Having just opened to the public in 2013, de Garde Brewing in Tillamook, Oregon is making waves in the big beer ocean of the Pacific Northwest. They were heralded by Beer Advocate as the best new Oregon brewery in early 2014. And considering their spontaneous fermentation, barrel aging, and unique plan of attack right out of the gate, we can see why.
Squigs here. On Christmas Day, I was reading an article about the top-rated beers in each state. Although the chosen stats seemed a bit arbitrary, I was intrigued to see an Oregon brewery listed that I hadn't heard of. As a native Oregonian (now living in NY), even I can't keep track of what's new and exciting in Oregon brewing. I was already planning a trip to the Oregon coast, and a visit was a great possibility.
Trevor Rogers and Linsey Hamacher wanted to make spontaneously fermented wild ales so they had to seek out a place where the air was alive with happy strains of bacteria and yeast. They found it in the fertile dairy land already home to renowned cheesemongers including the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Add to this the coastal breezes wafting over the Coastal Mountain Range and you've got a diverse array of critters ready to party down in the de Garde coolship and barrels. And with assistant brewer Will (formerly of Pelican Brewing) and taproom maven Sierra, they assembled a great – albeit VERY busy – team.
As an example of their wares, on my visit I sampled a selection of their Bu Weisse (a take on a Berliner Weisse, named with a Moroccan Berber possessive word meaning "my" or "mine" that Linsey picked up in the Peace Corps). The base Bu and a couple brewed with local fruit: Berry Bu (with blackberries, boysenberries, and blueberries) and the Imperial Peach Bu. Rounded out the tasting with the Rojo Dos (sour red). All were incredible, but I returned to a full pour of the amazing Imperial Peach. And of course I had to take a couple bottles to go: The Lucy (a Lambic based brew with muscat grapes) and the Deux Tetes (a wild collaboration with Pippin apple juice from Portland-based cidery Reverend Nat's).
They periodically host bottle releases and other popular events (as attested by de Garde fans at 5th Street Growlers in Corvallis) and you can find some of their bottles in local markets. I'd love to see beer and cheese pairings which would be a mind-blowing sampling of all the region has to offer. Wow!
Keep an eye on de Garde. And if you find yourself on the Oregon coast, don't miss a chance to drop by. See their website for hours. They're located at 6000 Blimp Boulevard which is named for the neighboring blimp hangar that houses the Tillamook Air Museum. They seem to be quite a fitting neighbor for a brewery where the brews seem to be flying out of the place.