5 Questions for Buoy Beer Co.’s Austen Conn

Buoy Beer Co.’s lead brewer Austen Conn

Austen Conn is the Lead Brewer at Astoria’s Buoy Beer Co. and not long ago lead me on a tour of their operation and still ongoing expansion project detailed here. Austen only began homebrewing about eight years ago at twenty years of age after his father bought him a homebrew starter kit. Austen attended Siebel/Doemens academy before starting his first professional brewing gig after graduation at Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California. For Austen Trumer was “an amazing primer, kind of an instant reality check that I wasn’t just brewing at home any longer.”

This is chapter 4 in a new monthly series in which we check in with brewers on what they are drinking, eating, enjoying and what’s currently bubbling away in their fermenters.

Q: What is your favorite beer right now?

AC: A really tough question for me to nail down to just one. Anything crisp and bright always gets me excited. Our collaboration Dry-Hopped Pils with Level Beer was a blast to brew and sure did taste great too.  

Q: What are you really enjoying as far as food and drink right now in Astoria?

AC: Fresh Oysters from Netarts Bay, cocktails from Albatross & Co., and fresh coastal beer!

Q: What’s the most exciting thing going on in the Astoria beer scene?

AC: Growth. There’s a new brewery (Reach Break) and almost every brewery in town is in some sort of growth phase. This means more brewers in a small area which is always exciting. In the brewery at Buoy we’ve added 4 new brewers, a lab tech, and packaging cellarmen in less than a year. I think the increased presence of breweries and brewers in town really helps grow our town’s culture and scene. I see the sky as the limit and hopefully one day we can boast a well-matured beer scene to rival Hood River.

Q: What’s new or fresh on tap right now at Buoy Beer?

AC: We’re currently ramping up for Summer but we’ve got a fresh batch of Single Hop IPA w/ Amarillo, and a brand new #TeamBuoy IPA developed in collaboration with our front/back of house staff. We have also ramped up our Helles and Dunkel production which means those should slowly make their way into the PDX market soon!

Buoy Beer’s Austen Conn and Kevin Shaw

Q: What beers do you have in the tanks or in the works?

AC: We’ve been working on our Cheers to Belgian Beers and Fruit Beer Festival beers which I’m really excited about. Our Belgian Golden Strong ale is inspired by Duvel with a few twists and should be great for the CTBB fest. Our North Coast Gruit “Foraged for Thought” will debut at the Fruit Beer Fest this year which will showcase 100# of our local North Coast Cranberries from Starvation Alley along with some foraged spruce/fir tips and bright citrus aromatics from citrus zest and coriander. We’ll also have an upcoming collaboration with my buddy Steve, from Bodega Brewing coming out as well. Our #TeamBuoy collaborations will also be coming out more regularly soon which allows our non-brewery staff to pitch ideas for new beers and gets new people involved into the brewery process.

Check out our past Q & A’s with Whitney Burnside (10 Barrel), Brett Thomas (Sunriver), and Ben and Rik of Baerlic Brewing.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com