The big brick building on Seaside’s bustling Broadway Street was originally the city hall and city jail. And in more recent years, it housed a fish market for a time. But mostly, this grand structure just sat empty. When Seaside Brewing Company (851 Broadway St.) partners Jimmy Griffin and Vince Berg came upon it, they knew they’d found a local treasure. And they treated it that way, too.
“We saw the old bones of it, so to speak,” says Griffin, explaining how he and Berg desired to maintain the historical ambiance of the space as they carefully updated and transformed it into a brewery and restaurant.
“Because of our love of where we live and the city’s history, it was kind of a no-brainer to lean heavily on the things that make this place unique. The culture and the eye toward local is evident everywhere you look in this building,” Griffin says, explaining how this sense of place inspires their brews, food menu and an atmosphere where the community now gathers year-round.
“For this reason, we decided we would use reclaimed materials,” he says. “The floor in the bar is 100-year-old reclaimed flooring from an old community theater; the wainscoting is all the old bleacher wood from the Vernonia school. We didn’t even sand it.”
They even managed to put to good use old bricks blown off the building in a 2009 storm, using them to cover up the former “drunk tank,” women’s cell and to build a fire pit outside.
“We picked up old water-washed beams from a local mill, which had torn them out from Pier 2 in Astoria, and made a great big pergola for our patio out of them. Even our barrel out front is 100-year-old oak fermenter. We reconditioned and threw it up on old pilings. That’s our sign.”
The community appreciates the ambiance, and the menu as well, which features traditional Oregon Coast fare and Northwest-style brews.
The Lockup IPA is inspired by Chinook, Simcoe, and Cascade hops, and backed by pale, Munich and crystal malts. “The result is a citrusy, balanced, well hopped, very drinkable IPA,” says Griffin. The Black Dynamite, on the other hand, is a “beast,” he says. “We use a ridiculous amount of whole vanilla beans, house roasted organic cacao nibs, Chinook and Cascade hops, a series of specialty malts and oats, and then age in Oregon-distilled Bourbon barrels. Once the flavors are ready, we charge it on nitro for that big creamy mouthfeel you would expect from a stout of this caliber.”
It’s no surprise that since opening in 2012, Seaside Brewing Company has established itself as a gathering place for everyone: locals, tourists, families, foodies and, of course, craft beer fans.
“The thing about brew pubs is that they are kind of like churches; they are where people congregate and commiserate,” Griffin says. “They become the focal point of the communities they are in. These are happy, engaging, progressive, artsy places. That’s why they are so successful now. With small places like ours, people feel they are part of it. They feel it is their living room.”