Thebeerchaser’s 2017 Annual Report

Cheers from Thebeerchaser

I would suggest that 2017 was a year of good cheer – but isn’t that what you would expect from the author of a blog entitled “Thebeerchaser.”  While there were national and international events which make me shudder, the following speaks strictly to my idiosyncratic retirement hobby i.e. visiting bars, taverns and pubs and then blogging about them.  The following is my rationale for asserting, “It was a very good year.”

Buffalo Bill’s Saloon in rural Beavercreek

Blog Statistics – while I would still pursue this hobby even if the only people reading my posts were family members (out of a sense of obligation), it is gratifying to see that the number visiting the blog has increased – a lot – each year from my first full year in 2012. 

The chart below shows the total number of views with the darker blue being the number of visitors each year.  

The unique Multnomah Whiskey Bar

For example in 2017, I had 24,577 views from 18,623 visitors – meaning each visitor looked at an average of 1.32 different posts.

This compares to 2013 when the views rang in at 15,223 by 10,031 people – a 60% increase in views over that four year period. My first full year, only 6,704 ventured in, so the increase has been gratifying.

Thebeerchaser’s Statistics from 2012 – 2017

Since its inception in August, 2011, I have published 189 posts – each one averaging about 1,500 words.  In 2017, followers of the blog saw twenty-nine posts, which is pretty close to the annual average over the six full years I have been on this “Tour.”   But in 2017, since we were on the road more, we visited more different public houses than in any prior year.

Wonderful scenery (and breweries) along the S. Oregon Coast

When we travel, I describe multiple bars and breweries in each post.  For example, in September we headed down the Southern Oregon Coast through Redwood National Park to Eureka.

In three different posts, I described eleven breweries, one bar and one bottle shop that we visited on that trip including our favorite, Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake California.

Drinking with the friendly staff of Mad River Brewing

And I am always amazed to see the locations at which the visitors to Thebeerchaser are doing their Google searches which bring them to my domain.

For example, in 2017, 85% of the views were from the US, but 3% were from India, followed by 1.8% from Canada and even ten views from Saudi Arabia.

Known to roam both New Guinea and Khazakstan

Perhaps that’s some people getting vicarious thrills from reading about watering holes because Saudi Arabia has a complete ban on alcohol – it is illegal to produce it, import it, or consume it.

In fact, in 2017 I even had two visitors from New Guinea and one from Khazakstan.  Perhaps they got to my blog by mistake and they meant to do a search for The boar chaser……

Thebeerchasing Itinerary

At the wonderful dive bar AC Tap outside Sister Bay in Door County, Wisconsin

My practice when Beerchasing in the Portland area is to generally visit an establishment at least twice – that gives me a better feel for the place and more opportunity to meet patrons and talk to the bartenders or staff about the bar or brewery’s history and distinguishing characteristics.

Now 2017 set a record for the most venues visited.   Although the Portland area total was lower than most years at fifteen bars and breweries, this number was supplemented by twenty-seven outside Portland including multiple entries in Wisconsin, California and the Oregon Coast.

Lakefront Brewing in Milwaukee

You can see the list for both categories at the end of this post.  And one brewery is in a special category – the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel which will be discussed below.

Friendly owner Tom O’Leary


For Portland establishments, I devote the entire post to one venue.  For example, my favorite bar in 2017 of the nine Portland area watering holes, was TC O’Leary’s Irish Pub where I got to know the owner, Tom, a former star from Ireland’s most popular soap opera.

And the brewery which captured my imagination of the five Portland area enterprises reviewed was Tigard’s Flyboy Brewing.  The outstanding people in these establishments gave them the nod plus you haven’t lived until you have tasted their Pilot’s Peach Pale Ale.

Michelle Faubion and Mark Becker of Flyboy Brewing


Each quarter I also write about an individual or group for which I bestow the “honor” Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOTQ).  In the past, these have included authors, athletes, war heroes, media personalities and even my graduate school Professor of Public Finance, Portland State’s Dr. John Walker.

The only Beerchaser-of-the-Year was named in 2016 – my wife of thirty-eight years, Janet, who has shown the patience and given her support for the time I spend checking out these colorful and many times historic, public houses.

