A week from today Pioneer Courthouse Square will be transformed into a winter beer paradise when the 20th Annual Holiday Ale Festival returns to Portland’s Living Room from Wednesday, December 2 through Sunday, December 6. This year’s festival will feature over 50 beers, ciders and meads that are sure to warm the 14,000 festival attendees over its five day run.
With a positive weather forecast on the horizon with some pleasant temps in the upper 40’s, the 2015 edition of the Holiday Ale Festival is sure to be good one. Regardless of the weather, attendees will once again be treated to the inviting clear-topped tents that are underneath the Portland area’s largest Christmas tree. As in year’s past there will be gas heaters to supplement and chill in the air to make the Holiday Ale Festival one of the most regarded festivals in the region.
However, it’s the beer that truly makes this festival one of the highlights of the year. Each and every year the organizers from the Holiday Ale Festival work with every brewery involved to make sure the brewery sends a beer that has either been made or blended specifically for the event, or is a rare or vintage beer that is not normally available within the state of Oregon.
The Standard Release Beers will be the beers that will be pouring all week long, or until the day’s allotment runs out. With over 50 offerings this year there are sure to be some tasty winter warmers in the bunch. Also look for the Limited Release Beers that will be also be pouring through Saturday. On Sunday don’t forget to order your tickets for the Sunday Beer Brunch here.
13 Virtues Brewing
Whiskey Barrel Aged MAX Stout
Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout • ABV: 9.0% • IBUs: 65
Take a deep breath and dive into this rich, complex Imperial Stout. The brewers used a mammoth malt bill – Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter, chocolate, roasted barley, Munich and caramel malts and flaked wheats and oats – to impart big roasty, burnt chocolate flavors and a smooth mouthfeel. The beer was then aged in Eastside Burnside bourbon barrels to add subtle notes of oak, vanilla and heat. Go ahead – get MAX Stout.
2 Towns Ciderhouse
Nice & Naughty: Bourbon and Candied Ginger Edition
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Holiday Spiced Cider • ABV: 11.0%
This extra-special version of Nice and Naughty honey-spiced cider was aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for one year. In addition, each barrel was infused with crystallized ginger. Integrated and complex, this holiday treat boasts lavish aromas of caramelized sugar, subtle ginger, spices and baked pie crust.
54*40′ Brewing Co.
Snowball Headed for Hell
White IPA • ABV: 6.7% • IBUs: 70
54°40′ Brewing Co. crafted this bright and citrusy White IPA to remind us all of the faded warmth of summer, back when Coke was still cola, and a joint was a bad place to be. Mandarina Bavaria hops and tangerine peel mingle with seasonal spices of peppercorn and mace in this wheat based IPA. Raise a glass to the season and let’s all ring the Liberty Bell.
Alameda Brewing Co.
Cookies for Papa
Olde Ale • ABV: 8.0% • IBUs: 32
What’s better than milk and cookies? Cranberry chocolate chip cookie beer! Starting with its Papa’s Olde Ale, the brewers bumped up the ABV and body with honey malt and oats. They then added cranberries, cocoa nibs and bourbon vanilla beans to create a sweet holiday treat. Set this beer by the fireplace and you’re sure to wake up with plenty of presents under your tree.
Brett Trois the Great aka the Inebriated Phrunken Elf
Imperial Stout with “Bruxellensis” Trois • ABV: 10.2% • IBUs: 80
Holiday traditions run deep and that’s precisely why the brewers decided to create a truly “untraditional” Imperial Stout. The result is a BIG inky black stout with the unique finish of the wildly misunderstood Saccharomyces “Bruxellensis” Trois (formerly thought to be in the brettanomyces family). With slightly tart and delicate mango and pineapple characteristics, this pairs nicely to the vanilla and Bergamot used during the final stages of the boil.
Baerlic Brewing Co.
Smoked Imperial Porter • ABV: 8.3% • IBUs: 60
With aromas of nuts, dark fruit and campfire that transcend into layers of chocolate, toffee and caramel, this beast of a beer will fire up your belly and make you howl. Brewed with house-made Dulce de Leche.
