Monday, January 31, 2011

Mythic Publican Don Younger, RIP

For 35 years the Horse Brass and publican Don Younger have been pouring some of the best ales in America. Northwest beer culture bears his indelible stamp.

Younger died over the weekend. The New School offers memories.

Tip a pint to a legend and a kind of hapax.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not-Very-Beery Fest at Fairgrounds; Henry's Advertises Malt Tea

The Oregon Wine, Food & Brew Festival was this weekend.

In truth, it didn't look so very interesting. The order seemed to matter; beer was kindofa a throw-in, and purely from a beer standpoint it wasn't a must.

Still, four breweries and one distributor were represented:If you went and learned what Maletis was pouring, let us know!

So instead of the festival, how about an old beer ad?

Henry's, it turns out, advertised in Salem. This ad is from January, 1911, exactly a century ago.

You might recognize the "brewery blocks." This appears to be on the back side, and the intersection is 12th and Couch, with 12th having the rails. On the far side of the block, not really visible, is Burnside. The central block, with the largest tower, is the current site of Whole Foods. The block on the left, then, is the site of Henry's 12th Street Tavern and other retail storefronts. This image, taken from the center of the intersection, shows that left-side block today.

Note the malt tea!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scotch, Gude Ale, and the Stool of Repentance: A Toast for Robert Burns

While we didn't ourselves see any evidence of adultery during the holidays, no doubt trysts occurred. What else is good cheer and mistletoe but a lusty invitation to fornication?
Gude ale hauds me bare and busy,
Gars me moop wi' the servant hizzie,
Stand i' the stool* when I hae dune—
Gude ale keeps the heart aboon!
Robert Burns' birthday is tomorrow. "Gude Ale" was the poem from last year.

What is whiskey but the quintessence of beer? And what is the highest form of whisky but Scotch? (Subtract the "e" and magic occurs!)

So we turn from ale to Scotch!

Though the weather turned nice this week, earlier this month and over the holidays the rain and dark and cold made a person crave the warmth of a good whisky!

During the holidays friends and family generously shared. Connoisseurs will observe these may not be among the most interesting of Scotches - but they were sure tasty anyway! And we cannot offer comprehensive tasting notes or anything like a real snapshot of Scotch whisky and whisky distillers. (If you know Scotch, move along, nothing to see here...)

But even at a basic level, these tipples did remind us that Scotch is a fascinating and complex beverage, worthy of close attention. While Scotches lack hops and hoppy bitterness, they can claim to be the highest expression of barley malt.

So, you know, if you have the funds, buy a bottle - or two, or three!

Glenfiddich 12 was the favorite of many, but we thought it was just too smooth and sweet. It was like the winning, super-friendly sales personality. Superficially engaging and agreeable - but you wondered if it just was telling you what you wanted to hear, and might say the opposite to the person next to you. What did it really think, you wondered.

Johnnie Walker Green, a vatted malt, was both less winning and more interesting and satisfying. It was a little smokey, sweet, tart - balanced and complex in a way the Glenfiddich was not. Even though it was a blend, it was not bland, and had a personality.

The "beauty shots" tell all: These are "big brand" Scotches - not exactly tin can macrobrews like Budweiser or Coors, or even fake micros like Blue Moon, but in some ways more like the big, national craft brewers, say Boston Beer or Sierra Nevada.

But they are also marketed or owned by large, multinational conglomerates. Johnnie Walker is a Diageo brand. Glenfiddich is part of the William Grant & Sons portfolio. Reliable, but perhaps not very adventurous. And certainly not indie!

The less famous and smaller distillers are often the most interesting. Some are legitimately artisanal. And though we cannot say we've been able to taste large numbers of Scotches, one interesting trend is that long ageing - and higher pricing - does not necessarily make for the favorite-ist drink. Scotches whose age starts with a 1x seem livelier and fresher, more nimble and quick. The twenty and thirty year-olds are weighed down, thick, clotted somehow. Your mileage may vary.

The liquor store in the Burke Block downtown seems to have the best selection.

Bars are also a good way to sample. The price of a shot neat might seem high, but relative to a whole bottle you may not like, the shot is a value.

( much to say about distilling? What is "industrial" grain whisky? Industrial whiskey is produced in a continuous process, using a column still. Single malt is distilled in a single batch, using a pot still. The pot still isn't necessarily artisanal, but the column still is most certainly not artisanal.)

*The stool? One sitting on "the cutty stool, or stool of repentance, assum[ed] the character of a penitent for fornication."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

William Stafford, January 17th (repost)

This is mostly reposted from a year ago. Gun violence is much in the news, and while the poem is about something different, it also rhymes slant. Toasting this year is tragic and more complicated.

