This is where Cascade brewery has its barrel aging program, as well as a great tasting area to sample said beers. They have a large outdoor seating area and an open tasting area/bar filled with tall tables made of old barrels. Our server was quite good and knew a lot about sour beers. About half the menu was their regular beers, and I'll admit we didn't even try any of them--we were there for the sours! They did do tasters, but they were very small 2 oz stemware glasses and only 2 samples per person at a time were allowed. The price was steep: 2-3 dollars for a sample, but keep in mind that all these beers are at least a year old and a ton of time and work go into crafting and blending them. The regular sized glasses were more reasonable, but I had get samples in order to try them all!
Everything we had here was amazing! They had a really good Gose (made with salt in the nearly lost German tradition.) Lambics in flavors ranging from Kriek, to Apricot, to an amazing Strawberry all sparkled with intriguing fruit aromas and complex sour flavors. One of their more popular beers is Vlad the Imp Aler, a Belgian strong ale aged on bourbon barrels; but they were also serving its un-aged and un-sour cousin: Anti-Vlad! Most of my luggage space allocated to beer was used up at this early stop on our trip. The best sour brewery I've been to outside of Cantillon in Belgium.
Maybe TheBitterEnd had a bad time when he went there, but the place is not anywhere near a score of 25.
There are some unique and wonderful beers available at the Barrel House, including one or two selections poured straight from the barrel. A good evening to visit is Tuesday, when they tap a new barrel.
And although Cascade is known for their sour beers, I have been pleasantly surprised by IPAs and CDAs that I've had there. Don't shy away from a visit if you're not a sour person. Your mileage may vary on the sours, but I always love the Kriek.
In fair weather, the patio is awesome. Inside, the booths and bar are OK, but the picnic tables are kind of flimsy. The food is pretty decent. The beer is not cheap, but you can't get this stuff anywhere else.
The Cascade Barrel House occupies a brick and brick red painted concrete former warehouse with a surprisingly inviting outdoor seating area on the concrete driveway: picnic tables with market umbrellas, surrounded by barrels and iron posts to mark the edges of the space. There are also some small metal tables with aluminum barstools set up just outside the entrance on the former loading dock.
Inside, there are a few padded booths, more picnic tables, and a couple tall tables (a circle of wood on top of a barrel), as well as a bar with more tall aluminum stools. Large glass garage doors open to air the inside during nice weather. The unfinished ceiling is high, the walls are painted pale yellow, and the floor is stained concrete. There were three TVs (sound off) and rather loud rap music.
We found the service quite patronizing and the atmosphere sterile. Yes, you have to visit once because of the unusual beers, but we did not get the feeling that we want to return.
In addition to eight fairly typical craft beer styles, there are ten (eight on tap and two directly out of the barrel) unique American style sour beers, that are aged in various types of barrels.
The food selection is fairly small but upscale (small plates, salads, and sandwiches).
Their focus is on sour beers and they appear to be quite popular with the growing population of sour beer fans in Portland. They charge $2 for a taster, which is understandable. However, to charge (without apology) the same amount for small tasters of more standard beers such as their IPA, porter, or red when they know you just want to taste it before deciding on a full pint is absurd. I found the beer that I did order below the standard set by the better brewpubs in Portland. I will not be returning.