Summer Beerchasing Miscellany – Continued

The Challenges Continue……

Just when it seemed like some semblance of normalcy (when did that word become part of our vocabulary) would return, the Delta Variant throws a wrench into our lives.  And after months of challenges with lockdowns, restrictions and uncertainty, the small business people who own the bars and independent breweries are again faced with necessary restrictions and reluctance of many people to eat or drink inside.

And since reopening during the summer, they’ve faced additional hurdles such as availability of servers and kitchen help and even supplies.

For example, the situation which one of my favorite bar owners, Jessica Neal, the owner of the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon on the Southern Oregon Coast, faced recently where she could not get French fries because of supply chain issues. 

The Broken Anchor is a wonderful establishment with a good selection of taps, great cocktails, superb food and a dedicated staff.

We had dinner and drinks there in 2017 on the way back from a trip to the Redwoods up through the Oregon Coast.  We met and had a great conversation with Jessica, originally from Minnesota, who has developed a loyal clientele at her establishment.

A smart and savvy enterprenaeur

Another of my favorite entrepreneurs is John Lyons.  He and Alan Blackwell are the co-owner of the Salty Rhino, a small and very hospitable watering hole right in my own community of West Linn – a burb, twelve miles south of Portland.

John and his partner have been agile, expanded their capacity outdoors and reached out to the community during the disjointed and inconsistent communication over the last eighteen months from the State of Oregon about when they could open and under what guidelines.

These two are typical of the thousands of hospitality owners throughout the US and the world, for that matter, who have pushed on through adversity.  So what can we do for Jessica, John and their colleagues? 

Patronize them!   If you can’t go in person or may be reluctant to eat on site, then order take-out.  And just express your appreciation and encouragement for the efforts they have made even if you don’t patronize them on a regular basis.

John in his Ugly Christmas Sweater

In fact, I think John and Jessica, would appreciate an attaboy/girl in a quick message on Facebook even if you are one of the many followers of this blog who live in other parts of the US or Europe. Their Facebook sites are below:

Broken Anchor Bar & Grill | Facebook

Or you could even give them a call. It’s one little thing we can all do to encourage others during this pandemic.  Their numbers are on the Facebook pages.

Portland Bar Owners Step Up to the Plate!

One of the most discouraging issues during this pandemic has been how public health and safety have become inextricably intertwined with politics.  While I will not get into my thoughts about why, the statistics show that masks and vaccinations are key methods to beat this scourge and return to normal.  *1 (External photo attribution below)


It is thus encouraging that in Portland, a group of bar owners have taken the initiative to help – not through a government mandate – but because of their own concern about their patrons and being business smart and following the advice of scientists and public health experts rather than ****%%%$$##.

An August 5th Willamette Week article entitled “Portland Bars Plan a ‘Vaxx Coalition’to Uniformly Require Proof of COVID 19 Vaccination for Entry.” tells the story.

They are following the lead of about 300 bars and restaurants in San Francisco and over 100 in Seattle who implemented the policies earlier.  In SF, the Bar Owners’ Alliance does not require vaccination proof for outdoor seating and lets the allied bar enforce what required proof of vaccination on their terms. 

Interestingly enough: “Seattle and San Francisco bars have reported backlash, not from patrons, but from online anti-vaxx trolls, who, hearing about the vaccination-for-entry mandate, have inundated participating businesses with one-star reviews.”  Go figure!

I’m pleased that the Portland list includes some of my favorite haunts ranging from dive bars like the Yukon Tavern to the upscale and exclusive Multnomah Whiskey Library.

Help Save the Earth – Ridwell can Help

Many of us who are trying to be good stewards of the earth, grow frustrated that although we try to conscientiously recycle, a lot of our waste still goes to landfills or it is just difficult to find options.  Janet and I are pleased with our new option.

Ridwell is a Seattle-based start-up founded in their home in 2018 by a father-son team – the son only six years old (Ryan and Owen Metzger). For a fee of $10 to $14 per month, they pick-up at your home (or condo) or company twice each month, the items that the standard recyclers won’t take – batteries, plastic film, threads (clothes and shoes or glasses which they will provide to non-profit partners), light bulbs and a rotating category.

In our first pick-up, the rotating category was devices – old cellphone, remote control devices, hard-drives, GPS devices, etc.  And for a nominal fee ($1) when you have enough to justify a stop, they will take those ubiquitous clamshell containers or Styrofoam or even things like wine corks, electrical cords or Christmas lights and old computer equipment etc.  They work with non-profit partners to re-use items like old glasses.

I was impressed with the Ridwell website with explanatory videos and links to clarify what can and cannot be included in categories.  And they have responded promptly a few times by e-mail when I had a question not found there.

Ridwell needs a threshold of clients in each city to provide their coverage, but it’s not inordinate and based on favorable reviews, more people are adding to the nucleus.  Besides a sizeable base in Seattle, they now have about 6,000 in Portland and its burbs.  Janet and I are delighted we can add this small step to expand our environmental efforts. 

Check it out.  You may have a Ridwell-type option in your area that’s worth exploring.


