Festival Preview: WA: WA Winter Fest is coming, 12/2 – 12/3. Here’s our thoughts

image of The Ram's gingerbread house courtesy of our Flickr page If you’re reading this during the week of November 23rd, then you pretty much can say that Winter is definitely not here yet. So far we have endured a couple of inches of rain, strong winds, and a complete lack of snow. But hey, there is always hope come December.

Which is why we are happy to announce the return of the Winter Beer Festival at where else but Hale’s Ales Palladium. Starting on Friday December 2nd and running thru Saturday December 3rd, the festival is a celebration of Winter Ales, Winter Warmers, and all beers that remind us that Thanksgiving is gone, but Christmas will soon be here.

This year’s festival will feature 33 breweries and over 75 different beers. Some of the styles so far announced include Barleywine (aka, Barley Wine), Winter Ale, Winter Warmer, Strong Ale, and of course Imperial Porter, Imperial Stout, and good ole’ IPA.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $25 or you can purchase them online via Brown Paper tickets and save $2. Admission includes a tasting cup and six 5oz beer tastes. Additional tokens are available for $1.50 each. Designated driver admission is $5 and available at the door only. Make sure to show up with cash, as the event will not be taking Credit Cards.

We decided to take a more sensible approach and pick the ones that we are most interested in. Keep in mind if we had two livers and six kidneys we would love nothing more than to try them all. If we didn’t pick your brewery or beer it was only because the threat of a hospital stay was too strong a deterrent.

Finally to make things more interactive we linked each our picks to Untappd’s mobile site. What is Untappd?

“Untappd is a new way to socially share and explore the world of beer with your friends and the world"

So sign up, login, and check-in your choices for this year’s Winter Beer Fest, on Uptappd.

image of 7 Seas pint glass courtesy of our Flickr page 7 Seas Brewing

This seasonal offering is fashioned with reverence towards the long-standing tradition of Trappist Abbey-style beers of Belgium. Brewed with Pale Ale malt, oats, and dark crystal malts, hopped with Fuggles, and fermented with authentic Belgian Abbey yeast, the ale reveals intricate layers of spice, fig, bitter chocolate and delicate alcohol. An inviting, yet complex brew that implores us to relax, silence ourselves, and take a moment to appreciate what’s genuine, simple, and beautiful in life. 8% ABV

Our Thoughts. Belgian-style Trappist Ale in December? At 8% this will definitely keep you warm while negotiating the lines at the Palladium.

Big Al Brewing

… our take on the classic & traditional PBDA (that would be a Peanut Butter Dark Ale  for the non-beer geeks out there) 7.5% ABV

Our Thoughts. For those not planning a trip to Strange Brewfest 2012 this will be as close as you get to tasting a ‘strange’ Big Al beer. We have enjoyed similar food-inspired beers from Al & company. So we might just make a B-Line to their booth first.

Big Time Brewery

A dark Christmas Ale not fk'ed up with spices.  Complex malt character from multiple crystal malts. 7.3% ABV

Our Thoughts. A classic Winter Warmer for those living in Seattle. Consider us sentimental.

Black Raven Brewing

Porter aged in a bourbon barrel with chocolate and coffee. 6.2% ABV

Double IPA with cranberries, ginger and herbs. 9.1% ABV

Our Thoughts. Despite our best efforts we haven’t made the trip to try their Gunpowder. And frankly the idea of having Wisdom Seeker with holiday ingredients sounds curious.

image of Boundary Bay's Ed Bennett courtesy of our Flickr page Boundary Bay Brewery

Traditionally strong, this ale is a unique beer with a similar malt profile to its more famous cousin Scotch whiskey. Roasted, unmalted barley provides a distinctive flavor. A thick creamy head and a beautiful red hue are two of the trademark results of its brewing process. Hopped just long enough to achieve balance with the malt, the end product is incredibly smooth with a finish that lingers. This brew was aged in a Dry Fly Distillery Whiskey Barrel. We are thrilled to be collaborating with this new distillery located in Spokane, WA. Original Gravity: 1.064

Our Thoughts. Outside of beer we enjoy a nice scotch, bourbon, or whiskey. Think of this as West meet Eastern Washington with inclusion of the Whiskey barrels from Dry Fly (Spokane).

Diamond Knot Brewery     

A robust ‘winter warmer’ ale, ruby brown in color with a slightly sweet, fruity nose. Very hoppy, yet balanced with a sturdy malt foundation. 60 IBUs; 8.5% ABV

Our Thoughts. Balancing out this list of Porters, Stouts, and Belgian-style ales, we thought we might return back to a Winter Warmer.

Elliott Bay Brewing

We dug deep in the cellar to fashion this one-of-a-kind blend of three different beers which were aged in oak barrels

Our Thoughts. Honestly we have no idea how this is going to taste. Take a chance and spend a token.

