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 www.holidayale.com. 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.