Astoria’s newest brewery just got its brewhouse.
Reach Break Brewing’s 7-barrel system arrived in wooden crates Monday morning, as the three co-owners — brothers Josh and Jared Allison, along with friend Finn Parker — continue setting up shop inside the former Astoria Indoor Garden Supply, dubbed the Astoria Station by the building’s owner, Warren Williams.
Reach Break will be Astoria’s sixth brewery, after Wet Dog Cafe & Brewery, Astoria Brewing Co., Fort George Brewery, Buoy Beer Co. and Hondo’s Brew & Cork. But it will be the only sour beer brewery in the county, the next closest being De Garde Brewing in Tillamook.
“We have an established beer scene already,” Josh Allison said of Astoria. “We’ll be bringing something in that really is unique to the area and adding to it rather than, like, competing with other breweries.”
He said the next step before brewing is getting permits from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Three weeks into the brewery’s build-out, Reach Break’s owners are hesitant to give an opening date. If everything falls into place, the brewery is at least a couple months out.
People walking along the north side of Exchange Street will have a bird’s-eye view into the progress in the main brewery, reminiscent of the view into Fort George’s production brewery in the Lovell Building a block east. The Allisons and Parker will eventually install their brewhouse just below the sidewalk, and add a walk-in cooler, keg washer and bottling station.
“We’ve got a smaller system, so we can do a lot of experimenting, a lot of playing around,” Josh Allison said.
While brewing their own staples and sours, the owners said they would like to collaborate with local breweries and businesses, even inviting nonprofits, such as Surfrider Foundation, and agencies, such as Astoria Fire Department, to come brew a specialty batch as a fundraiser.
In a room adjacent to the brewery will be a small tap room, with lounge and bar seating. All of it looks out on an acrylic concrete-coated parking lot Williams has made pedestrian-only in hopes of creating a food cart pod and beer garden.
“If I didn’t have a brewery there — if I just had an auto parts store — I wouldn’t put a food cart there,” Williams said.
A few of the previous food carts left for the corner of 11th and Duane streets. Part of the inspiration for Williams, who acquired the building about eight years ago, comes from the Happy Valley Station, a pod of more than 20 food carts surrounding a large indoor pavilion with a tap house southeast of Portland.
In addition to food carts, beer and cider, Williams has said he wants to potentially project movies and sporting events on the wall of the adjacent Norblad Building above.
Clean then sour
Don’t expect sour beers on tap any time soon. The partners say they want to start with their own “clean” beers. The term describes beers with more subdued fermentation flavors, such as pale ales, stouts, porters, Pilsners and lagers.
“The clean line pays the bills until the sours are ready,” Parker said.
What gives sour beers — Berliner weisses, saisons, Flanders ales and lambics — their signature tart taste are wild yeasts and the acidifying bacteria the beers age in. Reach Break’s sours will spend a year or more in barrels beneath the main brewery.
“The process takes, depending on how you’re doing it, it takes a long time,” said Jared Allison, who recently worked at De Garde. “We’re going to do it more of the traditional way of long-aging it in oak.”
Reach Break will offer most of its beers on tap, with some bottled for special releases. While letting people bring in growlers, the brewery will also sell recyclable, 32-ounce aluminum containers.
The partners in Reach Break all grew up in small coastal towns; the Allisons in Coos Bay and Parker in California. They started planning the brewery from Sweet Home, even winning an award at Seaside’s Pouring at the Coast for their Symbiosis Stout collaboration with Coos Bay’s 7 Devils Brewing Co.
Searching for locations, the owners said they had an affinity for Astoria because of their backgrounds, along with the right combination of small-town charm and influences that come with being less than a two-hour drive away from Portland.
“It’s a very artistic, outwardly weird town that just makes it really amazing to be a part of,” Parker said. “I’ve been here five months, and it just kind of grows on you. It just gets better and better the longer you’re with it.”