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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Transcendent pFriem to Expand Footprint, Production

While much of the beer world is mired in flat or negative growth, there are a few big winners out there. Such is the case with pFriem Family Brewers, which just announced plans that will expand production capacity dramatically.

Details of the expansion were announced at several events this past weekend in Hood River. Since they opened in 2012, pFriem has been gradually increasing the size of its leased space in the Halyard Building on the waterfront in Hood River. Finally, they had to look elsewhere.

Increasing demand for pFriem beer is the reason for the expansion. That's a nice problem to have in this market, where more and more established breweries appear to be at risk. pFriem has actually been a glaring exception. Its annual Oregon production numbers show steady upward growth since it opened in 2012.

The brewery produced 486 barrels that first year, barely a blip in the stats. The projected number for 2018 (the OLCC report showing the full year won't be released until March) is around 13,000. Again, we're talking about barrels produced and sold in Oregon...where pFriem sells most of its beer. Total barrelage for 2018 was nearly 19,000, a company operative told me.

Over the course of the next two years, Pfriem will increase production capacity in Hood River to more than 60,000 barrels. All non-barrel aged beers will be produced and packaged there. Expansion will involve installing a second and significantly larger brewhouse, adding additional fermentation capacity and installing a canning line.

A new facility down the road in Cascade Locks will provide space for them to expand and refine their barrel aging program, which has produced some award winning results, and to also consolidate warehousing and cold storage. For the past few years, pFriem has leased space in Hood River for warehousing and storage. That will go away once the Cascade Locks facility opens.

"The goal has been to increase our offerings, continue to boost quality and innovation and to create opportunities for our employees to further their careers and personal lives in the special communities that we are lucky to be a part of," co-founder and brewmaster, Josh Pfriem said. "We feel that we are on an exciting path to accomplishing these goals through these two interconnected expansion projects.”

Many wonder what plans pFriem has for pub expansion. The Cascade Locks facility will not have a tasting room or pub. That space will be dedicated primarily to expanding the barrel program. The good news for pFriem fans is that they are apparently considering potential pub sites, but have no imminent plans. With pFriem, these things take time.

The recently activated coolship at rest.
As we were finishing up Saturday evening, I had a quick conversation with Josh about the growth trajectory of pFriem. My perspective, free to be challenged, is that pFriem has done what they've done via an intense focus on across-the-board quality. They have a growing list of specialty and core beers that are well-made. The pub in Hood River always provides an excellent experience.

These things do not happen by accident. A lot of people enter this industry every year. There isn't a single one of them that doesn't hope to create memorable beers and unique experiences. Only a handful succeed in doing that. Yet pFriem has done so with apparent ease. It's a fantastic, evolving success story and one that doesn't seem to involve a lot of luck.

Inquiring minds are surely evaluating pFriem's success and wondering how to emulate it elsewhere. The blueprint isn't complicated. It involves an almost fanatical dedication to quality in everything they do. If you can manage that, you can emulate pFriem. So simple.

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