William Stafford was born on January 17th, 1914. Toast the birth day of one of Oregon's finest!

Browsing his poems with drink in mind (and in hand!), we'd say he thought about coffee far more often than beer. Perhaps he didn't drink alcohol. Neither eating nor drinking provided much of his imagery, however. It didn't seem to be a way he related to the world or to other people.

We did find one poem that uses fermentation as a metaphor, and I'm certain he was thinking of grain, not grape. (Needless to say, this is not very representative of Stafford's poetry.)

In 1959 Truman Capote saw this notice in the New York Times:
Wealthy Farmer, 3 of Family Slain

A wealthy wheat farmer, his wife and their two young children were found shot to death today in their home. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range after being bound and gagged....

Capote spent four years working on a book about the murders, In Cold Blood. Harper Lee was his assistant.

A few years after the book came out, Stafford wrote a poem.
Holcomb, Kansas

The city man got dust on his shoes and carried
a box of dirt back to his apartment.
He joined the killers in jail and saw things
their way. He visited the scene of the crime
and backed people against the wall with his typewriter
and watched them squirm. He saw how it was.
And they - they saw how it was: he was
a young man who had wandered onto the farm
and begun to badger the homefolk.
So they told him stories for weeks while he
fermented the facts in his little notebook.

Now the wide country has gone sober again.
The river talks all through the night, proving
its gravel. The valley climbs back into its hammock
below the mountains and becomes again only what
it is: night lights on farms make little blue domes
above them, bright pools for the stars; again
people can visit each other, talk easily,
deal with real killers only when they come.

It's an odd poem, and we don't know what to make of it - but that's perhaps why it's interesting. Stafford was born, raised, and educated in Kansas. Are we supposed to read him and the poem in solidarity with the "homefolk" and against the "city man"?

Stafford also seems to distrust the product of fermentation - Truman Capote, the "homefolk", all of them are getting a little carried away, "sophisticated" in a use we don't see much any more - even though it's hard not to think that he himself fermented experience in his own notebooks, journals, and poems. The poem quivers with more than a little ambivalence about creativity and the thefts or invasions it might entail when raw experience is fermented by someone else into art. It's not easy to maintain straight up some alignment of Stafford-homefolk-good and Capote-city man-bad.

Does anyone have a different reading?

It looks like the only Salem celebration is on the 23rd:
4 to 6 p.m. Jan. 23: Sponsored with The Fellowship of Reconciliation, bring a Stafford poem and potluck item to share, Salem Friends Meeting House, 490 19th St., SE, Salem. Contact: Janet Markee janetmarkee at mac dot com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mayor Lachmund Snarls and Calls Opponent "A Great Big Noise"

At City Council yesterday, amity was the order of the day. The new Mayor said
"I'm excited for the opportunity to work together," [Mayor Anna Peterson] said. "We must come to this chamber to work together.

To citizens in attendance, Peterson said: "We cannot do this job alone. We need you here with us. We need you to volunteer on boards and commissions."
And, after being elected President of Council, her one-time opponent Councilor Chuck Bennett said
I'm really excited to be working with Anna. I think she's going to do a great job as mayor.
But a century ago, things weren't always so polite - as indeed they could still become today, though today's skirmishing seems to be done in the press, blogs, twitter, and youtube rather than in person at public meetings.

Still, there's nothing courtly about the antagonism in this August 1911 episode with Mayor Lachmund. The rhetoric is also funny. What journalist today would make classical references like "fidus achates" in a newspaper?!

(Ken Burns would like the baseball metaphors, though.)

"He is a great big noise; that is all."

Coming, as it did, from Mayor Lachmund, and being addressed to his lieutenant - Councilman Durbin - that remark caused the spectators in the council chamber last evening to prick up their ears with surprise because it marked the break between the mayor and his Fidus Achates and they had expected to find the two working together as they have always done heretofore.

But while the remark came as a surprise to the spectators it brought none of the elements of surprise to those who had had their ears to the ground for the past week, for they had heard Councilman Durbin remark that at this particular meeting of the council he was going to remark the motion calling for the construction of the Twelfth street bridge, one of the mayor's pet measures, clear out of existence. When those remarks reached the ears of the mayor he incidentally said that when it came to remarking on that question that he would have a few remarks to emit, and that when he got through he would hang Durbin's hide on the fence to dry, and he did, as did not even have a "look in" with the mayor last night.
Opposes Building of Bridge

The battle of words came when Durbin introduced a resolution asking for the reconsideration of a motion carried at a previous meeting of the council providing for the construction of the Twelfth street bridge. He recited in the resolution that it would take all the money in the bridge fund, $7,530.70, to build the bridge, and that in the opinion of a number of councilmen this money should not be put all in one bridge but be scattered among the districts in need of bridges.

