Montavilla Brew Works was opened in July 2015 by brewer Michael Kora and his wife Melissa. Most of Kora’s local brewing experience came from his seven year tenure at Bridgeport Brewing in Northwest Portland. He began making plans for his own 10-barrel operation during his time at Bridgeport, eventually acquiring a long vacant auto service garage on SE 78th & Stark. Choosing a spot in the central Montavilla neighborhood has allowed Kora to serve up fresh brews in a non-saturated environment, and residents love him for it.
Location: Welcoming single-room brewery & taproom
Branding: Rock music meets Pacific Northwest charm
Beer: A range of high quality NW & Belgian styles
Being that Montavilla Brew Works is housed in this repurposed auto-shop, the one-room brewery/taproom is mostly concrete, but not sterile or cold. Exposed wood ceilings and warm wood furniture help balance the grays and create a nice texture. The bar top is a thing of beauty, so it’s no wonder Kora keeps cards for the craftsman who made it.
Limited indoor seating is paired with a friendly outdoor patio (during the warmer months). Montavilla doesn’t offer food, rather it relies on the occasional food cart, nearby restaurants or the seasonal farmers market across the street. No minors are allowed, so plan accordingly if you have little ones in your entourage.
For a small establishment, it has a great flow. The brewing equipment occupies one corner, kept in its place by a low wall. High ceilings and easy access between the interior and exterior seating make it a pleasant place to hang out. They operate with a small staff, allowing you to get to know your local brewery – and likely talk about music, Kora’s first love.
Logo: Montavilla Brew Works logo is essentially Classic Rock meets Pacific Northwest. Kora’s background as a drummer is no secret, and he commonly plays excellent playlists in the brewery. The NW part comes in the form of woodgrain texture and orange earth tones. The mark is a nice compliment to the overall feel of the taproom, and perfectly embodies the character of it’s owners.
Favorite Design Element: Above the taplist hangs a beautiful stained glass art piece of the Montavilla Logo. It’s a clever idea and not something you usually see in a brewery.
Overall Taplist Impression
At the time of my visit to Montavilla Brew Works, summer beers were out in full force. With 16 total taps, there was an excellent variety of NW style beers and Belgian staples to choose from. While German-style lagers and bold barleywines are Kora’s favorite, he definitely provides quality beers across all style categories. The Red Crush was particularly good, but the Korabräu German Helles was hands down my favorite. Check out the other highlights from my taster tray below.
🍺Korabräu German Helles
5.3% ABV 21 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.5)
This light German-style lager is a respectful nod to the classic German Helles style. An excellent thirst quencher that leans slightly away from the hops and allows the delicious Pilsner malt to shine. All German ingredients include 100% Pilsner and Cara malts, Magnum hops and lager yeast.
My Notes: Nailed it. A seriously good beer for this category.
🍺 Red Krush
6.5% ABV 75 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.25)
Full of earthy, floral and dank herbal aroma, this Red Ale is a hop extravaganza! Six international malts, Amarillo and Chinook hops, this is a well-balanced classic example of a Northwest Red Ale.
My Notes: Earthy, not overly hoppy or bitter.
🍺 Stick & Frame Blonde Ale
5.5% ABV 30 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
Delicious and quenching, this is our brewer’s “go-to” beer! Brewed with pilsner and pale malts and Cascade hops for flavor and aroma, then dry hopped with Meridian hops. Very quenching, refreshing. Elevates the classic Blonde style beautifully.
My Notes: Dry hopped blonde. Yasss. Unusual for the style, but it gives it a nice aroma.
🍺 Summer Wheat
5% ABV 26 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
This light-bodied American-style wheat beer is perfect for a sunny Portland summer day. Brewed with Wheat and Pilsner malts, a low hopping rate, and 42 pounds of Blood Orange Puree added to the fermenter. The blood orange adds a layer of orange rind bitterness and complex fruit aroma.
My Notes: Juicy blood orange flavor on a light bodied wheat ale.
🍺 Flam Tap IPA
6.3% ABV 60 IBU 🌟🌟🌟 (3.75)
This IPA is loaded with hoppy goodness but not so bitter that you won’t want another pint! Brewed with five international malts for a suitable malt base and a brilliant orange hue in the glass. We use an incredible amount of Centennial hops in the kettle and dry hop with Falconer’s Flight.
My Notes: Centennial hops based IPA, hoppy and bitter, just what you’d expect.
🍺 Lil’ MORE Righteous ISA
4.7% ABV 50 IBU 🌟🌟🌟 (3.75)
Light, Hoppy and Refreshing! This Session IPA is brewed with pilsner malt which imparts a soft, honey-like flavor coupled with piney Simcoe hops added in the kettle. We dryhopped with “Strata” hops from our friends at Indie Hops. This new hop is full of dank-herb, passion fruit, berry, mango and orange aromas. Righteous, indeed!
My Notes: Light weight IPA. Simcoe hop flavors come through: mango and orange more.
(Beer Descriptions in italics are provided from the brewery.)