June was a total whirlwind and one of the side effects was I’m just now getting around to blogging about some of my Northwest adventures. At the beginning of the month I got the opportunity to go for a little road trip with my dad up Highway 101 along the Oregon coast, up around the Olympic Peninsula and finally ending in Olympia, Washington.
The second day of our trip we drove from Coos Bay to Astoria along the Oregon coast. We made lots of quick stops for hikes, views and a few beers. There aren’t
a lot of breweries along the coast but we were able to stop off at three, the first Rogue in Newport, then Pelican Brewery in Pacific City and finally Fort George in Astoria.
Our first stop on the way up the Coast was at the World Headquarters of the Rogue Nation. There are two Rogue “meeting halls” in Newport, we chose to head to the brewpub in the actual brewery on the bay. We arrived at lunch time and unfortunately our plan was to make it to Astoria that evening so we missed the afternoon tour but we were able to get in and do a bit of sampling.
With a claim to 50 taps at the pub there is plenty to choose from. After our complimentary sample of a nice Cascadian Dark Ale my dad and I each picked the four beers that sounded most interesting to us making sure not to double up on anything. I picked the Mori Soba, the Scotch Ale, the Assam Tea Ale and John John Dead Guy.
I got the Assam because I’ve been thinking about trying to brew with tea as well, the beer was ok. The Assam Tea had a strong tea like taste and was interesting but a small taster was enough. The John John Dead Guy is great but it is one hell of a process to make. It’s a Maibock who’s mash is distilled into a whiskey and aged in barrel for 30 days, after which the whiskey is bottled and the Dead Guy Ale is put into the whiskey barrels and aged in whiskey barrels for 2 months. I thought it was excellent but definitely a sipping beer. The Scotch Ale was also excellent with just a bit of malty sweetness and an amazing Schotch flavor. My best pick was the Morimoto Soba Ale. It’s made from buckwheat and has an unusual malty character with a touch of sweetness. My absolute favorite beer of the whole sitting was the Hazelnut brown, one of my dads picks. It’s a great brown ale with a hazelnut flavor that seems to go forever.
We each also picked up some lunch, I had an outstanding salmon salad, and sat next to the windows watching the boats come down through the harbor. Because we were shooting to make it to Astoria and make a few other stops along the way we couldn’t linger to long. So we wrapped up our tasting session, hit the bottle shop, and headed back out on the road.
Pacific City, Or
Pacific City appeared to me like an up and coming Oregon Coast beach town. There were condos everywhere and more construction happening. When we found Pelican Brewery we pulled into a sandy wind whipped parking lot no more than a few hundred feet from the water. It’s a beautiful spot on the beach with surfers right out in the break. My only complaint when we showed up was the blustery Oregon coast chill, so we quickly headed in to do some tasting.
The brewpub is a great space. When you walk in you walk through the Pelican gift shop with shirts, stickers, beer and all sorts of paraphernalia. It then opens into the restaurant with some booths looking out onto the beach and the surfers while the bar sits right on the left as you come in, which is where we headed.
We ordered up the sampler which consisted of the Kiwanda Cream Ale, MacPelican’s Scottish Style Ale, India Pelican Ale, Doryman’s Dark Ale, Tsunami Stout and the seasonals Winema Wit, Sufters Summer Ale, and Ankle Buster Ale. I had high recommendations for the Kiwanda so I was excited to try it. It was a good example of a cream ale style but maybe because it was cold that day it didn’t strike me as the best beer on the taster. That was actually a toss up between the Tsunami Stout and the Ankle Buster. They were both great beers and hit the spot for a cool cloudy Oregon afternoon.
As much as I wanted to hang around and explore Pacific City we needed to hit the road again. Astoria was still a couple hours away and Tillamook was still between us (you can’t drive through Tillamook and not stop for ice cream).
We made it up to Fort Stevens State Park around 7:30, set up camp and checked out the park a bit. Afterwards we headed into Astoria to pick up some dinner. Our initial plan was to head to the Rogue Pub in Astoria that evening but as we were driving through my dad spotted Fort George just off the main drag. Needless to say we veered off in that direction, it was a great decision.
Fort George Brewery is located in the Fort George Building, a nicely cleaned up building in the warehouse part of town. We headed in and I was a little surprised at how nice the place is. It’s a gorgeous pub with a great bar, custom iron barstools and nice booths along the windows. We settled into a booth and ordered a taster tray and some dinner.
Everything was great. Though I wasn’t really a fan of their flagship Vortex IPA I found myself drawn to several of their other beers. The stand outs were definitely the Quick Wit, Divinity, Working Girl Porter, Roscoe IPA and the Wasabi Ginger Ale. The Quick Wit is a very drinkable Belgian style wit beer with a nice mellow spice to it, perfect for Astoria weather. I’m not sure exactly what style ale the Divinity was but it was bright fruit beer made with Ollalie Berries that to me made it taste like a perfect Oregon summers day. The Working Girl Porter was a coffee porter that came in at 4.6% which made it seem like another great Astoria session beer for those cold foggy days. The Roscoe IPA was brewed with wild rice, another experiment Eryn and I have kicked around, which imparted a really interesting non-malty sweetness to the beer which nicely offset the IPA hoppiness. Finally the Wasabi Ginger Ale, a non-alcoholic refresher, was a funky mix of sweetness and spice that should absolutely be tried by anyone stopping by.
The food was equally as good as the beer and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Fort George. Night was falling though, and we had more driving to do the next day so we headed back to camp ending our Oregon Coast beer exploration. If you ever get a chance to head up highway 101 along the Oregon coast I would definitely recommend each of these as stops along the way. They are all a little different, they all have their own style, but they are all excellent example of Oregon Craft Beer.
Some more pictures of our Oregon Coast Adventures: