Industry News

Surf, Sand and Suds Beercation in Cannon Beach, Oregon

By  | 

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach

In years past Oregonians and tourists alike would head to Astoria, Pacific City or Newport for their coastal destination vacations, especially the beerminded. Until recently, Astoria was the only town on the Oregon coast with more than two breweries and therefore worthy of Beercation status, all that has changed now as Cannon Beach makes a strong argument as the new best home for a weekend and a brew. Much of that credit goes to Ryan Snyder and his Martin Hospitality Group which opened the 3rd brewery in Cannon Beach in May of 2016 with Public Coast Brewing and has worked to bring a new younger crowd to this aging demographic of just 1,705 people.

“Cannon Beach has long been considered a getaway destination for Portlander’s and beyond. The demographic is changing in Portland, with a younger active lifestyle more the norm,” says Snyder who also runs the Surfsand Resort and Stephanie Inn, both in Cannon Beach.

Capitalizing on changing demographics and being an expert in the hospitality business, Snyder saw an opportunity not only for his own business but to bring more business to the town as a whole. As the Don Younger saying goes, “a rising tide raises all ships” and Cannon Beach needs more regular visits in the off-season and in the craft beer industry he saw an opportunity.

“The charm in Cannon Beach isn’t just for one group – it is much more inclusive and diverse today” say Snyder who saw an opportunity in creating a brewing community that fed off each other rather than competed against each other. “The addition of Public Coast and Pelican Brewing in 2016 bookmarked the downtown and midtown markets with destination breweries. Adding these two to existing Bills Tavern and Brewhouse, and now there are three destinations in town for beer lovers.”

For this article I will make the argument that there are even more than three destinations for beer lovers in Cannon Beach, and a couple additions for food, coffee and getaway lovers as well.

Bill’s Tavern Cannon Beach

The Old Stalwart: Bill’s Tavern (& Brewery)

Cannon Beach is home to one of Oregon’s oldest coastal breweries – Bill’s Tavern, which opened in 1997. Bill’s is a favorite of Cannon Beach locals and you are not likely to find their beers on tap outside of Cannon Beach. The brewpubs claim to fame is largely as where Jack Harris and Chris Nemlowill got their start brewing before founding the Oregon coasts largest brewery – Fort George. Bill’s Tavern remains a solid old pub to have a beer, with a lineup of ales that skew old school English and nineties American styles. If they have their Old Valhalla Barleywine, it’s a pretty good rendition of a balanced but boozy British-style Barleywine, the Red and Porter are solid and the Asa’s Blonde Ale is refreshing and good with the Fish & Chips.

If you love the old, wooden and dimly lit European-style old school pubs as much as I do, then Bill’s Tavern may beckon you in. You won’t be blown away by the beers or the food but you will likely be comforted in a booth or at the bar with a well done Fish & Chips (possibly the best in town) and a balanced Tavern ale to sip on while a local picks on a guitar at the back of the room.

Pelican Brewing Cannon Beach

The New Older Cool Kid: Pelican Brewing Cannon Beach

Pelican Brewing is possibly the Oregon coasts most well-known brewery and has recently opened up a Cannon Beach location with full restaurant and pilot brewery. Pelican Brewing was founded in 1996 by Jeff Schons and Mary Jones in Pacific City, they have a production facility in Tillamook and now a 10bbl pilot brewery in Cannon Beach. This location doesn’t have the view of the original Pacific City pub but it has the nicest space of any of them, right from the entry waiting room where you can select a bottle to-go or get your growler or crowler filled from taps at the hosting station. The tall wooden space makes you feel like you have entered a recreation of Noah’s Ark and the outdoor areas with roll-up glass doors and gase firepits are a welcoming sight for people watching and enjoying the outdoors.

Coren Tradd is the head brewer at Pelican’s Cannon Beach pub, he also puts in hours at the production facility in Tillamook. Tradd gets to develop all sorts of one-off recipes that may be drafted into production, just like his pilot batches that became the new Hazy Rock IPA now available in cans. Check out our Q & A with Coren Tradd here. The addition of the pilot brewery and Tradd’s skills really elevate this Pelican from just being another off-shoot with the same beers, instead it’s definitely the most refined and well-rounded brewery in-town.