Throws Down Gauntlet

When the resolution was introduced Durbin arose to speak in its behalf and Mayor Lachmund, calling Councilman Eldridge to the chair, took a seat on the floor. Just as he was leaving the mayoralty chair, Durbin shouted, "That is right; you are the man I am looking for" and then from then the fight was on - it was a battle royal.

Shuts Off Talk

Councilman Durbin had but barely got started delivering the nice little speech he had been preparing for days on the subject when some one move to table the resolution and some on [sic] else seconded the motion. Durbin proceeded to continue his talk, but a point of order was raised on the ground the motion was not debatable, and Chairman Eldridge ruled him out of order.

"Is the gag rule to be applied to me; am I not going to be given the privilege to talk?" shouted Durbin.

Chairman Eldridge advised him the motion ws [sic] not debatable but he immediately launched out again.

The mayor raised the same point of order again and the chair ruled with him.

Agin [sic] Durbin asked if he was not going to get a chance to talk.

"Not today, but tomorrow," answered the mayor.

Nothing to Talk on Now

The motion was then put to a vote with Durbin still standing and protesting against the gag rule. After it had carried he tried to continue his discourse and now he was confronted with the rule that he was barred from talking because there was nothign before the house to talk on.

But whether he had a subject or not he seemingly wanted to talk, and the mayor again objected, saying "you are talking to the walls now; there is nothing before the house."

Councilman Huckstein moved to grant Durbin the courtesy of the floor, but the mayor objected, and finding himself worsted on all sides, Durbin sat down; it was enough to make almost anyone sit down.

Then the Clash Came

The council went on with its business and Durbin sat silently by evidently looking for an opportunity to break in on the proceedings with a bridge talk.

The opportunity came when a motion was made that a committee be appointed to confer with the Salem, Falls City & Western Railroad company relative to the city co-operating with the company in building a double-decked bridge across the river, and he was on his feet in a minute.

In a general way he opposed the motion and then he drifted back to the motion that had been tabled.

The mayor called him to order, saying the river bridge was under discussion and no other, but the chair ruled against him, and the mayor excepted [?]. Durbin continued to roast - to send hot shots at the council for enforcing the gag rule on him. Finally he sat down and then Lachmund came to bat.
Mayor Airs Vocabulary

"Councilman Durbin is making a mountain out of a mole hill - he likes to hear the sound of his own voice," snarled the mayor.

"The pleasures of victory are momentary but the stings of defeat are everlasting. He is a grandstand player and talks of the councilman from the silk-stocking ward is but hot air - he is a great big noise, that is all; a darned good winner but a poor loser."

That settled it. The council passed the motion and the mayor named the committee and the council went on with its business.

The clash between the two was the first that has occurred since they entered upon the duties of their respective offices and it certainly was a merry one for a beginner.
(Top Image: Old City Hall, circa 1895
Middle Image: Frank Durbin, Sr (1899), Oregon State Library

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gilgamesh Turns 1, Celebrates Friday at Church Street Pizza

There's a nice bit of beer activity to start the New Year. Here's one more event.

Gilgamesh announces a birthday party!
We are celebrating our first year at Church Street Pizza in Salem and would love for you to join us!

When: Friday, Jan 14, 5pm-???
Where: Church Street Pizza, 324 Church St, Salem
What: Beer & pizza specials

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Better than Moldy Bread on an Axe Wound: Science Pub Visits the new Antibiotics

The fungus among us makes us healthy and hale!

Beer drinkers owe their pleasure to yeast just as much as 20th century wounded and ill owed their recovery to mold. Molds and yeasts are magical fungi, providing blue cheese, beer and wine and bread, and penicillin.

But what's the next generation of antibiotics? As you drink your beer at the next Salem Science Pub, at Brown's Towne Lounge on Tuesday at 6:30pm, you'll learn more about the engineering and chemistry of the next round of wonder drugs.
With the increased use and frequent misuse of antibiotics, there is a growing concern about the rise of drug-resistant strains of bacteria and other pathogens. Many drug discoveries have happened by accident, such as through chance observation or through scientific analysis of folk remedies. Often those broad-spectrum drugs can lead to negative side effects or drug resistance.

But that is changing. Sarah Kirk, PhD, and her research group focus on designing medications that target specific receptors in the body for distinct purposes, a process known as “rational drug design.” They work to understand relationships among the drug’s molecular structure, the interaction with the body’s receptors, and therapeutic result. At this Science Pub, learn about discovering the size and shape of the receptors, designing drugs to fit them, and how all the pieces must be put together like a puzzle.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Bowl Game: Seven Brides and a Case of Duck Fever

At least one local brewery and taproom is crazy with Duck fever.

