The Canby Beer Library, the city’s first brewpub taking shape in the former library building on North Holly Street, will feature another exciting first: The first rooftop bar in Clackamas County.
Talk about raising the bar.
Bryce Morrow, owner of Oregon City Brewing Co. and head visionary for the Beer Library project, told city councilors Wednesday that the inspiration for the rooftop space actually emerged from one of the property’s downsides: a lack of outdoor seating.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, as a brewery owner during a pandemic, it’s that outdoor seating is just critical for food and beverage,” Morrow explained.
The initial concept had been to introduce outdoor space indoors by tearing open the roof and create an atrium in the heart of the building, but Morrow said his engineers dissuaded him from that idea early in the design process.
Instead of cannibalizing some of the library’s square footage for the indoor atrium, Morrow and his team opted to add to the property’s usable space with a 1500-square-foot heated and covered rooftop patio overlooking North Holly Street and Wait Park.
Morrow said he was sold on the idea after Canby Public Works loaned him a ladder to climb onto the roof and take in the view firsthand.
“I got up on there and took photos of what it would look like, and it’s just beautiful,” he said. “I think the community’s going to really, really enjoy it.”
Councilors, who voted to sell the formerly city-owned property to Morrow in February, were instantly on board.
“I think it’s great,” said Council President Traci Hensley, adding with a laugh: “I think you’re going to have people wanting to reserve your rooftop bar for the parade, for the Fourth of July. Music in the park — you’re going to be busy up there.”
“We hope so,” Morrow said.
The project has evolved in other ways from its initial concept as well, Morrow explained Wednesday night and in a follow-up interview with The Canby Current. It will no longer feature a planned arcade due to limited space and an unclear revenue model.
Also, instead of the three indoor food carts that were initially pitched to serve hungry patrons, the first floor will instead feature four leasable “micro-kitchens.” Each one will be about 300 square feet, fully outfitted and with commercial appliances and with their own counter to serve customers.
O.C. Brewing Co. brought the “micro-kitchen” concept to a corner of their space in Oregon City in 2016, Morrow said, with great success.
Though the Beer Library is not expected to open until next April, all four of the building’s kitchen spaces have already been rented, Morrow revealed Wednesday. He told the Current that he could not share names, but they will feature a variety of cuisine: pit barbecue, Chinese/American fusion, gourmet chicken and a South American bistro.
The concept will also feature three tenant spaces on the north side, each served by a roll-up door. Two of those spaces have also been spoken for (a salon and boutique retailer), with one still available.
The Beer Library will offer an expansive menu of drinks worthy of its name, with an estimated 50 selections on tap, from a wide variety of craft beer (duh), to housemade, all-natural hard seltzer (they currently offer six flavors), local wine and non-alcoholic sodas — made with 100% cane sugar and no artificial color or flavorings.
“Basically, we will carry a massive selection of housemade beverages that is unrivaled,” Morrow said. “The only thing we don’t carry is hard alcohol, as we are not a distillery and we really try to sell only what we make.”
The brewery space will feature 30 new skylights to brighten up the joint while retaining much of the building’s original trusses and architecture. Barrel aging and cider production will take place on-site.
“This is a passion project for me,” said Morrow, who has frequently described himself as “bullish” on the Canby community. “I like to say my company exists for two things: One is to make good beer and the other is to build community. I’m super excited to bring this project here.”
Councilor Sarah Spoon also complimented Morrow’s vision, recounting how she and other officials had tried to sketch out various concepts for the property when the city was attempting to redevelop it as an urban marketplace.
“This is just proof that private industry can way out-think government any time,” said Spoon. “Because there is no way we could have come up with the ingenuity and the design and, really, the potential that your project is. It’s a game-changer for our downtown. … This is just going to take us to the next level, and I’m really grateful and really excited for it.”
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