Beerchaser Miscellany – A Compendium of Trivia and Bar-related Information

fireworks beerchaser miscellany with beer glassPeriodically Thebeerchaser blog has a post that departs from reviewing a single bar, tavern or pub and attempts to update you on various topics that may be of interest:

Thebeerchaser Tour of Bars, Tavern and Pubs –  Initiated in August, 2011, this blog  recorded its 50,000 view on June 9th.   On that date, 51 individuals viewed 71 different Beerchaser posts.  The count included ten visitors from eight different countries including Germany, Australia, Nigeria, the Czech Republic and Coasta Rica. They hit the blog as a result of internet searches.

The 121 individual blog posts since inception (each averaging about 1,500 words) comprise reviews of 63 Portland establishments, in addition to about 71 watering holes in Europe, Colorado, Alaska, Eastern and Central Oregon, Washington, the Oregon Coast and the Southeastern US (not yet posted).

Jud after patrol 65

Cpt. Blakely USMC – after patrol in 1966

This blog has also “honored” twenty-two individuals or groups as Beerchaser-of-the-Month or Quarter ranging from authors, to academics to athletes to those directly connected with beer such as the Beer Goddess (Lisa Morrison) in April 2015.  Perhaps two of the most auspicious are Art Vandelay – CEO of Vandelay Industries and the crew of the USS Constitution.

Jud Blakely, besides being a hero for his actions in combat during the Viet Nam War and an excellent athlete and writer – as documented when he was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in September 2013 – is also a whiz at using technology to communicate.

He is the talent behind the second and current Beerchaser logo and also responsible for the new “business cards” below – I often get requests from those I meet in watering holes to give them the blog address.  (Jud’s creativity is exemplified by the slogan on the back of the card.)

Front and back of new "business cards"

Front and back of new “business cards”

And Thebeerchaser traffic has increased…….Counts and averages for the last four years are as follow:

August – December 2011:  an average of 150 per month

2012:  6,703 views for an average of 558 per month

2013: 15,224 views for an average of 1,269 per month

2014: 18,098 views for an average of 1,508 per month

January through June 2015:  average per month has been 1,701

Bar Closings – A Concern Says Whom?  – I noted with interest a December 2014 article in Willamette Week entitled, “Closing Time” with a subheading, “2014 Was Barmageddon in Portland.”  The article maintained that the closing of notable bars such as Slab Town (reviewed in October 2013), Produce Row, the East Bank Saloon, and others such as Tiga, is the “canary in the coal mine.”  It quoted one bartender as stating, “Every good bar, everything you see is going under.  Everything is going straight to shit,”  

Slabtown - Gone but not Forgotten..

Slabtown – Gone but not Forgotten..

However, the good news is that the article may have vastly overstated the situation.   Anecdotally, Thebeerchaser in multiple visits to the nine PDX bars reviewed so far in 2015, ranging from dive bars such as the Yamhill Pub to genteel venues such as the Pope House Bourbon Lounge to the most recent historic gem, Kelly’s Olympian – has witnessed robust and enthusiastic crowds.

Step up to Joe's Cellar - now reopened

Step up to Joe’s Cellar – now reopened

And bars, like the mythical Phoenix, have a tendency to rise from the ashes.  For example, Joe’s Cellar reviewed September 2011, closed because of structural issues and was reportedly gone for good.  It reopened within a year and is now going strong.

The East Bank Saloon, a 36-year venue, was closed earlier this year and was reopened last month as “the blockbuster new bar” Bit House Saloon.  (“Look for barrel-stave flooring, lots of brick and brass, an atrium and big French doors blowing out to a new fire pit in the back.”)    The same scenario occurred with the Grand Café (reviewed in January 2013) whose proprietor was the well known, albeit controversial icon, Frank the Flake Peters, when he retired.  It closed but has now reopened as the Pour Sports Bar and Grill.

The Not-so-Grand Departure of the Grand Cafe

The Not-so-Grand Departure of the Grand Cafe

A WW article late last year speculated that the historic treasure – the Skyline Tavern (reviewed in January 2014)would be closed and the property developed.  The paper recently updated the news and reported that Scott Ray Becker, a local filmmaker, is the new owner and he plans to improve the bar including serving quality food rather than just micro-wave popcorn and pre-packaged sandwiches.  Produce Row has also reopened.

And there’s Marcus Archambeault and Warren Boothby, who previously have done wonders refurbishing or resurrecting  bars such as Club 21 (reviewed in September 2014) which replaced a lackluster predecessor.

They also opened Gold Dust Meridian (reviewed in October 2012) and the Double Barrel (reviewed in April 2015) – all of which have been visited (multiple times!) by TheBeerchaser and were great bars.

The refurbished Sandy Hut, is the latest example of their genius, and the changes to this historic dive bar  will ensure that the beloved “Handy Slut” will serve a lot more PBR in future years. “..the sort of rearrangement a mother might give her son’s bedroom after he finally moves out: scrub the stink out of the carpets, move some furniture around and open a damn window.” Willamette Week 6/24-30/2015

The "Handy Slut" is refurbished and cleaned up - so to speak.....
The “Handy Slut” is refurbished and cleaned up – so to speak…..

Not to belabor the point, but let’s also consider the new Loyal Legion Bar – scheduled to open in July 2015 at Southeast Sixth and Alder, (“….about 120 seats clustered around a circular bar with kegs kept in a 50-foot long walk-in cooler in the basement .”) serving 99 beers in the historic building formerly housing the Police Athletic Association.

Or there is the once resurrected Bitter End Saloon on West Burnside – a Portland Timbers bar reopened in 2013 – closed again in April 2015, but evidently to be reincarnated again – as St. Helens a new bar.

Ecliptic - one of the 58 in Portland - with more on the way.....

Ecliptic – one of the 58 in Portland – with more on the way…..

And what about breweries and brewpubs?  Portland now has more than any other city in the world – last year, according to the Oregon Brewers’ Guild, 28 new breweries opened in the Portland metro area.  The total is now 83.

Many bemoaned the acquisition of Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing by Annheiser Busch; however, shortly thereafter they opened a new 6,200 square foot pub in Portland on NW Flanders seating 175, with plans for a rooftop beer garden this summer .

Those like Thebeerchaser, who love the unique character and ambiance of Portland’s 750 + bars and taverns,  should be more concerned with trends such as Burgerville, Starbucks, Music Millenium and theaters serving beer – “Entering a movie theater that doesn’t serve alcohol feels like finding a dry county in Nevada.  (“It’s now) get your ticket, get your popcorn, get your pint.   In fact, it suggests that very soon, theaters which serve beer and wine will soon outnumber those which don’t.”

I hope your join me in believing that people should drink their beers at their neighborhood bar – not at a fast food joint, a coffee shop run by an international corporation or a Regal Cinema.  As quoted previously in this blog:

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.”  Samuel Johnson

“A bar is better than a newspaper for public discussion.” Author, Jim Parker

This is not to suggest that bar closures such as Slabtown, with its rich history, are not a loss and sterile corporate brew pubs don’t come close to replacing a venerable neighborhood bar.   However, there are still a lot of new establishments ready to garner a loyal clientele and join the idiosyncratic hole-in-the-walls just waiting to become the new Cheers.  The Lost and Found started by two female entrepreneurs in 2013 in North Portland is a great example.  Another one – Shift Drinks – recently founded by two former Multnomah Whiskey Library employees on SW Morrison.  Another trend is the advent of cider bars.P1020400

I will close this section with evidence from my own journey.  In almost four years, I have reviewed 63 different bars and pubs in Portland. (And almost all of them were memorable…)

Only 29 of these made the “2015 Willamette Week Bar Guide” – their reporters’ 125 favorite watering holes.  I am not worried about running out of establishments to visit on my continuing journey…..!

What About the Lawyers – I have talked to a number of lawyers for whom brewing was initially a hobby – until they realized that they enjoyed their avocation more than practicing law and are now an integral part of the craft brewing scene in Portland.  Examples are the owner of the Occidental Brewery in St. Johns and Kevin Brannon, now a partner in the new Beaverton venue, Brannons’ Pub and Brewery. There are others as well.

It’s also interesting to note how attorneys who are still practicing law are also getting involved in the micro-craft industry.  Even in 2010, the Portland Business Journal reported, “Oregon law firms are swallowing huge chunks of business as the state’s alcohol industry continues to thrive.  The workload of attorneys representing wine, beer and liquor distillery interests have jumped between 20 percent and 30 percent during the last year.”  (PBJ 11/19/2010)

American_Bar_Association_svgGiven some of the developments in the legal profession, perhaps the lawyer-to-brewer scenario will become a trend and lead to new “bars.”   An example is reported in the ABA Newsletter, which cites the Washington D.C. lawyer who is ending his law practice to open a gourmet grilled cheese establishment combined with a wine bar.  “Law lends itself to a certain kind of creativity, but this is a whole different thing.” (ABA Newsletter 2/26/2014)

And as Long as We Are on the Topic of Lawyers – My thirty-five + years  working with lawyers at the Oregon State Bar and the Schwabe Williamson firm made me appreciate the passion, intelligence, commitment to civic and charitable service and communication skills of most of the individuals in this honorable profession.  And one of the most interesting traits is their unabashed creativity in defending their position –  some people mistake this for arrogance…..

An outstanding firm with great lawyers....
An outstanding firm with great lawyers….

 Two of my favorite examples occurred a number of years ago, but are still good examples – both involve prominent Portland attorneys  and the accounts were reported in The Oregonian at the time.  The third is from the weekly American Bar Association newsletter – always a good source of bizarre legal stories

Akin Blitz : While driving his German luxury car over a mountain pass and trying to get ahead of multiple vehicles including an RV – he asserted in court with a Powerpoint presentation supporting his position – that he had no idea  he was traveling  76 mph in a 55 mph zone because of the vehicle’s “handling characteristics.”  The judge, in fining him $182, informed him that Mr. Blitz – not the automaker was at fault.