Base Camp Brewing Co.
Bourbon Barrel TripleBock
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Triple Bock • ABV: 9.5% • IBUs: 38
Base Camp Brewing Co., in collaboration with Eastside Distilling, is proud to unleash its Bourbon Barrel TripleBock Lagerbier – a decoction mashed, 100% Munich malt, extra strong doppelbock lager, mellowed out over four months in Eastside Distilling’s Burnside bourbon barrels. Inviting, malty, comforting and smooth.
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Cuvee du Santa
Sour Brown Ale • ABV: 8.5% • IBUs: 15
Bear Republic’s blenders – together with Santa’s Little Helper Preston Weesner – collaborated to bring this special holiday treat to life. The team selected five outstanding Cuvee de Bubba barrels and added a bit of heft with the addition of a barrel aged Scottish Wee Heavy. This was brought to life with the addition of toasted marshmallow, cinnamon, vanilla and figs.
Burnside Brewing Co.
Spiced Rum Barrel-Aged Eisbock • ABV: 9.6% • IBUs: 32
This is a strong, full-bodied malty beer brewed in the Bock tradition. The brewery chilled the bright tanks to below freezing for a number days to create an “icy” atmosphere prior to cold aging in spiced rum barrels for three weeks. This lager-fermented treat will warm your tummy during the cold winter months.
Chetco Brewing Co.
The Bussmann’s Holiday
Imperial Porter • ABV: 7.9% • IBUs: 13
Chetco Brewing Co. and Bussmann’s Cranberry Farm are kindred spirits: two small, family-owned operations located on the gorgeous Southern Oregon Coast that have come together to create a deliciously rich and creamy Imperial Porter that has just the right amount of sweetness as it is made with Bussmann’s own fresh cranberries right out of Sixes, Oregon and 60lbs of organic coconut.
Coin Toss Brewing Co.
Santa’s Pie Hohl
Cherry Ginger Stout • ABV: 6.0% • IBUs: 35
Santa’s Pie Hohl is Coin Toss Brewing Co.’s inaugural brew for the Holiday Ale Festival. Two-row pale malt, roasted barley, crystal and flaked oats and ginger root made up the mash. It was then hopped with Nugget, Galena and Northern Brewer and finished with sour cherry puree. Drink it down your Pie Hohl!
Munich IPA • ABV: 6.2% • IBUs: 55
Bavarian Oktoberfest meets American IPA! The malt character is driven by Munich malt with support from Vienna and Pilsner malts, providing a smooth, soft and complex malt character. Hops lend in with berry and fruit aromas, light spice, and finish with balanced bitterness.
Drake’s Brewing Co.
Zin Barrel Aged Drakonic
Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout Blend • ABV: 9.0% • IBUs: 40
This year, exclusively for the Holiday Ale Festival, Drake’s barrel program manager Travis Camacho worked with festival manager Preston Weesner to create a blend of Drakonic Imperial Stout that was aged for 8 months in Zinfandel barrels along with another zin barrel of Drakonic soured with Lactobacillus. The final blend showcases a balanced chocolate and bright berry profile with mild acidic tartness that bolsters the wine barrel characteristics.
Frosty Leo Winter Ale
Winter Ale • ABV: 8.3% • IBUs: 65
Frosty Leo is brewed in the English Old Ale style: beers brewed for the cold months. Frosty Leo is reddish brown with big, sweet malt flavors. The beer has a full, rich body with loads of hop flavor and aroma from Sterling and Citra hops. The beer is named after the Frosty Leo Nebula in the constellation Leo.
Eel River Brewing Co.
Barrel-Aged Imperial Strong Ale • ABV: 12.3% • IBUs: 80
This third generation of Gargantua started its life as an Imperial Strong ale brewed with floor malted Marris Otter barley and premium English and German specialty malts. It was then blended with a strong ale that was aged for six months in bourbon barrels. This final blend was then aged on Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and figs for a rich and decadent holiday twist.
