Beerchasing on the South Oregon Coast and through the Redwoods – Part I

The fall is a great time to see Oregon and Janet and I decided to hit the road for a few days driving down the coast through Redwood National Park as far as Eureka.   Along the way, we enjoyed a few superb hikes and marveled at the coastal scenery.  And, of course, in furtherance of Thebeerchasers Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs, we visited twelve breweries, one bar and one bottle shop along the way – all of which were either on Highway 101 or close by. 

And we were thankful for the efforts of the late Governor Tom McCall and his foresight in preserving the Oregon Coast and the numerous outstanding Oregon State Parks along the way he championed.

The breweries we visited included Yachats Brewing, Defeat River Brewing in Reedsport, Seven Devils Brewing in Coos Bay, and Bandon Brewing, the Beverage Barn (bottle shop) and the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon, Arch Rock Brewing and in North Bend Chetco Brewing in Brookings.

Into California, we hit  Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake, Six Rivers Brewing and Humboldt Regeneration in McKinleyville, Redwood Curtain Brewing in Arcata and finally, Lost Coast Brewing Co. in Eureka.  (See the links over the names for more info.)

We tasted some good beer and by always sitting at the bars, met great people.  While it is hard to compare, our favorite brewery was Mad River Brewing closely followed by Yachats Brewing and Farmstore as will be explained below.  And we loved the one bar visited – the Broken Anchor in Bandon.

We started on a positive note with the first stop being Yachats Brewing.  The quaint building right on Highway 101 with a great view, uses historic building materials in this reconditioned bank and at Tuesday lunch it was bustling.   A number of people were enjoying the patio, while choosing one of the thirty beers on tap. 

Jeremiah, our bartender and server, was a great guy, explaining the roots of this young enterprise going back to 2013.  Janet liked her Camp One IPA (an American IPA) while I downed a Thor’s Well India Pale Ale as we listened to Crosby Stills and Nash on their play list.  The food was great with a combo of quinoa soup and the barbecued chicken sandwich rating an A+.

My choice of beers was appropriate, because we then stopped to see the Thors Well sink hole, the Spouting Horn and the Devils Churn at Cape Perpetua on the highway, which was worth the stop.     

The Spouting Horn

 

We had read an article by Oregonian reporter, Jamie Hale on hikes along the southern Oregon Coast which was a great reference.  We stopped to see the beautiful Cape Blanco Lighthouse and then pushed on to Harris Beach and Cape Sebastian State Parks.

 

 

At Defeat River Brewing near Reedsport, our bartender, Jared, poured us  The Bravest, a pilsner inspired IPA, and we learned about another home-brewing effort by two partners which culminated in Reedsport’s first commercial brewery in 2016 in another reconditioned historic building.

Jared, a friendly and informative bartender

 

 

 

 

 

 A few more miles to a short stop at Arch Rock Brewing in Gold Beach – this time to a four-year old partnership after the co-owners converted their cabinet shop into a brewery. 

The brewer formerly worked at one of our favorite out-of-state breweries at which we tasted great beer – Grand Teton Brewing, which is actually in Idaho.  Arch River currently brews only three beers, is not fancy and has no real taproom, but the owner was very friendly and helpful.

 

The best hike of the trip – even better than the beautiful several mile stroll through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwoods National Park was our three-mile loop along the cliffs at Cape Sebastian – the highest point on the southern Oregon Coast.

Stunning views both north and south thrilled us as we walked through the waist high grass .  Make this an absolute must if you hit this part of the coast on a nice day. 

Coos Bay, is an interesting city that shows signs of having weathered some tough times in the new economy.   lt was interesting to see the full-size posters of Steve Prefontaine, the City’s most famous individual decorate the sides of two adjacent buildings harkening back to his high school days at Marshfield High School before he set records at the U of O.

Seven Devils Brewing in Coos Bay

Another Oregon grad who has helped the community is Annie Pollard, who did both undergrad and graduate work there before eventually partnering with Carmen Mathews to open the Seven Devils Brewing Co. in 2013.  They are now an important part of the community.

Only a block or two off 101, they have a very nice open patio and a quality taproom with a nice menu featuring locally-sourced food.  It is a family-friendly venue and they have free live music concerts every week featuring local and touring artists. 

A glass door reveals the sparkling brewing equipment, which is a nice touch.  The ambiance is also heightened by the hand-made furniture and fixtures and the paintings, which make the barrel room and tap house quaint and comfortable. 

An overnight stay in Bandon, – at first disappointing because the Bandon Brewery’s grand opening was delayed until the next day, but as a result, we met a wonderful person, Jessica, the young entrepreneur, who opened the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill almost next door, a little over a year ago.  

The place was packed on a weekday evening and she and her staff including a friendly waitress named Loofa, showed great customer service and their unique sauerkraut pizza was one of the hits of the trip.  They have an expansive menu including both pub food and seafood.  Their live music on weekends draws good crowds.

Friendly enterprenauer, Jessica

 

In spite of the full house, Jessica found time to chat while she was tending bar (and doing management stuff) and I found that she had worked at both Cracker Jack’s Pub and the Dixie Tavern in Portland -both prior stops on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bar, Taverns and Pubs. 

 Her bar’s social media reviews are very good on food, drinks and service.  Typical is this one from Yelp from July 18, 2017:

“Great place in Bandon. The fish tacos are breaded, plentiful and the aioli is perfect. If you like hot their jalapeños are fresh and hit the spot. My husband’s burger was great. Waitress was awesome and they have a great selection of local beers”

Crackerjack’s is one of the favorite neighborhood bars I’ve been to in the six years of this journey and Jessica even called the former manager, a charismatic lady named, Sam, while we were there and told her Thebeerchaser was in the house. 

Jessica, a Minnesotan, who after college and getting her teaching certification, started working in restaurants and bars (and according to the reviews, she knows how to make an outstanding cocktail) and is typical of the personable and enterprising people I have met since starting this hobby in 2011.

Another interesting stop in Bandon was the Beverage Barn, essentially a bottle shop and tobacco family business opened in 2015.  You can find forty beers on tap and four ciders as explained by Amy who helped us.  

Bandon Brewing – open for business!

 

Coming back through Bandon (this time on the return trip), we hit the Bandon Brewery on its second day of operation – for lunch.   Their wood-fired pizza was solid as was their grilled cheese sandwich and the friendly staff was ready for their first weekend.   

With a stay at the Bandon Inn, a nice motel with a great view of the town and the harbor, ended our first day on the road on this trip – a great combination of brews, bistros, beaches and …..coffee! 

Stay tuned for the rest of the Oregon and California part of this journey.  

 

 

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Navigate a Course to Flyboy Brewing

Michelle and Mark – at the controls of the new venue

Mark Becker, the founder and owner of Flyboy Brewing and Michelle Faubion, his Operations Manager, are wonderful people and typical of those one meets in the Oregon microbrew business.  Flyboy Brewing’s “takeoff” is another one of the entrepreneurial successes.

Thebeerchaser blog has chronicled the path of similar microbreweries in Oregon including Caldera in Ashland, Ancestry in Tualatin, Sasquatch in SW Portland and Wolf Tree on the Oregon coast to name just a few.  All have helped to make the $4.49 billion direct and indirect contribution to the Oregon economy according to Oregon Brewers’ Guild.

And like a number of other venues featured in past posts, one may not be captivated when viewing the enterprise from the outside.  But stepping into Flyboy (at least as evidenced by my six visits to the new brewpub in Tigard), one is hit with the vitality and energy which emanate from patrons, staff and even from the beer itself!

Flyboy is a dream of Becker, whose story is below.