Seven Brides is not only hosting a bowl game watching party, but they are also temporarily rebranding. You need to visit the website for the full gang-green glory. You might find it infectious!

Any bar or restaurant with a TV is certain to have the game - and most of the usual suspects have TVs - so it's not like you need help deciding where to go. Just pick your favorite watering hole!

Alternately, if football or spectacle is not your thing, places without TVs like Boon's, Thompsons, Venti's might be exceptionally pleasant for a beer and a book or knitting.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mayor Lachmund Accused of Conspiracy in 1911 Railroad Fracas

Mayor Louis Lachmund was not just the "hoppiest" mayor - he might have been the most colorful and contentious ever!

Here he is accused of conspiring with City Council to put a rival railroad company out of business. He also has a restraining order filed against him.

This controversy was a chapter in the competition between the Oregon Electric and the Red Electric lines (and wikipedia entries on the Oregon and Red Electrics).

Portland, Eugene & Eastern appears to have failed to gain a franchise in Salem; ultimately its successor, the Red Electric, was built on the west side, going Corvallis, Independence, Gerlinger, McCoy, and McMinnville.

The Oregon Electric is the line running through Ankeney Bottom, along south River Road, through the Boise property and Front Street, and thence to Keizer Station and prime hopland around Hopmere, Waconda, St. Louis, and the rest of French Prairie. (Here's a bunch of photos of the Oregon Electric.)

Information on Alvadore Welch of the "welch road" is not convenient online, but this citation may be useful. It appears to be another name for the Portland, Eugene & Eastern, which he had purchased and named.

The minutiae of rail lines can be baffling and train experts will have to fill in the details!

But anyone can marvel at the ruckus and chaos in Salem government from a century ago (September, 1911). Nowadays, instead of private ownership of railroads or toll roads, the roads are publicly owned. As inefficient as governments might be, the railroad robber barons, and the graft they created, were much, much worse.


Portland, Eugene & Eastern, the Welch Road, Charges Conspiracy Between the Oregon Electric, Hill and Mayor Lachmund to Put it Out of Business - Complaint Also Shows the Southern Pacific Herriman, is Mixed up With it in its Franchise - This is Exactly What the Journal Stated Some Days Ago, and What the Mayor so Insistently Denied
Charging that Louis Lachmund, as mayor of the city, and the Oregon Electric railroad and its agents and employes entered into a conspiracy to annul and deprive it of its franchise on Front street, and that the mayor and the agents and employes of the Oregon Electric have openly declared that unless the defendant will grant to the Oregon Electric the right to use its, the defendant's tracks on Front street, that they will tear up the track, the Portland, Eugene, and Eastern railroad, through its attorneys, Kaiser, Salter & Pogue, this afternoon filed a suit in the circuit court asking that the mayor and the employes of the Oregon Electric be restrained from interfering with the use of its tracks on Front street until its right with relation to them can be determined. Judge Galloway, after an examination of the complaint, granted a temporary restraining order, and it was served on the defendants by the sheriff this afternoon.

Battle on in Full

The suit as predicted in the Journal several days ago marks but the beginning of a batle to be waged between competing railroad lines for invading the valley and for franchises in the city. The prediction was made that back of the movement to have declared forfeited the franchise of the Welch line was the fine Italian hand of the Hill people and that is just what is alleged in the complaint. It was also asserted that the Welch line had entered into a traffic arrangement with the Southern Pacific on Front street, and this is admitted in the complaint filed, and it bears out the assertion that the real battle is between the two railroad giants, the Southern Pacific and the Hill lines.

Granted on One Condition

After alleging that the council granted the Portland & Eugene & Eastern Railroad company a franchise on Front street from Center to Ferry in 1910, it is alleged that it was granted on but one condition, and that was that the company should have in operation in the city over two miles of line, and this condition it is alleged the company has fulfilled. It is contended that the laying of track in advance of pavement, or the repair of tracks, are not conditions of the franchise, as it contains a clause that should the company fail to do this, the city should do it and charge it up to the company.

Purchased S. P. Track

It is then alleged that the Southern Pacific has a franchise on Center Front Street, but that it expires September 8, and that the Portland, Eugene & Eastern railroad in April purchased an interest in the track and agreed it should be used by the Southern Pacific. Since then the Oregon Electric was granted a franchise on the same street and on the same ground as one of the tracks owned by the Portland, Eugene & Eastern on Front street, it is alleged. It is further alleged that the Portland, Eugene & Eastern asked the council for turnouts and switches for its tracks but that the council refused to grant the request. The investment of the company in the city is alleged to be $70,000.

