Category Archives: whatever you say

Whatever You Say 14\Second Pint MJ

I’m at the Cavern, a new spot on SE Hawthorne and I’ve come on a Sunday, which means it’s pretty quiet right now. There’s a couple nearby watching the Blazer game: the man is drinking water, the woman soda and….well, that’s less helpful for the blog theme!

Blood On The Rocks drinkSo I ask the bartender what he likes and he gives me a Blood on the Rocks: tequila, lime, Ali’s CBD soda- a cranberry, CBD infused drink-, salted rim. This is a bit gnarly. The tequila is riding roughshod over most of the other flavors, the cranberry just barely seeping in.

He comes back after a few sips and asks me what I think, so I tell him. “I can top that off a little, if you want.”

That is a thing that can be done? Well cool. Do that!

The whole drink changes; the cranberry brings it to life, with the salt making things ping and the soda giving the drink a lovely sparkle on the finish that makes it incredibly refreshing. Now I get why this is his current favorite.

I ask a little bit about the Blazers; apparently the team is on a 12 game winning streak, with the postseason coming in fast. “Good time to get hot,” I say and am greeted with agreement all around.

I’m a stranger in this area now, which bums me out: I used to live just a few blocks from here and always enjoyed the ‘Barmuda triangle’ area of Portland.

Life moves on, though: it’s been years since I lived nearby and now I just get to come to visit. But a brand new dark bar playing 80’s garage punk with a solid beer list and tasty drinks? Yeah, I’d’ve come here more often to write and chat with a sweetie. Once upon a time.

Right now, everyone is preoccupied with the game and hey, that’s OK. They’re talking with each other and I’m the one who’s come into their space. I’m just glad I get to appreciate this now.

This week’s second pint goes to Mother Jones magazine.


Whatever You Say 13/Second Pint STV

After a remarkably long day helping a friend hang a whiteboard, I swing by the Yamhill Pub on my way home. One of Portland’s more famous dive bars, even this place has been affected by the craft beer world; I see taps for Culmination, Lagunitas, Deschutes among others. So who knows what I’m going to get?

A man wearing a shirt that says “Worlds Okayest Bartender” asks me what I want and I look at a fellow next to me whose bearded face is a little concave at the lips and ask him what he’s drinking.

“This here is the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer; they won that in 1893,” he tells me. Of course.

“They been riding award that for a long time,” I reply.

38959752830_af1f33dc3a_c“Well they don’t call it ‘Rainier Blue Ribbon’,” the bartender says, and I ask him to give me a PBR.

With a noir film on one TV (an amnesiac detective searching for his identity), Dragonball Z on the other, Pogues on the juke and light low enough that I retain my handsome features this is what dives feel like. The PBR has a nice malt bit, along with the corn undercurrent that I could do without, and the whole scene is being interrupted by the bartender checking the IDs of a group of suddenly appearing strangers.

“They’re startin’ the dancing,” the concave faced man says.

“That mean it’s time to go?”

“Not quite. But they’re gonna try Irish dancing there,” he tilts his head to the corner where….there isn’t enough space to tango, much less dance.

The concave fellow is a bit withdrawn, perhaps disconcerted by the appearance of so many strangers in his bar-and for whatever else is going on here, it’s a magnet for strangers, a place where hipsters can go to say they went.

Yet it’s also got a community of regulars, he’s clearly one of them, and the presence of these people slumming it has him uneasy. But he’s getting to watch Dragonball Z and seems content. As a Saturday night plan goes, I can’t say I object.

The bartender quickly tells a story about kicking someone out yesterday-someone who tried to dance in a space that doesn’t have space.

” ‘Fuck this place ’cause it’s a fuckin’ dive bar’ ” he mocks the customer from last night. “Damn right it’s a dive bar; if you want to go somewhere where they suck up to you, then go somewhere else. Come here to be depressed like a normal human being,

Not bad for the Worlds Okayest Bartender.

Today’s second pint goes to Spread The Vote.

Whatever You Say 12 \ Second Pint PRM

When I arrive at Bailey’s, I chat with a gent who’s drinking  a Coalition Ginlandia-a sour with rose petals aged in gin barrels.  He also mentions having the Fort George Suicide Squeeze.

