Cascade Brewing Barrel House: Preview
The clouds have come in, the rain is trickling, and if you've been listening to the wind, it's been whispering: Bourbonic Plague. If you've got a beer geek friend (and who doesn't here in Portland), you've probably noticed some strange behavior lately: a seemingly random tilting of the head at an odd moment. Or maybe a squinting of the eyes at something that is just beyond the horizon. If you haven't been able to figure out what it was, let me fill you in: your friend is trying to hear the first squeak of the front doors of the Cascade Brewing Barrel House opening. And they are ready to bolt by foot, bicycle, or car when they hear it.
The Cascade Brewing Barrel House is close to opening. Let me repeat that: close to opening. For those of you chomping at the bit, the official word is that they will be open: soon. Despite the fuzziness surrounding the opening date, the owners and employees are just as exited to open this place as you are to be there.
I met with Barrel Manager/Blender Preston Weesner yesterday to get a glimpse at what's just around the corner for those of us that have been anticipating this place ever since the first rumor floated around Portland. The new building, purchased back in October of 2009 is about 7,000 square feet, roughly divided into 2,000 feet for the patrons, bar, and kitchen, and 5,000 square feet for a loading dock, barrel room, cooler, workspace and project room. The barrel room has enough space for about 350 barrels, which are carefully shipped in barrel from the Cascade Brewing SW location. The "extra space", according to Preston, at the original SW location is equivalent to about 1 square foot. This new location can now shift the focus away from the logistics of storing, moving, and tapping giant barrels in a small space. Luckily for us, that redefined focus shifts to aging, blending, experimenting, bottling, and serving.
The Barrel House will start with 10 sour beers on tap, and 6 other styles including wheats, IPAs, Pales, Ambers, and a rotating lager. Each beer line has it's own regulator, and depending on the profile of the beer, can be pressurized differently, delivering the perfect pour. There will also be two barrel beers available: barrels through the wall at the bar, tapped directly through the front.
For many people, choosing the right beer from a style they may not be familiar with is a very difficult task. Each sour can have a drastically different profile, and that's where beer education comes in. Preston realizes that this is going to be a new adventure for many beer drinkers and visitors in Portland and it is a priority to have a staff who understands their product and philosophy. Rather than reading a list of hops off of a sheet in front of them, the staff will know how to have a conversation about the beer in order to make that important connection between a customer and their beer.
The whole adventure started with a group of friends doing something they love for themselves. Some dominoes fell in the right place, and now soon they will be able to share that love and enthusiasm—oh, and some amazing beers!
Follow us on Twitter, and we'll pass along any information on the opening date when we hear something.
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