Marc AbramsEven more creative, this former Portland School Board member, explained his 88 mph speed (in a 65 mph zone) on Interstate 84 by the fact that he was following a deputy sheriff.  Making the case more interesting was the deputy’s response that he was going 75 mph when Abrams first started following him and the deputy increased to 88 mph before he cited Abrams who continued to follow him.  In a two-page letter to the court defending his actions the lawyer stated:

“I therefore have no basis to know my speed, having simply assumed I was within the limits on the basis of actions of the officer who subsequently cited me for doing precisely what he was doing.”

To bolster his position and because at the time, he was an Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General, the intrepid lawyer offered a second defense  – a statute that he asserted gave him immunity as a Justice Department employee (he was driving to Pendleton to meet with another lawyer on a State case).  Unfortunately, neither the judge nor Abrams’ boss at the time – Attorney General Hardy Myers – agreed with this rationale.   One of Myers’ Deputy AGs reportedly wrote in an interoffice memo that

  • The DOJ disagreed with this interpretation of ORS 464.530.
  • Abrams was not authorized to represent to the court that his argument reflects the views of the AG’s office.
  • The AG does not believe that any part of the state law immunizes the department’s employees from prosecution for traffic offenses.

The good news (at least for Abrams) was that the police officer cited him for the 75 mph speed and his ticket was $97 rather than $145 it would have been for the higher figure. (Based on the dollar amounts, you can tell that this was a number of years ago!)

scales of justice from italy

Texas Lawyer, Martin Zimmerman:  When his drunken driving defendant client blamed Zimmerman for his conviction (he didn’t remember his client’s name during jury selection, called no witnesses and fell asleep during the trial.)

“Zimmerman blamed sleep apnea for his naps during the trial….but defended his courtroom performance (rating it) an eight or nine out of ten……Zimmerman is planning on running for a judgeship next year, but he told the (Texas Express News) he doesn’t expect his napping to affect the election.” (ABA newsletter 9/18/13)

Deadwood, South Dakota (circa 1890)

Deadwood, South Dakota (circa 1890)

And Maybe a Lawyer Should be Retained by this Saloon – While Republican Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee has adopted the campaign manifesto “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” a Deadwood, South Dakota saloon has a slight deviation (so to speak).

As reported last year by the Associated Press, his business complex would include a gun shop, pawn shop and a combined shooting range/bar offering expensive cigars to be named The Bullets and Beer Saloon.  (Evidently his plans were successful as the link above is for the home page of their website)

“It’s all the things I like: alcohol, tobacco and firearms,” he stated.

To assuage those concerned about safety, he stated, No one shoots or handles a real gun unless they can blow a 0.00 on a breathalyzer.”   Furthering his business case, the proprietor also offers a simulator used to train law enforcement officers interactively.   “We’re not using live ammo or a live gun or anything like that……It’s almost like gun karaoke.”

And the Deadwood City Council is doing its part by requiring no more than 50% of the business income can be derived from alcohol sales.

Beerchasing on the Springwater Trail

Beerchaser, David Dickson on the Springwater Trail

Beerchaser, David Dickson on the Springwater Trail

Last month, to offer a respite on an 18 mile bike ride along Portland’s wonderful Springwater Trail, Beerchaser regular, David Dickson, and I stopped on the return loop to have lunch and a brewski at the Springwater Station – a great dive bar on 82nd Ave. where the bike corridor crosses.

“From the looks of the building design, both inside and out, this bar/restaurant must have been a beautiful place 20 or so years ago.   It is not currently a dive bar – but just give it a couple more years of neglect and it will easily fall into that category.” (Yelp June 2013)

The Springwater Saloon

The Springwater Station

April, the friendly and informative bartender, who also tends bar at Area 52“a blues bar with great jazz,” located in the Woodstock neighborhood on SE 52nd Str. filled us in.

David and I sat at the bar with some friendly regulars and consumed a draft beer while wolfing down a wonderful three-piece fish and chips special for the unbelievable price of $4.50.  (We decided to splurge rather than opt for the two-piece option for $3.50.)  If you are cycling or jus driving SE 82nd, stop and say hello to April.

April, the friendly bartender

April, the friendly bartender

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pope and High “Mash” *

Like Being in Kentucky

Like Being in Kentucky

Those who have had a drink and/or some of the quality southern-style food at the Pope Bourbon House Lounge are virtually unanimous about the setting:

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“I give Pope House a 5 star for ambiance alone! It’s the perfect place to grab a drink on a nice summer day in PDX. .”  Yelp 5/10/15 

Find your way there on a sunny day and it’s not so different than a Kentucky porch swing.”  Willamette Week 2014 Bar Guide

Dan Swift, server - Danielle, Dan Eller and Mike Jones

Dan Swift, server – Danielle, Dan Eller and Mike Jones

And after “paying penance” recently at two dive bars – one, the Yamhill Pub, that was grungy beyond belief and the other, the Low Brow Lounge, in which the bartender and servers set new standards for surliness, it was a pleasure to visit this wonderful old Victorian house in NW Portland.

And Danielle, our server, was friendly and prompt – as was the case with Miles, the bar manager, who was very knowledgeable and helpful with background information.  In fact, Miles, who has worked at the Pope for six years – after the prior martini bar (The Brazan Bean) closed and Joel Carson, a lifelong Portlander and his partner – a lady from Kentucky opened what became one of Bourbon Review ‘s “55 Best Whiskey Bars in America” (2013-14)

One of Bourbon Review's 55 Best
One of Bourbon Review’s 55 Best

I was accompanied by two Beerchaser Regulars –  Schwabe Williamson attorney, Dan Eller and Merrill Lynch financial adviser, Mike Jones, in addition to a novice – commercial real estate guru, Dan Swift of Cushman & Wakefield.  On a sweltering afternoon, we thought it was a good idea to bring Dan because of his statement, “Bourbon is a good way to chase the taste of all that water I drink when it is hot.”

Miles is a celebrity, of sorts, and knows his spirits: “You may recognize Miles, the scruffy and amiable bartender who has appeared on local Fox network affiliate KPTV’s show “Good Day Oregon” to give some mixology pointers.”  (About.com Travel)

One of the nice features of the old structure is the multiple room or alcoves which provide some muffling of the sound and allow a conversation.  The patio is wonderful and on the ground level there is a separate bar – The Downs (open on Fridays and Saturdays and for private parties) that one reviewer labeled, “One of the closest things to a speakeasy type lounge (without being a speakeasy) we have in NW Portland.”

The "Brain Trust" killing some brain cells on the patio

The “Brain Trust” killing some brain cells on the patio

Distinctive Characteristics

The cocktails (and the beer…) – the Pope has an impressive list of cocktails: “Ask Miles and the rest of the knowledgeable staff to send some of those pointers your way and to craft something for you based on your predispositions. And check on the special barrel-aged cocktails and various infusions in the works.”  (About.com Travel) 

Three of the nine Happy Hour Specials

Three of the nine Happy Hour Specials

We tried several of their nine Happy Hour Specials : the Palm Beach Special (gin, sweet vermouth and grapefruit)Black Ginger (jim bean black, ginger syrup and soda), the Hot Toddy (bourbon, lemon, honey and spices) and our group’s favorite – the Half Man (4 roses bourbon, vermouth, rocks, twist). 

The Pope also has fourteen other cocktails and six Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.  And for good measure, nine rotating draft beers!

P1030506The Bourbon Derby – while the cocktails are great, the Pope is very serious about its bourbon.   As proof, check out the numerous horseshoe plaques hanging on the walls commemorating those who are “winners” of the Bourbon Derby – partaking of fifty different bourbons (not necessarily in one setting). 

And there are formal rules to garner the plaque and a lifetime discount at the Pope, to wit: “Bourbon purchases must be full shots for full purchase price to qualify. Half shots, tasters, flights, and cocktails do not count…” 

and

“Only bourbons count – Scotch Whiskeys, Canadian Whiskeys, American Whiskeys, and other liquors do not.”

The Bourbon Derby is "wildly popular."

The Bourbon Derby is “wildly popular.”

The number of plaques affirms Mile’s statement that the Derby has been “wildly popular.”  Derby membership comprises about an equal number of males and females and one can’t help but be amazed at Christine Vu, the only Three Bagger (150 different bourbons).

Chris Stearns - Three Bagger - he takes "My Old Kentucky Home literally."

Christine Vu – Three Bagger – she takes “My Old Kentucky Home literally.”

 

 

A little detective work reveals that Christine “walks the talk” as she is the Co-chair of the Portland chapter of Women Who Whiskey – an experimental whiskey club for women started in New York City and whose mission is:

“Both for amateurs and connoisseurs, Women Who Whiskey gives our members the opportunity to learn about varieties of whiskeys and cocktail culture, and to join a network of young women with a taste for curiosity and strong drinks. We host events in different venues around our chapter cities, where members can try new spirits, discuss mixology with seasoned bartenders, and enjoy the company of other whiskey-loving ladies.”

P1030507No one could question her commitment, most notably because a shot of traditional old standards (Four Roses, Old Crow, etc.) runs between $5 to $14   My favorite “Rebel Yell” was a reasonable $6 while the “Top Shelf” bourbons included A.H. Hirsch Reserve (16-year) where a 1 ounce shot would cost you $100.  Or if you want to sample a variety of whiskeys, try one of their eight “Flights” ranging from $14 to $55 for three half-pours.

And at the Pope, they take their craft seriously with special events such as an Annual Kentucky Derby Party with “music, mint juleps, and the big race!”  – also a hat contest.  Miles even teaches a class – Bourbon 101 (“The class combines great information about  ‘America’s Native Spirit’, samplings of different bourbons, and light appetizers in The Downs at the Pope House.”)  So if you have a group of six, who for $60 each want to learn from the experts, sign up.

Small alcoves or rooms provide a nice ambiance and minimize the noise

Small alcoves or rooms provide a nice ambiance and minimize the noise

The Food  – While we did not sample the food, reviews are very positive and those around us on the patio who were eating echoed their approval of the presentation and the menu selection.

