They all said it wouldn’t work. A brewery in the tiny Columbia River Gorge community of Carson? Please.
Yet, just three years after opening, Backwoods Brewing is expanding its production at a new facility at the nearby Port of Skamania.
“We’re excited — we’re a family-owned business,” brewmaster Kevin Waters said. “We’re really excited to add jobs. We’ve got 30 to 35 employees right now, and at the very minimum, at least four more jobs are on the way.”
The popular flagship pub at 1162 Wind River Highway will remain, while the new 8,000-square-foot facility in Stevenson will handle all of Backwoods’ brewing.
“We’re moving everything, the grain silo, tanks — everything is moving,” Waters said. “That will allow us to expand the pub. We’re pretty excited about that. The pub’s needed an expansion.”
Backwoods produced just 310 barrels of beer in its first year, then jumped to 1,100 in 2013, doubled to 2,200 in 2014 and is on pace to produce 5,500 barrels of beer this year, Waters said. It sells beer in bottles, cans and on tap.
That’s a lot of beer for a small unincorporated town. By way of comparison, in 2014, Vancouver’s Loowit Brewing Co. produced 854 barrels and Heathen Brewing sold 1,180 barrels.
The well-established microbrewery Deschutes Brewing Co. produces more than 300,000 barrels per year.
Backwoods’ new production facility will be able to handle 15,000 barrels right away, though Waters is hoping to produce about 10,000 in 2016.
Thanks to a loan from Riverview Community Bank, Waters said, the brewery was recently able to install a canning line and grow production through new tanks. Backwoods beer is now being distributed through Fred Meyer stores in the region, as well as through local bottle shops and on tap at various bars.
Waters said he hopes to have the new production facility opened in February and the pub expanded by next summer — which could bring more jobs to the small community.
Brooks Johnson: 360-735-4547; firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/readbrooks