There are many bars – most notably in what is known as Portland’s Barmuda Triangle in Southeast Portland, where the setting for many bars is a busy urban intersection on Powell or Belmont, or one walks out into a strip-mall along a the busy street. The attraction is thus, the interior design, the selection of beers and the character/clientele of the bar – not the setting.
The Skyline Tavern is the antithesis – an historic building that looks like a road-house in the woods on Skyline Drive near Forest Park – 9.7 miles from downtown Portland. There are only four beers on tap – and the Terminal Gravity IPA was gone on that August evening we visited. They do, however, have a bunch of bottled and canned beers, but no cocktails or hard liquor, and the only food is essentially microwave faire. And by the way, bring cash or you may end up washing dishes – no credit or debit cards at this venue.
Unless your commute takes you by the pub, however, it would be best to save your visit for a cloudless day when you can take advantage of the expansive patio, the wonderful view of the Willamette Valley and the fire-pits where you can grill your own food and eat at one of the picnic tables in the beer garden or play Ping-Pong on the porch. They also have a good juke box.
Of course, some readers would point out that waiting for a cloudless day in Oregon limits the opportunity to about 47 days per year.
I hit the Skyline with Beerchaser regular, Portland lawyer, Scott Whipple, the same afternoon we visited another historic Portland bar – Slabtown last August. Scott was still on an adrenaline high from our intense Pop-a-Shot competition in the back room at Slabtown, and immediately suggested we play pool – I might add that it was harder trying to hold a cue stick with buttered micro-wave popcorn on our hands, but Scott probably knew that.
We talked to friendly bartender, Diane, a Scappoose High School graduate, who has worked at The Skyline for seven years.
This excerpt from an October 2012 review in Portland Monthly Magazine, describes the venue perfectly:
“The Skyline is like a summer camp for casual drinkers: The metronome of ping-pong balls clacking on the back porch, the clang and thunk of horseshoes thrown in the pit, the smell of burgers sizzling on the BYO – meat community grill, all played out in front of a tree-lined view of the Willamette Valley that’ll put a lump in your throat……”
Diane said that their biggest seller is 16 ounce PBR Tall Boys and that if you come on a summer evening or weekend, you will probably encounter a bunch of cyclists or motorcyclists at the end or on a break on their road trips.
The Skyline was pretty laid back and we were the only ones there besides Diane and a “regular.”
Scott did spice up the evening on the return trip by pointing out a forested spot on the off Thompson Road that “used to be the site of some memorable Sunset High School keggers…”
I might add that since our Beerchaser Trip to Slabtown and The Skyline, Scott has shed ten of a planned forty-five pounds on his New Year’s diet – “I am shooting to lose 45 pounds by the time I turn 45..” – some of which can be attributed to the stress of coaching The Sting his sons’ basketball team.
Some might object to the “minimalist” approach of the bar. This October 2013, Yelp review excerpt from a woman, whose initial paragraph in the review expressed shock that when she exited the bar, there were two guys inspecting a rifle that was pointed right at her votes for the status quo:
“But let’s be real here , I’m not a mans man. I am a lady who loves a nice game of horse shoes, pool or darts. I am also a lady who loves porch chillin’.
Skyline has an amazing back patio. Every time I’m here I have this horrible thought ‘If they just cut down all these trees, they would have any amazing view.’ You can, however, peek between the trees to enjoy a breathtaking view.
As others have mentioned this bar is Cash Only – talk about no frills. If you’re reading this Skyline, don’t you change a f…ing thing. You keep it real, and I like it.”
And perhaps on a cloudless day in June, Scott and Thebeerchaser will return and toast his successful diet….??!!!