Flyers Restaurant and Brewery

A rich black oatmeal stout infused with coffee from Fidalgo Bay Roasting Co.. Smooth and very easy to drink, beer for breakfast you bet! English Barley Malts, and a generous portion of oats are used along with English Challenger Hops for balance. 7% ABV

Our Thoughts. We recall last year’s attempt at a ‘Breakfast beer and are curious if any changes have been made. Check this one out a second time.

Foggy Noggin Brewing     

A mouthful of sweetened roasty flavors that linger long as a roasty dryness. Satisfying in every respect and a pint of the holiday spirit each time. Everyone deserves to celebrate Christmas year-round. Jingle Beers! Jingle Beers. 6.6% ABV

Our Thoughts. Long since a traditional homebrewed beer, Christmas Duck emerges (again) as a full blown release.

Icicle Brewing

Deep brown lager with ruby highlights. Heavy, rich, and sweet malt notes carry this beer, with a slight warming sensation at the finish. Bocks were originally brewed in Germany, with the Doppelbock variation being attributed to the Paulaner Monks of Munich, who brewed this beer for their fasts when they were not allowed solid food. Doppelbocks served as “liquid bread”.  21 IBU. 7% ABV

Our thoughts. Admittedly we haven’t made the trip to Leavenworth to check these guys out. So this is a definite brewery to sample, if just once. Hopefully it won’t be your last.

image of Santa 'Dude' courtesy of Naked City & our Flickr page Naked City Brewery & Taphouse

English Style Old Ale aged on a combination of Bing and Tart Montmorency Cherries. 8% ABV

Our Thoughts. Adding some variety to the list we would like you to consider what an English-style Old Ale tastes like with cherries.

Pike Brewing Company

Hops: Chinook, Willamette, Columbus, Goldings, Malts: Pale, Crystal and Roasted IBU 80 9.00% ABV

Our Thoughts. Regrettably we don’t stop into the brewery at the ‘Market often enough. If you see Dean say hey.

Ram Restaurant & Brewery   

"The beer formerly known as Seligher" - A festive strong ale deep copper hued with a sturdy malt backbone and assertive hop character - pouring 2009, 2010 and 2011 9.5% ABV

Our Thoughts. Named for those braving a stroll through the Northgate mall, this beer has been a staple at the brewery for a few years. If you can’t make it to the brewery in the Northgate Mall, then spend a token for four ounces.

Schooner EXACT

Back by popular demand, this version of our classic brown ale is perfect for those dark Seattle evenings. Malty, rich nutty brown mingles with the energizing flavors of Schooner EXACT’s own hand-roasted espresso.

Our Thoughts. Honestly this is another beer that we can’t recall ever having. So in the true spirit of the festival, we are taking a leap of faith. Based on the description we have to presume this as an oasis from the Winter Ales, Winter Warmers, and ‘Strong’ beers.

Silver City Brewery

Silver City Restaurant and Brewery is proud to present this limited batch of our very own British style barley wine ale. Old Scrooge is a rich and malty ale with all the character of a fine wine. Its character will fully develop over time. Intriguing notes of apple, cherry and apricot occur naturally as a result of its unique fermentation and extended aging. To fully appreciate this special Christmas Ale, we recommend serving it in a brandy glass near 55 F and slowly savored. 8.5% ABV

Our Thoughts. Ever since we were introduced to Don Spencer’s take on the English-style Strong Ale / Barleywine, we have been smitten by this beer. Course it doesn’t hurt that this beer is a multi-medal winner.

Slippery Pig Brewery

Dark and malty Doppelbock. Brewed with local blackberries.  10% ABV

Our Thoughts. Another new brewery that have yet to visit. With a name like Emasculator we are a wee bit curious. But depending on if we go both days or not, will determine if we have this beer, on top of the rest.

Snipes Mountain Brewery 

Imperial Oatmeal Chocolate Stout 8.5%

Our Thoughts. Grab some chocolate from the Theo’s booth and try this Oatmeal Chocolate Stout.

image of Two Beers volunteers from 2009's Winter Fest courtesy of +Russ's Flickr page Two Beers Brewing

20:20 Blonde infused with lavender, rose, currants and elderberries

Our Thoughts. We can’t say enough about alternating between something strong and something light, in alcohol. Go with the Two Beers Blonde.

Wingman Brewers

Brewed with black cherry tea and fermented with cherries.  The tea adds a delicious herbal bite that pairs well with the wild brett flavors. 7% ABV

Our Thoughts. Lambic. A festival like this is often wrought with so many ‘winter’ beers that its a rarity to see someone offering up something distinctly non-Winter.

That’s all from us. See you at the festival.

Friday December 2nd, 2011 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM $23 (online) $25 at the door
2011 Winter Beer Festival
4301 Leary Way NW Seattle, WA

Saturday December 3rd, 2011 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM $23 (online) $25 at the door
2011 Winter Beer Festival
4301 Leary Way NW Seattle, WA


About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.

About the photo’s author
+Russ is a photo blogger and an avid beer fan who got immersed in beer and the Seattle beer culture through homebrewing and the thirsty pursuit of new craft ales to sample.

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