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Pacific Coast trip – Cascade and Gigantic

Reading Time: 4 minutes read

For a more educational and factual take, please read, The Best [Beer] Coast: A Coastal Beer Tour from San Francisco to Portland.

Barrels stacked inside the Cascade blending facility.
Barrels stacked in the Cascade Brewing blending facility in Portland, Oregon.
Photo by Benjamin Wilson.

Skeleton in the closet; Cascade announced their sale on April 2nd, 2020, to a group of local taproom and brewery owners. Seems like Cascade are still good, though, so do with that what you will – if that makes you angry, then maybe get some nice geuze instead to salve that wound. Figuratively – geuze is not intended to treat any medical condition.

May 2019
After leaving De Garde (see the longer article linked at the beginning of this one), we cut over from Tillamook and trudged into Beaverton, where we nabbed a bite and a milkshake at Burgerville. Cascade was next on our list. They created the Northwest Sour style, and they are damn good at it. From deep in the heart of Texas to the New York finger lakes wine country, you can typically find a bottle stashed away in a fridge or cellar, and they keep really well. Somewhere in the range of $10-$20 most of the time, and always outstanding.

We’ve been to the barrel house across the bridge from downtown about 5,719 times. There, you can drink tons of good sours in a range of % ABVs, but they never fail to be delicious and clean (the ginger-lime sour is my weakness). This time around we went to the blending and aging facility, which is more of a modern brewery and less of an open-air joint that you’d expect to see in a silver-era film starring Errol Flynn. Our notes from Cascade are pretty organized; delicious, strong, OG of sours, best beers I’ve ever had. They’re just so stinkin’ good it’s almost criminal.

Kevin Martin pours a sample from a barrel in the Cascade blending facility.
Kevin Martin pours a sample in the Cascade blending facility in Portland, Oregon. May 2019.
Photo by Benjamin Wilson.

When we needed to have a wake, we drank some scotch and a bottle of Cascade Figaro. Might have been a 2013. That’s the kind of beer it is; you can pair it with a Laphroaig triple wood or a bison tenderloin, take it to a wedding or a funeral or just drink it on a good summer evening with friends. It wears a tux, a shearling coat, or jeans and a t-shirt, and seems to fit in with just about everything and everyone, except people who don’t like sours, and can you really trust them, anyway?

A few blocks away from the Cascade barrel house, but on a completely different angle, there’s Gigantic. Gigantic also makes kickass beers, but they have a problem. In the words of Adam Sandler, “It’s not your average problem, but it’s a pretty big problem.” 

The problem with Gigantic is that their beers are quite often, to put a fine point on it, gigantic, and they’re also delicious. The photos coming out of this place aren’t in focus, the notes are shaky, and there are a couple of hats and one or two magnets in my house that came from there. I hope we paid for them.

Notes read:
Talking to: Wade
Cartonia – the winged ones on the wall.
Discombobulated – kverk(crossed out) Kveik
Does not taste like smoked salmon, but has a similar umami component
It’s fucking umami in a bottle

No clue. <- The note actually reads “no clue”.

Blurry photo of winged creature dolls on the wall at Gigantic Brewing.
Sober research indicates these are alebrijes –  cartonería sculptures of fantastical creatures, originating in Mexico City.
Photo by Benjamin Wilson.

Fujikomine attempt didn’t pan out at all.
Hellboy beer(s) Liz Sherman.

It was… a lot. Gigantic makes some really good beers. They’re tasty, big and strong, and fun. The one issue I’ve experienced with their beers is that after traveling over here to Texas, they sometimes develop a vegetal note. Not often, and that may simply be a consequence of the shipping and heat causing premature degradation of the product; I can’t recall any of their beers at the brewery having those off-flavors.

Of course, that may be because I can’t remember much about the brewery save for the big-ass beers and the demons on the wall.

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Ben is a writographer that likes to travel and do things. He's been shot, pepper sprayed and even had to dress like a clown once. In addition, he has a really hard time talking to pretty girls sometimes.

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