It is a very nice combination with a “Down South” emphasis ranging from hush-puppies to Texas Frito pie to jambalaya to catfish and chips and a lot more. The prices are very reasonable especially during Happy Hour (daily from 4:00 to 7:00 and all-day on Sunday).

The themed art is a nice touch

The themed art is a nice touch

If one is looking for a criticism of this establishment, it would have to be that the parking can be a challenge.  That said, after reviewing over 100 Portland bars, taverns and brewpubs on Thebeerchaser’s Tour since 2011, the Pope was clearly one of my favorites – combining a quality environment, knowledgeable and friendly staff, a great selection of beer, cocktails and whiskey and great food – definitely worth a short to moderate walk from your car.

Mike Jones and Dan Eller - also fans of the Pope (even if they are Protestant)

Mike Jones and Dan Eller – also fans of the Pope (even if they are Protestant)

 

 

That said and without Thebeerchaser trying to give management advice to a staff that clearly is ahead of the curve, the Pope might want to consider implementing a shuttle service from an area which would allow patrons to leave their vehicles away from the bustling NW 21st Avenue parking nightmare.

And what better method of shuttling than to use a vehicle based on an internationally famous prototype – The Popemobile.  And no need on this model for bullet-proof glass or space for those transported to stand.   It might be advisable to have the driver avoid wearing a white hat, but you get the idea.

Brand-name shuttle transportation

Brand-name shuttle transportation

The Pope Bourbon Lounge

2075 NW Glisan

 

Sour mash is a process in the distilling industry that uses material from an older batch of mash to start fermentation in the batch currently being made, analogous to the making of sourdough bread. The term sour mash can also be used as the name of the type of mash used in that process, and a whiskey made using this process can be referred to as a sour mash whiskey. Sour mash does not refer to the flavor of the whiskey, as is sometimes thought.  (Wikipedia)

 

Part III -Thebeerchaser Does Colorado – Fort Collins and Colorado Springs

P1020999
Colorado aspens in the fall
Thebeerchaser and spouse, Janet, road-tripping in Colorado
Thebeerchaser and spouse, Janet, road-tripping in Colorado

 Followers of Thebeerchaser blog may remember the first two narratives on our Colorado trip in the fall of 2014 – a general description of the fifteen-day trip and reviews of venues in the Boulder area.

Posts about local Portland watering holes and a twelve-day trip to the Southeast (Atlanta, Asheville, Charleston and Savannah) have delayed the final posts on our trip to the highest state, but establishments in Fort Collins and Colorado Springs are below.

Professor Tom Noel's book - an invaluable Beerchaser reference
Professor Tom Noel’s book – an invaluable Beerchaser reference

  Chicago Tribune Beer and Travel Writer, Josh Noel, in an article originally published in 2010 asked and answered the question: “The air is clean and the skiing is great, but do you know what really inspires fervor in the Rockies?  —Beer.”   

(I wonder if he is related to Dr. Thomas Noel, the author of Colorado: A Liquid History and Tavern Guide to the Highest State, cited in Thebeerchaser’s previous Colorado posts as well as below?)

Josh Noel’s article describes New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins as “(setting) the standard for craft beer success. (There are now 280 breweries in Colorado)  Founded in a basement in 1991, it has become the nation’s seventh-largest brewery on the strength of its Fat Tire Amber Ale and more daring offerings…”   

A chance Oregon meeting of my wife, Janet, and New Belgium Executive, Shawn Hines (he’s worked at NB since 2003 and his official title is Field Branding Manager and Pharoah of Phlow) when he and his wife, Allison, were wine tasting in Oregon’s Yamhill Valley, yielded an invitation to visit New Belgium’s brewery and two passes to the very popular New Belgium tour.

New Belgium - a great employer and major player in the US Micro-craft industry
New Belgium – a great employer and major player in the US Micro-craft industry

 

And according to multiple sources, based on its enlightened management style and benefits, New Belgium is THE place to work in Fort Collins.  Outside Magazine named it the No. 7 in its list of Best Places to Work in 2014 and it has cracked the Top 20 list six times – named No. 1 in 2008.

The impressive Fort Collins brewery - and Asheville N.C. comes on line in late 2015

The impressive Fort Collins New Belgium brewery – and Asheville N.C. comes on line in late 2015

                        ———–

 

Any job opening has a flood of applications and there are great promotion opportunities.  Our charismatic tour guide, Marie, is living proof.  She started as a fork-lift operator in the warehouse and has now worked there almost ten  years.

Marie told us that her forthcoming one-month paid sabbatical is standard for ALL employees after ten years, as is a Fat Tire Bicycle on their first anniversary and an all-expense trip to Belgium to learn more about the brewing legacy after five years.

New Belgium guide, Marie and Janet Williams

New Belgium guide, Marie and Janet Williams

They also have a great benefit package with one unusual perk: “Co-workers also receive a 12-pack of Employee Beer each week and an opportunity to enjoy (1) shift beer after docking out after their shift.” (I guess “opportunity” means it’s not mandatory!)

I can taste the Fat Tire now.....

I can taste the Fat Tire now…..

The majority of time slots for the tour are filled for the next 2.5 months and it was interesting plus a chance to taste about seven of the beers during the 90-minute walk through their facilities.

New Belgium will open a new brewery in Asheville, North Carolina in late 2015, which will enhance its scope and distribution.  The company also has an outstanding reputation for its sustainability and environmental ethics.

Automation at New Belgium

Automation at New Belgium

Marie enthusiastically explains barrel aging on the tour

Marie enthusiastically explains barrel aging on the tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Collins, home of Colorado State University is also a typical college-town with great bars.  While time limited our selection we visited a wonderful  historic bar – The Town Pump, established in 1909 and right on College Avenue downtown.

The Town Pump - since 1909
The Town Pump – since 1909

 

According to Dr. Noel, it’s the oldest watering hole in Fort Collins and sits in an historic structure built in 1897.  “It’s a tiny, dark, old-fashioned saloon.  An armadillo greets customers from atop the miniature back-bar, and numerous other stuffed animals watch glassy-eyed from the walls …….(including) a horned bobcat on the back-bar.”

Authentic dive-bar character...
Authentic dive-bar character…

We were there on a Friday night when it was jammed with college-kids, regulars and tourists (like us).

Checking ID's on Saturday night at the Town Pump

Checking ID’s at the Town Pump

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Noel does a good job integrating history in his reviews and stated, “During Prohibition, this was a drugstore with a speakeasy in the basement.  Booze came out of the closet for good in 1936, when the drugstore was reborn as the Town Pump.  Because Fort Collins was a semi-dry town until 1969, this place was allowed to serve only 3.2 beer.”   P1020958

This fact and the idiosyncratic law prohibiting most grocery stores from selling anything but “near-beer,” evokes the quote from Prohibition years, “Whoever called it near-beer, was a poor judge of distance.”

While there were a number of other great options, we had to limit our other Fort Collins venues to dinner and beer at The Mayor of Old Town.  This pub, which was on the 2012 Draft Magazine 100 Best Beer Bars and Craftbeer.com’s Top Fifteen Beer Bars in America the same year, is locally owned.

100 Beers on Tap at the Mayor of Old Town

Like many on the Draft Magazine list it has over 100 beers on tap and is more about beer selection than ambiance although they did have good pub food and the service was excellent notwithstanding the bustling Friday night crowd.

The Mayors Bar

The Mayor’s Bar

And as we headed south to Colorado Springs, we left what has been named The Napa Valley of Beer”– the area between Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. This moniker is understandable, because it has the Coors, New Belgium and Avery breweries in addition to “six-dozen other award-winning brewpubs and micro-breweries.” (Denver Visitors’ Bureau).  It’s also called the Denver Beer Triangle.

While Colorado Springs does not compare with Fort Collins’ charm or the number and quality of bars and brewpubs, the trip there was memorable with great scenery including the impressive Garden of the Gods Park.

Thebeerchaser rests during our hike

Thebeerchaser rests during our hike

P1030009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—-

We also visited the 18,500 acre US Air Force Academy and marveled at the renowned Chapel as well as being impressed when we witnessed the 4,000+ Cadet Wing assemble and march to lunch.

P1030029

My interest in visiting the underground bunker at Cheyenne Mountain and see the nearby NORAD headquarters was squashed when I learned that they no longer have tours – somewhat understandable given the state of security in today’s world.  I guess I will have to be satisfied with what I remember from the portrayal in Dr. Strangelove and Fail-Safe – movies from my youth.

————

An impressive architectural vision - the Academy Chapel

An impressive architectural vision – the Academy Chapel

The Cadet Wing assembles

The Cadet Wing assembles

P1030023

 

 

 

 

 

In downtown Colorado Springs, we hit the Ritz Bar and Grill – this time on a Saturday night and it was rockin’.  We were attracted by the historic building and although I love beer, a good martini is an invitation not to be denied.

As Dr. Noel states in his book:

“Colorado’s largest martini can be found in the Art Deco watering hole.  Bright neon lights, marble counters and chrome fixtures are nifty……This bright high-ceilinged space in the turn-of-the-century Carleton Building retains its Roman tile floor from its former life as a music store (also a beauty saloon and barber shop according to the bartender).”

Blair and her outstanding dirty gin martini (up with olives..)

Blair and her outstanding dirty gin martini (up with olives..)

 

And Blair, our friendly bartender, mixed a great martini. The description from the Ritz website is a good description:

Saturday night at the Ritz

Saturday night at the Ritz

“The friendly, nostalgic atmosphere of the Ritz Grill has been a longtime favorite of the downtown crowd. The Ritz has been a Tejon Street hot spot for more than 15 years, and has gained notoriety for its food, cocktails, and live music……After 9 pm, the Ritz begins its transformation into downtown’s premier nightclub. Friday and Saturday, the Ritz features the best in Colorado live music with absolutely no cover charge.”

