Oregon City Beer Scene on the Move (again) with Arch Bridge Taphouse

Arch_Bridge_Taphouse_LOGO-2Oregon City Brewery, Portland Cider Co. (both profiled recently on The New School), and other taprooms and breweries are quickly sprouting up in Oregon City. And now there’s news of even more beer action in Oregon’s first city, just 30 minutes south of Portland.

Oregon City seems to be primed for a beer renaissance–long-time home brewer supplier Bridgeview Beer and Wine on Main is renovating its space for a brewery (more on that in a different post), and across the street the historical Bank of Commerce building, the Arch Bridge Taphouse is being built out for a spring 2015 opening.

Downtown Oregon City has a walkable Main Street with a beautiful vintage historical building stock. It’s close to highways–205 and 99E–and there’s a built-in audience from the surrounding areas, including Lake Oswego, West Linn, Happy Valley, and Clackamas. But will thirsty Portlanders make the 30 minute trek down to Oregon City to try beer?


Arch Bridge Taphouse co-owners Gene Gligorea and Todd Gienger want to build a taproom, but also a gathering space for the community–from the locals in Oregon City to Clackamas to Portland–to enjoy good beer and good company.

“The possibilities of the mill site (the former Blue Heron paper mill is in the process of being renovated as a river park and mixed use project- Ed.) is exciting,” said Gligorea. “It will help renew the whole area and make for a bigger, better downtown with more housing and economic possibilities for the community.”

Two years ago a business plan for the taproom was drawn up, and the search for a space in downtown Oregon City began, since he and his partner wanted to be in downtown Oregon City in a historical building. “There’s a cool feel, it’s right on the river, and there a lot of cool old buildings. Oregon City has a rich history and we want to embrace that,” Gligorea said.

AB glass

However, many buildings along Main Street are already filled with tenants. Thankfully, the building’s owner had just purchased the building and approached Gligorea and Gienger with a shared idea to keep the building “classic” but with an industrial feel.

The building that will house the taproom has some nice architectural cred and was designed by Portland’s A.E. Doyle (he designed the Multnomah County Library, the Bank of California building, the Reed College campus, and many others in downtown Portland). The entire building is being renovated and the completion of the taproom is starting to pick up steam after delays.

Once the taproom does open in the spring, Arch Bridge Taphouse plans to serve Northwest beers among 12 taps, host the occasional food cart in the building’s parking lot and special events.

“We really love breweries like The Commons, Upright, and Breakside. Their year-round offerings are excellent, they produce creative and delicious small batch beers, and they still find time to make superb renditions of classic European styles,” Gligorea said.

Logsdon, Pfriem, Cascade, Oakshire, Heater Allen, Occidental, and Gigantic should feature heavily in their rotation as well. “Boneyard and Barley Brown’s are making some of the best IPA on the planet right now, so we will hope to see frequent appearances from them. De Garde Brewing is probably our favorite brewery right now. The beers they are making are unique and incredible, so we will try hard to bring in any of their offerings that see distribution. We also hope the expansion in production at Block 15 will mean more of their phenomenal beer will make its way out of Corvallis and onto our taplist,” he adds.

Gligorea is bullish on downtown Oregon City as a beer destination (and overall destination). “Oregon City already has an impressive growth of new taprooms and breweries,” he said, and as for the growing beer scene there, his philosophy is that it’s “less about splitting up a pie and making more pies all together.”

Who knows? Maybe someday Oregon City will have its own “ale trail” tour where thirsty beer drinkers can walk from place to place to try different beers. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but it appears the groundwork is already being built.

“We want people to say ‘Oregon City’ along with ‘Mississippi,’ ‘Alberta,’ or ‘Hawthorne’ when making plans to eat out or drink,” adds Gligorea.

Visit Arch Bridge Taphouse’s Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/abthoc.

John Chilson
John Chilson

John Chilson writes about Portland history and architecture at Lost Oregon. He's also written for Neighborhood Notes, Travel Oregon, Portland Architecture, Askmen.org, San Diego Reader, and Portland Food and Drink. Follow him on twitter at @LostOregon for local history nerdism; for beer tweets he's at @Hopfrenzy. Shoot him an email at hopfrenzy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.