Review: Merry Maker, Samuel Adams

Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout
Samuel Adams — Boston, MA

  • Style:  Gingerbread Stout
  • Bitterness:  25 IBU
  • ABV:  9.0%
  • Malts:  Two-Row Pale, Wheat, Special B, Roasted Barley, Flaked Oats
  • Hops:  East Kent Goldings, Fuggles
  • Special Ingredients:  Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle (provided by brewery) 

Description:  This rich dark gingerbread stout entices with the aromas of the holidays.  The flavor of gingerbread comes alive, beginning with the smooth sweetness and heartiness of dark roasted malts and a touch of wheat.  But it’s the intensity and spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & ginger that add a wicked kick for a jolly playful brew full of merry mischief. Samuel Adams 

Random thoughts:  Gingerbread is a classic holiday treat. Would you care for gingerbread in your beer? That’s what Samuel Adams attempts to deliver with Merry Maker, a Small Batch release. I’m tasting Merry Maker as part of my winter beer series.

The tasting:  Black in color, with a dark tan head that dissipates very slowly. From the first whiff, the spices make their presence known. Cinnamon, nutmeg and mild notes of clove are prominent. The beer delivers on its promise early—it smells just like a gingerbread cookie! Taste starts with a rush of the same spice flavors that filled the aroma. However, this time, ginger emerges through the spice. In the middle, roasted malt and light coffee flavors come through. Overall, the rich roasty malt and spice flavors meld seamlessly. There’s also a light touch of malt sweetness in the middle. It’s not overdone and works well with the roasted malt and spice. Hop bitterness is low throughout. Merry Maker is medium bodied, softly carbonated, and has a creamy smooth mouth feel. It finishes with warming alcohol, light roast, and gingerbread spice. 

4 star.  Really good! I want this again!  Merry Marker promises a gingerbread cookie in a glass, and delivers! The Samuel Adams brew crew hit the nail on the head with this beer. It has all the flavors you’d expect but doesn’t go overboard with the sweetness. Be wary, as this is a stealthy beer. It may be 9% ABV, but it doesn’t taste like it! Merry Maker is a good choice to pair with holiday desserts—or let it serve as your dessert itself.

Although this beer tastes great fresh, I wonder how a year or two in the cellar might transform it?  Maybe I’ll pick up an extra bottle next year, and find out. 

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Review: Christmas Ale, Schlafly

Schlafly Christmas Ale
The St. Louis Brewing Co. — St. Louis, MO

  • Style:  Winter Warmer
  • Bitterness:  30 IBU
  • ABV:  8.0%
  • Malts:  Pale, Caramel, Munich, Chocolate, Honey
  • Hops:  Hallertau
  • Special Ingredients:  Spiced with orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom, and cloves
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle (provided by brewery) 

Description:  Our Christmas Ale is a warming winter ale that blends the spices of the season with sweet caramel malt.  Orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom and cloves are added for spiciness.  We use honey in the fermentation process, which raises the ABV without producing too much heat from the alcohol content. Many breweries produce richer, higher alcohol beers for the winter holiday season, bolder than their year-round offerings.   The inspiration for this beer came from spiced holiday beverages such as wassail and mulled wines. Around the holidays, the sweet and spicy aromas, not to mention the booze, in such libations tend to smooth the rougher edges of enjoying each other’s company and spreading goodwill.  Schlafly 

Random thoughts:  Two years ago, I profiled Schlafly's Pumpkin Ale. I absolutely loved it and wanted to include their Christmas Ale as part of my winter beer series. Schlafly's beer isn't available in the Northwest, so the brewery kindly sent me some sample bottles. 

The tasting:  Bottled on November 14, 2013. Deep amber in color, hazy, with an off-white head that dissipates very slowly. It left lots of lacing on the glass. Aroma is full of spicecinnamon, clove, ginger, and orange are all prominent. A touch of alcohol is also present in aroma. The taste starts with caramel, which provides a light malt sweetness. In the middle, the spice flavors beautifully meld together. It's hard to distinguish the individual spice components in taste, but they nicely complement the caramel sweetness. A light earthy hop bitterness is present in the middle, but overall bitterness is low throughout. Christmas Ale is medium bodied and moderately carbonated. It has a creamy mouth feel and finishes semi-dry with lingering notes of caramel, spice, and mild warming alcohol.

4 star.  Really good! I want this again!  This has been my favorite of the winter seasonals I've tasted so far this year. While bold, the spice flavors are well balanced and do not overwhelm. If you really want to unleash the spice, let the beer rise to room temperature before drinking. If Schlafly Christmas Ale is available in your area, be sure to give this delicious beer a try before it disappears for the year!