Although the menu and the food at the Ritz looked very good, we wanted to hit one more establishment before heading back to Breckenridge the next day, so we had dinner at the Phantom Canyon Brewing – a few blocks from the Ritz.

This inauspicious brewery and pub advertises as the oldest brewery in Colorado Springs – opened in 1993 – also in an historic building on the National Historic Register.

Opened in 1993

Opened in 1993

The structure, built in 1901, was the Cheyenne Building and originally the local offices of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.  It was renovated in 1909 and re-opened as the Cheyenne Hotel.

An historic 1901 building

An historic 1901 building

They have a typical pub menu (we had delicious hamburgers and pizza ) and thirteen of their own draft beers plus a good selection of bottled beers.  We enjoyed the Inside Out Pilsner and a zesty 42 Seconds (Peppercorn Saison) which lived up to its billing -“brewed with rye and a four peppercorn blend that gives it a nice spicy character.”

And on the second floor is “the most elegant Billiard Hall in Colorado Springs” – with ten pool tables, dart boards, a jukebox and flat screens scattered throughout.

The Phantom Canyon bar

The Phantom Canyon bar

 

 

 

And one more excerpt from Tom Noel’s book:

“The unusual 1902 Brunswick backbar came from the Depot Bar in Pueblo;s Union Station.  Besides oak arches framing its mirrors, the bar has stained-glass Art Nouveau panels that are electrically backlighted, giving it a holy glow.”

The next morning we headed back to our Breckenridge condo for the final part of our Colorado stay.  The time on the road, while not lengthy, brings to mind a great quote on road trips from novelist, Lee Child in his book, Never Go Back:

“There were cities and there was countryside. There were mountains and there were valleys.  There were rivers.  There were museums and music and motels and clubs and diners and bars and buses.  There were battlefields and birthplaces and legends and roads.  There was company if I wanted it and there was solitude if I didn’t.”

An ode to Road Trips

An Ode to Road Trips

The Yamhill Pub – A Dive Bar with Character or Grunge?

the Yamhill Pub - Dive or Grunge - or is there a difference?

The Yamhill Pub – Dive or Grunge – or is there a difference?

One of the wide-ranging debates in contemporary society – rivaling that of climate change, the future of Congress as a viable institution and gun control is that of the definition of dive bars i.e. how does one determine if the PBR he is drinking is consumed in a true dive bar or a trendy hole-in-the-wall that tries to masquerade as one (or is there even a level below “dive bar”?)

Justice Stewart - probably raised a mug in some dive bars

Justice Stewart – probably raised a mug in some dive bars

Some will reference the late Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart’s threshold test for obscenity when he wrote in his legendary opinion about pornography, “I know it when I see it.” 

Others try to identify specific dive bar characteristics,as exemplified by reference sources used by Thebeerchaser in his journey to visit bars, taverns and pubs in Portland – and subsequently, other locales including Europe, Alaska, Colorado, the South and Oregon regions east of the Cascades, and on the Oregon Coast.

seattle-dive-bars

An invaluable Beerchaser reference source

For example, my favorite from pages 9-10 of Seattle’s Best Dive Bars by Mike Seely:

“Some dives have vomit-caked toilet seats in the bathroom; others have cracked vinyl booths in the barroom.  Some have nicotine-stained murals dating back to the Depression; others have drink prices that seemingly haven’t wavered since then……..But really, no collection of characteristics can be melded to truly define what makes a bar a dive…..The term “dive’”is bestowed with a spoonful of love….What they have in common aren’t so much attributes, but a state of mind — you just know one when you see one.    

The Yukon Tavern - one of Portland's other dive bars

The Yukon Tavern – one of Portland’s other dive bars

Dive bars is one of the subsets of venues reviewed on the home page of this blog and of the approximately 115+ bars reviewed since August 2011, about fifteen have been so categorized including Portland’ dives the Ship Tavern, Bar of the GodsJoe’s Cellar, the Yukon Tavern and Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage Alaska to name a few.

And up North - Darwin's Theory in Anchorage

And up North – Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage

 —————

The Yamhill Pub in downtown Portland is the latest addition to the class, although I would submit that this historic bar may be submerged one additional step below “dive” to “grunge,” as discussed below.  In this scholarly discussion, I will first quote in full, the summary paragraph from Portland Barfly, because it so eloquently captures the “aura.”

“A genuine dive-bar lurking midst the downtown shopping arcade, the Yamhill Pub maintains an unreconstructed seediness through blaring juke, food…

Toilet No. 1

Bathroom No. 1

(and, for that matter, toilets) best avoided, actively-encouraged graffiti upon the smoke-stained walls, pennies-a-serving pitchers, and a fiercely-protective cadre of underemployed regulars (seniors, rockers, bike messengers) willing to throw themselves in front of Hummers to prevent the forces of gentrification. Intimidating for the first-time visitor, but that’s sort of the point.”

The bar at the Yamhill

The bar at the Yamhill

 And this excerpt from one of the Bar Fly reviewers in 2011 is edifying albeit puzzling,  “Yamhill IS the  bar in all of Portland, if not the world. I love it and will never stop drinking there.” 

You will not find the Yamhill Pub in the annual Willamette Week Bar Guide nor will it ever be one of the five Portland watering holes in Draft Magazine’s exclusive list of Best 100 Beer Bars in the United States

I visited the Yamhill three times – once with the Portland State University Athletic Department’s erstwhile, Denny Ferguson.  He also accompanied me at prior visits to the Cheerful Tortoise and The Cheerful Bullpen.  I also had an afternoon beer on my second visit with Merrill Lynch financial wizard, Mike Jones (also a Beerchaser at the Oregon Public House).

Beerchaser Regular - Dennis B. Ferguson (Fergy)

Beerchaser Regular – Dennis B. Ferguson (Fergy) with Thebeerchaser logo and PBR!

 

P1030195

Beerchaser and financial wizard, Mike Jones

 

 

 

——-

What “distinguishes” the Yamhill?

The Bathrooms – the bathrooms are most often characterized with adjectives similar to this description in 2010: “Bathrooms are disgusting,” and brought current by this Yelp reviewer in 2015: “The restrooms (were) just sick,” – both patrons evidently not disturbed by the fact that one of the heads has no lock on the door.

———–

Bathroom No. 2 - also no paradise!

Bathroom No. 2 – also no paradise!

These hieroglyphics are not of an intellectual bent...

These hieroglyphics are not of an intellectual bent…

The Graffitias you can see from the picture, every conceivable space in the one-room bar is covered with words and phrases accumulated through the years since it’s opening in 1939, and the same is true on the bathroom walls.

While some neat classic beers signs and one for Camel Cigarettes were displayed, there was a real paucity of the good memorabilia – okay junk – that typifies many dive bars and adds to the character because there are usually stories behind them.  Unfortunately, the graffiti, rather than offering the usual range of intellectual expressions and philosophical albeit trite drivel, was either indecipherable scribbling or obscenities ranging from one or two words to more graphic short phrases.  P1030321 P1030324

The only exception I found, notwithstanding a zealous search, was this truism which might be a suitable campaign slogan for Hillary Clinton:

“To be one with your weaknesses, is your greatest strength.”

And immediately below this phrase to add context –  if not a verifiable scientific hypothesis:  “You smell better when you are asleep.”

The Clientele – unlike a number of social media comments suggested, we did not find a group of hostile regulars who resent any new patron as an interloper. The approximately fifteen-seat bar was filled on each visit with a diverse group (male and female and a broad age demographic) ranging from tattooed punkers, a jovial drunk, some blue-collar serious beer drinkers to a few office workers – presumably downtown employees.

P1030325

On my third and final visit over the lunch hour, I sat at the bar next to a guy who was on his second Rainier Tall Boy when I sat down.  After spilling a good part of the second can on the bar which went on to his t-shirt, he told me that he was “getting ready” for his 1:30 court appearance for second degree trespassing.  (I did not suggest to him that the judge was probably not going to be impressed with his pre-function.)

The bartender on each visit was friendly and his conversation with those at the bar was ongoing. Unfortunately, it was difficult to the point of unattainable to carry on a conversation because the rock music pumping out of the juke-box was so loud.

The Food and Beer – Most of the dive bars reviewed at least have decent grub which helps one appreciate the usual lack of selection of quality beers; however, at the Yamhill, there is a microwave for popcorn or for a limited menu of frozen “treats” such as wings, corn dogs, chicken strips or lasagna and mac & cheese (the latter two obviously to be avoided).

Kevin, the owner and bartender, told me that you can also bring your own food in although besides a Subway and the YUMM Chinese restaurant, there’s not much near by.   (Warning – you might get beaten up if you bought food in a YUMM container.)

And by the way, don’t look for a website with their menu, the beers on tap or anything for that matter.  They do have a surprisingly decent selection of beer with ten on tap, including Blue Moon, Widmer Hefeweizen, Georgetown Porter, Oakshire Amber, Sam Adams Nitro Stout and Alameda’s Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA.  (Mike and I downed draft Blue Moons – as expected, the standard orange slice on our class was missing!)

The Standard at Yamhill!

No. 18 in North America in 2012!

Denny and I had PBR’s – $1.50 during Happy Hour and the bartender affirmed the astounding claim that the Yamhill is the top seller of PBR in Oregon (“We have four kegs of it on tap daily“).

Not only that, but at one time in the ’90’s they were #5 in North America!!  Before I could scoff, he pointed out this PBR sign from 2012 – Number 18 in North America in PBR sales.  Perhaps it’s the special they advertise “$3 for a pint of PBR and a shot of Old Taylor Whiskey.”

Thebeerchaser has used more quotes than typical in this post; however, they are so rich that they are worth sharing and it is fitting to close with the following two:

“The Yamhill Pub is a glorious sh*t crater. It’s a hole, a mess, a f*ing dive. The walls and floors and sundry surfaces are more graffiti-ed than not, and the pub certainly came by every squiggle honestly. Plastic cups do for the dirt-cheap well drinks, and the very idea of ordering any kind of cocktail seems vastly inappropriate.