Ex Novo Brewing Co.
Weapons of Mass Fermentation
Belgian Quad • ABV: 11.5% • IBUs: 18
The brewery used European malts and Belgian rock sugar to create a complex malty beer. Deep garnet in color, an extended boil creates rich and complex caramel and fruit notes punctuated by the addition of cranberry for a tart and clean finish. The subtle use of cardamom and higher alcohol create a nice warming beer for a cold winter day.
Fat Heads Brewing
Holly Jolly Aged on Plums
Spiced Brown Ale • ABV: 7.5% • IBUs: 28
The brewers created this beer with aromas and flavors of Christmas day in mind, including sweet malt, ginger, honey, nutmeg and cinnamon spice. For this special release, it was then aged on plums.
Top’ O The Feckin Mornin
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Espresso Milk Porter • ABV: 10.5% • IBUs: 30
Seasoned in bourbon barrels from Eastside Distilling, copious amounts of cold brew coffee from Happy Rock Roasters is added to an Imperial Porter. Vanilla beans, Irish steel cut oats from Bob’s Red Mill and Irish ale malt all play a role in this delicious monster of a porter that is sure to have you feeling feckin great. Whether you are winding down with this pint before bed or having it for breakfast, you’re sure to have a lovely feckin day. Slainte!
Finnriver Farm & Cidery
Barrel in the Forest
Barrel-Aged Botanical Cider • ABV: 6.5%
A blend of select organic Washington apples robustly infused with locally gathered Grand and Douglas Fir tips as well as raw, organic fair trade ginger root, resulted in a cider with resinous lemon rind aromatics and undertones of ginger warmth. This small batch release was aged five months in straight rye American oak whiskey barrels and blended with medium toast staves to call forth sweet holiday notes of vanilla and bourbon.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Imperial Smoked Walker’s Reserve
Imperial Smoked Porter • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 50
Imperial Smoked Walker’s Reserve is a throwback to an original staple in early Firestone history: Walker’s Reserve Porter. The brewers enhanced the original recipe and incorporated the addition of Weyermann Beech smoked malt as a majority of the base malts, lending a noticeable yet subtle smoke profile complementing the rich chocolate and caramel flavors. The use of rolled oats in the mash provide for a thick and chewy body.
Fort George Brewery
Deck the Helles
Barrel-Aged Helles Lager • ABV: 9.5%
Deck the Helles for Holiday Ale Fest, Fa La La La La, La La La La; Fort George Brewery sends their very best, Fa La La La La, La La La La; See the rolling boiling kettle….Toss in fragrant Hibiscus petals…Fermented with Bohemian Lager…Makin’ beer here, not egg nogger….Aged all fall in Pinot barrels…Bet you’re tired of Christmas Carols….Fa La La La La, La La La La!
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheat Wine
Barrel-Aged Wheat Wine • ABV: 12.0% • IBUs: 42
Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheat Wine was brewed in the Barleywine style, using 100% malted wheat and left to age in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels for 10 months. It pours a rich honey hue and opens up with complex oak aromas of vanilla and caramel blended nicely with notes of toffee, marmalade and dates. Barrel aging rounds out this big beer by adding a rich tannic structure.
Belgian Style Strong Black Ale • ABV: 8.4% • IBUs: 23
If you’re good, Santa will give you an orange. If you’re bad, Black Pieter will put you in a sack and take you to Spain, where you can enjoy this strong, richly malty ale with a light, spicy counterpoint to the fruity yeast esters.
Golden Valley Brewery
Whiskey Barrel Aged Old Relic
Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale • ABV: 8.5% • IBUs: 26
This is a blend of two separate batches of Old Relic Scotch Ale. The first, brewed in December 2014, was aged eleven months in Oregon Whiskey barrels from Ransom Wines and Spirits. Batch number two was brewed in September and aged two months in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. The result is malty, yet balanced, with notes of oak, whiskey and peat.
