The Lompoc Tavern – A Long and Continuing Tradition

Lompoc Tavern - The Tradition Continues

Lompoc Tavern – The Tradition Continues

Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars,Taverns and Pubs commenced in 2011 – initially including only watering holes in Portland, but based on the positive results, the concept was expanded to include establishments in Europe, Alaska, Washington, Montana, Colorado, the Southeastern US, central and eastern Oregon and the Oregon coast.  After four years, over 150 have been visited and reviewed with about 45% of those in Portland.

The Lutz - one of Portland's classics

The Lutz – one of Portland’s classics

Many of the Portland venues such as the Horse Brass Pub, the Lutz Tavern and the Mock Crest Tavern have rich histories.

The bartenders in these venues tell stories about the tunnels below the downtown bars used by smugglers (Kelly’s Olympian) or the brothel and law office that concurrently shared the space (Buffalo Gap Saloon) or the ghost that purportedly still inhabits the upstairs space at the White Eagle Saloonwhite eagle


I have visited bars that once housed an ice cream parlor, dry cleaner’s, grocery store, auto-body shop, thrift store, trolley station, Greek Orthodox church and petting zoo to name just a few.

Unfortunately, I never frequented the original Old Lompoc Tavern before it closed or when it was initially resurrected as the New Old Lompoc Tavern.   To remedy that, in part, I met my old friend Denny Ferguson and his colleague, Tygue Howland (both employed by another resurrected organization – the Portland State University Athletic Department) on a sunny October afternoon at the NW 23rd Street patio fronting the current Lompoc Tavern.

Fergy on the patio of the Lompoc

Fergy on the patio of the Lompoc

My friendship with Fergy goes back to 1979 when he was President of JBL & K Insurance and I worked at the Oregon State Bar.   He tried to teach me about employee benefits. Denny maintains, however, that rather than insurance concepts he tried to educate a young and naïve manager about business practices and life.

I have to admit that Dennis B. Ferguson is one of the most positive people I have ever known.   As I reported when we went Beerchasing at the Cheerful Tortoise in 2012, he is so optimistic that he will again, commence his new diet on the day before Thanksgiving – probably because he runs most of it off in the traditional Ferguson/Murphy Run at 6:15 A.M. Christmas Eve morning.  (Sign-up using the  link.)

Denny at the Cheerful Tortoise in 2013

Denny at the Cheerful Tortoise in 2012

And Tygue is Associate Athletic Director for External Operations at PSU – more about Tygue below. Our visit to the Lompac was greatly enhanced by Rosie, the Manager who also served us and has worked at the bar for the last eight years after moving from Michigan.

Rosie told us that the building structure is over 100 years old and the original Old Lompoc Tavern was opened in 1993.  In 1996, they started brewing and then in 2000, the current owner, Jerry Fechter, bought it with his silent partner – legendary beer entrepreneur, Don Younger, best known for his Horse Brass Pub – it then became the  New Old Lompoc.

Tygue, Rosie and Fergy

Tygue, Rosie and Fergy

All the buildings on that block on NW 23rd were demolished and the bar closed in 2012, but then reopened in May, 2013. Based on the number of previous monikers and potential confusion, the new name was simply the Lompoc Tavern and it joins the four other Portland bars under the Lompoc Brewing umbrella – the Fifth Quadrant, the Oaks Bottom, the Hedge House and Sidebar.

For history buffs, the Lompoc name emanated from the WC Field’s film The Bank Dick with the setting in Lompoc California.

The patio in the rear of the original Lompoc, a favorite of regulars, had to be abandoned and was replaced by the tables which now extend beyond the sidewalk in front of the bar.  But as you can see, the new patio is a great setting for beer and food and when I returned after 5:00 PM, it was filled and lively.  P1030838

What distinguishes the Lompoc? Rosie enthusiastically stated that it was the beer – 14 on tap in addition to one cider and quality seasonals from the Lompoc Brewery in Portland.  (It’s brewed at the Fifth Quadrant.)

The Lompac space is nicely laid out with some widescreen televisions to watch games, a spacious horsehoe bar and a nook with some historical mementoes from the original bar.  A recent Yelp review summed it up nicely:

A lot of cool *#@+ hanging on the wall....

A lot of cool *#@+ hanging on the wall….

“The atmosphere is cozy and dark. There is lots of crazy *%#@ hanging on the walls. A beer paddle, trophies, used malt cans, and concert posters decorate the interior. This is a brewery but the feel is a cross between a roadhouse and a yuppified neighborhood meeting place.

It’s cool, familiar, and comfortable.  The clientele seems to be older neighborhood-dwellers, outdoorsy 30-somethings, and long-bearded regulars. This is not a quiet place to nurse a pint. This is a bustling place to swap loud stories and share the weekend’s exploits with buzzed friends around tall pints of tasty beer.” (Yelp 2/16/15 by Jacob M)

P1030834The Willamette Week newspaper office has is only a few blocks from the Lompoc and in an effort to be humorous – which Lompac Management did not appreciate –  ran a “tongue-in-cheek” piece when the bar reopened in 2013 entitled, “A Complete Catalog of Everything Wrong with New New Old Lompoc”:

“So, yeah, while the New New Old Lompoc (they call it the “Lompoc Tavern”) is pretty great, it lacks the mildewed charm of the old bar which, apropos of nothing, was the closest watering hole to Willamette Week’s office.  Here’s two of the complaints they enumerated:

It’s rainy today — It sure would have been nice if they’d opened the pub last week, when it was nice and sunny.

The entrance may be about five feet farther north. — That’s five feet farther from the WW office. Given the journey involved, you guys aren’t going to catch us here any sooner than 6 pm today…”      P1030833

On a more serious note, the weekly in its 2014 Annual Bar Guide endorsed the Lompoc by stating:

“(It’s) a poor substitute for the delightfully shabby original – well aside from the food, which is better now.   And the beer is better and more adventurous……— (It’s) a neat little nook on the ground floor of a tony condo complex……..”

And since one of the joys of Beerchasing is meeting new friends, a little more about Tygue Howland.   He is smart, personable and understands athletics.  Besides his place in Washington sports lore as the only all-state high school athlete in three sports (football, basketball and baseball at Sedro Woolley High School), he knows and believes in the organization he now represents.   His job description includes fundraising, ticket sales and marketing for the Athletic Department.

