Tag Archives: terminal gravity

The Local: Side St. Tavern

side street tavernI walk in as a Yankee hits the winning home run at the bottom of the 11th against Boston. I seem to have a knack for appearing at the exact moment of triumph. A long haired mustachioed Yankee fan repeatedly slaps his hands together in astonishment and joy, while Hall and Oates’ “Out of Touch” comes on. He complains that there are no Red Sox fans to tease.

Privately, I despair that I can find anything by Hall and Oates online but am unable to get the lyrics to Crooked Fingers‘ Modern Dislocation.

The Side Street is the first place I heard the Buzzcocks or ate nacho tots. Which is about as awesome as it sounds. Oh sure, you could call ’em tatchos but that’s just being cute. Nacho tots; it is what it says. Not unlike the Side Street itself, nestled just off Belmont and 35th.

The review at Barfly isn’t entirely off base; unless you come here semi-regularly, it’s almost hard to imagine how the Side Street made a life for itself. While it’s lasted longer than the four restaurants kitty corner, it’s not on Belmont proper against places that have more beer selections or more elegant dining, so how the hell did this little place stick around?

I overhear the bartender tell a patron she’s been working here for two years. That tells me something immediately; if you can keep your employees, you’re doing something right. I’m drinking a Terminal Gravity IPA, a beer that wants to walk the citrus line of IPA and it’s got enough malt to keep me from souring on it.

So there’s good beer, good pub food, decent music and the employees like it. There’s only one TV and the music isn’t too loud.

Do I really have to make a case for this bar?

The Local: 39th St Sports Pub

“Gonna walk around and drink some more”- the Hold Steady

You know, Terminal Gravity’s IPA has a crispness at the end that works for this beer. Still quite bitter but the finish is lightened by the crisp quality. 

The 39th Street Sports Pub. Or Tom’s Bar. The bartender just ran out after a customer she knew to ask him a favor and give him a hug. It’s a human moment in a bland space.

So I’ve gone local for the next series. After a year of needing transport coupled with some recent thoughts I’ve had on staying local, I decided that the thing to do next would be to go to bars that were within walking distance of my house. I’m quite fortunate in that I live near Portland’s infamous ‘stumble zone’ where there are ten places to get a drink in a three block area, not counting the liquor store. So that ought to keep me busy. 

In addition, walking distance for me isn’t quite walking distance for most other people. I like to walk, especially at night and so there are more bars within my walking range than what most people might consider walkable. Either way, I reckon this ought to keep me busy for a little while. I probably won’t have the range of beers to try as I did before because even in Portland, sports bars are dominated by more well known beers but I’ll do my best to mix the drinks up as much as the spaces I visit. 

Oh, and there will still be bad photos. 

Tom’s bar makes good use of its length, with the three pool tables at one end and four televisions around and above the bar, it’s the kind of place you could almost play catch in. Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be a scent here. Odd because it’s connected to a restaurant so I’d think there would be food cooking but perhaps everyone here is thirsty instead. 

It’s spacious though and I like that. There’s room to spread out and stretch your legs and you don’t have to worry about bumping into someone at a table while you’re shooting pool. 

Sadly, there isn’t much personality to this bar. It has that inoffensive lighting and all the traditional neon signs. One Ducks schedule up, Coors Light sports flags and lights emblazoned with the Camel logo hang around and on a night like tonight, where it isn’t crowded, there isn’t a motivation to sit near strangers to absorb how they give the bar some zing. The TVs encourage absorbsion into the sports world and  the only way someone could have a semi-private conversation would be if it was loud enough to cover the noise from the next table. At that point, though, it’s loud enough that you’re practically shouting anyway so that kind of defeats the purpose. 

I suppose that’s why I’m a bit down on this space; it is devoid of personality or a point of view. Why aren’t there awesome posters on the wall, memorabilia, or little statuettes of victory? Is there a team this place hopes to see win, hopes to see in crushing defeat? 