The only Beerchaser-of-the-Year

Fortunately, she has grown to have a fondness for IPAs (Buoy Brewing’s of Astoria is her favorite) – a change from generally consuming an Oregon Pinot when we dined out in prior years.

Amy Faust of 99.5 – The Wolf




I was somewhat remiss this year and only named three BOTQ – Portland radio personality, Amy Faust, of the Mike and Amy Show and then a  tribute to the late author and my friend (as a result of this blog) Brian Doyle.

And then there’s Father Martin Grassel, who is the head brewer at the Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey (in addition to being the Procurator for the Abbey – a very big responsibility.) He is a wonderful man with a fascinating background.

Father Martin of the Benedictine Brewery

Stay tuned for a catch-up effort in 2018, when my first BOTQ will be Portland developer and civic leader, Mark Edlen.

For a list of past recipients of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, see the tab so designated on the header at the top of this post.  These people are interesting and have compelling stories and you probably know some of them.

Looking Back and Reflecting……

Dave Booher and Steve Larson at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns

Since my visit to the Brooklyn Park Pub in August, 2011, my first bar on what has been a six and one-half year journey, I have visited and reviewed a total of 257 different watering holes.

While my initial intent was to restrict these visits to Portland locations, our retirement travel was conducive to telling you about bars in Europe and Alaska, Hawaii,  Montana and a bunch of other states in addition to saloons all over the state of Oregon – from the coast to John Day and Baker.

The personable Phoebe of the Brooklyn Park Pub

By the way, I was very happy that I returned to the Brooklyn this summer and had a visit with their wonderful bartender Phoebe Newcombe, one of my favorite of many dynamic personalities (also third place in Willamette Week’s Best- of-Portland Bartenders) I have had the pleasure of interviewing since 2011.

Darwin’s Theory – An OSU Beaver in Anchorage

So of that total (257) 114 have been in Portland and 143 in the aforementioned other geographical locales.  (Sometime if we have a beer, I will tell you about our visit to the bar right below the summit of  top of Mt. Schilthorn in Switzerland – at an altitude of 9,744 feet.)

Or there was my favorite dive bar of all time – Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska – owned by an Oregon State University alum.

The Schilthorn Taverne in Switzerland







You’ve got to be kidding? Beer at 9,500 feet!

The List of 2017 Venues

The charts below show the name, location type of establishment and date of the post for each place reviewed in 2017 – separated by those in the Portland metropolitan area and those outside the Rose City.

Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
Multnomah Whiskey Library Downtown Whiskey Bar January
Nineteen 33 Taproom West Linn Neighborhood February
Buffalo Bill’s Saloon Beavercreek Neighborhood February
Ancestry Brewing Tualatin Brewery February
The Independent Downtown Sports Bar March
NEPO 42 Northeast Neighborhood April
Burnside Brewing East Brewery April
Gil’s Speakeasy Southeast Dive Bar May
Flyboy Brewing Tigard Brewery May
Cascade Brewing Barrel House Southeast Brewpub June
Labrewatory North Brewery June
Renners Multnomah Village Dive Bar August
Slow Bar Southeast Neighborhood October
TC O’Leary’s Irish Pub Northeast Neighborhood October
ZARZ Downtown Whiskey Bar December

Wisconsin Beerchasing

On the Oregon Coast


Name of Venue Location Type Date of Post
Nauti Mermaid Beach Club Lincoln City, OR Neighborhood July
Scooters Pub Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood July
Dukes on the Water Milwaukee, Wisc. Dive July
Water Street Brewery Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery July
Badger State Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
Hinterland Brewery Green Bay, Wisc. Brewery July
Door County Brewing Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Brewery August
AC Tap Sister Bay, Wisc Dive August
Coyote Road House Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
Cornerstone Pub Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc. Neighborhood August
Pourman’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
Lake Front Brewing Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewery September
McGillycuddy’s Bar Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
Bar None Milwaukee, Wisc. Neighborhood September
The Aly Asylum Riverhouse Milwaukee, Wisc. Brewpub September
Yachats Brewing Yachats, OR Brewery November
Defeat River Brewing Reedsport, OR Brewery November
Seven Devils Brewing Coos Bay, OR Brewery November
Bandon Brewery Bandon, OR Brewery November
Broken Anchor Bar and Grill Bandon, OR Neighborhood November
The Beverage Barn Bandon, OR Bottle Shop November
Arch Rock Brewing Gold Beach, OR Brewery November
Chetco Brewing Brookings, OR Brewery November
Six Rivers Brewing McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
Humboldt Regeneration McKinleyville, CA Brewery December
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka, CA Brewery December
Mad River Brewery Blue Lake, CA Brewery December
Benedictine Brewery Mount Angel, OR Brewery November

