Holiday Ale Festival: Scenes from Day 1

The 2010 Holiday Ale Festival kicked off yesterday in Downtown Portland.  I decided to take a few days off from work to soak it all in.  I volunteered and, of course, sampled a few beers.

I spent some time walking around the venue.  I was amazed at how the HAF crew transformed Pioneer Square into a very warm and inviting space.  It's fully enclosed by tents and the roofs are made of transparent plastic.  They give the fest a very open feeling.

Wayne.  Occupation: Wine Wizard

I also chatted with some interesting people.  This is Wayne.  He's a wizard.  It's funny, if you live in Portland long enough, you don't even notice people dressed like this.  Wayne is The Wizard of Wine and he hosts an internet wine show.  Check it out at

While chatting with Wayne, the subject of my blog came up.  The guy next to us, Eli, chimed in and told me he reads my blog.  He even pulled out his iPhone and showed me his feed list that includes my blog!  How cool is that?!?  Photographic evidence is provided below.  It was really nice to finally meet one of my 7 readers!  Thanks rock!!

Then my volunteer shift started and I poured Eel River's Climax Noel '09 and 10 Barrel's Pray for Snow for a few hours.  That was a blast and I got to hang out with some more cool folks.  People at beer festivals are really nice.  I wonder why??

After my volunteer shift, I sampled six beers.  Here are my quick impressions:
  • Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Brewing.  I tasted the coffee and chocolate, but not the vanilla.  This is a solid beer—very smooth, but I was hoping for more vanilla.
  • Femme Fatale (Sour Ale), Boneyard Beer.  It delivers the raspberries and cranberries as advertised.  However, it wasn't as sour as I expected.  If you want to crank up the pucker-meter, try Cascade Brewing's Sang Noir or Bear Republic's Ebeweesner Scrooge.
  • Brown Mashuggana (Strong Ale), Lagunitas Brewing.  Amazing aroma of evergreen and citrus.  The brown sugar and "mystery" spices blend together nicely.  This is a must try. 
  • North the Fourth (Strong Ale), Fort George Brewery.  This one wins the award for most unusual ingredients.  The candy cane and spruce flavors come through.  But unlike chocolate and peanut butter, these don't go well together.
  • Bockus (Strong Black Lager), Double Mountain Brewery.   Lots of roasted malt in aroma and flavor, with some chocolate.  Good beer.
  • Union Barrel Fermented Porter, Firestone Walker.  Nice oak flavor that is common to many FW brews.  A nice beer, but a bit thinner than I expected.  At 5.9%, this is one of the lower ABV beers at the fest.

I also sampled 13 beers on Sunday as part of a media preview.  You can check out my impressions of those beers here.  Looking forward to more sampling on Day 2!  Cheers!

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Look Mom!  I'm on someone's blog feed!

Eli, you are the member of an elite club.  Now send me a check for your dues!
Angelo De Ieso (Brewpublic) and Mike Haines (Vertigo) need some beer

Got Patch?
A Happy Crowd

What a View!


  1. Sanjay, great to meet you! We'll have to speak at greater length next time.

  2. Likewise Jeff! It's always great to put a face with a blog! :)

    I look forward to hanging out again. Cheers!

  3. I went to Fort George on Saturday and tried North the Fourth. I am a big fan of the Fort, but I agree with your assessment and was disappointed. I switched to my favorite after that, Vortex. Going to head to B15 this week and try the Figgy Pudding.

  4. It was a strange beer. It would be interesting to chat with the brewers to understand how they came up with with. It think you'll like Figgy Pudding. I liked it a lot, but it seems like an equal number of folks disliked it just as much. I think it's a love it or hate it beer.

  5. As one of the brewers that came up with the concept for NorthIV, I would happily explain its' genesis and creation.

  6. Thanks for commenting Jack! I look forward to hearing the story and will be in touch!

  7. Fort George cans are now available in my neck of the woods. Corvallis Brewing is stocking Vortex IPA and 1811 Lager. They were out of the Vortex, one of my all time favs, so I tried the 1811. I'm usually not a lager guy, but this one is very good.

  8. I've been looking for the new Fort George cans, but have not seen them in my area yet. I've NEVER tasted Vortex. Sad, I know. I need to rectify that soon!

  9. Just got my hands on a couple of cans of the Vortex. Maybe you can ask Fort George on Facebook where they distribute it in Portland. That's what my wife did.


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