For 20 years, Bill had Cannon Beach on lockdown. Even as most of Oregon's coastal towns grew increasingly beery, the scenic enclave was home to only Bill's Tavern and Brewhouse, which won two medals at the 1999 Great American Beer Festival and has stuck with those recipes. Then, this summer, two new breweries posted tasteful wooden signs along Hemlock Street.
The first is the third location of Pelican Brewing (1371 S Hemlock St., Cannon Beach, 503-908-3377, pelicanbrewing.com), the English-focused brewery based in Pacific City. This Pelican offshoot makes its own beer inside a cavernous, blond-wood space that seats 160. It also does upscale seafood, like a $30 bowl of cioppino with Dungeness crab legs crawling right out of it, and a $16 sweet-potato-and-quinoa cake. After a full taster tray of beer and plenty of food, the best things we had were basic flatbreads and the Tsunami Stout.
But on the northern edge of town, another newcomer was more impressive. Public Coast Brewing (264 E 3rd St., Cannon Beach, 503-436-0285, publiccoastbrewing.com) is the first brewpub I've ever seen that has counter service—you order your food and drinks, then take your buzzer to a table.
The simple pub menu focuses on burgers (get the $14 Forager with sauteed mushrooms, onions and blue cheese), onion rings and desserts made with Tillamook ice cream. The beer exceeded expectations, especially the admirably balanced raspberry honey dunkel and a crisp Citra pale ale. If you're headed out to watch the winter storms roll in over Haystack Rock, it's a recommended stop.