It's strange to think the tourist-happy town of Cannon Beach got its name as the result of a maritime disaster. A cannon from a shipwreck in the 1840s washed ashore and was discovered by a mail carrier some 50 years later in Arch Cape Creek. The beach ultimately became associated with the old artillery piece, so the moniker stuck.
Despite its weird history (the original cannon can be seen at the Heritage Museum in Astoria, if you need proof) and wholesome, "golly gee" beach town vibes, there's still plenty of drinking to be done in Cannon Beach—probably more than in your average coastal town given the fact there are three breweries, a distillery and wine rooms galore along the 1-mile downtown strip. Nothing beats day drinking and then strolling about in a buzzed stupor in a place that's too well-heeled for such debauchery. And, hey, where else but here can you stock up on hardware while chugging an IPA?
If you start your booze crawl at the north end of town, grab a pint at Public Coast Brewing (264 E 3rd St., 503-436-0285, publiccoastbrewing.com). The name honors Oregon's 363 miles of Pacific coastline that's free and open to the public thanks to the 1967 Beach Bill. One of the most recent additions to Cannon Beach's food and beverage scene, the brewery was opened in 2016 by a longtime pillar of the city's hospitality industry—Ryan Snyder also operates such beloved properties as the Stephanie Inn and Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge.
Brewed onsite—you can see the giant silver tanks through huge glass windows from the bar—the beers here are balanced and crisp, nothing too crazy. Go for the '67 Blonde Ale. It's won two beer awards—including a gold medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup in 2018—thanks to brewmaster Will Leroux. And besides, you'll want to start this booze crawl with something light (unless you're planning to end up passed out on the beach before reaching the final bar). If you can, grab a patio seat and enjoy some sun because come tomorrow morning bright light will most likely be anything but enjoyable.
Stop at Bruce's Candy Kitchen (256 N Hemlock St., 503-436-2641, brucescandy.com) for a little pick-me-up on your way over to Bill's Tavern & Brewhouse (188 N Hemlock St., 503-436-2202). Right in the center of downtown, the well-worn saloon sees its share of locals, some of whom have been coming since it opened in the 1990s. From a barstool, look up and you can catch a glimpse of the cramped space where they make the beer. The emphasis is on British-style ales, and the Duck Dive is highly recommended—on the walls hang evidence of its success in competitions two decades ago. You're probably not going to find any cutting-edge brews here, but that's OK. In fact, the unlikelihood of running into a pretentious beer geek is part of the joint's charm. Instead, get to know one of the locals who will probably shake your confidence in how much alcohol you can hold. Regulars maybe twice your age routinely down three pints before you can tackle half of yours.
Be prepared for a bit of a tipsy stroll from Bill's to your next stop, Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House (1235 S Hemlock St., 503-436-4086, cannonbeachhardware.com). It's about a 15-minute walk, and at this point, some fresh air should do you good. On your way, you'll pass art galleries, restaurants and a whole lot of beach homes. Doubling as a hardware store and bar, the unique pub hybrid has been nicknamed "Screw and Brew." Inspired by a similar retail watering hole in Ireland, owner Ryan Dewey opened the shop in 2010, offering locals a spot in town to buy hardware supplies without the drive north to Seaside. The bar is very popular with locals, who will be eager to hit you up for conversation. There's a draft list of beers from such Oregon breweries as Fort George and Double Mountain along with a full cocktail bar if you need a break from beer. Drinks come with entertainment if you eavesdrop on the Cannon Beach gossip or keep to yourself and flip the pages of a book devoted to awkward family photos. But don't forget to peruse the hardware store, where you can buy everything from standard tools to camping supplies and even a Bug-A-Salt—a salt-firing shotgun that kills flies.
After you've bellied up and perhaps made some new friends, it's just a short jaunt to Cannon Beach Distillery (1315 S Hemlock St., 503-436-0301, cannonbeachdistillery.com). Opening its doors in 2012, Mike Selberg makes all of his small-batch spirits from scratch right at the production facility. The result? Some of the best spirits you'll find in Oregon. Shelves of whiskey, rum and gin, several of which have nabbed awards, are displayed across the walls. The tasting room even has a gaming corner with a cushy couch where you can lounge and play Mario Bros. while sipping your drink. If you can't decide what to try, the smoky and not overly sweet Donlon Shanks Amber Rum will turn you into a fan of the sugarcane distillate if you're not already.
It wouldn't be a booze crawl on the coast without popping into Pelican Brewing (1371 S Hemlock St., 503-908-3377, pelicanbrewing.com/pubs/cannon-beach), and since it's only a block from the distillery, you don't have to make much of an effort to get there. With three locations along the coast, the brewpub here opened just months before Public Coast started operations three years ago. The sprawling blond-wood interior and vaulted ceiling are a sharp contrast to the cozy tasting room you just came from. Nonetheless, after all that liquor, you should mellow out with a smooth Kiwanda Cream Ale, one of Pelican's perennial brews and one of its best-selling. On your way out, be sure to grab a bottle from the to-go fridge. It's legal to drink alcohol on the beach, so what better way to end your day than by watching the sunset in all your drunken glory?
Before you settle in on the sand, finish the booze crawl with some panko-breaded razor clams at the Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge (1190 Pacific Drive, 503-436-1108, wayfarer-restaurant.com), where Seaside-raised chef Josh Archibald has mastered cooking not only seafood but also seasonal veggies. The oceanfront space is within view of Haystack Rock, and the low-lit, woodsy dining room is easy on the eyes after all that boozing. There's also a well-stocked whiskey lounge if you still have it in you. After all, any good bar crawl should end with a nightcap.