Downtown Astoria will soon have a new craft beer bottle shop and taproom.
Self-described beer geek Dwayne Smallwood, a manager at Okie’s Thriftway Market in Ocean Park, Washington, for the past 27 years, is quitting his day job and opening Bridge & Tunnel Bottleshop & Taproom with his wife, Pamela Fox.
Smallwood moved to the Northwest from Wisconsin 27 years ago to help take care of his grandmother after leaving the military. A week after arriving, he took a job at Okie’s Thriftway Market.
“I’ve brewed a few beers of my own, but nothing I’d be proud enough of to go and risk opening a brewery,” Smallwood said. “But I drank so many great beers, that I really just got sick of having to go hunt them down.”
The last couple of years have been spent visiting regional brewers and bottle shops while building relationships to get a wider selection of beer on the North Coast, Smallwood said. He recently started building out his shop behind closed blinds at 1390 Duane St., inside a former floral shop and next to Creations Studio and Gallery, recently opened by mosaic artist Kai Raden.
Smallwood is planning 16 taps and a wall of coolers carrying a wide assortment of regional and international beers. Downstairs will be reclaimed wood bars and chrome bar seating, while upstairs will be a lounge he said his wife described as “lumberjack chic.”
Bridge & Tunnel will open amid a cluster along Duane Street that includes Pilot House Distilling, Reveille Ciderworks, Reach Break Brewing and Fort George Brewery. Astoria has six breweries and a growler shop. Hondo’s Brew & Cork includes a brewer, bottle shop and homebrewing supply store. Bridge & Tunnel will try to stand out by focusing on the harder-to-find brews, Smallwood said.
“It’s not what’s great, it’s what’s next,” he said of beer culture. “So I’m going to try and focus on what’s next.”
Smallwood hopes to open Bridge & Tunnel by Fort George Brewery’s Festival of the Dark Arts in February.