What do you think of Schlafly's Christmas Ale
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Review: Slick Nick, Sebago Brewing

Slick Nick Long Winter Ale
Sebago Brewing Co. — Gorham, ME

  • Style:  Strong Ale
  • Bitterness:  40 IBU
  • ABV:  7.2%
  • Malts:  2-Row Barley, English Pale, English Crystal, Red Wheat, Chocolate
  • Hops:  Tettnang, Northern Brewer 
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle (provided by brewery) 

Description:  Slick Nick Winter Ale is a classic Sebago seasonal -- warming up Maine Winters since 1998. Best enjoyed with nature's at its worst. Slick Nick Long Winter Ale's smooth body offers malty warmth and a touch of hop character. Another reason to be thankful for the season. Sebago Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  This is the second Sebago beer I've profiled. Earlier this fall, I wrote about Sebago's Bonfire Rye, which was released for the first time this autumn. Now I'm tasting Sebago's winter brew as part of my series on winter seasonal beers

The tasting:  Dark amber in color, hazy, with a frothy off-white head that dissipates very slowly and leaves lots of sticky lacing on the glass. Aroma of bread, toffee, and earthy hops. Taste starts with caramel, bread, and a bit of brown sugar sweetness. In the middle, some nutty and toasted malt flavors emerge, in addition to light earthy hop bitterness. Alcohol is not noticeable in aroma but is present in taste as the beer warms. Hop bitterness is moderate throughout. Slick Nick is medium to full-bodied and has a creamy mouth feel. It's moderately carbonated, and finishes with light caramel malt sweetness and piny hop bitterness. 

4 star.  Really good! I want this again!  Slick Nick's rich malt flavors, full body, and brown sugar sweetness make it an ideal winter beer in my book. It's the kind of beer you can slowly savor. Bad weather is optional.  

What do you think of Sebago's Slick Nick
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Crux Fermentation Project's [BANISHED] Series

Last week, I received beer mail from Crux Fermentation Project. I've received many beer packages during the last few years, but this was unique. It included a crowbar. I promptly used this tool to pry open the small wooden crate which protected its delicate cargothree 375 ml bottles:


  • FREAKCAKE [BANISHED], Oud Bruin Ale, Our node to the holidays is aged in bourbon barrels with Brett, and with figs, dates, cranberries and other dried fruits added.
  • DOUBLECROSS [BANISHED], Dark Belgian-Style Ale,  Doublecross fans want to dry its mature counterpart, aged in pinot barrels for complex flavors of dried fruit, vanilla and sherry.
  • HALF HITCH, Imperial Mosiac IPA, Flavors of guava, mango, stone fruit and lemon might unravel your idea of what an Imperial IPA should be

Freakcake and Doublecross are part of Crux's [BANISHED] Series. Here's how the brewery describes this barrel-aged series: "[BANISHED] series beers are hidden away for months in oak barrels, allowing flavors to mature, meld, and mellow. Some beers in this series also contain live yeast, making them good candidates for cellaring at home."

I love Oud Bruins, so I can't wait to crack open Freakcake. Crux provides some cellaring advice for this beer, "room temperature storage = funky, refrigerated storage = not so funky."  Storage location is an easy choice for me, since I like my brett beers funky. The harder choice is, how long can I  wait?  Whenever I do decide to drink these, I'll be sure to share my tasting notes.

Have you tasted Crux's [BANISHED] Series beers?

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Don't Overthink It, Give the Gift of Beer!

Three days 'till Christmas! Are you still shopping for a gift for the beer lover in your life? If so, don't overthink it. The answer is simple. Give the gift of beer! If you know your beer geek's favorite styles, just head to your local bottle shop and ask the beer steward to recommend some limited or special release beers. It's really that simple!
If you're not into brick and mortar shopping, or you have no clue what your beer lover likes, a beer club membership is always a great choice. I received a subscriptions to The Microbrewed Beer of Month Club and The Rare Beer Club as gifts. I love them because they allow me to try beers that are not available in my area. Also, there's nothing like getting a box of beer delivered to your doorstep!
The Rare Beer Club has the added benefit of the Personalized Shipment Program, which provides your recipient with complete control over the beers they receive. For pricing and more details, please visit the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club and The Rare Beer Club web sites. Click here to see what a shipment from The Rare Beer Club looks like. Both clubs are offering limited time holiday discounts for readers of my blog:
  • NOTSOPRO5: $5 off any membership
  • NOTSOPRO15: $10 off any prepaid membership of 6 months or longer (valid through 12/31).
  • NOTSOPRO25: $20 off any prepaid membership of 12 months or longer (valid through 12/31).
If you're interested, use these codes at checkout, save yourself some cash, and give put a smile on your beer lover's face this Christmas!
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Review: Session Fest, Full Sail

Session Fest
Full Sail Brewing Co. — Hood River, OR

  • Style:  Czech Strong Lager
  • Bitterness:  26 IBU
  • ABV:  6.2%
  • Malts:  2 Row Pale, Munich, Caramel, Wheat
  • Hops:  Glacier, Cascade
  • Sampled:  11 oz. bottle (provided by brewery)

Description: When we decided to brew a special Session for the holidays, we knew right away what color it had to be: Red (and full-bodied). Next, we considered what kind of head it should have. Bright white was the obvious answer. And as for the label? Gotta be green, right? So there you have it. A Session all decked out for holidays, ready to spread joy and cheer. Happy Holidays to one and all! And have a good Session. — Full Sail Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Full Sail's Session Fest returns for its second winter season. I'm tasting Session Fest as part of my series on winter seasonal beers

The tasting:  Amber in color, clear, with an off-white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Aroma of bread, caramel, and earthy hops. Taste starts with a mild dose of spicy hops and bread. In the middle, a touch of caramel sweetness comes through, and is nicely complemented by a mild nutty flavor. Alcohol is not noticeable in aroma of flavor and hop bitterness is very low. Session Fest is light bodied and moderately carbonated. It has a crisp mouth feel and finishes with caramel and spicy hops.

