The building that houses Stormbreaker Brewing on North Mississippi Avenue has gone through such a transformation, you might forget what it looked like just a few months ago.
Call it a case of amnesia.
The once-spartan brewpub that Stormbreaker owners Dan Malech and Rob Lutz acquired on Jan. 1 is downright cozy these days. Reclaimed wood booths replace old picnic tables; the metal-stained floor is sanded and refinished; and the grill is out back, freeing up prime real estate on the patio. And that’s what you notice before you get to the beer; which, believe us, is worth the trip.
Stormbreaker opened on Feb. 1. So how did Rob and Dan manage to change so many things in just one month? Simple. The building’s former owner, Amnesia Brewing Company, left one important element behind – its brewer. Rob spent the last five years with the company, working his way up from the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. He started as a keg washer. Rob and Dan agreed to purchase the business last fall, and worked out an agreement to allow Rob to start brewing his own recipes before they took control of the place for good.
Even with intimate knowledge of the building and brewing system, the duo still put in 20-hour days and squeezed hundreds of volunteer hours out of friends to open just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
“We were in here 20 hours a day making it happen,” Dan says. “The final coat on those tables that we built dried an hour before we opened.”
Reworking the pub in such a short time period was an ambitious plan, but Dan and Rob had a vision for the space.
“I’ve worked here and drank here, and I love this place, but there was always just something kind of missing,” Rob says. “We knew summer was a home run with the patio, but it could be a ghost town down here in the winter, and we needed to make this a place where people would want to go to hangout.”
That goes beyond changing the building. Stormbreaker tapped their good friends at Portland Grand Cru Hospitality to develop a new menu that includes cheese and charcuterie plates, flank steak, kale salads and gourmet burgers cooked in the building’s limited kitchen space. And for the first time, kids are allowed in the brewpub. Rob also learned a thing or two about cocktails from bartending over the years, and the pub’s signature drinks are unlike anything in town, often incorporating beer-influenced twists like hop-infused vodka.
While a brewery opening can be a years-long slog, Dan and Rob managed to roll open Strombreaker’s garage doors just 10 months after they learned the building was for sale. Cosgrave attorney Marcus Reed was an integral part of that timeline.
“Marcus was not only indispensable, but his involvement was crucial and vital to our company from inception,” Dan says. “I think it is imperative to have someone with his legal background, coupled with an understanding and passion for the craft beer industry, to help guide not only new breweries, but seasoned veterans as well.”
So what’s next for Stormbreaker? Rob is a Belgian beer aficionado, and plans to get started on a saison and Belgian dubbel in the near future. Visit the brewery online at www.stormbreakerbrewing.com.
I was there at the opening and wish I could be there RIGHT NOW!