All-State in baseball, football and basketball at Sedro Wooley Tygue on left)

All-State in baseball, football and basketball at Sedro Wooley

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In fact, having just finished the book, I suggested that  inviting author, Jon Krakauer, to a book-signing to autograph his most recent book, Missoula – Rape and the Justice System in a College Town at PSU’s away game in Missoula that weekend with the University of Montana.   It could  be a creative way to generate publicity although it might not be enthusiastically received by the Montana Grizzlies or for that matter the University of Montana Administration.

Missoula - a college town with a football history and culture

Missoula – a college town with a football history and culture?

For those who have not read it, Krakauer’s  387-page non-fiction best seller is the account of the sad legacy including University of Montana football players’ involvement in a series of sexual assaults on campus, which were so numerous that it ended with an investigation and report by the US Department of Justice.   The feds criticized the University, the Missoula Police Department and the Missoula  County Attorney’s Office for their roles in tacitly permitting the perpetuation of this environment.

The University of Montana campus

The University of Montana campus

Tygue and Fergy rejected the suggestion and Portland State beat the Grizzlies 59 to 41 improving their record to five wins and one loss in what has been a remarkably successful season, which now stands at 8 and 2.

Tygue has a history at PSU, having played quarterback starting in 2005 under Coach Mike Walsh. Because of a severe injury (two torn ACLs) his football career took place over six years at PSU and he also played for Coaches Jerry Granville and Nigel Burton.   Keep your eyes open for this guy who in addition to his work at PSU, had a short stint at the Oregon State Athletic Department adding to his resume.

PSU Quarterback Howland before the injuries

PSU Quarterback Howland

And give the Lompoc a try – The patio is a terrific place to raise a mug and watch people.   And we found the Lompoc, while understandably not a duplicate of the original, a welcome addition to some of the sterile offerings on NW 23rd.

It has a nice ambiance, diverse and ample selections of beer, reasonably priced and tasty menu selections and a friendly staff (Say hello to Rosie!!!)

And maybe Willamette Week staffers will return and focus their criticism on more serious issues — like the ongoing and precipitous decline of The Oregonian……

The Lompoc - not the original, but a nice ambiance...

The Lompoc – not the original, but a nice ambiance…

The Lompoc Tavern 1620 NW 23rd Avenue




Savannah – Thebeerchaser Does the South – Part III

The Georgia State Capitol

Savannah City Hall







We had visited Atlanta, Asheville and Charleston on our tour of the Southeast in the late spring of 2015. Our final stop was Thebeerchaser’s favorite city of the four – Savannah. And not just because it had the best bars and restaurants on the trip!

The oldest city in Georgia was founded by 114 colonists on February 12, 1733 led by James Oglethorpe.   He laid out the design of the city – still intact today and prohibited rum, slaves and lawyers – banned from 1733 to 1755. “Georgia was to be “free from that pest and scourge of mankind called lawyers.”  (Visit Historic


Confederate Polish soldier who fought “for American Liberty in the Siege of Savannah.” 1779

Savannah’s population has grown to 144,000 and it’s the fourth largest container port in North America. It has twenty-two stunning parks in squares on the streets scattered throughout the city with historic fountains and monuments

We saw many of them on our “Free Tours by Foot” – another 90 minute journey through history by our able guide.   As was the case in Charleston, it was well worth the tip at the end and one of the best ways to get an overview of the city.  Someone once said that the following description distinguishes three of the southern cities we visited:

If you’re from Atlanta, the first thing locals ask you is your business; while in Charleston, they ask your mother’s maiden name; and in Savannah, they ask what you want to drink.

Moon River Brewing - "A definitive

Moon River Brewing –

This premise may have been affirmed to some extent when on our first day in Savannah, we were having a beer during happy hour at the Moon River Brew Pub on West Bay Street, one of the main thoroughfares and near the state capitol.  We saw quite a few people walking down the street while drinking beer.

Upon inquiring, we found that Savannah has an ordinance that allows open containers in the Savannah Historic District near downtown.  Drinks must be in open plastic containers and no more than 16 ounces.   P1030411

Moon River Brewery was founded in 1999 “….in one of the oldest, most historic and genuinely haunted buildings in Savannah, Moon River Brewing Company invites you to experience this history and our delicious food and hand-crafted beers first hand.”     

And they had great hamburgers.

Courtney, with the Noppers and Janet Williams

Courtney, at Moon River with the Noppers and Janet Williams


Another one of the many bars and brewpubs on West Bay Street was J.J. Bonerz Sports Bar (Official Green Bay Packers Bar of Savannah):

“Cold beer and friendly service. This is also the only Packers themed bar in Savannah, since I am a Packers fan, it was right up my alley. I love this atmosphere.” Trip Advisor 4/10/15).

J.J.'s - Mixed reviews unless you like the Packers....

J.J.’s – Mixed reviews unless you like the Packers….

The bartender, Troy, who had worked at the bar for seven years told me that their specialty is Bloody Mary’s with beer.

I liked J.J.’s the afternoon I went but the reviews were mixed including one Trip Advisor in February 2015, that described a fight between a couple (“A drunk customer who had mauled his girlfriend to the point they both abruptly fell from their bar stools approached me and brazenly ate from my meal.”)

And an incredible August 2014 Yelp account of a “a very cute, petite waitress with tattoos walks up to the table of a 60-70 yr old man drinking by himself.”  The guy then purportedly proceeds to suck her toes……?!

Bartender Troy at J.J.'s

Bartender Troy at J.J.’s

And the reviews of the food were pretty negative so if you go to J.J.’s hit it in the afternoon and stick to beer – try a Green Man IPA from Asheville which I liked.

If you visit Savannah, a must-see is the wonderfully impressive Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which rivaled many of the grand cathedrals we saw during our Rick Steve’s Best of Europe Tour in 2014. ( See the six posts in  “Thebeerchaser Goes International.”)

A parishioner gave us a tour of this magnificent structure, constructed in 1850 and which survived an earthquake in 1898 and two fires – one in 1898, the other in 2003, when an arsonist tried to destroy the church.

