Goliath Watch Out: Craft Beer & Spirits Are Big Business
Why did I huff and puff my way up three long flights of stairs on the outside of an enormous building in the middle of the industrial bleakness of the Vancouver, Washington, riverfront? It wasn’t for the admittedly great view of the scrap processing plant next door, or for the satisfying clatter of the stamp of my steel-toed boots on each and every tread.
I was up there, clinging to the side of the Great Western malting plant—no, I’ll be fine, just give me a minute to catch my breath before we go in—to see firsthand just how huge craft brewing and distilling has become these days. I blame you, and you, and myself, I guess, for making these drinks such a success. This immense plant, which is so big we had to drive around it in pickup trucks and golf carts, is now selling almost all of its output to craft brewers and distillers around the country.
Westland Distillery invited me out to Portland last summer to see their operation and taste their American single malt whiskey (thanks for the trip, folks), but they also wanted me to see Great Western. Westland considers Great Western to be their partner in innovation. I don’t generally think of “innovation” when I drive into a huge, 80-year-old facility making agricultural products, but that was before I saw this operation.