Craft Breweries of Oregon: Drinking Your Way Through
My father disseminated in me, once I turned 21, an appreciation for a good craft beer. I'm sure everyone argues for their state having the best craft breweries but I'm sorry Utah you just haven't got what it takes to drink with the best of them. To be honest I don't even argue for New Hampshire, my home state, as having the best. I go hands down with Vermont breweries. Well, second place behind Vermont was where I always assumed Oregon fell.Though you never truly know until you go to the actual brewery. Don't worry just so you all wouldn't have to try so many beer samples Thomas and I took the burden off you and went to five different breweries around Oregon. Regrettably, I did miss a few others along the way but I will share those I wished to have gone to with you.
First stop along our brewery tour of Oregon was Rogue Brewery, who is actually quite a well-known brewery across the United States. They are headquartered right in Newport, OR and if you plan to drink while you are there, do know that a quarter mile away is a Motel 6. You can always check out the Road Trip to Oregon: Day 1 article for more information on where to stay and what to do in the surrounding area.
When you go to Rogue everyone is lucky enough each and every day to receive a free 2oz sample of their draft of the day. When we went, the draft that day was the 6 Hop IPA. Now I'm not exactly an IPA person but I did test out some not only at Rogue but at other breweries on the trip. Along with the 6 Hop, Thomas and I tried the Brutal IPA both preferring that to the drier taste of the other. The Brutal was just not as brutal on our taste buds and offered citrus undertones to help cut the bitterness.
When naming my favorite it was the Marionberry Braggot. Not only was it nontraditional but it was also not as fruity tasting as it sounds which I prefer. As beer is not a drink that should necessarily taste sickly sweet when you drink it. Plus Marionberries are just a classic Oregon berry and I can appreciate their use when I'm at an Oregon brewery. The second favorite had to be the Morimoto Soba Ale. This was a lighter and crisper tasting beer that is brewed with soba, used in many Japanese cuisines.
Some others that we tried that I highly suggest you test out when you go to Rogue are Big Ass Caramel Porter, Smoked Lager, Fruit Salad Cider and the Honey Kolsch. Just watch out for the after kick of that smoked lager.
So the most exciting part of this stop was not supposed to be the beer but rather the deck overlooking the beach and ocean. With our luck though it had rained all day long and the deck was closed. When I couldn't be on the deck for a drink my focus turned back to trying out this beer. I had heard of Pelican Brewery before but never actually tried anything of theirs.
The sample tray they offer comes with 5 of their core beers, those offered year round, and two seasonal options. Please do not be disappointed as I do not recall the names of the two seasonal ones. We went at the end of June so it is likely to be whatever they offer for summer or late spring. One was an IPA so dry that I had to swig down half of the cream ale to get past the taste. This one that I so obviously disliked was just fine tasting to Thomas. So for those like me that do not typically like IPA's do not try their summer seasonal IPA. Their other IPA's, the Imperial Pelican Ale and Umbrella IPA, are much better tasting but were not beers that truly stood out in any way.
For those of you who like a dark and heavy beer do try the Tsunami Stout. This is as black as beer can get and has a smooth chocolate/espresso like taste to it. Macpelican's Ale is another darker beer though much lighter than the stout. It has a coppery color to it and has a hint of sweet caramel taste.
My favorite was the Kiwanda Cream Ale. This was the lightest and packed a lot of flavor to it. It has both floral and fruity notes to it and is just all around refreshing tasting. I wish it had been a hot day eating lunch out on the deck with a draft of this.
Our entree's that we both ate at Pelican were pretty good. Thomas had a burger and I had mussels in a herb and butter sauce. The hands down best food dish though was a coconut curry soup that was a special of the day. Hopefully, they decide it should be an everyday menu item because it was outstanding.
Seaside Brewing Company
To round out our time spent on the coast was, you guessed it, eating at another brewery for dinner. We actually ended up splitting our dinner at Seaside and good thing since it was huge. We had these delicious carne asada tacos and the plate came loaded up with eight of them and I wasn't even able to finish my four. Maybe because the beers were heavier at this brewery compared to the others.
For those of you with a lighter palette your only real option here at Seaside Brewing Company is the Seaside Blonde Ale. It is honey, wheat and just a tad bit sweet. The other sweet option of this sampler is the 5 Mil with its caramel and chocolate malts with a bit of molasse. Unlike the blonde this beer is T-H-I-C-K! It is actually named for the thickness of wet-suits required to surf the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest.
If you want a real bang from your beer the best bet on this line-up is the Black Dynamite. At 11% abv this could knock you out but don't let that fool you. It is brewed with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs and then distilled in old Bourbon barrels. This one was my favorite and mainly because it was the most unique of all five that we tried.
North Coast Seaside Red will be the second lightest beer on this tray and has a deep red coloring to resemble sunsets seen here on the Oregon Coast. It was distinctive in flavoring and dubbed my second favorite beer at Seaside Brewing Company.
Last on the list was the Lock Up IPA named for the fact that the brewery is actually in the old Seaside, OR jail building. It has a great name but that is where the enjoyment ended for me, I suppose Oregon wasn't quite able to get me to revel in all IPA's.
Besides having savory beers on tap out of an old jail there is one other feature of Seaside Brewing Company unique to them and that is their tap handles. They claim they use their tap handles to help show their connection and appreciation for the Pacific ocean and that is by using actual driftwood found strewn on the beaches after a storm hits. Therefore each tap handle is different with no two ever being the same.
Thunder Island Brewing Co.
So the cool thing about this stop was that we never had even heard of Thunder Island Brewing Co. and just sort of stumbled upon it. Those are usually the best kind of adventures, right? Well, it held true this time as this had to be the best vibe of all the breweries we visited. On-site boasts a great outdoor patio overlooking the Columbia River. The food smelled delicious but we didn't actually taste test it. What we did test out were four awesome beers.
We sampled four beers from their menu which were all excellent. We even got a growler of the porter to go. What I am excited for is our next time that we get to come here because they just had a limited beer release called "Three Degrees of Cream" featuring blackberry, creamsicle and jalapeno ales. Talk about getting excited over a beer! The best thing about this company besides their outdoor deck is the large array of out of the box beers. Some breweries beers end up having the same flavor profiles, especially when overusing the same style of hops each time but every one of the beers we tasted from Thunder Island were uniquely different.
Full Sail Brewery
After three days of pub style food at the other breweries, Full Sail was a welcome change of pace. Not only that but I was pretty psyched to test out their sampler but also their food menu that had great reviews on Google.
As far as their beers go, their sampler is six beers but half of them are just pale ales. The only one that really jumped out as special or different was the blood orange wheat, all the rest of them were just plain good and simple. When you buy a Full Sail or Session's beer this is what you expect anyhow so even though they met our expectations they didn't exceed them.
What did exceed our expectations though was having the best seat on the entire deck. We were front and center, basking in sunshine and watching parasailers on the Columbia River. The food and drinks were brought out fast and the service at Full Sail was impeccable. I can only hope that they start becoming more adventurous with their beers next time we are there.
While you are there be sure to go on the free 30-minute brewery tour at 1,2, 3 and 4pm daily!
Must Try Breweries Next Time I'm in Oregon
Like I said in the beginning of this post I was very excited to get to try out the five breweries that we did but with 218 total breweries in Oregon, we obviously couldn't stop at them all. (Source) Here is a list of some of the breweries we wished we could have stopped at and will make it a point to go to next time we find ourselves road tripping around Oregon
Cascade Brewing in Portland
Deschutes Brewery in Bend
Upright Brewing in Portland
Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene
Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters
Let us know in the comments below some of your favorite breweries in Oregon!