Stormbreaker Brewing – Behind the Name, Behind the Faces, and Behind the Events…

Who is Stormbreaker Brewing, and What’s Behind The Name?

Simply put, Stormbreaker Brewing is an amalgamation of two Jets fans from the east coast who love Michael Bolton, The Hoff (David Hasselhoff), Jean Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the book Night Dogs by Kent Anderson, and the movie “Days of Thunder“. Ok, maybe not Michael Bolton or the Hoff, but I had you fooled, didn’t I?

Photo Credit: Stormbreaker Brewing

If you’re reading this you’re getting a glimpse into the character, spirit, and personality of Dan Malech (“Danny Boy”) and Rob Lutz (“Angry Rob”) and their brainchild, Stormbreaker Brewing.

Before we get into the above listed topics, let’s discuss the name, Stormbreaker…

Q: How did you come up with the name?

A: The name was the hardest part – we kept coming up with good beer names, but not the mother ship…we had about 50 names…

Ultimately, Dan and Rob wanted their brewery to encapsulate three things: 1) The Pacific Northwest, 2) The Weather in the Pacific Northwest, and 3) Mt. Hood.

Sometimes we fall on genius ideas years in advance of ever using them. Stormbreaker Brewery epitomizes this. Dan read the book “Night Dogs” over 9 years ago, and the book references Mt. Hood as the Stormbreaker, and it references Mt. Hood ripping through the clouds. Thus, the name arose from the deep recess of Dan’s mind and a brewery name was born. One need only look at three of their beer names to see their passion for the weather here in the Pacific Northwest:

  1. Opacus Stout (Opacus  – a cloud dense enough to obscure the sun or moon)
  2. Cloud Ripper IPA (Cloud Ripper – self explanatory)
  3. Right as Rain Pale Ale (Right as Rain – be perfectly fit and well)
Photo Credit: Stormbreaker Brewing

Who is Dan and Who is Rob and How Do I Somehow Tie Tom Cruise Into This?

Dan aptly described Rob as the beer version of Harry Hogge from the movie “Days of Thunder” – in other words, he’s “beer mechanic” and the guy who makes things happen, and Dan self-described himself as the character Cole Trickle in the movie (of course, Dan picked the character played by Tom Cruise- possibly a slight bias here…). Dan went further to say it’s like the scene in the movie where Harry exclaims “What the hell happened out there?” and Cole replies “I don’t know what that means…I just drive…I don’t even know what a quarter panel is”. Either way, I successfully fit Tom Cruise into this article since it is the 35th anniversary of his breakout movie, “Top Gun” – perhaps Dan and Rob will make a beer dedicated to this…hint hint….

In all seriousness, it’s a great partnership, and it produces great beer and a great atmosphere for patrons. It’s clear where their passions lie, and it’s clear that Stormbreaker would not be Stormbreaker without the skill, talent, and drive of BOTH of these guys.

Photo Credit: Stormbreaker Brewing

What advice would you give to a young person interested in the beer industry?

“You’re cleaning, lifting, scrubbing…it seems more  glamorous than it really is. If you don’t have the work ethic, you won’t last.” – Rob Lutz

  1. Recognize that the beer industry requires just as much right brain as the left brain. Making beer is an art and so is running a business.
  2. Learn about Chemistry, or better yet, major in it if it’s possible. While brewing is an art, it’s also science.
  3. Get exposed to manual labor of any type. You may not have to go the extreme of the character in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”, but the beer industry is physically taxing.
  4. Accept that it’s not a 9-5 job. Accept that it’s 70-80 hours/week. Accept that when you’re beat, you need to work some more. Find the Drive.
  5. Get involved with a brewery at any level from washing kegs to serving to brewing (if you’re lucky). Learn all facets of the craft.
Photo Credit: Stormbreaker Brewing

What’s New with Stormbreaker?

