Sunday, February 14, 2010


Yesterday was the second annual zwickelmania event here in Oregon. This year I made it out to three breweries to check out their brewing facilities, ask questions about their beers, and of course, try a couple of samples.

Top on my list was checking out what was going on over at Cascade Brewing. For being so far out in SW Portland, away from all the other breweries participating in the event at the same time, the cascade event was well attended. We began our tastings with samples of their latest bottlings, Sang Rouge and 09 Apricot. I had tried the sang rouge previously on Super Bowl sunday, and it was as nice as I had remembered it. The apricot was a new experience for me and it was both delicious and as sour as one could hope for. From the bottle tastings, we moved into the barrel aging portion of the brewery, and tried a couple of samples of various beers directly from the souring barrels. In this portion of the tasting, we sampled a special barrel aged version of their summer gose, a sour tripel, and a sour red. The triple was my favorite from the bunch, and definitely the most sour as well. While we we drinking these samples, we talked a bit about the status of the cascade barrel house, and how the new facility will take the brewery to the next level when it comes to capacity and versatility. One of the interesting things to me about the barrel house is that they have three independently temperature controlled rooms that will allow aging to occur at precise temperatures; something the current facility doesn't allow them to do.

From the tasting barrels, we made our way past barrels and barrels of aging beer, some individual stocks, and some blends, including the infamous vlad the imp aler, and then down onto the brewery floor itself. Here we tried another gose right from the bright tank, as well as a fantastic sour made with the meat of roasted apricot pits and berries. This beer was definitely one of the highlights of the day. The last beer we got to sample at Cascade was their sour cherry pie, which is one of the beers used to produce their delicious kriek. I was shocked, when it tasted exactly as the name would imply... like sour cherry pie. Cherries were expected, but the malts and remaining sugars added a taste not unlike the crust of a fresh made pie. Awesome!

Before leaving, we hit the bar and ordered a glass of the Apricot each. What a great way to end a great tasting!

From Cascade, we drove into northeast portland to check out what was going on over at Upright Brewing. At Upright, I tried a sample of the holy herb, got a glass of the auld reekie, and sampled Billy the Mountain. The crowd here was of a really good size, and it was neat to see it overflow the tasting room and into the brewing area. This was also the first time I got to check out the open tank fermenters through a big window of course). It's a pretty neat set-up.

From Upright, it was over the bridge to Deschutes for the last tour we'd see of the day. The tour itself wasn't too exciting, and only included one beer sample, but the guide was very knowledgeable, and we learned some pretty good stuff. While at the pub, we each got a glass of Jubel 2010. I was expecting this to be the same as the super jubel of years past, but the barrel aging and whatever else they did differently for this version really made it stand out. I've read reviews online of descriptions that include HotD "adam"-like, and I think that's really spot on. A different beer to be sure, but definitely in the same vein. I'll be grabbing several of these to enjoy later.

Other than zwickelmania, I've had some other beery stuff going on since my last post. Pat and I went over to Full Sail for their Top sail imperial porter horizontal tasting. We got to try both the blended top sail, and the original unblended stock beers used to make it. Makers Mark top sail, Stranahans top sail, and Four Roses top sail. The Stranahans barrels made the nicest beer in my opinion, but the blend was a close second. In the past I've been pretty critical of the barrel aged Full Sail beers, but this one really grew on me this year. I don't know if it's better this time around, or if my tastes have just changed, but I think this beer is a real winner, and I've already stocked up on bottles.

At the superbowl, we tasted several great beers. Cascade Sang Royal, Cascade Sang Rouge, Russian River Consecration, Nogne O dark horizon batch 2, brooklyn local 2, hopworks secession, and widmer deadlift IPA. Trying all the sour beers side by side was great. The Sang Royal was great. The Sang Rouge was similar, but with a bit more stinky cheese. The consecration was great as always, but the Cascade beers definitely held their own against it. It would be hard to pick a favorite out of the three. The dark horizon was probably the beer I've held onto the longest before cracking into it. I've had this one for a year or two now, so I figured it was time. Turns out it wasn't! At 17.5%, one would expect this beer to come off a bit boozy, but after a couple of years aging, I would have expected it to mellow a bit. Feeling the heat coming off this thing really puts into perspective just how well crafted Black Tuesday was - with a well hidden, yet higher ABV... fresh.

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