Holiday Ale Festival is one of my favorite Portland beer events. The unique beers and cozy venue add to its charm. The 19th annual yuletide beer extravaganza opened on Wednesday and closes on Sunday, December 7.
During my four hours at HAF, I managed to taste 12 four oz. samples. In the pictures below, you can see the beers I sampled, in the order I tasted them. I captured my tasting notes on the fly using the Untappd app (a must for all beer geeks).
- Clear tasting glasses (instead of the hazy mugs) were provided for the first time to purchasers of VIP packages. I was glad to see these and hope they can be offered to all guests in the future, perhaps as an upgrade.
- The entry fee of $35, which includes the tasting mug and 12 tickets, isn't cheap. But I suggest you look at it in terms of value. Where else can you find a large diversity of unique beers in one place? If you know of such a place, please tell me about it.
- While OBF has changed their taster pour size to 3 oz., HAF still provides 4 oz. pours for $1.
- These are generally high alcohol beers. I conducted this statistical analysis a few years ago. It holds true today.
- I used to believe it was a crime against humanity to dump beer. However, given the high alcohol content of these beers, I now have no hesitation about dumping something I don't fully enjoy. The way I see it (given the constraints of a functioning liver), consuming a beer I don't enjoy will prevent me from drinking one I might enjoy. As a result, three of my samples met their untimely demise (down the drain) during my tasting session—and the beer gods didn't strike me down!
- Most of the beers cost one ticket. Several cost two or three. Since the festival has so many great options priced at one ticket, there isn't a strong need to pay up. I tried two double ticket tasters, didn't like them, and dumped them.
- And I didn't drink a single IPA!
For more opinions, check out the thoughts of my beer blogging brethren at Beervana, The New School, and Beervana Buzz. Cheers to holiday beer!
What were your favorite and not so favorite tastes of HAF '14?