Cascade Brewing is a sleeping giant often overlooked by locals as tenured and touristy, overwhelming to travelers or sour newbies, and admonished as overpriced by beer geeks elsewhere. Tough spot to be in, yet they continually deliver some of the most amazing and unique sour beers.
The search for new and "it" within Portland knows no limit. I've lived here eight years and have yet to see the city settle on a trend for more than six months.
Through all the noise, beards, street cars, amazing food, ciders, trends, and weirdness one truth remains constant: Good beer is always blocks away. With deep roots in the Oregon beer scene, Cascade might just be the best reminder that new isn't always better, and that consistency will always succeed.
With that being said, I have my gripes about the brewery. Their vintage Blueberry releases from Cascade are all really good sour beers, like most of their offerings. However, if you want a full on blueberry blast of goodness, there are better spots to spend your $20-30.
If you want a solid and tasty beverage on a special occasion, a good introduction to tart beer, or to treat someone on a Friday night, the 2016 Blueberry Sour will do you right. I’d go with some of their other widely available options before getting to the Blueberry, however. Having choices is never a bad thing and if you're at a bottle shop that carries Cascade you'll likely have this decision to make.
When I visited their Portland pub recently they had the 2014-2016 vintages on tap, along with $20 bottles to go. That’s a quick way to turn a stop on the way home into a vertical tasting!
Immediately the purple tint is what will catch your attention when you pour the Blueberry, although it leans more red than blue. Take a strong whiff of the glass and here is where you best experience the fruit – fruity blueberry summer goodness hits you right up front, with just enough warning of the tartness to come.
A hallmark of most every Cascade sour that I have enjoyed is the immediate call to attention inside your mouth that happens at the first sip, bright, tingly, and full of flavor. This beer has that and then some.
A hallmark of most every Cascade sour that I have enjoyed is the immediate call to attention inside your mouth that happens at the first sip, bright, tingly, and full of flavor”
Each of the three years of Blueberry are delicious; I did find myself searching for the blueberry flavor the name implies once the aroma subsided. There was also very little variance to distinguish between the years to my taste, so I wouldn't consider cellaring this beer. If you want a fruit-forward Cascade, go Kriek or Strawberry, if you want a quality sour with some hints of fruit this is your beer.
Cascade beers, and the Blueberry specifically, should be treated as specialty items. I wouldn't want a 2016 Blueberry Sour bottle all for myself (well maybe) – that's a lot of pucker – but it is much more of a near perfect sour than a blueberry bomb. This is a bottle uniquely suited for sharing and a solid reflection of exactly what Cascade is great at.
- Would I buy the 2016 Blueberry bottle again in Portland? No.
- Am I happy to have had it? Of course.
- Do I strive to always have something from Cascade in my beer fridge? Absolutely.
Feelings about Cascade can get complicated, but the brewery makes sense if you keep it simple.