Tag Archives: cascade

An Evening At Cascade

Or, a post for Des (who does this), because Des loves sour ales. So does Fuz, for that matter but he gets to come down and try some whereas Des is on the East Coast and I get to rub her nose in it just a little more…

What? I never said I was above such things?

Moving on! I was invited to Cascade Ale House to try a few of their beers and listen to their plans for the future. Cascade has been a fixture (and shining spot) for sour ales in Portland for quite a few years and now they have plans to develop more space to serve sour ales in.

I hadn’t been in the production area in quite some time, so I was surprised to see huge tanks where many barrels used to be. They also had a bottling machine, adapted from one that used to bottle champagne, so they could bottle in house. Kevin, their lead blender, told me that they had to wait until the beer was bottled before putting labels on it because they wouldn’t know what the ABV of the beer was until practically the day of bottling.

And alllll that stuff is going to get moved out to a storage warehouse near Beaverton, where the kegs that used to be at Cascade have been moved to. This is going to open up the retail space a whole lot (the head chef at Cascade seemed especially thrilled to have a large kitchen) the brewers were looking forward to the possibility of new creations. They let us sample a few current (or soon to be released beers) and here are my notes:

Apricot Amaretto:
A definite nose of amaretto, which was just restrained enough on the sour that I could appreciate it. Apparently the almond flavor came from the brewing process-the pits of the apricot, I’m told-and not from any other barrel or flavor additions. It made for a study in contrasts, as the amaretto nose was sweeter, blunting the tarter liquid.

Blackberry 2014:
With a wheat ale base, this too has a sweetly fragrant nose that, once again is a pleasant contrast to the tart quality of the beer. This one seems a bit more sour than the apricot but the fruit character is dominant and the beer tastes pretty clean, as though they really captured the tartness of the blackberry over any other flavors.

Kriek 2014:
This beer was too sour for me; with it’s sour pie and bing cherries, the sour flavors were quite strong. It had a warm nose, with a hint of spice and this reappeared in the finish on the sides of my tongue. That seemed kind of interesting and although this beer isn’t for me, it’s definitely for someone because that spice note gives it some depth.

Sang Rouge 2013
This beer was unique because it was the only one of the four that did not have any fruit added to it, merely soured and kept in pinot noir barrels. I could even pick up a bit of maltiness in the nose! But the sour element kicked up sharply after half a beat on my tongue, fought with the effervescence for space and then everything cleared out. It felt sparkly! I was told by one of the brewers, Steve, that it was based off a Flanders Red style and I can see it, even if it is coming on a bit stronger than the Dutchesse does.

So that’s it! Cascade is expanding and their lineup of ales proves that they’ve earned that expansion. I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.

Where I Want To Go: Cascade Ale House

I have gotten the pale ale at Cascade but I barely remember it. I am entirely distracted by my opportunity to do one of my favorite things ever; show Portland off to visitors. Visitors who, in this instance, want sour ales.

While I’m not a huge fan of sour ales myself, Portland has a beer for pretty much anyone. On top of that, I’m lucky enough to know a thing or two about how sours are made so I can tell them about blending ales, the casks stored in the back and brettanomyces as a souring agent.

We just get to talk too. Des and her fiancee have come in to Portland to do work things: I am catching them at the tail end of their work and attempting to provide the semblance of a vacation in the two days I get to run them around Portland. Books! Ciders! Parks! Why the sun is so punishing here!

So we talk. And I do not write about the pale; I sip it and I tell them as much as I can about Portland. Where to go tomorrow, what was great today; I evangelize the city while they tell me about NYC and occasionally bemoan the lack of sour ales there. They argue over whether or not the Strand or Powell’s is the better bookstore.

For an evening, I am reminded why I go out to be at a pub: I go out for the people.

The 3rd Anniversary Event

So Bailey’s 3rd year of being open was celebrated in fine style, with twenty beers kept in barrels for months finally making a showing. It was crowded but civil, and between myself and the other four people I was with,  every beer got a fair shake.

In a fit of…maybe not-so-smartness, I used Twitter to catalog my general thoughts on the beers I was drinking. So if my comments on these beers more pithy than descriptive, you’ll know why.

tokensBefore I start though, I want to mention the awesomeness of the tokens used at the event. The picture’s on the left-how cool is that? Old bottlecaps are reusable, colorful, and beer-related. Way, way better than the wooden tokens or paper tickets I usually get at such things.

I started with the Cascade Quadratic. From the feed:  reminds me of a sweet tart with dry finish. I liked it-and it was certainly one of the most complex beers of the bunch.

Next, I had the Allagash Curieux: “has a woody flavor that finishes in a bad way for me.” But later I upgraded this beer saying “as it warmed up the woodiness has mellowed. Drinkable.” I wasn’t a huge fan but I did end up seeing the good side of this one.

The third sample I had was Oakshire’s Ill Tempered Gnome. An old ale I said was “pleasantly hopped on front and back with a solid middle.”  I remember being surprised by this beer, as it was the first one that presented me with any hop presence that I could discern. That certainly helped it stand out in a field of oak and pinot barrel aged brews.

Fourth up was the 3 Skulls barleywine. I got this in part because I like the name 3 Skulls. My notes say: “good but there is a quirk I can’t place.” I never was able to figure it out and in a rare instance, my friends couldn’t assist me, in most cases just not picking up on what I found strange.

dragons milkMy fifth sample was New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk. After some teasing from my girlfriend, the tweet said this: “New holland dragons milk is smooth tasty and caramel coco w/alc warmth.” I liked it quite a bit.

After this, some surprises were in store. I found Deschutes’ Twilight Pinot to be a “solid pale with a fascinating Pinot influence that spikes near the end. Worthy mixture. ”

Upright’s Six was “a sour beer for the masses. Good and drinkable but not distinctive.” I mean this in the best possible way. Sour beers are very, very difficult for many people to drink and some even ask why bother. This beer could serve as a gateway for some into the style, and for others a chance to try the style without taking a sledgehammer of sour to the tongue. I call it a win.

I also liked Lompoc’s LSD “is my final beer smooth and drinkable but…fuck you I’m drinking.”

So clearly, by then I was done writing even though I liked the LSD a lot.

But it seems like the local boys made good in this event. Lompoc, Deschutes and Upright all made good beers I wrote about. I also had Hopworks’ For Those About To Bock on the recommendation of my girlfriend and thought it was very good, and Cedric dug on Hair of the Dog’s Cherry Adam.

I also heard good things about the Lagunitas Pinot Saison and Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza but there just wasn’t enough time in the day to try everything personally.

Anyway, Cheers to Geoff and his staff for three great years. Here’s to next year!