The only thing that clashes with the Yamhill’s perfect image of a dive is the surprisingly decent collection of taps. Even in the midst of punk squalor, Portlanders still demand a decent IPA. The Yamhill Pub is amazing. It’s perfect. Never go there. You’ll ruin it.”  (Joe Streckert – Portland Mercury)        

Any bets on the five-year scenario?

Any bets on the five-year scenario?

And this one from a regular I chatted with briefly about Thebeerchaser blog. He ended our conversation with the lament, “Mark my words, this place will be gone in five years and that will be a tragedy.”

Although the Yamhill Pub is a grunge pit – He’s correct.

The Yamhill Pub

223 SW Yamhill

Brannons’ in Beaverton…..Part I

 P1030181

Beaverton is not the sexiest location for a brewery compared to venues such as Bend, Hood River or Astoria, but at least it has more suburban panache than Gresham.  That said, Brannons’ Pub and Brewery is a classy new watering hole – one that replaces the notorious Blue Iguana and brews excellent beer along with great food.

Thebeerchaser and Kevin Brannon

Thebeerchaser and Kevin Brannon

Kevin Brannon, the co-owner, is also a good friend, having practiced law at my former firm, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt before he decided to return to his “roots” in the brewery business – as stated in the recent Willamette Week review, “(the beer is for now) decidedly classic, a reflection of owner, Kevin Brannon, who’s pinponged between corporate law and brewpubbing for for the past twenty years.”

So let’s define “ping ponged,” by giving some interesting history on Kevin while also gaining a brief perspective on The Blue Iguana.  In 1991 Kevin, after practicing law for a number of years, in a fit of entrepreneurial risk, co-founded and built a very successful brewery – the Frederick Brewing Company – in Maryland and managed its amazing expansion until it became one of the largest craft breweries in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.

This former attorney with an infectious grin and dry sense of humor was an outstanding business and corporate lawyer whose clients loved him.  He  joins a number of his legal brethren I have met since Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs commenced.

The scales of justice - can also used to measure brewing components....

The scales of justice – can also used to measure brewing components….

They’ve become interested in brewing – first as a hobby, and then decide they enjoy the challenge of concocting the right blend of barley, malt and hops more than they enjoy analyzing the Rules of Hearsay in the Federal Evidence Code (including exceptions and exemptions…..)

P1030163My two trips to Brannon’s – once for the pre-opening with my wife and once with a group of tax lawyers – impressed me with the quality of their beer, the kitchen and the manner in which Kevin has used technology to give his patrons options while drinking.

Technology at each table...
Technology at each table…

 

Thebeerchaser has found that the history of watering holes is often very interesting and Brannons’ is no exception.  The Blue Iguana was a restaurant and Latin night club where one could gorge on large servings, drink margaritas, salsa dance and maybe even hire a contract killer.  As described in a 2009 Willamette Week review:

As much of sleepy Beaverton shuts down for the night, the Blue Iguana’s neon sign lights up Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard. Large men in dark clothing block the club’s doorway. “I need to pat the guys down to check for weapons,” one says. “The ladies can just go in.”

Past the first set of glass doors, a woman behind a ticket counter says, “Twenty-five dollars, por favor.”   Inside a second set of glass doors is a large room with a bar and two dance floors (one of them elevated) where couples grind to pounding music.

Most of the men are wearing cowboy hats, tight denim pants and cowboy boots. The women wear high heels and very tight everything. At 1 am, many people are just starting to arrive at the Blue Iguana, which stays open until 3 am.

Or check out this headline and excerpt from KGW.com in 2012: “Beaverton bar fight ends with man being run over.  KGW spoke with the property manager of the Blue Iguana who said police are often called to the Latin night club. She said she was not surprised to hear about the incident and the bar has problems with fights spilling out into the parking lot.”

And not to belabor the point, but one other review from a few years back also offers some insight:

I was thrown out Saturday night for having the nerve to type on my laptop at the bar. Owner sez he’s afraid someone will spill a watery margarita on my Dell and he’ll be liable. This, from a place that probably sends a truckload of drunks onto Cedar Hills Boulevard every weekend night. Perhaps I should have tried to convince him that all of the cinnamon roll crumbs would absorb any oopsies. Skip ’em, I say.

Wikimedia commons - public domain (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angus_bellowing.jpg) by Sallico 1/9/2009

Black Angus – more docile although less profitable than Blue Iguanas…

Well, things were a lot calmer when Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Steak House was the tenant, although it brings back memories of a franchise which had better baked potatoes than filets.  As an aside, the owner of the Black Angus group filed for bankruptcy in 2004 with approximately $202 million in debt and an annual loss of $32.5 million.  In 2009, the group attempting to rebrand and remodel the chain also went banko.  (Wikipedia)

Frederick Brewing Company

Frederick Brewing - Getting started....

Frederick Brewing – Getting started….

The story of Frederick Brewing (FBC) is interesting and an enterprauenerial success story that could be a blog post in itself.  With some of the pictures and stories Kevin related while I was drinking one of the Brannon beer samplers, his east-coast brewing journey is worth summarizing:

Brannon is from humble roots – Lebanon, Oregon and went to Stanford for his undergraduate degree where he walked-on and made the baseball team.  He became a community organizer in Montana during the coal boom.  Unlike the incumbent with a similar background, he didn’t think that qualified him to run for President of the United States, so he enrolled in Willamette Law School’s excellent combined MBA/Law Degree program.

Happiness is a young lawyer with capitalist inclinations.....

Happiness is a young lawyer with capitalist inclinations…..

While learning to analyze torts and discounted cash flow models, he also started brewing beer.   After passing the bar in 1984, he practiced at NW firm, Preston, Gates and Ellis for seven years before being lured to West Virginia with his fiancé.

He denies any assertion that the country classic, “She was only a whiskey maker, but I loved her still,” had anything to do with their move east.  Actually, it was one of his clients who persuaded him.  The options were to either open a fly shop or a brewery so in 1991, after purchasing a Smith Carona word processor, selling his house and cashing in his 401(k) he made the leap.

Brannon and his partners wrote their business plan, soliciting investors and did their “pilot brewing” in a rented 18th– century house in West Virginia, where they brewed in the cellar (improved by dumping lime and a bunch of ¾ inch gravel on the floor – one reason why he was separated from the Environmental lawyers at Schwabe Williamson)

As Brannon relates it:

The first leased quarters were in this building

The first leased quarters were in this building

 Armed with little more than $200,000 in investor dollars and more confidence than common sense, we leased a building in downtown Frederick…….Because we had a deal to supply our Blue Ridge Golden Ale to the new stadium housing the Frederick Keys – the Single A affiliate of the Orioles – we bought a couple hundred “nasty old kegs and contracted with a now defunct Michigan brewery to produce it.  

A much younger, Kevin Brannon inspecting his product in Frederick, Md.

A much younger, Kevin Brannon inspecting his product in Frederick, Md.

We were under construction so we leased a falling-down warehouse, bought and repainted a refridgerated truck from a peach farmer and started selling beer to the ballpark and local bars.  It only took five months from funding to our first batch – this depite the fact that we decided to save money and time by skipping the permitting process, renting chain saws and clearing the back of the property ourselves.  (Another reason Kevin was located on a different floor than the firm’s Environmental Group when he was at Schwabe.)

Ignorance of the law works if you don't get caught.....

Ignorance of the law works if you don’t get caught…..

 I gave three free brewery tours every weekend for more than nine  straight months and on most weekends after that for 2.5 years.  I filled the tasting room with beer memorabilia from defunct eastern US breweries to complement the brewing history speech I gave at the beginning of every tour.

Thanks to an idiosyncratic law, we were allowed to sell beer in the new brewery’s taproom though still not sell it on the premises for money, but at least the sales paid for the free beer we gave away on the tours!   

A tour of the young brewery ended in the taproom with free beer

A tour of the young brewery ended in the taproom with free beer

The bottling was "painfully slow."

The bottling was “painfully slow.”

The bottling line was painfully slow and completely manual except for the bottle/filler/capper and labeling machine. Shelf life was pretty good. 

After the 1996 Initial Public Offering, their brewing facilities were pretty close to the then state of the art.

State of the Art Brewing

State of the Art Brewing

The demand soared – by their first anniversary party, they were brewing as fast as they could but completely sold out by the week of the party so they had to “beg” one of their retailers to sell a keg back so they had their own beer for the staff celebration.

“In 1997-98, we purchased two local competitors within a few weeks of each other – Wild Goose and Brimstone breweries and merged them into ours.  We brewed their brands after that which was pretty much the high-water mark for the company.”

Brewhouse Controls

Brewhouse Controls

Kevin and his partner, Steve Nordahl and two other early FBC staff went on to found their own breweries. Nordahl is now the owner/brewer of Lone Peak Brewery and Pub in Big Sky, Montana. The drummer in the picture went on to found a brewpub called Blue Moon in Savannah, Georgia.

The guy playing the guitar in the photo below (Matt Swihart) moved to Oregon and worked at Full Sail and then Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River. Based on their anniversary party dilemma, he wrote and performed a song named, “The Brewery That Had No Beer.”                                                                      

Repurposed dairy tanks in the back - used to age their lagers

Repurposed dairy tanks in the back – used to age their lagers

           

Matt __ sings, "The Brewery That Ran Out of Beer"

Matt Swihart sings, “The Brewery That Had No Beer”

 

 

 

 

 

The intense effort that went into making a successful brewery took its toll, and Brannon, as the Brewery’s legal counsel, found himself doing more desk work than he wanted so he and has partners sold the brewery to Snyder International in 1999.  By then, it had grown into one of the mid-Atlantic region’s largest independent craft breweries.

Frederick Brewery Annual Meeting

Frederick Brewery Annual Meeting

Consistent with his desire to follow a respectable and traditional Lawyer/MBA path, he and his wife decided to move to the Bahamas, where they leased a house on the beach and became scuba diving instructors in an eco-resort….

