Crashing waves, art galleries, sweeping vistas, a boardwalk complete with carnival games and cotton candy, sandy beaches, rolling rivers, and even a pretty, historic city -- if it seems like Oregon's North Coast has it all, it's probably because it does. Or close to it.
From Cannon Beach to the farthest northwest tip of Oregon, Astoria, there's enough to do and see to keep folks busy. And apparently thirsty, too, with a growing number of great places to enjoy a pint and all that the region has to offer. There's even the North Coast Craft Beer Trail that features a goodly number of places -- from brewpubs to restaurants -- to source craft beer. The trail is featured on a phone app to help you hit all the hot spots -- and get a reward if you do. (everytrail.com/guide/north-coast-craft-beer-trail)
If you're planning on going coastal for just a day, I suggest having a designated driver as a lot of this touring takes place on the winding (yet beautiful) Highway 101. If you are planning a lengthier stay, the recently opened McMenamins Sand Trap Inn in Gearhart offers craft beer, a full bar, a nice restaurant and a good dose of local history along with a nightly room. Right on a public golf course and within a few moments' walk to quaint shops and the sandy beaches, the hotel is pretty much equidistant from the farthest flung of our beery destinations. Of course, there are also places to hand your hat, from as far south as Cannon Beach, with its artistic flair; to Seaside, the most family-friendly city on the North Coast; and up north to Astoria, a charming city that is reminiscent of San Francisco, but has too much history of its own to not stand up on its own merit. (Two morsels: Fort Astoria was the first American-owned establishment on the Pacific coast of what is now the United States. And Clark Gable got his first acting gig in Astoria -- in a structure that now houses public restrooms.)
Any time is a great time to visit the North Coast, but if you are looking for extra beery distractions, you might consider visiting during the Pouring at the Coast Beer Festival (around St. Patrick's Day in Seaside: seasidechamber.com), the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup (the last weekend in September in Astoria: fortgeorgebrewery.com) or Stout Month (all of February, Fort George in Astoria: fortgeorgebrewery.com).
From south to north, here are a few suggestions for going coastal and enjoying good beer at the same time:
1: Seaside Brewing, 851 Broadway, Seaside; seasidebrewing.com -- The new kids on the block, Seaside Brewing at press time was still working on pouring its own beer at the brewpub full-time. But in the meantime, they've got a good selection of regional craft beers on draft. It's dog- and kid-friendly with a ton of outdoor seating to soak up those precious sunny days. Kudos to former Rogue manager Jimmy Griffin and his gang for finally giving Seaside a brewpub.
2: Wine & Beer Haus, Seaside Factory Outlet Center / 1111 N. Roosevelt Drive, Seaside (no website) -- With more than 300 beers in coolers (plus a great wine selection), the Wine & Beer Haus was already a great find on the North Coast. But at press time, owner Jeff Kilday was moving to a new store location (still in the outlet mall) which promises more room and space for more beer. You can still take bottles to-go or have them open the beer for you to enjoy in the store -- making for a great escape for the non-shoppers in any group. If you plan on return visits, start a free Hall of Foam membership. After logging 100 different beers, you get invited to celebrate at an annual party. Togas optional.
3: Fort George Brewing, 1483 Duane Street, Astoria; fortgeorgebrewery.com -- With its new production brewery in full-steam-ahead mode, chances are you will be seeing more and more Fort George beers -- on draft and in their distinctive 16-ounce cans -- around the region. But just because you can get the beer elsewhere doesn't mean you shouldn't pay a visit to the source. The brewpub is family friendly, always bustling and has a great vibe. Or head across the parking lot to the Lowell Tasting Room, nestled in the production brewery, for a quieter experience. Make sure to check out both places if they're both open (the tasting room has shorter hours of operation) because quite often you can find something special pouring at one place that's not on tap at the other!
4: Astoria Brewing Co. & Wet Dog Café, 144 11th Street, Astoria; wetdogcafe.com -- Hands down the stop with the best view, right on the mighty Columbia River. Grab a pint of one of a dozen or so beers made on-site, hunker down and watch the pilot boats criss-cross in and out to assist the big ships that pass by. On a pretty day, you can't beat the deck, and there are more sailboats on the water. Plans are in the works for a brewery expansion so look for more of the ever-popular Bitter Bitch Imperial IPA and Lincoln Lager (named for the brewers son, not the president) in the near future.
Other suggested stops:
Warren House, 3301 South Hemlock Street, Cannon Beach
The Lumberyard Rotisserie & Grill, 264 E. 3rd St., Cannon Beach
Bill's Tavern & Brewhouse, 188 North Hemlock St., Cannon Beach
Dundees Bar & Grill, 414 Broadway St., Seaside
Twisted Fish Steakhouse, 311 Broadway St., Seaside
U Street Pub & Eatery, 220 Avenue U, Seaside
Rogue Ales Public House, 100 39th St., Astoria
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.