Brian's Photo Blog — Article 639
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McMenamins Wilsonville 5th Birthday Bash
Sunday 2 April 2017   —   Category: Dining Out
In my last article I recounted my first visit to the McMenamins Old Church and Pub, located in the southern Portland metro area city of Wilsonville, which occurred on Swiss National Day (August 1st).

Eleven days lat­er I was back at the Old Church and Pub to cel­e­brate their fifth birthday. And as often is the case at McMenamins, they were of­fer­ing a special just-​for-​fun Passport stamp for the occasion.
But first I had to actually get there. Usu­al­ly the trip from Albany to Wilsonville is a one-​hour drive north on the I-5. An hour before I was to leave I received the following alert:

“All northbound lanes of I-5 are closed about seven miles north of Albany (mile­post 242-243) following two separate crashes. One crash has involved a jack-​knifed semi and U-Haul truck. There were injuries and at least 200 gallons diesel has spilled on the road. Traffic is backed up for almost 15 miles. Traffic is being detoured off I-5 at the North Jef­fer­son exit. Northbound lanes will be closed until tow trucks remove the ve­hi­cles and road is cleaned up. Travelers should avoid the area, use an alternative route or expect long delays.”

Sheesh! So much for imagining I could quickly and easily pop up to Mc­Men­a­mins in Wilsonville!

Rather than the normal 20-​mile drive up the I-5 from Albany to Salem, I had to take backroads to Stayton, then Oregon Route 22 to Salem, which added 16 miles and 35 minutes to the trip.

But things were not smooth sailing once I got to Salem. The remaining 30 miles to Wilsonville had a lot of traffic, which was tiring to drive through. Eventually I pulled into the Mc­Men­a­mins Old Church and Pub parking, after an hour and 35 minutes on the road, safe and sound — for which I can be grateful.
Once I arrived at 3:45, I took a tour of the brewery, located in the above-​ground basement of the historic (built 1911) Unit­ed Meth­od­ist Church.

Since I had previously gotten my Tour One Of Our Breweries “ex­pe­ri­enc­es” stamp in the course of my Mc­Men­a­mins Passport adventure, I didn’t get one this time.

Next I stopped by the Undercroft Bar, right next to the brewery in the same basement. This day was its grand open­ing, and they had brewed a special beer just for the occasion. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my pint of Confessional Kölsch ... but more on that later. At least I got the new non-​required lo­ca­tion stamp.

Time for some food! Once I was seated in the restaurant I perused the pos­si­bil­i­ties on the menu.

I also took some time to look around. The photo to the right show the view from my table of the open space above the bar in the center of the two-​story restaurant.
The Hammerhead BBQ Ribs, a special dish for the party, sounded both in­trigu­ing and a bit scary. According to the menu, it consisted of “a half-rack of house-​smoked baby back ribs with Ham­mer­head / Dr Pepper BBQ sauce, served with coleslaw, beans and napkins.”

I skipped the beans because I don’t like them. Dr Pepper in the barbecue sauce sounded pretty weird, but the ribs were actually quite tasty.
I washed down the Dr Pepper ribs with a pint of seasonal Copper Moon ale, which I had enjoyed elsewhere a couple of times before — definitely one of my McMenamins favorites. According to the brewer:

“Copper Moon has a coppery-orange luminescence radiating out of the pint glass, originating from three different organic malts that impart a flavorful yet summery smooth sweetness that quenches your thirst while tantalizing your taste buds. The up­front hop bitterness of Copper Moon is relatively low, com­ple­ment­ing the malts without being overpowering. The hop flavor and aroma are another matter, as the Perle and Chinook hops used in the latter stages of each batch intermingle to generate a dazzling, citrusy, floral experience, in addition to slightly spicy notes. All of these qualities blend into a refreshing, flavorful organic summer pale ale.” Meas­ure­ments: 5% ABV • 44 IBU
Satisfied with food and drink, and cooled by the air-​conditioning, I headed back outside. I found a place on the am­phi­the­a­ter seating to watch and listen to The Stevens Hess Band perform in the shad­ow of the old church, just outside the Undercroft Bar.
The band features Portland blues guitarist legend Sonny Hess and award-​winning vocalist Vicki Stevens, who joined forces about five years ago.

Together with Sony Hess Band members Jim Hively on bass and Kelly Pierce on drums, they performed a hot set in the summer heat.

Here is a short video I took of them playing ‘Sweet Sweet Sweet Sweet,’ which I am pretty sure Vicki wrote:
The audience laughed when Vikie sang “hot, hot, hot, hot” be­cause we were all pretty hot sitting outside in the late-​afternoon heat.

Little did I know that Vicki had been living in the same town as me, Albany, for these past years!

Sadly, March 2017 marked the end of the band, with Sonny and Vicki each pursuing their own musical journeys.

This lady sure can sing! And she blows a mean harmonica as well! And I love Sonny’s guitar playing!
While the band took a break on the pat­io, I followed other guests into the main hall of the 105-​year-​old church — my first time inside.
In the hall the attractions were Mc­Men­a­mins wine tasting, McMenamins spirits tasting, and two types of birthday cake.
I couldn’t decide which kind of cake to have, so I asked for a small slice of each: Terminator Stout chocolate cake and car­rot cake. Both were truly scrump­tious, and on the blue plate and table cloth, photogenic as well!

I was going to do the Discovery Hunt but it was too hot for me, so I left around 6:15.
Before heading home I drove south half a mile along Boones Ferry Road to the Willamette River and the site of the historic (founded 1847) Boones Ferry.

My historical curiosity satisfied, I turned around to make the one-​hour drive back to Albany.
The Confessional Kölsch beer I had enjoyed earlier was so good that I got a whole growler for a special birthday (theirs, not mine!) price of $8. I had this growler — with the McMenamins Copper Moon ale logo — filled at the Undercroft Bar.

I took the photo to the right, as well as the next two, at home.
After generous pour of the growler into a 21 oz. glass, I took this beauty shot of the Confessional Kölsch. According to the brewer:

“Brewed in honor of the Old Church’s birthday, Confessional Kölsch boasts a light malt body, a mild hop spice and dry grainy finish. Great by itself or paired with your favorite entrée or appetizer, this light refreshing ale is a great alternative for those seeking the light color of a domestic lager with the flavor and richness of a craft brew. It’s not a sin to like something light, so go ahead and confess your love of thirst-​quenching and crisp beer with a pint of Confessional Kölsch!” Meas­ure­ments: 5.3% ABV • 28 IBU

My notes from that day read: “Really good ... nice taste, and not watery at all.
A bottle of McMenamins Aval Pota apple-​flavored whiskey I bought as I was leaving the restaurant.

It’s not so great straight, but it is really good mixed with apple juice, hot or cold, and as a topping on vanilla ice cream.
During the two and a half hours I was at McMenamins Old Church and Pub I took a total of 55 pictures and a video. The best 32 make up the last 20 photos in the McMenamins Wilsonville 2016 album. These numbers don’t match because 2 of the 20 entries are sequences of multiple images. The first 14 photos in this album are from my previous visit.
For more tales about other locations, see My McMenamins Passport Adventure.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 639
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