Cascade Brewing / Raccoon Lodge & Brewpub
Ratings: 51 | Reviews: 22 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by benito:
4.1/5 rDev -5.5%
I'm shocked that this is the first review of this place in over four years. It is, or should be, something of a topic of conversation in the Portland beer world.
Really, Raccoon Lodge should have two separate reviews: one for Raccoon Lodge the brewpub and one for Cascade Brewing, the ambitious side project of 'chief imagineer' Ron Gansberg, whose quiet opposition to the 'hops arms race' in favor of ambitious, barrel-aged sour fruit beers and blends ought to earn him a place alongside Tomme Arthur at the forefront of vanguard American craft brewing. In fact the recent, awkward designation of "Raccoon Lodge/Cascade Brewing" in Portland beer blogs is suggestive of the irreconcilable divide between the two. I'll stake out a guess and claim now: in the coming years, Cascade Brewing will emerge as one of the most buzzed breweries in the US, and they deserve it.
So, Ron's Cascade beers include the (pricey) bottled releases: Cascade Kriek, Cascade Apricot Ale, and Cascade Blackberry. The 2008 Kriek, Apricot, and Cuvee are really exceptional: they carefully balance sour and fruit flavors in a way that is remniscent of New Glarus' ales. Divine, Cascade's new grape ale, is even more exceptional and offers something wholly uncommon.
As for Raccoon Lodge, some of the magic spills over into this oversized McMansion of a brewpub. They've had a Flanders red, sour blueberry wheat, rasberry wheat (on a berliner weisse base), and "double Flanders red" with Bing cherries on from the Cascade line, while also offering more traditional English style ales. The recent winter warmer and autumn IPA were both passable, if unexceptional, as were the blonde bock and (restrained) Cascade IPA. They also keep an amber, a light lager, and a stout on tap.
The brewpub has two floors: the "den" downstairs is a dark sports bar adjacent to the brewery with a larger TV; the upstairs dining room also has its share of TVs as well as lots of wooden booths remniscent of a hunting lodge. Though, as RedDiamond pointed out, this isn't the kind of 'lodge' that you can stay in. The size is a little impersonal and the goofy cartoon-style logo of a raccoon really doesn't fit.
The food is standard pub fare.
I've always had excellent and fast service; the bartenders in particular, have been knowledgable and eager to please. So, it's not that the brewpub is disappointing, it's just that it's so humble. (Maybe that's the point. And Gansberg, when I spoke with him, said that while he was proud of his beer, he knew that "if we weren't humble, we wouldn't have anything." Still. How can such an average place house one of the most creative and ambitious breweries in the country? The dissonance is tough, but I'm happy to ponder it at the brewpub so long as they keep at least one of those crazy Cascade specialties on tap.
12-22-2008 01:08:06 | More by benito
More User Reviews:
Cascade Brewing / Raccoon Lodge & Brewpub in Portland, OR
95 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.