Portland has a lot of craft breweries. It also has a lot of craft beer festivals. The Holiday Ale Festival is one of them.
For $35 you get a tasting glass, 12 tickets and admission for five days (10+ hours a day) under cover in a heated tent in the Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. The secret to having a great experience is to get there before 3:00 pm. This is where you will find the true beer geek seeking out the rare and special treats there. There will be no lines at the stations. You can move freely through the venue without getting elbowed, spilt upon, and you will be able to find a place to sit or a table at which to stand.
You will also get to enjoy your pick of 50 delicious beers.
My Picks This Year
Here is the COMPLETE BEER LIST
Brett Trois the Great aka the Inebriated Phrunken Elf
Imperial Stout with “Bruxellensis” Trois • ABV: 10.2% • IBUs: 80
Holiday traditions run deep and that’s precisely why the brewers decided to create a truly “untraditional” Imperial Stout. The result is a BIG inky black stout with the unique finish of the wildly misunderstood Saccharomyces “Bruxellensis” Trois (formerly thought to be in the brettanomyces family). With slightly tart and delicate mango and pineapple characteristics, this pairs nicely to the vanilla and Bergamot used during the final stages of the boil. Awesome Ales
Cuvee du Santa
Sour Brown Ale • ABV: 8.5% • IBUs: 15
Bear Republic’s blenders – together with Santa’s Little Helper Preston Weesner – collaborated to bring this special holiday treat to life. The team selected five outstanding Cuvee de Bubba barrels and added a bit of heft with the addition of a barrel aged Scottish Wee Heavy. This was brought to life with the addition of toasted marshmallow, cinnamon, vanilla and figs. BearRepublicBrewingCo.
Spiced Rum Barrel-Aged Eisbock • ABV: 9.6% • IBUs: 32
This is a strong, full-bodied malty beer brewed in the Bock tradition. The brewery chilled the bright tanks to below freezing for a number days to create an “icy” atmosphere prior to cold aging in spiced rum barrels for three weeks. This lager-fermented treat will warm your tummy during the cold winter months. BurnsideBrewingCo.
Frosty Leo Winter Ale
Winter Ale • ABV: 8.3% • IBUs: 65
Frosty Leo is brewed in the English Old Ale style: beers brewed for the cold months. Frosty Leo is reddish brown with big, sweet malt flavors. The beer has a full, rich body with loads of hop flavor and aroma from Sterling and Citra hops. The beer is named after the Frosty Leo Nebula in the constellation Leo. EclipticBrewing
Deck the Helles
Barrel-Aged Helles Lager • ABV: 9.5%
Deck the Helles for Holiday Ale Fest, Fa La La La La, La La La La; Fort George Brewery sends their very best, Fa La La La La, La La La La; See the rolling boiling kettle….Toss in fragrant Hibiscus petals…Fermented with Bohemian Lager…Makin’ beer here, not egg nogger….Aged all fall in Pinot barrels…Bet you’re tired of Christmas Carols….Fa La La La La, La La La La! FortGeorgeBrewery
2 Fest, 2 Furious
Imperial Marzen • ABV: 8.5% • IBUs: 45
Hopworks Urban Brewery brewed an Imperial version of its Oktoberfest beer “Fest of Fury.” This souped up Marzen features caramel and toasted malts, with dark sugar and candied flavors from Garnet and Apache yams. Ya’ might want to keep your eyes on the road! HopworksUrbanBrewery
Lord of Misrule II
Barrel-Aged Imperial Nut Brown Ale • ABV: 8.4% • IBUs: 26
Appointing a Lord of Misrule, the official in charge of Christmas revelries and the Feast of Fools, is a holiday-time peasant tradition that can be traced back to Roman times. A new lord is elected every year, and so must a new beer be brewed. This complex ale was brewed with cacao nibs and roasted hazelnuts and aged in rum and whiskey barrels post-fermentation with fruit and a house-made hazelnut extract. NUT ALLERGY WARNING! McMenamins(Edgefield)
Old Ale • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 60
Use extreme caution when dealing with the Drunkle. While sometimes hard to spot at first, you always know when you have been found by this bleary eyed fellow. Premium malt and Northwest hops blend to create flavors of toffee, caramel and chocolate in this delicious winter treat. Best consumed in groups to avoid yourself becoming the boorish and overly-talkative Drunkle. SevenBridesBrewing
Earls of Orkney
Wheatwine • ABV: 10.0% • IBUs: 45
Amber in color with rich malty flavors and aromas, Earls of Orkney is a smooth, drinkable beer. A very big mouthfeel is present due to the insane amount of wheat malt that goes into this beer. Imbibe carefully as this one packs a little kick! TwoKiltsBrewingCo.
Insomnia Coffee Cream Ale
Coffee Cream Ale with Lactose • ABV: 6.2% • IBUs: 13
The brewers are “amped” up about this year’s festival and have created an ale for both beer drinkers and coffee lovers alike. This cream ale brewed with lactose produced a smooth, creamy and slightly sweet base beer which was then infused with a copious amount of cold brewed Tortoiseshell blend coffee. Beer drinkers and coffee lovers unite! VertigoBrewing
Hib Hop Hibiscus Ale
Hibiscus Ale • ABV: 5.5% • IBUs: 18
Hib Hop Hibiscus Ale is a lighter winter beer here to brighten your season. This blonde ale with a twist gets its flavor and color from the addition of hibiscus, which adds a cranberry-like tartness and a beautiful pink hue to this light-bodied beer. WildRideBrewing
Winter Abbey Spice
Spiced Cider • ABV: 7.4%
This cider is a take on a very old recipe dating from early 1600s colonial America, with a modern twist of added carbonation. The cidery used raisins, unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and fermented this libation to dryness with oak. This special Holiday Ale Fest batch was made with prune juice and is being served warm to abate the winter chill. ReverendNat’sHardCider