The baptismal fond weight ----
The baptismal font weighs 8,000 pounds










The highlights of this magnificent structure are:

The main altar, carved in Italy of Carrara Marble weighing 9,000 pounds

The marble baptismal font weighs 8.000 pounds.

The pipe organ in the rear balcony with 34 ranks and 2,308 pipes.    P1030427

A 207 foot high steeple with a bell weighing 4,730 pounds and approximately 5 feet in diameter.

The roof with 45,000 slates and 90,000 copper nails.

Pinkies Master - A Dive with a rich history

Pinkies Master – A Dive with a rich history

While walking to the Cathedral, we passed what appeared to be a dive bar (Pinkie Master’s Lounge) in a small, non-descript building and, of course, I returned the next day to check it out.

It was late morning and the only person in the bar besides me was, Francine, the bartender, a nice woman who briefed me on the rich history of this watering hole and also the incredible amount of Pabst Blue Ribbon customers consume.  P1030438 states, “If you love authentic personalities and blemished history, there is no better spot than Pinkie Master’s.”   I was delighted to discover this bar on my own without prior knowledge of Pinkie’s gravitas!  Continually rated as the best dive bar in Savannah, Pinkie’s Master Lounge has held this mantra for decades. Most recently, in March of last year, it was voted the third best bar in the South by Southern Living Magazine.

"Classic" art work and other memorabilia.....
“Classic” art work and other memorabilia…..

“They haven’t changed the price of the drinks in more than seven years, the Stars and Bars has been draped over the alcohol since the 1960s, the walls are lined with memorabilia that’s been added and left to gather dust for decades, the bar has duct tape covering holes — and the patrons wouldn’t have it any other way.” (At least in April, the Confederate flag still hung above the bar.)

As I was having a very cheap PBR (the bar’s beer-of- choice and talking to Francine, I looked down and saw the following metallic plaque on the bar where I just happened to sit:

President Carter - personal friend of Pinkie's

President Carter – personal friend of Pinkie’s

Our walking-tour guide had told us that Savannah has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the US – it is a big holiday with the schools dismissed.  According to Francine, on March 17, 1978, President Carter during his first term, was in the city and came to see Pinkie – a long-term friend and major supporter during his campaign.  He sat in that very seat although she didn’t know if he had a beer.

And it may be legend rather than fact, but the 3/4/13 edition Savannah Morning News also reported:

2015-04-29 11.34.48
Picture of Jimmy Carter including Pinkie hanging in the bar


“As the oldest running watering hole downtown and one made famous when President Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy while standing on the bar…..” 

Another historic landmark to see (and tour) in Savannah is the Green-Meldrum House.  Built in 1853, the impressive American black walnut in the entry area is supplemented by silver-plated doorknobs, hinges, keyhole escutcheons and covers.  There is an amazing spiral stairway to the second floor and each room has ornate chandeliers, marble mantles and large mirrors.

Green-Meldrum House - headquarters of General Sherman

Green-Meldrum House – headquarters of General Sherman

The original owner of the mansion invited General William Tecumseh Sherman to use the mansion as his headquarters in 1864 on his “March Through the South” and from the house in December, 1864, he sent President Lincoln a telegram offering the City of Savannah as a Christmas gift.

Our second night, we had dinner at another historic establishment (the building was built in the early 1800’s as a cotton warehouse) – The Boar’s Head Grill and Tavern – right on the Savannah River.  They had an excellent menu including black-eyed pea and ham soup, steaks, shrimp and grits.  After reading a “Daily Meal” description of my go-to breakfast during the trip – biscuits and gravy, I decided I needed to be a little more healthy, although we did hit the gym earlier that day:                                      P1030412

“…….a biscuit topped with cream gravy, usually flecked with chunks of sausage, is basically a heart attack waiting to happen…….Biscuits are usually made with shortening in order to make them light and flaky, which is a major source of trans fat, and cream gravy is basically all fat….. Cream gravy is also a common topping for country-fried steak, resulting in one of the unhealthiest foods man has ever produced.”

Perhaps this was a masthead from an old Savannah River steamer...

Perhaps this was a masthead from an old Savannah River steamer…

The Boars Head bar

The Boars Head bar








And we had an after-dinner drink at another nice bar/restaurant in the Historic District – Churchill’s Pub – a nice selection of beers and British ambiance.

P1030406If you are planning to visit Savannah, be certain to rent the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” – filmed on location in Savannah in the early 1990’s.   Kevin Spacey does a superb job in one of the lead roles and as stated by “Rotten Tomatoes”:

“a tale of murder in high society….. it brings to life the setting, the rich assortment of characters and the atmosphere of modern Savannah.”

On our last day, we walked around the city and were drawn into one of the two Savannah Rae’s Gourmet Popcorn stores – over 250 flavors of popcorn.  We split a small bag of the most popular one – Caramel Sea Salt, having passed on the Oreo Cheese Cake and the Loaded Baked Potato Popcorn.

250 popcorn options....!

250 popcorn options….!

(I guess I was still harkening back to biscuits and gravy and remembering): “…..popcorn (is) coated in preservatives, salt, and partially hydrogenated oils (also known as trans fats) masquerading as butter…” (The Daily Meal)

And to quench our thirst after ingesting all of that salt, we made our last watering- hole stop in Savannah – The Savannah Distillery Ale House  – “Savannah’s Only Craft Beer Bar,” an advertising claim they make that doesn’t seem credible…although they do have twenty-one craft beers on tap and ninety-nine bottled beers.

P1030419It was reestablished in 2008 and has quite an interesting history as can be seen from this excerpt from their website:

… The great building…….was once a very reputable distilling establishment. The Kentucky Distilling Co. opened in 1904 and as the Temperance Movement gained steam, the company changed ownership and became The Louisville Distilling Co. , which served the Savannah community until 1907. By 1920, Georgia joined the nation in the prohibition of alcohol. Our country saw over 1100 operating distilleries dwindle to a mere 33, producing alcohol for medical purposes only.

