There’s No Prohibition — Visit the Nineteen 33 Taproom

1933-81933-9

 

 

 

 

 

The Nineteen 33 Taproom is a nice little bar in the historic Willamette section of West Linn, with an impressive selection of beers on tap, a nice menu including Happy Hour specials and live music once each week.

Now, you could also hit bars with the same name (or at least built around the “1933” title) in Bakersfield, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Dallas, Clearwater Florida, Ruleville Mississippi, Cantonville Maryland and even Utica New York.

raid_at_elk_lake

Police raid at Elk Lake (albeit in Canada, you get the idea….)

So why do so many US bars adopt this moniker?  It’s not their address.  1933 (December 15th specifically) is, however, a reference to an important year in US history, especially in the chronology of distilled spirits.

That’s because it was the year in which the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution – the legal basis for Prohibition adopted in 1919 – was repealed and replaced (those words have a new connotation…) by the 21st Amendment.  The latter is the only one of twenty-seven to be ratified for the specific purpose of repealing another amendment.  And most people think this grand social scheme was a failure including the infamous, Al Capone, who opined – probably while in prison…:

“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.”

And Oregon was even more conservative than the rest of the country…….

“On November 3, 1914, the Temperance League won their victory—Oregon voters passed a state amendment prohibiting the sale, manufacture, or advertisement of alcohol in the state. On January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment went into effect and the rest of the country joined Oregon in restless temperance.” (Portland Mercury 1/22/09)

1024px-womans_christian_temperance_union_cartoon

Historic Gerbers 1933 in Utica

Historic Gerbers 1933 in Utica

Probably, the most notable of the 1933 bars in the list of cities above is Utica’s Gerber’s 1933 Tavern, which:

“…. is an historic speak easy restored to its original luster. The tavern was vacant for nearly 40 years before it reopened in April 2013. We strive to operate the tavern as it would have been nearly a century ago. The building that houses Gerber’s has a rich and varied history. It’s been a Tobacco shop, produce store, café, fish fry, saloon and more.”

photo-jan-26-4-26-31-pm

But back to the 1933 Taproom in West Linn.   Owned by Vince and Lisa Strafford, who evidently also own two Portland pizza restaurants, it is in a non-descript block in which one almost doesn’t notice that it is a bar.

It has a nice dark and quiet interior – this is not a bar where you are going to see a jovial and raucous group of regulars, but just friends sitting at a few tables having one of their thirty-three beers and two ciders on tap, a glass of wine or some interesting craft cocktails.

You can also listen to tunes by local musicians each Thursday from 6:00 to 9:00.img_20160804_192351

Happy-hour is from 4:00 to 5:00 each week day, 2:00 to 5:00 on Saturdays and all day on Sunday.

They have some great happy-hour small plates and the best option appeared to be the 1/3 pound burger at $6 with a heaping batch of fries for another $2.  You can also take a buck of your beer or glass of wine – beer ranges from $5 to $7 for a pint at regular pricing.

Superb burgers

Signature burgers…

We missed happy hour and the food is a tad bit expensive, but of notable quality and presentation.  Jamie Magnusson had an outstanding $12 Prohibition Burger (“local certified Angus beef, caramelized onions, aged cheddar, peppercorn dijonnaise, pancetta, tomato.  Served with fries.”

Ryan Keene had the Romano Burger – also $12 (“local certified Angus beef glazed with balsamic, basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella and roasted tomato aioli. Served with fries.”

macaroni-2

A lot of crab with the mac & cheese

My macaroni and cheese with white cheddar and crab for $14 was the best dish of its kind I had in 2016.

And we should talk about their beers because the selection is robust and the staff is both friendly and knowledgeable and more than willing to let you sample until you hit the one you want – an option missing in many bars these days.

img_20160804_191647

Ryan, Madeline (a great server) and Jamie

“The waitress offered fantastic suggestions for the numerous local beers on draft.  She knew every detail about each beer and offered to let us try multiple samples.”  (Yelp 11/6/16)

On my second trip, my old friend and retired investment guru, Chet Dato, rode up to meet me on his Harley.  When drinking beer, Chet is a stout fan (his favorite is Avery Brewing’s Tweak (16% ABV) and Uncle Jacob (17.1% ABV), both of which are not generally available in Oregon (and two pints of which would put you under the table…….!)

photo-jan-26-4-26-42-pm-2

Chet telling stories to a captivated Kevin……

So after talking to our amiable and helpful bartender, Kevin, he decided on the Top O’ the Feckin Morning from nearby Feckin Brewing in Oregon City.  He thought it was a very good stout although at 8.5%, pretty tame in comparison with the Avery brews.