Business was great during the tech boom, with many wealthy tourists moving or vacationing in paradise, but this traffic dried up – immediately when the boom turned bust in 2000 – as most of us remember from our 401(k) balances.  They moved back to Oregon and Kevin returned to the same desk at Preston Gates until he moved to the Schwabe firm in 2004 followed by his own practice at Brannon Law PC.

The Second Brannon Brewery – This Time in Beaverton

P1030165

The Brannons’ Kitchen was Busy at the Pre-opening Event

After several years of planning, his pre-opening event was in early October 2014, when he had three of his own beers on tap – that has now grown to nine.  Stay tuned for Part II on Kevin Brannon’s newest venture Brannons’ Pub and Brewery including an interesting lunch with five tax lawyers!!!

You can't miss with the Brannon Beer Sampler...
You can’t miss with the Brannon Beer Sampler…

 

 

Beerchasing in Colorado Part II – The Boulder Area

The Beavs beat the Buffaloes in Boulder - note the orange contingent on the right

The Beavs beat the Buffaloes in Boulder – note the orange contingent on the right

Our trip to Colorado both started and ended in Boulder – a delightful college town in which we visited five interesting establishments and also saw the Oregon State Beavers capture one of their few football wins in 2014 – and what an impressive stadium!

  As the University of Colorado’s Dr. Thomas Noel wrote in his book, A Liquid History of the Highest State:

Boulder has insulated itself from the rest of Colorado with miles of open space and some peculiar laws.  These have ranged from a ban on alchohol to a pacifist foreign policy that bans nuclear weapons within the city limits. (Probably not a bad idea for any college town….)

Among Boulder’s quirks was a Prohibition ordinance not repealed until 1967.  Initially, this was a wet town. ‘I have never seen a city of this size, with so many saloons and so few drunks,’ (marveled one reporter in 1880.)

Near Beer -  The beer drinker's equivalent to Mitt Romney (public domain)

Near Beer – The beer drinker’s equivalent to Mitt Romney (public domain)

 And beware if you buy beer in any retail outlet in Colorado.   All they can sell is 3.2  or “Near Beer” – a questionable euphemism.   According to a recent article in 5280 Denver Magazine, …..3.2 beer still made sense when 18 year-olds could buy it (repealed in 1987), and when it was the only beer you could buy on Sundays (forgone in 2008). So, why has the 3.2 portion of remained unchanged?”

While many Oregonians think the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) is an unnecessary bureaucracy, we have found on recent trips to Utah and Colorado that their beer codes are worse.  3.2 beer is tantamount to being a Republican and having Mitt Romney as the Presidential nominee.  It’s like being told you are going to the Tofu Trattoria for Thanksgiving Dinner.  It’s like……(well, you get the idea!)

Crystal Springs Brewing Co. – Our hosts, the Sengers, are personal friends of Tom and Kristy Horst, the co-owners of this brewery.  Tom is a gifted high-school music teacher who turned his love for home brewing – he and his son started in 1988 – into a thriving business – initially in their garage in 2010 as a home occupation until they expanded in 2013 to a site that could have a taproom in the small municipality of Louisville about ten miles southeast of Boulder.   P1020873

The Sengers with co-owner, Kristy Holtz and ___ in the back

The Sengers with co-owner, Kristy Holtz and staff member, Marilyn Marineeli  in the back

Their mantra is “We only serve beer on special occasions – when it’s snowing and when it’s not snowing….”    

The name has historical ties with the original Crystal Springs founded in 1875 – transitioning to Boulder City Brewery in 1889, which became Crystal Springs Brewing and Ice Company in 1898.  A friend who is an historical buff suggested the current name which was available. They registered the name and obtained the domain rights for Crystal Springs Brewing Co. when they moved in 2013.

An outstanding family brewery with historic ties

An outstanding family brewery with historic ties

They brew in small batches and are thus creative in their offerings –  now about 30 with 13 always available on tap and their website explains the names behind each one.   One of my favorite beers during the entire Colorado trip was their Solano Chili Beer.

They started canning in 2013 and in March, six of their beers will be available by the aluminum route.  Their growth is evidenced by their plan to increase from the current 30 bbls per month to 100 by the end of 2013.  (A barrel is 31 gallons and a standard keg holds one-half of a barrel – a statistic that will give you a more accurate understanding/appreciation of your college consumption…)

The Crystal Springs Taproom

The Crystal Springs Taproom

 

————–

The SinkThis historic bar – founded in 1923 on the hill near the UC campus, has outstanding character and internal idiosyncrasies that make it a must visit.  It boasts that Robert Redford worked there as a janitor in the ’60’s, which led patrons to inquire, “Who is that guy, anyway??”

As Dr. Noel describes it: P1020891

During the 1960’s and 1970’s when I was at CU, students sat around here in puddles of beer, smoked pot, and watched Batman and Star Trek…..Mobs of students consumed oceans of beer by the quart.  After a 1995 restoration, the reincarnated Sink still lives in this two-story house with a tacked-on storefront.

The Sink's version of the Recreation of Man.  The Pope would probably not be impressed....

The Sink’s ceiling version of the Creation of Man. The Pope would probably not be impressed….

 Among gobs of graffiti, the place’s crowning achievement is a re-creation of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Man, with God holding down a Sinkburger to Sink Rats in the “Sink-stine Chapel.”  

Some of the tons of graffiti-art created by San Francisco beatnik artist, Lloyd Kavich

Some of the tons of graffiti-art created by San Francisco beatnik artist, Lloyd Kavich

The bar is a maze-like configuration with many rooms – all with distinctive wall-art and thousands of autographs from students.  Each room has tables crammed with people eating and drinking – it kind of reminded me of an old fraternity house.

P1020889And speaking of The Sinkburger, which was outstanding at $8.50, we laughed at the menu option to upgrade to “Natural Grass-fed Beef” for an additional $2.50.  Given Colorado’s legalization of pot, we wondered how laid-back and happy cattle would taste.  Would their hunger transfer to us?

The onion rings were outstanding too and they also have an expansive menu of sandwiches and pizzas besides eighteen draft beers.

The unannounced visit to The Sink by President Obama on a 2012 campaign trip resulted in a new pizza – The POTUS Pie (pepperoni, Italian sausage, green pepper, black olive, red onion, and mozzarella.)  Evidently, Michelle was not on that trip…..

Waiting for Sink Burgers, onion rings and Rocky Mountain Red Ale from Grand Lake Brewing

Waiting for Sink Burgers, onion rings and Rocky Mountain Red Ale from Grand Lake Brewing

Avery Brewing Company This brewery was recommended by our good West Linn friend, Nancy Martin, and it is an impressive success story.  It was started in 1993 – another father-son home operation – this one by Adam Avery – the first President and Brewmaster and brewed just three flagship beers.

50,000 barrel capacity will double with the new brewery

50,000 barrel capacity will double with the new brewery

The pictures will show they now have a thriving operating, one that has shown continued expansion in facilities to capacity of 50,000 barrels or 1.5 million gallons annually and a national reputation for quality craft beer. It demonstrates the vitality of the craft brewing industry – seen in both Oregon and Colorado.   P1020894

They broke ground in January last year on what the Boulder Daily Camera reports will be “a nearly 96,000-square-foot brewery and restaurant…. a more than $27 million project,” which will double its capacity when it opened a few days ago.  Avery is also known for its sustainability programs and even has a cooperative arrangement with the University of Colorado labeled the Yeast Genome Program.  This is genetic sequencing of yeast strains for quality control in brewing – something that the folks at Anheuser Busch probably don’t worry too much about when producing Bud Light.

Matt - Certified Cicerone and nice guy with the Sengers and Thebeerchaser logo

Matt – Certified Cicerone and nice guy with the Sengers and Thebeerchaser logo

 We visited their Tap Room – now in a new location serving 30 beers on tap  – and their staff was very friendly – most notably, Matt Lambuth, their Certified Cicerone – the second of three levels of certification requiring passing a written exam and “a deep and well-rounded knowledge of beer and beer service as well as competence in assessing beer quality and identity by taste.”  

P1020893Matt gave us a history and a thorough explanation of beer options including multiple tastes to help hone our preferences (Karma BelgianJoe’s Pilsner, Gored – a great pumpkin seasonal and White Rascal Belgium).

Eighteen different Avery beers at their Tap Room
Eighteen different Avery beers at their Tap Room

 

———————–

Gravity Brewing –  While this small brewery and pub started in the fall of 2012 – the first in the Louisville suburb of Boulder does not have the gravitas and ambiance of the first two in this post, it definitely has the coolest logo.

An outstanding logo!

An outstanding logo!

They only produce about 20 barrels per week of their twenty different brews – most with high 8% to 10% ABV or alcohol content – and distribute growlers, kegs and bottled beers.  Both the founder and managing partner are UC engineers and the brewer graduated with a degree in chemistry from Portland’s own Lewis and Clark College.

Facilities in the brew pub

Facilities in the Gravity brew pub

Their brew pub is somewhat sparsely furnished and in a drab commercial building. (The location isn’t pretty.  Swing around the back of Mountain High Appliance, cross a rutty parking lot fronting the American Legion Post III, and walk through an unremarkable front door. Boulder Daily Camera – 8/22/.)

 Interestingly, their kitchen is shared with the local American Legion Post and you can simply walk through a door into another cool bar run by the Legion.  Gravity has live jazz several times each month on Thursday nights.

A shared kitchen....
A shared kitchen….

 

The Taproom - sparsely furnished except for the beers on tap

The Gravity Taproom – sparsely furnished except for the beers on tap

 

 

 

 

—————

Post Brewing Company – We had an excellent dinner at this brewery-restaurant in Lafayette – also near Boulder. Opened in the summer of 2012 in a former VFW hall and as described on their web-site: “A chicken and beer joint where hot chicken loves cold beer, all day long and twice on Sundays.” 

