Astoria’s Buoy Beer and Pilot House Distilling Are Preparing for Growth Along the Columbia River

Buoy is adding a 50-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse, while Pilot House is relocating and installing a 5,000-liter copper still.

Buoy Beer is expanding its footprint on Astoria's historic Riverwalk.

This last summer, the nearly 7-year-old brewery moved into the Astor Street building just across the path used by both pedestrians and a seasonal trolley from its pub and turned it into a giant drinking hall. Now the business is literally raising the roof on that structure in order to accommodate a new 50-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse along with more fermentation tanks.

Beer production will remain in the original location, a rehabilitated cannery perched above the Columbia, and a pipe bridge is scheduled to be built between the Astor building and the current brewery.

Also on the to-do list: the installation of a higher-speed canning line and even more tanks, some of which will be devoted to Buoy's well-renowned lagers that need more time to ferment.

Buoy had recently reopened its restaurant for limited indoor service, but for much of the summer customers had either been drinking and eating from a shortened menu on the property's dock or inside the Beer Hall due to the pandemic. Now, the brewery is getting ready to launch a new walk-up to-go option on the north side of the building, which will include dishes like freshly shucked oysters, tacos and specialty toasts.

Astoria's Pilot House Distilling, acquired by Buoy in 2019, is also set to relocate from its 4,000-square-foot space on Duane Street to a former fish processing plant adjacent to the brewery.

A bigger building will allow Pilot House to purchase a 5,000-liter copper still, which is a significant upgrade from the current 950-liter model, and age barrels in a 12,000-square-foot segment on the second floor.

Eventually, visitors can schedule a private tour, but you won't need to be inside to admire that gorgeous still. Floor-to-ceiling windows will provide a view to anyone along the Riverwalk. The location is also going to have a tasting room with bottle sales and a bar for visitors to order hand-crafted cocktails.

Meanwhile, drinkers who like to collect themed swag (basically every beer nerd) can use Buoy as one of their stops to earn a virtual stamp on a new mobile passport. The brewery is one of many on Oregon's North Coast Craft Beer Trail, which spans from Astoria to Cannon Beach.

Before the pandemic, participants could use a hard copy passport to record visits and then present it for a prize. But now users can check in at locations by using redemption codes. To-go purchases count, too. After checking into at least 10 breweries within a year, you'll be able to commemorate that journey with a Beer Trail glass.

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