If all goes as planned, downtown Hood River will have a fourth brew pub by the summer, and when activity picks up with the wind along the waterfront, people will have a new place to kick back, enjoy the view and sip a cold brew just a stone's throw from the river.
Josh Pfriem, Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner expect their new brewery - called Pfriem Brewing Company (pronounced "freem") - to be up and running by June. The three have signed into a five-year lease with the Port of Hood River to occupy the eastern portion of the new Halyard Building, and bids to ready the 5,600-square- foot space for the brewery and tasting room are due this week.
"We're excited, to say the least," Pfriem said. "The location is exactly what we were hoping for, the timing is right and we're ready to bring something new to the area. This is a lifelong dream for us. We can't wait to get started and share with everyone what we've been working so hard on."
The brewery will feature classic hop-forward Northwest varieties, but will specialize in producing traditional Belgian-style ales. The three originally chose the name Cascadia, but felt it wasn't right and decided to change it.
Pfriem, who has been honing his talents at several breweries over the last decade, including most recently as a brewer at Full Sail, will take on the brewmaster title, while Whiteman will fill the role of general manager and Kellner will remain a silent partner.
For the Port of Hood River, the brewery represents another step toward success in its goal to utilize the waterfront and support economic growth and job creation. The Halyard Building, completed in 2010, will be half-occupied, with the brewery on the east end and Real Carbon, which moved into the space last year, on the west.
Although the building is zoned light industrial, a tasting room and restaurant (commercial activity) is allowed as long as it takes up no more than 25 percent of the total floor area. In an application to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the company applied for indoor and outdoor seating for a total of 50 people and for possible live or DJ music on Friday and Saturday evenings.
"Our focus is definitely going to be on making and distributing craft beers," Pfriem said. "But we also want to have a relaxed space for people to hang out, enjoy the location and have a beer. We'll be right across from the waterfront park, and we definitely want to take advantage of that with a friendly, family atmosphere."
Whiteman said they plan on distributing across the Northwest, mainly in kegs, with Belgian-style beers as the main focus for the brand. They also plan on featuring 750 ml Belgian-style bottles.
"We're looking to do something different," he said. "We'll have some classic Northwest beers, but our focus is going to be on traditional Belgian style, which is pretty unique for the Northwest."
"Craft beer is definitely on the rise right now," Pfriem said. "And Hood River is an amazing place to be doing this. It's becoming quite a world class destination for making, and enjoying, good beer."