One Big Bottle: Cascade Bourbonic Plague 2009
This Northwest Sour Ale started as a blend of strong dark porters aged in oak, wine and bourbon barrels, then blended with a dark porter that was brewed with vanilla beans and cinnamon. The blend was then aged an additional 14 months with dates.
I'm usually a little wary of vanilla beans, and even of bourbon barrels, having tasted too many over-oaked, charred, and sweet vanilla beers, but everything in Cascade's Bourbonic Plague is remarkably integrated and subtle. This intensely rich, complex beer ends up tart and fresh tasting, bringing out the natural lactic sourness of the porter, swirling in hints of milky malty cocoa powder flavor, raisin notes and tons of caramel. It's a potent beer at 12.1% ABV, but it's not hot at all, with a long-lingering finish that reminded us of sour Nerds candy.
This creamy, plummy beer hints at the complexity of a Belgian Dubbel. We'd pair with with Taleggio and other slightly stinky creamy cheeses. Try salami or country ham, or have it stand in for black vinegar with a meal of fried pork dumplings.