Brian's Photo Blog — Article 647
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McMenamins Wilsonville on St. Patrick’s Day
Thursday 27 April 2017   —   Category: Dining Out
A month or so ago I wrote about my two 2016 visits to the McMenamins Old Church and Pub, located in the southern Portland metro area city of Wilsonville — see the articles McMenamins Wil­son­ville on Swiss National Day and Mc­Men­a­mins Wilsonville Fifth Birthday Bash for all the details.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2017 I returned to celebrate that Irish holiday with good food, good drink and good music. A number of bands were performing that day, but the only one that seemed to suit my musical tastes was a local bluegrass group called The Hillwilliams. So I timed my arrival to coincide with the start of their performance at 3:00 PM — which is also the start of McMenamins’ happy hour ... great timing!

The Hillwilliams were performing out­side on the covered back patio of the main restaurant building, shown in the first photo to the right. The quite cold and rainy March day was not very con­du­cive to outdoor seating and per­form­ing, but we all made the best of what Mother Nature dealt us that day. Even if there was only one wall instead of four, at least there was a roof over our heads!

From what I have been able to ascertain, The Hillwilliams are led and anchored by mandolin player Rich Landar. The other members of the band seem to vary ac­cord­ing to availability or some other cri­te­ria. The impression I had that day was that some of the musicians were not reg­u­lar members. Nevertheless, they played together very cohesively, which you will see for yourself shortly.

As I am sure you can imagine, the out­door patio seating was pretty empty on a damp and frigid weekday afternoon. But this worked in my favor, as I thrive on cold weather and I was able to get a table with a great view only 12 or 15 feet from the band. I almost felt like they were performing just for me even though there were a few other patrons.

By laying my photo backpack down on the table and using it as a makeshift tripod, I was able to record shake-​free videos of most of the pieces they per­formed — 20 videos in all! I have nar­rowed them down to the best seven, and made them available in a YouTube play­list for your viewing pleasure. Here is one of the best clips:
What else would I order on St. Patrick’s Day but an Irland-​inspired beer? According to the brewer:

“ This is our Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day Seasonal and will pour exclusively on our nitro taps for the occasion. Mc­Men­a­mins Irish Stout is our interpretation of the internationally renowned beer style that originated in Ireland. McMenamins Irish Stout is made as traditionally as possible with our own little twist. It is a very dark, ebony-colored stout with a thick, creamy and long-lasting head. The flavor is a fantastic fusion of coffee-like roasted barley bitterness and semi-sweet chocolate. A moderate hop bitterness balances pleasingly with this hearty backbone, while tiny nitrogen bubbles enhance the sensation on your taste buds with a smooth, silky creaminess. One sip will have your head in the Emerald Isle clouds. A touch of the Irish, the blessings of St. Patrick and a pint of McMenamins Irish Stout to you!” Meas­ure­ments: 4.9% ABV • 38 IBU

My notes from that day read: “Great as before ... it went well with the Irish stew.”
Speaking of which, here is a picture of the big bowl of hot stew. My notes from that day read: “It was OK but not great ... a bit on the bland side, but good for sitting outside in the cold. The Red Wine Beef Stew I had in January at their John Barleycorns location was way better.”
When the band finished their first set and took a break, I tried samples of Cantankerous Coot Old Ale and Liquid Sunshine Wheat, neither of which tickled my taste buds. Therefore I got a pint of 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

This was the third time in six months that I had this beer, and it was awesome as usual. It is one of my favorite McMenamins beers, brewed in the basement of the Old Church, just yards from where I was sitting.
In the middle of the band’s second set I indulged in some dessert to finish off my St. Patrick’s Day afternoon.

The drinking dessert was a Hot Apple Pear cocktail, which consisted of Edge­field Pear Brandy, Tuaca, and hot apple cider.

The eating dessert was a Frank’s Apple-​Rum Bundt Cake, which consisted of apple bundt cake with a Frank Rum / raisin sauce and whipped cream.

The cake was awesome, while the drink was OK, but not great, and I probably would not order that again. But the cake I sure would!

In the above photo, notice my McMenamins Passport in its leather cover to the left of the cake. In it I received a special just-​for-​fun St. Patrick’s Day stamp on the Bragging Rights page.

The guitarist was very friendly and came to talk to me during their break. He asked if we had met before and I told him I didn’t think so. Then he told me that I looked like Dan Fogelberg. I’m not sure what he was referring to — maybe something along the line of this single cover. Still, it was an in­ter­est­ing and unusual encounter.

He also asked if I had any requests. I told him no, but after a few minutes I thought of one of my favorite bluegrass songs. I told him what it was, and near the end of their second set I was quite pleased when they sang I’ll Fly Away.

The leader of the group, Rich Landar, noticed that I was videoing during their concert. After they were done playing, he asked me to put some of the videos on Facebook. Since I don’t do social networking, I sent him a thumb drive of all 20 videos. As I mentioned above, I have nar­rowed them down to the best seven, and made them available in a YouTube playlist.

During the two hours I was there, I had three drinks, stew and dessert. I think that qualifies for a mini pub crawl — all without even leaving my seat! Before I drove back home I went into the restaurant to use the men’s room. And at that very moment, a kilted bagpiper was marching through the restaurant doing his stuff. I was able to quickly switch on my camera and capture this sort video:
There were a number of firsts for me this day. It was:
  • the first time I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at a McMenamins
  • the first time I had Irish stout and Irish stew on St. Patrick’s Day
  • the first time I had that scrumptious dessert
  • the first time I had seen The Hillwilliams perform
  • the first time I listened to music at a McMenamins for a full two hours
  • the first time I was told that I look like Dan Fogelberg
  • the first time I recorded 20 videos on an outing
  • the first time I recorded nearly two-thirds as many videos on an outing as photos I took
In between all that videoing I snapped a total of 32 picture. Only 10 made the grade, and are now viewable in the new McMenamins Wilsonville 2017 album. The Old Church and Pub is one of my favorite McMenamins, and the eighth closest, so I imagine that I will be adding more photos to the album as the year progresses.

For a look at last year’s visits to this location, see the McMenamins Wilsonville 2016 album. To find out what I did last year on this day, see the article A Three-Sausage Portland St. Patrick’s Day. In closing, I will repeat what my high school biology teacher taught us students to say: Éirinn go Brách!
For more tales about other locations, see My McMenamins Passport Adventure.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 647
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