Craft beer, like any type of food or drink, can often be subject to trends. Sometimes it's really intense IPAs; sometimes thick, dark beers aged in this or that exotic barrel; sometimes a pale ale so laden with haze that it starts looking like a smoothie. (Even Samuel Adams is riding the hazy-IPA bandwagon these days, with cans available nationwide starting in April.)
Along those lines, it's easy to forget that beer—even craft beer, with its young history—is both a trend and a tradition. And Cascade Brewing's tradition, of course, is sour. It's right there on the bottles: "Pucker Up & Join the Sour Revolution."
Portlanders have been joining said revolution at the Cascade Barrel House since 2010. The SE Belmont Street taproom features at least 18 sour beers on tap at any time, plus assorted small plates and sandwiches. It's the product of the Blending House, a facility housing nine oaken foudres (very large barrels originally invented for wine production) and nearly 2,000 oak barrels of various sizes. These scant few blocks of Belmont now comprise one of the most happenin' beer neighborhoods in the entire city. Modern Times is nearby, the Rogue Eastside Pub & Pilot Brewery is across the street and freshly opened on the kitty-corner is Market of Choice and Schilling Cider House with 40 different ciders on tap.
Cascade has always been at the forefront of the national sour scene, and it's no wonder that they house one of the most extensive local festivals celebrating the genre. The seventh annual Sour Fruit Fest is taking place from Wednesday through Sunday this week, both at the Barrel House and Cascade's original Lodge sports-bar location in SW Portland, and for fruit and/or pucker-heads, visits are in order.
Each day of the fest has its own highlighted release on tap. Wednesday has Shrieking Violet, a spiced Belgian quad sporting over two years of aging (half a year of which was on blueberries). On Thursday, visitors can enjoy Shiro Plum, a wild ale made from the eponymous Shiro variety of yellow-colored plums. Friday features Kentucky Peach, a blend of wheat and quad ales aged with Northwest-grown peaches; Saturday has Nectarine Dream, a similar blend with the peach's cousin; and Cascade rounds it out Sunday with Cherry Bourbonic, aged for a couple years with Bing cherries.
If that doesn't sound like enough fruit to satisfy sweet tooths (or sour molars), no worries. Cascade plans to have at least 35 sour beers on tap across both of their locations, with all the details laid out on their Facebook event page. Where to begin? Try starting with all the sours inspired by cocktails—Pina Colada, Lemondrop, and Mimosour are all excellent.
Cascade Brewing Sour Fruit Fest
Feb. 28-Mar. 4
Cascade Barrel House and The Lodge at Cascade Brewing
939 SE Belmont St., Portland/7424 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Portland