PORTLAND, Ore. – Oh the weather outside was frightful, but the fest was so delightful. More than 13,000 beer fans braved record cold temperatures to attend the 18th annual Holiday Ale Festival, which took place Dec. 4th through 8th at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. Collectively, they helped raise $17,000 for the Children Cancer Association (CCA)’s MusicRx program, which delivers the healing power of music to children battling cancer and their families.
All the proceeds brought in from the on-site coat check, the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden, a raffle, and sales of the festival’s classic pin up girl posters and temporary tattoos were earmarked for the CCA. At the festival’s conclusion, organizers counted all the funds, rounded up to the nearest $1,000, then doubled it, and doubled it again for the final donation.
The NW’s only outdoor winter beer festival once again proved that there is no more extreme venue for beer drinking than under clear topped heated tents in the heart of downtown. Past festivals have seen rain, snow, Ice and windstorms; this year added arctic cold to the list, with high temperatures in the mid-20s, a rarity in the moderate Northwest. But those who baved the elements were rewarded with the gift of more than 75 one-of-a kind beers, cider and braggot, at least four dozen of which were created specifically for the event.
“The festival may have been down in attendance this year due to the cold, but we saw many familiar faces and met new beer friends who traveled from as far as Australia specifically for the event,” explained festival manager Preston Weesner. “We heard nothing but the best comments about the brewers and beers that were featured; the brewers really outdid themselves, proving they are truly the gift that keeps on giving.”
The top 10 beers by consumption in the main lineup included: Eel River Gargantua Imperial Strong Ale Blend; 10 Barrel Beernog Spiced Winter Ale, Cascade Cherry Diesel Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Bear Republic Santa’s Lost Wallet Specialty Blend, 2 Towns Ciderhouse Bourbon Barrel Aged Nice & Naughty Spiced Cider, Oakshire Swiss Mrs. Alpine Alt Milk Chocolate Sticke Alt, Stone Brewing Spiced Unicorn Milk Chai Milk Stout, Firestone Walker Luponic Merlin Oatmeal Stout, Fort George Hogfather Imperial Porter and New Belgium Barrel Aged Cascara Quad.
The festival also featured nearly 30 one-off specialty kegs throughout the event, including a six-year vertical of Deschutes Brewing’s The Abyss; a once-in-a-lifetime micro sour blend with Cascade Brewing and Crooked Stave Brewery (only 275 tasters were available); and a meet the brewer with Bear Republic’s Peter Kruger.
The festival air was filled with more than beer buzz as attendees were treated to the fresh roasted nuts from Family Tree Nut Co., and tasty creations from the Waffle Window and The Hop & Vine. The 10th annual Beer and Brunch, a separate ticketed event held Sunday morning at the festival site, was yet again a sold out affair featuring vintage beers not at the regular festival and special large format bottles to pair with a European style breakfast.
The Holiday Ale Festival is a five-day event that annually starts the Wednesday following Thanksgiving. Dates for next year are Dec. 3 through 7. For more information, visit www.holidayale.com.