Charcuterie plate at Cannon Beach Smokehouse

The Local Craftsman: Cannon Beach Smokehouse

Cannon Beach Smokehouse is a welcome addition to this little town’s restaurant scene that’s mostly filled with seafood, pub food and an odd amount of French-style cuisine. At this tiny pub and restaurant located directly behind Bill’s Tavern, Co-owners Jacob Bond and Brian Raymond have carved out a niche making and serving their own cured and smoked meats in whatever style suits them. CB Smokehouse offers their meats both in-house and to-go specialties like their homemade smoked everything: pork chop, brisket, sausage, bacon, salmon, pepperoni, mortadella and the occasional cheese. They offer a variety of sausages and meats that rotate through. The bacon is mostly on the menu because it’s a Raymond specialty and although CB Smokehouse isn’t open for breakfast, they fry eggs and bacon just for their delicious All Day Breakfast Sandwich. They cure their own salami and other meats when they can but Raymond isn’t totally keeping up with production so they fill-in the Charcuterie board with Olympia Provisions when needed. By the way, get the $22 charcuterie board that’s loaded with both meats and cheeses for $22. CB Smokehouse does not have a lot of beer options, the owners of Bill’s Tavern are investors in the biz so their beers are on tap, plus a cider and bud light. Don’t shoot me but I recommend trying a cocktail while here. The Smokehouse Bloody is a housemade mix with smoked roma tomatoes, the Kickin Mule is a slight twist on a Moscow Mule with Ginger-Turmeric Kombucha or my favorite is the Tres Ojos Margarita with blood orange juice and jalapeno in addition to fresh citrus.

Screw & Brew

The Local Hangout: Cannon Beach Hardware/Screw & Brew

Screw & Brew is the best beer spot in Cannon Beach that only the locals have likely heard of. Screw & Brew is the loving nickname of the cafe/bar located inside the local hardware shop called Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House. This is a place where you can purchase anything from yard supplies, to home improvement or other DIY tools and as their website brags the staff is “knowledgeable on stainless steel fasteners as well as screwdrivers (the solid and liquid forms!).” Occupying the same space as the hardware store is a tiny pub and kitchen where you can get an Oyster Shooter and a cocktail. Most of the locals that come here are the younger crowd, in a town where you might suspect there isn’t a soul under 55, you may find someone in their 30’s or even 20’s at the Screw & Brew with a pint of Fort George Brewery beer. There aren’t many taps, six to be exact, but they rotate and feature beers from across the state and not just from the local breweries. There is outdoor seating too and it’s a great place to blow off some steam and a popular after work destination for many.

Public Coast Brewing

Hometown Kids Make Good: Public Coast Brewing

Public Coast Brewing has probably done more to breath life into Cannon Beach than anywhere or one else in the last 10+ years. The now two-year-old brewpub is just a couple blocks off the Whale Park entrance. Public Coast’s home was once the late lamented The Lumberyard pub which used to be the best place to get a pint in town. Public Coast still might be the best place to get a pint in town but now they are serving their own beers from a 10bbl Brewhouse with two 20-barrel fermenters and four 10-barrel fermenters.

Public Coast Brewing owner Ryan Snyder (left) and head brewer Will Leroux (right)

Public Coast/Martin Hospitality owner Ryan Snyder has long wanted to own a brewpub since working at one when he was back of the house at Las Vegas’s Holy Cow Brewery. After The Lumberyard just wasn’t cutting it due to the seasonal fluctuations, he decided to take the opportunity to reach a younger crowd that loves craft beer. After an extensive remodel that still left the bones of the beautiful refurbished wood building intact, Snyder added a brewery with the help of Oregon brewing legend and now industry consultant Fred Bowman. Snyder recruited Will Leroux, who was then his Executive Chef of Martin Hospitality to become the head brewer. It was a risky move considering Leroux was doing a great job in his current position with the company and had never brewed a day in his life. When I first visited Public Coast Brewing, just before they had released their first beers, I admit to being skeptical about a novice who had never even homebrewed as a head brewer. However two years later, Snyder’s bid has paid off with a growing brand and Gold Medals at both the 2018 Oregon Beer Awards and highly prestigious World Beer Cup for the breweries ’67 Blonde Ale.  Talking with Leroux last Spring (after he had won the OBA but before the WBC medal), it was clear that he may have always been meant to be a brewer. Many words have been spilled about the similarities between cooking and brewing but there is a technical and science aspect to brewing as well that’s not for everyone but Leroux has embraced the challenges. Hearing him speak about brewing is refreshing, he can both wax poetic about malt and hops as well as some locally foraged mushrooms he loves to cook with and wants to add to a beer. He also doesn’t even pretend at all to know everything, he finds the opportunity to learn and challenge himself with brewing the most interesting part of the job and embraces being a novice.

