Gluten-free brewery in 2024?

Construction has begun on the exterior of the old Sunflower Dairy building in the heart of the Astoria Beer Zone.

It’s the first outward sign that a microbrewery specializing in gluten-free beer is coming – as soon as next summer.

“Definitely next year,” says owner-brewer Dan Salenski.

He also intends to make craft soda in a variety of flavors, which explains the name of the business: Fizziology.

Twin glass roll-up doors will be added to the front at Duane and 13th streets to provide flexibility during good weather and give a nod to the past.

Delivery trucks used to come and go through similar doors when the dairy business was operating. The building was designed by noted Astoria architect John E. Wicks in 1928, and was used as a milk distribution plant until 1950. 

Today, quart milk bottles emblazoned with the dairy’s distinctive orange logo are collectibles. The logo featured sunflowers and a woman’s smiling face. “Refreshing!” the back of the bottle declared.

Salenski has a poster-size black-and-white picture of workers posing in front of the building that he intends to display in the new business. He also wants to replicate the original sign with metal letters and the row of transom windows that used to extend the entire width of the building. (They’re still visible on the Bridge & Tunnel end). 

The interior is somewhat narrow but airy, with concrete floors and 20-foot-high ceilings. There’s plenty of room for the bar Salenski plans to build with a wide window revealing his modest brewhouse and soda tanks. 

Also planned is a small kitchen for pub-type food and space for a piano.

When construction work started, Salenski says he felt a range of emotions, from anxiety to exhilaration.

“It’s awesome. I’m excited about it,” he says. “I’m definitely more excited than nervous.”

Salenski, who runs a commercial flooring business with his father, hopes to open the soda part of Fizziology in late spring, then add the beer later. While awaiting city permits, he may start out brewing at home and bringing in kegs, he says.

Being a beer lover who is gluten-intolerant has been frustrating.

“You can’t find gluten-free beer in town. They just don’t sell it,” he says. “It drove me to make my own.”

The brewery would be the first in Astoria to offer gluten-free beer, further enhancing the city’s reputation as a beer tourism destination. 

The Sunflower Dairy building was last used as an indoor walking park. Salenski and his parents bought the building a couple of years ago. 

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