Vancouver brewing is growing up. Along with a shiny new remodel of Loowit and the recent additions of excellent Trap Door and Trusty, nine-month-old north 'Couve brewery Brothers Cascadia (9811 NE 15th Ave., Vancouver, WA, 360-718-8927, brotherscascadiabrewing.com) shows just how far Portland's beeriest suburb has come.
Founded in April by a team of brewers who cut their teeth on what co-owner Sherman Gore calls a "trying" 2-barrel system at Northwood in Battle Ground, Brothers is making much better beer than ever came out of those tanks. In a cavernous warehouse space with a rotating cast of four food carts out front, the 12-barrel brewery is showing its ambition with a wall of 40 oak barrels separating its long bar from the brewing floor.
None of those barrels had come due on our visit, but already there isn't a dud on the taplist. The Czech-style People's Pilsner pours clean and crisp with a strong bread note, while a rice-heavy Crazy 88 lager offers up a much fresher-tasting simulacrum of Tsingtao. All three IPAs on the list also hit the right notes. The You Like 'A Da Juice hazy is a strong tropical blast, while the Bold as Love strikes the classic malt-pine-citrus balance of a Northwest-style IPA—mixing late additions of Cascade with new-school Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic. That latter hop trio also held up well on the session version, Best Day Ever. But the best brew on the list was the JP's Meetinghouse Brown, a beautiful showcase for snap malt deepened with a bit of coffee—a terrific roundness of flavor in an often-overlooked style.
Along with a series of saisons and barrel-aged stouts, brewmaster Jason Bos plans a series of on-trend mixed-fermentation sours, and Brothers' first bottled beer will be a mixed-fermentation golden ale with raspberries. But for at least the next year, Brothers is unlikely to distribute in Oregon, so you'll have to drive north to drink their beer. When you do, grab a couple of $1.50 carnitas tacos from the Super Taco next door: They're as good as any you can find in Portland.