Ale Fest Eve

30 Nov

i am like a little kid, dreaming of reindeer hooves dancing on the rooftop and santa dropping off gifts under the Christmas tree. but instead of sugarplums dancing in my head, i am dreaming about all the wonderful, one-of-a-kind, possibly never brewed again, holiday ales i will taste tomorrow at the Holiday Ale Fest. there are sour beers with cherries and cranberries. there are strong ales with spices and herbs. and then there are my favorites, roasty toasty stouts with chocolate and coffee and bourbon barrels. well, i’ve been waiting all year, and the day is finally here. it’s not Christmas Eve yet, but even better (for an adult), it is Holiday Ale Fest Eve. and i am pretty sure i’ve been a good girl this year.

if you are planning on going to the Ale Fest tomorrow – or any time this weekend – you can check out their beer list ahead of time, or you could just look at the list when you get there. i am definitely going in with a game plan tomorrow. here goes…

2008 Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy (Limited Release Beer) – are you kidding me? this beer is incredible outta the can. but aged for three years…this is going to be a taste to remember.

2009 Deschutes Lost Barrels of Mirror Mirror (Limited Release Beer) – i am not a huge fan of barleywines, but the Mirror Mirror is solid, and i have found that barleywines age really well, becoming more balanced and enjoyable over the years. So, I’m looking forward to seeing how this aged.

Columbia River Brewing Company’s Drunken Elf Stout – an imperial oatmeal stout infused with a few of my favorite things – like Belgian chocolate and Kona coffee. this brewery also made my top list last year, so i am very excited to try this beer.

Collaborator Hallucinator – the Collaborator never fails. it is always a solid, tasty brew. this years description fits perfectly, as i am not quite ready for the Portland winter. “It’s a beverage to keep you warm through long nights, cold winds and persistent rain; an ale that perfectly fits the next few months in Portland. Enjoy it now – after the Holiday Ale festival only your memories of it will keep you warm.”

Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Velvet Merkin – they have made some great holiday beers in the past and this is an oatmeal stout that has been aged in bourbon barrels. this beer has the potential to have smoothed out nicely and taken on some great roasted caramel and vanilla notes from the barrel.

Fort George Brewery’s Kentucky Girl Stout – Fort George is a go big or go home kind of brewery. my favorite kind. which means sometimes they have a miss (with me), but then, they have other beers that bring me to my knees. which we all know is better than just safe or mediocre all the time. last year was a piney beer that was too much for me, but lived up to its description. so, if this year’s beer lives up to it’s description, i should be in heaven. coffee, whisky, and stout? i must have been a good girl this year.

Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Kentucky Christmas – this beer was a favorite from last year, so i can’t wait to taste this year’s version to see if it is just as memorable. this is the Abominable Winter Ale – a fantastic beer on its own – that is aged in bourbon barrels taking on wonderful vanilla, spice, and caramel flavors.

MacTarnahan’s Barrel Aged Ink Blot Baltic Porter – i have an extraordinary weakness for the baltic porter, so this beer could be a special gift for me. after aging in Jack Daniel’s Whisky Barrels this beer should take on a deeper complexity with vanilla and caramel complementing the roast and alcohol in the baltic porter.

McMenamin’s Red Nose Rye – this may be the most intriguing beer for me at the Ale Fest. i love the mouthfeel and richness that a rye can impart on a beer. paired with the red malts and potential spices, this could be a very well-balanced, hearty winter beer that i could enjoy all day long.

Oakshire’s The Nutcracker – a gingerbread imperial porter. this has the potential to just wow my tastebuds. or overwhelm them. i can’t wait to see which side this beer ends up on. i love gingersnaps, and i definitely can enjoy a beer with some spice, especially cinnamon and ginger, when done well. i can’t wait to report on this one. because if this is executed well, i could see this beer being one we talk about next year (“remember that porter that tasted like gingerbread…”).

But my first taste?

Bison Brewing Company’s Barry White’s Voice in a Barrel – why? did you read the name? read it again. it says it all. Barry. White. come on! we all immediately start humming. maybe swaying back and forth. closing our eyes, remembering that one true love. singing “can’t get enough of your love, baby.” if this beer, a chocolate stout (um, yum) aged in bourbon barrels (that promises toasted oak, vanilla, dark chocolate and espresso with hints of molasses and caramel), invokes a single note of Barry White in us, then it has done its job and it is the perfect balance of rich, sweet, dark and smooth.

well, it’s late, and i better try to sleep if i am going to make it through this list of tastes tomorrow. i’ve laid out a platter of cookies and a thank you note for Preston (aka Beer Santa). i hope i find all the goodies i am hoping for under the holiday tree tomorrow!

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