Story & photos by Patrick Alexander
Oregon Coast TODAY
Few summer traditions are as time-honored as getting home from a long day at work and reaching for a cold beer from the fridge.
But when the fridge in question is at The Black Squid Beer House in Lincoln City, you could be in for an adventurous evening — with more than 250 beers on offer in a constantly rotating selection.
Fortunately, the Squid offers the kind of relaxed, unhurried atmosphere that invites guests to linger, whether it’s working on a laptop, chatting with fellow beer fans or playing board games.
If the place seems perfect, it should come as no surprise; co-owners Sara and Andy Hill had a lot of time to ponder how to bring their dream business to life.
Familiar with Lincoln City from day trips, and from when Sara lived there briefly as a child, the couple moved from Southwest Portland in 2016, searching for the perfect location for a taproom and bottle shop. During the search, they lived in an old motorhome loaned by Andy’s parents, cramming into the tiny space alongside their two dogs and a cat for what ended up being six months. The long winter nights gave the couple plenty of time to work on their business plan.
Andy said the extended motorhome stay also gave the couple the chance to scope out their eventual premises, driving past the highly visible former surf shop several times a day.
“We could have done this in multiple different buildings” he said, “but it wouldn’t have been the same because this building is so cool.”
Inside, an ever-rotating tap list offers guests fresh beer and cider from across the Pacific Northwest, with Andy and Sara ensuring there is a brew to suit every palate.
“We love IPAs and they sell the fastest,” Sara said, “but we always balance the tap list with a fruity option, maybe a Belgian, always two dark beers and two ciders.”
And customers looking for something to take home can either fill a growler or browse the wall of coolers packed with everything from pilsner and lager to fruit sours and barrel-aged stout.
“The fun part is shopping with a beer in hand and getting some good stuff to go,” Sara said.
And the selection doesn’t stop at beer. One entire cooler is devoted to cider while the previously obscure fermented honey beverage, mead, jostles for shelf space to keep pace with its increasing popularity.
“I’m shocked at how many people are into mead,” Andy said. “We have it written on the side of the building so people come in and say ‘what’s mead?’ And then they leave with five bottles.”
Meanwhile the Squid’s wine selection focuses on representing the Pacific Northwest while also including a few harder-to-find labels from Europe.
The Squid does not offer a food menu but customers are welcome to bring outside food, with Sara and Andy quick to recommend nearby restaurants like La Roca and Nelscott Cafe as well as Olde Line Lanes. Danny Ahumada and the D Doggs crew are often found outside, serving up gourmet, bacon-wrapped hot dogs and elote from their mobile kitchen.
“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Andy said, “we get lunch and he gets a beer when he’s done.”
While the lack of a menu puts The Black Squid off limits to minors, it means that dogs are welcome to hang out with their beer-loving owners at all times.
As well as occasional live music and a regular trivia night, the Squid keeps things fresh by hosting beer tastings and tap take-overs from breweries large and small.
Savings can add up fast for frequent customers who sign up for the in-house loyalty program — Squid Squad Mug Club. Members get a dollar discount on draft pints and growler fills and 10 percent off bottles and cans to go. On top of that, exclusive use of a 25-ounce stein allows Squid Squad members to proclaim their beer-lover status for all to see while on the premises. Three-, six- and 12-month memberships are available, each with their own range of benefits, and all include discounts on glassware and clothing featuring the Squid’s striking logo.
That logo, born of Sara and Andy’s winter in the motorhome, now takes pride of place on a range of merchandise from stickers and wine bottles to caps and hoodies.
“It’s great to see people walking down the street wearing a hoodie with your logo on it,” Andy said. “That came out of our brains a year and a half ago. That’s so weird.”
The Black Squid Beer House is located at 3001 SW Hwy. 101, Lincoln City and is open from 3 to 10 pm Wednesdays & Thursdays; 3 to 11 pm on Fridays; 1 to 11 pm on Saturdays, and 3 to 9 pm on Sundays. Call them at 541-614-0733. See their up-to-date tap list and events at www.blacksquidbeerhouse.com
The Black Squid will mark its year anniversary this Wednesday, July 25, with a mead tasting event by Nectar Creek, D Doggs gourmet bacon wrapped hot dogs out front, raffle prizes, and live music from Nick Sexton.
A striking set of doors, built by Tyler Cunningham of Schooner Creek Designs, feature 100-year-old reclaimed barn wood and custom crafted squid handles.