I am enlightened. I know this because I have found Nirvana, or maybe that should be Beervana at the Cascade Barrel House in Portland, Oregon. As some of you know I’ve been unemployed for several months now, and looking for work in a bunch of different places. A friend of mine and I went to Oregon to scope out possible locations for a beer store. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than sell good beer!
We made it a bit of a beer journey, stopping at several places in Bend, Eugene, Portland, and White Salmon, Washington. For those of you that don’t know White Salmon is directly across the Columbia River from Hood River, Oregon, and home to a new start up brewery called Everybody’s Brewing. It is a great little session brewery that I will cover in more detail later. Before we left Portland and went to White Salmon, we stopped for a couple hours at the Cascade Barrel House.
For those of you that don’t know Cascade Brewing, doesn’t actually brew beer, they buy beer as a base and use it as their canvas for the wonderful artisan sour beers, ales, and gose they create. We met with one of the brewers there, Preston and he showed us around the operation (he’s the one holding the tap and about to get his hand whacked in the photo above). We got to sample live beer from the bottling and bright tanks. We sampled an Apricot brew that wasn’t finished yet, but had great flavor, we also tried their kriek out of the bright tank and their Sang Noir which was aged in red wine barrels and brought a great flavor of cherries and honey in a slightly sour ale with a very dry finish. It was amazing.
Then we went into their taproom and sampled a bunch of their creations. At the end of the bar they have a couple of live barrels with taps directly in them, letting gravity do all the work to pour the brew. The first one we had was Blueberry Bourbonic, a huge 11% brew that is wickedly drinkable and had all the wonderful berry and barrel and bourbon notes you would expect. We then sampled their L’agent Orange. This was our least favorite and tasted a bit like furniture polish to us. No matter, we happily moved on to the next offering.
I then sampled my favorite of the day, a Plum Rye sour that was very gentle and only subtlety sour, but the rye and the plum blended perfectly to create this most tasty concoction. I then tried a Gose they had on tap, and for the style it was quite nice, but not really memorable. I did have a very pleasant surprise when I tried their Strawberry Sour. I’ve never had a good strawberry flavored beer until now. Most the time they taste like they dissolved strawberry starburst into the beer. This was like shoving your face into a bowl of sliced and spiced strawberries. The aroma and flavor were wonderful and very refreshing.
I finished with another Plum Rye which was amazing beer. If you ever get the chance to go to the Cascade Barrel House or to have any of the Cascade sour beers and ales do it! These guys are pushing the boundaries of what beer can be and converting people to the wonders of sour beer one glass at a time.
One word of caution, if you go, and aren’t a sour beer junky, bring your tums. All the Brett can give you a tummy ache if you aren’t used to it. Two Tums and I was back in action, and I would never let something like that stop me! 😉