So You’ve Got a Whole Weekend and Like Looking at the Ocean, but Not Going in the Water? Tour Breweries at the Coast

One brewery uses spruce tips to set itself apart while another relies on the magic of spontaneous fermentation.


Buoy Beer

1 8th St., Astoria, 503-325-4540, 11 am-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-10 pm Friday-Saturday.

It may be tempting to assume Buoy's popularity is based on its spectacular views of the Columbia or the windows that showcase the busy sea lions beneath the pub. Situated on a pier that was once a cannery, the brewpub offers scenery that is instantly memorable. And the sea lions are entertaining. But there's much more here. Buoy produces some fantastic core beers, including the terrific and popular Czech-style Pils and helles. The Buoy Cream Ale, IPA, Dunkel and NW Red Ale are also dependably tasty. In a departure from traditional offerings, the brewery released it first foeder creation in January, produced in a 60-barrel vessel purchased from the Commons when it closed. The beer, Buoy Brett Saison, is a blend of three saisons featuring Pilsner, wheat, Vienna and buckwheat malts, as well as Oregon-grown Meridian hops and citrus zest. There are apparently more specialty beers in the works, and they'll be worth searching out. There's really no better place to enjoy beer, a meal and views. This is one of Oregon's best brewpub experiences. PETE DUNLOP.

Eat this: The menu features a seafood theme, and the items are fresh. You can't go wrong with the rockfish and chips ($14). The clam chowder ($4 a cup, $7 a bowl) is also worthwhile.

Fort George Brewery

1483 Duane St., Astoria, 503-325-7468, 11 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday, noon-11 pm Sunday.

Since it opened in 2007, Fort George has been on a mission of constant growth. In the early years, it did so mostly with a solid line of core beers. More recently, it upped the ante with the annual 3-Way IPA collabo franchise (it will partner with Seattle's Cloudburst and Portland's Ruse in 2019), the ever-expanding Festival of Dark Arts, and a growing number of well-crafted specialty releases. The pub in Astoria, a destination for beer connoisseurs and casual fans alike, was expanded and updated in 2018—including a covered patio that increased the square footage and enhanced the outdoor ambience. Head up the spiral staircase for better views of the city and river, or for community seating and wood-fired pizza. There are plenty of fine beers here, and your selection will depend on your taste and state of mind. The always solid Cavatica Stout is perfect for any occasion. Fans of the haze craze are likely to prefer the constantly evolving Fields of Green; each batch is being released with a new name in alphabetical order—January's was called "Irene." Or there's the easy-drinking City of Dreams, another dependable choice. For greater adventure, head over to the brewery, where you'll stumble upon the cozy, comfy Lovell Taproom. That's where you're likely to find quirky barrel-aged blends and other gems, alongside many standards. PETE DUNLOP.

Eat this: You're in Astoria. Go with the fish and chips ($14.95-$16.95) or one of the seafood-centric items.

Reach Break Brewing

1343 Duane St., Astoria, 503-468-0743. Noon-8 pm Sunday-Thursday, noon-9 pm Friday-Saturday.

Reach Break made a splash when it opened a block away from Fort George in early 2017 and became a part of Astoria's growing collection of breweries. Its positive entry didn't have much to do with aromatic IPAs or the hazy styles that were then beginning to gain favor. The standards, which cover an eclectic range, are fully serviceable. But where Reach Break truly impresses is with mixed-fermentation beers. It's apt to have several of those on tap in the tiny taproom at any given time, and these are always worth the price of admission. The taproom and brewery sit atop a giant basement once used as storage for an auto repair shop. Today, that underground space contains barrels in which specialty beers are aged. While the indoor tasting room is small, Reach Break has a huge outdoor seating area that packs in the tourists who descend on Astoria during the warmer months. Food is provided by several carts that surround the outdoor seating. PETE DUNLOP.

Eat this: If the food cart fare doesn't suit your taste, walk a few blocks to the landbound red-and-white boat, which is actually a fish-and-chip shack. Bowpicker (1634 Duane St., 503-791-2942, offers beer-battered albacore fried to perfection.


Pelican Brewing

1371 S Hemlock St., Cannon Beach, 503-908-3377,
11 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday. 1708 1st St., Tillamook, 503-842-7007. 11 am-9 pm daily. 33180 Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City, 503-965-7007. 10:30 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday,
10:30 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday.

Pelican set up shop in Pacific City back in 1996. Those were relatively quaint days in craft beer, but the beachfront brewery and pub established itself as a destination. More recently, it opened a production facility in Tillamook (2013) and a pub in Cannon Beach (2016), further leveraging its position on the coast. The Cannon Beach pub, just blocks from the ocean, has a high ceiling and invites in a flood of natural light through strategically placed windows. There's an outside seating area for warmer weather. Food is a big part of Pelican's presentation, and it doesn't disappoint. The menus in Pacific City and Cannon Beach, essentially restaurants with breweries, are similar and feature high-level pub fare. The Tillamook pub is more casual, even a bit gritty (in a good way)—you might expect to sit at a table next to the area's dairy farmers after a day in the fields. Pelican beers have won several hundred medals over the years. Brewers tend to steer away from fads and focus on down-to-earth styles made well. Kiwanda Cream Ale is certainly the most well-known Pelican beer. The easy-drinking brew is always fresh, crisp and not to be missed. Five Fin West Coast Pilsner also gets high marks, as does the roasty yet smooth Tsunami Stout. The IPAs are surprisingly less impressive. PETE DUNLOP.