“Do you recommend the Fort George?”

“Oh yeah.”

Ft George Suicide Squeeze aleSo I get that, because if I don’t have to have a sour ale, I’m going to dodge that bullet.

He tells me he would’ve had a different beer, but he just wanted to try stuff from Oregon. Turns out, he’s visiting from San Francisco and he’s on his second full day here, going to as many breweries and restaurants as he can manage.

I gush about San Francisco, as it’s one of my favorite cities, (though it is deeply troubled these days) full of people I adore (who are forced to live outside it) but we quickly end up talking about Portland and where else he can go. He’s looking for food and drink and I am thrilled to give suggestions and talk about breweries, eateries, the history of places that did good things here and failed, yet opened the door for others.

My burrito arrives (I’m desperately hungry) and I nosh it down, sipping my beer and talking to the visitor. We keep going on places to visit-where he’s been (Ecliptic, Deschutes) and where he should go (Cascade, Widmer) and…well, I just ignore my beer.

It’s good, don’t get me wrong. But I’m too busy visiting to take notes. I feel, for a moment, like a regular bar patron.

He has a Hopworks Noggin Floggin on my advice, I try the Upright/Bailey’s Hausbier; Juzek 13, a Czech dark lager, and eventually he heads out to get his own dinner and visit other pubs. Before he leaves, I get his name and offer my hand. We shake and he continues his vacation.

Which is a pretty good night.

Today’s second pint goes to the Portland Rescue Mission.


Whatever You Say 11\Second Pint United for Puerto Rico

Pilot's Pale aleA Pilot’s Pale at the Rogue Eastside. I still want to call this place the Green Dragon, which was a better name for every reason I can think of but…the future is upon us and I should accept it. Plus, they still have lotsa beer, including this aforementioned Pilot’s Pale.

The nose is really nice, with a hit of grapefruit to it. The midrange is a bit odd, though; the mouthfeel teetering on thin, held back with just a little malt biscuit quality to it. It’s the finish, though, that really surprises me: It’s not very bitter but it is VERY effervescent. The combination gives this beer a peppery quality that I’m not expecting in the least. I’m not entirely sure it’s for me.

However, the fellow next to me totally digs it. He’d recommended it with some enthusiasm and we talk a bit about it afterward.

“I’m just going more for the pales these days,” he says, “unless you have a really good NE, hazy IPA.”

“I’m just dodging grapefruit flavors. Every IPA I’ve had over the past two years seems to want to add grapefruit notes,” I reply.

He chuckles, “I’m going for PBR again.”

His friend mockingly chides, “Better not say that in here,” and we all laugh.

“Actually,” I say, “If it’s hot out…”

The friend fills in, “Beer for every time, right? I’ll have a Rainier if it’s hot-and it’s so good.”

“Oh, have you had the Rainier/Rubens collaboration? It’s really good,” I say.

They haven’t, so I tell them to keep an eye out for it.

Today’s second pint goes United for Puerto Rico.


Whatever You Say 10\Second Pint NYRR

Order of Hermes aleAt the newly opened Modern Times Fermentorium, formerly the Common’s old space, having Order of Hermes-a Berliner with heavy fruit influence (pineapple, passion fruit, dragon fruit) and it is pleasantly tart, leaning heavily into the tropical almost-ripe-fruit flavors. It looks amazing, that’s for sure; like guava juice, my friend says.

I get this on the recommendation of a gentleman on my left, who says it was his favorite among the choices he had from a sampler tray earlier that evening. His hair is slicked back and he’s definitely got hipster-casual as his style guideline, but that isn’t meant to denigrate him. Dude looks good, he’s just not like me-which is the point of going out to drink with strangers! So I’m calling it a success.

While I don’t think the Order of Hermes would be my favorite, it’s a damn good beer, if the kind that would improve on a hot day and suffers a little during the winter. Tart drinks are more refreshing for me when it’s hot out.

Modern Times has done a lot with many little touches to create a newer space out of the Common’s old brewery. Wallpaper made from indie comics cover the wood, a massive paper mache floats in the air, a homage to the wrestler Macho Man in golden and pink, covered in shiny foil, the feet dangling down so far I could reach up and touch them.

