Astoria is getting another brewery.
The port community is already home to six beer-makers, including top-notch producers like Buoy Beer and Fort George Brewery. But two industry vets are bringing the roving Awesome Ales to a more permanent space in the brewery boomtown.
David Lederfine, the one-man-show behind Awesome, is partnering with Jim Parker, who's held a variety of roles in Oregon and Washington's beer industries, to open Asher David Brewing & Cellarworks.
Under Awesome, Lederfine relied solely on contracted tank time at other breweries. But that transient model took its toll as the beers showed up on tap sporadically and eventually became increasingly hard to track down. The new company is built, in part, on Lederfine's previous project.
"We initially thought we would just rebrand Awesome Ales," Parker said in a statement, "but as things began to develop, we realized that this is a completely new beast."
The idea to rebrand in Astoria came when Parker noticed Astoria Brewing's original brewhouse sat mostly unused when the business upgraded to a 15-barrel system. He and Lederfine contacted the owners and are set to sign a lease on the four-barrel space, which Lederfine ran in the early 2000s when it was Pacific Rim Brewing. While Asher David has a building to call its own, the business will maintain the Awesome Ales ethos of tenant brewing. This new arrangement, however, allows parker and Lederfine to open a taproom.
"I had tried for five years to get Jim involved with Awesome," said Lederfine. "But he always had some new job or new project."
"The reality is I wasn't that enamored with the whole Awesome Ales name or concept," Parker added. "I believed in David and his beers, but thought he should be doing more of what he is passionate about, which is farmhouse and barrel-aged beers. And I knew there was no way to be profitable if you don't control at least some of your production schedule and have a taproom to sell directly to your customers."
Parker and Lederfine have hired additional salespeople, and Asher David beers will be self-distributed from Astoria to The Dalles and from Portland to Eugene. Brewing is set to begin in Astoria this month. Lederfine admits it's a big change, but one that was needed.
"Last year, I realized I had hit a ceiling on what I could accomplish by myself," Lederfine said. "I also knew investors don't invest in people, they invest in teams. So it was vital to put together a solid team. I feel like we have done that so far and there's more yet to come. When I tell people the story of where this project started and where we are now, they always say, 'That's awesome.' I just smile and say, 'It used to be…now we're even better.'"