20th Annual Holiday Ale Festival – An Initial Rundown

Manageable crowd gathering on Day 1 of the 2015 Holiday Ale Festival.

As we transition into the weekend, the 20th Annual Holiday Ale Festival is asserting itself once again as the number one beer event of the season. Sure… it’s a wee bit cold and less-than-dry outside, but within these tents lie a comfortable safe haven. Following suit with previous years, the tap list consists of 50+ standard releases accompanied by specialty beers; several of which may never be seen again. While we were unable to sample every option during day one of the event, we were able to try a few beers that were worth mentioning:

Bear Republic’s Cuvee du Santa was a great festival exclusive. This beer combined the complexity of a Flanders Red, the weight of a Strong Scottish Ale, and a few unique spice additions to create a perfect alternate to the several Imperial Stouts and Barleywines at the fest.

Rogue’s Rye Barrel Aged Double Chocolate Stout should fulfill the needs of all the strong dark beer fans in attendance. This stout packs a huge chocolate flavor with a graham crackery malt bill and a vanilla addition reminiscent of the timeless campfire snack, s’mores.

O #HAF Tannenbaum [photo: Nick Rivers]
O #HAF Tannenbaum
Portland’s own Gigantic Brewery formulated a beer that should satisfy every spiced beer fan’s craving without being too over the top. Black Pieter is a strong Belgian Black Ale with notes of molasses, licorice, and clove supported by a light ester profile and a dry finish.

Firestone Walker decided to showcase their Imperial Smoked Walker’s Reserve at the Holiday Ale Festival. Essentially this beer is an imperial version of a smoked oatmeal porter with a large rolled oat addition to smooth out the bigger body of the beer. Unsurprisingly, Firestone has once again formulated another amazing high ABV dark beer which should satisfy any smoked beer fan’s palate.

The legendary Preston Weesner bravely holding court at the 2015 Holiday Ale Festival [photo credit: Nick Rivers]
The legendary Preston Weesner bravely holding court at the 2015 Holiday Ale Festival
Holiday Ale Festival is open to the public (21+) until Sunday, December 6th. Doors open at 11:00AM each day and close at 10:00PM, with the exception of Sunday night which will close early at 5:00PM. Showing up early never hurts, and taking a peek at the beer offerings in advance is always wise. In addition to beer offerings, food and cheese vendors will be available as well as meet the brewer events, a Sunday Beer Brunch, and a root beer garden for designated drivers. Check out the raffle raising funds for the Children’s Cancer Association.

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