafes or bars I “visited” included the following:

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Cafe Karpershoek and the Heineken Museum “Experience”      

Arnhem, Netherlands – The Bier Brewery at the Arnhem Open Air Museum

Rothenburg, Germany – Zur Holl (Hell’s) Tavern

Venice, Italy – The Devil’s Forest Pub

Vernazza, Italy (The Cinque’ Terra) – The Blue Marlin Café

Rome, Italy – Miscellanea Café

Laterbrunnen, Switzerland – Horner Pub and the bar at the summit of Schilthorn in the Bernese Alps

Beaune, France – Publican Bar

Paris, FranceThe Beer Station and La Vin Coeur Café

Our flight to Europe took us to Amsterdam and we flew home on a flight – originating in Paris with a brief Amsterdam layover.  Both of the long flights (ten and eleven hours) to and from Amsterdam were Delta non-stop and excellent flights.  We were fortunate that the young children on the jet behaved wonderfully and a long flight with kids brings to mind the story of the businessman who learned never to try to be nice by playing peek-a-boo with a child sitting in the row in front of him.

There’s no end to the game and he finally yelled at the young boy, “Look kid, it’s always going to be me – okay……..?”

The museum has on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of 1 million The Ri  Museum in Amsterdam with objects from the years 1200–2000, among which are some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which has on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of 1 million.  Included are objects from the years 1200–2000, among which are some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer

Amsterdam is an amazing city – from the hordes of cyclists – none of whom wear helmets and definitely command the right of way over pedestrians, to the Red Light District we passed through on our walking tour – to the coffee houses where cannabis is a mainstay on the menu.  The city actually has more kilometers of canals than Venice.

In Haarlem, where we stayed two nights – a 35-minute train ride from Amsterdam – we ate in a café in a strucutre with a foundation laid about 1500.  During the Spanish siege in 1572, there were about 50 brewing companies in the city, while 45 years later  the city numbered about one hundred breweries.

Amsterdam Pubs, Etc. – There are a number of bars which claim to be the oldest in Amsterdam, among them Café Karpershoek, only a few blocks from the massive and historic Central Station (rail terminal) and the Red Light District.  We stopped in for a quick Heineken and enjoyed the ambiance of our first European bar.

Café Karpershoek in Amsterdam

Café Karpershoek in Amsterdam


The slogan on the beam says, "          "

The Dutch slogan on the beam says, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”


We concurred with the February review on Trip Advisor stating, “I visited the Café Karpershoek, which claims to be the oldest pub in Amsterdam, (starting in 1606). The staff was friendly and the beer, while more expensive than many places, was quite good.”          

The Heiniken "Experience"

The Heineken “Experience”

Speaking of Heineken, it’s the world’s third largest brewer, with 125 breweries in more than 70 countries and employs approximately 66,000.  The sign on the building stating “Heineken Brewery” is not accurate – this site, as a brewery, closed in 1988.

The Heineken Experience, however, is a large museum and tasting room that we walked by on our way back from the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House.  Time precluded a visit, but the reviews on various web sites are favorable although the 16 Euro price seemed pretty steep:

This is not just a museum it really is an experience.  Set on four levels this former brewery has everything you need to know about the Heineken Brand. History, information, tasting areas, videos, games and even a roller coaster type video ride that’s very funny and informative.  At the end of the tour you get two drinks of your choice..”

One other thought on airport security while it is freshThose who complain about TSA procedures in America, should be thankful – after going through security in Paris, we had two more encounters before boarding our flight in Amsterdam even though we had not left the secure area.  The first guard who complimented me on my belt did not mitigate the statement of the next official who said, “You look a lot older than your passport photo.” – taken this January.  And I will avoid conveying the awkwardness of trying to extricate a credit card from my money-belt, after it set off the alarm.

Wendie, Roxie and Janet with Hans, the bartender from the Devils Pub
Roxie, Wendy and Janet with Hans, the bartender, at the Devils Forest Pub in Venice

I’ll be back on the next post to talk about pubs in Arnhem, Rothenburg and Venice including the Devil’s Forest Pub in Italy’s Floating City shown here with two of our great new friends from the tour.


Our tour group in front of the Grote Kirk (Large Church) in Haarlem’s Central Market Square – right next to our hotel