A Nature Walk in Casanova’s Beer Caves

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Pitchfork

I wasn’t expecting three miles.

When I told my mother-in-law I would just walk from Casanova’s Beer Cave Festival to her home afterward, I wasn’t expecting three miles. I thought one-and-a-half, two tops. I also wasn’t expecting sunshine and 60 degrees. I was expecting a mildly strenuous hike through gently heated air … you know, what we get at this time of year.

Instead, I trudged uuuup Coulee Rd., uuuup Carmichael Rd., and into the house. I crumpled up on the couch and flicked on ESPN. I was greeted by the gravelly rumble of Stephen A. Smith, talking through a mouthful of Floyd Meayweather’s cojones, and a whippet stomping all over my body.

*****

I met this dude a few years back who … oh, geez, it might have been during our introduction, even … boasted about a Facebook status he’d posted that garnered 30-some comments. I was confused: I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t envious, but I was something. Looking back, I guess I’d say pity.

Fast-forward and teleport over to the Deschutes tent at this festival. Pasted all over their tables were fliers flaunting their RateBeer scores. Is this the same as when restaurants headline their Groupon voucher descriptions with “1,300 Facebook likes!”? Positive ratings and Facebook likes are readily available for sale now. What’s the big deal?

I asked for a glass of their Fresh Squeezed IPA. I enjoy it regularly, and it scores a Joe Cool 99 on RateBeer.

Cave Entry

You can tell they’ve done this before at Casanova. It was laid out perfectly, and I don’t mean that in the figurative sense.

Dozens of outfits, hundreds of people, a stage, and a row of biffies were intricately fit into a square footage barely bigger than that of my apartment. They didn’t even need to block off the street, which floored me. There was the occasional belly dance through bystanders, of course, and I had to hit a few holes like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl, but it was the most organized gathering I’ve seen for its acreage.

An aside that matters: The history of Casanova is worth a read.

The cave paths were also well-defined: Selfies against the left wall, samples against the right, and the line snaked through between. It was out the entrance I watched the first bona fide drunk amble by. You know the type: Floppy cheap sweatshirt, probably a freebie from a construction company; gray hairs running for their lives from under a sweaty crapped-up cap; gait of a wannabe gangster teen, turned Tommyknocker. His gaze was just empty. At least his glass had some lacing.

That was the only man I could point at and say confidently, “He barfs tonight.” It seems Nova’s drinkers can handle what they put down. That kind of community is a nice one to drink around.

*****

 I snapped a picture of a tripel next to my glass and of course someone spoke up.

Untappd?” he said.
Nope,” I said.
Instagram?”
Nope.” I told him the truth: A friend bought a bottle of this for me, and going to send the picture to her. I hadn’t drank her bottle because I wanted to save it. The rep overheard me and told me I shouldn’t be doing that with this beer.

Pretty much every beer I have in my cellar, I’ve been told at one point or another I shouldn’t be aging. I’m still learning, maaaan!

I haven’t sent her the picture yet, and don’t plan to. What the hell point is there sending a tweet like “@CheyCab Look, it’s the beer you bought me. I haven’t drank that bottle yet but I tried it at @CasanovaLiquor #BeerCaveFest @Beersies #beer.” Imagine if that was YOUR 2-3 seconds that were flitted away by that literary jalopy.

My point is, I don’t need Untappd to remind me what beers were memorable … because I’d, you know, remember them.

Let’s take Pitchfork’s barley wine, for instance. It was a barley wine without everything I generally hate about barley wine.  It was smooth, refreshing, and it hid every bit of its 13-percent alcohol content. I don’t think they gave it a name, but I’m naming it Action Bronson. On an afternoon that saw plenty of barleywines poured, Pitchfork’s was a Pegasus among donkeys.

Stillwater’s Batch 800, also very nice. Oliphant’s brown sugar brown ale, I could’ve drank that the rest of the afternoon but I had three frickin’ miles to walk.

The end.

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