There were quite a few interesting experiences at the Holiday Ale fest, most of them pretty good but forgetting to eat lunch was not one of them. Despite that rookie oversight, I had a decent time; it was warmer than I thought it would be, there was a whole ‘skybar’ section which made me feel like I was drinking in someone’s awesome tree house, and I got to talk beer with the Taphandle people. The glasses sometimes gave off a weird plastic scent, but for the most part that didn’t wreck the beers so you take the good with the bad. Let’s get to the (mildly edited, as always) notes!
Mcmenamins-Mele Kalikimaka stout
Has a nice, warmly toasted coconut flavor but an odd aftertaste though that I can’t place. I can’t say it puts me entirely off, but I’m I do wonder if I’m missing something.
Elysian-Doom golden treacle pale
It might be a good palate cleanser, a nice contrast to the other ales but it’s not working for me. Something a bit viscous putting my tongue off and quite bitter! I was really surprised by that.
Deschutes-Abyss 07 imperial stout
Deschutes was running a vertical tasting of Abyss, 06-12 and I had to pick one. As always, this is just impossible. The flavors of coffee, chocolate and hints of black licorice are so strong, thus almost feels solid. It is sooooo good, though. I got to try the ’10 a little later on and it was also good but had a sour note to it which provided an interesting contrast.
Crux Fermentation-Oud Freakcake oud bruin/flanders
It tastes like a fruitcake in all the best ways. Hint of spiced rum, which makes this work or not work depending on how you feel abut that. Cinnamon, coriander all in there too, with a sour note that strides in at the end like a graceful lady in heels.
Deschutes-Virgin Sacrifice-cherry stout?
Flavor come in the wrong order, sour coming at the end when I wanted chocolate. Nope. Avoid.
Lath Neppur-St Dorothy’s peach cordial ale
Very good, dried smoked peaches in liquid form, it’s perfect for the in-between beer to break up the winter ales. I like it a lot.
Gigantic-Scut Farkus Affair holiday ale
A really nice beer, well balanced with a fruity quality up front, and a nice caramel to finish: one of my faves.
Kells-fruit cake ale
If they had called it a brown ale then I’d be ok with this beer but the expectations are raised and frankly, it does not rise to meet them. This ale would be great paired with a meal with but doesn’t really show off the skill of the brewers. It’s just a brown ale and when they use fruit cake in the name, I was hoping for more.
Why does it smell of cheese? It’s a hefe and a decent one at that but maybe I don’t like hefes? Sour note at end which I’m not too thrilled with.
Vertigo-Polar Blast barrel aged porter
This is an excellent porter: thin as fitting style, but with great chocolate and vanilla notes and it feels really light.
Fish-Gingerbread ale is..what it says! That isn’t a recommendation or a condemnation. If you want this flavor, have it. Be prepared for poor glass scents to ruin a perfectly good beer though.
Eel River-Gargantua imperial strong ale blend
A very well executed bourbon aged ale, that is well balanced and worth drinking.
And there you have it! I hope you are able to enjoy the Holiday Ale Fest too. Don’t forget to have lunch!