Locals know there’s nothing quite like a heady pint of stout — brimming with rich flavor notes of chocolate, coffee and toasted nuts — to warm your bones and raise your spirits during the chilly months. And this February, Oregon’s North Coast puts a different spin on this classic brew.

The cities of Astoria and Warrenton — each positioned on Youngs Bay — charm visitors year-round with their seafaring heritage and culinary treasures, but February sees the beer scene take center stage for Stout Month. Created more than 20 years ago by Jack Harris, the co-owner of Fort George Brewing, the event darkens the brewery’s taps all month long and encourages other local breweries to join in by pouring pints of the black stuff.

Whether you’re a beer aficionado or just want to dabble in the dark side, the bold collection of brews won’t disappoint. Experienced sippers can sample new and imaginative varieties of this notoriously strong beer, as Fort George will offer expanded and limited-time selections. Newcomers, on the other hand, can discover palate-pleasing favorites.

With special events sprinkled throughout the month, there’s a lot more to Stout Month than the rich, creamy beer. On Feb. 18th, 2017, drink to Astoria’s dark side at The Festival of the Dark Arts, a one-day carnival of magic, music and more than 60 stouts on tap at Fort George Brewery. Take part in tattoo artistry, belly dancing, tintype photography, fire dancers and more. Tickets to the Festival of the Dark Arts are on sale now.

On Feb. 18, you can also visit Buoy Beer Co., which will participate in Oregon Craft Beer’s annual Zwickelmania festivities by offering brewery tours and featuring special beers on tap — stout included, of course.

Every Friday and Saturday during Stout Month you can stop by Wet Dog Cafe and Brewery for dinner specials. Or simply stop by one of many brewpubs and breweries in Astoria and Warrenton throughout the month to sample new stouts or enjoy an old favorite.

Many of these Stout Month hotspots are conveniently located along Marine Drive in Astoria, making it simple to access a trail of options. You can find hotels that are walkable to more than several Stout Month locations, including Norblad Hotel, Commodore Hotel and Hotel Elliott. Should you stay further from the action, check out taxi options for transportation. And pace yourself: stouts typically contain higher alcohol content than other beers.

The array of velvety dark beers at Stout Month will leave you embracing the chilly winter weather this February — just be sure to bring home a few growlers and plenty of bottles of your favorite stouts to last you through the months ahead.

Photo by Fort George Brewery