The Benedictine Brewery

Sign designed and created by Brother Andre’ Love

Fans of great beer and the rich history of brewing can look forward to the opening of the Benedictine Brewery and Taproom in mid-2018.   After an incredible community timber raising on November 11th, the Brewery is now framed and its flagship beer, Black Habit got a wonderful review at this link in Willamette Week.  

I have been working as a volunteer on this project for the last fifteen months – it’s a vision of Father Martin Grassel.  When completed, it will be the only brewery west of the Mississippi in which the ownership and brewing is by monks – in this case those at the Mount Angel Abbey, established in 1882.

To see some videos which will amaze you and give you an idea of the energy and spirit shown at the timber raising at which about 100 monks, seminarians and friends from the Mt. Angel community worked as a team all day,  check out the following link from my post on 11/21.


Updated picture from 1/4/18



Happy New Year!

Amy Faust – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (and Mandolinist…)

Eating her lunch at 10:30 AM

It’s 4:40 AM on a weekday morning and Amy Faust reluctantly rolls out of bed after having racked up about 7 hours and 10 minutes of sleep – if you count the half-hour she spent reading her latest novel as slumber time. This has been the routine for the last eighteen years for this media personality – she’s the Amy of the Mike and Amy in the Morning Show which airs from 5:30 to 10:00 AM each weekday morning on KWJJ The Wolf at 99.5 FM.

Well, the above period of time needs to be modified to state, “This has been the routine for the last eighteen years except for about a two-year period between 2012 and 2014 when she slept more normal hours.”   During that period, she made her living using her considerable talents in various other jobs, because management of the station had unceremoniously fired the popular duo in an economy move – they were replaced by a cheaper syndicated show based in Seattle.

The dynamic duo

But Amy’s morning routine returned in mid 2014 when she and her broadcast partner, Mike Chase, who after being terminated, had moved to North Carolina to take another broadcasting job, were reinstated.   The station ultimately responded to the uproar from the Mike and Amy fans, which were voluminous and incessant.  Perhaps, it’s best described by this June 12, 2014 excerpt from The Columbian – the newspaper in Vancouver where the duo has a lot of fans:

“Getting fired isn’t so rare, especially in the churning world of broadcast media. But getting rehired by a media company that publicly apologizes for its flub is a singular career achievement.

‘I want to speak to you about a mistake that ‘The Wolf’ made back on Aug. 6, 2012,’ program director Mike Moore of Portland country music station KWJJ ‘The Wolf,’ recently said on the air…….. Faust said she’d both halfway expected the pink slip and yet was ‘absolutely shocked’ that corporate station managers based on the East Coast actually went through with it.

But something unexpected happened, Moore continued: ‘Almost immediately, many of you told us that we’d made a mistake. We received thousands of calls, Facebook posts, emails and even snail mail letters. The overwhelming sentiment was that you really missed Mike and Amy, and you wanted them to come back. You also wanted a local show.’   

Back on the bus…….

During their off-the-air stretch, Chase and Faust tried putting out a podcast and worked together for the quirky TV show ‘Portlandia,’ Chase as an actor and Faust as a location manager. Faust also did some writing, some traveling and some ‘sitting on the couch’ in genuine mourning, she said, because she’d loved working with her pal Chase and loved working in radio. Eventually, though, the station invited them back — and publicly called their firing a mistake.

‘I’m not gonna lie. It’s a little satisfying,”’Faust said.”