And the selection of beers and hard ciders is robust and changes often to allow new adventures.  Michelle is a Level II Certified Cicerone which means she’s a beer expert.  After passing the Level I exam, she mastered the second exam which requires detailed knowledge on the following:

Janet Williams with Cicerone Michelle who explained all the beer options

“…retail beer storage and service issues, excellent knowledge of modern beers and styles, beer history and historical styles, competence in identifying flawed beers and recognizing appropriate and inappropriate flavors in modern beer styles, beer ingredients, the brewing process plus knowledge of beer pairing principles”

And Mark and Michelle’s passion about beer and service is echoed by their staff.  Our parties were always impressed that they urged us to sample new beers and took the time to explain the nuances of each.  http://www.flyboybeer.com/whats-on-tap/

Thirty beers and ciders on tap from a diverse group of breweries….

This encouraged us to try a slew of different options from the thirty beers and hard ciders they have on tap including four of Flyboy’s own (Fighting Red Tails IPA, Tri-Wing Double Fokker Red Ale and a Kolsch.)

Among those we tried were SunRiver Brewing’s Vicious Mosquito and Vermont Vacation, Light Me Up Lager by Springfield’s Hop Valley Brewery  and Three Headed Hop Monster (a collaboration by Boneyard, Melvin and Barley Brown Breweries – a very limited release which went fast…), one of my old standby favorites – Vortex from Astoria’s Fort George plus all of Flyboy brews and a beer with a kicker, Breakside’s Safe Word Triple IPA with an ABV of 11.1%!

And a good way to enjoy a number of the beers and not have to rely on Uber for a ride home, is their Beer Flights – five for $10.  You might want to include the Wizard of Koz in that group, which Michelle recommended – blueberry, chocolate, vanilla aged in a bourbon barrel – new from Founder’s Brewing in Michigan – a venue Michelle discovered when she was in medical sales after nursing school at the University of Washington.

Happy-hour is 3 to 6 PM each weekday and all day Sunday.  That means Flyboy brews are only $4 per pint, $1 off wine and good appetizers ranging from $5 to $8.

On my last visit, Mark had just returned from Seven Brides Brewery in Silverton which is assisting Flyboy until their equipment is fully operational (within the month).  He was working on his Pilot’s Peach Ale, one of Flyboy’s flagship beers to be released on May 26th and told me, “This one is going to win some awards!”

This ones going to win some awards!

A graduate of Vancouver’s Hudson Bay High School and Clark College, he started brewing in his parents’ house while still in high school.  He was not deterred by some minor explosions in the basement brewery and when in 1986, his parents admonished him that beer was not going to be big in the NW, Mark told them, “It’s too good to be a passing fad.  I’m going to make my living doing this someday!”

The original Flyboy in Lake Grove

Well it took awhile – like twenty years in the automotive industry at Leif’s, Les Schwab and Beaverton Honda and then tile work.  He and his wife had been prudent and after working in the corporate world, wanted to be their own bosses.

The original brewpub in Lake Grove

The launch of the small Flyboy taproom in Lake Oswego in 2014 was an all-in proposition – no partners and capitalized with their own savings in what Mark described as “anything but a smooth takeoff…..”.  (I remember going there shorty after it opened and they had run out of their own beers because they could only brew two kegs at a time.)

The name of the brewery is a tribute to his grandfather, a B-29 pilot in World War II and who also trained pilots in P-51’s.  His other grandfather from the Great Generation helped build the battleship, USS Missouri.

The flag and the dummy bomb (from training exercises at the Big Spring Army Air Corps Base in Texas) were his grandfather’s and complement the art and the other aviation memorabilia.

Mark’s research determined that the name “Flyboy” was available and after securing the legal rights, he wrote to the American Aviation Historical Society for permission to use their artwork – it was in the public domain and they sent out templates for him to convert into signs and interior art which are a highlight of the pub in Tigard.

As is often the case with start-up breweries, the active and passive resistance of bureaucrats can discourage or even crush the plans of entrepreneurs.  Mark persisted after his plan to expand in 2014, and which initially looked promising as a venue in a hangar at the Aurora Airport, was batted down by the FAA and Marion County

Then while going to the Tigard Home Depot, he saw vacant space and contrary to his prior experience, PAC Trust Realty and the City of Tigard were “awesome” in the manner they responded and expedited the lease and permits to start their Sequoia Parkway location.  The grand opening at Tigard was April 17th – three years to the day of the original location in Lake Grove.

A great team – Michelle and Mark

Mark originally met Michelle Faubion at a beer conference, and as is the case with most people, remembered her.  She accepted his offer to become his Operations Manager.

Michelle is a remarkable woman and besides having an impressive background, is one of the most charismatic people I have met in the five and one-half years of Thebeerchaser.   She was originally featured in this blog as the co-owner of the Hop N Cork in Lake Oswego.

The Classic Burger – a bargain at $10

The Hells Angel Chicken Sandwich ($12)

The food is also a plus at Flyboy.  Great burgers,   sandwiches, salads and pizza (rectangular! at $10-14).  The prices are very reasonable.

Becker franchised a Vancouver brewpub and the Tigard location has growth potential with 160 parking spaces available and ample brewing and kitchen capacity (he purchased his brewery equipment including nine fermenters and a seven barrel system from Brett Joyce, now President of Rogue Ales).

He will start brewing 300-325 kegs per month with limited distribution and a patio in front of the restaurant will be ready this summer.

Waiting in anticipation for the patio this summer…

Since the Flyboy opening was only three months ago, there aren’t a lot of social media comments, but this excerpt from a Yelp review on 5/11/17 is a good summary and from a Californian, no less:

We need places like this in SoCal! The beer is top shelf, the food is amazing made with fresh ingredients, and the staff is amazing…… Some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Michelle’s personality is infectious, the nicest most genuine person I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

My wife and I have been amazed with the enthusiastic crowds each time we have returned – and a lot of them appear to be regulars already.  Mark’s story and perseverance is absolutely inspiring.   Navigate a flight path to Flyboy and say hello to Mark and Michelle – don’t worry, Michelle will beat you to the punch with the greeting!

Flyboy Brewery and Restaurant     15230 SW Sequoia Pkwy   Tigard

Flyboy Taproom      15630 Boones Ferry Road, Suite 1A
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

 

 

2017 Beerchaser Miscellany – Happy New Year

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Thebeerchaser with the original logo created by Teresa Lovegren

As we commence Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs in 2017, a few tidbits or “beer-chasers.” if you will, might be fun to review.  I have already visited my first 2017 bar on January 4th – Multnomah Whiskey Library – a stark contrast to all of the dive bars visited in five years.  Stay tuned for the review in a week…..

An upscale start to 2017 Beerchasing....

The MWL – An upscale start to 2017 Beerchasing….

Many of you have seen Thebeerchaser’s 2016 Annual Report, posted on December 26th.  Click on link above to read it if you want to see the 37 new watering holes visited in 2016 – 14 in Portland and 23 outside the Rose City.

There are also links which will enumerate (separately) the total of 198 bars visited since 2011 which comprise 83 in Portland and 115 in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, several regions of the US and the coast and the desert in Oregon.

Thebeerchaser blog had 21,568 views by 16,058 individuals in 2016 compared to 7,000 views in 2012, the first full year this blog was published.

Thrilllist’s Best Portland Beer Bars

Laura Williams, Ryan Keene (now married....!) and Kenzi Larson at Stammtisch

Laura Williams, Ryan Keene (now married….!) and Kenzi Larson at Stammtisch – one of the ten

Although as stated before in this blog, I have some skepticism about lists ranking bars or beers, which are usually compiled by over-worked reporters or writers with deadlines haunting them.  However, a recent ranking by Thrillist https://www.thrillist.com/ has an article on “Portland’s Best Beer Bars,” and lists ten establishments worth noting.

Thrillist is a digital media group located in New York City and founded in 2004 by two University of Pennsylvania grads.  Its website focuses on food, drink, and travel.  Based on their mission statement below, it sounds like a good place to work and does publish some good articles online.

