Cascade Barrel House: I Have Found Nirvana, And It Is In Portland

I want to thank the guys at BrewPublic in Portland for this awesome pic!

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! 😉

-Don

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15 Comments on “Cascade Barrel House: I Have Found Nirvana, And It Is In Portland”

  1. March 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I thought Nirvana was from Aberdeen…

    Actually, Kurt Cobain always thought that Portland had a much more vibrant art, music and cultural scene than Seattle. Maybe he knew about this place. 🙂

    • Don
      March 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      I almost made some sort of cheesy reference to Nirvana was in Portland and not Seattle, but decided to let it go. Glad to see you bringin’ the cheese however. You can take the boy out of Wisconsin, but…

      • March 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

        …you can’t take the cheese out of his arteries.

  2. John King
    March 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Isn’t Portland overrun with breweries and bottleshops?!? Pack the family and move to Kentucky!

    • Don
      March 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      I was actually looking in Eugene, and no, surprisingly not. Although there are some good brew pubs, there is a durth of good tap rooms and bottle shops. Although I might think Kentucky is great, I’m pretty sure that would be a bit of a stretch for the Fam. 😉

      • March 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

        Right, because Idaho is such a cradle of culture, Don. they’ll miss the bright lights of Nampa, for sure.

  3. March 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Forget these guys, Don. Columbia, MO is the perfect place for you to set up a bottle shop and taproom. The only competition would come from grocery stores and there’s a dedicated group of beer nerds just waiting for your shop to open here. We offer plenty of cultural and educational opportunities and would move you closer to your mom but not too close to your brother. Besides, businesses in COMO tend to have a nice honeymoon period to founder a bit before gaining their footing. Seriously. Think about it.

    • Don
      March 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      Ahh, Zac, really the possibilities are endless. But I need to find a place we are all comfortable with. I’m seriously looking for a local Nampa Store right now because there are a couple of places that would work and I could be open within a couple months. Problem with Eugene was there wasn’t really a good location that had the right combination of affordable and easily opened.

  4. March 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    Good luck to you bro, whatever you decide to do. I’m cheerin for ya.

    • Don
      March 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      Thanks Wayne! 🙂

  5. Mark S.
    March 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    I can’t help thinking of the Intro song to “Portlandia” every time I read about Portland. And usually then the details of the article back up the song!

    http://www.ifc.com/portlandia/videos/portlandia-portland-dream-of-the-90s

  6. March 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Thanks for the article but you got one very important detail incorrect – Cascade Brewing does indeed brew all of its own beer, then blends it. Please correct! Cheers!

    • Don
      March 9, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      Will do Chris. Thanks for the clarification, and thanks for the beer!

  7. March 12, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Yeah along with the correction on Cascade actually brewing their own beer. You also reference them using Brett at the end of the article. They actually use no brettanamyoces only Lactobacillus. So no wild yeasts.

  8. DanR
    March 12, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    You might want to talk to the women who run Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA. They opened a high-end craft beer store about a year ago, and it has been hugely successful already…they might have some insight for you for sure. Between their liberal use of social media to promote the beer, frequent, almost daily tastings, and unbelievable service and selection, they have absolutely done this endeavor the right way.

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