4 star.  Really good! I want this again!  Winter beers tend to be higher alcohol and heavier in body. Session Fest's light body and relatively low alcohol make it an excellent choice for your holiday festivities.
What do you think of Session Fest?

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Review: Festeroo, Hop Valley

Hop Valley Brewing Co. — Springfield, OR

  • Style:  Winter Warmer
  • Bitterness:  60 IBU
  • ABV:  7.8%
  • Malts:  Not specified 
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle 

Description:  Baby, when it's cold outside, wrap yourself up in this seasonal English-style Old Ale brewed with a slightly spicy combination of malts and leafy hops. Hop Valley Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  This is just the second Hop Valley beer I've tasted. This summer, I tasted their 541 Lager and enjoyed it.  I'm tasting Festeroo as part of my series on winter seasonal beers

The tasting:  Deep reddish-brown in color, with a tan head that dissipates very slowly, leaving lots of sticky lacing on the glass. Aroma of bread, vanilla, toffee, mild grapefruit and a hint of alcohol. Taste starts with light grapefruit bitterness. In the middle, malty flavors of biscuit and caramel come through. There's also a light tang in the middle, which is quite nice. It has moderate hop bitterness throughout and light alcohol is present in the middle. Festeroo is light to medium bodied, has a resinous mouth feel, and finishes semi-dry with a touch of spice.
4 star.  Really good! I want this again!  Festeroo is very nicely balanced. It has great hoppy notes and plenty delicious malt flavors. It's hard to define what makes a winter beer a winter beer. It's largely a personal choice. For me, this beer fits the bill.  I need to check out some more of Hop Valley's beers. So far, I've been very impressed.

What do you think of Hop Valley's Festeroo? 
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Review: Kris Kringle, McMenamins

Kris Kringle
McMenamins — Portland, OR

  • Style:  Winter Warmer
  • Bitterness:  Not specified 
  • ABV:  6.8%
  • Malts:  Pale Ale Malt, Munich Malt, Wheat Malt,15L Crystal Malt, 120L Crystal Malt, Baird's Chocolate Malt
  • Hops:  Centennial (Bittering & Flavor), Santiam (Flavor), Cascade (Flavor & Aroma), Sterling (Flavor & Aroma)
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle (provided by brewery)

Description:  The busy-as-elves McMenamins brewers have created another wonderful gift for your taste buds this holiday season. This year's version of Kris Kringle is a hearty and robust ale with a big and bold malt complexity as well as an intense and flavorful hop profile. This "winter warmer" highlights the rich, toasty, aromatic and chocolaty malt flavors as its very sturdy foundation. Generous amounts of four different hop varieties were added in five different additions that delivers a magnificent and massive hop assault. There's still some ginger and cinnamon added into the batch but the spices are a little more subdued than in years' past. McMenamins brewers hope you enjoy this years' version of our old Holiday favorite, Kris Kringle. — McMenamins

Random thoughts:  Brewed since 1986, Kris Kringle, is the longest running holiday seasonal in Oregon. The recipe varies slightly each year, and this year's Kringle is a bit more hoppy than prior years. I'm tasting Kris Kringle as part of my series on winter seasonal beers

The tasting:  When held up to the light, it’s deep garnet in color. It has a light tan head that dissipates very slowly, leaving lots of lacing on the glass. Aroma of caramel, plum, pine, and a touch of alcohol. Flavor starts with bread, caramel, and chocolate, along with some mild piney hop bitterness. In the middle, light spice notes come through. They're subtle and hard to identify. There’s also a light tangy note in the middle, which provides an unexpected twist. Hop bitterness is moderate throughout. Kris Kringle is light to medium bodied, softly carbonated, and finishes with the light grapefruit hop bitterness. 

4 star.  Really good! I want this again!  This was the first time I tasted this beer and I’m not sure how I missed it all these years. Better late than never! Its got a little bit of everything—rich malty flavors, plenty of hops, and a touch of spice. At the same time, it manages to stay nicely balanced. If you want to check out Kris Kringle, he should be available at McMenamins locations until December 24th.

Have you tasted Kris Kringle?  How did this year's version compare to previous years?

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Review: Bouncy House, Smuttynose

Bouncy House
Smuttynose Brewing Co. — Portsmouth, NH

  • Style:  Hoppy American Ale
  • Bitterness:  40 IBU
  • ABV:  4.9%
  • Malts:  North American 2-Row, Crisp Pale Ale, Aromatic, C-60
  • Hops: 
    • Bittering: Warrior
    • Flavor: Calypso
    • Dry Hop: El Dorado and Citra
  • Sampled:  22 oz bottle (provided by brewery)

Description:  We've gotten a bit of a reputation for brewing strong beers. Nearly all of our Big Beer Series releases are close to 10% and our two best sellers, Finestkind IPA and Old Brown Dog are over 6.5%. Now, we love drinking our beers, but we can't always drink big and that's where Bouncy House comes in. It's a low-strength, hoppy American Ale, that's conducive to a second or third beer — Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Random thoughts: Bouncy House is a Short Batch experimental release from Smuttynose. In a unique experiment, they brewery is seeking customer input for potential changes to this beer. Use the #bouncyhouse hashtag to share your thoughts on Twitter, or leave feedback on the Smuttynose Facebook page.  

