Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Ale Festival 2010, Day One

In my Monday preview of Portland's Holiday Ale Festival, my first piece of advice was to bring water, because there hadn't been drinking water or even mug-rinse stations in past years.  This year I noticed a mug rinse counter on my way out of the festival.  It's at the east end of the tent under the exit sign.  I didn't follow my own advice, though, and bought a bottle of water for $1 at the festival.

Water is one thing.  What about beer?  For one thing, the temperature situation is much better than last year -- the beers are not being served ice cold.  Last year's weather was partly to blame, but I think they just got their act together better this year.

I was only at the festival briefly yesterday, and used 2 of my 10 tickets on a taste of Firestone Walker 14 (mmm....).  But I have a couple of recommendations for you from my 8 other tickets (in addition to my earlier beer recommendations):
  • Collaborator/Widmer Aegir's Cauldron: Very rich, dark brew with nice notes of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla.  Didn't seem like a Baltic Porter as labeled, but delicious.
  • Lagunitas Brown Mashuggana: A "digestif" meme about this beer that apparently Charles started is right on the money.  If a shot of Amaro Averna dropped into a strong Lagunitas barleywine sounds good to you, you'll love it.  Nice herbal flavor, appealingly sweet, nice hop finish.
  • Eel River 2009 Climax Noel: This is a big, rich, double red.  It started off strangely medicinal to me, but as it warmed up I really liked it.
  • Firestone Walker Barrel-Fermented Porter: Good beer for pacing yourself -- under 6% ABV.  A very flavorful, roasty porter.
  • Widmer Black Dynamite:  I only had a sip of Charles' sample, but the lemon and peppercorns really came out in the flavor, without clobbering you.  I'm going to try more on my own dime today.
My two slight disappointments from yesterday were Stone's Smoked Vanilla Porter and Lucky Lab's Pavlov's Imperial Stout.  They were both OK, but not as good as I'd hoped.  Sometimes I love Pavlov's, sometimes it doesn't hit me, though it sure looked beautiful in the mug.  The Stone was also drinkable, but a little tame on any kind of flavor.

Hey, where is Rogue at this festival?  No beer, and they aren't even there with pizza and condoms like they always are.  You can't tell me Buckman Village's Ginger Beer is the best they can do for a big winter beer.
    There are two three exciting special tappings today (Thursday the 2nd) that you should not miss:
    • Deschutes Jubel 2000: Not Jubelale -- Super Jubel like the Jubel 2010.  Only 10 years older.
    • Cascade Sang Noir 2009: My recollection of this from last year is that it was much funkier than this year's version.  I liked it then, but I like the 2010 more than my memory of the 2009.  This years also seems to have more cherry taste.  So it will be interesting to try them side-by-side.
    • Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus 2005:  Preston must have been a very good boy in 2005, because he's wheeling out another keg of this massive 14% doppelbock from Austria.  Maybe you remember it from HAF 2008.  It's a stunner.
    The special tappings cost 2 tickets for a sample, and they happen at 2 PM in various locations:  check this map.

      Have fun and maybe I'll see you there!


      1. Went out of my way to be there on the first day for (in my opinion) the best lineup of one-off kegs for the week. Nice to know that somebody else will be enjoying the Samichlaus I waited in line for yesterday while I make up my work today (I'll probably end up missing the New Belgium Love as well, two big thumbs down for an otherwise awesome festival)...

      2. And of course, I loved Pavlov. Put five beer bloggers in a room together and you'll get seven opinions about a beer.

      3. Rogue was there actually with the Buckman Brewing Ginger Beer. Possibly their worst