A Brief Evolution of Breakside from an Outside Perspective

If you know me or follow my writing, you know that being invited to a special preview of an upcoming brewery release is not enough to get me to do a review.  Not unless I'm blown away - and I'm one picky motherfucker.

I owned a house just down the street from Breakside when they first opened up their Dekum location.  Myself and my husband at the time, along with a huge crowd of middle-class thirty-something Woodlawn residents, flocked to Breakside, thrilled to finally have a place in the neighborhood to drink beer.  In the beginning, it was all guest taps...good ones.  Then, they started putting out their own beer.  Sadly, as they ironed out their process and learned the quirks of their new system, I quickly decided that it was worth sticking to the guest taps.

Then, as the year progressed, something changed.  Breakside started producing decent beers.  Then, before I knew what hit me, they were producing phenomenal beers.
  They started brewing a wide range of styles and doing them all well.  Experimentation expanded as they began to push the boundaries of style - and they knocked it out of the park every time.  This brings us to now: Breakside continues to astound the imagination and the palate with attention to detail and a seemingly-neurotic focus on complexity and balance.  And with this...I give you one of my rare beer reviews:

La Tormenta
A sour ale dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Equinox hops

A hoppy sour is a terrain which has rarely been tread - and for good reason, as it's pretty damn hard to pull off.  While I love both a good sour and complex, hoppy beers, the two do not always work well together.  La Tormenta is an example of one of the ways to do it right. 

La Tormenta pours a striking light golden-orange with the thin, white head characteristic of many sours.  The nose showcases the vibrant hops complexity with a lot of fragrant tangerine and lemon, cantaloupe, and a dash of passion fruit and pine.  The flavor is dominated by citrus, along with the tropical and melon notes found in the aroma, which integrates perfectly with the tart sour finish.  As the beer warms a bit, the passion fruit comes out and adds a little sweetness for an ideal balance.  A gentle carbonation and moderate body lends to a beer that is both refreshing and decadently complex.

Available for a limited time at both Breakside locations and in stores.

Breakside Country Blonde: coming December 5th
A straw-colored, wheaten saison conditioned on Gewurztraminer grapes and a blend of wild yeast and bacteria that includes three strains of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. A small batch limited edition.
7.2 % ABV 27 IBU's.

I had the incredible honor of trying Country Blonde before its release date, and although I failed to take tasting notes, I suggest you do not miss grabbing a bottle of this...and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  Many breweries attempt to do this style only to have it turn out cloyingly sweet and, at times, undrinkable (e.g. - my last home brew).  Add Gewurztraminer grapes - a type of grape often used in sweet, German wine - and you could have a recipe for an unbalanced disaster.  But if anyone can pull such a thing off, it's Breakside.  The addition of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus create a beautifully-balanced, characteristically complex, dry and slightly funky brew that cannot be passed up.

On Friday December 5th, 2014, you will be able to pick up a bottle of this limited-edition beer only at the two Breakside locations - only while they last, which won't be long (750 oz @ $15/bottle).

Thanks to Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Ben Edmunds, and Breakside Brewing for the opportunity to try these fantastic beers before the release date.
Cascade Brewing (Portland, Oregon)
Sang Noir - 2012 Project
A blend of red ales aged in oak and bourbon barrels for one year, then aged an additional six months on Bing and sour pie cherries.

Pours the color of vinous black cherry with a slightly burgundy two-finger head.  The nose is overwhelmingly tart pie cherry with a touch of wine and bourbon.

The flavor is similar to the aroma...tart cherries, very vinous. Bourbon is barely detectable when cold.  Lacto-tart and acidic at first, but as it warms up it becomes significantly more complex - the wine-like character comes out, more bourbon flavor and sweetness from the malt, creating a more balanced, pleasing character.  The bottle recommends serving at about 40-degrees, but I would recommend going a little warmer - more like 50-55.  It really opens up nicely. 

I always have a hard time spending $25 on a bottle of beer (and it seems there are more and more within this range these days, sadly for us poor craft beer lovers), but this is absolutely worth a try at least once.  Because of its sour, vinous flavor profile, it pairs really nicely with Italian food - even Trader Joe's frozen lasagna...not that I would know anything about that of course.

Available at Cascade Barrel House and in select bottle shops throughout Portland, Oregon.  Occasionally available on draft at Cascade.