“Thrillist means fun. We’re eaters, drinkers, travelers, and doers. We serve the curious and believe that new experiences are what drive the richest lives. We bring our passion, expertise, and taste to bear on the things that are truly worth your time and money. Life is for living, and that’s why we’re here. Today will be great.”                           

And the articles are pretty entertaining – and useful.  For example, “Thirty Things No One Over Thirty Should do in a Bar” https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/things-adults-should-never-do-in-a-bar?pinn_uid=26957832 and “Fifty Things Every Man Should do in a Bar Just Once.  https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/50-things-every-man-should-do-in-a-bar-at-least-once

The Thrillist criteria for Portland’s best beer bars are undefined, but the bars include the following:  Produce Row, Belmont Station, Beer Mongers, Stammtisch, Prost, LaMoule, Horse Brass Pub, Bailey’s Tap Room, Saraveza and Loyal Legion.

Enjoying a meal and a brew at the resurrected Produce Row

Enjoying a meal and a brew at the resurrected Produce Row

I am pleased to report that Thebeerchaser has visited and done reviews of eight or 80% of these bars during my five years of blogging  and they are all worth a visit.

l’ll plan to add the two not reviewed (LaMoule and Loyal Legion) , in 2017, and offer these comments on the others.

Charlie and Jack Faust with Thebeerchaser logo at Baileys Tap room sans food.....!

Charlie and Jack Faust with Thebeerchaser logo at Baileys Tap room sans food…..!

While Bailey’s Tap Room probably has the most extensive tap list, the bar on SW Broadway is pretty sterile and doesn’t serve food.   The Upper Lip, an ancillary facility upstairs, has much better atmosphere although when exiting on Ankeny Street, you should stop at The Tugboat Brewery, which is a great little place to have a good beer, some conversation and food. (click for the Beerchaser review)

Beer Mongers has about 600 beers available, but it’s primarily a bottle shop rather than a bar per se’.  No food is available although it can be brought in from adjacent sources, which was the case when former Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, and I visited and the owner of Portobello ( a vegan trattoria) who was a fan of Sam’s, gave us a complimentary arugula pesto pizza with toasted walnuts and smoked Portobello mushrooms. (It was wonderful!)

Sam Adams and the owner of Portobello

Sam Adams and the owner of Portobello

Drinking from "The Boot" at Prost.

Drinking from “The Boot” at Prost.

And Prost, Saraveza and the Horse Brass Pub may not have as many beer options, but much better ambiance and good food as well.   It begs the question I asked when I reviewed Bailey’s, “How many beers on tap do you need if there are a dozen good micro-brews and PBR….?”

————–

A Great Beer

My new son-in-law (as of September 17, 2016), Ryan Keene had the foresight and good taste to introduce me to a great new beer from what any Oregon State University grad would consider a good brewery to wit:  Belching Beaver in Vista, California, a new brewery as of last summer.  And their Hop Highway 78 IPA was very good with a nice taste of citrus and grapefruit in the background.

Ryan admiring the taste and smoothness of Belching Beaver IPA

Ryan admiring the taste and smoothness of Belching Beaver IPA

Some are impressed with their flagship beer as reported in a 1/7/17 article in the San Diego Reader entitled “Portland is a tough Beer Market.” sent to me by friend and former Portlander, Molly Larson Cook – also known as the “Jazz Cookie.” (check out her great blog  https://jazzycookie.wordpress.com/2017/01/

photo-nov-04-6-36-59-pm-2“Everybody’s obsessed with Peanut Butter Milk Stout,” one of Belching Beaver’s flagship beers.”  (This is one Thebeerchaser will forego!) 

Mergers, Acquisitions and Dive Bar Hook-ups

Those who follow news of breweries will have followed the tortured path of the proposed merger between Anheuser Busch in Bev and SAB Miller over the last year.   One that has a $100 billion price tag and that has seen multiple on-again/off-again stages before shareholders of both overwhelmingly approved the acquisition.

One wag suggested the negotiators from both sides should have followed the path of countless dive bar encounters and started drinking at the commencement of negotiations.    After each additional round, “the potential partner looks considerably better and flaws magically disappear…..”

800px-bud_and_budvar

A groundbreaking – and probably costly – Ohio State University study “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beerholder” (and winner of a 2013 IgNobel Prize) may also be relevant when they concluded:

“Although people  may think that they become more attractive when they become intoxicated, other (sober) people don’t think that….People have long observed that drunk people think others are more attractive, but ours is the first study to find that drinking makes people think they are more attractive themselves.”

According to a September 29th article in the Wall Street Journal, the new organization will have about “46% of global beer profits and 27% of global volume.”

Part of the underlying rationale for the transaction is an effort to revive the struggling Budweiser market, not only in the US, but in Brazil – the second largest Bud market.   Another article researched by Thebeerchaser states that, “…..nearly 44% of 21-to-27 year drinkers in 2016, have never tried Budweiser, although the main inroad to the traditional Bud market has been Bud Light.”  

So next time you’re tempted to grab that micro-brew, remember the plight of the corporate behemoth and remember, “That Bud, That’s Beer.”  (I have to admit before retiring at Schwabe, when we would have a beer at the bar on the ground floor of the PacWest Center after work, my younger colleagues, who all ordered micro-brews, would tell the bartender to pour my Budweiser into a glass so I would not embarrass them!)

337px-miller_genuine_draftFinally, those who have qualms about the colonial history of some of the world’s powers, will be shaking their heads after learning that SAB-Miller will be establishing operations in Africa:  478px-africacia-hires-africa

“Africa, one of the last remaining growth markets for the beer industry, will become 9% of revenue and a major focus of the company.”

Humor in the Legal System

Having worked in a large law firm for twenty-five years and previously at the Oregon State Bar for another seven, I have always appreciated the humor of lawyers and the interesting, if not bizarre, cases that arise as they represent clients.

american_bar_association_svgOne good source is the American Bar Association Law Journal, which I still receive on-line weekly for entertainment value.  Look at some of the cases that have been highlighted in past years.  Of course, sometimes the comments by the lawyer readers are almost as good as the stories themselves.

“Is it illegal to implant a remote-control device in a cockroach?  PETA asks Attorney General to nix RoboRoach kit.”  11/6/2013

 “Wife’s unauthorized access to husband’s e-mails could violate Wiretap Act…” 12/6/2016

“Judge (says) Pro se lawyer (persons who represent themselves in court without separate legal counsel) guilty of soliciting murder, would win if he could sue himself for malpractice.” 4/1/16

“Jury awards patient $500,000 due to doctor’s defamatory comments while he was sedated for colonoscopy.”  6/24/15

And after reading a 12/29/16 story in The Oregonian entitled, “Man in Wheelchair gets DUII Thrown Out,” I am confident this story from Lincoln City, Oregon will make the cut in the future.  After a jury found him guilty in a 2013 trial, the Oregon Court of Appeals recently determined that appellant was a pedestrian and did not fit the definition of a vehicle.

The Old O with crosswalk in front in Lincoln City

The Old O with crosswalk in front in Lincoln City

Since some of my favorite dive bars are in Lincoln City, it makes me wonder whether this incident occurred in the crosswalk right outside the Old Oregon Tavern, the Nauti Mermaid or the Cruise Inn.  (see https://thebeerchaser.com/2014/09/23/thebeerchaser-does-the-central-oregon-coast-part-i/)

The defendant was in a crosswalk at the time and “drove” into a moving pick-up truck.   There is no Oregon case law on the same fact situation where the wheelchair is on a public road or parking lot.

