OBELISK FINALLY BREWS AT HOME

It’s been a long, bittersweet year. Thirteen months, to be precise.

For Astoria’s Obelisk Beer Co., a series of mechanical issues kept the shiny brew tanks empty since the Bond Street brewery opened in November 2022.

Head brewer and co-founder Dave Coyne relied on contract brewing in Portland and collaborations with friends at breweries in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. 

That way he could open his taproom and have canned and kegged beer to sell and distribute. That way he could also generate revenue to pay for the plumbers, electricians and general contractors working on the brewhouse.

Month after month, though, the fermenters and bright tanks visible from the bar stood idle, seemingly mocking Coyne and business partner Nathan Lampson. 

Until now.

A few weeks ago, Coyne and Lampson oversaw the last of the work needed on their 11-barrel brewhouse – or at least what was necessary to start brewing on the premises. The taproom is now slowly filling with the enticing aromas of a working brewery: malt and grain and hops.

“It’s a relief for sure,” Coyne says. “It definitely took longer than we expected, but it feels good to finally be doing it.”

Obelisk opened in a former beer distribution warehouse in November 2022.

The first beer brewed on Bond Street was a black barley wine (now aging in whiskey barrels), followed by a brown ale (now on tap). 

The brewer admits he was anxious, but both beers turned out great.

“There are so many variables that can go wrong with a new brewery, the fact that we were able to get beer out – and have it be tasty – was a really nice surprise,” he says.

Today, the tanks are as they should be: filled with a tantalizing range of beers, including a saison, IPA, pilsner and lager.

Soon, Coyne will be brewing a special imperial stout for Fort George Brewery’s Festival of Dark Arts in mid-February.

“It’s nice to get my hands dirty,” he says with a smile.

***

When Obelisk opened in a remodeled former warehouse that had once been a beer distribution center, the owners knew they wouldn’t be brewing on the premises for a while. 

They just didn’t think it would take this long. And there’s still more work to be done, the owners say.

Part of the delay involved satisfying the city of Astoria that the wastewater entering the sewer system will be cleansed of solids and meet other stringent standards, including regular collection and testing.

“It’s probably going to be a challenge for years,” Coyne says of the wastewater system. “Just operating it.”

It was a learning exercise for Coyne and Lampson, who’d never run a brewery before. It was also frustrating and expensive.

The unexpected additional work required the owners to secure more funding, causing further delay. 

Despite all the challenges, Obelisk is an unqualified success. The 16-tap brewery is often bustling with special events, live music and games. Every week, there’s also a special kölsch night, with a unique table service featuring those tall, skinny glasses.

The beer, as expected, is top-notch.

Coyne, who previously worked as a top brewer at Fort George, takes pride in mastering the art of brewing of classic beer styles while also harboring an inventive side, an itch that will soon be scratched with barrel-aged brews.

One of Coyne’s delicious beers, with the brewhouse a few feet away.

Obelisk recently won a gold medal for one of its collaboration beers, an IPA named Social Piranha.

That beer was brewed elsewhere. 

The next medal will be for a batch cooked up at home.

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