The tasting:  Golden in color, hazy, with an off-white head that dissipates very slowly. Aroma is full of grapefruit and pine. At the first sip, a rush of intense grapefruit and grassy hop bitterness emerges and dominates the flavor. It has some light bready and biscuit malt flavors in the middle, but they’re overshadowed by bitterness. Alcohol is not noticeable in aroma or flavor, and hop bitterness is very strong throughout. Bouncy House is light boded, moderately carbonated, and finishes with a bitter long lingering grapefruit aftertaste.

3 star. Good. I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  Since Smuttynose is actively seeking input, I’m happy to share mine. For a hoppy session beer, I’d prefer less hop bitterness and more bright hop flavor. I expect they could accomplish this by dialing back the bittering hops and by increasing the late addition flavor and aroma hops. I was surprised to see this beer rated at only 40 IBUs, as it seemed much more bitter to me.

But what really matters is what YOU think. Give Bouncy House a taste and share your feedback with Smuttynose.  #bouncyhouse 

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Review: Tart Attack, NoDa Brewing

Tart Attack
NoDa Brewing Co. — Charlotte, NC

  • Style:  Berliner Weisse with Blackberries
  • Bitterness:  84 IBU
  • ABV:  4.3%
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled:  750 ml bottle

Description:  This Berliner Weisse style sour ale is full of character and flavor at only 4.3% alcohol by volume. We sour mashed this ale to create a lovely tart and bright flavor. To further the tart character, we rested it on blackberries after its fermentation was complete. The result is a bright and complex tart ale with both semisweet and dry notes throughout. This ale was brewed to honor Pints for Prostates and all their work in bringing awareness to prostate cancer. So men... get tested, live longer and enjoy more craft beer!! — NoDa Brewing

Random thoughts: I’m a huge fan of the Berliner Weisse style, so I was thrilled to see Tart Attack offered as a Rare Beer Club selection and was excited when it arrived in the mail (along with Strubbe’s Grand Cru). Getting beer in the mail never gets old!

The tasting: Tart Attack is golden orange color with a slight pinkish. It's hazy and has a white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Aroma of tangy wheat, lemon, and berry. At the first sip, lactic tartness provides a nice zing to start the drink. It's not mouth puckering, but is quite high in tartness. In the middle, wheat, light earthy hops, and mild notes of blackberry emerge. As expected for the style, hop bitterness is very low and alcohol is not noticeable in aroma or taste. Tart Attack is light bodied, softly carbonated, and finishes dry with bright lemon and lingering lactic tartness.

4 star. Really Good! I want this again!  I drank Tart Attack on Thanksgiving Day. A Berliner Weisse may be an unusual choice for a Thanksgiving, but I saved it for after dinner and found it very light and refreshing after heavy meal. I think berries work exceptionally well in this style. So if you’re a fan of Berliner Weisse, Tart Attack is a beer you should check out! 

Have you tasted Tart Attack? What's your favorite Berliner Weisse?

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Beer Run: Winter Seasonals

Winter beer season is now in full swing! I remember seeing cases of holiday beers in grocery stores way back in October, which was a bit too early for me.

I officially launched my winter beer season last weekend with two old favorites, Full Sail Wassail and Elysian Bifrost. Earlier this week, I got a mega dose of rare and limited-release yuletide beer at Portland’s Holiday Ale Festival.

Now I’m going to settle into a bunch of winter seasonals that I've never tasted. Some are available in wide release and some are available regionally. I’ve collected about 10 beers and will break up the merriment into two groups. First, I’ll start by tasting:

Click here and here to see some of my Winter Beer roundups from previous years.  In the meantime, I have two questions for you. What characteristics make a great winter seasonal? What are your winter beer favorites?
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Scenes from Holiday Ale Fest '13

Holiday Ale Fest '13 is on! The 18th installment of Portland's winter beer extravaganza opened today under clear skies and frigid (for Portland standards) weather. As expected, opening day crowds were light, lines were short, and the entire taplist was flowing.

For the first time, I actually stuck to my game plan and sampled everything on my tasting list. My favorites were Yule Goat (Deschutes), Cherry Diesel (Cascade), The Twerking Elf (Stickmen), and Gargantua (Eel River). Tastes and preferences differ, so I won't provide my tasting notes. Instead, be sure to check out the festival's taplist, which provides detailed descriptions for each beer.

The festival ends on Sunday, so make sure you plan a trip down to Pioneer Square to enjoy some unique winter beer!

Did you attend Holiday Ale Festival? What were your favorites?