Nineteen 33’s diverse tap list allowed me to try a Sun River Brewing Vicious Mosquito IPA, (7% ABV and 70 IBU)which since I was current on my inoculations, I did without reservation.  (“This hop attack is coming at you like the vicious mosquitos at our nearby Cascade Mountains.”)

photo-jan-26-4-25-40-pmBy the way, Chet’s bike is a Harley Davidson 2001 FatBoy, which he points out is the bike that Arnold Schwarzenegger rode in Terminator 2.
He and his wife average about 15,000 miles a year (national average is 3,000) and have ridden as far east as Detroit Michigan and south to Tombstone and all the states in-between.
Chet and wife on road trip

Chet and wife on road trip

And you will see why from the photo below, Chet reminds me of one of the other quality biker guys I met while Beerchasing – this one in Lincoln City at the Old Oregon Saloon.
 ————–
On that summer day in 2014  when he walked in after his bike trip up from San Francisco,  the Old O bartender told me that Irish Mike McKenna is the bar’s “Local Ambassador.”  For the full story, which is kind of amusing, see the post below:
Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/

The Nineteen 33 Taproom scores very well in social media reviews.  For example, this excerpt from a very long, but well written Yelp review on 9/6/16:

“Do not go to the Nineteen 33 Taproom.  Seriously, I want this place all to myself.  Comofortable old English style taproom with a bit of whimsy.  A class act bartender that was down to earth, professional and could make a mean dirty martini.

The small menu leaves you wanting to order everything off of it.  The person who designed the menu loves food with a passion.  It is a wisp of Italian, southern comfort and an obvious fetish for tasty treasures from the sea.  I did not hesitate on the prices once I tasted the food….The food was excellent.

Tapping a keg

There is a secret to this taproom.  Everything seems perfectly placed, the food seems perfectly prepared, the staff seems perfectly charming, the beer seems perfectly organized and this taproom is now perfectly my number one destination in West Linn.”
 ————————
One notable exception to the positive reviews was from this curmudgeon from Oregon City.  And I will quote part of his 2/6/16 review only to demonstrate that some people appear to have no sense of perspective when they get on the internet.   (As you read this, keep in mind that this same guy, gave only one or two stars – out of five – to six of the last nine Yelp reviews he auhored):
photo-jan-26-4-26-18-pm

Out of context????

“Then I started picking up on things. If you are going to go for a 30’s theme, how about some consistency? I think the digital boards take away from the look. The theme they use for these boards make them nearly worthless anyhow. Very basic. If you are going to use digital boards…..use the system everyone else seems to have. It is interactive and friendly on the eyes. (Note: Their system was fine and helpful in selecting a beer.)

Now, another ‘Why?’ If you are a ‘Taproom’ why do you have liquor? I can understand a couple types of wine on hand. But a basic bar is just confusing. You don’t have a taproom, you have a bar. (Note: “Confusing” – Are you kidding me???)

Then the music keeps changing over to different genres, or categories. Adult contemporary, 90’s? and some other basic non-offensive channels. But again, it is digital. Maybe I am too stuck on the decor/theme aspect, but it was just segmented and awkward. Then to top it off, a Kramer poster in the restroom. Not a painting, but a framed Seinfeld poster. 
(Note: Perhaps this guy needs to have a serious face-to-face chat with Chet or Irish Mike to gain some perspective.”)

img_20160804_192149Now people are entitled to their own opinions, but in light of that absurd, fastidious diatribe, I’ll end this post with what I consider a more valid description from a Nineteen 33 “regular.”

“We have gone to Nineteen 33 more than a dozen times, Food is always great and drinks are prefect, service is a 10+. We go here once a week and have never been disappointed. Great tap selection too.”   (Yelp 6/5/16)  

There’s no Prohibition to stop you.  Visit Nineteen 33 soon and tell them Thebeerchaser sent you  — and try not to be disappointed with the Seinfeld poster.  It was placed there in honor of Art Vandely

pano_20160804_194319

Nineteen 33 Taproom     1873 Willamette Falls Drive        West Linn

2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year: Janet Dancer Williams

2014 Beerchaser of the Year, Janet Williams

2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year, Janet Dancer Williams

After publishing this blog for over three years and periodically recognizing various individuals or organizations as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, events dictate the establishment of the first Beerchaser-of-the-Year Award – and it will now be a yearly happening retroactive to 2014.

