Portland’s Holiday Ale Festival 2019 is nigh; here’s what you need to know

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Always complaining about how today’s craft beers are overhopped hoppy hop bombs?

Your moment has come.

The tree is up, and the heated tents and lights soon will be too, as the always-festive 24th annual Holiday Ale Festival opens next week in downtown Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Of course, now you may complain that cranberries, marzipan and eggnog don’t belong in beer, and if that’s the case, I just don’t know where to send you. But if you like robust winter ales decorated with spice, malt and a heavy dash of open-minded experimentation, read on.

Then get yourself to the festival starting Wednesday, Dec. 4, and running through Sunday, Dec. 8, at the “Portland’s Living Room” in the heart of downtown. Touted as the Northwest’s original outdoor winter beer festival, the event happens under clear-topped, heated, decorated tents filling the square and surrounding Portland’s holiday tree.

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The taps will pour nearly 50 craft beers and ciders that are either made or blended for the festival, or are rare or vintage offerings. In addition, dozens of specialty and rare beers will be poured, and Meet the Brewers events are scheduled. A Sunday Beer Brunch will be offered for an additional fee.

The festival includes Oregon breweries such as pFriem, Sunriver, Upright and Fort George, along with other well-known breweries from out of state, such as Firestone Walker of California, Crooked Stave of Colorado and Stoup of Washington.

Offerings include beers like It’s Gingerbrett, Man, a winter seasonal from Stickmen of Lake Oswego, and Nut Tree, a candied nut imperial porter from Vancouver’s Trap Door.

And if you’re wondering if this festival is popular, know this: CubeSmart.com named it the second-best holiday event in the United States. Why is a storage space website ranking holiday festivals? I don’t know.

But here is all you need to know:

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 S.W. Sixth Ave.

Please bring a designated driver and use one of the many parking garages in the area. Many modes of public transit are also available, with the square adjacent to the transit mall. Public transit options include all of the MAX light rail lines, numerous TriMet and C-Tran bus lines, and the Portland Streetcar a few blocks away. Ride services such as Lyft and Uber are also an app tap away.

Go here for a full taplist and descriptions of the beers.

Advanced general admission and VIP tickets can be purchased at www.holidayale.com. Options include:

  • Advance general admission: $40 for tasting glass, 12 taster tickets, plus express re-entry all five days.*
  • GiftPass advance general admission for two: $80 for two tasting glasses, 28 tasting tickets.
  • Advance VIP packages: $100 for tasting glass, 30 taster tickets, special VIP beer lines with little to no waiting, exclusive VIP-only vintage beers, bottled water, and express entry all five days.

*Most offerings are one ticket for taste, four for full pour (some rare or special beers may not be available for tastes and may cost extra tickets); additional tickets for $1; previous years’ mugs or glasses not allowed.

Details at holidayale.com; follow @HolidayAleFest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #HolidayAle; ages 21 and over.

Andre Meunier

Subscribe to Andre’s text service to get alerts about beer releases and news from the Portland and Oregon beer scene. Also, check out his beer reviews of Grixsen and other breweries on Untappd, where he’s andremeunier13, and follow him on Instagram, where he’s @oregonianbeerguy.

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