By Amy Tindell
After dropping off (Great) Aunt Arlene in time for her 5:30pm dinner, my cousin (once removed) Kelly and I decided to squeeze in a visit to 7 Devils Brewing Company before heading back to my grandmother’s house. Both intrigued by the presence of a craft brewery in Coos Bay, Oregon, we were excited to have the opportunity to poke our heads in for a look around.
Named for a state park and recreation area along the coast, 7 Devils Brewing Company specializes in “northwest ales from the southern Oregon coast.” Its co-founders, a husband-and-wife team, share a strong commitment to the restoration and maintenance of crucial environmental and human ecosystems, both locally and abroad. Annie Pollard attended the University of Oregon, studying ecological rehabilitation and conservation, writing her Master’s thesis on marine bird nesting ecology. In her free time, Annie organizes the local Surfrider Foundation chapter and creates art across a variety of media. Carmen Mathews, co-founder, co-brewer, and Annie’s husband, got his start in the beverage industry with Dutch Bros. Coffee and home-brewed for ten years prior to opening 7 Devils. Carmen maintains active involvement in the local community through the Oregon Coast Music Association, Surfrider, and the Coos Bay Parks Commission. They opened the brewery to create a space where “local artists, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs can mingle to create and share sustainable business goals that reflect and celebrate local culture.”
As soon as we walked through the doors, Kelly, who grew up in North Bend/Coos Bay, but currently lives in the Portland area, met someone he knew from childhood. Charmed by the small town encounter, I surveyed the public house, admiring the chalkboard on the right with food and beer menus, the bar on the left facing the taps, and past the bar, through a glass-paned garage-like door, the brewhouse with its high ceilings and shiny tanks.
The bartender explained to us that 7 Devils’ beer is 100% American made, with most ingredients coming from the Pacific Northwest. To gain a full understanding of this local flavor, Kelly and I ordered a flight to share, and since there was not an unoccupied seat in the house, carried it carefully outside to the patio. Neither of us huge hops fans, we found the Advocate pale ale and the Trillium seasonal IPA quite drinkable and balanced. The Advocate featured citrus, floral, and straw flavors, with a mild sweet beginning and slight bitter bite at the finish. Trillium tasted more of pine, with bitter notes throughout, and a slightly sweet ethanol finish.
Our favorites were the Blacklock oat porter and the Arago amber. The porter seemed light for the category, but the signature flavors of roast, malt and coffee came through admirably. Arago poured surprisingly smoothly, first imparting caramel malt flavors, then balancing those sweeter flavors with just the right amount of hop bitterness.
The clear winner selected, we returned to the bar to find two empty seats from which to order our full pints of Arago amber, and to listen to the musician who had materialized on the brewhouse floor in our absence. Across the public house, patrons chatted, tapped their feet to the music, and enjoyed tapas-style plates of poutine, oyster po boys, and honey and cheese sandwiches.
As we finished our pints, we debated whether we should bring back wine or beer to my grandmother’s house. Because Oregon boasts a wealth of excellent options for both beverages, we elected to procure samples of each. Of course, Kelly, the local boy, knew just where in town to find them.