Thursday, December 5, 2013

Opening Day at Holiday Ale Festival 2013

Yesterday kicked off the 18th Annual Holiday Ale Festival at Pioneer Courthouse Square. It was an appropriately chilly day but between the bright sunshine and the heaters, it was cozy inside the tent.

I came armed with my trusty cheat sheet of beers I wanted to try and determined to drink them in the pre-thought out order that roughly started with the lowest alcohol, most mild tasting beers. Right away my resolve was put to the test as I was told by multiple people that the High West Whiskey barrel aged Cappuccino Stout from Lagunitas was amazing. It was one of the highest alcohol beers at 12% ABV and the one I had designated to be last on my list.

As I started in I did take into consideration the input of my fellow, trusted beer friends and ended up skipping a couple of beers I had intended to try due to poor reviews. I mean, heck, it wasn't like there would be any lack of beers to try. In fact, I knew that it would be surprising if I tried all of the ones that I wanted to on this first visit.

Of the 12 beers that crossed my lips my favorite, and one that I ended up getting a full glass of, was The Twerking Elf from Stickmen Brewery & Skewery. This 7.2% ABV Northwest Sour Brown was the second beer that I had and was an excellent example of the style. For every person that told me about the Lagunitas, I told them about the Stickmen.

Other beers that I enjoyed included:
- Old Town Brewing Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum, a 7.5% rum barrel aged old ale. I hope that Bolt made more than the amount he sent to HAF because I'd love to have this again, served at a more appropriate, warmer temperature.
- Coalition Brewing Shenanigans, a 9.8% barleywine. The same goes for this beer, it was good at the festival but I think it would be even more enjoyable warmed up a bit.
- Lagunitas High West Whiskey barrel aged Cappuccino Stout, a 12% stout. My friends were right, the aroma was intoxicating, the flavor even more amazing. Michael hit the nail on the head when he said that it was, "the Velvet Merkin of two years ago."

There are still four more days of the festival so there's a fair chance I'll make it back. One beer that will be on my visit #2 list will be McGuinness from Nation Brewery. Mag really enjoyed this 9.2% imperial milk stout that was aged on Kahlua-soaked oak. I'll also be keeping my ears out for what you, my beery friends recommend.

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