In Moore’s defense, Amy confirms that it was not his decision and he successfully campaigned hard to get them back on the air.  It had been a perfect job for thirteen years and she remembers when they told her on a Monday with no notice “Your services are no longer required.  Here’s a brown box to take out your stuff – and you should be gone within four hours…..”  Her first reaction was to laugh and say, “Mike was right,” because he had the feeling for six months that they were on the chopping block and even said on the previous Friday, “I think we’re getting fired on Monday!”

With daughter, Alice

In retrospect, it was a positive experience because she was able to take time off with the six months salary remaining from what was a “no-cut contract,” and take a wonderful road trip to the Redwoods with her daughter, Alice, and then able to drive her to school each day.

Amy Faust is the first individual in 2017 to be named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and joins the “elite”  list started on this blog five years ago which includes writers, military heroes, academicians and even the crew of the USS Constitution for their “legendary” war cruise in 1798.   Although this is a blog about bars and beer, a number of these individuals have nothing to do with my favorite beverage – they are just interesting individuals who have made worthwhile contributions to society and have a good story which should be told.

Portland author, Brian Doyle ****

Past recipients have been authors such as Dr. Harry Frankfurt (On Bullshit) or Portland’s own Brian Doyle – **** see note at the very end of this post **** (Mink River and The Plover), athletes such as former All-coast and then NFL tackle, Craig “The Dude” Hanneman and Viet Nam veterans and heroes, Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence.  And the most recent recipient before Amy, is also a media personality – The Godfather, Dwight Jaynes of CSN.  To see the posts for this distinguished group, go up to the blog header and click on the tab entitled “Beerchaser-of -the-Month or Quarter.”

Jack, hosting Town Hall

And it should be noted that Amy becomes the first direct relative of another Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  Her dad, Jack, retired appellate lawyer at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm and former moderator of the award-winning public affairs program, Town Hall which was broadcast for many years each Sunday on KATU, was so named in September, 2014. 

The elder Faust’s story can be viewed at

The Faust kids Barbara, Amy and Charlie

One of three children (also Barbara and Charlie) of Jack and Alice Faust, she  was born in Portland and attended Wilson High School where she graduated in 1983 “as a straight B student – I was an academic late bloomer…….!” 

An academic “late bloomer”

Her mom has been active in civic and public affairs having served as a commissioner over 6 years on both the State Commission for Women and the State Child Care Commission and was appointed by both Republican and Democratic Oregon governors.

Civic activist, Alice Faust

You can see by the picture below from Jack’s law school years that Amy grew up in a conservative and formal household……

Jack receiving nourishment from fellow law school classmae, Dave Krieger


Amy attended Scripps College, majoring in American Studies and loved it.  During summers, she had internships first at KATU and then in Washington DC for the Senate Commerce Committee when Oregon Senator Bob Packwood served as its Chair.  She also worked for Public Broadcasting in LA on some documentary films which gave her background for later work.

Admitting that “I had terrible taste in boyfriends in my youth” (something both her parents confirmed), she moved to New York after college graduation “driving my car across the country with a Frenchman.”   After she sold it to an artist, the car was impounded shortly afterward and then smashed in a tow yard after being towed for non-payment of nine parking tickets. (Time constraints precluded research on similar outstanding tickets in Portland.)

The Dixie Chicks neednt have worried……

Her experience in New York lasted nine years in which she worked on freelance documentary productions including helping to write a news book for ABC with Peter Jennings.

She also appeared in a band named “Bushmills” in which she sang and played the mandolin in “underground clubs.” “We were an all-female group similar to the Dixie Chicks although with a lot less talent.”

She leveraged her experience as a disk jockey in college for a gig as a DJ in a venue named Rub-a-Dub – it was a club not a car-wash….

Kevin second from right) and Amy, Beerchasing at the Yard House

She met her future husband, Kevin, at a party in the Ex-Lax Building (“Things have been going smoothly ever since…..”).  They were both dating other people and were friends for a year before they became a couple.  They moved to a wonderful six-unit apartment in Brooklyn right across the street from the bakery where the movie “Moonstruck” was filmed.

