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Art Larrance Beer Bio - Cascade Brewing, Northwest Sours

Art Larrance (1944-2024) 
Cascade Brewing (1998-2024)


Art Larrance and Cascade Brewing: Crafting a Legacy in Portland, Oregon

Art Larrance is a seminal figure in the American craft brewing scene, particularly known for his pioneering work with Cascade Brewing in Portland, Oregon. His journey in the beer industry began long before the craft beer revolution took hold, and his contributions have had a lasting impact on both the local and national beer landscapes.

Early Beginnings and Craft Beer Advocacy

Larrance's passion for brewing emerged in the early 1980s, a time when the American beer market was dominated by a few large breweries producing similar-tasting lagers. Recognizing the potential for diversity in brewing, Larrance co-founded one of Oregon's first craft breweries, Portland Brewing Company, in 1986. This venture not only marked the beginning of his career in beer but also positioned him as a key player in the burgeoning craft beer movement.

One of Larrance's significant contributions was his involvement in legislative efforts to support craft breweries. He played a crucial role in the passage of Oregon's Brewpub Law in 1985, which allowed breweries to sell beer directly to consumers on-site. This law was instrumental in fostering the growth of brewpubs across the state and set a precedent for similar legislation nationwide.

Founding Cascade Brewing and the Sour Beer Revolution

In 1998, Larrance founded Cascade Brewing, a brewery that would come to be renowned for its innovative approach to beer, particularly in the realm of sour ales. While many craft breweries focused on hop-forward IPAs and traditional styles, Larrance saw an opportunity to explore the largely untapped potential of sour and barrel-aged beers. Under his guidance, Cascade Brewing developed a reputation for its creative and high-quality sour ales, helping to popularize the style in the United States.

Cascade's success can be attributed to Larrance's willingness to experiment and his commitment to quality. The brewery's process involves aging beers in oak barrels with various fruits and wild yeast strains, resulting in complex, tart, and flavorful brews. Flagship offerings like the Cascade Apricot and the Bourbonic Plague have received acclaim from beer enthusiasts and critics alike, solidifying Cascade's position as a leader in the craft beer industry.

Legacy and Community Impact

Beyond his contributions to brewing, Larrance has been a tireless advocate for the beer community. He co-founded the Oregon Brewers Festival in 1988, an event that has grown to become one of the largest and most influential beer festivals in the United States. This festival not only celebrates the diversity of craft beer but also serves as a platform for educating the public and supporting local brewers.

Larrance's dedication to his craft and community has earned him numerous accolades, including induction into the Oregon Beer Hall of Fame. His work has inspired countless brewers and has left an indelible mark on the industry. Through Cascade Brewing, Larrance has demonstrated that innovation and a commitment to excellence can drive a brewery to international acclaim.

In conclusion, Art Larrance's impact on the craft beer world is profound and far-reaching. From his early efforts to support and grow the industry through legislative change, to his pioneering work with sour ales at Cascade Brewing, Larrance has helped shape the landscape of American craft beer. His legacy is one of passion, innovation, and community, and his contributions will continue to influence brewers and beer lovers for generations to come.

From Cascade online…

Northwest Sours

At Cascade Brewing, we apply the term Northwest Sour Ale to our beers as a way of defining our product outside the parameters of the common preset categories of beer that may otherwise limit creativity and innovation. These northwest sour ales are barrel-aged and feature a clean, lactic acid profile produced by our own house culture of lactobacillus bacteria. Another major component of our northwest sour ale includes our use of fresh ingredients grown exclusively in the Pacific Northwest, such as cherries, apricots, berries and grapes. In part, however, the term northwest sour ale will always maintain a certain lack of definition that allows us the creative space to constantly approach our beers in new ways

Why is sour beer so expensive?

The process of making quality sour beer isn’t cheap! While most styles of ale can be made in less than a month using basic brewing equipment, sour beer can take significantly longer to produce – up to three years in some cases – and requires huge investment in specialty equipment. Storage of sour beer requires large warehouse spaces in which to house the beer during the aging process. Additional costs such as barrels, racks, blending tanks, cellar staff, and ingredients all add significant costs to making sour beer that traditional non-sour breweries don’t incur. The tradeoff, however, is that sour beer can achieve a level of uniqueness and complexity that few other beer styles can match. Experiencing the sophisticated flavors and aromas found in sour beer can be a revelation to the uninitiated. In fact, sour ales are often considered the finest beers produced in the world.

Is sour beer new?

Surprisingly, no, sour beers have been around since humans began brewing beer thousands of years ago. In fact, it’s likely that most beers in brewing history were, indeed, sour. This is because acid-producing bacteria exist everywhere – in the air, on the ingredients, in fermentation vessels, even on your skin! It is only with the industrial revolution and increased scientific knowledge of sanitation that brewers gained the ability to prevent beer from souring naturally. Since that time, most beers have brewed to be non-sour, however, as craft brewers seek to push the boundaries of creativity, sour beers have made a roaring return to the market.