Friday, July 13, 2012

Cascade Brewing - 2009 Sang Royal

This past Wednesday I had the privilege of sharing a bottle of the 2009 vintage Sang Royal from Cascade Brewing. This is not my first Cascade experience. I've had several to be exact (go here and read about another Cascade experience), and knowing firsthand they produce amazing sour ales, I knew this one would be a real treat.

This beer is another prime example of the current barrel ageing craze currently taking place in the US. Most wild/sour ales are attempting to emulate the original versions traditionally produced in Belgium. But most modern brewers and blenders have been taking these styles to all new heights. Experimentation runs rampant and brewers are now experimenting with various fruits such as blueberries, apricots, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches and various grape varieties. In addition to experimentation with different fruits we are seeing experimentation in the various wooden vessels brewers use for ageing. These range from charred oak bourbon barrels, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, rum, whiskey, gin and even Port barrels. Indeed it is an interesting age for beer. Brewers are pushing the limits of what we thought possible and we consumers are grateful.

As for this beer in particular, the description tells us that it is an "ale made with various red ales that were aged in oak with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, then blended with red ales that were aged in Port and Pinot Noir barrels." Sounds mildly interesting ;) In any case, it comes in at a burly 9.345% and will almost certainly have any lover of sour ales feeling light-headed and weak in the knees. The only other bit of information that you might possibly want to know is where this place is located, and that my friend is in the beer mecca of Portland, Oregon. Cascade Barrel House is entirely separate from the Raccoon Lodge (the brewing facility) located just south and west of Portland in the Hillsdale/Beaverton area. Don't look now but they will actually ship their beer directly to your door (I've done it before). Their barrel house website can be found here and a link to the Raccoon Lodge site can be found here. Now, onto the tasting!

Name: Sang Royal 2009
Category/Style: American Sour/Wild Ale
ABV: 9.345%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast/Bacteria Type: Lactobacillus
Special Additives: Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 750 mL
Location Purchased: Unknown

The Pour: Dark rusty red, mahogany around the edges. Head is cream coloured, decent retention, decent lacing.

The Nose: Sour fruit, cherry, oak, wood, vanilla, vinegar, very vinous. Red wine, funk, astringent; it smells incredible! Bright and sour! I wish I could bottle the aroma!

The Taste: Sour on the very tip of the tongue, lots of funk and sourness spreading out as the flavours work their way along the tastebuds. A bit bitter (perhaps from the grape peels as my friend suggested), definitely woody and oaky, lots of juicy red fruit and a hint of dark dried fruit, figs perhaps? Tart and bright, delicious and lots of astrigency. Super tart and finishes very dry. Leaves you wanting more.

The Verdict: This is definitely one of the top 20 beers I've ever tasted. There is just something incredibly delicious and satisfying about a well-made sour beer. These are true sippers and must be enjoyed at a slow pace; to think of drinking them any other way is absurd. There are very few other beer styles that would even come close to matching the complexity of these beers. It is literally layer upon layer of flavour and each sip reveals something new. In my experience, these beers are in the upper tier of the beer world and literally redefines what it means to enjoy a beer. One can simply drink a beer, but to find a beer that during consumption literally wills you to involve all of your senses is something else entirely. This is really what we're all after. Anyhow, the beer can be purchased at the Barrel House in Portland or online, I'm not sure how my buddy came into possession of his but go do yourself a favour and find a way to acquire a bottle! Cheers!

Thanks for reading!



Unsystematic said...

Just picked up a bottle of this a few weeks ago. Really excited to try it, especially after reading this.

Zach Hoyopatubbi said...

Yeah man you won't be disappointed. A seriously great beer. If you like sours this one is top notch for sure!