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Monday, September 27, 2010

Cascade Barrel House First Look

In just a couple hours, Cascade Brewing will officially open the doors to the new Barrel House on Tenth and Belmont. They unofficially opened last week--and the difference between these two states appears to be a press release. Sally and I walked over (yes, walked!) on Saturday for a quick peek.

My analysis of the place follows two tracks. The first concerns beer; for the last couple years, trying to find Cascade's sour ales has been an Easter egg hunt of random opportunity. Even at the Raccoon Lodge, you couldn't reliably find certain beers. The Barrel House is the solution to this problem, and the menu contains ELEVEN sours (five other taps are given to regular beers--a nice idea, because not everyone is willing to take a walk on the sour side). I have managed to miss Ron's amazing meat-of-the-apricot-pit Noyeaux all these months--but finally had it on Saturday. Most of the beers come in 8-ounce goblets and set you back plus or minus six bucks, but given that many of the beers took more effort than a standard vintage of wine, I consider this a bargain. So, from a beer perspective, they could be serving these out of the back of an old mechanic's building and I'd be happy to visit.

That takes us to the second track--the Barrel House itself. If you took the Raccoon Lodge's general architectural vocabulary and transmuted it to Southeast Portland, you'd have the Barrel House. It's in an old industrial building, but the interior has tall ceilings with exposed rafters--an urban lodge. Barrels are used throughout, as table tops, table bodies, and bar decorations. Along one wall are comfy-looking booths (full when we arrived, as they probably always will be); the rest of the space has beer hall-style tables and benches. Lots of light streams in, both through large windows and the open garage door walls, de rigeuer for any inner-Southeast locale. It is half-way between wine bar and pub in feel, and I think this is a good target: I hope to see serious wine fans come in and see just how un-beery beer can be.

There's a small food menu, but it's not totally up and running and I only had hummus--we can look into that in later posts. I saw Preston Weesner, who's apparently been helping Ron with blending, behind the bar. Art Larrance, who deserves massive kudos for taking this expensive gamble, was also enjoying a tipple. Good people, good location, good space and amazing beer. Very auspicious.

The grand opening kicks off at 11 this morning. Go have a look.

Cascade Barrel House
939 SE Belmont

Here are a few iPhone pics to get you in the mood. For a better look, have a gander at Matt Wiater's predictably stellar photos.

The interior has a spacious layout with beer hall seating and lots of light.

Barrels are used as architectural elements and as decor throughout the building. These two tables are choice sipping stations.

Barrels again at the bar--and a hiding barkeep. (He likes to be in photos as much as I do.)

Red and black blood--Sang Rouge and Sang Noir.

The outdoor seating is a mite spartan--that's Morrison beyond, but webfeet will take their sun whenever it comes.

Barrel-top tables and a nice, long stretch for running (if you're two).

Peeking in from Tenth Avenue.

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