It’s more crowded now than it ever felt, in every sense. The back seems to have more tanks and kegs and brewing equipment than it used to, the front filled with people excited about a new thing.

It’s hard not to miss the Commons a little more in the face of such crowds. Sure, the old place didn’t have foosball and you couldn’t sit on the rail but…

I have to stop myself. I’ve celebrated what the Commons did and I hope to do so again. This is the new shit, as the song says, and the beer here is pretty damn good. If people want to make it a hip joint, let ’em.

Today’s second pint goes towards a friend running for the New York Road Runners youth programs. But if that’s not your jam, you can just donate directly to the NYRR.


Whatever You Say 9\Second Pint PfaP

I interrupt a lady at the Hawthorne Hop House who is playing solitaire on her phone, sitting next to a friend, both of whom have Mug Club glasses-they come here often. But I interrupt anyway, and I ask her what she’s drinking and if she likes it. She does. And then I let her go back to her phone, so I can order Hopworks Abominale on nitro.

It strikes me again; I had not considered how things had changed even since I did this theme last: the ability to isolate oneself even from your companion has increased dramatically since I was asking people what beer they had.

hopworks abominaleAnd while I don’t want to judge, nor do I think I have any right to just take up anyone’s time who doesn’t want to participate, but…she’s playing solitaire while sitting next to another human whom she is, presumably, out with. That feels weird.

Then again: I don’t know what the circumstances are. Sometimes you want to be out of the house, but you still want some solitude. So let’s get to the beer.

The ale has a nice nose: reminds me of the Warrior hops I brewed today with: resin and forest. It fades pretty quickly, as nitro ales tend to, and I’m left with a reasonably tasty beer that is unreasonably smooth on my palate that has just a bit too much bitterness on the finish with no effervescence to clear it. With not much in the middle to round the beer out, the bitterness takes a bigger role than it should. It isn’t that the beer is bad-far from it-it is that the effect of the nitro on this ale is, I think, more detrimental than beneficial.

The woman finishes her ale and the bartender asks her if she’s done. She nods and her companion says, “She’s hit her ‘limit’,” with a not-unpleasant laugh. The bartender raises his hands in a ‘I give’ kind of motion, “I won’t push it,” he replies, smiling. She steps outside leaving her companion to pay.

So it goes, as the master said.

This week’s second pint goes toward the Pedals for a Purpose team fundraising for Parkenson’s research. Disclaimer: I know one of the people involved in this.


Whatever You Say 8\Second Pint United We Dream

I casually insert myself into the conversation of the three people on my left, when the fellow closest to me orders Russian River’s Blind Pig. “It’s good, but it’s so expensive!” His friend on the far side says. “But I suppose it’s not any different than the Revision.”

“Is that what you got?” I ask.

“Yeah. It’s pretty good.”

Revision Jewel Box IPASo I get Revision’s Jewel Box IPA. And I am in disagreement with him-though I don’t know it right away. I’m promptly diverted by the woman on my right, who is draining Upright’s Eye of Jupiter, a Biere de Garde. She’s a bartender enjoying a post shift beer: I tell her I almost asked her what she was drinking but I didn’t want to interrupt her solitude.

“Oh it’s fine,” she replies, “I’m a bartender so my people skills are pretty honed.”

“Even so,” I say, “I didn’t want to interrupt, ’cause a lady should be allowed to have a drink without someone pestering her.”

She laughs and then talks up her beer to the point where she’s asking one of the servers to pour me a taste of the Eye of Jupiter.

The Biere de Garde is pretty good; tart but not too intense and drinkable for me in small doses. I thank her for arranging the taste, she finishes her ale and leaves; I stay and keep writing.

Unfortunately, I’m left with a pint of the Revision Jewel Box which has a grapefruit and medicinal note to the nose. Already, I’m disinclined to drink this. This beer is spiky, with nothing in the middle and a harsh grapefruit punch at the end. I’m just not happy about it.

But the quote of the evening does go to one of the three people on my left:

“There are only so many double IPAs you can have in a night before you’re, you know, pissing on the Christmas tree.”

Today’s second pint goes to United We Dream.