There are many world-class beer experiences in Oregon, from the enormous Deschutes taproom in Portland to the forbiddingly large taster tray at the Bend Brewing Company, or the sublime sour beers from De Garde Brewing in Tillamook. (Tickets for De Garde's anniversary party in April sold out within days). However, there's nothing quite like going to Astoria—particularly when it's raining and 45 degrees out—to savor a nice dunkel lager by the pier at Buoy Beer Co.'s tasting room.
Buoy's been discussed here before—it, along with McMinnville's Heater Allen, compete for the title of Oregon's best lager maker—and thanks to a new deal signed with Eugene-based distributor Bigfoot Beverages, its delicate, German-inspired styles will be coming to Bend later this year. The timing couldn't be better, considering how much their dunkel, Czech pils, or cream ale will help make the hot days of summer pass much more quickly. (Buoy also makes some neat ales these days, including a German-style chocolate stout that tastes like a rich dessert in a glass.)
When traveling to the coast, though, there's no reason not to continue with further alcohol explorations. A few minutes down US-101 is Seaside Brewing, which would be worth a visit even if the beer was awful. Right on Broadway in Seaside, the brewery is situated inside a 100-year-old building that used to be the town jail, with the taps coming out of the room that used to serve as the drunk tank and occasional women's cell. That's celebrated in name by Lockup IPA, a strong one at 8.5 percent, but the North Coast red ale is probably the best of Seaside Brewing's well-curated selection.
Meanwhile, half an hour north of Astoria, North Jetty Brewing has been serving the local crowd at Long Beach, Wash., for the past two years. Located in a barn-style building on the outskirts of town, it's a very laid-back place, with a taco truck outside and families whiling away the afternoon with a game of cards and a pale ale or two. The Cape D. IPA is the standout, offering snappy, refreshing bitterness without being too boozy, and it's available in 22-ounce bottles as a souvenir to take home. The best part is that it's just a few minutes from the coast, providing a chance to work off the calories with a leisurely walk before heading home.