I had been intending to make another trip to Pelican Brewing this year for quite a while so I could write a review, but I hadn’t had the opportunity until recently. While visiting the nearby Tillamook Creamery I stopped in for lunch and a beer on the way home, making another pilgrimage to an iconic Oregon brewery. Situated right on the beach in the lovely little town of Pacific City, Pelican has been around since 1996. With a picturesque location and a history of well-awarded beers, I was immediately intrigued the first time I heard about them when my wife brought home a case of their beers from a business trip to Oregon, and I made it a priority to visit when we moved here. So grab a beer, pull up a chair, and settle in as I review a brewery that has captured my attention and palate for several years now.
- Beer – I’ve had the opportunity to try many of their beers since moving to Oregon, both bottled that I’ve picked up at the store and straight from the source. They offer an excellent quality and quantity of beers on tap at the brewery, many of which are award-winning creations from contests such as the Great American Brew Fest. Their year-round beers lean more towards the light side, with IPAs, a cream ale, red ale, and a pilsner on tap while a stout holds down the dark beer section. Their seasonal offerings and other limited release batches run the gamut from barrel aged beers to sours, all of which are well crafted and nuanced, rich with flavor and complexity. I have yet to have one of their beers disappoint and more often than not I will have a few of their beers in my fridge at home. Score: 4/5
- Brewery – From the outside the brewpub looks relatively nondescript, with a weather-worn wooden façade and a large pelican motif over the entrance. Step inside and you will find a spacious brewery that faintly reminds you of how the movies often portray British pubs. You can pull up a seat at the bar that runs the length of the main dining area or be seated at the numerous tables situated throughout the room. Windows along all of the outside walls give you fantastic views of Cape Kiwanda, Haystack Rock, and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean while you enjoy your meal and a beer or three. The real gem of the brewery is the back patio. There you can relax with a beer in hand and watch the sun set over the ocean, enjoying the salty sea breeze while you eat dinner or relax with friends. Which is a lovely segue to the food: the ocean influence is strong, with seafood dishes comprising a good portion of the pub-style menu (I highly recommend the clam chowder). Every meal I have eaten here has been delicious and the portion sizes are excellent. If I’m going to nit-pick at all, my only complaint would be the prices, which are a little higher than average compared to other places in Oregon, with a pint of beer costing $6.25-7.50 and the average meal price about $17. Score: 4/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – The real heart of Pelican Brewing is the beach and the surf-centric lifestyle. One of the best reasons to visit is to sit on the patio and enjoy the ocean views while you relax, watching the surfers brave the chilly northern Pacific waters or the schadenfreude of someone getting their truck stuck in the sand (but only for a moment, then go help them out). However, if you are over the beach views, there are other things available to keep your attention. They have televisions above the bar for watching sports, and occasional live events such as bottle releases, beach yoga, and special holiday dinners dot their schedule. The one thing I see no mention of on their website or Facebook page is live music, which strikes me as a missed opportunity. I think the brewery would lend itself well to live music and imagine it would be a neat addition to their entertainment offerings. Score: 3.5/5
- Location – Hands down Pelican Brewing has one of the most beautiful locations to start a brewery. Excellent views and the proximity to the beach equal a busy pub after a day at the beach. They are located on the outskirts of Pacific City, with ample parking at the brewery and even down on the beach if you have a car capable of handling the sand. The brewery is easy walking distance from a lot of vacation housing if you are in town for some rest and relaxation, and just a quick drive from downtown where there are more restaurants and bar, should you be crazy enough to leave. In addition, they are a short drive from many beautiful stops along the Oregon coast, so be sure to pull off at a few places on your way to or from Pelican. Score: 4.5/5
- Customer Service – Every time I go, I’m always surprised at how efficient the customer service is despite how busy they often are. Getting a table is standard restaurant style, with a host greeting and seating you, with a server taking care of all your orders. The wait times have always been minimal with food and drink ordering and delivery spot on. They practice great customer service here and I have never had a bad experience. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 20/25
Favorite Beer: Hazy Rock Juicy IPA – 6.2% IPA
Final Thoughts: Having visited several times and drinking many of their beers at home, I feel confident in saying you will always have a great visit and taste high quality beer anytime you stop in at Pelican Brewing. I would consider this location a must see anytime you are at the Oregon coast and they are highly likely to make the top breweries of the year list.