Held every year in Pioneer Courthouse Square (not affiliated with Pionner Square in Seattle) the Holiday Ale Fest is a unique opportunity to drink outside while freezing your butt off. Technically that last bit isn't true if one is willing to stand elbow to elbow with your fellow drinker.
Held in the heart of downtown Portland, the Holiday Ale Festival keeps attendees warm and dry under a large clear top tent allowing for views of the city lights. Gas heaters create a cozy ambience under the boughs of one of the region's largest decorated Christmas trees.
Either way this writer wanted to remind you that if you haven't planned the trip to downtown PDX, you better hurry! As of today both types of tickets are still on sale for both VIP & General Admission.
Hey! What's the difference between VIP & General Admission. The short version is limited edition access and line cutting. The long version? Here's some quick copy-paste laziness from the website.
Advance General Admission Tickets include a festival mug, 12 beer tickets and expedited entry all five days with wristband and current year's mug.
Advance VIP Tickets include a festival mug, 28 beer tickets, express entry all five days with wristband and current year's mug, a bottle of water and access to VIP beer lines, including Special Tappings.
After reading the details for admission it should be simple. Right? Honestly there isn't a right or wrong answer if you consider why you are going.
If you are going to relax after a long week then the General Admission might be right for you, especially when you consider that you will get expedited entry and 12 tickets to use up.
On the other hand if you are taking the week off and need an excuse to get out of your pajamas then the VIP might be for you. Perks included expedited admission, a bottle of water and priority access to beer lines. Additionally you will be entitled to participate limited edition tastings.
Either choice gets you in the door and that is priority number one.
The next thing we need to address is transportation. I know, I know, you want to see the beer list but let's be honest you are drinking yet. So, how to get there?
Looking at the map we can see that Portland's MAX (Light rail) Blue and Red lines stop right at the Square. On the other hand you can take one of the buses around the area. More importantly you would want to catch the 1, 8, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19, 94, 51; as these all are within 2 blocks of the square. Where you start is completely up to you but if you are new to the area, here is a quick link to Portland's Trimet website as well as links to both Pioneer Courthouse Square MAX stations.
On the other hand if you are more keen on riding in a yellow cab (or one of the other many colored cabs) then you might consider ...
- (503) 227-1234 Broadway Taxi
- (800) 707-5242 Portland Taxi Cab Company
- (503) 234-1414 Green Cab & Green Shuttle
... just to name a few.
For the out-of-towner you might consider calling these hotels, featured near the Square.
Wow, if you got this far I want to say thanks for taking the time to read ALL THAT! But this is really what the majority of you are looking for, the beer!
Seriously what you read WAS deja vu. Chalk it up to this writer not wanting you to miss out on transportation options of accommodations.
Limited Release Beers
The Limited Release Beers are special vintage beers for which there is a very limited supply. These beers typically require additional tickets for a taster, with a select few also offered as full mug pours of varying ticket cost. To help ensure as many people as possible get a fair chance of trying at least one of these beers, we stagger their tapping throughout each day of the fest (Wednesday through Saturday only).
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 @ 2:00 PM
Alaskan Big Nugget (2008)
Barley Wine • ABV: 10.7%
This is a Pilot Series full-bodied ale, deep mahogany in color and brewed with an array of complementing malts to achieve its high original gravity. Multiple hop additions in the boil and dry hopping during fermentation provide contrast to the big malt character resulting in the smooth balance that distinguishes this specialty brew.
Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus (2005)
Doppelbock • ABV: 14.0%
Samichlaus Bier is brewed only once a year on December 6th and is aged for 10 months before bottling. Samichlaus is one of the rarest specialty beers in the world, ideal for aging, and older vintages become more complex with a creamy, warming finish.
North Coast Old Stock (2008)
Olde Ale • ABV: 11.7% • IBUs: 36 • O.G.: 24.0°
Like a fine port, Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 24° and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round out and mellow with age. It's brewed with classic Maris Otter malt and Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, all imported from England.
Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy (2008)
Imperial Stout • ABV: 9.4% • IBUs: 98
Deep flavors of chocolate, malt, coffee, cocoa and oats roll across your tongue with the first sip. Made with an enormous amount of two-row malts, chocolate malts, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops, this beer aims to please your dark beer needs.
Thursday, November 29th, 2012 @ 2:00 PM
Cascade Sang Noir (2009)
Barrel-Aged Sour Ale • ABV: 10.2% • IBUs: 5
A big, full-bodied double Flanders style Double Red comes from a blend of several barrel aged beers, aged on 100 pounds of Bing Cherries, with portions of the beer aging in Heaven Hills and Maker's Mark Whiskey barrels and Pinot Noir Barrels. For sweet high notes, Bourbonic Plague and Blond Quad aged in Minnesota oak were added.
