Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Ale Festival 2013

Wednesday December 4th kicks off the 18th annual Holiday Ale Festival, one of our favorite beer fests! Instead of listing the available taps, which can be seen here, we decided to give you some fun facts! Hope to see you all there this weekend. Cheers!


• 18th year of the festival; it was founded in 1995 as the Winter Ale Festival, ran for two years, then took a hiatus in 1997. It returned as the Holiday Ale Festival in 1998 and has run consecutively ever since.

• 49 products are poured in the main festival: 47 beers, one cider and one braggot.

• At least 16 additional products are poured as special limited tappings; in most cases, these rare or vintage brews are limited to just one single keg. They are allocated to four special tappings on Wednesday through

• The lowest alcohol beer is Rock Bottom Brewing’s “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid,” a Helles that comes in at 4.8% ABV.

• The highest alcohol beer is Lagunitas Brewing’s High West Whiskey Barrel Aged Cappuccino Stout at 12.5%  ABV.

• These are big beers, with 25 coming in over 8% ABV; 14 of those come in at 9% or higher.

• Number of anticipated attendees: 17,000 from all over the world.

• Five reasons to come on opening day:
– Fewer people
– Zero chance a beer will be sold out– It's opening day and you can feel the vibe from the staff, servers, city and the beers
– Friendly, knowledgeable beer geeks in attendance, not frat boys
– Chance to hit the rare beers and brag to your friends who cannot make it to the fest till the weekend

• "If I could only attend one day, I would go on Wednesday," says event manager Preston Weesner. "It's like opening a gift that you have been waiting for: why wait any longer if you don't have to?"

• The 10th annual Sunday Beer Brunch will take place on Dec. 8 from 11 am to 1 pm on the upper level of  Pioneer Courthouse Square. The auxiliary event features European pastries, cured meats and artisanal cheeses to accompany an assortment of exclusive vintage winter beers not available at the festival itself, plus special large format bottles to be shared. Tickets are available at

• For the past six years, the coat check, root beer sales, and raffle at the Holiday Ale Festival has benefitted seriously ill children in our community through CCA; last year alone, the festival donated $10,000 to the

• The festival has a very user-friendly real time mobile website that provides up-to-second updates on beer tappings and locations. Just go to on your phone, and choose mobile version (the website will autodetect a mobile browser).

18th annual Holiday Ale Festival

Pioneer Courthouse Square, located at 701 SW Sixth Ave. on the MAX Light Rail line

Wednesday, Dec. 4 through Sunday, Dec. 8
Noon to 10 pm Wed, 11 am to 10 pm Thur-Sat, and 11 am to 5 pm Sun
To avoid lengthy lines, the recommended days for attendance are Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

While eggnog and hot toddies are commonly associated with the holidays, it’s no surprise that in the beer Mecca of the Pacific Northwest, craft ales are the drink of choice: specifically, big, bold ales designed to fend off the cold chill of a long winter night. The 18th annual Holiday Ale Festival gathers together more than four dozen of these winter warmers for a joyous five-day celebration. The beers featured are rich, robust and full of complex flavors. 

From Belgians to barleywines, porters to winter warmers, and spiced ales to stouts, these beers have either been crafted or blended specifically for the event or are hard-to-fine vintages. What they all share in common  is their rarity - the festival works with every brewery involved to make sure they are sending a product that has either been made specifically for this event, or is a rare or vintage beer that isn’t commonly tapped in the state - which has solidified the event’s reputation as the premier winter beer tasting venue on the West Coast.

Despite being held outdoors during one of the coldest months of the year, more than 17,000 festival attendees stay warm and dry over the five-day festival under clear-topped tents that cover the venue. Gas heaters create a cozy ambiance beneath the boughs of the region's largest decorated Christmas tree. In addition to beer tasting, the festival also features meet the brewer events, a root beer garden, food vendors, beer pairings with cupcakes & cheese, event merchandise and a coat and bag check that raises funds for the Children's Cancer Association.

To enter and consume beer, the purchase of an entry package is required. The general admission package at the door costs $30 and includes the 2013 tasting mug and 10 taster tickets. Advance general admission packages cost $30 and include the tasting mug, 12 taster tickets and expedited entry all five days. Advance VIP packages are available for $75 and include the tasting mug, 28 taster tickets, a bottle of water, access to VIP lines (including special tappings) and express entry all five days. Express re-entry requires a wristband and the 2013 mug, and is subject to the festival's capacity. Previous year's mugs will not be filled. Advance packages are available online at Once inside the festival, a full mug of beer costs four taster tickets, and a four-ounce taste costs one ticket. Certain limited release and special tappings may not be available in full mug pours, or may cost double tickets. Additional beer tickets can be purchased for $1 apiece. Designated drivers in a party of two or more may purchase a designated driver wristband for $5, which includes Crater Lake Root Beer or bottled water for the duration of the stay.

The event is for ages 21 and over.