That said, Public Coast Brewing’s beers are pretty safe, probably for the best because the brewery needs locals and tourists who may enjoy craft beer but aren’t adventurous beer geeks. So it’s probably best that the ’67 Blonde Ale has become their flagship, a perfectly crafted and balanced beer that’s obviously excellent but would probably be passed up by a beer geek. The rest of the lineup fills old pub staples like Stackstock Stout or my favorite The Peoples Pale. However, newer stuff in the breweries many seasonals and one-offs like a rotating tart fruit series that often use fresh or frozen fruit (right now it’s a Guava Sour), an Australian Pale ale that used hard to get tropical Australian hops that was on when I was there was excellent. Yes, hopheads there is also an IPA and even a Double IPA that’s on tap now, for lighter Euro fans you can sometimes find a Hefeweizen and the occasional Lager. In fact the brewery has been so popular that Snyder plans to eliminate a row of booths to expand the brewery even further with an even better better view into the process. That means we will likely see some more refreshing lagers for day drinking on the beach. Also in the pipeline are a series of barrel-aged beers. Touring the barrel room with Leroux you could really see his eyes light up with some of the fun stuff he is playing with here. More culinary beers, whiskey barrel-aged savory stouts and much more fun is to be had. The pub also serves up counter service but high-quality American grub and some say the best Burger, Fish & Chips (many here make the claim for best) and chili and it’s all family friendly. Public Coast also now cans their beers and you are welcome to grab a can and head to the beach where it’s legal to openly drink, just dont leave your can in a burnt out firepit full of glass like the one I found in the photo above.

Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach, OR

STAY: Surfsand Resort & Spa

There are a lot of great places to stay in Cannon Beach, there are Airbnb’s both right off the beach and off into the more wooded areas of town. There are also hotels aplenty, tiny ones, cheap ones, bed and breakfasts and resorts. If you have a few bucks to spend and want a nice place that isnt overly expensive or fancy than the Surfsand Resort is the place to be. Owned by the Martin Hospitality Group who also runs their local sister hotel The Stephanie Inn, the Surfsand is the most frequented and talked about place to stay in town. The Surfsand Resort’s restaurant and bar the Wayfarer is often considered one of the best restaurants in town and frequented by locals and tourists alike.

Located right off the beach, Surfsand has the amenities you would expect like an indoor pool and workout gym, hot tub and sauna. Extra bonuses are it’s family friendly and pet friendly and located just a bit off the main drag so it’s a bit quieter but with an excellent view and close proximity to the famed local attraction Haystack Rock. Surfsand offers many rooms from built in fireplaces to jacuzzi’s as well as romantic, family, explorational package stays. My favorite bonus though is the Beach Bonfire Package. With the Bonfire Package, someone from the hotel will build a beach fire for you complete with chairs, your first bundle of firewood, s’mores fixings, marshmallow roasting sticks and a beach sand bucket for just $25 extra.

Non-Beer Recommendations:

Also I recommend checking out the Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters, an excellent cafe with their own roast by day and an equally awesome restaurant called The Irish Table on Friday – Tuesday evenings. If you are in the mood for an adult beverage other than beer, check out the great Cannon Beach Distillery tasting room or for wine tastings/bottles The Wine Shack and for wine and dining Sweet Basil Cafe. There are art galleries aplenty, two of my favorites are The White Bird Gallery or the tremendous local glass blowers and their gallery Ice Fire Glassworks.

 Another great reason to escape to Cannon Beach is the upcoming Second Annual HAYDAY!, Coastal Celebration of Oregon Beer produced by Martin Hospitality on Saturday, August 25th 2018. Taking place at Haystack Gardens, the event will feature 40 Oregon craft beers, including coastal breweries and beyond. Varying acts will perform live music, and Chef Josh Archibald from the Wayfarer Restaurant will enlist his mobile steakhouse for fantastic eats with desserts provided by Ruby Jewel Ice Cream. More info at https://www.haydayfest.com

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.