Another Small Business Success…

Valerie Bowler is the wife of my former colleague, Carson (CBO) Bowler, an outstanding environmental and natural resources partner at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.  Valerie and Carson are also wonderful parents and human beings who live in Portland although unfortunately, both, like my wife, are University of Oregon grads and ardent Duck supporters. Carson even went to U of O Law School where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.


One of Val’s joys is baking, something which in 2019, she decided to turn into a business working from their residence.  As she states on her website :

“When my boys no longer needed (as much) holding, I tried my hand at baking. That’s where I found joy, in scoops of flour, cups of sugar, and teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Baking is now my happy place. I love that moment when I can smell that the cake is ready to come out of the oven. I love the peaceful process of spreading delicious frosting. And I love collaborating with you to design the perfect cake for your special occasion.”

I wanted to surprise my wife on her recent birthday, so I ordered one of Val’s cakes – a lemon poppy-seed beauty with cream cheese icing.   We picked it up and it was our dessert at our younger daughter’s house where she and her husband watched their 2 1/2 year daughter devour it.   It was a hit with everyone else as well. 

Val is taking a slight break during August, but if you live in Portland or the surrounding area, you can order one of her works of art at her website or see the info at her instagram account http://@valscakespdx

By the way, Val’s husband also bears a striking resemblance to former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Art Vandelay who you can check out by clicking on the link. 

Photo Attribution

*1   (Wikimedia Commons –  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.  21 June 2006.

*2- 5

Hunt Down the Salty Rhino…

Michael Lammers and Steve Oltman

Since the commencement of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs in 2011, I have visited many watering holes not only in Oregon, but all over the US and a few in Europe.   While I tend to search out dive bars, my last review was on a wonderful upscale SE Portland Cuban bar specializing in daiquiris.  Indeed, Palomar, was designated Oregon Live’s Bar-of-the-Year for 2018.

The bar at Palomar

But in trying to maintain equilibrium in this hobby, I decided it had been too long since I featured a neighborhood bar in the Portland area.

So I contacted two friends and we decided to hit the Salty Rhino Pub – a relatively new neighborhood bar just a few miles from our houses in West Linn.  Steve Oltman and Michael Lammers joined me for my first visit to this pub which opened in April, 2018.

John Lyons with Steve Oltman

John Lyons and Alan Blackwell are the co-owners and it is a delightful neighborhood establishment with great ambiance, friendly staff, good beer selection and what should be a bright future.

I did not have the chance to meet Alan, but John is the epitome of a good bar manager – outgoing, helpful and a wonderful deadpan sense of humor – also a native Bostonian and New England Patriot fan.

The pub space has good roots, having been the former Cask and Keg Public House, which moved to larger quarters – also on Highway 43 in West Linn to a former Starbucks.  Before that, what is now the Rhino, was an OLCC liquor outlet.

The co-owners, both of whom have construction backgrounds, worked together for years building condos for Pulte Homes in San Diego.

John Lyons – looking good in an ugly sweater, but how would it look on Belichick??

They did the remodel work on the pub themselves and the walls, tables, beautiful dark bar and game rooms are a great blend which furthers the ambiance of the place.   And John also pointed out with a straight face that “We have the best women’s bathroom in West Linn.”

Commendable Commode!

John, whose wife is from West Linn, moved to Oregon before his partner and went to work tending bar at the predecessor pub.   Alan moved up when the opportunity to partner in the new bar arose.

Their good relationship is evidenced by the fact that Alan and his wife and have lived for the last year in the basement of the Lyons’ house.  That will continue until the Blackwell’s new house being constructed on Nixon Ave. in West Linn is completed.

Lived on Nixon Avenue in West Linn….

That street name took me back and long-time Portland Trailblazer fans may remember that Nixon Avenue housed the A-frame where legendary center, Bill Walton, lived when he first joined the Portland NBA team in 1974.

Given the former President’s recent demise and asked why he chose that street, Walton said something to the effect of “Well, they didn’t try to impeach the street!”  

What did the street know and when did it know it???

Note:  I thought the A-frame might have been scraped as it was somewhat unorthodox and in a nice section of West Linn by the Willamette River. If you look on Google Earth , however, and do a search on Nixon Ave., it appears that you can still see the house.

Of course, my curiosity got to me and I had to return to see if the house was still where I remembered it from years ago.   It appears to be with some additions to the original structure.

“That’s what makes it so fun to be on a team. You’re sitting at your house, thinking up this wild, crazy stuff as to how it’s going to go, and the other guys are sitting at their houses doing the same thing.” Bill Walton – Brainy

But I digress….

The Beer Selection

Besides a good selection of red and white wines, the Salty Rhino has fourteen rotating beers and two ciders on tap.  When asked how they select their sixteen offerings, John replied that based on his bartending in the prior pub and his ongoing interactions with customers, he has a good feel for what they like and what gives the Rhino a diversified and popular tap list.

Steve Oltman is a Coors Light guy.  and I experimented with two new micro-brews – at least they were for me.