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2013 Holiday Ale Fest: The Taplist

The 2013 Holiday Ale Festival kicks off on Wednesday! I've included the full taplist which provides details and descriptions for nearly 50 beers.

If you love craft beer, HAF is the must-attend Portland beer festival, in my humble opinion. Most of the beers are one-off creations brewed exclusively for the event. If you've never attended, check out my recap of last year's HAF. For HAF hours, location, and pricing, click here.

Every year, I create my personal tasting list before I attend. However, once I set foot under the big clear tent, my plans fall by the wayside. Anyway, I'll give it another shot this year. In case you're curious, here are the 10 beers I plan to taste. I'm not saying these are the best beers, or ones you should try. They're simply the ones that most appeal to me:

  1. Bourbon Barrel Naughty & Nice, 2 Towns Ciderhouse
  2. It Makes Reindeer Fly, Burnside Brewing
  3. Cherry Diesel, Cascade Brewing
  4. Oud Freakcake, Crux Fermentation Project
  5. Yule Goat, Deschutes Brewery
  6. Kronan the Bourbarion, Hopworks Urban Brewery
  7. St. Dorothy's Peach Cordial Ale, Laht Neppur Brewing
  8. Revelry Rye Ale, Lompoc Brewing
  9. The Twerking Elf, Stickmen Brewery
  10. Spiced Unicorn Mile, Stone Brewing
How did I create my tasting list? First any beer with "sour" in its description got an automatic slot. Next, barrel-aged received strong consideration. Finally, anything brewed with carrots or inspired by Miley Cyrus made the cut.

Have fun creating your own tasting list! If you'd rather not plan ahead, just head down to HAF and see what happens. This event was made for sampling. Cheers to another great year of holiday ales! See you under the big tent.

