Plans include waterfront revitalization, job creation, and more beer varieties.
Fort George Brewery is ready to take things to the next level with a brewery and canning line expansion onto Astoria, Oregon’s waterfront. The additional building is the former 124,000 sq. ft. Astoria Warehousing site at 70 West Marine Drive.
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The main building once housed American Can Company which produced cans on site for Bumble Bee Seafoods’ historic Elmore Cannery. More recently, Astoria Warehousing labeled, stored and distributed cans of Alaskan salmon there, but it closed last year and 25 workers lost their jobs. Fort George Brewery, located just a mile away in downtown Astoria, had been seeking additional production and distribution space and says the site is perfect.
“We prefer working with historic properties; they have so much character and soul. It has a really cool story and the fact that we’ll be canning beer in an old can warehouse seems like destiny,” Fort George Owner Chris Nemlowill said.
Fort George will move its main canning operations to the new space and will build a production brewery with equipment salvaged from BridgePort Brewing. The Fort’s two smaller breweries will remain at their current location downtown, allowing for more variety including specialty and experimental beers. The space will also allow Fort George to grow local distribution of fellow craft beverage makers’ goods.
“This facility unlocks a ton of opportunity for our staff to innovate and grow. We have been handcuffed with space limitations in both our production brewery and warehouse and we now have the ability to build a more efficient space while taking pressure off our downtown block,” Fort George Distribution Manager Brad Depuyt said.
Fort George is investing $12.5 million in the Astoria waterfront, a deal that includes a loan from US Bank to purchase the property, an environmental remediation grant from Oregon Business Development Department and a New Markets Tax Credit investment from Craft3 to get the brewery running.
“We have always been impressed by Fort George’s effort to create opportunity for its employees and build a strong community in the Lower Columbia,” said Adam Zimmerman, Craft3 President and CEO. “Our New Markets Tax Credit investment builds on our shared commitment to create quality jobs and support the economic revitalization of the Astoria waterfront.”
The Fort George, which has a history of promoting from within and providing benefits, aims to create at least 35 full-time jobs in the next five years. The Fort is also interested in making the property more accessible to the public with an eventual taproom so everyone can enjoy the view.
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.