Influenced Council

For the purpose of contriving how they could wrong and injure the plaintiff and deprive it of vested rights, and from using its present track on Front street, Mayor Lachmund and the Oregon Electric and its agents and employees [employe/employee is not consistent] then entered into a conspiracy to wrongfully influence and persuade the council to annul the franchise of the company, it is alleged, and did so prevail upon the council to declare the franchise forfeited and to institute a suit for that purpose in the circuit court.

It is further alleged that the mayor and the agents of and employees of the Oregon Electric have openly declared that unless the plaintiff will grant the Oregon Electric the right to use its track on Front street that they will tear up the track, and with a view of restraining them from in any way interfering with the track, a restraining order is prayed for, and as has been said, was granted by Judge Galloway.

As the situation now stands, the Portland, Eugene & Eastern is restrained in a suit brought by the city from laying its track, and the city of Salem, and its mayor and the agents and employes of the Oregon Electric restrained from in any way interfering with the tracks of the Portland, Eugene & Eastern until the last filed is finally determined by the circuit court.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mayor Lachmund Boosts Salem on a Sea of Beer

Since we'll have ourselves a new mayor in not too long, it seemed like a good time to revisit the glories of Salem's "hoppiest" mayor.

Regular readers will remember Mayor Louis Lachmund from several posts: The Union St. RR Bridge controversy of 1911, the Hops Strike of 1933, the typhoid scare of Christmas 1909, and several others. He always seemed to be at the center of some controversy or another.

Here he goes to Portland to lure the Ad Club with offers of a "wide-open" city, with saloons open past midnight, presumably nearby brothels on stand-by. Since Governor West was to engage in cleaning up vice couple of years later, it's hard to believe that Lachmund would make this speech in his presence. But Lachmund seems never to have avoided confrontation or felt tact might be useful.

This is from July 1911, just a few months after the railroad bridge fight.


Hop Crop Will Bring $5,000,000 to Salem - It Would Make an Ocean of Beer That Would Float a Navy, and Make Some Billions of Good Cool Drinks - Tells of Blowout at Hotel Here, and How it Advertised Salem and Salem's Mayor All Over the Coast

Portland, Or, July 19. - (Special) - At the Hotel Portland rathskeller, at noon today, the Portland Ad club pulled off a splendid Salem day luncheon, at which Governor West, Mayor Lachmund and Secretary Hofer, of the Board of Trade, made talks. The whole thing was gotten up by Dell Dinsmoor, that royal Salemite, who always makes good for the Cherry City.

Governor West gave a talk on "Citizenship," in which he outlined his present policy. It was received with great cordiality, and a resolution was passed endorsing his talk on this line.

Mayor Lachmund spoke on the hop crop, a topic which had been assigned him. He stated that 100,000 bales would be grown this year, and that they would bring to Salem $5,000,000, and he elaborated by saying how many million gallons of beer would be made from these hops, and how many trillions of drinks they would produce - how much joy it would all bring to the world. He then pictured how deep a sea this quantity of beer would make, and how many ships could be floated upon it. He thought that if a variety of fish could be created to live in this beer that the entire population could drink and angle in it would be an elysium, indeed, or words to that effect [sic: the sentence seems to be spliced].

He next stated how he had been appointed alderman to succeed a man who "had retired on a competency," and how he had been elected mayor - how he was working for the dear people - hoe he had originated the idea of paving our streets and building sewers and how many miles he is having put down. He then berated the Salem newspapers because they do not indorse his style of doing things. He also told how he and a bunch of his compatriots indulged in a big time at the Marion hotel bar, how they were ordered arrested by the chief of police, and were ordered to appear before the police judge, "but we didn't appear." He told that he has since made peace with the chief of police, and invited the Ad Club to come up to Salem, and have a good time with him. He promised that everything would be wide open, and that the saloon clocks would be stopped before midnight, and that nothing would be allowed to interfere with their pleasure.

In answering the roll call at the opening of the meeting Salem's mayor announced himself as follows: "Louis Lachmund, Hop Grower, Booze Fighter, and incidentally Mayor of Salem." He spoke of his escapades as being one of the greatest advertisements Salem had ever had, being published from San Diego to Alaska, and all without cost. Salem's mayor stated that his administration was spending a million dollars of the people money in public improvements, and boldly asserted that the people were back of him in all of these things.

At the close of the meeting each of the speakers was given a souvenir loving cup with the compliments of the Portland Ad Club.