I love this time of year. Lightweight summer beers are off the shelves. Pumpkin beers are nearly tapped out. There is a solid showing of Oktoberfest brews and Harvest ales. And the winter warmers are starting to show up. These minty, spiced, or barrel-aged wonders will sit you on your backside if you are not careful.
Seattle and Portland each have a great winter beer festival. Since no one ever makes the three-hour drive, one hour flight, or four-hour train ride to visit breweries in the other city, they just hold them both on the same weekend.
To be fair, Portland has the best deal going. Its Holiday Ale Festival starts on Wednesday, Dec. 4 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 8. For one price ($35 in advance) you get admission to all five days (11am – 10pm) of the festival, and 14 tokens to start you off. You can buy more tokens, but unless you are attending the festival on multiple days, 14 4oz tastes of these monster brews is plenty. Or you can use multiple tokens for a larger fill.
They host it in a covered, heated tent with plenty of tables for standing and making notes. About the only bad thing about this festival is that brewers and brewery staff are not permitted to pour, so if you are the kind of festival-goer who likes to get a lot of detail on how the beer is made or ask questions about the brewery itself – not going to happen here. The volunteers know their beer though, and are very friendly. Sometimes you can catch a brewer lurking nearby. They will point him or her out to you.
The Seattle Winter Beer Fest is Friday, Dec. 6 – 5:00-9:00pm, and two four-hour sessions on Saturday, Dec. 7. Like last year the festival is now held out at Magnusson Park in Northeast Seattle. Admission is $25. Check their website for more information, or to purchase tickets. Sadly, there is not much posted there as I write this.
- Buy tickets for Portland’s Holiday Ale Festival here.
- Buy tickets for Seattle’s Winter Beer Fest here.
The Holiday Ale Festival has already announced not only the participating brewers, but what they will be serving. My oh my it is a delicious line-up again this year.
2014 BEER LIST
- 10 Barrel Brewing Co., TBA, Double Black Ale with Black Licorice
- 13 Virtues Brewing Co., Barrel-Aged MAX Stout, Imperial Stout
- 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Bourbon Barrel Nice & Naughty, Cider
- Alameda Brewing Co., Admiration IPA, American IPA
- Baerlic Brewing Company, The Great Bear, NW Red Ale aged on Beechwood
- Base Camp Brewing Company, Dunkelrauch Weizenbock, Imperial Grätzer
- Bear Republic Brewing, Do You Want to Build A Snowman?, Golden Barrel Aged Blend
- Burnside Brewing, Jingleberry, Imperial Stout aged on Fresh Cranberries
- Cascade Brewing, Gingersnaps, NW Style Sour Strong Ale
- Coalition Brewing, Big Maple, Imperial Maple Porter
- Deluxe Brewing Company, Dunkel the Halls…With Beer & Jolly, Dunkel Bock
- Deschutes Brewery, Scarlet Flame IRA, India Red Ale
- Dick’s Brewing Company, Black Friday Stout, Imperial Stout
- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre, Belgian-style Brown Ale
- Drake’s Brewing Co., Jolly Rodger 2014, Imperial Coffee Stout
- Eel River Brewing, Gargantua II, Whiskey Barrel Vanilla Imperial Strong Ale Blend
- Elysian Brewing Company, Knock on Nelson, IPA with Nelson Sauvin
- Ex Novo Brewing Co., TBD, Mexican Chocolate Baltic Porter
- Fearless Brewing Company, Ichabod, Pumpkin Ale, Spice/Herb/Vegetable
- Feckin Brewery, Top O’ The Feckin’ Mornin’, Imperial Espresso Milk Porter
- Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Finnriver Stone & Pome Cider, Barrel Aged Plum and Peach Cider
- Fort George Brewery and Public House, Santa’s Dinner Jacket, Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale
- Gigantic Brewing, Red Rider BB Gun, Saison with Cranberries
- Gilgamesh Brewing, Eastside Bandit, Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter
- Golden Valley Brewery, Pinot Noir Barrel-Aged Tannen Boom, Barrel-Aged Belgian-Style Strong Ale
- Hopworks Urban Brewery, The Incredible Abominable of the Enchanted Barrel Forest, Barrel Aged Imperial Winter Ale
- Kells Brew Pub, MIC Stout AKA Boom Roaster, Milk Imperial Coffee Stout
- Lagunitas Brewing Company, Scare City, Wheatwine
- Lompoc Brewing, Pinot Noir Barrel Aged Cheval de Trait Belge, Belgian Strong Ale
- Mazama Brewing Co., Noel Rouge, Imperial Wit
- McMenamins Edgefield Brewery, Lord of Misrule, Rum Barrel Aged Habanero
- Migration Brewing, Frankie Claus, Belgian Imperial Stout
- Natian Brewery, Irish Water, Imperial Golden Ale
- Nectar Creek Mead, Triple Brett, Barrel Aged Sour Session Mead
- New Belgium Brewing Company, La Folie, Sour Brown Ale
- Ninkasi Brewing Co, Doppelbock, Doppelbock
- No-Li Brewhouse, Whiskey Barrel Aged Winter Warmer, Winter Warmer
- Oakshire Brewing, Prestidigitation, White Chocolate Milk Stout
- Old Town Brewing Company, Bluth’s Original Chocolate Banana Hefeweizen, Chocolate Bavarian-style Hefeweizen
- Payette Brewing Company, Bandito, IPA with Agave and Tequila Soaked Oak Chips
- Portland Brewing, 2014 Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Stout with Coffee
- Rock Bottom, Yul Brynner, Santo Poco style Strong Ale
- Rogue Ales, BIG ASS BARREL Maple Doppelbock, German Style Doppelbock
- Rusty Truck Brewing Co, Santaweizen, Weizenbock
- Santiam Brewing, Golden Sultan, Belgian Golden Strong
- Seven Brides Brewing, The 503, Barleywine
- Sixpoint Brewery, Lump of Coal Porter, Robust Porter
- Slanted Rock Brewing Company, Cordial Tease, Spiced Winter Ale
- Stickmen Brewery & Skewery, Big Chocolate Banana, Dunkelweizen
- Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, New Desecrator, Black Barley Wine
- Vertigo Brewery and Taproom, Busted Head Red, Imperial Red Ale
- Viking Braggot Company, Aurora, NW Amber Braggot
- Widmer Brothers Brewing, Frosty The Munchieman, Porter