The Cruise Inn

The Cruise Inn

“The reversal will undo the conviction on Greene’s record and the $1,500 fine he was ordered to pay. But the reversal won’t undo other parts of his sentence — including the three years his driver’s license was suspended, because more than three years have already passed since his conviction.” 12/29/16

nauti-mermaid 

Two More Oregon Sports Hall of Famers

In a recent post, I told you the story of the latest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter – journalist, broadcaster and author, Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes, who was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/dwight-jaynes-posting-up/

I was pleased to see that two other friends are also members of the five inducted in the 2016 class.  Greg Strobel, is an SAE fraternity brother at Oregon State and part of the elite group of wrestlers in the SAE House while I was there – Len Kaufman, Jess Lewis, Ron Iwasaki, Jim Blackford, Steve Woods, Loren (Bear Pit) Johnson and others.

Strobel was a three-time college All-American and an NCAA 190-pound national champion twice.  He became the head wrestling coach at Lehigh University and was also inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Oregon State Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.

Greg Strobel

Greg Strobel

Brad Smith played basketball at Oregon City High School one year after I graduated and I have had the pleasure of scrimmaging with him in alumni games.  He is the legendary coach that revolutionized girls basketball and built Oregon City into a dynasty – ten state championships during his 27-years as coach at Oregon City:

“He was named the state’s coach of the year five times and national coach of the year three times, and USA Today recognized the Pioneers as national champions in 1995, 1996 and 1997.”

Brad was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015 and his other honors are too numerous to list.  Although he retired from coaching in 2006, his basketball camps and tournaments are still extremely popular.

The coach at camp at OCHS in August

The coach at camp at OCHS in August

I toured the Oregon City High School campus in August in preparation for my 50-year class reunion this fall and Principal Tom Lovell, took me into the gym where Brad was in the midst of one of his semi-daily sessions, where this picture was taken.  We chatted and I kiddingly asked him if his first-step to the bucket was still as quick as in the ’60’s he was a very good point guard at OCHS.

Both Greg and Brad, besides making immense contributions to Oregon and national athletics, are great human beings.

Brian Doyle

Former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, noted author and editor of the University of Portland’s award-winning magazine, Brian Doyle, had brain surgery last month and is now recovering at home.

Brian Doyle beerchasing at his favorite bar - the Fulton Pub

Brian Doyle beerchasing at his favorite bar – the Fulton Pub

Brian has been on several Beerchasing events and is a wonderful family man with a great sense of humor, unbridled creativity and a strong faith.

There is a Go-Fund-Me site which is raising funds for medical expenses and since Brian may not be able to return to work.  Our prayers are with Brian, his wife, Mary and his two children.  You can see a narrative of his recovery to this point on the Caring Bridge website.

https://www.gofundme.com/betenderandlaugh?

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/briandoylefamily

 

Thebeerchaser’s 2016 Annual Report

lumpys

Lumpy’s Landing – Not pretty, but provided an inspiration….

The inspriation

The inspriation

In August, 2011, a few months after retiring from the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, where I worked for twenty-five years, I began a hobby which had burbled up through my consciousness a few years before after a visit to Lumpy’s Landing – a great dive bar on Highway 99W in Dundee.

My stop at Lumpy’s for a beer, nachos and conversation with the regulars at this great watering hole, made me hypothesize that most (if not all) bars have their own history, regulars, bartenders, character and otherwise distinguishing characteristics. Thus the idea to visit as many of Portland’s 750+ establishments and blog about them when I retired began to Bud – so to speak……

brooklyn-mainBased on the great results of the first bar visit – the Brooklyn Park Pub in SE Portland and Phoebe, the bartender’s, agreement that the concept was sound, Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs was born.

Our retirement travel and visits to many wonderful bars and brewpubs on these trips, made it easy to broaden the boundaries to include establishments outside Portland – a wise decision as exemplified by this picture of one of my favorite dive bars – Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska.

Darwin's Theory - a wonderful dive bar in Anchorage

Darwin’s Theory – a wonderful dive bar in Anchorage

And by the beginning of 2016, I had visited  69 bars, taverns, pubs and breweries in Portland.   Thanks to a wonderful spouse (Janet) who has developed a fondness for amber ales rather than just wine, by January 2016, Thebeerchaser had hit another 92 in Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, the SE US and the Oregon coast and Central Oregon.

beerchaser-couple

Janet was also named Beerchaser-of-the-Year in 2014 – the only person to receive that distinction over the give years, because of her support of this hobby.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2015/01/19/2014-beerchaser-of-the-year-janet-dancer-williams/

The list of 2016 additions is at the end of this post and you can see a complete list of the bars, pubs, breweries, etc, visited during the five + years of Thebeercaser by clicking on the following links (Portland first and then outside Portland).

https://thebeerchaser.com/category/list-of-bars-by-region/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/01/14/thebeerchasers-list-of-bars-taverns-and-pubs-the-us-and-europe/

I’m pleased to report that those viewing Thebeerchaser blog have increased each year with the total in 2016 at approximately 21,500 views – that’s by 16,000 visitors compared to not quite 7,000 views in 2012 – the first full year of the blog.  There are now 350 “followers” – those who receive an e-mail, each time I publish a new post.

Lunch at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns

Lunch at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns

Besides the bars themselves, one of the joys of this hobby has been sharing the experience with companions, some of whom have become “Beerchasing regulars.”

They include my brother-in-law, Dave Booher and our good friend, Steve Larson from Pendleton – we went on two trips — First, in 2012, nine watering holes in three days in a raucous swing through Central and Eastern Oregon

The Death Pool

The Death Pool

And in 2013  another three and one-half day road trip on the Central Oregon Coast where we graced fifteen bars in Newport, Lincoln City, Pacific City and Depoe Bay – including the Tide Pool Pub in Depoe Bay where we had what is purported to be the best pizza in Oregon while staring at the unique and bizarre Pool of Death.

A motley crew at the Tide Pool in Depoe Bay

A motley crew at the Tide Pool in Depoe Bay

Don't let that boot touch the table before it is empty...

Prost – Don’t let that boot touch the table before it is empty…

Then there was trying to drink beer in 2011 with a bunch of young revelers (including my daugther, Laura) without sloshing oneself  at Prost in North Portland.

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Faust – in red and Westwood – in green with an enthralled crew including the Dean of Lewis and Clark Law School

Or hearing on a number of occasions, “war” stories and debate on topics ranging from beer to military intelligence to the case law on the Oregon statute of ultimate repose on dive bar torts from veteran Oregon appellate lawyers, Jack Faust and Jim Westwood.

Another highlight was meeting Sam (the manager) and Jimmie (the cook) at Crackerjacks Pub (one of my favorites during the five years) with Beerchasing Regular, West Coast Dave Hicks.  I have treasured the time spent with my Beerchasing companions.

Sam and Jimmie at Crackerjacks - outstanding food

Sam and Jimmie at Crackerjacks – outstanding food

West Coast Dave Hicks at Crackerjacks

West Coast Dave Hicks at Crackerjacks

 

———

And while I love dive bars,  one which belies the category was added even though it is named Dive Bar – right in the heart of Sacramento.  Take a look at the photo and you will see why….

 

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A “Dive Bar” – Literally – including live mermaids on certain nights…

The Journey in 2016

photo-oct-01-1-10-07-pmSo what new establishments were added to the list in 2016?   The answer — 37 total, and of that number 14 in Portland and another 23 venues in Idaho, Kauai and California in 2016.

This travel included three bars in Murphys California on the day of the 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp.

Murphys Irish Pub

Murphys Irish Pub

So the cumulative total of watering holes visited at the end of 2016 is 83 Portland establishments and 115 outside the boundaries of the Rose City which includes Europe, various regions of the US and most of Oregon.

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

Another feature of this blog is a periodic narrative about an interesting individual or group.  My past quarterly Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter “awards” have gone to athletes such as former OSU and NFL player, Craig-The Dude- Hannemen and military heroes such as Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence. (Click the link on their names above to see the post on each.)

