When your electrician leaves you high and dry, don’t get mad. Just name your next beer after him.
That, at least, is how the owners of Montavilla's Threshold Brewing & Blending roll. With the clock ticking this winter for their long-awaited opening, the team needed an electrician named Jens to finish the space. Jens unceremoniously quit, but eventually, the lights came on, in time for the 10-barrel brewery's January 10 soft opening. (The brewery held a grand opening on February 16.)
“Jens was our electrician until he wasn’t,” laughs Sara Szymanski, Threshold's communications manager. “He kinda left us in a tight spot but he did get a beer named after him.”
Three months later, Threshold is pouring a small, superb line-up of seven beers, from hazy IPAs to the “Jens Bailed”—a bright, sessionable farmhouse grisette—to farmhouse ales and an experimental coffee stout. Eventually, that line-up will expand with some heavy-hitters currently fermenting behind the tanks: brett cultures in wine barrels, a freshly brewed stout relaxing in recently-acquired bourbon barrels. The casual brewery adds one more suds stop in a neighborhood already rich in beer options, from Montavilla Brew Works to Roscoe’s and the Beer Bunker. That's fine with brewers Jarek Szymanski (Sara's spouse) and David Fuller, who say their ambition is not to compete, but rather to “add to the momentum.”
The brewing duo met roughly nine years ago—Jarek worked in tech, David in retail/management—at a party thrown by mutual friends. Soon, having discovered a shared love of home brewing, they were waxing poetic over beer styles and personal preferences, and the dream was born.
"We’re both hop heads,” says Jarek; witness the five hazy IPAs currently in rotation at Threshold. But the duo's true passion, he says, will hopefully find its true representation in the slow-aging sours, saisons, and barrel-aged brews still developing in the back of the brewhouse.
“I think we’ve been focused on beers that have quicker turn arounds the first couple of months,” adds Sara. “Now that we have a little more beer saved up, we can start to devote some brewing and tank space to funkier, balanced saisons, and some bourbon barrel-aged [beers].”
On a recent visit in late March, the brewery was filled with an eclectic mix of patrons: a smattering of families with toddlers in tow alongside off-duty construction workers and groups of friends spanning a fairly diverse age range. True to Threshold's dream of establishing itself as a low-key neighborhood watering hole, there's a small children’s play area in the dining area, a mounted TV for showing Timbers and Blazers games, and a roll-up garage door for the sunnier days ahead.
Already established? The brewery's no-grudges-allowed spirit of camaraderie. Soon after opening, Jens’ fellow electricians brought him back in for a surprise: they each sported custom shirts commemorating the faux pas, toasting him with the beer he inspired. They stayed all night, Sara says, drinking Jens Bailed.
You can visit the brewery itself, or stop by for its Montavilla Jazz Fest fundraiser on April 6.