Reveille Ciderworks is pausing development of a new taproom and theater as it expands its wholesale business with the help of a state grant and a new distribution agreement with Fort George Brewery.
Reveille opened a small taproom and cidery along Duane Street next to Reach Break Brewing two years ago. Founder Jeremy Towsey-French said the cidery has grown quickly. In April, he announced a new taproom, restaurant and theater in the corner suite of the Norblad Building. His original space would fill up with more tanks and convert mostly to production.
The expansion announcement brought Reveille to the attention of Business Oregon, an economic development agency, which reached out and offered a $37,500 grant through its small manufacturing business expansion program. Nathan Buehler, a spokesman for the agency, said the program is an effort to help small businesses that need a bump to expand.
Reveille promised to expand production over the next two years with new equipment for fermentation, conditioning, pasteurization and packaging, while creating the equivalent of at least one full-time job. If it doesn’t, the grant becomes a loan.
Towsey-French expects to create the equivalent of three or four new jobs. The expansion will allow Reveille to up the production of its most popular ciders and introduce new seasonal, nonalcoholic ciders he hopes to start serving by Christmas.
“We’ve got an entire new movement of sober-curious, and they’re looking for alternatives,” Towsey-French said. ”Essentially, we’re looking at a high-end Martinelli’s.”
Once the opportunity for wholesale expansion came, Towsey-French and his investors indefinitely paused the retail and theater concept. The cidery would have struggled to recoup the investment and keep production with demand, he said.
“At the end of the day, I make cider,” Towsey-French said. “And if I do anything that compromises my ability to do that well and to do more of it, then I’ve made the wrong choice.”
Reveille’s retail pullback follows the closure of several regional breweries and cideries. Bend-based Avid Cider Co. announced the closure of a Pearl District taproom in Portland to focus more on production. Portland’s Cider Riot, the site of recent confrontations between antifascist and right-wing demonstrators, will close later this month after succumbing to debt from a 2016 expansion and failing to find a buyer.
Reveille had been handling much of its own local distribution, with Crush Wine Distributors in Yachats helping spread its products along the Oregon Coast. But with expanded production, Towsey-French wanted a better way to get his products out without starting a distribution wing.
Fort George distributes between 30 and 35 different beers and ciders around the Pacific Northwest, including North Jetty Brewery in Seaview, Washington.
Reveille will be the first craft beverage company from Clatsop County to be distributed by Fort George, said Brad DePuyt, distribution manager for Fort George. Reveille will also receive storage space in the new Astoria Warehousing expansion.
“We’ve had the opportunity to get to know the crew at Reveille since before they opened,” Fort George co-owner Chris Nemlowill said in a release. “The similarity in our philosophies and approach to the craft makes this an ideal step towards greater opportunities for both companies in the future.”