Eat this: Seafood options stand out here. Try the clam chowder ($7.99 a cup, $9.99 a bowl) or the fish tacos ($18.99).

de Garde Brewing

114 Ivy Ave., Tillamook, 503-815-1635. 3-7 pm Thursday-Friday, noon-7 pm Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday.

Years before breweries across the state were hopping aboard the coolship trend, Trevor and Linsey Rogers were monitoring the air. The husband-and-wife team pinpointed Tillamook as the perfect place to spontaneously ferment beer in an open-top vessel kind of like a shallow bathtub. Though it's a risky method—consistency is impossible and flavors may not end up as you hoped—de Garde has proven itself world class when the winds are in its favor. Wild yeast thrives in the temperate climate, the strains gathering unique character from the area's grazing cows, flowing estuaries and Pacific brine. In fact, the Hose is a bit like tasting the gales during a day at the beach—sea salt teases as coriander lingers like an orange slice on the palate. Not a single ale disappointed on my visit, and that's the way you should experience de Garde. Since something new is almost always available, get as many 6-ounce tasters as you can handle. A few will surely stand out, then commit to a larger pour. For me, that was the Apricot, in which sweet and sour notes both vied for attention like a peach gummy. I drank every last drop. It's beers like this that draw people from all over the world to rural Oregon, which de Garde's map covered in stickers marking visitors' homes speaks to. ANDI PREWITT.

Eat this: Log some laps in the free samples line at the now-remodeled Tillamook Creamery (4165 N Highway 101, Tillamook, 503-815-1300,, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state. If squeaky curds and chunks of sharp cheddar aren't enough to satisfy your appetite, there's a full menu in the Creamery Food Hall or Pelican's sounter-service pub (1708 1st St., Tillamook, 503-842-7007,, with better seafood than many coastal restaurants claiming to specialize in the cuisine.

Wolf Tree Brewery Taproom

4590 SE Harborton St., South Beach, 541-223-5766. 4-10 pm Monday-Friday, 2-10 pm Saturday, 2-8 pm Sunday.

Joe Hitselberger met his muse in Alaska. It was there, working as a wildlife biologist, where he had his first sip of a spruce tip ale, and that's all it took to get him hooked on the soft spring buds. Hitselberger began homebrewing with the little green shoots he foraged and used them to help Wolf Tree stand apart from other breweries when he opened the nano-operation in 2013. The flagship unfiltered ale is about as close as you can get to drinking the old-growth Sitkas that inspired the brewery's name. It's a beer interlaced with a whisper of mint and the must of a damp forest interrupted by a faint citrus pop—those are the tips talking to your tongue. While a number of beers here have spruce in them, not all do. A pair of spirited farm ales were on tap during my visit. If Hitselberger isn't smuggling sticks of Fruit Stripe Gum into the wooden casks he ages batches of Saison Du Baril in, then I don't know what sort of wizardry he's working out in Seal Rock. The other, What Does the Fox Saison, is a bit bolder—the sourness builds, and right before you think it's going to overwhelm, the beer slides into a succulent apricot flavor. You can visit the brewer by appointment while he makes batches on his family's cattle ranch, but the property is not necessarily convenient to reach. Fortunately, there's now a taproom just outside Newport with maple-topped bars and tables that were also crafted by Hitselberger. The wood is so smooth, you can't help yourself from caressing it—the result of much tedious sanding that would impress even Ron Swanson. ANDI PREWITT.

Eat this: Sure, there's a cafe on the first floor of the building here, but just minutes away is an Arctic Circle (340 N Coast Highway, Newport, 541-265-7822,, one of last remaining in the state. You know what to do: drive-thru, extra fry sauce. Bring it on.


Yachats Brewing + Farmstore

348 Highway 101, Yachats, 541-547-3884, 11:30 am-8 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-9 pm Friday-Saturday, 11:30 am-7 pm Sunday.

Yachats Brewing + Farmstore has become a coastal destination since opening in 2013, and runs its brewpub with an eye toward sustainability. Not only does it boast some of the best beer on the coast, but also a thoughtfully put together menu with local, seasonal ingredients. Here, you can order a flight of beer and a flight of house-fermented veggies! The beer list is as varied as the clouds on the horizon, and all done well. If you want a refreshing lager, the Log Dog is smooth with a touch of Northwest bitterness. Hops your thing? Choose the tropical scents of Thor's Well IPA. An oddball, the Rachael's Fave cream ale with passion fruit is bright and juicy (I had to have two!) and 7 percent ABV (I didn't need two!). Though wine is available, there are some barrel-aged beers, like the Tenmile saison, aged for a year in oak, that can give a chardonnay or pinot gris a run for its money. From the big windowside bar or the patio, help yourself to a wonderful view of the sky over Yachats Bay while enjoying a pint and some winter squash gnocchi with brown butter and herbs, or one of the juiciest burgers you've ever had. AARON BRUSSAT.

Eat this: Because the food here is so good, a hike through old-growth forest on the Cummins Creek trail, just 15 minutes south, will build up a good appetite. If you want to try other cuisine in Yachats, Ona Restaurant & Lounge (131 Highway 101, Yachats, 541-547-6627, across the street serves incredible seafood dishes.