On the first visit I had the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale by Elysian (6.7 ABV):

“Ale brewed with pumpkin & pumpkin seeds & fermented with spices. Our original pumpkin ale is brewed with over 7 lbs. of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.”

And on the next day’s return visit, I enjoyed a spectacular Snow Cave Wintertime Ale (10 ABV) by Crux Fermentation Project in Bend.

Snow Cave A great winter ale

“Boasting an alluring spice character from Belgian yeast and suggestions of seasonal dark fruit, Snow Cave is a nuanced sipper you can cozy up with around the fire pit.”

Both had nice aromas and great spicy tastes which made the cold night/day warmer with the color of the Snow Cave a rich mahogany that made it even more inviting.

Now to be fair to Steve, I should also provide a comparable rating from on Coors Light 4.2 ABV – to wit: “Draft. Very light, golden straw, snow-what foam. Light aroma: corn, pilsner malt, a little apple. Taste: light, very watery, a little malt, corn and yeast, very tasteless.” 

While the alcohol content was much lower than my beers, so was the price of the Coors at $3 – 100% less than my micro-brews…..Steve also enjoys an IPA “from time to time.”)

John and Alan are wise in being very generous at letting people have a taste to ensure they get a brew they like. He said that one of their most popular drafts is Astoria’s  Fort George Fields of Green – a limited batch “evolutionary” IPA at 7.6 ABV.  (Michael got there late and opted for a small glass of this beer.)

Now, while Steve’s Coors Light is one of the taps, he did not try what is advertised as John’s Super Secret Beer“A beer combo you’ve got to love although you may be asked to face the wall while he pours.”  (John revealed that it’s one-half Coors Light and the other half their rotating cider.)

What Gives with the Name Salty Rhino?

No memories of the hunt, but a great design.

While John initially tried to convince us that the name was derived from a wound he received from the horn of a wild rhino he was photographing on safari, he admitted that they spent hours trying to come up with a name, but had trademark issues that precluded many options they wanted.

His wife designed the logo and they got a “go” with “Salty Rhino.”  And unlike most bars, a Google search reveals no similarly named watering hole – not the case for many that I have been to.

Michael joined us a little later in the evening and a crowd was watching the Trailblazers lose to Houston Rockets on one of the large-screen TVs.  It was fun to watch the interaction between John and the regulars who lined the twelve or so stools at the long bar.

And Beerchasing with Michael and Steve was enjoyable.  Michael, a Michigan State alum who got his MPA at Cal State – East Bay, was Vice President of Finance and Facilities and worked with my wife in the days when Marylhurst University was thriving under late President Dr. Nancy Wilgenbusch

He now works for the Oregon Department of Education.  He and his wife, Pat,  are good friends and have been Beerchasing previously, but this was Steve’s first “expedition.”

Steve, is a very affable guy who is always smiling and grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota.  (“I am a die-hard Viking fan, by the way and they are killing me right now..!”)

Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins is smiling, but Steve is not…..

He has excellent training for Beerchasing having worked at establishments ranging from a dive college bar to the best high-end restaurant in town and also tended bar both in his home town and while attending college at Moorhead State University in Minnesota, a school with roots going back to 1888.

He and his wife, Lorrie, have been married thirty-six years and have two grandkids. And besides talking about football, the Blazers and a little politics, Steve and I advised Michael on the joy of having grandchildren (Janet and I also have two).  This also allowed me to show them pictures of the cardboard box fort I built with our two, the last time they were in West Linn.

Steve has worked for Sealy Mattress Co. for thirty years describes himself as a “simple peddler,” but is an excellent salesman.


But I digress…….

Food Options

At this point, the food choices are not robust, but there are options ranging from their own “munchies” to a partnership with two neighboring restaurants which will deliver to you at the bar – Round Table Pizza and the Asian Kitchen.

Their own faire ranges from popcorns, nuts, hummus, chips and salsa (good review on social media) to a cheese plate.  All are reasonably priced.

The Salty Rhino as a Community

John and Alan are trying (and evidently showing signs of success) to make the pub a community gathering place.

The game rooms have shuffleboard and darts and they are on the verge (January, 2019)  of establishing various leagues. 

The night of my second visit they had an “Ugly Sweater Contest,” and besides the prospective leagues – bunco, bingo, trivia and darts the pub is planning Tap Takeovers and other events where neighbors can come and practice the Salty Rhino’s motto: “Keep Calm and Drink Beer!”

Like many neighborhood bars I have visited, I was also impressed with their charitable spirit.  Prominently displayed was this sign to support  Fort Kennedy and they had a barrel to accept donations.

The Salty Rhino is a great addition to what is a paucity of neighborhood pubs in the West Linn area.  And although it is not as big as some of the others, the attractive space, friendly owners and good selection of beer and wine make it one where you should join the hunt.

Given the short time in operation, there have been few social media reviews, but all I saw were positive.  This one from a gent who visited from Lake Oswego sums it up quite well:

“Great owners, great furnishings, great beer list, darts and shuffleboard – need I say more?”  (Yelp 9/30/18)

Salty Rhino Pub         

19335 Willamette Dr.           West Linn