With the Distillery Ale House’s closing, the building became Freich’s Pharmacy, operating as a drug store, soda fountain and lunch counter until 1940. Rumor has it that our 2nd floor produced bathtub gin and homemade beer throughout Prohibition years.                                           P1030421

In 2008 the Volen Family resurrected Distillery Ale House…..The mahogany topped bar and oak back-bar were crafted, and now features an antique copper still. During construction, various artifacts were unearthed dating back to the American Revolution, including musket balls, bones, dishware, clay pipes and liquor bottles.

Savannah was a fitting final destination to a great trip to the Southeast – a region to which we will return for the history, the culture, the hospitality, the food and, of course, the beer!

Ninety-nine bottled beers...
Ninety-nine bottled beers. at the Distillery

Thebeerchaser Does Colorado – Breckenridge – The Final Chapter

Breckenridge - A Colorado city with great views and great brews.....

Breckenridge – A Colorado city with great views and brews…..

We finished our twelve-day trip to Colorado last fall with a week in a Breckenridge condo, after visiting Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.  Breckenridge, since its ski areas opened in the early 1960’s, has shed its reliance on mining and this bustling burg of about 5,000 people, is now a tourist mecca.

Breckenridge - where the skiing is superb and the beer is brewed with "altitude."
Breckenridge – where the skiing is superb and the beer is brewed with “altitude.”

 While known primarily as a winter ski resort, it is also an inviting destination when the lifts are not running.  Hiking, cycling, fishing and, of course, since this is Thebeerchaser blog, let’s not forget, lively and interesting eateries and watering holes in which to raise a mug.

A short hike on the Iowa Hill trail in Breckenridge

A short hike on the Iowa Hill Trail in Breckenridge

Based on multiple recommendations, our first night, we ate at Angel’s Hollow, in a quaint old house and which not only had outstanding food (Janet said the best minestrone soup she has ever had) but an interesting bar with friendly people from all over the US.

The Angel's Hollow

The Angel’s Hollow









They included Joe, Paul, Shannon and Len, who were drinking beer with straight shots of Jamison’s as a chaser.  They wanted to buy us shots and to join them –  I did and Janet declined!.  Angel’s Hollow is also known for wonderful margaritas – understandably.

Nothing like a few shots of Jamison to break the ice......
Nothing like a few shots of Jamison to break the ice……


It’s co-owned by a husband and wife.  Lee, the husband is also the cook – a good one who takes no guff from unruly patrons – possibly because after attending culinary school in New York, he cooked for the Hell’s Angels for several years.

A May 2015 Yelp comment summed up this bistro quite well:

Lee, the bartender and cook (not mellowed by Hells Angel's gig)

Lee: co-owner, bartender and cook (not mellowed by Hells Angel’s gig)


“Amazing drinks! Killer margaritas! The music is super loud and awesome! The bartender is the most bad ass dude I’ve met in awhile and it’s like a big party in a log cabin!”

The Breckenridge commercial area is pretty compact – and not far from the slopes – so tourists are advised to refrain not only from drinking and driving, but drinking and skiing. 

Janet "pouring" over the extensive list of craft beers - notice the "PumKing" tap

Janet “pouring” over the extensive list of craft beers – notice the “PumKing” tap


Another nice little bar – also on Main Street – Apres Handcrafted Libations – beckoned us for a nightcap and presented a lot of choices.

“30 rotating craft taps, 40+ rotating craft bottled/canned beers, craft and small batch whiskey and the finest handcrafted cocktails in Breckenridge.” 


Instead of a cocktail, we split a New York beer – Southern Tier “Pumking” Ale – a great choice with a neat tap…P1020984

The next night we ate at Ollie’s Pub and Grub – a good brewpub with stand-out hamburgers – advertised as “The Best in Breck,” – and if not, they had to be close.  As usual, we sat at the bar which makes it easier to strike up conversation and met a friendly couple from Texas.

Ollies - the best burger in Breck?

Ollies – the best burger in Breck?

A short road trip the next day took us over the pass to Vale – which seemed more effete than the amiable village of Breckenridge and returned through Dillon.  The recommendations of locals held sway and we had lunch and a beer at the Dillon Dam Brewery -opened in 1997 and now with thirteen of its own beers on tap.

It advertises itself (I’m somewhat skeptical) as “The largest brew-pub in the Colorado Rockies” – but regardless if this claim is accurate, they keep their promise of brewing “Dam Good Beer” – most notably, the award-winning Chili Lager.

Dam Good Beer found here....

Dam Good Beer found here….

Two other breweries while in Breck were on the agenda for short visits – the Breckenridge Brewery and the very new Broken Compass Brewery (it was just opened in May 2014) and was pretty sparse using a ski lift seat as one of the benches……)

The former was opened in 1980 by a “typical ski bum – with one significant difference. He had a knack for making extraordinary home brew……..Breckenridge Brewery has grown from a small 3,000-barrel-a-year brewpub (and)…we now craft well over 62,000 barrels of fresh beer annually, and we operate five brewpubs and ale houses in the state of Colorado.” 

Thebeerchaser at the Breckenridge Brewery

Thebeerchaser at the Breckenridge Brewery


Broken Compass Brewery was founded by some home brewers with backgrounds in chemical engineering and sustainability.  The brewpub is pretty meager (see the picture below) and ambiance is lacking but……

Ski-lift chairs for furniture
Ski-lift chairs for furniture at Broken Compass





They have expanded from six to twelve beers and the reviews on the beer are good.  We met a sister and two brothers who were on a road trip from Florida to spread their mom’s ashes in the Rockies.

The last bar visited in Breck was also the most interesting and has a rich history as per the description by Dr. Thomas Noel, author of Colorado – A Liquid History and Tavern Guide to the Highest State, in his description of the Gold Pan Saloon:

Quenching the thirst of miners, skiers and residents since Rutherford B. Hayes was President!

Quenching the thirst of miners, skiers and residents since Rutherford B. Hayes was President!

“In 1880, the town had eighteen saloons and three dance halls on Main Street…..The number of saloons and mines began to taper off by 1910 when Breckenridge went into total hibernation.  

The town shrank to less than 300.   The drowsy decades ended with an avalanche of development triggered by the opening of the Breckenridge Ski Area… the early 1960’s.  By 1990, the town had grown to 1,285 nearly its mid-1880’s peak population.  A dozen new saloons opened, but none outshone the old Gold Pan, which has quenched Breckenridge’s thirst since 1879.” (emphasis supplied)

P1030061And I would suggest that although the bar with the same name on Mt. Rushmore Street in Custer, South Dakota, also has some stories to tell, the Breckenridge version has a more esteemed position in its contribution to the annals of American saloons.