A chicken and beer joint...
A chicken and beer joint…

 

The Post patio
The Post’s expansive beer garden

 

 

They  brew eighteen beers and have a great comfort-food menu including good pizza, but go for the fried or rotisserie chicken. “We’ll have fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, a bunch of appetizers with chicken, drumsticks, a lot of stuff with eggs.”  

And by the way their Howdy Beer – a pilsner – won a Gold Medal at Denver’s 2014 Great American Beer Festival and goes really well with dark meat…..

Is this a Post Growler?

Is this a Post Brewery  Growler?

P1020921

And to close this post, Thebeerchaser can’t resist posting the video below from the Colorado University Stadium during the OSU vs. CU football game.  This provides new insight into the term “Beast Mode” and if Pete Carrol had this running back to carry the ball for the final plays in the Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks would definitely have won.

Beerchasing in the Highest State – Part I

P1020965

Colorado – I have to admit that until last fall, my only knowledge of Colorado breweries harkened back to college years at Oregon State University.  You were a hero with SAE fraternity brothers and could be a babe magnet – at least temporarily –  if you came back from a road trip with a few cases of Coors – brewed in Golden, Colorado.

Coors - the Silver Bullet to popularity in the late '60's

Coors – the Silver Bullet to popularity in the late ’60’s

Coors was then not sold in Oregon because it wasn’t pasteurized.  As a result of its unavailability, it became a delicacy similar to Cuban cigars with the advantage that you were not supporting a communist dictator when you purchased the product.

A state rivaling Oregon in breweries and scenery

A state rivaling Oregon in breweries and scenery

 

 

——

In September 2014, my wife and I spent twelve wonderful days in Colorado, six of which were in a Breckenridge condo.  While we both love Oregon, I was convinced that if we had to choose another home, it would be this state with its majestic mountains, lush forests, lakes, rivers and canyons – and oh yes – bountiful breweries, which although they are not natural wonders, can still make one’s pulse surge with anticipation.

New Belgium Brewery - one of Colorado's best

New Belgium Brewery –  the first in the US to purchase 100% of its electricity from wind generated power

Rocky Mountain National Park's amazing Trail Ridge Road

Rocky Mountain National Park’s amazing Trail Ridge Road

We saw spectacular and fascinating scenery ranging from the Trail Ridge Road, which bisects Rocky Mt. National Park – 48 miles long with eight of those above 11,000 feet (Mt. Hood’s summit is 11,249) – to Garden of the God’s and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The Chapel at the US Air Force Academy

The Chapel at the US Air Force Academy

 —————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our visit concluded watching the Oregon State Beavers beat the Colorado Golden Buffaloes football team in Boulder on a beautiful day. (Please limit your comments re. the Beavers’ final Pac 12 record.)

The Beavs beat the Buffaloes in Boulder - note the orange contingent on the right

The Beavs beat the Buffaloes in Boulder – note the orange contingent on the right

My fondness for Colorado was heightened by the number of breweries and great bars we visited – 18 in twelve days.

Portland purportedly has more craft breweries per capita (76 in the metro area) than any city in the world, and the state of Oregon has a total of 181 – at 6.3 per 100,000 adults – first in the US.

This compares to 175 in Colorado – 4th in the US at 4.7 – where they range from Adolph Coors  Co. – the largest in the world and the formidable New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins to many micro-breweries – eight of which we were fortunate to visit and taste their product.

Don and Janet Williams with our tour guides - the Sengers

Don and Janet Williams with our tour guides – the Sengers

Our philosophy was that the 1.6 breweries per capita fewer in Colorado was the equivalent of being in a bar which had 75 different beers on tap rather than 100 and we would explore notwithstanding the #2 ranking.

We had a great time both at the beginning and end of our trip with good friends, Barb and John Senger – Barb is an OSU grad and both are retired school administrators and were accomplished tour guides.

Their extensive preparation for a Beerchaser tour was evidenced by the copy of an outstanding reference guide awaiting me on arrival – Colorado, a Liquid History & Tavern Guide of the Highest State by Dr. Thomas Noel, a professor at the University of Colorado.

An essential resource for Beerchasing in Colorado
An essential resource for Beerchasing in Colorado

 Dr.Noel states in his introduction that he began surveying bars early when he was  nineteen years old – forty-four years younger than when I commenced Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs.   His ultimate mission makes me consider returning to graduate school – a dissertation in history at UC as follows:

 

An historic example of the venues explored by Dr. Noel and Thebeerchaser
An historic example (in Breckenridge) of the venues explored by Dr. Noel and later by Thebeerchaser

 

 

 

 

For that research, I systematically visited every licensed and unlicensed after-hours club, bar, lounge, nightclub and tavern in Denver – some six hundred establishments…..Since completing the Denver bar survey of 1965 to 1978, I have not been idle.  I have expanded the study, hoping to visit every bar in Colorado.”   

What vision and perseverance!

The good professor promptly returned an e-mail I sent and in his response granted me permission to use excerpts from his book in my blog posts.  He also informed me in his reply that he also authored another book of interest to Beerchasers – Denver: The City and the Saloon. A pearl of wisdom from Dr. Noel:

The tavern as an institution, as well as a building type, is underappreciated.  This book gives a voice to people – and an institution – that usually escape dry history books.  Bars have made and shaped history.  They themselves have revealing histories and are great places to collect tall, short and winding tales.

A notable validation of Dr. Noel's premise from the historic Sink Bar

A notable validation of Dr. Noel’s premise from the historic Sink Bar

Based on my Beerchaser Tour over the last 3 + years, Dr. Noel’s quote hits the mark regardless of whether the venue is in Colorado, Oregon, Amsterdam, Anchorage, Prineville or Port Townsend.

So during our twelve-day trip, what were the eighteeen bars and breweries we visited  and which will be highlighted in three or four subsequent Beerchaser posts?

 

From the Avery Brewery in Boulder

From the Avery Brewery in Boulder

Boulder  Crystal Springs Brewery, The Sink, Avery Brewery, Gravity Brewery, Post Brewery

Fort Collins – The Town Pump, The Mayor of Old Town Bar, New Belgium Brewery

Breckenridge – Angels Hollow Bar, Apres Handcrafted Libations, Breckenridge Brewery, Broken Compass Brewery, The Gold Coin Saloon, Ollies Pub and Grub  P1030035

Colorado Springs – Phantom Canyon Brewery, The Ritz Bar

Dillon Lake –  The Dillon Dam Brewery

P1020937

From Choice City Butchers and Deli in Fort Collins

 

 

 

 

 

One acknowledgement before concluding this post which I would be remiss in omitting.  Our host, John Senger, in addition to having a great feel for selecting quality bars and breweries, also distinguished himself with the quality of his hand-crafted martinis – a libation for which Thebeerchaser is an enthusiastic advocate.

Complementary.  Gin - up with olives!

Complementary: Gin – up with olives!

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

2014 Beerchaser of the Year, Janet Williams

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Harry_Frankfurt

Princeton Professor and author, Dr. Harry Frankfurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

———–

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

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

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

 

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

A hike in Breckenridge

A hike in Breckenridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Mu logo

 ————

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

P1020885

Janet with Barb and John Senger at The Sink in Boulder

 

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

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

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

On the Mediterranean in Italy

On the Mediterranean Sea in Italy

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

On the Rick Steves' Best of Europe Tour

On the Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour

DSCN0699

Hiking in the Colorado aspens

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

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

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland with Mary Maxwell and Roy Lambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—————–

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

March 30, 1980
March 29, 1980

The Marathon Taverna – What’s(a) in(a) a Name(a) ?(a)?

Not what you might expect!

Not what you might expect!

While working in downtown Portland for over thirty years, I would often promise myself that I would pay a visit to the Marathon – a bar housed in an interesting looking building on W. Burnside not too far from Providence Park (aka Civic Stadium).  I figured it was a dive bar with an eclectic group of regulars with a storied history – like some of the classic dive bars I’ve reviewed – Joe’s Cellar in NW Portland and the Ship Tavern in Multnomah Village were stellar.     P1020721

Perhaps it will keep you from reading the remainder of this post, but I was sorely disappointed by this watering hole – a pseudo sports bar with a paucity of character and little to distinguish it.

We should have instead opted for the nearby Cheerful BullPen, which has more character or Claudia’s with a rich history.

The saving grace was being accompanied by Beerchaser regular and Beerchaser-of-the Quarter Jack Faust and his son, Charlie.  Their company and conversation could make a discussion on the Rule Against Perpetuities seem interesting or make a soccer match ending in a scoreless tie, stimulating.  (I would get into trouble by suggesting more globally that such would be the case for any soccer match…..)

Faust & Son with Thebeerchaser logo

The Fausts with thebeerchaser logo

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but one or both have joined me for great trips to the Buffalo Gap Saloon, the Grand Cafe and Bailey’s TapRoomJack’s daughter, Portland radio personality, Amy Faust (99.5 The Wolf), recently Beerchased with us at the Rookery (review still pending).

Upon entering the Marathon Taverna, I raised the question as to why there was an “a” at the end of the word tavern. A taverna is defined as a small Greek café or restaurant.

Not the character or ambiance one would expect on West Burnside

Not the character or ambiance one would expect on West Burnside

There wasn’t any moussaka or souvlaki on the menu and no retsina wine or even ouzo or Mextexa Brandy to drink.  Alas, the only things Greek in this watering hole were Faust who was a Sigma Chi at Oregon, Thebeerchaser – an SAE at Oregon State and a few gyro sandwiches.  Socrates would not be impressed with that line-up.

And what’s with the name Marathon?  The website mentions that the bar – opened in 1974, was originally located in the Acropolis Tavern – also a well known Portland strip club, but whether this heritage is accurate could not be verified.

To better understand the lure of the Marathon, Charlie Faust suggested that instead of driving, we start in Marion County in the city of Donald.  A run to Portland with a short side-trip around Forest Park – would yield a route of 26.2 miles.   We would therefore honor the Greek soldier Pheidippides – who was reported to have died in 490 BC after his run from Marathon to Athens to proclaim the Greek victory over the Persians.  Before dying, he shouted, “We have won!”