“We paid only $350 per month and fortunately Kevin had handy-man talents which the 91-year old landlady needed because even though he was Catholic and had been an alter-boy, she always thought he was Jewish and discriminated in her leases.” 

One of her real estate regrets is when they decided, based on cashflow (or lack thereof) to turn down the opportunity to buy the apartment building for $300,000 – it’s now worth $10 million!

Kevin, Mike and Amy

Kevin then graduated from the prestigious Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, with a degree in architecture where he was class valedictorian.

Founded in 1859, Cooper Union is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education.  (He gave the valedictory speech from the same stage on which Abe Lincoln delivered  what has become known as his “right makes might” address” in 1859.)

They moved to Ireland where Kevin taught architecture for a year in Dublin.  Amy did a few television jobs as a production coordinator.

Then it was back to Portland with no jobs. They still live in the same NE Portland house that became their home in 1996.  Kevin got a job in a high-end construction firm (Hammer and Hand) and Amy worked as a freelance writer and authored advertising copy for clients and produced television commercials.  (“It was an experience where I was totally over my head and was stressful because I am not the epitome of a detail-minded person…”

That’s when she first met Mike Chase – he auditioned (and got the part) for a bank commercial Amy produced.  He had just been fired from a weekly radio show on 94.7 FM and got a job on 1080 AM, where he asked Amy to work on the weekly show “just for fun.”  Flash forward to 1998 — Amy is pregnant and gets a call from Chase who has been hired by a country-western station and asks Amy to be co-host (“By the way, our show starts at 5:00 AM.”)

Their thirteen year run brings us back to the spontaneous termination and Amy is back trying to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up.  So she returns to freelance writing and lands a gig as a location manager for Portlandia – a job she loved but was like solving a crazy puzzle for each show – trying to get the permits and the right background for each scene as well as figuring out details such as disposing of trash and parking for the cast and crew.   She managed five people and did the job for about four months the first year and has worked a little on each season ever since.

Amy with her parents, Alice and Jack

Amy, notwithstanding her modesty, is a talented writer and also wrote a column for a low-budget publication –  “Our Town.”  After that it was freelance work for Willamette Week.  You can see a sample of her writing at the end of this post. It will take you to an excerpt from the account of her dad’s fascinating experiences with the RajNeesh when he featured the topic of the cult’s “invasion” of Antelope, Oregon, on three separate Town Hall shows.   The article was originally published in the July, 2014 edition of 1859 magazine

This woman of many talents does not consider herself to be a local celebrity.  “Because I’m on radio rather than television, I’m not recognized except when I go to hockey games or am in doctor’s offices.” 

Her dad’s account contradicts that, however.  “When I used to host Town Hall, people meeting Amy for the first time would always ask if I was her father.  Now, I’m the one who gets the inquiry, ‘Is Amy your daughter?’”

Recognized at Grand Central Bakery by musician Bills Wadhams

Amy and I met for our first interview in Grand Central Bakery in NE Portland and about 45 minutes into the session, a guy walks up to her and greets her with a hug.  It was Bill Wadhams who led a 1980’s one-hit-wonder band named Animotion.  She had interviewed him while working for Willamette Week.

Perhaps she does not have the visual profile of local television personalities, but she was also “recognized” in the Buoy Beer Company Brew-pub in Astoria.  “Our group was being kind of rowdy and I was talking and laughing rather loudly and a woman at the table behind us turned around and said,  “Aren’t you Amy Faust from KWJJ The Wolf.”

A distinctive laugh…..

Evidence that she can be recognized by her laugh can be garnered by listening to this brief interview Mike and Amy had with Keith Urban.

Her preparation for the show (besides setting her alarm for earlier than any of us would want to consider) consists of filing things away for discussion pieces and the quizzes they feature each day.   She also stays abreast of trending topics on social media and what’s going on in the community.  “We’re always looking for topics.  Our show is a context eating machine…”

Grant Constitution Team – Alice is the last student on the right next to coach, Jim Westwood – former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

Daughter Alice is now a high school senior at Grant High and a member of the Constitution Team which recently placed first in the Oregon high school competition and will soon travel to Washington DC for the “We the People” national finals.  She has previously admonished her mom, “Don’t ever mention me on the show.”  Alice will attend the U of O in the fall.

