The recent spate of pub openings in SE Portland has overwhelmed our tiny newsroom here at It's Pub Night. Plus, we wanted to give you round-the-clock coverage of the Fresh Hop movement, and give a fair and balanced assessment of the angry, hard-drinking Real Portlanders who are rising up against what they call "FINO beers" -- short for "Fresh-hop In Name Only" -- in other words, beers that are sold as Fresh Hop beers but which contain 100% dried hops. Aren't we dried enough already?
But now it's time to catch up with some of the new places around the neighborhood, starting with the Cascade Barrel House, which has been in the works for well over a year. It finally opened a couple of weeks ago, and it's a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
I'm not as big of a sour-beer fanatic as a lot of the beer geeks out there, but Ron and Curtis and the gang at Cascade have risen to national prominence with their barrel-aging program, specializing in fruit beers. The Kriek is my favorite -- something about cherries and beer -- but there are a staggering number of masterfully-done beers on the lineup: Noyaux, with apricots, raspberries, and roasted apricot pits; The Vine, with grapes; Sang Rouge, a blend of lots of crazy stuff. Extra credit to Cascade for not intentionally or unintentionally mangling the French names like many places do.
Since I'm also not a fan of driving across town, one black mark on my record is that I have never been to Cascade's Raccoon Lodge pub. But I held out long enough and they broke down and opened their Barrel House and pub within walking distance of my house. I haven't tried any of the food yet, but they have an impressive lineup of 15 or so Cascade beers on tap -- about a third of which are more traditional ales for you non-sour people -- plus two rotating taps that pour straight from the barrel. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. A lot of the seating is barbecue-place picnic tables which can be moved out to the front patio in good weather; there are also a few booths, bar seating, and a couple of tall barrel-top tables.
The Barrel House also has a constellation of familiar faces working the bar or behind the scenes: Angelo from Brewpublic, festival impresario Preston Weesner, and former Green Dragon/Grand Central bartender Cody. Another great thing is that they open for lunch every day at 11 AM. Minors are allowed until 10 PM.
[Update: Nice post from Charles with some behind-the-scenes photos.]