I thought this would be fitting, since these are the same words Jack uttered when he represented Bing Russell and the Portland Mavericks in the now famous arbitration with Major League Baseball in the 1970’s and chronicled in the great new documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball.”

Jack Faust ordering a beer from the Marathon Bartender
Jack Faust ordering a beer from the Marathon Bartender

Jack, however, based on his undergraduate and law school days at the University of Oregon, countered with the suggestion that we each drink 8.75 pints of beer to arrive at the 26.2 milestone.  Looking at the photos below will demonstrate that his idea could offer some synchronicity, but his son and I demurred.

Jack Faust drinking a beer at the U of O after a 26 mile swim

Jack Faust drinking a beer at the U of O after a 26 mile swim

 

But we digress.  What was good about the Marathon Taverna?  Well, they have free popcorn – not a Greek dish, but still very good.  There are also a lot of TVs with different sporting events, if that’s what you like with your beer.  A small, but ardent group of  Portland Timber supporters was watching a match on one of the TVs –  20 high definition and a giant 92-inch monster.

Not Mediterranean, but free.
Not Mediterranean, but free.

There are nineteen reasonably-priced beers and also cocktails on their menu – but neither is listed on their website.

A number of reviews are positive about the gyros and the cheeseburgers – and their $2.00 breakfasts served until 2:00 P.M.  But the rather agressive and surly attitude of the staff was also mentioned multiple times in reviews – a downside, especially as you enter.

And this may be because of the physical layout confronting you when entering the bar – the only such arrangement I have seen in visiting over 50 bars in Portland.

There is a bouncer – a security guy, of sorts – sitting at a dias or throne-type arrangement which makes him look – and possibly act like Alexander the Great.  The “welcome” signs shout out, “No soliciting and “No Trespassing.”

Power hungry??

Power hungry??

Portland Barfly sums up this issue and the overall atmosphere of the venue quite well:

The  loyal shift of elderly patrons and the unsmiling doorman – those regulars may have been arriving every morning the past fifty years, but they’d best have their ID on hand to enter – are the only traces of The Marathon’s rather-more-dangerous past.

Plenty of TVs, but where are the grizzled regulars?

Plenty of TVs, but where are the grizzled regulars?

Weekend nights have largely been overtaken by a large, tight-knit, metal-happy, pool-playing, irritatingly-attractive group of twenty-somethings seemingly brought en masse from Beaverton for reasons beyond our imaginings.”

 A sentiment echoed by this excerpt from a City Search review:   Great place with horrible irrational staff – This used to be one of my favorite places until the last two times I’ve gone there, the bouncers have gotten extremely aggressive and kicked me out for no reason.”

Now perhaps the bar’s management feels that they need this type of defensive screening based on its Burnside location although the only altercation I could find occurred in 2008, and did not seem to be too savage.  As reported in Willamette Week:

A University of Portland grad is suing a Vancouver man for subjecting him to an uninvited bear hug outside a dive bar on West Burnside Street. In a lawsuit filed Sept. 10 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Patrick Geraghty claims that Brian Yoakum and his friends were standing outside the Marathon Taverna on Sept. 13, 2008.

Yoakum, “without warning, clutched [Geraghty] in a ‘bear hug’ and twisted [Geraghty’s] body after securing said hold,” the lawsuit says. Geraghty suffered a broken right foot as a result, according to the lawsuit. The suit, filed by Portland lawyer Sanam Dowlatdad, seeks seeks $75,000 for medical bills and lost wages, plus $500,000 for pain and suffering.

We don’t know if this suit settled or was tried, but for those wondering, Sanam Dowlatdad, after graduating from Willamette Law School, worked as Multnomah County Deputy DA and then at the Cosgrove Vergeer Kester law firm, before establishing her own firm in 2011.

Charlie Faust and Thebeerchaser - good company but no ambiance.

Charlie Faust and Thebeerchaser – good company but no ambiance.

No Greek national flag either.....

No Greek national flag either…..(Faust and Son)

And the only other egregious conduct recorded is that of Welches area con-man named, David Wilson.  Several years ago he purportedly tried to scam those at the Marathon and nearby establishments by stating that he was desperate for a loan because he’d lost his wallet at a Timbers game and couldn’t get his car out of the parking lot.

 

I guess if you just want nothing more than a cheap beer and to watch a sporting event, hit the Marathon.  But unless you can get the Fausts to join you or maybe start running from a mile and one-half east of the Vista House on the Columbia River Highway – it would allow your marathon to finish at the Marathon – it may not be fulfilling.

 

Marathon Taverna           1735 West Burnside

 

 

 

 

 

The Richmond Bar – Have a Cocktail (or a Beer) at this New Bar

The Richmond - It's cocktails make a splash on the Portland bar scene in 2014

The Richmond – Its cocktails make a splash on the Portland bar scene in 2014

Ten good draft beers to supplement the cocktail menu

Ten good draft beers to supplement the cocktail menu

Those who prefer cocktails, but  want some good draft beers as well, should check out the Richmond Bar – only about a year old and replacing the Matchbox Lounge – oft praised in the past for its great $5 burgers and good beer. It joins the list of plentiful watering holes on SE Division.

The Oregonian includes the Richmond in its listing of “Portland’s 10 Best New Bars,” and describes it as, “….. (a)surprisingly handsome and cozy spot with a British-meets-Pacific Northwest vibe decorated with tufted leather booths, imported wall paper and large wooden tables.”

West Coast Dave Hicks - A Beerchaser Regular who quotes the Sage of Baltimore

West Coast Dave Hicks – A Beerchaser Regular who quotes the Sage of Baltimore

Nate Tilden (the Portland restaurateur and “cutting edge” guy who takes meat very seriously) (also owner of Clyde Commons and Olympic Provisions – entered another of his partnerships with Portlander, Marty Schwartz.

I was pleased that Beerchaser Regular, “West Coast” (although his sales territory goes east to Chicago) Dave Hicks, was in town from his San Francisco environs to raise a mug and convey pearls of wisdom.

Hicks has been to prior Beerchaser watering holes including Crackerjacks, the Horse Brass Pub and Belmont Station.  His Princeton University under-graduate education is evident as he was quick to quote American journalist and satirist, H.L. Menken while drinking an outstanding Fort George Spruce Budd Ale – one of nine beers and one cider on tap.

dd

H. L. Mencken – Skeptical about economists and politicians but not beer

“24 hours in a day – 24 beers in a case –  Coincidence.  I think not.”   

Before we tried the menu and imbibed in one of the cocktails, I took Dave’s suggestion – a bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne – a reddish-brown ale from the West-Flanders region of Belgium.  And although he is not fluent in Dutch, he taught me the correct pronunciation to order it.

Duchesse De Bourgogne - easier to drink than pronounce....

Duchesse De Bourgogne – easier to drink than pronounce….

The Richmond is cozy and low-key.  You order your drinks and food at the bar and even during Happy Hour, it had a nice vibe.   We talked to Kelly, the bartender, who has worked there for just a few months and moved from Clyde Commons – which has also supplied chefs.

The bar has a rotating selection of “hand pies” and Dave enjoyed the ham pie, which the  Portland Tribune Beef and Brew column described as, “….juicy Olympic Provisions sweetheart ham, smoked cheddar and – instead of predictable root vegetables – roasted cauliflower.”   I enthusiastically devoured the wild boar and sweet corn pie.  The most recent choices for pies on their website are a roasted venison and a vegetable option. 

The robust menu shows mainly pub food with an Old English theme – and you know the OP meat is going to be superb.  The offerings include mac & cheese, a number of burgers and sandwiches, salads and some esoteric snacks such as Pickled Eggs and Anchovies, Pork and Pistachio Pate, and Roast Beef and Turnips.  Take a dollar off any item during their Happy Hour from 4:00 to 6:00 every day and all day on Sunday.

Kelly - a skilled mixologist

Kelly – a skilled mixologist

We were pleasantly surprised based on our limited sampling of their twelve original cocktails, and ours deserved the reputation the Richmond has garnered.

I had the Strong Water ($10) – stirred with rye, cardamaro, averna, dry vermouth and bitters – ingredients departing from what you would expect Thebeerchaser to be accustomed to – barley, malt, hops and yeast.

Hicks had a Paloma ($8) – tequila, grapefruit shrub, lime and jalapeno simple.  I did not have the courage to ask what was the difference between plain grapefruit and “grapefruit shrub.”

The Paloma and Strong Water - what in the heck is cardamaro??

The Strong Water and the Paloma – what in the heck is cardamaro??

A return trip would probably mean trying the Park Life, the Incider or the Mo Betta or the June Bug although that would still only cover one-half of their mixed drink lineup.

Skilled mixologists..

Skilled mixologists..

The Richmond has its own nice character, classy décor, the bartenders were skilled and friendly and as Willamette Week concluded in its review, “The cozy, tasteful little bar does absolutely nothing wrong – except perhaps doing nothing wrong.”

 

Their website is pretty basic, but has their drink and food menu and information on their Happy Hour.  However, if you’re searching for “The Richmond Bar,” be specific and expand your search terms or you may end up reading about a bunch of lawyers in the oldest  bar association in Virginia (founded in 1856).

And who can impugn the motives of those whose goal is “to promote legal science and the administration of justice…..while meeting the challenges of our rapidly changing profession.”  

Bartender Kelly and Thebeerchaser with the logo

Bartender Kelly and Thebeerchaser with the logo

 

Since West Coast Dave Hicks is also a lawyer, he would drink to that mission!

And by the way, if you are still wondering, cardamaro is an Italian herbal wine-based liqueur flavored with a relative of the artichoke and blessed thistle among other herbs and spices.

And grapefruit shrub is a sweet-tart infusion of vinegar and fruit.

A nice ambiance to complement good food and beverage options

A nice ambiance which complements the good food and beverage options

 

The Richmond Bar     3203 SE Division