I’ve only tried the Cascade Apricot Ale once (thanks someone at that one tasting earlier this year…), but it was by far one of the most memorable sour fruit beers I have had sampled. The apricot flavor and aroma exploded from the glass, and the sweetness balanced the mild sourness resulting in a very drinkable brew. I would definitely put it on a list of my top beers of 2008, and the folks at Draft Magazine agree. They have released their list of the Top 25 Beers of 2008, and the Apricot made the cut. I’ll be down in Portland in a couple of weekends, and I’m really hoping to stop by the brewery and pick up a couple of bottles. In addition to the Apricot, Deschutes The Abyss, Russian River Pliny the Elder and Hair of the Dog Adam were on the list, along with other well-deserving beers from around the world.
Following is a press release detailing the Cascade Apricot honor:
PORTLAND, Ore. – Jan. 28, 2009 – Draft Magazine named Cascade Brewing’s Apricot Ale as one of the top 25 beers of 2008 in its January/February issue, putting it in an elite category with other craft beers from around the world. This marks the beer’s second honor this month, having earlier received the third annual Satori Award.
Brewmaster Ron Gansberg based his Apricot Ale on a Belgian Tripel, putting it through 16 months lactic fermentation and aging in French oak wine barrels. The apricots were allowed to slowly ripen before introduction into the beer; the beer then aged another four months on the fruit before bottling.
Gansberg’s reaction to the article was one of elation. “When we were in the cellar first tasting it, we believed we had a world-class beer,” explained Gansberg. “But it’s all about other people’s perceptions. We were thrilled the folks at Draft Magazine agreed with us!”
The article’s tasting notes read, “Pouring this brew is an unforgettable experience: An intense apricot aroma races out of the glass. The flavor is sweet but not syrupy, with apricot flavors from beginning to end. This is everything a masterfully crafted fruit beer should be.”
According to Draft Beer Director Rick Sellers, the Top 25 article began as a mental exercise for the magazine staff, as they considered beers they’d run across in the past year that really struck them. Sellers said Cascade Brewing’s Apricot Ale was sent to the magazine’s tasting panel last year for a review. “It was a ‘wow’ beer, both for me and for the panel. The minute we tasted it, we knew we wanted more!”
Sellers, who had the final voice on the 25 beers selected, proclaimed the article to be one of the most difficult pieces he’s ever written. “We narrowed down the field from more than 500 beers to 25; I consulted with beer writers, experts and those opinions I trusted before selecting the beers that made the final cut.”
Earlier this year, Cascade Apricot Ale received the Satori Award from beer writer Jeff Alworth, who blogs about beer at http://beervana.blogspot.com. According to Alworth, the Satori Award, now in its third year, honors the beer that in a single instant allows the drinker to realize brewing magnificence. Alworth, who refers to Gansberg as a “mad scientist with sour beers,” called the Cascade Apricot Ale “an amazing beer, both approachable yet complex…truly a revelation.”
Cascade Apricot Ale is part of a line of ultra-premium, oak barrel-aged, lactic-fermented Belgian-style beers that range from Lambic-style fruit beers to red ales. The beers are hand-bottled in 750 ml champagne bottles and sell for $15.95 apiece. Cascade Apricot Ale is available at the Raccoon Lodge & Brewpub, which houses Cascade Brewing at 7424 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy; and at area stores and markets.
About Cascade Brewing
Located in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood of SW Portland, Cascade Brewing was established in 1998 by Art Larrance, who has been involved in Oregon’s craft beer industry since its inception. Art co-founded one of the state’s first microbreweries, Portland Brewing, as well as the Oregon Brewers Festival, which today is one of the world’s preeminent craft beer festivals.
Cascade Brewing offers eight well-balanced beers on draught year-round, complemented by seasonal selections. It won an award from the Great American Beer Festival in 2008 for its Cascade Kriek, and also sells bottles of Cascade Blackberry and Cuvee. For more information, call 503-296-0110 or visit www.raclodge.com.