In addition to a pending expansion in 2017, Stormbreaker remains active in the nonprofit, athletic, and of course, the local Portland Beer Industry Event Scene. You’ll have to ask them about their expansion dreams, but I can personally speak to their support of the local nonprofit scene. Dan and Rob have ardently supported events I’ve either participated in or organized for The Portland Opera, Northwest Dance Project, and Work for Art/Regional Arts and Cultural Council. Always willing to lend a hand to me, I remain grateful for their commitment to helping and serving others. They continue to expand in that vein in addition to supporting these nonprofits in the past: National Brain Tumor Society, Blessings in a Back Pack, Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School, King School, Sabin School, The International School, Hollywood Rose City Little League, Albertina-Kerr, Raphael House, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Media Institute for Social Change, Women for Children, Dollar for Portland, The Rebuilding Center, Puplandia Dog Rescue, Children’s Cancer Association, Molly’s Fund, The Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation, The Oregon Brew Crew, Friends of Trees, Sunshine Division, Outdoors Empowered, Our Treehouse, and Tualatin Riverkeepers. As an outsider, that speaks volumes to me about them. They’ve also become quite active in the local running circuit, regularly holding weekly runs and even running events together. I, myself, enjoyed running with them for the annual Bridges to Brews race last month.

Photo Credit: Stormbreaker Brewing
Bridges to Brews 10K Run with the Stormbreaker Team Photo Credit: Stormbreaker Brewing

The biggest things coming up are the Portland Beer Week Events which kick off on June 12, 2017:

  • 6/9-6/10 – Portland Fruit Beer Festival (held at Burnside Brewing Company) –
    • Stormbreaker’s contribution to this festival of awesomeness is the Boysenroggenbierry which is a Roggenbier aged on 125 LBs of Boysenberries.  Per Rob, “we didn’t feel really creative that day” – it’s simply two words together:)
  • 6/13 PDX beer trivia
    • Stormbreaker regularly has trivia nights on Tuesday, but this night will focus on Portland specific beer. The night will highlight Portland beers as well as tidbits about the beer culture here. It is always a good time:)
  • 6/14 Handful of Hops Brew Day –
    • This is the IPA series where it’s different every time…they use different hops and different recipes and they invite people to throw in a handful of hops.
    • It’s pegged as “the beer brewed by you for you” It’s quick and they can ask questions and they come back and drink the beer When someone asks you: “did you have a hand in it?” you want to say “HELL YEAH!!!”
  • 6/15 TentX – Beer and Spirit Pairings 
    • In the style of TEDx talks, they plan to host a discussion surrounding beer and distillery pairings. Hosted in their presentation pavilliaon/biergarten/theater/sports bar AKA TENT:), the event promises to be an educational and a fun time. It’s a spin off of their annual Brewstillery Event which boasts a full day of 19 beers and 19 spirits and one good time:)
    • Participating distilleries include
    • In addition, they plan to have a beer and wings pairing (5 beers and 5 types of wings – you really can’t go wrong here…)
  • 6/17 – Beer Quest – 10 am
    • This was Dan’s brainchild. As he noted: “We love to run…we do a lot of running stuff..you usually get two types of events…1) run and beer, and 2) run at a beer fest…this is similar but more fun. We wanted an idea where you end up at a beer fest where you earn your tasters.”
    • Basically, it’s similar to a scavenger hunt, and each place you go to, you get a hole punched in your “quest card” that you get at the start. There’s no set route…and you don’t have to run…you can do whatever you want! Once you finish at Stormbreaker, you redeem your card for tasters at a mini-festival. It’s a unique event, and having run with them a couple of times, they don’t disappoint
    • Participating locales include:

Enjoy Stormbreaker when you visit, and be on the lookout for an event on August 12, 2017 on their website – they are really cool people, and it’s a great place to check out! Here are some fun snaps we took!

Photo Credit - Lesley Haenny
Sampler Tray! Photo Credit – Lesley Haenny

 

L – R: April Sluiter (owner of Culmination Brewing), Alex Staunch (Stormbreaker/Brewvana), David Nijhawan, Dan Malech (Stormbreaker) supporting RACC Battle of the Bands Fundraiser. Photo Credit – Grace Simpson (Burnside Brewing)

 

David Nijhawan and Lesley Haenny, Editor of What’s Up NW at Stormbreaker

 

Lesley and Polly!

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