written by Michael Kew | featured photo by Josh Jones
Once a rainy, craft-beer desert, the rugged southern Oregon coast has become something of a must-visit for those who love beer as much as sublime ocean scenery. Along with whale-watching, tidepooling, and vista point-admiring, your leisurely pace up or down Highway 101 will deliver you to six wonderful breweries run by wonderful people, offering cool, seabreezed portals to a well-rounded coast-cuisine affair.
Smack-dab in the heart of Oregon’s celebrated Dunes region, Fir Avenue in Reedsport is home to the Oregon Coast’s youngest brewery, run by brothers-in-law Levi Allen and Trevor Frazier. A dispute involving Native Americans and fur trader Jedediah Smith, ironically for whom the 90-mile-long tributary of the Umpqua River was named for, spawned the name of this rustic brewpub, where you’ll find refreshing pints of 1.21 Jigahops IPA, GritPils, and Bravest Pale Ale.
Set in a snug, historic downtown storefront, the lively husband-and-wife team of Carmen Matthews and Annie Pollard provide quality craft beer and gourmet food for the Oregon Coast’s most-populated city, Coos Bay, in the state’s “Bay Area.” Enjoyed in what has become a social and musical hub, Groundswell IPA and Lighthouse Session Ale are summer favorites, while Blacklock Porter and Coalbank Stout are wonderful companions through the long months of wind and rain.
Anchored by brewer James Smith, winner of the 2016 World Beer Cup’s Champion Brewery & Brewmaster Award in the Very Small Brewing Company category (whew!), this production brewery on the sunny banks of Hunter Creek near Gold Beach has been kegging three flagship beers for three years. Pistol River Pale Ale and Gold Beach Lager are the two top-sellers, with State of Jefferson Porter and the odd seasonal specialty (Adipose IPA, He-Man Imperial Stout) rounding out Smith’s quality-not-quantity approach.
Last year, when a clean, 768-square-foot space opened in downtown Brookings, brewer Mike Frederick and his wife, Alex, wasted no time in making their homemade products publicly available. Today, it’s more than a friendly tap house with a long menu, which includes twelve of Frederick’s vegan creations, such as the award-winning Block & Tackle Stout and the potent Thunder Rock IPA. Kick back with your dog on the sunny patio, or huddle around a table inside to browse the pub library or play one of the many board games on hand. And don’t forget to try the house-made pretzels and chili.
This Harbor institution opened in 1980 as one of Oregon’s first microbreweries. Ten years later, Wild River now has four restaurants (the others are inland—Cave Junction, Grants Pass, Medford), all run by the third generation of the venerable Miller family. The pizza is delicious, paired well with local favorites like Wild River IPA, Harbor Lights Kölsch, and Double Eagle Imperial Stout.
Eight year-round beers come from Matt Camarillo’s garage-size brewhouse along the Winchuck River, three miles east of the Pacific and a stone’s throw from rare, non-Californian redwoods. It’s that green, serene view that spawned the name for Oregon’s southernmost brewery, Misty Mountain Brewing Company. Camarillo’s Tap Haus is in Harbor, directly off Highway 101. The location boasts convenience, an ocean view, and offers all of Camarillo’s beers—including Black Gate IPA, Grey Pilgrim Pale Ale, Long Bottom Lager— plus fruity seasonals and specialties, cider, and homestyle food.
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