By Kristin Griffin
16558 Alsea Highway, Alsea, 541-740-1606. Call ahead to make sure they're open; hours are variable.
The Alsea Highway is one of the many small, winding routes between the Willamette Valley and the Coast. If you happen to be on it and see a sign that says "BEER," stop by for a unique rural Oregon experience. Siuslaw Brewing is a big barn deep in the forest. Inside that barn, they brew and pour their beers. Don't expect a full-scale brewery with staff and food and a carefully considered atmosphere. Things are still developing at Siuslaw. It's on a one-barrel system and only pouring samples and filling growlers at the moment. But it's got plans to level up to a bigger brewing system and is working on an outdoor patio. The main space feels more like a living room with big, overstuffed couches and a casual vibe. What sets Siuslaw apart is that it grows not only its own hops but barley, too, and is working on building its own malter, which is basically unheard of in this country. The dark beers are especially good, from the porter to a Vanilla Bean Oatmeal Stout that's dripping with vanilla balanced by a roasted, dry finish. You won't find experimental stuff here, just tried-and-true classics in a beautiful, tucked-away setting.
Nearby: Five miles down the highway you'll come across the Pie Shack (54 East Yates Road, 541-487-4066, bentoncountypie.com), a cute little shed in the middle of nowhere with shelves full of freshly baked pies. This spot is serve-yourself—leave your cash in the box and pick a marionberry or lemon meringue pie to go. If baker Karen Pierce is home she'll probably come down to say hello.