Bronze Star awardees, Steve Lawrence and Jud Blakely

Bronze Star awardees, Steve Lawrence and Jud Blakely

The University of Portlands Dr. Sam Holloway and Brian Doyle at the St. Johns Pub

The University of Portlands Dr. Sam Holloway and Brian Doyle at the St. Johns Pub

Then there are authors (Brian Doyle and Dr. Harry Frankfurt)  academicians (Dr. Sam Holloway at the University of Portland and Dr. John Walker at Portland State  – again, click on the link to see the entire post on each.)

I have met most of the “honorees”, but not all – for example, the crew of the USS Constitution for their 1798  war cruise and retired chemist Harold Schlumburg.

The person or group “honored” may or may not have anything to do with beer or bars, but in Thebeerchaser’s judgment have made a contribution to society worth noting or have an interesting story which should be told.  This year, I added only three new individuals to this category.  (Since I’m retired and this is a hobby, I shouldn’t have to rationalize that lack of effort.)

Jay WaldronShareholder at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Law Firm

Jay Waldron

Jay Waldron

 

 

Kelly Gronli Professional Oboist – 

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Kelly Gronli

 

 

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Dwight Jaynes – lunch at the Kingston

 

 

 

 

 

The God Father – Dwight Jaynes – Broadcaster, Journalist and Author

——————-

List of 2016 Establishments

See the list of 2016 venues visited and reviewed below.  The month of the blog post is in the second column on the left, which you can access through the “archives feature” on the right side of your screen.

If you have a favorite bar, tavern or pub that has not had the pleasure of a Beerchaser visit, let me know and it will be added to the list for 2017.  Keep in mind, however, that each review requires a minimum of two visits and sometimes more.  I know that I’m retired but……….

Portland Area Venues

1 2016-1 Lake Oswego The Hop’N Cork Neighborhood
2 2016-2 NE Sloan’s Tavern Neighborhood
3 2016-2 SE Hair of the Dog Brewery Brewery
4 2016-3 SW Barlow Artisenal Bar Misc.
5 2016-3 NW Life of Riley Tavern Dive
6 2016-4 SW The Yardhouse Misc.
7 2016-5 N The Rambler Neighborhood
8 2016-6 SE The Ranger Station Neighborhood
9 2016-7 SW MoMo Bar Maximo Dive
10 2016-8 NE Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Dive
11 2016-9 SE Mad Sons Pub Neighborhood
12 2016-10 SW The Fulton Pub Brewery
13 2016-11 NW Bridgeport Brewery Brewery
14 2016-12 SW Mummy’s Bar and Restaurant Misc.

Bars Outside Portland

1 2016 – 5 Kauai Kauai Island Brewing Company
2 2016-5 Kauai Kauai Beer Company
3 2016-5 Kauai Duke’s Bar and Restaurant
4 2016-5 Kauai Nawiliwili Tavern
5 2016-8 Couer d’aline Couer d’aline Resort Bar
6 2016-8 Couer d’aline The Moose Lounge
7 2016-8 Couer d’aline The Corner Bar
8 2016-8 Couer d’aline Chained-Up Brewpub
9 2016-8 Couer d’aline Crafted Taphouse and Kitchen
10 2016-8 Kennewick,  WA Ice Harbor Brewery
11 2016-8 McCall, ID McCall Brewing Company
12 2016-8 McCall, ID Salmon River Brewery
13 2016-9 Stanley, ID Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon
14 2016-9 Stanley, ID The Kasino Club

 

The Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon - A Beerchasing Classic!

The Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon – A Beerchasing Classic!

15 2016 – 9 Stanley, ID Redfish Lake Lodge Bar
16 2016-10 Ashland, OR Caldera Brewing
17 2016-10 Sacramento Blackbird Kitchen and Bar
18 2016-10 Sacramento Hock Farm Craft Provisions
19 2016-11 Sacramento Dive Bar
20 2016-11 Redding, CA Woody’s Brewing
21 2016-11 Murphys, CA The Pour House
22 2016-11 Murphys, CA Murphys Hotel and Saloon
23 2016-8 Murphys, CA Murphys Irish Pub

2016-09-28-16-11-03

A Unique Albeit not Classic Dive Bar in Sacramento

A Unique Albeit not Classic Dive Bar in Sacramento

Mummy’s – A (Buried) Portland Treasure

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Thebeerchaser and Brian before descending……

It is not the typical practice of Thebeerchaser to feature bars that are more of an ancillary feature of a restaurant.  There have been only several exceptions in the five years of this blog – three McMeneman establishments (White Eagle Saloon, Fulton Pub and St. John’s Pub), and the Buffalo Gap Saloon – all worthy of this distinction based on their rich histories. (For Thebeerchaser reviews, click on the link of each name.)

Well Mummy’s has a much lower profile than those above – it’s a subterranean chamber on SW Columbia Street – right across from the now empty high rise that once housed what is now a dying organization – The OregonianStay tuned, or better yet, try it and I think you will agree as do my two Beerchasing companions on my last visit to this venerable place that it is a Portland treasure.

Brain King on the left at Bill Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar

Brain King on the left at Bill Rays Neighborhood Dive Bar

And before telling the Mummy’s story, as per tradition, I will brief you on my colleagues who shared martinis with me while listening to the great music in Mummy’s.  Brian (Brain) King’s (pictured on the left) first Beerchasing expedition – to Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar was memorable (as you can see from the picture) and deserved a return invitation. 

Brain King in his Idaho duds......

Brain King in his Idaho duds……

He also is noted (at least by me) for his profound suggestion after he joined the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm as a litigator and skilled environmental lawyer.  

Based on his experience while practicing in Idaho, he insisted on my 2004 sabbatical road trip to Idaho and Montana, that I visit the Stanley Road and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley Idaho.  (I returned with my wife this summer so she could gain the experience.) https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/  The initial visit was a key factor in ultimately starting this blog.

Thebeerchasers return to Stanley in 2016

Thebeerchasers return to Stanley in 2016

Joining us on her first Beerchasing expedition although not her first visit to imbibe in Mummy’s martinis with me, was another one of my favorite lawyers at Schwabe – Margaret Hoffman.

Besides being honored in her profession as a top product liability litigator (Oregon Super Lawyer and named as one of the Best Lawyers in America), Margaret is an outstanding human being.  She is also skilled at fly fishing and in her “spare time, ” spends additional court-time playing pickle-ball.

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Counselor Hoffmann on our first visit

I might add that my own background with Mummy’s is extensive and why I invited my colleagues to join me.  I used to frequently walk the two blocks from our PacWest Center office for lunch or an after-work drink and say hello to the proprietors described by Portland Bar Fly as, “Hyper-hospitable brother-owners (who) man the small, square bar.”

And an undated article in the Portland Mercury by Denis Theriault, sums it up well: “When he’s not slinging Middle-Eastern staples or mixing up a surprising variety of tiki-inspired blended cocktails, longtime owner, Ghobvial  Mounir, is perfectly willing to sidle up to the rail and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about his homeland. And yours.” 

Phillip and Ghobvial Moumir

Phillip and Ghobvial Moumir

The brothers emigrated from Egypt and originally opened their establishment in NW Portland, but felt they would be more successful in their current location – they moved to it thirty years ago!

Before retiring in late 2011, I would frequently invite several of the firm’s summer associates to lunch – they were the best and brightest law students from schools all over the country working at Schwabe during the summer in the hope of landing a job when they graduated and passed the Oregon State Bar exam.