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Beer Name
Beer Style
10 Barrel Brewing Co
Spiced Winter Ale
It’s not eggnog, it’s beernog! This spiced winter ale is actually nothing like eggnog, but you should drink it instead. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, rum-soaked raisins and cocoa nibs, this is a dangerously easy-drinking winter ale. 
2 Towns Ciderhouse
Bourbon Barrel Nice & Naughty
Bourbon Barrel Aged Spiced Cider
This specialty cider is fermented with dark Meadowfoam honey and aged in Bourbon barrels. Crammed full of cheerful winter spices that mingle with the wood and sweet Bourbon aromas, this cider is sure to warm up your cold, dark nights.
Alameda Brewing Co
Long Beard's Baltic Porter
Baltic Porter
Brewed just for the festival, this beer features a traditional malt base with a few modern day adjustments. An addition of cherry wood smoked malt lends a warm – almost sweet – smoke to the beer, while chocolate rye adds a nice spice, as well as another layer, to the rich, dark malt base. This beer starts big and sweet, transitions to roast and smoke with a slight alcohol burn, and finishes smooth on the palate. Tettnang hops offer a classic hop spice, while the smooth mouthfeel and nice clean finish are due to the extended lagering. 
Base Camp Brewing Co
White Squall
Wheat Wine
The Base Camp brewers love a big, robust barleywine, but to really let their house ale yeast shine, they created the White Squall Wheat Wine. A HUGE grain bill showcasing white wheat spreads a deep blanket of malty goodness, with layers of yeast-derived fruity esters and spicy phenols swirling through it. The White Squall has shaped up to be one of their very favorite winter brews, and they hope you'll love it as well!
Bear Republic Brewing Co
Santa’s Lost Wallet
Specialty Blend
In the course of some off-season revelry at Bear Republic, Santa lost his wallet at the bar. Upon recovery of the wallet, the team of brewers worked with the visitor from the North to craft this dark and luscious blend of ales. The base is a brandy barrel-aged Belgian brown ale that features the sweet notes of brandy, house-made candi syrup, and a touch of nutmeg; blended for balance with Bear Republic’s roasty Big Bear Black Stout and molasses-heavy Pirate Stout.
BridgePort Brewing Co
Oak-Aged Honey Porter
This is a malt-driven beer with a jet-black hue and lots of roasty flavors. The roastiness is complemented with honey, added to the kettle and in finishing. The beer is aged on American white oak to give added flavors of caramel and vanilla for a smooth finish.
Burnside Brewing Co
It Makes Reindeer Fly
Imperial Rye Ale
When the Burnside fellas got together to talk beer for the HAF, they agreed thy had to make the perfect holiday brew: it had to be big, malty and unique. They started with loads of rye and specialty malts and continued to fortify with a reindeer's favorite treats; heirloom carrots from Prairie Creek Farms in Joseph, OR, and raisins for sustained energy. So here it is, a beer so special It Makes Reindeer Fly!
Cascade Brewing
Cherry Diesel
Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
This barrel aged stout was brewed with chocolate and roasted malts, organic black strap molasses and dark Belgian candi sugar, then aged for five months in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels on Papua New Guinea vanilla beans and blended with cherries. Aromas of dark sweet chocolate, Bourbon, molasses and cherries present themselves up front. Dark coffee and milk chocolate intermingle with the roasted malts and dark molasses to finish with a slight Bourbon heat and a lingering sweet dark chocolate and cherry sweetness.
Coalition Brewing Co
Barley Wine
Shenanigans Barley Wine is complex yet approachable, big and bold yet highly drinkable. Five different caramel malts provide a delightful malt sweetness and fruit notes, displaying the full range of caramel colors from 15L all the way up to 140L. Northern Brewer and Willamette make up the hop profile. Warning: At 9.8% ABV, this beer may lead to mischief, high jinks and tomfoolery.     
Collaborator Hallucinator Blend
Specialty Blend
The base of this beer is Collaborator Hallucinator, brewed in the late spring of this year and aged until the fall, when it was blended with a Cascade Brewing blending beer that brings subtle Bourbon tootsie roll notes to this aged malty old ale.
Columbia River Brewing Co
Hawaiian Christmas
Imperial Porter
This British style Imperial Porter was made with the addition of chocolate and fresh roasted coconut.
Crux Fermentation Project
Oud Freakcake
Oud Bruin / Flanders Style
Brewed to the Oud Bruin style with orange and lemon zest, then aged in Makers Mark barrels where the brewers added classic holiday fruits such as cranberries, figs, dates and raisins. Paying homage to the fruitcakes granny used to make with the only difference being, you won’t want to re‐gift this one!
Deschutes Brewery
Yule Goat
Spiced Brown Ale
This limited release special ale is a celebration of Deschutes' creative freedom. Aged one year in oak, the spiced brown ale underwent a secondary fermentation with brett in whiskey barrels. Dark, dried fruit, spice, licorice notes and the brett produced hints of cherry. This is a very limited release, enjoy it while you can! 
Dick's Brewing Co
Code 1081 
Winter Ale
This recipe is a throwback to 1995, originally brewed by the late Dick Young himself on the brewery’s initial three-barrel system. The brewing staff felt that by recreating this recipe for the Holiday Ale Festival, they could celebrate with friends and family and toast to Dick’s memory. This beer is a heavily hopped ale with black and chocolate malts that give it a dark and rich flavor. 
Eel River Brewing Co
Imperial Strong Ale Blend
Gargantua is first and foremost, BIG. It starts out with an Imperial strong ale that's aged on vanilla for a little holiday twist. It's then blended with Eel River's Bourbon barrel aged version of its Triple Exultation Strong Ale to bring in notes of oak and whiskey.
Elysian Brewing Co
Golden Treacle Pale
Doom is the delicious aftershock, a variation on Sextacula, the beer brewed for Elysian's 15th anniversary. It’s a giant tremor of a pale ale, brewed with pale, Biscuit, Cara-Hell and C-15 malts, with oats and additions of golden syrup and golden raisins. German Magnum hops were used to bitter, while generous amounts of prized Citra and Nelson Sauvins lend flavor and aroma through late additions and two dry-hoppings. The vintage edition was brewed in November 2012. 
Firestone Walker Brewing Co
Luponic Merlin
