The past weekend could have been one of the best beer weekends to date. But to be perfectly honest the memory is a tad jogged. Down at the Holiday Ale Fest in Pioneer Square, it was amazing how many friends and brewquaintences you can run into, and even better, it’s great to meet new people and get their perspective on beer and life (which to us is pretty much synonymous). Laymen and brewers clicked their plastic HAF mugs amidst intermittent roars that rumbled through like “the wave” at a baseball game. As always, it is essential for the craft beer enthusiast to get down under the tents early. In fact, our weekend really started on Wednesday, as the organizers of the HAF did a nice job of preparing for the swarms of festivalgoers by adding this extra day.
Whenever there’s a cool festival in town, the fixture beer outfits around the city step up their game as well offering a great line-up of seasons. Between our few sessions at the Ale Fest, we made a few essential stops to the Horse Brass pub to pull back from the mayhem that would inevitable ensue down at Pioneer Courthouse Square. On Friday we also happened over to New Old Lompoc’s 5th Quadrant SideBar to meet with event staff coordinator Amy Casanova. She and the other nice folks at Lompoc helped Brewpublic raise nearly $800 for start-up community radio station KZME during our Cocoa Hop. We are grateful for Amy and Lompoc’s contribution in this noble cause, and also to all the brewers and chocolaters who gave of themselves, their time, and their products.
While at the 5th Quadrant we witnessed the brewers and Green Bottling put the yummy seasonal C-Son’s Greetings into 22-ounce bombers. We were also reminded of Lompoc’s upcoming 8 Malty Nights event coming up on the 11th to kick off Chanukah.
Further north, we found ourselves over the border in Vancouver, Washington to pick up some essentials at By the Bottle and check out the collaboration brewing of Salmon Creek Brewpub‘s owner/brewer Larry Pratt with Seattle brewstar Tom Munoz. Munoz, a former brewer with Silver City teamed up with Pratt to put together a one-of-a-kind pale ale that should be ready to drink at Salmon Creek in a few weeks. See you there!
Later on Friday, we had a blast over at Belmont Station for a meet the brewer night with Bear Republic head brewer Peter Kruger. The Healdsburg, California brewer, we found out, has roots in Oregon brewing. Kruger was one of the early brewers at Full Sail in Hood River. Former Full Sail brewer Charlie Devereux of Double Mountain was on hand to say hello to his old friend and greet him with a growler of DM’s delicious Fa La La La La winter ale.Bear Republic’s delicious array of specialty and mainstay brews were the highlight of the night, and at the front and center was a Clobberskull wine barrel aged strong ale brewed with 10% split peas. Apparently the beer has a great history, and is of a recipe revitalized in Randy Mosher‘s pioneering book Radical Brewing.
While at Belmont Station, we also meet with Michael Branes of Migration Brewing, one of Portland’s newest breweries. Branes, who worked for some time at Mountain Peoples Distribution, was join by fellow Mountain People’s Oregon sales manager Tim Ensign, who was pouring samples Bear Republic brews as well.
Saturday, as blogged about earlier found us back under the hearkening tents at 11AM stat for twitterworthy special tappings of select Bear Republic beers like the Trebuchet, a Belgian trippel aged in 100-year-old cognac barrels and two special fruited “The Grizz” super brown ale–one with nectarines and another with blackberries–to accompany the might Old Baba Yaga that was kickin’ ass since Wednesday. The boozier than all ungodly sin Trebuchet was the first thing to hit my stomach on this fair day. A brewer friend said it was too much “nail polish” for him, but to me, I rendered it my breakfast of champions. Several other wonderful beer rounded out my HAF weekend. I have to admit this was the best one yet. In fact, despite others’ gripes, I honestly didn’t experience on dud in the lot.
After escaping the mob scene that was Pioneer Courthouse Square, we trudged off some of the liver burn by hoofing a few miles home to Southeast. We were not extinguished yet. There was still Green Bottling‘s holiday party at the cozy Horse Brass. Here, several local brewers raised a tall one to the great year and to Jack and Mike‘s successful year of bottling up some of Oregon’s finest like Lompoc, Full Sail, and Laurelwood. After just a few more lighter beers to rehydrate (Full Sail and Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ales), this one was in the bag.
Sunday was relatively mellow, save for a few brews shared with fellow blogger D.A. of Beer Around Town. All said and done, I think I may just hybernate until the ’10 Barley Wine and Big Beer Fest.