4590 SE Harborton St., South Beach, 541-563-6181, wolftreebrewery.com. 4-10 pm Monday-Friday, 2-10 pm Saturday, 2-8 pm Sunday.
If Joe Hitselberger had his way, he'd make only one beer at Wolf Tree Brewery. And that beer is an odd one. Hitselberger, who worked in forestry, is obsessed with spruce tips. He got hooked on them while working in Alaska, and has since become the first Oregon brewer to make the style his flagship. The soft shoots that bud on Sitka spruce in the spring aren't piney like you'd expect of hops, but rather sweet, with citrus and strawberry notes—they make for a delicate, unique and very tasty beer. With a mild cotton-candy and strawberry sweetness, Wolf Tree's barrel-aged Spruce Tip Ale is the best I've had, and I'm not alone in my opinion. Last year, Wolf Tree came out of nowhere to win a gold medal for best "Experimental" beer at the Oregon Beer Awards. Wolf Tree's address is Seal Rock, a small coastal community between Newport and Yachats. But the brewery is actually 6 miles inland, in a barn on the Hitselberger family cattle ranch. It opened in 2013, making tiny batches for a few years before building a larger brewhouse. Last year it opened a taproom closer to town, on the second floor of a shiny new building in a development of sustainable homes called Wilder. That space is pretty basic, but features a surprising number of beers from this tiny operation. The barrel-aged offerings are the standouts, particularly if you see that spruce tip on tap.
Nearby: It feels like you're in the middle of nowhere, but the south side of the Yaquina Bay actually has some of the best things in Newport. Grab lunch at the South Beach Fish Market (3640 S Coast Highway, South Beach, 541-867-6800, southbeachfishmarket.com) a convenience store that long-time Oregonians will tell you has the best fish and chips on this part of the coast. Just south of that, you'll find the best dispensary in town, Bernie's Universal Dispensary (3842 S Coast Hwy., Newport, 541-867-2837), which sells house-grown cannabis from a tiny 500-square foot hut in the parking lot of a metal shop.