I reminded Amy about a show I enjoyed some years ago when, in the absence of Mike Chase, she got her dad to be the guest co-host. “It was a fun show although I had a “dump” button with a seven-second delay to control what he was saying if necessary.”  (She didn’t have to use it.”)

Amy is also active in the community.  One of her favorite civic pursuits is volunteer coordinator for Portland Meet, an organization that “……welcomes and befriends immigrants and refugees, enriching community by creating mutually beneficial mentoring opportunities that promote cross-cultural learning, enhance work skills and build trust.”

Her involvement was inspired after she read the book What is the What, a novel by Dave Eggers based on one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who after fleeing his country during the civil war, eventually immigrated to the US.  The book portrays his “struggles to adjust to the mixed blessing of his new life.”

She teaches citizenship classes – the picture is of Howa, a woman from Somalia who gained citizenship after the class.

Subject of nightmares…..

Amy also related how their listeners “never forget anything” and in response to my question about examples of this premise, she launched into some interesting (if not curious) stories about her cat that used to lick the wax from her ears and the sucker fish that died an ignominious death in her basement after Amy forgot about it – “I still have nightmares about that.”

Each Beerchasing session in which Amy has joined Jack and her brother, Charlie, (at Kelly’s Olympian, MadSon’s Pub and The Independent) has elicited other great stories such as when she met Dolly Parton and the legendary, George Jones.  They are always fun to hear her recount although people in surrounding booths often wonder who in the group has the unique laugh.

Jack, Amy and brother, Charlie in the center, Beerchasing at Kelly’s Olympian

While Mike and Amy’s gig on The Wolf is going quite well, I can assure you that should the ax fall again, Amy Faust will use her considerable talents on some new adventure.  We can just take comfort knowing that it would never be working in a commercial aquarium……..

Excerpt from Thebeerchaser post on September 2, 2014

Three Town Hall shows on the Rajneesh and the Bhagwan concluded with two in Rancho Rajneesh – now, Antelope, Oregon. Ma Anand Sheila was the spokesperson for the Bhagwan.  Amy Faust, Jack’s daughter and a local media celebrity, writes a compelling account of these shows in the July, 2014 edition of 1859 Magazine(The first two shows had not gone well for the Followers and they balked at having the third one):

“Then, just one day before the scheduled taping (of the third show), they reversed their stance, sending my dad an apology and a boxed lunch from Zorba the Budha Deli. While my dad remembers his receptionist, Jeannine Marks, saying, ‘I wouldn’t eat that if I were you,’ like a good, waste-not child of the Great Depression, he wolfed it down. ‘What are they going to do,’ he replied, ‘poison me?’

The next day, his producer, India Simmons, got an odd phone call from Ma Prem Sunshine, asking simply, ‘How’s Jack today?”’Sunshine’s tone of voice prompted Simmons to call my dad, who was in fact at home in bed with a fever of 103, horribly sick for the first time since age 5. Not wanting to miss the show, he recruited my mom to drive him to Antelope, feeling nauseous the whole way.          Copyright2003 Samvado Gunnar Kossatz ( Osho Drive By

After a heavy does of Tylenol, he hosted the show, which was indeed more damaging to the Rajneeshee reputation than the previous episodes. In the face of criticism from detractors, the Rajneeshees often broke into loud, disconcerting laughter, and at one point responded to an angry local by bursting into song.”  (Jack Faust’s response in ending the chanting was, “This show is not a musical!”)

**** Note

My friend, Brian Doyle, author and University of Portland’s editor of their award-winning magazine, Portland, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.  After surgery, he is recuperating at home under the care of his wife, Mary.   Whether Brian will be able to return to work is uncertain and his friends have started a “Go-Fund-Me” site to help with the costs of his recuperation.

The response so far has been good and if you want to contribute to this worthwhile effort, use the link below:

The Yard House – Does it Measure Up??

Is this the entry to a bar or a Fortune 500 corporation?

Is this the entry to a bar or a Fortune 500 corporation?

