It’s that time of year again. The weather is growing colder. Christmas is fast approaching. Color lights glow after dark and houses smell like pine needles. Another annual holiday treat has just wrapped up. This year was the year of the cranberry and whiskey (although not together), at the 19th Annual Holiday Ale Festival 2014!
This year, we tackled the crowds both on Friday and Sunday and tried the following beers:
- 13 Virtues Brewing Company’s Barrel-Aged MAX Stout. This is a brewery I’d love to try out and is features Eastside Distillery and Bull Run Distillery Whiskey barrels definitely brings out the coffee flavors in this beer.
- Baerlic Brewing Company’s The Great Bear. One of my new favorite breweries in town.
- Bear Republic Brewing Company’s Do You Want to Build a Snowman? I loved the name of this beer, the beer however, I can just let it go.
- BridgePort Brewing Company’s BridgePort Smoked Lager. I love lagers including this smokey one.
- Burnside Brewing Company’s Jingleberry. I love this beer, you could taste the cranberries and it wasn’t sour!
- Cascade Brewing’s Gingersnaps. Spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and figs then aged in bourbon and rum barrels for two years. Definitely a classic Cascade beer, STRONG and SOUR.
- Casecade Brewing’s Sang Noir (2011). This was a boozy beer is another classic Cascade.
- Deluxe Brewing Company’s Dunkle the Halls. I think dunkel beers are just not something I have acquired a taste for just yet.
- Deschutes Brewery’s Scarlet Flame IRA. Malt and hops come together to create this herbal beer.
- Drake’s Brewing Company’s Jolly Roger 2014. Made with Blue Bottle Kenyan Kangunu Coffee.
- Eel River Brewing Company’s Gargantua II aged with Bourbon vanilla beans and aged again in Jack Daniels barrels for six month. A definite winner at the Holiday Ale Festival.
- Elysian Brewing Company’s Knock on Nelson. Although this beer was aged in a foeder, this beer was not a sour.
- Ex Novo Brewing Company’s Mexican Chocolate Baltic Porter. This was a collaboration with Moonstruck Chocolates.
- Fearless Brewing Company’s Ichabod. This pumpkin beer was one of my favorites from the Holiday Ale Festival. I have a thing for all things pumpkin beers and this one definitely left me craving more.
- Finnriver Farm & Cidery’s Finnriver Stone & Pome Cider. Featuring Washington organic apples, aged in Bourbon barrels from Fremont Brewery, blended with organic plums and peaches from Pipitone Farms. This cider gave off the feel of drinking prosecco.
- Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Luponic Distortion. This double IPA featured Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe hops.
- Fort George Brewery’s Santa’s Dinner Jacket. “This is the beer Santa is thinking about as he has finishing up this annual flight around the world.”
- Fort George Brewery’s The Three Wise Men (2012). Reminded me of drinking apples.
- Gigantic Brewing’s Red Ryder BB Gun. Cranberries and saison yeast make this beer fizzy and yummy.
- Hopworks Urban Brewery’s The Incredible Abominable of the Enchanted Barrel Forest. Features Abom, my favorite winter beer, aged in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels.
- Mazama Brewing’s Noel Rogue. This imperial wit featured cranberries.
- McMenamins Edgefield Brewery’s Lord of the Misrule. This was hands down the winner of the Holiday Ale Festival. This beer was released at the HAF, and now is available at McMenamins. If you are a Passport holder you can even get a stamp for it!
- Migration Brewing’s Frankie Claus. This imperial Belgian chocolate stout features French cocoa and Belgian Trappist yeast, layered with banana, dried fruit and toasted almonds.
- New Belgium Brewing Company’s Blackberry Whiskey Barrel Aged Love. This beer was definitely too sour to love.
- No-Li Brewhouse’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Winter Warmer. The name says it all.
- Old Town Brewing Company’s Bluth’s Original Chocolate Banana Hefeweizen. This was a yummy beer, reminded me more of caramel candy than chocolate bananas though.
- Portland Brewing Company’s 2014 Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. Made just for the 2014 Holiday Ale Festival.
- Rock Bottom Brewery’s Yul Brynner. This Santo Poco Style Strong Ale was a good offering with hits of whiskey.
- Rogue Ales & Spirits’ Whiskey Barrel Aged Caramel Porter. Featured Rogue’s “Distillery of the Year” Oregon Single Malt Whiskey.
- Rusty Truck Brewing Company’s Santaweizen. I’m always impressed with what Rusty Truck brings to festivals. This strong ale was infused with brandy and was a winner.
- Sixpoint Brewery’s Lump of Coal Porter. Was a collaboration with “Beer Goddess” Lisa Morrison.
- Slanted Rock Brewing Company’s Cordial Tease, which was a tease since we were expecting it to be sweeter than it was with all the sugar, cherry and peppermint mentioned in the description.
- Stickman Brewery & Stewery’s Big Black Banana. This beer featured their Bananas on Fire (banana faster) and is prepared with Weihenstephan Weizen yeast to bring out even more of the banana flavor.
- Widmer Brother Brewing’s Frosty the Munchienman. Features Oregon spearmint and Ecuadorian cocoa nibs.
While I will always enjoy the Holiday Ale Festival, it always seems like every year the prices go up, the crowds get larger and the beers get less creative (at least with the names). I’m hoping that next year, breweries bring their Christmas cheer as always and maybe some more wit to their beers.
Did you attend the Holiday Ale Festival? What did you think? What was your favorite beer?
[In radical transparency, I received a media pass to attend the Holiday Ale Festival. My friends, mentioned in this post, did not.]