When Darren Provenzano first flew to Vietnam, he wasn’t sure how long he’d be there. He’d met his future wife, Ny Provenzano, online a year earlier, and he decided to buy a one-way ticket to see what he’d find.
But he didn’t just fall in love with Ny in Vietnam; he fell in love with brewing. He started on a small Pilot nano system at Heart of Darkness brewery, before moving to 7 Bridges in Da Nang. He helped the latter win several awards at SEA Brew, Asia’s preeminent beer festival and competition. When Darren and Ny moved to the states to open their new Southeast Portland brewery, Fracture Brewing, they wanted to celebrate the brewers they loved while they were there — ones with little to no presence in the states.
“When I first got passionate about craft beer, there was a lot more international collaboration,” Darren Provenzano says. “Here in Portland, a lot of the brewers get to this rockstar status — other people in the states know who they are. But in Vietnam, there are a lot of really amazing brewers. Lan Anh in Hanoi is brewing some really great beers. Xanh (Nguyen), my protege, he’s making amazing beers in Danang right now. I want to help them get on a bigger stage.”
Fracture Brewing started as a conversation in Vietnam. Culmination Brewing owner Tomas Sluiter was visiting the country on vacation after finishing up some consulting work in Hong Kong, and they talked about opening up a brewery there, in Southeast Asia. When the pandemic hit, Sluiter encouraged the Provenzanos to move to Portland, and they started planning Fracture as a US brewery. When the space once home to Mikkeller’s Portland taproom opened up, the Fracture team jumped on it.
Within the next few weeks, the team will open up the brewery for tastings, while the Chefstable team works on a more elaborate Stark tasting room to open later this year. “The brewery space will be pretty simplified, stripped down, dimly lit, with a record player in the corner,” Darren Provenzano says. “A nice, communal place where people can hang out.” By the spring, the Fracture team hopes to share an outdoor communal space with Dimo’s Apizza next door, so people can drink beers and eat pizza in the sun.
To start, Fracture’s lineup consists of three beers: A West Coast IPA, a coffee milk stout, and a pilsner — all three are made with Pacific Northwestern hops, and clock in at 6 percent ABV or below. “The idea is, you can come in, you can have two or three pints, and you’ll feel fine,” Darren Provenzano says. “I’m getting to a point in my life where I can’t drink 7 or 8 percent beers anymore; they just wreck me.”
However, as the Fracture team gets its footing, the Provenzanos and Sluiter want to start working with more breweries outside the United States. To start, Fracture is working on a collaboration with the brewery where he got his start: Heart of Darkness. The team expects it’ll be the first of many.
Fracture Brewing is currently brewing beer at 701 E Burnside Street.