Tag Archives: Beer Festival

Holiday Ale Fest 2013 Day 3

6 Dec
A sea of people and its only 3pm

A sea of people and its only 3pm

Well over these three days I did not get to all the beers but over the last three days I manage to cover the vast majority of them.  Give them all as quick read, for a little planning your Holiday Ale Fest weekend because as you know beer fest in Portland are very crowded over the weekend. Cheers everybody.

Golden Valley Brewery.  Santa’s Smokin’ Bock. Let’s hope I didn’t mess up and the smoke malt, 60% of the grain bill, doesn’t wreck my palette for the day. Well, nose displays just a hint of the smokiness. Wow, this is good, the smoke malt is present but just adds to the notes of fruit, pear?, all the way to the crisp spicy hop finish. The smokiness increases as the beer warms a bit but In this weather you have nothing to worry about. This is a must try beer. Continue reading

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Holiday Ale Fest 2013 Day 2

5 Dec

IMG_7385Lets start this post off right, three cheers for the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.  Now let’s drink some beer!

Oskar Blues. Ten Fiddy, 2008 limited release. Starting out the day with a five year old stout. Sweet, roasted malt nose. Noticeable sweet, warm alcohol finish. From my memory of the Ten Fiddy in the can, this beer has seem to lose some of the heft from the body and the alcohol is more present and warming. Given the choice, I would chooses pint of the current batch over the aged Ten Fiddy, but started with a warming beer as this, is not a bad way to start this cold day.

Base Camp. White Squall. This wheat wine starts with a faint fruit nose.  The beer starts with the same fruitiness up front, white grape?, that quickly gives way to a strong wheaty sweetness. There are some spicy hops here but the flavors are not so cohesive. For me the beer gets a, meh. There is nothing terribly wrong with the beer, it just does’t shine.

Alameda Brewing Co. Long Beard’s Baltic Porter. The beer smells of sweet coffee.  A light body beer, with just a hint of the smoked malt, which is nice. The original flavor fades to sweet dark malt, yet remains balanced. This beer will not show you something new but is worth a ticket.

Bear Republic Brewing Co. Santa’s Lost Wallet.  A blend of two of Bear Republic’s stouts and a brandy barrel aged Belgian Brown. This beer is a good contrast to the Base Camp brew, here all flavors come together to make a great winter warmer.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Erotic Cake.  Again, another beer that is not breaking any new ground, even with the cocoa nibs “dry hopping” but this is overall an excellent milk stout. I enjoyed it from start to finish.

Stickman Brewery. The Twerking Elf.  Northwest Sour Brown. Just a hint sour to the nose. This is a unique beer. I would call this a sweet and sour beer. The beer has some body for a sour, which carries a bit of sweetness, but that last for just a moment before the sour takes the beer to its finish. This is a great place to introduce yourself to sour beers as the sour here is quite gentle. For me this beer brings something new and is worth a ticket. Now about that name….

Rogue Ales & Spirts. Big Ass Rye Strong Ale. This is the third beer at the fest this year that smell like a skunky Heineken, not good. And it tastes like a Heineken with a hint of rye. Just skip this beer.

IMG_73932 Towns Ciderhouse. Bourbon Barrel Nice and Naughty. I approached this cider with some hesitation as the aroma was so spicey, I was afraid it would overwhelmed the cider. I am happy to say, I was 100% wrong! While I don’t get much in terms of flavor from the barrel the cider and spices plays very well together.  The description may remind one of a mulled cider but here the cider and the spices are brighter and more enjoyable.   This is a two ticket cider and totally worth it.

Hop Valley Brewing Co.  The Wolf. The description calls it an English Barleywine but the hops on the nose says otherwise. While it does start out with an initial sweetness, the hops quickly assert themselves in this excellent American style Barleywine. When it comes to barleywines I am generally at traditionalist, preferring the more malty English style, but this beer has me rethinking my stance. This is an excellent beer, get a taste, or even a full mug.

Drinking, thinking and writing about BEER.

Drinking, thinking and writing about BEER.

Widmer Brothers Brewing.  Biere de Noel.  The description of this Biere de Garde does not mention hops at all but a resinous hop is all I get from the aroma. The hops carries this beer. While there are sweet/malt notes, the hops are the star. The hops are complex and quite simply delicious. Two beers in a row that I have to give a full recommendation to try.

Columbia River Brewing Co. Hawaiian Christmas. Here I have to be up front with my biases, I loved Roots Coconut Porter and I will be comparing this beer to that great porter, even if just subconsciously. The beer starts with a very nice sweet coconut nose. Drinking this beer, the coconut is lost to me, which is unfortunate. That aside this rich imperial porter is very tasty.

I will wrap up with a few comments on the Fest its self. Clearly Wednesday, was a way better day to enjoy the festival. I know this is hindsight and is now advice for next year but Wednesday had way more beer lovers, fewer plain old drunks staggering around. That said I know I will be back to sample more tasty brews tomorrow.

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.

IMG_7378

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.

Holiday Ale Fest Eve 2013

3 Dec

HAFhighlightsIf you are new around here then you may not know that -to me- today is as big of a deal as Christmas Eve is to most of the world. You see, tomorrow begins the famed Holiday Ale Fest, when we here at taphandle take time off of work for a mini-staycation that involves sitting under the heated, clear-ceilinged tents in Pioneer Square, among other beer lovers from around the world, to drink unique beers brewed specially for this event. That’s right, not one of Holiday Ale Fest “standards” is a regularly brewed beer. Special is an understatement for this event. Continue reading

a new favorite

19 Aug

photo 6

this was our first year attending the IIPA Fest at Saraveza. our perception was that it would be crowded and crazy given the small space and the hyper-hop beer culture around here. i expected the usual suspects plus a handful of douchey “gotta be seen there” types. i also wondered if we would find a whole bunch of overdone, over-thought beers that you couldn’t enjoy a full pour of. but it was michael’s birthday. and he has a fondness for well-crafted IIPAs and hops that smack ya in the face. so…what the hell!!

and?…we were pleasantly surprised. Continue reading

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