Holiday Ale Fest 2013 Day 1

4 Dec

IMG_7369Coalition’s Shenanagins. Barleywine. Clearly a Coalition beer, they somehow make a big barleywine dry and crisp. Lightly sweet up front, then the dark malts come through. The dark malt adds just enough tannins IMG_0215to dry the beer without being overwhelming. Amazing this lighter bodied beer is not alcohol hot at all. Don’t like big bodied beers but want a warmer this is your beer.

HOTD. Jim 2009. I am a fan, HOTD brings the artistry to brewing. Not all their beers are home runs but the home runs are all out of the park. Jim 2009 is no exception, damn this is complex. Hops have faded a bit from last year, malt is now more forward, it bring notes of fig, dates, dried fruit to the front. Still balanced from start finish. This is a special pouring, I hope all of you are one of the lucky ones to get a taste.

Collaborator hullucinator. Skip it, tastes just like Heineken. Not worth the ticket.

Nation McGuinness. Imperial Milk stout. Wonderful nose, coffee and spice, like a Greek coffee. Light bodied, so the dark malt jumps out immidately. Not as complex as the aroma would suggest. This is a good stout, worth a taste but don’t expect something groundbreaking.

Deschutes Brewery, Yule goat. This is a spiced brown fermented with with brett in whiskey barrels. Clearly a brett beer, strong sour nose. Many times sours are quite thin as the brett ferments out so completely but this beer has some body. The whiskey barrel is quite subdued, lending just a hint of vanilla and what to me tastes like a tart srtrawberries. I am sure this is all from the yeast but it makes for an interesting beer, worth your ticket.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Luponic Merlin. An oatmeal stout, hopped up with Citra, Centennial and Simcoe. The nose of this stout is very traditional, all dark malts. It tastes just as one would expect from the description, a hoppy stout. One might call it a West Coast stout. If you are one who thinks all styles of beer can use a heavier dose hops this is your beer. This is a great beer but I will admit I liked the Velvet Merlin from 2011 more.

Elysian brewing Co. Doom. Starts off a bit rough, with a nose that is a bit like a skunky lager with the smell of the hop bines. But the taste, wow hopheads rejoice! If hops are your thing, start with this beer. The Citra and Nelson Sauvins hop impart a wonderful tropical fruit note. In parallel, Magnum bittering hop contributes a nice spicyness. The complexity of the hop is very impressive. Back in August, Elysian had the best beer at the IIPA Fest at Saravasa and while I come to the holiday ale fest for the the winter warmers, Elysain may win out once again. This is a must try beer!

Eel River Brewing Co. Gargantua. An imperial strong ale blend. Starts with a light vanilla and brown sugar nose. The vanilla/bourbon flavors are right up front, with a real nice creaminess. This softens and rounds out the barrel flavors. The finish, is lightly sweet and lingering. A wonderful winter warmer on one of the coldest days of the year.

Burnside Brewing Co. It Make Reindeer Fly. Imperial Rye Ale. So, this beer is made with carrots and raisins, a kind of beer carrot cake? A nice winter ale made all the more pleasant with the sharp dry rye finish. Another tasty winter warmer to try at the Holiday Ale Fest.

Kells Brew Pub. Imperial Brown Ale. I was lucky enough to talk to the brewers about this beer and the thought behind this beer was to remind the drinker of a traditional Irish fruit cake, all the while relying on just the basic ingredients required to make beer. I believe Dave and crew were successful. The beer is sweet, with hints of dried fruit and enough English hops for spice. Tasty.

PINTS Urban Brewing Co. Hibernator. PINTS calls this a weizendoppelbock. This beer starts with a lightly sweet aroma. The description hits it on the head, this is a big, slightly sweet hefe. It has all the clove and banana a good German hefe should. Wheat beer fans, this is your first stop.

Oakshire. Swiss Mrs. Alpine Alt. A milk chocolate stickle alt. Good idea, not well executed. The cocoa nibs are very noticeable, it is too strong for the light body of the beer.

New Belgium Brewing Co. Barrel Aged Cascara Quad. Sweet roasted nut smell. A sweet winter warmer. Good but nothing special. In years past New Belgium brought one of their Lips of Faith beers, which were always something to look forward too. This one just doesn’t live up to past offering here at the Holiday Ale Fest.

West Highland Brewing. Spiced Ale. A lightly sweet spiced ale. This one hits the spot. The body is big enough to hold up to the very noticeable, cinnamon and ginger. In my opinion a lighter beer, spiced like this would come across as harsh. Here the flavors meld well for an enjoyably winter spiced ale.


Hopworks Urban Brewery. Kronan the Bourbarian. This is a Baltic Porter aged in bourbon barrels. Spicy nose. A rich Baltic Porter, with strong bourbon and vanilla flavors. This quite simply, is a great barrel aged porter. There is nothing new, but it is well executed. I am sure this will be a popular brew, stand in line and get yours.


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