|Good Santa and Bad Santa...|
This is the third Holiday Ale Festival I've attended and it is by far my favorite Portland brew fest. First great thing: WAY easy to get there. The MAX light rail and many popular bus routes lead right to Pioneer Courthouse Square, which is the permanent venue for this annual event. The entrance to the tent is about 20 steps from the MAX platform. Second great thing: WARM tent. Third great thing: DELICIOUS beer.
The tent gets crowded but the attendees are clearly there for a singular purpose: taste and savor a huge offering of rare fermented treasures that cannot be found in just any old cold case. The brewers typically bring beers they brewed specifically for serving at the festival and many have appropriate, holiday-theme monikers. My favorite names this year: The Scut Farkus Affair, The Twerking Elf, Santa's Lost Wallet and It Makes Reindeer Fly. Ha!
I've learned an important lesson from attending this fest for multiple years. I get there early before the crowd shows up and the lines get long. The gates open at 11 AM and you'll find me waiting right near the front of the line to get inside.
I love the way they set up this venue. It's a tight space, but there are plenty of tables and comfortable corners where you can settle down with your favorite brew. As previously mentioned, the tent is well-heated and quite cozy. They even place the honey pots behind discreet, tasteful curtains. My only complaint is that I could have used another strategically placed mug rinsing station. The aggressively-flavored brews served at the Holiday Ale Festival make between-taste rinses a must.
I'm a serious beer lover and this festival delivers some serious beer. If you like your brew bold, flavorful and magnificently crafted, you must attend. MUST. If you're a lightweight, BEWARE. Most of the offerings have massive alcohol contents (9-10% ABV on average). Thus, just a few of those 4 oz. tasters could land you in the gutter, if you're not careful. The ten tickets you get with admission is the upscale equivalent of a 40 of malt liquor.
I still have my wristband on and as soon as I find my souvenir mug, I'll be going back for more--one price of admission gets you in for all five days. Deal!