Oatmeal Stout
This wonderful roasty oatmeal stout has been infused with a combination of Citra, Centennial and Simcoe hops. This is a one-time only beer made just for the Holiday Ale Festival.
Fish Brewing Co
Gingerbread Ale
This is an ideal winter red ale to enjoy on a cold afternoon. Fish Tale’s Gingerbread Ale will remind you of grandma’s cookies during the holiday season. Well-balanced Apollo and Palisade hops combine with crystal and Munich malts. Add to that, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, and you have a Christmas ale even Santa can’t resist.
Fort George Brewery & Public House
Imperial Porter
The mythical Hogfather flies across Discworld once a year delivering presents, this year gracing all with a bold, black Imperial Porter that bears his name. Brewed at Fort George, where they believe that there is always time for another last minute and their inner child has never met its inner babysitter. At 8.15%, this beer can help you get to the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape. 
Gigantic Brewing
The Scut Farkus Affair
Holiday Ale
This is Gigantic’s tribute to its favorite Hammond, Indiana Strong Man (He had yellow eyes...yellow eyes! So help me God, YELLOW EYES!). This is a malty and hoppy red beer, brewed with Haribo gummy bears and English toffee to celebrate the season.
Gilgamesh Brewing
Barrel Aged Strong Ale
This is a Scottish influenced strong ale, aged in Burnside Bourbon barrels. Bread, caramel and roasted notes, complemented by charcoal, cinnamon and oak, lace the palate.   
Golden Valley Brewery
Santa’s Smokin’ Bock
This smoked lager was inspired by the Rauchbiers of Bamberg, Germany. Santa’s Smokin’ Bock was brewed using more than 60% beechwood-smoked malt, hopped with whole flower Tettnanger and Hersbrucker hops, and lagered for five weeks. It tastes like cuddling by a toasty festooned fireplace, in a glass.
Hop Valley Brewing Co
The Wolfe
English Style Barleywine
Simpson Golden Promise, Caralight and Bairds Carastan malts provide this beer its deep golden hue and depth of complex malt flavors. The English WGV and Willamette hops balance it out, giving it a classic English hop character. Hop Valley's first barleywine, The Wolfe is prime for winter sippin'!
Hopworks Urban Brewery
Kronan the Bourbarian
Bourbon Barrel Aged Baltic Porter
Deep like the Baltic Sea and as massive as the Swedish ship Kronan sunk in its icy waters, this Bourbon barrel-aged Baltic porter is like a buried treasure. Stowed away in a Bourbon barrel for six months, this beer now brings to the surface a frothy tan head and rich aroma combining malt notes of chocolate, caramel and dark fruit with the essence of vanilla, smoke and oak. Half of the inventory was aged on organic hand picked sour cherries from Hood River; the other half was aged on Bourbon organic vanilla bean. Made big and bold with a smooth lager finish, Kronan the Bourbarian is as rich and strong as an Austrian actor, but with more complexity. 
Kells Brew Pub
Fruit Cake Ale
Imperial Brown Ale
Finally two Irish favorites in one: a pint and a cake! Irish fruit cake is one of the holiday staples of the country, with nuts and dried fruit mixed into the cake to give every bite a variety of flavors. This ale is brewed with the same idea in mind: a wide range of hops were used, some adding fruity notes and others acting as spices. The malt helps add the nutty quality and sweetness in this scrumptious brown ale. This is one fruit cake that won’t get tossed! 
Lagunitas Brewing Co
High West Whiskey Barrel Aged Cappuccino Stout
Brewed with boatloads of roasted coffee in each batch for that extra Krunk, this mondo coffee stout will leave you wondering whether you're coming or going. Then the brewers decided to age it in some High West Whiskey barrels, just in case the coffee didn’t wake you up.
Laht Neppur Brewing Co
St. Dorothy's Peach Cordial Ale
Strong Ale
St. Dorothy of Caesarea is a patron saint to both brewers and fruit orchards, making her a fitting tribute to this strong amber ale. In addition to real peaches and concentrated peach juice, a generous amount of honey, cinnamon and nutmeg have been added to spice up the holiday season. Noble Tettnanger hops add an underlying mild spiciness to round out the balance between malt, fruit and alcohol.
Lompoc Brewing Co
Revelry Red Ale
Specialty Blend
This custom blend takes Lompoc’s Big Bang Red aged in Big Bottom Whiskey barrels with 80 pounds of sour cherries for nine months, and blends it with Big Bang Red aged in Maryhill Winery Port barrels for 11 months. The resulting beer is crimson in color, malty in body with notes of cherry and oak, and finishes slightly tart. 
Mazama Brewing
A Munich classic made local at Mazama, this doppelbock features big, sweet toasted malt flavors upfront, with warming alcoholic cheer and a roasty, toasty finish with just a hint of Noble hops. This strong lager is just the thing for toasting the good health of your warmest friends on the coldest nights.
McMenamins John Barleycorn
Mele Kalikimaka Coconut Stout
Imperial Stout
Christmas in the Northwest might not be exactly green & bright. We may not see the sun all day or the stars at night, but we can still enjoy a little island life. Flaked coconut was added to mingle with lightly roasted chocolate malts. This stout was then aged in whiskey barrels that once held McMenamins Hogshead Whiskey. The result is a smooth, sweet stout with hints of oak and vanilla flavors that mix perfectly with the coconut. Enjoy a pint and imagine palm trees swaying in the breeze instead of the standard issue Doug Fir. Mahalo!
Migration Brewing
Big Sipper
Belgian Dark Strong Ale
This mahogany colored strong ale features a deep, layered body of chocolate, honey and caramel malts coupled with choice Northwest hops. Big Sipper is fermented with relatively neutral Belgian yeast that creates a restrained ester and phenolic profile, allowing the malt and hops to shine bright like the big dipper in the winter night.   
Natian Brewery
Imperial Milk Stout
This roasty black ale was brewed with unfermented lactose to give the flavor profile a rich creaminess. It was then aged on Kahlua soaked Oregon oak; Kahlua is a liquor made with Arabica coffee beans that impacts the roasted malt and coffee flavors with a mild sweetness that blends well with the silkiness imparted by the lactose.
New Belgium Brewing Co
Barrel Aged Cascara Quad
Barrel Aged Quad
