Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Not really sure where to start...It's been a while since my last post. The period key on my lap top is completely FUBAR, and there is no fixing it. It's kind of put in dent in my willingness to post using a ballpoint pen to press down on the spot where the period key once was. Luckily, the lovely Bekky has let me use her awesome laptop while she is away in Europe.
I finally made it down to Art Larrance's Racoon Lodge and Cascade Brewing. Art is legendary in the craft beer scene and is the creator of the Oregon Brewers Festival. Ron Gansberg is the head brewer and along with his assistant Curtis( who unfortunately was not there), conjure up some of the best Belgian Style and Belgian Style Sour ales I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. Correction : Belgian inspired beers. These are Northwest Sour beers. I have been hearing about Cascade since I had my first sip of the Apricot a couple years back at Uber. It was the very essence of apricot caught in an 8 percent beer. Awesome.
The brewery is beautiful, racks and rows of barrels giving off a patina like quality. Oregon red, white, and even port barrels with some bourbon barrels thrown in for good measure. It's hard to describe, and not to sound completely dramatic, although some of you will understand and hope you will chime in if you've been there, (and maybe I was just getting really, really drunk) the creativity is thick in there. I was trying to break down the samples I was having..smell, taste, what is that spice, how did he get that sweetness that finishes dry... I dunno. I've been to Russian River, I've been to Lost Abbey, which were all great places in their own right, but I felt like I was in...California? Ron's brewery was a comfortable place and I knew we were about to experiencing something very special. And boy-0 was it special.
We started off with a taste of the Blackberry that was clearing in the bright tank (freaking incredible) and from then on, we were treated to barrel taste after barrel taste. We played bucket brigade with the stemmed glasses as Ron slid between racks, pouring us tastes of his blends and creations. I can't tell you everything I got to try, but just let me say, there is going to be some pretty amazing stuff coming out of there in the future. I could get into lactic fermentation, the barrel characteristics, blending, carbonation, types of fruit, Ron's brewing Kung Fu...they are all a factor in an awesome product.
More stemmed glasses, bottles started popping, a side by side of The Vine and Cuvee de Castleton was set up. Poor Cuvee didn't have a chance . Small 1/6 barrel kegs were tapped, more bottles popped. Back down to the barrels to try some more stuff. The party was moved outside to enjoy the beautiful afternoon.
Thank you Art. Thank you Ron for your kind words and generosity. It was an afternoon I won't soon forget. Try these beers if you haven't already. Finer establishments will have them on tap and bottles. If you have, share it with someone who hasn't and spread the word.