Since we were competing with other law firms to recruit them, they were typically wined and dined at most of Portland’s finest restaurants – Higgins, the Heathman GrilleJake’s, etc.  To our Recruiting Director’s initial horror, I would take them to either the Lotus Café or Mummy’s – that is until without exception, they would tell her that they loved the “tomb experience,” – the ambiance, Pyramid Beer, the brothers’ hospitality and the good Egyptian cuisine:

“Mummy’s serves the best falafel sandwich in Portland.  It’s delicious, huge, and a great value for only $5 during lunch.  Plenty of other yummy vegetarian and non-veg options are available.” (Yelp 5/20/13)

And the Schwabe managers and my family surprised me after hosting my retirement dinner at nearby Nel Centro, with an after-dinner reception at Mummy’s – it was memorable – in fact, there is a video someplace in the Ethernet of me reluctantly sharing the floor with a belly dancer, who was performing that night.

photo-nov-15-4-44-52-pmMargaret, Brian and I met at the firm at 5:00 and headed on our two-block journey like a reverse exodus of the Children of Israel. 

We dodged Max trains and commuter traffic on SW 6th Ave. and walked by the mausoleum-like remnants of The Oregonian – which seemed to have images of talented past columnists such as Steve Duin, David Sarasohn, Margy Boule, Richard Read and political cartoonist, Jack Ohman staring out the windows wondering what happened……

Construction workers now in the windows where famed columnists used to work

Construction workers now in the windows where famed columnists used to work

Although it did not take us forty-years wondering through the desert, we reached our Promised Land – Mummys –  forthwith and descended to a “mysterious and venerable place…….True to its name, Mummy’s is filled with Egyptian artifacts much like you’d find in an actual crypt.  (It’s) weird, tomb-like, but lovable space.”  Portland Mercury 

The descent......

The descent……

“As I waited, I noticed something. Hieroglyphics are on the bench, hieroglyphics are in a painting on the wall, the cocktails have ancient Egypt themes, the napkin is a pyramid and artifact replicas are in the waiting area.”  Yelp 2/13/16

Even though it had been five years since I had been to their establishment, when I walked in, Ghobvial immediately exclaimed, “Schwabe!” and pointed towards what had been my favorite booth.

Martinis in Thebeerchasers favorite booth

Martinis in Thebeerchasers favorite booth

Ghobvial and Phillip kindly acceded to my request for photographs and the former mixed two excellent gin martinis and a vodka martini for Margaret.

Pyramid Beer and good martinis - Up with olives....

Pyramid Beer and good martinis – Up with olives….

Note:  Besides a great martini, they also have a number of very inexpensive and creative cocktails such as The Cleopatra (Amaretto, Bailey’s, Irish Cream and coffee) or Ramses (Southern Comfort, peach schnapps and orange and cranberry juice).

We did not order any food on this visit although during the many times I had lunch while working at Schwabe, without exception, the food was always very good.

That said, a number of the comments on Yelp and social media are not overly positive about the food. My sentiments, however, were shared by a recent Yelp reviewer (2/13/16) who stated:

“…………When the veal came, it’s a cutlet, it was splendid. The taste was rich and the rice was outstanding, not a word we usually use for rice. My carrots and mushrooms, vegetables nonetheless, were pleasant to eat. Surprisingly, the command of how to invoke spices was second to none.

The sauces were spectacular. It was a bit pricy, even for the medium portions, but a lot came with my meal, that being the salad and bread too, and this chef should be famous, perhaps on Food Network.” 

photo-nov-15-5-38-43-pmI would also suggest that to garner the Mummys’ “experience,” make your initial trip and if you are not sure about an entrée, just have some drinks and order an appetizer such as the delicious hummus or baba ghanush (a dip made from baked eggplant).  The three of us all think you will return.

And besides, one also has to be careful about the substance of social media reviews.  Let’s look at a couple interesting ones on Mummy’s as evidence.  Although this July 2011 Yelp review was positive, one wonders whether the author needed a geography lesson or some history of the Middle East:

“…….the happy-hour is cheap. They have cute Egyptian-inspired drinks.  I was feeling Gaza Stepish, so I ordered a Pyramid Brewing Hefeweizen.” (emphasis supplied)

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Misperceptions of the Gaza Strip….

Not to be nitpicky, but perhaps someone should tell this person that the “Gaza Strip“, has it’s southern boundary along the border of Egypt and is not in Egypt.  Although there has been some involvement by Egypt in the past including some periods of occupying the territory, Gaza has primarily centered around the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  And,  oh yes, the primary Egyptian pyramids are located near Cairo and are not the Gaza Strip.

Perhaps more curious was this enthusiastic – presumably female Mummys customer, who in addition to appreciating the ambiance, lauded an unusual supplemental feature:

“The place is run by two old Egyptians brothers who still use typewriters.  There is plenty of seating in the cool booths engraved with various Egyptian gods and goddesses.  Bonus perk:  the women’s bathroom has office equipment from the late 80’s.”  (Emphasis supplied)

1980 Mimeograph Machine ?????

1980 Mimeograph Machine ?????

Note: It is beyond the scope of Thebeerchaser blog to further research or verify this issue.

Because Margaret had to return to the office for an evening client meeting, Brian and I decided to have one more martini – that’s when this Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado State University demonstrated again, why he has the erudition to be an outstanding drinking companion.

As an aside, Brian runs Schwabe’s Corvallis office which works out well because his wife is a tenured professor at Oregon State University.  He was recently described as the most interesting man in Corvallis and rumor has it that he is still the life of many fraternity parties that he does not even attend.

Stretching the bounds on the Rules of Procedure

Stretching the bounds on the Rules of Civil Procedure

Whether it was the admonition by a judge at one time that his motion for summary judgment was like trying to read hieroglyphics, the fact that his surname is “King” and might have some ancient link to Egyptian pharaohs or just his enthusiasm over our plans to visit Mummy’s, Brian was a wealth of information.

His pre-Mummys research, with emphasis on parallels in history, was focused on one of the ancient Pharoahs – Sankhkare Mentuhotep III – who reigned for twelve years during the Middle Kingdom.

Known for his small fingers, protruding abdomen and intellectual shallowness (he never read the scrolls) Mentuhotep was principally known for his journey to the Land of Punt and efforts to build a defensive structure called the “Walls-of-the-Ruler” in Nubia and also to rebuff Canaanite immigrants.

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At least Mentuhotep opted to wear the headgear to hide his questionable hair…..

Fortunately, we finished our martinis before Brian had the opportunity to factor in more recent developments relating to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s term…….

We “wrapped” up our visit, waved goodbye to the two brothers and vowed to make a return trip to what one reviewer labeled, “a gem hidden in plain sight..”

Drop down into this unique Portland venue.  You will assuredly make a return trip.  Tell them Thebeerchaser sent you!

Mummy’s        622 SW Columbia St

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Beerchasing in California Part II – On to Yosemite….and then Murphys!

The awesome Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

The awesome Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Before driving our second day on the trip from Portland to Yosemite National Park, we stayed at the Sacramento Marriott Residence Inn on a Wednesday evening and as we walked into the lobby, we saw quite a few people with “Blue Angels” insignia on their apparel.   Sacramento was having an air show that weekend and the Blue Angels were obviously, the featured flyers.

Prestigious, but worth the cost??

Prestigious, but worth the cost??

Given the number of Navy personnel in the hotel associated with the prestigious military program (logistics, mechanics, flight and maintenance and marketing besides the five pilots),  it prompted me to check out the estimated cost to taxpayers each year for this group.  And it ranges from $40 million to $120 million assuming no aircraft is lost.

And flying for the Blue Angels can be a hazardous occupation. According to a June 27, 2016 opinion piece in the Pensacola News Journal http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2016/06/26/viewpoint-cut-blue-angels-federal-budget/86404042/.

They have lost 66 pilots/crew in training, air shows or transport accidents since inception in 1946, the last of which was this year.  Notwithstanding all the positive aspects of their performances and that of the Thunderbirds, their Air Force counterpart, it does raise some interesting policy questions about whether this part of the national defense budget could be more effectively deployed.

