Nearly three years since being the first craft brewery to open its doors in the burgeoning Montavilla neighborhood, Montavilla Brew Works is bottling its first beer: Ben’s Barleywine Ale, a barrel-aged and blended barleywine style ale that honors the late Portland brewer, Ben Flerchinger. Montavilla Brew Works is holding a bottle release party on Feb. 6 at 5pm at the brewery, with 16.9 oz bottles and cases available for purchase.
Flerchinger passed away in March 2017, on the same day that Montavilla’s brewers filled four Eastside Distilling bourbon barrels with barleywine ale. Flerchinger was a longtime brewer at Lucky Lab Brewing Co., and responsible for the current inception of the Lucky Lab Barleywine Festival.
“We’re following the model outlined in my original business plan to bottle very special one-off beers initially, to showcase the flexibility of our brewhouse and the creativity of our brewing imagination,” explained Michael Kora, Montavilla Brew Works founder and brewer. “With great support from the Flerchinger family, we’re really excited to be able to honor a friend and monster brewer with our very first bottling. It’s pretty awesome to see it all come together at last.”
Ben’s Barleywine Ale is a blend of two barleywines that were specifically brewed for this bottling. The first barleywine was aged in Eastside Distilling Burnside Bourbon barrels for 10 months and blended with a fresh barleywine in a conditioning tank. Both beers were blended together, epitomizing Montavilla’s modus operandi of brewing very balanced and drinkable beers, even at an ABV of 10 percent. The woodiness and vanilla notes from the bourbon barrel brew pair beautifully with the rich, complex malt profile of the fresh brewed barleywine.
The image on the label, a rendering of Flerchinger’s iconic leather outback hat, was designed by Chuck Lukacs, a Portland-based designer who has been illustrating for the science fiction and fantasy gaming markets for over 20 years. Lukacs’s paintings and prints have won awards and appeared in conventions, galleries and museums internationally.
The commemoration bottle is a full-circle situation for Kora, who was enamored by the uniqueness of the Barleywine Festival after his first visit in 2007.
“The first time I attended the Barleywine Fest, I couldn’t believe the amount of powerhouse beers in one room. I wanted to be a part of that, especially after brewing so many barleywines as a homebrewer,” stated Kora. “After opening Montavilla, we almost immediately brewed a barleywine just so we would have a shot at showcasing our strong ales to a focused, aficionado-based audience the following spring. When Ben gave us the nod to join the 2016 Barleywine Festival at Lucky Lab, I was beyond thrilled. When he started brewing at Gigantic, and finally 54°40’, our friendship grew and he always offered his support to Montavilla. Naturally, we’re stoked to honor his friendship with this special bottling.”
The strong ale is suitable for drinking immediately or cellar aging for years to come. Along with at the brewery, bottles and cases will be available for sale at a number of bottle shops, taprooms and retail outlets in the Portland Metro area starting the first week of February.
About Montavilla Brew Works
Located at 7805 SE Stark Street in the heart of the historic Stark St. business district, Montavilla Brew Works is a 10-barrel capacity brewery and taproom that utilizes high quality brewing ingredients to produce time-honored, yet exciting beer styles. The brewhouse and taproom is situated in a remodeled auto service garage from 1922; the outdoor patio is a neighborhood summertime favorite. Spacious, yet remarkably intimate, the neighborhood haunt is full of lively locals, good conversation and a plethora of fresh-focused German-style lagers and Pacific Northwest-style ales. Learn more at MontavillaBrew.com and follow the brewery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.