While it is in a clapboard building and does have some flat screen TVs and pool tables, the authentic historical trappings in the two rooms (one for the restaurant and one for the bar) of the saloon are compelling.  And remember – it stayed open even during Prohibition.  P1030059


Dr. Noel describes the classic wooden backbars in many of America’s older bars.   The Gold Pan is no exception as described on page 32 of his book: “The Brunswick-Balke-Collander Company of St. Louis made the classic altar of Bachhus with egg-and-dart trim and Ionic columns framing a huge mirror whose centerpiece is a rusty gold pan with broken clock hands.”

Inscription in the historic backbar

Inscription in the historic backbar


And perhaps the stories and conversation I heard are more contemporary then those described by Tom Noel below, but they are still engaging.

My friendly bartender told me how any such job in Breckenridge is cherished –  “We work in the off-season to buy our season lift tickets…” and how the City Council is trying to adapt to marijuana initiative: “They don’t want a recreational marijuana dispensary on Main Street, but is that hypocrisy or a contradiction given the number of bars not only on this street, but the two adjoining ones running through town.”                                      P1030055

And I listened to what had to be a regular complaining to his companion about Washington politicians:  “Perhaps Obama and Congress should come out and go skiing.  Then they can see what it’s like going downhill like the rest of America.”

This compares to Dr. Noel’s personal experience in the Gold Pan in the 1970’s – his first visit:  “Before I knew it, the shaggy, huge bartender was yelling at one of our party:  ‘You calling me a liar?  I didn’t short change you, you bitch!  Here’s your money back, all of it.'”  He then kicked all Noel’s party out of the bar.

Thanks to Dr. Tom Noel - rich stories of Colorado's watering holes

Thanks to Dr. Tom Noel – rich stories of Colorado’s watering holes

Admittedly, that’s not as pugnacious as the story he relates about a more congenial Gold Pan employee named Travis who gave the following account – and given the wonderful sagas in Dr. Noel’s book (available at Amazon and one you should acquire) it is fitting to end the narrative of our twelve days in Colorado in which we visited eighteen bars and brewpubs with one final story from the good University of Colorado professor:

“The meanest S.O.B. in here was a little guy who was part Injun.  One night I saw two rednecks hassling him.  He keep telling ’em to bug off, but they wouldn’t.  They were big guys.  Finally, he had enough.  He jumped on one of the guy’s lap, grabbed his ears and bit the tip of his nose off.  He spit it out and yelled, ‘You’re lucky I’m not hungry!'”











The Oregon Public House – Have a Pint, Change the World!



Followers of this blog may remember that Thebeerchaser’s drinking companions at the last bar reviewed – Brannon’s Pub  and Brewery – included five tax attorneys.  And these individuals are not only lawyers, but each went back after law school and also earned their LLM or Masters Degree in Law with a focus on tax.

Beer-drinkers and financial experts Jones and Eller with Thebeerchaser logo

Beer-drinkers and financial experts Jones and Eller with Thebeerchaser logo


My lack of trepidation at having this group as drinking buddies emanated from a prior bar visit to the Oregon Public House with one of them – Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt lawyer, Dan Eller.  We were joined by Merrill Lynch financial advisor, Mike Jones, and it was a very enjoyable evening.

The Oregon Public House (OPH) bills itself as the “Nation’s First Non-profit Pub”although similar bars in Houston and Washington DC opened a little before it.   Founded with the contributions and sweat equity of volunteers – many of which were members of the Oregon Community, a church led by pastor Ryan Saari, who is an OPH Board member.

P1030204Their motto is “Have a Pint, Change the World,” – possibly an exaggeration, but one to which any fan of beer would hoist a mug (or two).

The stated mission is as follows:

“To integrate this vision of pub with benevolent outreach, we have relationships with a number of non-profit organizations to which our pub will donate 100% of net profits.  The customer will purchase their food and/or beverage, and then have a chance to choose where they wish their individual proceeds go from a short list of local charities.”

P1030202OPH is not spacious – five booths, a few tables and a nice bar  – nothing special, but kind of quaint, and it’s difficult to quarrel with their vision.  If you read to the end of this post, however, you will find some interesting (well, admittedly – only to a few people) nuances on the issue of “non-profit bar.”

A limited, but nice selection of NW Draft Beers

A limited, but nice selection of NW Draft Beers

Besides the traditional PBR Tall Boy, they have on tap eleven rotating beers and one cider – a nice selection of NW brews.  Our party had Three Creeks (Sisters Oregon) Stonefly Rye, Elysian (Seattle) Bi-Frost Winter Pale Ale, a Worthy (Bend) Lights Out Stout and the OPH Do Gooder –  the only beer that they brew themselves.         P1030196

The overhead stays low by requiring patrons to order at the bar rather than being served and then bus their own dishes – not a problem.  The food, for the most part, is standard pub faire although we were impressed with the “specials” on the menu that night which included a duck patty melt, hearty corn chowder and Hungarian goulash.


Cindy – at OPH since the inception

A strong kitchen....

A strong kitchen….







When we asked the bartender, Cindy – an employee of OPH since its inception in 2013 – what distinguished the bar from others, she stated without hesitation, “Besides our overall mission, our Reuben was voted number 4 in Oregon Business Magazine’s Top-five Reubens’ category.”  This could not be verified, but it did compare favorably with The Goose Hollow Inn’s famous Reuben and all three of us devoured ours.   

One other distinguishing factor was their children’s play area – more of a symbolic than substantive gesture to indicate it is a family-oriented venue.  It was pretty meager although it’s one of few bars in Portland with one – County Cork is another.

Somewhat symbolic - most kids would get bored....

Somewhat symbolic – most kids would get bored….

 Tax Status

While we were having our first beer, I made the mistake of asking Dan a question to clarify the tax status of the OPH. He immediately responded (with some passion):

“Remember, a non-profit bar is not the same thing as a tax-exempt bar or a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.”