Hopworks Urban Brewery
2 Fest, 2 Furious
Imperial Marzen • ABV: 8.5% • IBUs: 45
Hopworks Urban Brewery brewed an Imperial version of its Oktoberfest beer “Fest of Fury.” This souped up Marzen features caramel and toasted malts, with dark sugar and candied flavors from Garnet and Apache yams. Ya’ might want to keep your eyes on the road!
Kettle-Soured Golden Ale • ABV: 6.0% • IBUs: 33
Starting with lots of organic ginger for hints of spiced gingerbread cookies, the brewers added turmeric for a golden color and deep earth notes, adding another level of spice to this winter ale. A hit of fresh lemon juice adds tartness to the palate and extra depth to the sour flavors of the ale. These same ingredients also play a role in winter health tonics, so by adding a bit of sour beer, this could possibly be the cure for the common cold as we know it.
Klamath Basin Brewing Co.
Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stout
Oak-Aged Imperial Stout • ABV: 9.1% • IBUs: 64
The name says it all: this is a big, bold Imperial Stout clocking in at 9.1%, so treat it with respect. Aged on American white oak staves in the conditioning tank for over a month, this beer has plenty of toasted oak and vanilla character to complement the roasted and chocolate malt backbone and oatmeal, leading into a dangerously smooth finish.
Whores & Amateurs
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer • ABV: 6.5% • IBUs: 30
Aged in bourbon barrels for six months, this beer is not for the faint of heart. Brownish red in color, this winter warmer has a big malt presence with notes of oak, raisins, toffee and coffee. Ladies of the night and rookies should steer clear of this awesome beer.
Lord of Misrule II
Barrel-Aged Imperial Nut Brown Ale • ABV: 8.4% • IBUs: 26
Appointing a Lord of Misrule, the official in charge of Christmas revelries and the Feast of Fools, is a holiday-time peasant tradition that can be traced back to Roman times. A new lord is elected every year, and so must a new beer be brewed. This complex ale was brewed with cacao nibs and roasted hazelnuts and aged in rum and whiskey barrels post-fermentation with fruit and a house-made hazelnut extract. NUT ALLERGY WARNING!
Black Hearted IPA
Black IPA • ABV: 7.3% • IBUs: 80
This IPA is dark as night with a medium body and a bready malt profile. Huge additions of Centennial, Amarillo and Sorachi Ace hops give this Black Hearted beer standout notes of citrus, pine and spice.
Pumpkin is the New Black
Pumpkin Ale/Imperial Milk Stout Blend • ABV: 7.2% • IBUs: 47
Natian has brought back its Imperial Milk Stout from festivals past, but with a blend of pumpkin ale to help spice up the offering. The Imperial Milk Stout is brewed with lactose and chocolate malt then aged on Kahlua soaked oak, while the pumpkin ale is also brewed with lactose and mild additions of spices to allow the actual pumpkin flavor to come forward.
Sour Session Mead • ABV: 6.5%
Triple Brett is a 100% barrel fermented sour session mead from pure Oregon carrot blossom honey. Made by blending three different strains of brettanomyces, Triple Brett is tart and sour with aromas of honeysuckle and chamomile.
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Blackberry Barley Wine
Barley Wine • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 50
Blackberry Barley Wine channels the elegant spirit of classic English barley wine, but with a kiss of blackberry to elevate the sip beyond convention. A deep wash of caramelized sugar and toasted bread, courtesy of caramel Munich malts, adopts subtle laces of floral, fruity berries for a pairing as proper as sipping snifters beside a crackling fireplace. Warming, rich and complex, curl up to a pour of Blackberry Barley Wine this winter.
Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Ground Control
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 80
Ground Control boldly combines local and out-of-this-world ingredients. This rich, complex Imperial Stout is brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise and cocoa nibs, and is fermented with an Ale yeast that survived a trip to space and back. This special Holiday Ale Fest batch has been barrel aged for two months in Four Roses bourbon barrels.