The Yard House (hereafter “YH”) in downtown Portland is one of sixty-six establishments (mostly west of the Mississippi) in this national chain.  Thebeerchaser’s affinity for dive bars and neighborhood taverns would keep him a distance from this type of bar, but it provided a convenient gathering place for several Beerchaser regulars to hoist a mug, so we gave it a try.

Westwood, Kevin and Amy, Jack Faust and Thebeerchaser

Westwood, Kevin and Amy, Jack Faust and Thebeerchaser

The company included lawyers Jack Faust and Jim Westwood, in addition to local radio icon, Amy Faust and her husband of twenty-four years, Kevin – more about this interesting couple below.

And while YH had an impressive selection of beers, I will not be hitting this or another YH again for the reasons set forth below.


Now when I step into what is usually the dim and cluttered entry to a bar, a quick scan of the environment will reveal some regulars who look interesting, a few alcoves with some old Schlitz or Olympia signs above them to elicit good memories.  Also expect either a stuffed animal head or a sign that says something like, “Our beer is colder than your exe’s heart.”

Décor at the Club 21 in NE Portland

Décor at the Club 21 in NE Portland

Don’t expect that at the Yard House.  As you enter the sterile, corporate-like lobby area, you will be greeted by what one Trip Advisor reviewer aptly described as a “…..snooty, ‘I’m too sexy for this podium host.'” 

The host(s) – there were actually three when I entered – probably recent Portland State University Communications majors, aggressively steer you to a table in the massive basement-level space.  They don’t want to hear that you just want to sit at the bar or seat yourself.  

Environmentally safe transport from the source....

Environmentally safe transport from the source….

The large bars are impressive and the overhead tubes trans-porting one of the approximately 100 beers on tap (shown on an illuminated digital display) from the overhead kegs are visually stimulating and kind of cool:

“Our glass-enclosed keg room is the pulse of the operation. Each keg room houses as much as 4,000 gallons of beer kept at an ideal 36-38 degrees, and delivered to our island bar through five miles of individual beer lines stretching overhead. Every draught is fresh and perfectly chilled.”

But the YH has the ambiance of an Applebee’s or a suburban branch of Citibank. In fact, since the YH bars are owned and operated by the Darden Restaurant chain, I should change the named restaurant comparison to The Olive Garden – the chain’s flagship brand!    P1040029

Perhaps a Yelp reviewer on a visit from Seattle, in an effort to be positive, made my case more succinctly than anyone when he stated, “This place is like Red Robin but an upscale, classier and better version. I really enjoyed this.”  Really!!??

Affable and competent server, Jason.

Affable and competent server, Jason.

Now I will admit that Jason, our server, was a very personable and helpful young man, who knew the beer list well even though he had only worked there two months.  He suggested a Six-Pack Sampler with six different beers which was great – although we traded in the Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourban Barrel Stout for a second sample of the excellent Fort George 1811 Lager from Astoria. I had a pint of the Green Flash West Coast IPA – a very nice beer.

One of the distinguishing highlights at the YH is the option to buy a half-yard of beer – delivered in a very tall and impressive glass (see the picture below).  And you can see why the recipients of that mug are smiling……

A good option at the Yard House

A good option at the Yard House

It was no surprise to us that Jim Westwood volunteered to be our half-yard participant.  You may remember from prior posts on this blog that both Westwood and  Faust are past Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter. (see posts of 3/28/13 and 9/2/14

Westwood - Ben Padrow would be proud!!

Westwood – Ben Padrow would be proud!!

 Westwood was the captain of the legendary Portland State College team that captured the hearts of the nation when it went undefeated in the 1964-65 GE College Bowl television quiz in what NBC producers labeled as, “the most outstanding team performance in College Bowl history.”

He’s so smart that he converted the half-yard height of the mug into the metric system while taking the first gulp – 42.75 centimeters…!

Distinguishing Characteristics

Despite the somewhat sterile atmosphere, one does have to applaud the variety of not only beers (over 100 drafts in nine broad categories ranging from “hoppy/floral” to “strong/spiced”) at the YH, but they also have an impressive list of cocktails (21), house martinis (10) and even five different sake drinks for those who are adventurous. (Try the Snow Maiden which is tozai, junmai and nigori.)