I hadn’t really thought that I could get a tax deduction for our beers, but Dan explained, “OPH is a non-profit corporation that is not tax-exempt.” – kind of like a credit union.  Based on what he had been able to learn about OPH, Dan believed that it plowed back its net income or profits into charitable organizations.

However, if the amount given exceeded 10% of OPH’s taxable income, that would have presented what Dan described (as we were on our second beer) as “fascinating tax issues re. non-deductible expenses.”        

The IRS Logo

The IRS Logo

About this time, I looked at Mike – an MBA, so no stranger to financial concepts – and he appeared to be listening; however, I saw the notes he was making and he had scribbled, “Dale Nerl,” “Ned Erlal”  and “Len Radle”,” – all anagrams of Dan Eller’s name.  In my mind, I was picturing Dan trying to convey this same concept to a coed on a date when he was an undergraduate at UCLA……


Dan Eller - waxing eloquent about Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code

Dan Eller – waxing eloquent about Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code

The Give-O-Meter

The Give-O-Meter

The bottom line is OPH has given a significant amount to Oregon charities since their May 2013 opening in the historical building that dates back to 1909 when it was an Odd Fellows Lodge.  When we were there in January, the accumulated amount was $39,372 and that figure has increased to approximately $43,000.



As one reads about some of the big corporations acquiring breweries and pubs, it’s refreshing to hear about an idealistic and action-oriented group, who brought their vision to fruition and have created a great community gathering place.


Each time you order a drink or food, you cast a vote for one of the six charities they currently support:

Oregon Humane Society              P:EAR               Pink Boots Society

Playworks               Portland Fruit Tree Project                X-RAY F.M.


To summarize, it might be appropriate to quote a recent (February, 2015) Yelp review:

“Great food, excellent service, and a fantastic mission.”

Oregon Public House                 700 NE Dekum Street

Don’t “Sniff” at Quimby’s

Quimby's - formerly known as Cheers
Quimby’s – formerly known as Cheers

If you glance at the new Beerchaser map (see link below), you will see that most of establishments visited on Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs, commencing in August 2013, are located on the southeast side of Portland – in what includes the infamous and beloved Barmuda Triangle.

Sniff -- Anyone for a Hair of the Dog IPA??
Sniff — Anyone for a Hair of the Dog IPA??

It is thus fitting, to hit a Northwest venue – the last one was Slabtown last October – especially when two are located in the same block.  And Sniff Cafe may be accurately labeled a “unique” watering hole in Portland in that it appears to be the only one that is integrated with a canine day-care and hotel.

My initial reaction was to harken back to Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Eastern Oregon last summer when I witnessed the antithesis of Sniff at the entrance to two different taverns – one in Burns and one in Prineville.  Take a look at these two signs greeting patrons at the doors of these bars.



Non-ambiguity re. furry friends.....

Non-ambiguity re. furry friends…..

To the contrary at Sniff, if you stop in for a glass of beer or wine during the Happy Hour times of 5:00 to 7:00 P.M., you get a $1 discount on beer and wine — plus, your pooch gets a free romp in the pet indoor play area – even getting occasional personal attention by one of their attendants.  You also get to view not only your pooch, but the other dogs cavorting in this puppy play pen.

One wonders if they may be playing, "Duck,  Duck -- Goose!"

One wonders if they may be playing, “Duck, Duck — Goose!”

____ serving a beer.

Taylor serving a beer.

Sniff is a neat little bar – it does not have hard liquor, but beer, wine, coffee and snacks ranging from pastries to pizza to wraps.  According to our bartender Taylor, who has been at Sniff for two years, it has been successful since it opened in 2010  – even to the extent of recently expanding as can be seen from the picture below.

Expanded bar areas at Sniff

Expanded bar areas at Sniff

Instead of hard-boiled eggs, pickles or other unhealthy stuff placed on the bar for snacks, Sniff had dog biscuits!!

Healthier than Pickled Pigs Feet....
Healthier than Pickled Pigs Feet….



I did not have the guts to ask Taylor if he had heard the joke about the dog who walked into the bar and asked the bartender, Have you seen the guy who shot my paw??? ” 

Sniff also has some rules for their pet guests that might be a good idea for some bars to institute as well – especially dive bars with a rough clientele.  For example, check out these guidelines below.  Substitute “you” for the canine equivalent in the following and you’ll see what I mean:

We want all our guests to play nice. That’s why we pick and choose which guests will socialize the best…..Call ahead and schedule your free temperament evaluation.


Leaving an  impression...

Leaving an impression…

WHAT IF MY DOG DOESN’T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS?  If your dog is not social, or requires one-on-one attention, for the safety of our guests, he or she is required to stay in a private suite and participate in private play sessions and/or walks; additional fees will apply.”

Artwork to keep the guests comfortable...
Artwork to keep the guests comfortable…

To further the above premise, they also have special rules for females in heat, because they “can stress our male guests…” 

Sniff has only four beers on tap (inexplicably no Hair of the Dog Brewery products) but seven additional bottled beers.  Also three white and three red wines to try.

To momentarily digress, Sniff also reminded me of my favorite Beerchaser regular, Portland lawyer, John Mansfield.   He tends to view phrases literally and on one of our bar trips after he saw a sign stating, “Temporary Dog Play Area,” commented, “Given my scheduling constraints, I would be interested in getting one of those temporary dogs.”

Okay, so let’s assume you either don’t have a dog or you just dropped off Fido at the Sniff Hotel and want to have a nightcap in the vicinity.  Just walk one block to a neat little neighborhood bar at 19th and Quimby.

The bar at Quimbys.

The bar at Quimbys.

Quimby’s prior to 2011 was named Cheers, which allows mentioning one of my favorite quotes from Cliff Clavin – intrepid regular at the beloved television bar:

“Well Norm, it’s like this.  A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.  And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first.  This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole….because the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain ( US Department of Agriculter

The beer vs. buffalo analogy as framed by Cheers’ Cliff Clavin (Wikimedia Commons – public domain)

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.  In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s always why you are smarter after a few beers.”

Quimby’s is a quaint and typical neighborhood bar – with seven beers on tap.  Although they have a decent menu including sandwiches, pizza, good soups and more, the bar has a partnership, of sorts, with six food carts immediately adjacent to the back entrance and patrons can bring their cart cuisine inside while consuming their favorite beverage.