Barrel-Aged Strong Rye Barleywine • ABV: 9.5% • IBUs: 20
Lime, ginger and rye from Copper Donkey provide citrus, spice and an underlying bready character. Wheat Whiskey Barrel Aged Barley Wine provides body, sweetness, vanilla, oak and whiskey flavors. The combination is a unique winter beer with bright lime notes melding with an oaky, spicy character. Rye sweetness delivers the impression of gingerbread spiked with warming whiskey.
Hot Cakes, Brunch Ale
Imperial Breakfast Brown Ale • ABV: 8.5% • IBUs: 22
Inspired by the Oakshire Brewing team’s love of French toast, this big brown ale is crafted with a healthy dose of oats and maple syrup and then further spiced with cinnamon and vanilla beans. Notes of sweet maple syrup drip over a chewy and silky full-bodied brown ale, while hints of spicy cinnamon and vanilla punctuate the background of this big, brown ale.
Payette Brewing Co.
Imperial Mutton Buster
Oak-Aged Imperial Brown Ale • ABV: 8.7% • IBUs: 50
Imperial Mutton Buster takes one of the brewery’s staples and turns is up a notch. After doubling the ingredients in its Mutton Buster recipe, the brewers aged this beer on oak spires and cherries to add layers of complexity to an already fantastic beer. The nutty and chocolate notes from the malts are complemented nicely by the added cherry sweetness to make for a perfect holiday beer.
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
Winter Abbey Spice
Spiced Cider • ABV: 7.4%
This cider is a take on a very old recipe dating from early 1600s colonial America, with a modern twist of added carbonation. The cidery used raisins, unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and fermented this libation to dryness with oak. This special Holiday Ale Fest batch was made with prune juice and is being served warm to abate the winter chill.
Rogue Ales Brewery
Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Chocolate Stout
Whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Chocolate Stout • ABV: 9.0% • IBUs: 68
To craft this brew, Rogue Ales combined its Double Chocolate Stout with cacao nibs and vanilla from Madagascar in oak barrels previously used to age its Oregon Rye Whiskey, then barrel aged it in the ocean air of Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon.
Rusty Truck Brewing
Saison de Noel
Saison • ABV: 9.0% • IBUs: 25
One hundred and fifty pounds of simmered cranberries, along with orange peel and holiday spices, were added to this Noble hopped, Munich malt-based heavy French Saison.
Santiam Brewing Co.
Sangre de Cristo
Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout • ABV: 10.7% • IBUs: 58
Conceived for the depths of an Oregon winter, Santiam Brewing’s Imperial Stout, co-fermented with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, is big and dark with chocolate and red wine notes. This batch is wine barrel aged exclusively for the Holiday Ale Festival.
Sasquatch Brewing Co.
Sister Skookum Saison
Imperial Saison • ABV: 8.5% • IBUs: 35
This Imperial Saison was made for the cold, dark months of winter. A simple base of Belgian pilsner malt and German wheat allows the complex, fruity esters of a house blend of two different Belgian yeasts to shine through. Czech Saaz, Merkur and Willamette hops offer a subtle bittering profile. Grains of paradise and rose hips were added to the boil for spicy white pepper notes and a floral, citrusy finish.
Seven Brides Brewing
Old Ale • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 60
Use extreme caution when dealing with the Drunkle. While sometimes hard to spot at first, you always know when you have been found by this bleary eyed fellow. Premium malt and Northwest hops blend to create flavors of toffee, caramel and chocolate in this delicious winter treat. Best consumed in groups to avoid yourself becoming the boorish and overly-talkative Drunkle.
Stone Brewing Co.
Imperial Black WitBier • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 40
Twice the wit, still the same moron. An Imperial version of the back to back GABF (2014 Gold, 2015 Bronze) medal-winning Witty Moron, this deceptive dark wheat ale features the sexy look of a stout, but with the refreshing flavor of a Belgian witbier. To help with the winter season, Stone made this version even wittier with a generous boost of alcohol and flavor to keep all the morons happy.
