Attendees raise a glass to winter beers, ciders, braggot and mead at the 20th annual event
PORTLAND, Ore. – More than 14,000 beer fans packed into Pioneer Courthouse Square Dec. 2 through Dec. 6 to take part in the 20th annual Holiday Ale Festival. Collectively, they helped raise $20,000 for the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) 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/bag check, the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden, a raffle, and sales of the festival’s classic pin up girl posters were earmarked for the non-profit. Organizers rounded up the proceeds to the nearest $1,000 and then quadrupled the amount; the $20,000 check was presented to the CCA earlier this week.
The Northwest’s only outdoor winter beer festival featured 50 beers, ciders, mead and braggot in the main lineup, all of which were made or blended specifically for the event or were vintage offerings not commonly served in the region. The event is billed as an opportunity for brewers to connect with their fans, and this year’s lineup did not disappoint.
While all the products were well received, a few rose to the top in terms of popularity and buzz, including Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spiced Cider (served warm); Deschutes Brewery’s Pacific Wunderland (Munich IPA); Feckin Irish Brewing’s Top’ O The Feckin Mornin (Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Espresso Milk Porter); 54° 40’ Brewing’s Snowball Headed for Hell (White IPA); Eel River Brewing’s Gargantua III (Imperial Barrel Aged Strong Ale); Bear Republic Brewing’s Cuvee du Santa (Sour Brown Ale); and Fort George Brewery’s Deck the Helles (Barrel Aged Helles Lager).
The festival also featured 46 special tappings spaced out all five days of the event, including a four-year vertical of The Abyss by Deschutes Brewing. Fans were able to stay informed of the tappings and beer locations via a mobile app that was updated live at the event. Meet the Brewer events with Bear Republic’s Peter Krueger, Firestone Walker’s Keenan Delaney and Stone Brewing’s Dr Bill Sysak were standing room only affairs with the brewers surfing a sea of questions and fan appreciation.
The festival replaced its traditional opaque mugs with Govino tasting glasses made from a flexible BPA-free polymer that properly showcased the beverages. The shatterproof, recyclable and reusable Govino glasses were a huge hit with the attendees.
Event highlight included the onsite Oregon Lottery iClick Photo Booth, which provided instant festival memories with free hard copy photos; a table featuring rotating local beer writers peddling their wares, which offered excellent holiday gift opportunities; and the 12th annual Sunday Beer Brunch, a sold out affair with more than a third of the attendees coming from outside the Northwest to taste vintage beers and special large format bottles paired with a European style buffet. Food selections ranged from fresh roasted nuts and cheese to tasty creations from Urban German Grill and Bunk Sandwiches.
Advance tickets were more popular than ever, with holders experiencing expedited entry all five days. Those who took advantage of the VIP ticket option were pleased with the extra perks which included designated beer lines with little to no waiting, exclusive VIP-only vintage beers, and aged cheese to pair with the beers.
The Holiday Ale Festival is a five-day event that annually starts the Wednesday following Thanksgiving. Dates for 2016 are Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. For more information, visit www.holidayale.com.