This is a dark, strong and surprisingly delicate ale made with dates and coffee cherries. Channeling the Trappist tradition, it’s brewed with an ethereal malt bill and spiced with the fruit of the coffee bean (cascara). The aroma brings dates, cherries and pipe tobacco right to the nose and builds layers with hints of spice and fruity Belgian yeast. Once on the palate, Cascara Quad starts swinging clove, fig and molasses. Each sip offers sweet warmth, deep complexity and fleeting dryness.
Ninkasi Brewing Co
Belgian Single
Belgian-Style Single Ale
Think Session Tripel: This beer features all of the flavor, finesse, smoothness and subtle clove esters of a Belgian style tripel, at a drinkable lower alcohol level.
Oakshire Brewing Co
Swiss Mrs. Alpine Alt
Milk Chocolate Sticke Alt
Swiss Mrs. is a Sticke Alt, a darker and strong variation of a traditional German Altbier. This version was mashed with toasted marshmallows – of course – and has a small addition of lactose and cocoa nibs in the kettle and bright tank for a full flavored and indulgent finish.
Old Town Brewing Co
Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum
Rum Barrel Aged Old Ale
This old ale is fit for a king, so in his honor, the poor boys at Old Town lay before you the finest gifts of dark caramel, toffee, and raisin malt flavors. Dark rum and oak notes from the barrel aging keep time and drum up the layered character of this ale. If you’re a poor boy too, sing along: Come, they told me, Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum.
Oskar Blues
Black Mamba
Dunkel Weizen
Roast malts, crystal malts and a copious amount of wheat were used to make this dark wheat beer fermented with Andechs Weizen yeast. Malt aromas blend nicely with banana and clove aromas and flavors.
PINTS Urban Brewing Co
Brewed especially for the Holiday Ale Festival, this Weizendoppelbock won’t leave you rolled up in a ball with a big smile on your face until spring arrives. Then again, maybe it will… Brewed with all German malts, hops and yeast, the wheat malt provides the basis for the beer (and great head retention), while Pilsner, Munich and dark caramel malts make up the rest of the rich, malty and sweet profile. German Magnum hops contribute to the sense of spiciness alongside the phenolic clove note from the authentic Bavarian Hefeweizen strain, which also imparts the classic banana fruitiness to the brew.
Rock Bottom Brewery
You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid
Just shut up, put on the bunny suit, and have another helles.  
Rogue Ales & Spirits
Big Ass Rye Strong Ale
Strong Ale
Big Ass Strong Rye is a big, American ale dedicated to Rogue's Dream rye, grown on its farm in Independence, OR. The generous amount of rye gives this beer a thick body. It was subtly spiced and then aged 60 days in a Rogue Big Ass white oak barrel to round out the Meridian and Rogue Liberty hops and Rogue roasted chocolate malt.
Seven Brides Brewing
Blonde in a Bottle
Belgian Golden Strong
Fermented with Belgian strong ale yeast, this beer pleases with mild Belgian notes and a golden straw hue. What lies beneath is the conditioning tank addition of fresh ginger. The spicy nature of this root will greet the palate as one taste slides into another. Ginger always wanted to be a blonde, and this winter, she went for it!
Slanted Rock Brewing Co
Panty Hose Porter
Imperial Baltic Vanilla Porter
While brewing one afternoon, the brewers realized there were no grain bags available…improvisation being the mother of invention, a fresh pair of panty hose were the savior to the flavor and gave the brew a signature touch. Panty Hose Porter features a distinctive aroma of caramelized sugars and chocolate-like characters of roasted malt and dark sugars. Using Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean in the process added a rich, dark and creamy flavor. A very low hop aroma with still a hint of floral sweet hop complements the flavors without overpowering the chocolate goodness.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
Erotic Cake
Chocolate Milk Stout
This black as night chocolate milk stout was brewed and dry-hopped with TCHO cocoa nibs.
Stickmen Brewery & Skewery
The Twerking Elf
Northwest Sour Brown
Experimental and debuting at the Holiday Ale Festival, this beer will get your cheeks moving with nicely puckering notes of dark cherry, dried fruit and sour plum, along with malt backing from Vienna, Pilsner and seven other specialty malts. Be careful where you shake it!
Stone Brewing Co
Spiced Unicorn Milk
Chai Milk Stout
This luscious, smooth and subtly sweet stout is flavored with chai spices that add amazing flavors and complexity. Originally brewed on Stone's 20-gallon pilot system, the brewers liked it so much, they spent a day at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station, brewing it specifically for the Holiday Ale Fest. It is brewed with seven different grains and Columbus and Chinook hops. Lactose is added to add extra body and sweetness, while a blend of six spices, including cinnamon and cardamom, and black tea were added to provide the chai flavor.
Vertigo Brewing
Barrel Aged Polar Blast
Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter
This is a bigger, bolder version of Vertigo’s Arctic Blast Vanilla Porter, blended with dark chocolate liqueur and aged in seven-year-old Big Bottom Whiskey straight Bourbon white oak barrels. This beer brings a strong chocolate and caramel malt presence that is balanced with mild charred oak and Bourbon notes with a hint of vanilla from both the Madagascar beans and the white oak barrels.
Viking Braggot Co
Winter Squash Porter
Winter Squash Porter is truly a winter braggot. The combination of a strong malt profile and turnip honey provides the backbone to highlight the winter squash flavor. This unique taste is achieved by the brewers hand carving and roasting 150 pounds of winter squash to be added to the mash. Chinook, Cascade and Willamette hops, as well as herbal and spice additions, provide a unique taste and aroma.
West Highland Brewing
Highland Spiced Ale
Spiced Ale
Spiced with cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and maple, this ale nicely complements any holiday dessert. Using harvest apples to round out the flavor, the brewers crafted this 8% ABV ale to warm your soul as you gather with friends and family through the winter holiday season.
Widmer Brothers Brewing
Biere de Noel
Biere de Garde
Biere de Noel is Widmer Brothers' take on the Biere de Garde style, brewed with caramelized raisins and brown sugar to celebrate the holidays. This unique winter warmer offers a caramel and toasted malt backbone with notes of port, dried fruit and a slightly sweet finish making for a great holiday brew.