Hoppy Smoked Ale • ABV: 7.5% • IBUs: 85
In honor of winter and changes to weed; StormBreaker brewed a beer that everyone needs. It brewed something wintry and smoky, hoppy and dank too; for this holiday season the brewers offer it to you. The ABV is 7.5 with 85 IBU; but don’t worry, no bud was harmed in this brew. So if you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza or Hanukkah; celebrate right with a pint of Happy Marijuanica.
Two Kilts Brewing Co.
Earls of Orkney
Wheatwine • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 45
Amber in color with rich malty flavors and aromas, Earls of Orkney is a smooth, drinkable beer. A very big mouthfeel is present due to the insane amount of wheat malt that goes into this beer. Imbibe carefully as this one packs a little kick!
Insomnia Coffee Cream Ale
Coffee Cream Ale with Lactose • ABV: 6.2% • IBUs: 13
The brewers are “amped” up about this year’s festival and have created an ale for both beer drinkers and coffee lovers alike. This cream ale brewed with lactose produced a smooth, creamy and slightly sweet base beer which was then infused with a copious amount of cold brewed Tortoiseshell blend coffee. Beer drinkers and coffee lovers unite!
Viking Braggot Co.
Braggot • ABV: 7.5% • IBUs: 20
Skadi (pronounced SKAHD-ee) in Norse mythology is the goddess of winter who lives in the highest reaches of the mountains where the snow never melts. Viking Braggot pays tribute to this goddess with a dubbel-style braggot brewed to be enjoyed during these cold winter months. An organic grain bill is paired with local clover honey and moonshine soaked raisins to lend to a complex balance of malty richness and fruity esters. Skol!
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
Imperial Rye Stout • ABV: 9.3% • IBUs: 60
Angel’s Reign is an Imperial Rye Stout aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels and is made with three types of malted rye to give a wonderful spiciness. Midnight wheat is added to the malt bill, lending a hint of creaminess that rounds out the palate. Pilgrim and East Kent Goldings lend pleasing flavors of orange, pear, lavender and honey. The finish has hints of alcohol and vanilla reminding you who is the king. Angel’s Reign is one of might and righteousness!
Wild Ride Brewing
Hib Hop Hibiscus Ale
Hibiscus Ale • ABV: 5.5% • IBUs: 18
Hib Hop Hibiscus Ale is a lighter winter beer here to brighten your season. This blonde ale with a twist gets its flavor and color from the addition of hibiscus, which adds a cranberry-like tartness and a beautiful pink hue to this light-bodied beer.
Entry to the 2015 Holiday Ale Festival will be $35.00. If purchased in advance this entry package includes the all-new 2015 tasting cup, 14 taster tickets, plus expedited entry all five days. General admission at the door is also $35.00, but only includes 12 tickets and no expedited entry. Advanced tickets can be purchased until 10:00am on Wednesday, December 2nd and may be purchased here.
For the big rollers there’s an Advance VIP package that costs $100.00 and include the tasting cup, 30 taster tickets, special VIP beer lines with little to no waiting, exclusive VIP only vintage beers, bottled water, and express entry all five days. Advance tickets may be purchased here.
Once inside the festival, a full beer costs four taster tickets, and a taster costs one ticket. Certain limited release and special tappings may not be available in full pours, or may cost double tickets. Additional beer tickets can be purchased for only $1.00 apiece. Previous years’ mugs will not be filled. Express re-entry requires a wristband and the 2015 tasting cup, and is subject to the festival’s capacity.
Designated drivers in a party of two or more may purchase a designated driver wristband for $15, which includes Crater Lake Root Beer or bottled water for the duration of the stay; the festival will match all Designated Driver tickets sold as well as root beer sales and donate all the proceeds to the Children’s Cancer Association.
Doors open each day at 11:00am and close at 10:00pm. On Sunday, the closing day, doors will close at 5:00pm. In addition to beer tasting, the festival also features meet the brewer events, a root beer garden, food vendors, self-guided beer pairings with cheese, event merchandise and a coat/bag check and raffle that raises funds for the Children’s Cancer Association. The event is for ages 21+.
Pioneer Courthouse Square 701 SW Sixth Ave Portland, OR
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.