When de Garde Brewing held its first public event at a bottle shop in Portland nearly two years ago, they had just a few beers on hand; the bubbly, sparkly, 2 percent-ABV Bu Weisse serving as its flagship. Time, it cannot be denied, has rewarded de Garde well.
That much was plain at de Garde's latest release event, held on its premises outside of Tillamook last weekend. Founder and head brewer Trevor Rogers first opened the wild-fermentation brewery in a small downtown building, which he outgrew almost instantaneously once word got around Portland about the delicate Berliner weisses, virtuosity with fruit adjuncts, and intense barrel-aged selection Rogers was conjuring up nearer the coast. Soon de Garde had a space in a business park nearby the Tillamook Air Museum; now it's taken over the whole building, lining it with dozens of barrels and several foeders—very large, upright barrels capable of carrying more than a thousand gallons of fermenting beer—that Rogers now uses to produce enough Bu Weisse for the entire state of Oregon.
Dozens of beers were available for tasting at the event, from special imperial versions of Bu infused with almost every type of berry you can think of to L'Hiver Mélange No. 1, a 9.3% ABV dark wild ale aged in oak bourbon barrels that tastes closer to liquor than beer. There were several guest taps, too, most notably a raspberry-lemon Berliner from Miami, Florida-based J Wakefield Brewing that reminded one more of Hi-C juice boxes than anything alcoholic. (Such "Florida weisses" are in heavy demand in the South, although most don't hold a candle to the Bu series.)
De Garde's taproom is open Thursday through Sunday, but watch the Facebook page for info on a 2nd anniversary party in May. If last week's release event was any indication, it'll be a must for any Oregonian who likes drinking on the wild side.