The patio and adjacent food carts

The patio and adjacent food carts

According to Steve, the affable bartender, who has been in the business 16 years, although he had just started at Quimby’s that day, their specialty is Buffalo Wings – we verified that they were really good.

They also serve reasonably priced breakfast all day, although when I tried to order one of the breakfast combinations in the early afternoon of my second visit, was informed that they had run out of eggs.

I had heard that the bar could be rather sparsely populated although the late afternoon of my first visit with my daughter and her boyfriend, Ryan, on a Thursday, we had to scramble for a table because it was Trivia Night and people came early for what is usually a big and raucous crowd.  The neighborhood is growing by leaps and bounds and patronage at the bar will continue to grow – especially in the summer with the patio area available.

Laura and Ryan with Thebeerchaser logo

Laura and Ryan with Thebeerchaser logo

There is both a free pool and ping-pong table plus darts, pinball and three big screen TVs which have PAC 12 and Big 10 broadcasts – evidently Ohio State and Michigan State fans frequent the bar to root for their teams.  Happy Hour is every day from 3:00 to 6:00 and they have specials each night such as Taco Tuesdays, Whiskey Wednesdays, etc.        P1020008

A recent Yelp review summarized pretty well by stating:

“The service is rather impeccable.  Attentive, kind and respectable bartenders round out an overall enjoyable experience.”   


So the next time you’re in Northwest Portland, give both Sniff and Quimby’s a visit.



Sniff Café             1528 NW Raleigh Street

Quimby’s                   1502 NW 19th

(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)

The Diamond Hotel – The Cutting Edge in Hospitality and the Final Chapter in Thebeerchaser Tour of Eastern Oregon

The Round Barn south of Burns

The Peter French Round Barn south of Burns

After lunch in Burns – a great town where one pundit asserted, “You could get a good meal, rent a movie and hire a contract killer,” we headed southeast on Highway 78 to Diamond, Oregon (population 5) and our final night at the historic Diamond Hotel.

Passing through the most desolate country on this stretch –  Burns south past the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve almost to the Steen’s Mountains and the Alvord Desert. We toured the Peter French Round Barn – on the National Historic Register and constructed around 1870 by the cattle rancher who used it to train horses.

More prevalent than cars on Highway

More prevalent than cars on Highway 78

The remarkable interior structure of The Round Barn.

The remarkable interior structure of The Round Barn.

About 50 miles south of Burns, we also stopped at the Diamond Crater Natural Area –  which reportedly “has the best and most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the United States.” We saw lava flows and tubes and cinder cones from the observation area.

A road through the lava beds or what Dave maintained was a description of Thebeerchaser's career.

A road through the lava beds and a sign that Dave maintained was a description of Thebeerchaser’s career.

The Diamond Hotel was in a beautiful grove of poplar trees and we believed the sign that said the population of Diamond was only five since the hotel was in essence the center of “the city” – on Main Street.

The Census Bureau had an easy time in this venue

The Census Bureau had an easy time in this venue

After playing cards and having a beer, we sat down for “Family Dinner” – eight people sitting around a large rectangular table for an outstanding rib dinner with all the accoutrements.  The three-hour feast lasted that long because of the fascinating conversations with our fellow diners.

Family Dinner at the Diamond Hotel

Family Dinner at the Diamond Hotel

Two of the diners were a married couple in their mid-eighties and riding in on their Harley – mid-way through a tour that took them into Montana, Idaho and Oregon.

Another was a high-tech exec from Portland – a German immigrant who rode in on his BMW bike on which he has toured most of the western US and Canada.  We were the only boring ones at the table……David Thompson, one of the friendly owners, briefed us on history and shared stories while we were eating.

Notice the Harley and the BMW bike

Notice the Harley and the BMW bike

For those who love our state and want to explore, the Diamond Hotel should be on your bucket list.  Built in 1998, it was completely restored in 1990.  Shirley and David Thompson, descendants of one of the first families in Diamond bought the hotel in 2001 and now operate it.   P1010787


It was headquarters for the Cycle Oregon staff during their 2013 ride this summer, which had a one night stay near Diamond.  The rates at the hotel, including the dinner, are very reasonable and it is quaint and interesting.

"Recreation" before Family Dinner

“Recreation” before Family Dinner

And so ended our four-day road trip.  After breakfast, we headed north – this time on Highway 205 back through John Day, then north on 395 and to Steve’s home in Pendleton.  We photographed the Stampede Room in Long Creek, which will have to wait until our next trip to raise a mug.

The Stampede will have to wait until the next trip

The Stampede will have to wait until the next trip


We saw amazing sights and reaffirmed the premise of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Taverns, Bars and Pubs“Each bar or watering hole has its own unique character, ambiance and clientele,” – only in the central and eastern part of our wonderful state.

Whether sampling the brews of Johnny Brose at the Bull Ridge Brewery and Pub in Baker, kidding Patty at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns, hearing stories from Heather at the Horseshoe Tavern in Prineville or just photographing the Powder Club Tavern in North Powder – which incidentally, is Under New Management or The Elkhorn Saloon in Sumpter, our visits to the Central and Eastern Oregon bars was outstanding and we would recommend it.

Powder - Under New Management!

Powder – Under New Management!

We told Eastern Oregon bar jokes like the one about the dog who limped into the bar and said to the bartender, “I’m looking for the guy who shot my paw…!”


The bartender who asks the horse who comes into his bar and orders a beer, “Hey, why the long face..?”

Besides the establishments mentioned above we also visited The Solstice Brewery in Prineville, The Long Branch Saloon, The HideoutTavern and 10 Depot Street Bar and Restaurant in LaGrande and The Mt. Emily Ale House in Baker City.  These are reviewed in the first three blog-posts of this road trip.

1,746 miles, four nights and ___ bars later....

1,346 miles, four nights and eight bars later….

Now back to Portland where the next Beerchaser post will review the fairly new and interesting neighborhood tavern – Church.

Crossing the Rubicon — For a Moretti?? Thebeerchaser Goes International – Part IV

The Glorious history of the Roman Empire - Still visible today.