We drank rather than ate at the YH.  Given the Dresden Inc. ownership of the Olive Garden along with the YH, I expected to see a menu which included unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks, but the YH does appear to offer a good selection of edibles ranging from appetizers, soups and salads to steaks, burgers and ribs to seafood and deserts.

Scads of TVs if youre not into conversation

Scads of TVs if you’re not into conversation

The tacos drew good comments in the reviews such as this one on Trip Advisor in November, 2014:

“(the taco was amazing…..with rice and beans on the side and the rice is the best Mexican rice I have had in a long time. It’s spicy, but not what I expected from a bar food joint. They also had a long list of desserts, I think we tried most of them. Very tasty.”

What if these guys were around in 2016?

What if these guys were around in 2016?

Drinking beer while hearing Westwood and Jack Faust debate the implications of the 1783 Treaty of Paris (negotiated by John Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin in which the British agreed that the thirteen US Colonies were free, sovereign, and independent states) was stimulating.

And it grew more animated when they theorized that these statesman could have achieved more favorable terms than Secretary of State, John Kerry, in his negotiations with Mohammad Javad Zarif in the US/Iran Nuclear Deal of 2016.

However, I was more interested in chatting with Amy and her spouse, since this was Kevin’s first Beerchasing adventure.  Amy is the female half of the popular Mike and Amy Show on KWJJ – The Wolf (see Beerchaser post on 8/14/2015).   Kevin is a fascinating and transplanted East Coaster who met Amy when they were living in New York.   mike and amy

August will see their 24th wedding anniversary after they originally met in Brooklyn at a party in a loft in what was once an Ex Lax factory.   As Amy recalls, “It was called the Ex Lax building and things have been going smoothly ever since……”

BillboardKevin taught architecture in Ireland after teaching on Long Island and worked for architects in NYC and in Dublin as well.  He graduated from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in New York City in 1859 and which is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education.

At his graduation, our fellow Beerchaser gave the valedictory speech from the same stage on which Abe Lincoln delivered  what has become known as his “right makes might” address” in 1859.

And there is a connection with Westwood, who is also a long-time coach of the former National Championship, Grant High School Constitution Team.  Kevin and Amy’s daughter, Alice, was selected for the team and will participate in the competition this coming year.


Abraham Lincoln speaking in Cooper Union's Great Hall February 27, 186

Abraham Lincoln speaking in Cooper Union’s Great Hall February 27, 1859

Notwithstanding my outstanding drinking companions, the aseptic ambiance of the YH was as pervasive and cloying as Jan in the Toyota commercials.   It made Thebeerchaser yearn for a dive or neighborhood bar environment.

For example, the YH highlights its art collection:

The stunning, original art featured on our walls is a major contributor to the very special vibe of every Yard House. The Yard House Original Art Gallery Collection has been created by artist Jerome Gastaldi.

Each piece is uniquely handcrafted to reflect the regional environment, the energy within the Yard House restaurants, and the core values of the company.”

Commissioned art by in the Portland Yard House

Commissioned art by Gastaldi in the Portland Yard House

Now, while neither the wonderful Nest Tavern in SE Portland nor the Low Brow Lounge in the Pearl have famous artists on retainer, their “works” reflect an underlying character and personality that will keep yours truly seeking this type of establishment on Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Pubs and Taverns.

Original art at the Nest Tavern in SE Portland

Original art at the Nest Tavern in SE Portland

So while the ambiance of the Yard House was like being buried three-feet under, you might check it out the YH for its beers or cocktails if you want a convenient place in downtown Portland.  But I would harken back to the Sandy Hut, the Ship Tavern or Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage or another dive bar for a fulfilling experience. (All reviewed on

While these classic bars don’t have a “glass-enclosed keg room that keeps the beer at an ideal 36-38 degrees,”  you can get an ice-cold draft $2.50 PBR to die for!

Creative work at the Low Brow Lounge

Creative work at the Low Brow Lounge


                    The Yard House  

                  Pioneer Place

                        Portland, Oregon