I was only able to visit this year’s Holiday Ale Fest for about 2 hours, but it was enough time to try some seriously big beers and enjoy brews with some friends. I was able to eek out of work early on Thursday to meet up with a displaced Portlander who has been living in New York for some time. When his girlfriend saw him among the crowd at the festival and heard him chatting about beer with me, she realized he wasn’t a nut, he was just a Portlander.
The Holiday Ale festival is great fun if you can escape work early. Seeing the lit christmas tree and towering building facades around you while sipping custom seasonal releases of the regions best breweries is really hard to beat. However, if you overindulge or stay too long, you can wind up in a tight spot. Shortly after 3:30pm, folks started trickling in from their offices in very nice suits. All I can figure is they’re on Market time and with trading over and work wrapped up, they were ready to have a beer. It gets a little crowded, but there are still no lines and you’re only slowed down in your travel. By 4:30pm however, its starting to get a little cramped and car-heater warm. This time I left, but in years past I stayed until it was claustrophobic, sweaty, and dehydrated. Sadly, I’m left with about 8 tickets that I was unable to spend on a second visit.
There were no beers that startled me this year. I think my favorite is still Celebration, but I did enjoy the Belgian-style offering from Laurelwood, the Caldera brew, and the Bye-Bye Frost. Nothing was bad, at least that I had, so it was a good year.