The Glorious history of the Roman Empire – Still visible today.

In Florence we saw the wonder of Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia and then headed to Rome.  Awed by the history, I tried to envision the perspective of a Roman Legionnaire in 49 BC crossing the Rubicon with Caesar to reassert his power in Rome after the Gallic Wars.

However the metaphor fails since I slept in a comfortable bed the night before, had an outstanding breakfast and traveled in a luxury bus and the only “hardship” endured was doing some of our laundry in the hotel sink!

Moretti - not an option in the 5th century.....

Moretti – unfortunately,  not an option for the Roman Legion…..

Compare this to the Roman infantryman (named “Mules”) who carried as much of his own equipment as possible including his own armor, weapons and 15 days’ rations – about 60 pounds total – and walked in sandals. As comedian, Bill Maher, quipped, “If you think you have it tough, read history books.” (See the end of this post for more details on ancient Roman beer.)

Modern travel superior to foot-power...

Modern travel superior to foot-power…

We toured the Vatican first and were overwhelmed by the immense collection of art and the historic structures.  It compels consideration of the impact of the Catholic Church through the annals of history – even before priests had to admonish their parishioners to turn off their mobile devices at the start of mass.

These range from the positive contributions to art, culture and education to the tales of intrigue and outright decadence by some of the medieval pontiffs.  Stunned by the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel, one can imagine Michelangelo responding to Pope Julius II in 1508 by saying, “You want WHAT painted on the ceiling…?”

This Swiss Guard gig is an honor, but do we get a brewski when our watch is over?

“This Swiss Guard gig is an honor, but do we get a brewski when our watch is over?”

June 2nd is Republic Day –  the Italian equivalent of Independence Day in the US – and Rome was festive.  In St. Peter’s Basilica, we witnessed a half-hour procession of worshippers – all from one village – filing in for a 6:00 PM mass.  Take a look at Thebeerchaser’s video to see just a small fragment of the celebrants filing into St. Peter’s:,

  The State within a State

The State within a State



The Colosseum in Rome – the center of entertainment and athletics during the reign of Caesar

On the second night in Rome, after an outstanding tour of the Colosseum, we had dinner in a wonderful pub/cafe – Miscellanea.

It is interesting to note that a lot of bars and taverns in Portland, although they have their own internal ambiance, there is a good  chance of passing a Subway Store, a Home Depot or some other strip mall chain upon exiting.  Conversely, immediately adjacent to Miscellanea was the Pantheon.

This incredible temple to the gods of Rome rebuilt in 126 AD, is a circular structure with sixteen massive granite columns and a central opening to the sky, which sources say is still the world’s largest un-reinforced concrete dome.

The granite columns of the Pantheon - this ain't no Home Depot...!

The granite columns of the Pantheon – this ain’t no Home Depot…!

The reviews of Miscellanea were spot on including this one by a Canadian tourist this March:

“We were near the Pantheon when it started to rain and we went into this cafe for shelter and lunch. How lucky were we! The place was very busy and we shared a table with three other diners. Pasta was very good and the house wine was fine.

The atmosphere was good with lots of laughter and chatting and it seemed to be mainly Italians who were eating. At about 2pm the place started to empty as Romans returned to work and left a few tourists to idle away the afternoon with another glass of wine.”          

Maybe we should jog back to the hotel......

Cassius had a “lean and hungry look.” Maybe we should jog back to the hotel……


Miscellanea had a great selection of beer and wine plus the food, as you can see by the photo, was amazing – and the portions were large.

It was also interesting to see both the display of beer labels and a chronology of university students who signed the “register” when visiting the establishment – essentially, a listing of colleges and universities all over the world whose students frequented the bar while studying in Rome.

A great selection of beer and wine.
A great selection of beer and wine.


I loved this picture of the 1994 class of Notre Dame which is concrete proof that the University has an academic program of which their football team can be proud:

The Fighting Irish leave South Bend to "study"abroad...
The Fighting Irish leave South Bend to “study”abroad…

Go Irish!!

On the walk back to the hotel, per the tradition, we threw a coin over our left shoulder at the Trevi Fountain – commissioned in 1732 by Pope Clement XIII – the largest in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world.

Legend has it, that this action ensures a return trip to Rome – plus it helps to fund the water bill for the gushing attraction.

Trevi Fountain - featured in the movies,"Roman Holiday" and Three Coins in a Fountain"

Trevi Fountain – featured in the movies, “Roman Holiday” and Three Coins in a Fountain”


After we left Rome, we stopped at another majestic cathedral in Central, Italy.

The Cathedral of Orvieto, built in the 14th century is another example of the Pope’s influence – this one, Pope Urban IV.  While the external trappings are impressive, the interior is another magnificent example of Middle Age art.            

Built to commemorate a miracle in 1283.

Orvieto Cathedral – to commemorate a miracle in 1283.

The beautiful stained glass in the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy


And going back to the Roman legionnaires and the quest for a good brew, a sixteen-year old post by Gregory Smith from the “Brew Your Own (BYO) Magazine” web site, poses an interesting theory to the role of beer in the time of Caesar:  “History tells us that Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back by Brutus in 44 BC. If everyone had just been a little patient, Caesar’s passion for a mug of beer would have killed him off without the mess of the Ides of March stabbing. In fact it was probably the Roman passion for a good beer that killed off the entire Empire.

It wasn’t the actual beer that would have killed the Roman ruler, it was his lead-laced beer mug. Roman brewers used a variety of earthenware containers to store and serve their beer. The pottery and glaze were lead based. The risk to the beer drinker would increase based on the amount of beer consumed or the age of the brew.

If Brutus had waited a little longer, Julius Caesar could have literally drunk himself to death by lead poisoning, which was very common in the years of the Roman Empire (from 753 BC until around 476 AD)

Beer could have caused the fall of the Roman Empire because it probably led many Romans to settle in lands far away from Rome, leaving the heart of the empire unprotected against ravaging barbarians.”

And now on to the Cinque Terra on the Mediterranean coast of Italy and the Swiss Alps!  Then, before the end of the Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour, we head back to Portland for a review of one of Portland’s classic bars – The Slammer.  And don’t forget to try a Birra Moretti.  You can get it in the USA and 39 other countries.