Most likely, it will be cold. And yeah, it'll probably be rainy. But under the big white tent in Pioneer Square, the heaters and strong beers will warm you plenty. It's time again for the annual Holiday Ale Festival!

2007 Holiday Ale Festival mug.

2007 Holiday Ale Festival Mug

"The 12th annual Holiday Ale Festival will begin on Thursday, Nov. 29, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 2 at Pioneer Courthouse Square, located at 701 SW Sixth Ave at the intersection of SW Broadway and Yamhill streets, immediately on the MAX Light Rail line. Hours for the event are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission into the venue is free. A purchase of a 2007 souvenir mug is required for tasting beer, and costs $5. Patrons purchase script for $1 apiece. It takes $4 in script for a full mug of beer, or $1 for a taste. The event is for ages 21 and over." -2007 Festival Press Release

This year's festival features 41 different beers including traditional styles such as IPAs, Olde Ales, Barleywines, Strong Ales, and Belgians. Mixed in with these, you'll also get a chance to try a few elusive styles like Red Wheat Wine, Quad Pale, and a very complex blend from Hair of the Dog. For four days, you can come out to Pioneer Square and sample some of the best hand-picked beers around this season, many of which were created specifically for this event.

Most of the beers are Oregon brewed, but others are from our West Coast neighbors, a showing from Colorado, and a couple from Belgium. This West Coast predominance is a great showcase for illustrating the strengths and variety of our styles. You might recognize some of the beer names, but most have an extra bit of holiday fun thrown in: bourbon barrel aged, oak barrel aged, vertical blends, and other surprises.

Beer Sample Line Up
Pitchers of beer lined up for sampling.
The styles at this festival represent almost every recipe twist you can imagine from the ultra-hoppy to the mega-malty and the very well-balanced beers in between. Some beers mask their alcohol content while others showcase it. Because of this variety, you'll definitely want to try and sample as many as you can, rather than getting a full mug's worth of your favorite. In fact, this is the kind of festival where you'll probably find a new favorite.

The beers served here range from about 5.3% to 12% ABV. A little number crunching reveals that the average ABV across all 41 beers is 8.1%! So, if you don't want to drive to the event, keep in mind that the MAX train has a stop just feet from the festival entrance. Be safe and enjoy Portland's 12th annual Holiday Ale Festival!