Holiday Ale Festival 2010

Posted on December 10, 2010 by

On Wednesday night Sara and I met up with a couple that we met here in Portland for the Holiday Ale Festival at Portland’s Pioneer Square. You know, the place that Somalian was trying to blow up with a car bomb a week ago? It cost us $25 to get in and for 10 drink tickets. All in all, it was a pretty good deal.

Fourty-three total brewers had different offerings of their take on Holiday beers. The gamut ranged from Pepper Spiced Belgian Red Ales to the darkest, smokiest imperial stouts. I personally spent most of my time on the darker ales as I’m a pretty big sucker for big porters and stouts.

One thing I really enjoy about the beer offerings of this time of year is all the fun and wacky names. On top of that, it seems like the holidays are a more prominent time of year to experiment and be creative. I have to say that is a good thing and a bad thing. I got to taste one of the tastiest Bourbon Aged Porters in Lompoc’s 8 Malty Nights but was let down by Ninkasi’s Unconventionale, which is an Imperial Stout with lavender, tarragon and heather. It sounds fun and interesting to try, but all the spices collided with each other and basically muted any distinguishable flavors.

It was fun trying different beers, meeting new people, trying some cheese all while being surrounded by the beautiful holiday decorations that the Pioneer Square has to offer.

Here is a list of all the beers I was able to try that night.

Collaborator | Aegir’s Couldron Barrel Aged Porter:

An overall good tasting porter that has a nice smooth bourbon taste that is complimented well by a caramel taste that I wasn’t expecting.

Columbia River Brewing | Paddler’s Porter Chocolate/Vanilla Baltic Porter:

This was another tasty porter but I was plagued by what seemed like a watery middle flavor.

Firestone Walker Brewing | Union Barrel Fermented Porter:

This one was built up with the description written in the guide book with promises of toffee, caramel and bittersweet chocolate as well as oats to increase the body. But when I tasted it I didn’t get much of any of those. I didn’t get chocolate or complexity. It seemed pretty run of the mill as far as porters are concerned.

Laht Neppur Brewing | Toe Tingler Stout Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout:

It sounds delicious, but it didn’t impress me to much. A solid stout, but definitely in the back with all these other over the top ales in front of it.

Lompoc Brewing | 8 Malty Nights Bourbon Aged Chocolate Porter:

This was my favorite of the night. It is over the top malty and my first impression was I felt like I was drinking chocolate milk with a little carbonation in it.

Ninkasi Brewing | Unconventionale Imperial Stout with Herbs:

Sounded interesting with the addition of lavender, tarragon and heather, but all of the herbs and malt flavors collided and kind of muted each other all together.

Stone Brewing | Stone Smoked Porter Spiced Porter:

I like the addition of smokiness in this beer. It is definitely different than a roasted flavor associated with porters and stouts. However, it was just a bit to much and the chocolate and vanilla were pretty much lost.

Vertigo Brewing | La Nina Coffee Porter Robust Coffee Porter:

I forgot to take notes on this one…sorry.

Boneyard Beer | Femme Fatale Sour Ale:

This beer is fermented with raspberries and cranberries in it. Sour ales can be hit or miss for me, but this one was tasty and fun to drink.

Trend Alert:

I know Sour Ales have been slowly growing in popularity over the past year or so. After taking some tastes of the Sour Ales at the festival I’d have to say that the breweries are getting closer to making a sour ale that has a bit more of a mass appeal. Watch out for them.

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  • Olga Walsh25

    The La Nina Coffee Porter was delish!

  • Anonymous


    I may have to give that one a try. I’m big on porters, especially ones with the words “coffee” or “chocolate” in front of them :)


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