I learned today that you should never ask an artisan beermaker if a hop is just a hop. If you do, you’ll get a 20-minute dissertation on the complexities of growing conditions, aromas and hand-feel. In a word, they take this stuff as seriously as any winemaker worth his vineyard-designated Pinot noir.

My last stop on this journey took me to the Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City. Located off Highway 101 between Lincoln City and Tillamook, without the requisite saltwater taffy shops and bumper car carnivals, Pacific City is on the verge of being the next cool place on the Coast. The Pelican is the focal point of this growing beach town, from the surfers braving the chilly Pacific waves to the Dory boats that launch each morning to bring in the daily catch.

After a morning learning the ropes of microbrewing with the brewery’s head honcho, I had the pleasure of discovering how beer and those fishermen’s bounty can be a great culinary match. I was skeptical at first. Putting wine and food I understand. But beer and food? Come on, I thought… beer is just beer, right? Lesson number two: never tell an artisan beermaker that beer is just beer.

To prove that, we began with a New England-style clam chowder matched with the Pelican’s India Pale Ale. The contrast was amazing, with the IPA proving to be the perfect foil for the creamy texture of the chowder. Next up was a Tombo (aka Oregon Albacore Tuna) that had been crusted with fresh hops and served over an heirloom tomato broth. For this course, we tried Pelican’s Elemental Ale, a brew made using the same fresh hops that adorned the fish. This time, the effect was an echo of the flavors. It was just like I was in one of those fancy wine dinners where everyone was crawling over each other to identify what was happening on their palate, only without all the hype. I quickly became a wine snob reeducated.

During Oregon Bounty, the Pelican Pub and Brewery is offering the opportunity to relax at the next-door Inn at Cape Kiwanda and have your own beer and food experience. There are also lots of hotels and inns featuring special Oregon Bounty packages and rates. Check out The Coast section of traveloregon.com/bounty for details. Or, you can read about my memories of catching and eating at source here on the coast.

Next stop on this On The Road With Oregon Bounty journey? Home.

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