Holiday Ale Fest Rolls On…

With so many intrepidly adventurous beers on hand at Portland’s Holiday Ale Fest, it’s hard, if not impossible to knock out all the best ones in one day’s visit. Thank goodness, the organizers allotted five special days to pace your way through this seemingly daunting tasks.

In our last post, we covered some of the recommended beers provided to us at the opening evening’s media preview, but after we were set loose like fox hounds in the tent, we were able to sniff out some other gems that might have gone over looked.

Here’s some noteworthy beers Brewpublic strongly recommends you get a taste of before they disappear or the weekend ends without you experiencing them.

Laht Neppur owner/brewer Court RuppenthalLaht Neppur Waitsburg Winkle Warmer: You must be forewarned, if you don’t like pumpkin beers keep clear of this one. We happen to love a good pumpkin brew and the house yeast at Laht Neppur plays nicely with the spice of this hearty 8% ABV warmer. As the Winkle warms up the sweet orange peel, cinnamon, and clove come to life in this fitting dessertif treat. Sweet honey also gives the yeast room to work out a unique holiday flavor perfect for such an event. If you don’t envision yourself in the far stretches of Eastern Washington soon, then head down to the Ale Fest for this one. It may be your only opportunity to try brewer Court Ruppenthal‘s excellent brews anytime soon.

Belmont Station's Carl Singmaster (right) and The Beer Here's John FoystonOakshire Very Ill-Tempered Gnome: Sip slowly and enjoy this beer as it unfolds the characteristics of a monstrous brown ale.  Be careful, because like many of the beers on hand at HAF, this little guy will smurf you up. Lots of Northwest hops dance like sugarplums in your head. This beer is straight up and how we like it in these parts.We’re sure these guys from Eugene are even more giddy that their Oregon Ducks won the Civil War game.

An Ear For Beer's Charles Culp (left) and S.N.O.B. posterboy Ritch Marvin enjoy the fest under the heated tentSeven Brides Drunkel was a beer many folks got a big beer boner for at Brewpublic’s KillerBeerFest back in October. Now, if you missed that phat fest, you can wrap your taste buds around it once more. Brewed as a traditional strong ale, Drunkel will touch you in places you never thought possible. Employing a trio of hops (much unlike the giant brewery that claims to be “triple hops brewed”) and a mountain of malt.It’s a bold, fulfilling creeper that will come in for the K.O. if you aren’t careful. It is also noteworthy to mention that Seven Brides is the closest brewery to the Willamette Valley hop fields in Oregon. Support your local brewer!

Collaborator brewer and Steinbarts rep Michel J Brown (left) with AngeloStone Bourbon Barrel Arrogant Bastard Ale: When Stone initially unleashed the Arrogant Bastard some years back some faint hearted folks who like to drink fizzy yellow beer (also known as wussies) shuttered at the thought of such a big beer that was both malt driven and hop driven. Known for their ingredient bombs, the folks at Stone took their DGAF attitude and turned it up higher for this uber-aggressive brew. In the festival notes, in typical Stone style, the brewers’ note that they think you probably won’t like this beer or have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate ale of this quality and depth. Hold on to your tongue, this beer is cutting and super delish!

Vancouver crew: By the Bottle's Dave Nunez (left) and Salmon Creek Brewing's Larry Pratt

Vertigo brewer Michael Haines quaffs a brew at the HAFVertigo’s Arctic Blast is not a high alcohol brew. It’s not a super extreme brew either. What it is, like all their offerings, is a straight up tasty brew. Proving that a little Madagascar vanilla bean goes a hell of a long way, this inaugural Arctic Blast is subtly hopped and dangerous in the respect that a full mug will disappear and you will wonder where it all went. Look for the two Mikes who brew this beer in Hillsboro to continue to deliver more delectable products following a successful and well-received first year.

Holiday Ale Fest volunteers are the backbone to the eventSouthern Oregon Son of Santa Imperial Red is an amped up rendition of SOB’s beloved Woodshed Red with a big Munich spine and some flaked oats dressed with a buttload of high alpha Simcoe and Centennial hops  to cut through the 9% ABV grain underpinning. At 110 IBU it is also one of the hoppiest brews at the Holiday Ale Fest. Brewed in Medford, Oregon, it is a brewery we still want to visit. Unfortunately on our last visit it was the only one in the area we could not get a hold of. Hop heads rejoice!  This beer is for you!

Alchemy Brewing's Jason McAdam and his lovely wife KimNew Old Lompoc remembers friend and braggoteer Bob Farrell with this stupendously unique and delicious mead-beer hybrid. A blend of honey wine and malted barley, Bob’s Memorial Braggot was made with the mead of the late Mr. Farrell helped to brew just before his untimely death. Treat yourself to something unique while toasting a man who inspired others to creative such innovative libations. Cheers to Bob!

Hip server with cool shades pours a brew at Holiday Ale Fest '09

There’s still so many more beers that wet our appetite from just looking at their names on the Holiday Ale Fest guide. In total, more than 60 different kegs will be tapped and it is your duty to get down to Pioneer Courthouse Square and help drain those puppies!  See you there!

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