Rumor has it that back in the day Henry Weinhard bought the old Oregon City Brewing, tore it down, added a tavern and built a warehouse for his Portland-brewed beer empire. Though beer wasn’t brewed on premise, it’s a glimpse into how Oregon City was once a thriving beer scene.
Is Oregon City back on track as a beer destination? Feckin Brewery has been cranking out beers on McLoughlin near downtown. The Highland Stillhouse packs in hungry crowds and serves an impressive selection of beers (and single malt Scotch). And up on the hill a new taproom, Growler Run, recently opened.
Starting in early November another brewery, the also-named Oregon City Brewery, or OCB, will be producing a half-dozen of their own beers and carrying up to 40 beers on tap, focusing on smaller Northwest breweries.
The brewery, started by co-partner Bryce Morrow, his father and father-in-law is a true family affair. They began brewing at home six years ago, five gallons at a time in Morrow’s kitchen. The trio then moved up to a half-barrel on the back porch. Moving into a new home with a detached garage, Morrow says the road to a full, OLCC-licensed brewery began as they set up shop there. “We always loved craft beer and we started to compare ourselves to others out there and thought ‘we would pay for this beer,’” says Morrow.
A chance meeting with a neighbor walking by and peering into their brewing setup changed things. Turns out the neighbor was the owner of a local BBQ chain and soon the brewers were producing beers for the BBQ under the BBQ’s own label. Their OCB beers (an IPA and a red ale) were then on tap at local Oregon City restaurants such as Mi Famiglia and taproom Growler Run.
The next logical step was a full-time brewery. It was also logical to build the brewery in Oregon City. Morrow and his dad are Oregon City natives and Morrow says there wasn’t much thought about being anywhere else.
“It’s home to us. We know the area, and it’s also underserved. If you’re going to start yet another brewery in Portland – who cares? You’ve got already great breweries in Portland.”
Morrow compares the potential of Oregon City as a beer destination, similar to Bend or Astoria, “Oregon City has been overlooked in many ways. There’s a real history here and there hasn’t been a fully functioning brew house since the 1880s.”
The new 5,000 square foot space has just started with a renovation and will eventually house a 3-barrel system. There won’t be a kitchen s0 no food will be served, but the OLCC will allow food from the outside and the brewery plans on partnering with local restaurants to deliver food to hungry customers. For now, Oregon City Brewery will focus on brewing beer for the taproom, direct to consumer and their wholesale accounts. Styles of beers they plan brewing include Irish Red, Scottish Ale, Pale Ale, Marionberry Ale, Double Chocolate Stout, and of course, an IPA.
Oregon City Brewery will be located at 1401 Washington in downtown Oregon City and is planning on opening November 1.