Rush Creek Lodge just outside the east entrance to Yosemite

Rush Creek Lodge just outside the east entrance to Yosemite

On to Yosemite through some beautiful country. Once we left I-5 in Corning and traveled the 256 miles to Rush Creek Lodge – not actually in the Park because all of those options were filled even though it was after school had started in September – but a beautiful new lodge just outside the west entrance.

Even with the throngs of tourists and Yosemite being in the midst of a road construction process that required multiple detours, seeing the majestic natural beauty was memorable.   In our two and one-half days there, we hit most of the highlights, El Capitan, the Half Dome and a hike down to the Tuolumne Sequoia Grove.

photo-sep-30-9-52-22-amThen another two-mile hike up (that’s no exaggeration) to the beautiful Vernal Falls.  We did that after our hike to the Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls revealed that during the summer and fall, these beautiful cascading waterfalls captured in many of Ray Atkinson’s beautiful photos dry up!

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Vernal Falls – spectacular and worth the hike!

We also enjoyed eating twice in the Rush Creek Lodge Bar where based on the bartender’s recommendation I tried two pilsners – one from California’s Firestone-Walker Brewery which was watery and very disappointing and the second, which was excellent, from the nearby Dust Bowl Brewery.

The Rush Creek Lodge bar

The Rush Creek Lodge bar

This picture of the famous Yosemite Majestic Lodge is evidence that the name is justified and they also have a very nice bar.

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Yosemite Majestic Lodge

 

 

 

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The Majestic bar

 

 

 

The upscale interior of the Majestic Lodge

The upscale interior of the Majestic Lodge

Janet acceded to my plea that even though the scenery had been beautiful , that we travel a different route to return to I-5 and the long drive north to Portland.   That proved to be a great decision.   We drove California Route 4 through what has been described as “The Next Napa” – numerous vinyards and wineries in a beautiful rural setting.

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

And then we went through Angels’ Camp, a little burg of 3,835 and the only incorporated city in Calaveras County, CA.

It’s where Mark Twain resided temporarily in 1865 when he wrote the short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calevaras County,” his first success as a writer.

A few miles farther and we came to Murphys California, another small town (or according to the Census Bureau, a CDP or “Census Designated Place”) with only 2,200 permanent residents.   Our timing was fortuitous, because it was the first Saturday in October and that means thousands of people converge on this colorful little town for the 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp.

Perhaps rather than moving to Canada, an option is to secede from California...

Perhaps rather than moving to Canada, an option is to secede from California…

Main Street was closed down and the throng inspected the booths lining both sides of the street ranging from artists and craftspeople, to wineries to advocates for the State of Jefferson – right across the street from a booth housing the Calaveras County Democratic Central Committee.  Jefferson seeks to form a new identity for northern California and southern Oregon.

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A stop in the historic Murphys Hotel and Saloon – first opened as a stagecoach stop in 1856 – and the Murphys Irish Pub – just opened in 2016 – showed that they were filled to capacity with those celebrating this festival which was the epitome of Americana.

Murphys Irish Pub

Murphys Irish Pub

Of course, the City of Murphys would have an Irish Pub....

Of course, the City of Murphys would have an Irish Pub….

 

 

 

We had lunch at Murphys’ Pour House and tried our second Dust Bowl Brewery – the Son of Wrath Double IPA, which as was the Dust Bowl Pilsner the night before, a good beer and one of sixteen the Pour House had on tap.

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Good lunch and beer at Murphys Pour House

Good lunch and beer at Murphys Pour House

 

Check out this link which gives background and history of the Grape Stomp  (http://www.calaverasgrapestomp.com/) and plan to make this a stop on a future road trip.  You won’t be disappointed……

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photo-oct-01-6-57-28-pmOur stay in Redding, Ca. capped out our last night on the road trip and a visit to another venue which typifies how microbreweries have become thriving enterprises and assets to their communities.

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Janet and our great server, Naomi

This one was Woody’s Brewing Company and our server, Naomi, although she had only worked there for about six months, was a wealth of information about their sixteen beers on tap (five of which are brewed in their 10 barrel operation on site at the brew-pub) and the history of the brewery.

The bar at Woodys was hopping....

The bar at Woodys was hopping….

Woody’s is another of the examples Thebeerchaser has chronicled and never tires of – a family (three brothers – Pat, Scott and Andrew Wlodarczyk) who fulfilled their dream:

Woody’s Brewing Co. is a dream of many decades that finally evolved from a love to consume and brew beer, to all other activities involved with it. We are a brewery that started out with three men’s passion to deliver good beer in a great atmosphere. We are believers of the do it yourself attitude and feel that mantra shines through in our high quality and artfully perfected ales.”

They started brewing in 1984 and although still a small operation, from what we saw, they’re still going strong and do good work helping Redding non-profit organizations.

Woody's has sixteen beers on tap.

Woody’s has sixteen beers on tap.

I had an Asian chicken salad and Janet had fish and chips – both of which got very good ratings.  And we definitely liked our beers – mine was Woody’s Apricot Wheat Ale and Janet tried their Teacher’s Aide – a robust amber ale.

Their food gets great ratings on social media and we echoed the sentiments of these two recent Yelp reviews:

“Good beer, quick friendly service, bar style food.
Nice “hidden gem” of a brewery”.
(September 29, 2016)

“Wonderful local brewery and eatery.  IPA is awesome! Great atmosphere downtown Redding and wonderful staff. A Redding must visit.”  (October 21, 2016)

After the drive through Shasta country, the Siskiyou Mountains and up I-5 with a short stop for a large ice-cream cone ((although now somewhat diminished and more expensive than what we remembered on long ago road trips) at the infamous K & R Drive Inn at the Rice Hill I-5 exit in southern Oregon, we made it back home.       601px-i-5_svg

And while Thebeerchaser is officially done with political campaigns and election results, I feel compelled to offer my own comment about our road trip in response to those who rile people up by denigrating America with negative bloviating about how we need to remake the US.

The Majestic Hotel in Yosemite

The Majestic Hotel in Yosemite

“While the US has many challenges and has not done an effective job in resolving a number of problems, we traveled more than 2,500 miles in five and one-half days through incredibly beautiful countryside on both interstate highways (with clean and impressive rest stops) and well-maintained state roads and county by-ways. 

We visited another one of our renowned National Parks – one of sixty-one in the Park system’s Centennial Year, a national treasure and where we interacted with citizens from many countries there to gasp at the splendid scenery.  

photo-sep-30-10-19-06-amWe marveled (in Yosemite and the other National Parks we have visited in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Montana, South Carolina and Washington in the last three years) at the the vision of leaders, politicians and citizens to preserve this bounty for future generations.  We even saw a pay-telephone in Yosemite.

Nostalgia reigns...

Nostalgia reigns…

Caldera Brewery

Caldera Brewery

 

Mugs were raised at small breweries – the end result of the  dreams of young entrepreneurs that grew into thriving businesses through hard work and business acumen.  We ate at bars and restaurants which demonstrated the enterprising talent and creativity of their owners and which employed hardworking and friendly people dedicated to serving the clientele.

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

The 23rd Annual Calaveras County Grape Stomp

 Wineries, rice and wheat fields,  dairy and beef cattle ranches, and orchards stretched for miles outside well-designed cities with urban growth boundaries preserving this agricultural resource.  We joined about 10,000 other people in a showing of pure Americana as we celebrated a local festival in a rural California community.        

Savannah - on our tour of Caldera Brewery in Ashland

Savannah – on our tour of Caldera Brewery in Ashland

And, of course, we cannot forget the wonderful people we met from Savannah, the restaurant manager at Caldera Brewery, to the National Park rangers, to the couple visiting from the United Kingdom who raved about the beauty of Yosemite, to Amanda, our outstanding server at Woody’s Brewery in Redding.” 

