Opening Day at the Holiday Ale Festival

1 Dec


The word is out; the holiday ale festival is one of the best alefests all year. The lines for the beer were not bad but the crowds were much bigger for a Wednesday afternoon than I have ever seen. That said, I hope all these people did a better job selecting beers than I did. Don’t worry, not all the beer stunk, but I am used to the offerings at the fest being degrees of good not disappointments. I don’t think in all the holiday ale festivals combined, I tasted so many beers I cannot recommend.

Beers to skip:

Alameda: Papa Noel’s Moonlight Reserve (Olde Ale): This was the biggest disappointment as the standard Papa Noel is a good beer. This version with the oak spires was way to woody. The tannins just sit on the tongue way to long.

Columbia River Brewing: Labeled above the tap incorrectly as ‘Drunken Elf Scout’ – It should be Drunken Elf Stout. But what ever you call it I didn’t like it. The smell was actually very nice, rich dark malts and coffee but the beer left a wet cardboard in my mouth. It was as if they filtered the coffee with newspaper.

Off the Rail Brewing: SIN after SIN (Belgian Triple). This was definitely the worst of the beers to skip. The flavors were all over the place, the malt and hop worked against each other and the beer was extremely thin. This beer was no more than thin malty water and alcohol.

Enough about what did not work; let’s move on to more worthy brews.

The Commons Brewery: Little Brother (Belgian Dark Strong Ale): This beer started with a real nice toffee/ molasses nose. The alcohol was even present here in the nose but was not off putting. The beer had a nice big body with flavors dominated by those contributed by the barrels, bourbon and vanilla. The beer finishes with a nice warming alcohol, which I like in a big beer.

Upright Brewing: Provision (Biere de Garde): This beer started with a light sourness that quickly faded, to a surprisingly rich and complex beer. Many sour beers are complex but the rich fuller body makes this a worthy winter beer. The finish of the beer is an excellent example of good use of oak barrel aging, with tannins that dry the finish but do not take over the beer.

McMenamins High Street Brewery & Café: Red Nose Rye (Imperial Rye Ale): This was a really good beer but I have to admit I like rye beers. This beer starts lightly sweet, which was nice, as rye tend to dry a beer somewhat. This sweetness was followed by a nice round rye malt flavor. The alcohol, 8.4%, was not noticeable; a glass could catch up with you fast if you are four or five tastes into your festival.

New Belgium Brewing Co. Lips of Faith Beers –Super Cru: The nose and initial taste had a noticeable spiciness I really enjoyed. The Super Cru was very well balanced throughout, with a lightly alcoholic finish. New Belgium is probably the largest brewer at the holiday ale festival and while I have a soft spot for the little guy, this big boy of craft brewing is offering an excellent brew. This is the only one I would say was definitely worth a full mug. Of course there are still too may brews to try but maybe I will have one on Friday night.

I am off to see what day two of the holiday ale fest has to offer.


2 Responses to “Opening Day at the Holiday Ale Festival”

  1. Matt December 2, 2011 at 9:20 PM #

    Man, you guys know WAAAAAAY to much about beer 😛 I had fun last year at this thing, wish I could have gone this year. Sucks the beers you’ve tried weren’t so good for the most part 😦 I think there was only one I wasn’t crazy about.

    • Miranda December 14, 2011 at 9:52 AM #

      We wish you could have made it this year, too! You were definitely missed. We need to get together sometime during the holidays. We are around. I would say that overall there were more outstanding beers last year, but there were definitely good beers this year. Thursday and Friday we definitely had better luck.

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