Deschutes Lost Barrels of Mirror Mirror (2009)
Oak-Aged Barley Wine • ABV: 10.7% • IBUs: 51
As part of the Reserve Series, the brewers discovered some "lost" barrels hidden in the back corner of the warehouse. They set aside this special 100% barrel-aged version of Mirror Mirror for occasions such as the Holiday Ale Festival. Lucky you!
Dogfish Head Festina Peche (2009)
Berliner Weiss • ABV: 4.5% • IBUs: 8
A refreshing neo-Berliner Weisse fermented with peaches, this is ideally served as an apertif. Once more than 70, there are only a few breweries left in Berlin still brewing the Berliner Weisse style, which is characterized by its intense tartness (some say sour). Festina is delicately hopped and has a pale straw color.
Kona Black Sand Porter (2009)
Porter • ABV: 6.6% • IBUs: 40
A robust, full bodied porter with pronounced bittersweet chocolate flavor and aroma from the diverse variety of malt, including Premium 2-Row, Chocolate, Munich, Caramel, Carapils and Black. Centennial and Northern Brewer hops balance the maltiness of this robust and roasty ale. Flown in by the Holiday Ale Festival directly from Hawaii in 2009.
Friday, November 30th, 2012 @ 2:00 PM
Deschutes Frosty the Snow Quad (2008)
Quadrupel • ABV: 9.0% • IBUs: 20
Containing pilsner and 2-row malts with white cane sugar added throughout the boil, half of this small batch beer was aged for 6 months in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. The whole batch was then blended and put in pinot barrels for another 6 months, with the pinot barrels buried in a snow cave for the final two days.
Hair of the Dog JIM (2008)
Strong Blend • ABV: 10.0%
A Holiday Ale/HotD collaboration honoring the late Jim Kennedy, this is a blend of Hair of the Dog beers Adam of the Wood aged 4 months in wet Elija Craig bourbon barrels, Fred of the Wood aged in new American oak, Blue Dot for hop nose and Doggie Claws for balance, with a touch of 2003 Samichlaus and 2007 Chimay Grand Reserve.
Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. JIM (2009)
Strong Blend • ABV: 10.0%
A Holiday Ale/HotD collaboration honoring the late Jim Kennedy, this blend features Doggie Claws, Adam, Fred from the wood, and Blue Dot, with a keg of English Brown Ale, German Bock, and American Strong Ale, and finished off with Cantillon St. Lamvinus, Scaldis Noel, Corsendonk Christmas Ale, and Orval.
New Belgium Transatlantique Kriek (2010)
Kriek / Golden Lager Blend • ABV: 8.0% • IBUs: 8
A collaboration with Brewerij Boon of Belgium, this is a spontaneously fermented lambic ale made with Polish cherries. The cherry nose gives way to a pleasingly sour flash across the palate that rolls gently into a slightly sweet finish. Crisp, effervescent carbonation keeps the mouthfeel bright and delightfully tingly.
Saturday, December 1st, 2012 @ 2:00 PM
Anchor Old Foghorn (2006)
English Barley Wine • ABV: 9.1%
Brewed strictly according to traditional brewing methods, using only natural ingredients: water, malted barley, fresh whole hops, and yeast. Featuring only Cascade hops, with additional hopping while aging, it is fermented with a true top-fermenting ale yeast. Carbonation through natural "bunging" produces champagne-like bubbles.
Anchor Old Foghorn (2007)
English Barley Wine • ABV: 9.0%
Old Foghorn is highly hopped, using only Cascade hops, and is fermented with a true top-fermenting ale yeast. Carbonation is produced by an entirely natural process called "bunging", which produces champagne-like bubbles. The beer is dry-hopped with additional Cascade hops while it ages in our cellars.
Bear Republic Ebeweesner Scrooge (2010)
Sour Ale Blend • ABV: 6.5% • IBUs: 35
This barrel aged smoked sour ale is a blend of many barrels from the Bear Republic cellar, including Smoked Red Rocket and Black Do, which was then spiked with Bear Republic's own 'spank', a wild open fermentation beer that is the source of Bear Republic's sour power. If you like sour beers, this one is the first of its kind.
Rock Bottom Maude Flanders (2009)
Phew! That's all that's fit to print regarding this year's Holiday Ale Fest. For those that are worried they might miss out on current details you should follow the festival on Twitter (@HolidayAle) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HolidayAleFest).
Be safe and sane this Holiday Ale Fest and above all,