Cheers!

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Janet and our great server, Naomi

Beerchasing in California – Part I – Sacramento

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A somewhat spontaneous trip to Yosemite National Park gave us the chance to visit a few interesting bars to add the Thebeerchaser’s inventory.   Our first night in Ashland, Oregon – near the California border- gave us the opportunity to check out what turned out to be one of Oregon’s finest micro-breweries – the Caldera Brewing Co.   Check out the post dated 10/24/16 for a full review which this outstanding Oregon business deserves.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/10/24/ashlands-caldera-brewery-now-thats-a-fine-kettle-of-beers/

The next day we stayed in Sacramento – right in the downtown core near the California State Capitol Building and a mall-type development which is in full swing and will enhance the Central Business District.

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name......

Thebeerchaser looking a little skeptical based on the name……

On a walk to explore the area and pick a restaurant for dinner, we came across “Dive Bar” on K Street.   Now Thebeerchaser loves watering holes with this description although my spouse, Janet, has an aversion to this type of bar.  2016-09-28-19-47-01

 

 

That said, it became obvious that Dive Bar had none of the characteristics of saloons in this hallowed category.  This quote from a Thrillist.com article entitled, “Signs You’re in a Fake Dive Bar” is worth considering:

“If a place is actually calling itself a dive by name, that’s a surefire sign that some hipster who’s never been in a real hole wanted to open a bar, but didn’t want to invest in a vacuum or nice lights. Lots of ferns, though. There’s always money for ferns. Most light should be provided by slightly broken neon signs, not something weird like an Edison bulb or, ugh, a window.”

Nor your standard dive-bar taps.....

Nor your standard dive-bar taps…..

This “dive” bar had only four beers on tap – all micro-brews with one from Oregon……but none of which bore the moniker PBR or Budweiser – standard brews for dive bar regulars. (I tried the tangy Otra Vex by Sierra Nevada Brewing and Janet, the Falcon Lagger  and we were pleased with both brews although more expensive than a PBR….

So I asked bartender,Jason, how the title of the bar was derived.   He immediately responded, “Take a glance upward.  You see that 7,800 gallon aquarium.  (To put in perspective, that would be about 1,006 kegs of beers…..) A few nights each week, we also have “mermaids” swimming in that tank.  Now do you understand how we got our name.?” 

When I say "dive", I mean literally.....

When I say “dive”, I mean literally…..

As further evidence their website states, “A typical dive bar denotes a few things in one’s mind: no frills, approachable, slightly dangerous, and a leftover relic from another era.

This version has refurbished brick walls, dark wood and upholstery and is a version of a bar from a different era: but with all brand new accoutrements.

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs...

The equivalent of 7,006 kegs…

 

Dive Bar’s lighting consists of Dimmable White LED flex tape, installed on each shelf, lighting the natural brick on the walls. The lighting systems were designed by Anthony Aristo of Lumatech Architectural.” 

Dive Bar also has an Executive Chef and you can pay extra for VIP privileges…..Case closed!!

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

Do you think you would see this kind of lighting and décor in a true dive bar?

There were no mermaids swimming that evening and it was a quirky but somewhat sterile, bar although based on social media, it is a hot spot in Sacramento night life.

Dive Bar has a head mermaid and mermaid trainer and you can even hire the  mermaids for your own party:

“Stunning Professional Mermaids and Mermen with years of swimming and underwater performance experience are available to enchant your guests with their playful spirits, beautiful a capella siren songs, water performance, prop work and so much more!”       Check out their website: https://www.gigsalad.com/dive_bar_mermaids_sacramento1

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Non-descript and boring exterior, but worth going inside..

Dinner that night was at Blackbird Kitchen and Bar a small restaurant/bar with a non-descript exterior, but with fifty beers on tap and a happy-hour fried chicken special that was outstanding.

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

A lot of California beers on tap and good Happy Hour food specials

We sat at the bar and our friendly server,  Dave, explained that they focus on local beers with 20 of these on tap.

Janet drank wine and I had a memorable  Double Down Imperial Red from Wildcard Brewing in Redding, California.

Then an after-dinner drink at Craft HF (Hock Farm Craft and Provisions) – one of the Paragary Restaurant Group’s establishment. (Fourteen in Sacramento)  This was a spacious bar with modern décor and an ample up-scale restaurant area adjoining.   Bartender, Blake, served us as we sat at the bar and was quite a marketing asset for the venue.   He was enthusiastic about their inventory of beer which we were surprised did not include any draft beers although they had a very robust collection of bottled and canned brews – most notably from California breweries.

2016-09-28-17-05-15He also talked about their specialty gin drinks and exotic cocktails, but we stuck to beer and had an “interesting” bottle of Briny Mountain Gose from  Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA:  “………boasts a thirst-quenching tartness that is perfectly balanced by subtle watermelon flavors and aromas.  Gentle additions of sea salt create a refreshing harmony between the acidity and fruity sweetness leading to clean, dry finish.”  (Who writes this stuff????)

Slick, but no beers on tap!

Slick, but no beers on tap!

In response to our question, “Why don’t you have any beers on tap?”   Blake replied very assertively,

“We believe in highlighting the unique taste of each beer.  The brewers specify the CO2 line pressure which should be maintained from the keg to the tap and it varies for each beer.  

Rather than compromise the taste by maintaining the same pressure for each draft beer, we opted to abandon drafts and offer bottles and cans.  We do have wine on tap directly from kegs because we go through enough wine each day in order not to compromise the product.”

Blake - nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

Blake – nice guy, but explanation on taps is puffery..

(I checked with a reliable source who is an expert on breweries and he debunked that explanation as “blowing hot air.”

“After a short distance through the hose, drinkers cannot discern any difference based on the C02 pressure employed.”

Then back to the Marriott for the night before driving the rest of the way to Yosemite.  We did not have a drink there, but the hotel bar looked kind of interesting – at least as far as hotel bars go…… 2016-09-28-20-16-40

 

 

And one other interesting sidelight.  We were struck by the number of persons who had parkas or insignia with the Navy’s Blue  Angels in the hotel lobby.  Being a Navy veteran and having seen the Blue Angels fly when I was a NROTC midshipman in college, I was interested.

And we discovered on that Wednesday night that the prestigious aviation group was performing at an air show in Sacramento that weekend.  The Navy personnel were all very polite and looked sharp and they had designations ranging from “Maintenance” to “Air Frame” to “Logistics,” etc. (we did not see the actual pilots).  Given the large number of both male and female personnel who were obviously part of the contingent, made me curious and I did a little more research.

The Blue Angels - awe inspiring but raise some questions...

The Blue Angels – awe inspiring but raise some questions…

In these days of federal budget constraints, it’s probably fair to raise the question as to whether the annual budget outlay is worthwhile in light of other priorities.   According to Wikipedia (which admittedly may not be the most reliable source, but okay for a blog about bars…) the annual budget is $37 million although it begs the question, what does include or not include.

For example, a thought-provoking opinion piece from the Pensacola New Journal, entitled “Cut the Blue Angels from Federal Budget” authored by the son of a Navy captain who is also the brother of a naval aviator, asserted that based on the cost, the safety record and the environmental issues, the program should be discontinued.  He estimates that if accounting for all costs and amortizing lost aircraft over the years, the true figure approximates $200 million annually.

Wikipedia states that as of 2006, twenty-seven of the 262 Blue Angel pilots have died in air show crashes or training accidents.   The opinion piece above was prompted, in part, by the June, 2016 Blue Angel crash and death of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, in an airshow.

Something to consider, but we left Sacramento before the air show and headed for Yosemite National Park.  Stay tuned……

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The Half Dome at Yosemite

The Half Dome at Yosemite