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Beer of the Week: Cascade Brewing Garden Party BA Grape Sour

If you haven't heard me going on about Cascade Brewing then count yourself lucky, but unfortunately you haven't escaped me here, because their Garden Party barrel-aged grape sour is my Beer of the Week.

Cascade are from Portland, Oregon, and they brew almost exclusively barrel-aged sours so they've got really pretty good at it, pioneering their own style in the form of the northwest sour ale. I am a huge sour beer fan and when my boyfriend and I visited a friend in Portland in 2019, we unfortunately never made it out of the Cascade taproom to go to any others because their tasting menu was so extensive (and well-supplemented by beer pretzels). Their barrel-aged stuff is not for the faint-hearted in terms of its sourness, but if you're partial to a wild ale I can't recommend them highly enough.

Cascade Brewing Garden Party white grape sour ale in a Caps and Taps glass. The beer is a clear amber in the glass.

Northwest sour ales tend to be quite clean and lactic acid-dominated, although that's not to say they lack complexity. Perhaps because of my wine background, I tend to not be such a fan of the really Brett-heavy sours because I find it can overpower other flavours and dampen fruity characters (although I'm all about a little bit), so this is absolutely one of my favourite styles.

I think the cleanness you get with Cascade shows off the subtle aspects of barrel ageing as well as their additional ingredients very well, and Garden Party is a real case in point. It's a blend of wheat and blond ales aged in white wine barrels with Willamette Valley-grown Chardonnay grapes, and Meyer lemon zest and elderflower added at the end.

It's tart and incredibly refreshing, but it has some savouriness as well as notes of honey and apricot that keep it interesting and really bring out the individual flavours of the grapes, lemon and elderflower. Super summery, this is the perfect beer for a celebration given it feels a bit Champagne-adjacent, but I can also highly recommend it as just a what-the-hell treat. Equally, you can definitely savour it if you want to, but we won't tell if it goes down rather quickly.

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