By Nina Silberstein
In 2008, Jarek Szymanski brewed his first home beer with an IPA kit he bought from F.H. Steinbart.
With his hobbyist nature and engineer mindset, Jarek began to systematically improve his process and brew different styles to become an avid home brewer. He was brewing every other weekend in he and his wife Sara’s backyard for years, sharing homebrew with friends, family and neighbors, and competing in local competitions.
Szymanski also did barrel aging in the couple’s basement, experimenting with yeast and culture propagation.
“Our basement looked like a massive science experiment and there was often a plume of wort steam emerging over our backyard fence between 2010 and 2018,” notes Sara.
On a sabbatical from work in 2016, Szymanski felt it was time to start seriously dreaming about turning his passion for brewing into a career.
The result: Threshold Brewing & Blending opened in the Montavilla neighborhood in January 2019. A permit allows minors in the establishment so families in the area can come and enjoy the space too.
“It’s nice to see the brewery/brewpub concept morph nationally over the past few years into more of a community gathering space than just a place to get a drink,” Sara said.
Born and raised in Wloclawek, Poland, Szymanski earned his master’s degree in software engineering there and moved to Portland on a work visa in the tech industry.
Sara was born and raised in Hillsboro and her background is in communication. She has worked at Oregon Health & Science University since 2006, and is a certified yoga instructor, an avid home cheesemaker, and a year-round cyclist who runs Threshold’s events and manages its social media presence.
The couple met in 2006, moved into their first home in 2009 in the Montavilla neighborhood and were married in 2012.
Threshold specializes in IPAs and experimental hoppy ales, farmhouse-style beers, sour and mixed-culture beers, and bourbon-forward, dark strong beers. They offer guest wine and cider, kombucha and seltzer water.
The most popular beer currently is their Schwing! Hazy IPA, a juicier and more tropical IPA. Also popular is the Night Runner IPA, an example of where Szymanski often lands in terms of IPA style.
“We take a lot of pride in offering a well-rounded taplist and in addition to IPAs and pales, we do our best to always have a darker, stronger stout on tap and something on the lighter tart side as well,” Sara says.
“Right now, we have a couple of fun, gose-style beers on tap, a razzleberry gose, a new heirloom tomato (sourced from the Montavilla Farmers Market) and a lime zest gose named, Beer Garden.”
They serve 14, 10 and 5-ounce pours. Taster trays are available as are kegs.
Threshold offers their beers and menu to-go, for pickup or delivery. Same-day delivery is available to anyone with a Portland address. They do all of the canning manually and in-house.
The business does not have a kitchen and, over the past few months, they have nurtured a connection with neighboring Montavilla businesses and creative ideas for serving more customers with less tables.
“Redwood [restaurant/bar] is a half block away from us and began offering our Threshold customers free delivery to our tables this summer,” Sara says. Bipartisan Café offers a menu to Threshold customers too.
Their Cellar Circle was launched last December and it’s a specialty, barrel-aged beer bottle club with four releases per year – a total of 18 bottles annually. They do their own bottling and generally only available to members.
“Styles range from whiskey, barrel-aged strong dark beers, wine barrel-aged and tart farmhouse ales, to barrel-aged beers blended with, for instance, a fruited or spiced ale,” Sara said.
In addition to bottles, members receive a number of perks such as a free 5-ounce pour with each taproom visit and discounts on private or ticketed events.
In early October, Threshold partnered with Portland Beer Week to put on the Stop & Shop Fresh Hop To-Go Fest to celebrate the hop harvest season. The festival included all of the fresh hop canned/bottled beers they could find, offering 30+ breweries’ fresh hop beers at their taproom for on-premise consumption, pickup or home delivery.
Threshold’s new, covered outdoor seating area is socially distanced with other protocols in place for safety. Outside food is welcome, as well as minors and your well-behaved canine companion. They are still hosting private events but smaller in size due to gathering restrictions.
Threshold Brewing & Blending
403 SE 79th Ave.