Cascade Brewing can trace its history to 1998 with the founding of Cascade Brewing Company at the Racoon Lodge in the Southwest hills of Portland. Art Larrance, one of the original founders of the Portland Brewing Company, and Ron Gansberg, formerly of Bridgeport Brewing, teamed up to create this new project that was distributed locally under the “Racoon Lodge” name. I’ll have to admit that I didn’t find their beers to be very interesting. You’d often see the beer sold as a “house” beer with a custom tap handle.
Well, things started to change in 2005 when Art and Ron began looking into ways to differentiate themselves from the new breweries constantly opening. They decided to create a barrel-aging and sour program. they decided to focus mainly on Lactobacillus bacteria as their souring agent so they could leave more mouth-feel and residual sugar. Brettanomyces tends to leave a very dry beer (You can read about these microbes here). Within a few years, they started getting noticed with medals at GABF (Great American Beer Festival). They were now on the map.
The Vlad The Imp Aler won Silver at GABF in 2009. They describe it as: “This strong NW sour is a blend of strong blonde quads and tripels aged in oak and Bourbon barrels, then further blended with spiced blondes and left to condition for an additional five months.” The bottle I had (a gift from a friend) was labeled with a vintage of 2009. It appears this review is timely though, as they are about to release the current vintage!
Appearance: Peach-y orange with an off white head. Almost past hazy into the realm of cloudy. Low head retention.
Aroma: Vanilla, pineapple, balsamic vinegar, fruity, a bit of “horse blanket.”
Taste: Sherry vinegar, apricots, soft peach, citrus. tart with a “buttery” mouthfeel. Good but soft CO2.
Overall Impression: This was my first experience with a Cascade Brewing sour. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. This was an outstanding sour beer with a huge depth of character. I look forward to trying the next batch.
Availability: This vintage is long gone, but the new one is about to be released. It can potentially be found in Oregon, Washington, California, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.