Fort George Brewery and Public House has completed renovation of its upstairs space and is open limited hours, 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4:30 to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
The new space is filled with light from walls of windows on the north, west and east sides. It can be reached by a spiral staircase cut and refurbished from the stairs removed from the Astoria Column in 2009. The stairs rise 17 feet from the entrance of Fort George to the second floor. The 8-foot plug cut for a hole in the ceiling to accommodate the stairs was preserved and made into a table for the new space. A wire spool from Englund Marine was used in the tables construction.
Other salvaged materials make an appearance in the new 6,000-square-foot space. There is a counter, reportedly saved from Owl Drugs in 1922 when the devastating fire in downtown Astoria broke out. Other timber was salvaged from the Dairygold building and feed store and from Lovells Auto, which previously inhabited the building.
A wood-fired pizza oven is a main attraction in the new space. Dried applewood sits in stacks along a counter. The cured wood has dried for two years and emits a heat without popping or creating much ash, said Head Chef Dana MacAuley. He said it takes about 11 hours to raise the oven temperature to 500 degrees from a cold start, but refractory ceramic stones keep the temperature at 400 degrees overnight.
The ovens oval mouth remains open and one can see the fire and coals roasting in the the rear. Pizzas are created and shoveled onto a stone hearth of the 745-degree oven and turned frequently to get the crust evenly baked. The hearth is 7 feet wide and 6 inches thick. One of the challenges is stoking the fire, while cooking, MacAuley said.
Pizzas are made with organic flour, water, salt and yeast and fermented for a day or two. Toppings are beyond the standard. Some feature oysters, pulled pork, eggs or truffle cheese. The pizza is available only upstairs for dining in or taking out. Beyond the pizza, the upstairs menu offers appetizers, soups and salads.
Patrons can linger on barstools made from old barrels facing the chalkboard drawings by local artist Darren Orange or at tables of various sizes overlooking the Columbia River and parts of downtown.?The chalkboards list the sizable number of beers available and other drink offerings.
Sunday Night music will be offered upstairs, with no cover charge.