The Wild Ribeers Coast

By Michael Kew

Misty Mountain Tap Haus in Harbor, Ore.

ONCE A RAINY, craft-beer desert, the rugged Del Norte and southern Oregon shores (aka Wild Rivers Coast) have become something of a must-visit for those who love beer as much as sublime ocean scenery. Today, along with whale-watching, tidepooling, and vista point-admiring, your leisurely pace up or down Highway 101, aka the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, will deliver you to eight wonderful breweries run by wonderful people, offering cool, seabreezed portals to a well-rounded coast-cuisine affair.

[Oregon]

7 Devils Brewery, Coos Bay

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 (16,000) 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. 7devilsbrewery.com

Arch Rock Brewing, Gold Beach

Anchored by brewer James Smith, winner of the 2016 World Beer Cup’s Champion Brewery & Brewmaster Award in the Very Small Brewing Co. 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.  archrockbrewingcompany.com

Chetco Brewing, Brookings

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, including 12 of Frederick’s vegan creations, like the award-winning Block & Tackle Stout and the popular, 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 the house-made pretzels and chili. chetcobrew.com

Wild River Brewing & Pizza Co., Harbor

This Harbor institution, remodeled this year, opened in 1980. Ten years later, launched as one of Oregon’s first microbreweries, 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. Yes, the pizza is delicious, paired well with local favorites like Wild River IPA, Harbor Lights Kölsch, and Double Eagle Imperial Stout. wildriverbrewing.com

Misty Mountain Brewing, Harbor

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 this green, serene view that spawned the name for Oregon’s southernmost brewery, just two miles above the Golden State. 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 Weatherhop IPA, Grey Pilgrim Pale Ale, Long Bottom Lager—plus fruity seasonals and specialties, cider, and homestyle food. mistymountainbrewing.com

[California]

Port O’ Pints Brewing Co., Crescent City

After the death of Jefferson State Brewing in 2000, California’s northermost city lacked fresh ale. Thankfully, Rick and Carol White entered the ring and launched this cozy, nautical/Irish-themed pub on Northcrest Drive amid a much different clime than that of Reno, Nev., where Rick, after winning a mere 50 homebrewing medals, became head brewer at Great Basin. From the desert to the redwood rainforest, Rick’s expertise has been well-received by a new generation of Del Norte ale enthusiasts, imbibing with popular styles like Del Norter Porter, Agate Ale, and 11-Bravo IPA. portopints.com

SeaQuake Brewing, Crescent City

In Del Norte County since the end of the Civil War, the Wakefield family knew the 12,000-plus square foot space that once housed the aforementioned Jefferson State Brewing yearned to be reborn as another beer haven. And so recruited was another high-level import, a one Chad Hilgenberg, who recently left Wisconsin via Minnesota for Crescent City to make magic in his new two-barrel-systemed, industrial-themed hotspot on oft-foggy Front Street. Complimenting SeaQuake’s six signature pizzas are Hilgenberg’s fine fermentations, including his nitrogen Oat Stout, Coastal Pale Ale (CPA), SeaQuake IPA, and the hugely popular (at least in summer) Blonde Ale. The Wakefields’ motto? “Great beer is an agreement between man and nature.” seaquakebrewing.com