Peering out into the murky waters where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean on a foggy day, I'm met with a scene from a silent movie. Container ships with hulls full of goods moving slowly up the river, local fishermen in their skiffs making their way back to shore, a friendly coast guard waving as he passes by. Despite it cinematic impact, this scene is actually the view from Astoria’s newest brewpub, Buoy Beer Co.—a brewery that represents Astoria’s rich past as well as its vibrant future.
Buoy was born in the garage of founding brewer Dan Hamilton, when the beer lover invited Luke Colvin to taste his home brews, and the two were instantly inspired to open a new brewery in Astoria. When the pair happened to hear of an old, waterfront building that had been vacant since 2006, the idea was catapulted into reality. The only obstacle would be in repairing the 1924 building, a former fish processing facility of the New England Fish Company of Oregon (NEFCO) and Bornstein Seafoods.
After many months of construction, the building was transformed from a state of disrepair to a gleaming light-filled space complete with a restaurant, taproom, and some of the best views Astoria has to offer. A glass floor in the entryway gives guests a rare view of the splashing waves under Astoria's historic docks, where sea lions often come to play. The wood-paneled walls, restored from the building’s old floorboards, radiate warmth in their newfound purpose. And throughout the 44,000 square foot space, countless relics from the building’s earlier days, like a restored fish ladder formerly used to move freshly caught fish from the water upstairs for processing, join the beers and fresh fare to create Astoria's coolest new hangout:
The beers: The brewery offers a wide range of craft beers on tap, from Dunkels to Pale Ales, Porters to ESBs, all which live up to the brewery’s highly esteemed home-brew origins. Many of the beers rotate with the season as Buoy's head brewer, Kevin Shaw, experiments with new styles, like the two new lagers that will be released in the coming weeks (Oktoberfest and a Helles Bock).
The grub: Menu items capitalize on the city’s rich ties to the seafood industry—think classic clam chowder ($4/$7), bountiful salmon-topped salads loaded with house pickled veggies, and beer-battered rockfish and chips ($12, also available gluten-free—one of the best things we've eaten in Astoria this year). The star of the show is almost certainly the colorfully plated Buoy Oysters ($13)—half a dozen fried Willapa Bay oysters topped with spicy jalapeño jam and a pearl of goat cheese. Trust us, a plate of these babies and a pint of Buoy Beer, and you'll understand why folks in the know are flocking to this riverfront town in droves.
Want more? Click through the slide show above for a look at Buoy’s historic space, fresh bites, and diverse beer offerings.
Buoy Beer Co.
1 8th Street
Astoria, OR 97103
Sunday through Thursday, 11 am to 10 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 12 am