Janet (usually a wine drinker) and Thebeerchaser
Janet (usually a wine drinker) and Thebeerchaser

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulsom Brew Pub

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulton Brew Pub last year

Thebeerchaser blog posts have  “honored” individuals who are war heroes such as my good friends, Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence; authors such as Northwest icon, Brian Doyle, deceased mystery writer James Crumley and the venerable Dr. Harry Frankfurt, author of the marvelous tome On Bullshit

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Harry_Frankfurt

Princeton Professor and author, Dr. Harry Frankfurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

———–

Since I worked with  attorneys for many years, some of the Oregon stalwarts in the profession such as Schwabe’s Jack Faust and Stoel Rives’ Jim Westwood have been designated.  And then there are some more creative picks such as the Crew of the USS Constitution and retired chemist Charles Schlumberg.  For you Seinefeld fans, the venerable Art Vandelay made the list and even former Beaver coach, Mike Riley and his 2012 football team, for their performance — at least after the first six games……

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter - Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood.

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter – Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood.

 

But the omission of any female Beerchaser honoree is glaring, especially since there are many worthy of the recognition.  Although this situation will be rectified in 2015, none have made a more lasting and significant contribution to Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs than my wife of 35 years, Janet Dancer Williams.

A hike in Breckenridge

A hike in Breckenridge

Although our first date in 1979 after an Oregon City Planning Commission meeting (where we first met) was having a beer, Janet is a wine-drinker.   Notwithstanding that, she recently accompanied me to eighteen bars and microbreweries in twelve days on our Colorado trip and was a great companion as we integrated our tour of the wonderful Colorado scenery with Beerchasing in some of the great brewpubs. P1020965

In fact, she was responsible for our VIP tour of New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins – arranged after she met Shawn Hines, one of the executives and his wife, Allison, at the Dundee Hills Winery earlier this year.

She tolerates the hours I sit at my computer researching and writing about the watering holes and only once in awhile accuses me of being preoccupied and not listening to her — at least that’s what I think she’s said……

Jamie and Lisa Williams Magnusson, Laura, Don and Janet Williams with Sullivan

Jamie and Lisa Williams Magnusson, Laura, Don and Janet Williams with Sullivan

And besides her support for Beerchasing, she is a wonderful wife, mom to our two daughters and grandmother (Mimi).

We survived two terms of graduate school Data Analysis in the same class at Portland State University right after we got married in 1980.  We still laugh about negotiating who would stand in line on Saturday mornings to run the computer program at Shattuck Hall and who would stay home and clean the bathrooms.

Memories of Shattuck Hall on the campus at PSU
Memories of Shattuck Hall on the campus at PSU

 

Janet is a native Oregonian, born in McMinnville where her dad, Joe,  was City Manager for 26 years – Joe Dancer Park is named in his honor.  She is a Duck, having graduated from the U of O in 1976 and went on to earn her Masters-in-Public Administration at PSU in 1984.

Mu logo

 ————

She had an outstanding career in local government (Assistant City Manager in both Oregon City and West Linn) and then worked in Human Resources at Nike before becoming the Vice President for Human Resources at Marylhurst University – a position which she held for twenty years.   During that time she also served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations.

P1020885

Janet with Barb and John Senger at The Sink in Boulder

 

Now back to her role in Beerchasing.   She first accompanied me in 2011 to the Coalition Brew Pub, which she loved, but the enthusiasm was not forthcoming that same night when she returned with me and our son-in-law, Jamie, for my second visit to the first bar I reviewed.

That was the Brooklyn Park Pub, a great neighborhood bar.   She asked me afterwards, “Beerchaser (she only calls me that when we are in bars), why do you go to dives like this, when there are so many other good bars?”

She was not agreeable with my response (originally authored by an unknown expert) when I stated, “Janet, these bars are just like hanging out in our own living room —- if our living room were a dingy dive full of strangers.”

On the Mediterranean in Italy

On the Mediterranean Sea in Italy

We have had some wonderful retirement travel together to National Parks, European museums and cathedrals, Spring Training in Arizona, an Alaskan cruise and a Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour.

On the Rick Steves' Best of Europe Tour

On the Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour

DSCN0699

Hiking in the Colorado aspens

And with cheerful (and sometimes restrained enthusiasm) she has gone with me to a number of bars including the Muddy Rudder, Lutz Tavern, Bazi Bier Brasserie and Saraveza in Portland and to the eighteen aforementioned venues in Colorado.

Don’t forget the Devils’ Forest Pub (Venice) and Café Karpershoeck (Amsterdam) and last summer Humpy’s Ale House in Alaska to Roadhouse 101 and the Snug Harbor Bar and Grill on the Central Oregon Coast.

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland with Mary Maxwell and Roy Lambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—————–

Thank you, Janet, and please accept the bottle of 2011 Penner~Ash Pinot Noir that I bought you.  I figured that you would appreciate it more than a case of PBR – a great gift you might consider for me on our next anniversary.

March 30, 1980
March 29, 1980