Back in 2019 Pilot House Distilling joined forces with Buoy Beer and now they are expanding their operations by opening a waterfront distillery in their hometown of Astoria, Oregon. The distillery’s new digs will be adjacent to Buoy Beer on the Riverwalk.
The Pilot House Distilling will be moving from its current 4,000 sq. ft. space to its new permanent home in a former fish processing plant. The new distilling facility will include a new 5,000-liter copper pot still and column (an upgrade from their current 950-liter still), a new fermentation cellar with a mash mixer and a mash filter, and a 12,000 sq. ft. second floor devoted to barrel aging. Relocation and the new equipment will allow the team to ramp up production on some of their products, like Painted Lady Gin and Diablo Azul agave spirits, as well as expand their Whiskey and Bourbon lines with grain-to-glass fluidity.
“Like everyone, 2020 has been a really hard year for us,” said Cofounder David Kroening. “We had just finished up years of work on our strategic plan and then everything got turned on its head when the pandemic started. We lost a lot of our staff during the first shutdown and had to pump the brakes hard as we dealt with the toughest months we have ever faced. After some really hard work from our entire team, we were able to make the decision that with some tweaks to our plan, focusing growth on our core areas was going to be the best path for us to make sure we’d be able to expand our team again into the future and meet the ever-growing demand for our beer and spirits.”
“I am very excited about the opportunity to expand into a state-of-the-art production facility,” said Larry Cary, Head Distiller of Pilot House Distilling. “This will give us the opportunity to compete on a national level by giving us the tools needed to increase our production capacity. We’ll have better access to the raw materials needed to further increase the quality of already award-winning products.”
Visitors too will be able to view the 24′ tall copper column through full height glass walls leading people to sample the products at the new Pilot House Distilling tasting room. The tasting room will feature tastings, bottle sales, a 21-and-up bar to enjoy hand-crafted cocktails and views of a working distillery in an intimate setting on the back dock over the water. The facility also has plans to set up private tours of the distillery and brewery. The tours will offer education on the processes of grain-to-glass production and equipment.
On the north side of the building along the Riverwalk, the chefs from the Buoy Beer’s restaurant will start a new walk-up “take & go” food option that will feature local seafood to compliment the cocktail bar.
“It’s very humbling to look back at how far we’ve come in the past 7 years,” says Kevin Shaw, Director of Brewery Operations. “I had faith in the project when I came on board in 2013 but this exceeds my wildest dreams for the company. Being able to increase production to fulfill orders while continuing our consistency and quality is really exciting plus… who doesn’t like shiny new things?”
The new distillery is set to open later this year.