A piece of the coast (and 16 taps) on a busy highway

From about downtown Milwaukie to downtown Oregon City, McLoughlin Boulevard is a.) An ODOT highway (99e) where cars have no intention of stopping on their way to work in Portland and on their way home to the Clackamas suburbs. b.) Home to car lots, strip joints, and hotels c.) A dangerous place to cross the street or ride your bike. d.) All of the above.

In other words, it’s a typical American highway that runs through neighborhoods and offers goods and shopping for nearby residents. (It was called the Superhighway when it was built back in the 30s.) And yet, the lack of anything resembling a brewery along this route is perplexing.

Enter Coasters Brew Pub.

Described as “a family style restaurant with a full bar featuring 16 taps,” Coasters opened in the fall of 2016 as more of a restaurant than a tap room. And owner Brian Grant is OK with that.

“We’re less beer nerds than we are beer lovers,” he said. “We’re in business to sell food—and beer. I tell my sales guys ‘get me something that’s going to sell well.’ ”

Grant is a veteran of the McLoughlin Blvd. restaurant scene, with gigs at Black Angus (later to become the infamous Portland Aquarium) in the 80s, the Rivershore Bar and Grill (pro tip: Breakside IPA on tap and a killer view of the Willamette), and The Keg (later known as The Kez for reasons unknown). It was this experience and the lack of a family place on McLoughlin that inspired he and his wife, Leigh, to open Coasters, also inspired by Oregon’s coast and Cannon Beach, where they both grew up.

To get Coasters off the ground Grant borrowed money from a friend and had heard that a local dive on McLoughlin was for sale. “Some of my friends thought that I was crazy because they saw the place, it was pretty rough around the edges. And we still fight that too because a lot of people don’t realize that we’ve completely remodeled it.”

A brewpub by name only, but still creating beers
Though calling itself a brewpub might be odd, Grant says they had every intention of brewing their own beer onsite, but didn’t get off the ground. Instead, they’ve partnered with Oregon City brewers Magic Owl and Coin Toss for their own beer. Currently, Magic Owl’s Coasters Bavarian Wheat (Coasters’ name for its Harbinger of Hefe) is on tap. “It uses the oldest yeast strain known to brewing, originating in Bavaria, Germany,” said Magic Owl’s Casey Flesch. “In addition, generous amounts of wheat and a hefty dose of freshly ground coriander combine to produce a unique taste that’s unlike anything else out there. It’s our flagship beer and one that continually impresses consumers with its complex flavor profile and drinkability.”

Meanwhile, a collaboration with Tim Hohl at Coin Toss helped produce another beer on tap, Coasters Northwest IPA.

“We wanted an ingredient that related to the coast. We were thinking ‘sea salt’ but Tim suggested Sitka spruce tips,” said Grant. “The tips really give the IPA our own flavor and a coastal kind of vibe.” The result is described by Coasters as “a slightly cloudy IPA with hints of mango and pine and fresh flavor of spruce provided by 10 pounds of Pacific Northwest Sitka.”

They’re also starting to carry more interesting beers beyond the usual, including Pfriem (“ever since we put Pfriem on we’ve been blowing through it,” said Grant) and Baerlic. Their No. 1 seller is Buoy IPA “because it’s from the coast and really falls into our vibe.”

One of Grant’s mantras is if you build it they will come. “We just had to build something that people in the neighborhood would come to. Instead of going to Portland or Clackamas or Oregon City, there’s a little spot right here.”

Coasters is located at 18650 SE McLoughlin Blvd. For tap lists and food menu, visit their Facebook page.

John Chilson
John Chilson

John Chilson writes about Portland history and architecture at Lost Oregon. He's also written for Neighborhood Notes, Travel Oregon, Portland Architecture, Askmen.org, San Diego Reader, and Portland Food and Drink. Follow him on twitter at @LostOregon for local history nerdism; for beer tweets he's at @Hopfrenzy. Shoot him an email at hopfrenzy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.