This is the problem with most sports bars, I find. I could be anywhere in this country once I’m inside this bar. Arizona, Ohio, Minnesota; it wouldn’t matter. I could be in the middle of butt fuck Egypt and it would have the exact same decorations. Sure, there’s some local color with the presence of some misfits at a nearby table, NW style outsiders in puzzle-piece layers and flannel but after that? Nothing. What’s the point of going to your local if it doesn’t give you that local buzz? 

I’m suddenly tired, in the ‘whoa I could use a nap’ way. At 7:30, it’s a little late for a nap so perhaps it’s just time to go home.

52 Weeks 52: Terminal Gravity Foursome

Now that I’ve sold out to get the kinky sex crowd, (’cause you just know that a whole new group of people will stumble on this blog because of the word ‘foursome’ and I can’t turn down readers) let’s get this party going.

“First of all I’d like to thank my connect,”-Jay-Z.

A heartfelt thank you to Geoff and the other staff at Bailey’s who’ve served me drinks. I’d mention them by name but I don’t wish to presume a familiarity upon them and I certainly don’t want to forget someone, which is always a danger at times like this. I took their time and certainly my share of space but they were all unfailingly helpful and pleasant. 

I’m drinking a flight of Terminal Gravity beers; two old ales, Festivals from 2008 and 2009, then two barleywines, Bucolic Plague from ’02 and ’06. As one might expect, the ’09 old ale is smoother and fuller, more roasted and mature in flavor. I haven’t gotten to the barleywines yet. 

I’m in the back chamber again-it’s been redesigned since I sat here last. The table is this big chunk of wood-maybe even a former railroad tie- that’s been cleaned up and smoothed out. It’s shiny and dense and it feels like the kind of thing to put your beer on. It’s almost a place to stand at. You can lean on the wood, rest your drink in front, and enjoy…if you’re about six inches shorter than I am. Maybe four.

This area isn’t quite done yet, I’m told, but it’s going to be a hell of a space when it’s done I promise you that. The space is just wide enough for beers, so it encourages your hands being free; a bonus for someone like me who tends to gesticulate when he speaks. 

Sparky; this moment is for you. 

And now it’s done. (Sparky  had asked, months ago, to be mentioned in the final post and I said I would oblige him.)

Oh man. That 2002 Bucolic Plague is so good. Like alcoholic caramel, warm from a street vendor, with a buttery nose and a fierce heat to it, fighting the winter off with a battleaxe. I think this beer may be solely responsible for the unseasonable warmth of today. 

I have to confess, I’m looking forward to becoming a customer again. A regular customer, that is; someone who can sit at the bar and visit or just people watch without having to both internalize the situation and externalize it for readers. Don’t get me wrong; next week there will be another post, a new (if similar) theme and I look forward to doing that but our favorite spots are favored for a reason; they are shelters where we don’t have to present our external selves all the time. We can smile in crooked ways and people understand that our laughter is still straight. 

That isn’t to say I won’t ever blog from or about Bailey’s again; I undoubtedly will. But I’m part of the scenery here now and that changes things. I’m going to take some time to figure out what that means. I’m going to take some time to just enjoy the space I’m in.

I suppose if I’ve had a theme this year, time has been a key part of it. Or at least the idea that I ought to inhabit the space I’m in as much as I can, enjoy it, or at least be in the now, this has been a recurring idea. 

There’s been a shift change; I can tell because in the middle of Duran Duran’s Rio (which I like quite a bit) the music has cut out and shifted to a song I don’t immediately recognize. I almost think I should’ve asked if I could play my iPod tonight. It would be all Pelican, all the time. If my choices are Duran Duran, some kind of hip-hop and heavy fucking metal, then…
/short laughter

The 2006 Bucolic Plague is a bit different, a touch more sour than it’s older sister. Not quite as much body; an interesting brew but I think I would’ve preferred to finish with the ’02. Ah well; that’s life.

I’ll see everyone next week, bad photos and all.