Monday, December 9, 2013

18th Annual Holiday Ale Festival 2013 Day 2

Holiday Ale Fest Mug
Another Holiday Mug
Day two of the Holiday Ale Fest I was joined by my wife and some friends to amplify the merriment.  We took the MAX down again and jumped right off racing for the line since there were many other plastic beer mugs in our fellow MAX patron's hands.  We got to the door just in time because the line was non existent but as we walked in a horde of people began piling up behind us.  Another frigid day so it was pretty miserable to even be waiting outside in the line while they checked our wristbands.

Slanted Rock Brewing Co. - Pantyhose Porter - Imperial Baltic Porter - 8.4% - 28 IBU - C+
The frothy burnt orange head sitting on this black beer is probably the most amazing thing about this beer. The frothy foam is a very unique color and gets you interested in the beer if for no other reason than how it looks.  The smell is light with molasses and toffee and even subtler undertones of brown sugar and vanilla. The first drinks leaves a shockingly full bodied and sweet chocolate flavor in your mouth, but finishes slightly chalky.

Crux Fermentation Project - Oud Freakcake - Oud Bruin/Flanders Style - 10.5% - 35 IBU - C
This clear dark copper colored beer had a moderate cookie aroma from the malt and a light vinegar scent as well as a little grape.  The taste was lightly sour with a little more sweet characteristic than the smell would lead you to think.  The body of this beer was light with an above average carbonation level.  This beer also had a noticeable alcohol flavor to it but surprisingly not as much as the 10.5% should have given it.  Definitely a holiday ale, not super spiced but it just said Christmas beer to me.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers - Erotic Cake - Chocolate Milk Stout - 6.8% - 20 IBU - C+
An average creamy head which was saying a lot for this festival. Sitting in pitchers and being poured into mugs does not always facilitate the best head for a beer.  This beer looked extremely thick, motor oil thick and extremely black.  The aroma coming off the top was that of Coffee and chocolate, exactly what the color makes you think it smells like. The taste was very strong coffee but lighter on the chocolate. a medium body was not what I was expecting from this beer though, much thinner than it looks.  Overall this beer was neither cake-like or erotic, it was OK though.

Old Town Brewing Co. - Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum - Rum Barrel Aged Old Ale - 7.5% - 30 IBU - C
This dark copper colored beer with an average fizzy head was very opaque.  A light caramel aroma rose from the beer that prepared you for the similar flavor when drank.  The texture was thick and fizzy, it may have been because I've been drinking so many dark beers but it seemed light.  There was nothing really wrong with this beer I was just not crazy about it.

I carefully chose all my beers the day before and did a lot of research to make sure I got the ones I wanted to try. Today however, I kind of was just following my friends around and drinking what seemed interesting in the vicinity.  To this point it had not proved very enjoyable and I was starting to get disparaged because I haven't really liked anything yet today.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. - Hairy Eyeball (2011) - American Strong Ale - 9.0% - B-
A beer I have been wanting to try for some time, this seasonal release from Laguintas is an annual tradition, apparently running out of their cappuccino stout this 2 year old beer was a welcome substitute.  A foamy head topped this hazy brown ale.  The malt profile gave an aroma that  hinted at cookie molasses and caramel and then threw in some light pear after a couple whiffs.  It smelled about what it tasted like with a medium body and soft carbonation, I don't know what I was expecting from this beer but it did not deliver it. I liked it but it was just not the beer that I was expecting.

Collaborator - Collaborator Hallucinator Blend - Specialty Blend - 7.7% - 31 IBU - C
Light foamy bubbles circled the perimeter of this clear copper beer in the mug, releasing the pleasant molasses and caramel aroma.  Cherry and vanilla also came through once you took a drink of the medium bodies beer.  The beer was sweet, a little too sweet for my pallet at this point.

Widmer Brothers Brewing - Biere De Noel - Biere de Garde - 9.5% - 41 IBU - A-
Like almost every other beer at the fest a light diminishing head topped this beer.  I look at this light brown ale and prepared myself for another bouquet of molasses and caramel.  To my surprise this was not what I found at all.  An incredible citrus and grapefruit nose-splosion greeted me and I have make sure I'm still drinking the same beer.  The taste was incredible I can only assume this is heavily dry hopped with Citra or some other citrus hop.  A medium body  with average carbonation and a very smooth finish.  Aggressively aromatic and incredibly well balanced with the malt profile.  Best beer I tasted the whole day, not what I was expecting from Widmer Brothers, but a welcome and pleasant surprise.

Deschutes Brewery - Sage Pumpkin - Pumpkin Ale - 7.5% - 24 IBU - B+
This beer took a couple tickets and was not available the day before.  The Deschutes website said that this is a "pub exclusive" so in leiu of driving to Bend I tried it.  This beer was a very clear light amber with a moderate herbal pumpkin aroma, a hint of cherry was also detectable.  A medium body finished smooth and pleasant.  I could pick up the sage but it was not overbearing, it kind of tasted similar to my pumpkin saison. A pretty good beer all around like any other pumpkin beer great for one but not to drink all night.

We left to go see my friend Jim's Dad in a local bar and I ordered a seasonal beer so I thought, screw it I'll continue my reviews.

Double Mountain Brewery - Fa La La La La - Winter Ale - 7.5 - 85 IBU - B
Finally I get to a bar where they will be pouring a beer from a draft into a real glass I got small but lasting head on the beer which was nice.  A very lightly cloudy amber beer that smelled of bread and caramel from the malt bill and pine with a hint of celery when agitated from the hops.  It was moderately sweet and lightly bitter with a medium body.  This was a good finish to a day of drinking nice smooth caramel-y beer almost like an amber.

This years Holiday Ale Festival was substantially more fun than years past.  I think this was because there was substantially fewer people than years past.  This had two great benefits shorter lines and there was no overbearing claustrophobia that the crowded atmosphere inspires.  I think this may have been caused by the below freezing temperatures and the fear of waiting in a line that wraps around three sides of the block for up to an hour.  Whatever was the reason the effect was very welcome, I only hope the weather is this miserable every year.

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