How Expanding Physical Space Can Open Up Brewing Ideas

Deciding and timing when to expand your production space can be tricky. When an opportunity came along for Fort George Brewery, the price was right, and the location was optimal.

Currently, Fort George is using a warehouse five miles south of Astoria, Oregon in Warrenton where its beer is stored and shipped. It serves as Fort George’s self-distribution center, Fort George Distribution, which distributes beer along the Northern Oregon and Southwestern Washington Coastal areas.

As output grew, Fort George needed more space, and it only made sense to build a bigger production warehouse.

So, Fort George bought a 10-acre plot in Warrenton and had plans close to ready to begin building, when a new offer became a prospect: Astoria Warehousing. That put plans on hold, and now Fort George owns the former American Can Company which produced cans on site for Bumble Bee Seafoods’ historic Elmore Cannery in Astoria. The old tuna canning facility will be Fort George’s new production brewery, with its two smaller breweries remaining downtown.

“This space changed our ways of thinking and will make us incredibly more efficient,” Brian Bovenizer, the Marketing and Sales Director for Fort George said. “In the end, this is the best place for us. The buildings are well taken care of, have a deep history to canning (albeit tuna), and are only a mile away from our current brew houses.”

One of Fort George’s biggest motivators, aside from having more space, was to be able to brew more styles of beer. Adding another production brewery will allow for 60, 30 and 8.5 bbl brewhouses, an additional canning line, and an in-line labeler for one-off cans.

“In all of our previous situations, we never thought we could grow to be bigger than our properties,” Bovenizer said. “By acquiring 124,000 sq ft of warehouse/offices and 12 acres of land on the Astoria waterfront, we can’t imagine outgrowing this.”

The cost, proximity, infrastructure of the buildings, and physical location all factored into this being the right spot for Fort George.

“David Coyne, our ‘Barrel Baron’ is an extremely creative and talented brewer. We will have him unleashed here on the original brewery site, while larger-scale production will shift to the new facility,” Bovenzier said. “Outside of being a great brewer, David is also pretty darn social and likes to collaborate. Look for more collaborations, experimental beers, wild fermentations and more out of us in the next couple of years.

“Outside of that, we are excited about finally having some lagering tanks! We have been cranking out IPAs and Stouts so quickly that we have not had tank space to do Lagers or Pilsners. This new space will also allow us to move into those styles.”

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