My first trip to Pelican Brewery was unforgettable. It was a bizarre, 103° day of Oregon summer and me and my co-pilot decided to skip a ballgame to drive to the coast in search of a breeze. As we climbed into the mountains through the Tilamook forest, we watched the thermometer on the car drop about 1° every couple miles, eventually arriving on the cool shores Pacific City, leading right up to the beachfront porch of Pelican Brewery.
This time, as soon as I landed in Portland, I could once again feel the magnetic pull of the coast. After breakfast, me and Hillary headed west again along the familiar path, but unlike the summer before this time we were greeted with the torrential rains and gale-force winds of an Oregon Spring.
Pelican was quiet in the off-season, the large brewpub serving mostly locals in a sleepy vacation town. I enjoyed the familiar refreshment of the Kiwanda Cream Ale, a frothy, bitter brew that’s bright and easy after a long drive.
I took a walk outside along the beachfront. Where before I leaned back in an Adirondack chair and buried my feet in the sand, I now squint into the wind and cover my beer from the dust storm. The area is vacant, save a couple of Volkswagens parked along the shore like whale fossils waiting to be overtaken by the shifting dunes. But even in this, the Oregon coast is its own kind of beauty.
Once safely back inside, I ordered a Riptide Red Ale, a pleasantly hoppy, but milder bitter ale, and while she was away, set Hillary up with her first mead — a raspberry concoction from Chateau Lorane. She admitted it was better than she expected (she’s pretty adamant about hating mead having only tried it once in her life) but remain unmoved. She replaced it with Tsunami Stout and never looked back. The density and smoothness of the Tsunami is outstanding. The malts, flaked barley, in this stout give it a particularly delicate sweetness.
As we hit the bottom of our stouts and pondered our last sips, I mapped a route, not heading back to our hotel in Portland as we had planned, but South, towards the fishing tow of Newport, Or. With barely a hesitation, we filled a couple of growlers, one with Kiwanda and one with Tsunami, and hit the road — straight into the heart of Rogue Nation.