Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tasting Notes from Cascade Brewing, Portland Oregon

So a recent overnight in PDX with a fantastic long layover provided me a unique opportunity to try a few select beers from The House of Sour.  I was obviously impressed by the lineup and the ideas were nothing short of prolific.  The one thing I took away from them was the technique of layering flavor with multiple barrels.  Interestingly enough, I never got a mature Brett funk from any of the beers. This was surprising.  Instead they focused on the malts, the fruit and spice additions and the barrel characters, whether it be just the wood, wine, or spirits.  I loved the beers and will keep this menu and post handy for future brainstorms.

The fruit of note was the Elderberry.  This fruit gave the beer a beautiful fruity character, but without the perceived sweetness.  I really love this approach.  It is ideal for accentuating or contrasting an Earthy approach to a sour.  Also of note on the Elderberry was the roast character they imparted.  I am going out on a limb but Ill guess CarafaIII.  There was a very subtle note of roast, which was balanced and beautiful here.  With the elderberry giving off that kiss of dryness it just worked the pallet!  To me, this particular addition, paired with the Elderberry took the show of the entire series.  It was a stroke of pure flavor genius!

Contrasting the Elderberry was the Naval Orange.  In this example you got HUGE perceived sweetness in the aroma, but not in the flavor.  I think this fruit add has a lot of room to run in beers that have great bones, but lack in the aromatic department, much like my recent straight BrettC-Lacto.  A big Naval orange zest add would have been beautiful there as the acidity was medium plus so upping the nval addition would have balanced it.

Another fun example was their Kriek.  They did not go sweet with the fruit and in the vintage I tasted the Bing Cherry really popped out at you.  It was well attenuated and left a nice cherry character, but without the sweetness of some Krieks.  This beer put Kreik back on the map for me.

Vine was delicious.  Right now I have my double barrel tripel which got 1c per G of unfermented Grenache Grape must and copious bugs 10 months ago...it's conditioning.  I feel this example most closely exemplifies the Cascade Brewhouse character and Vine.  The grapes really come through nicely as an accent piece but not the main show.  This restraint is important in my beers' execution - because - its how I like them.

Sang Royal with its grapes worked well too.  In this example they went with two red wine barrels and the red wine grapes.  RED all the way through.  A very fun and successful process.  I liked how there were layers of oak in this beer to accent the grapes where as in Vine you had more of a simple, linear barrel character.  Makes me think of using a Heavy and Light toast of one wood type, mixing woods, etc.  The possibilities are endless, but I now have a reason to buy a Heavy-toast Oak Spiral.

Sang Rouge was tasty, layered, complex, fun.  I like how they had an example without fruit or spice.  They just let the bugs and barrels run.  It has layers of restrained Brett character and a medium - acidity.  It was a great place to layer in multiple barrels.

I am not a fan of the Ginger, but that's a personal aversion to Ginger in beer.  While the Honey-Ginger, Lime was nice with my Smoked Albacore Tuna Sandwich, I could not drink more than one (unless I was being forced too:-).  The Ginger is just too much for me, although it would be a fun novelty beer idea for the holidays.

Of course the Apricot was amazing and is a great example of how to go Bright (medium plus acidity) with a Sour.  Just using the fruit to play up that big acidity works beautifully here.

OK, that is all for now.

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