According to the calendar, winter is still a month away. According to the inventory at your local bottle shop, winter is now fully upon us. Shops like 99 Bottles and The Beer Junction (both blog sponsors) have dozens of robust, throat-warming seasonal beers to delight you palate and brighten your mood throughout the gloom of winter. Indeed, it is that time of year when our thoughts turn to big, bodacious beers.
Stocking your cellar with a selection of winter beers is necessary this time of year. You would hate to find yourself snowed in and not have at least six or eight bottles of something dark and delicious to keep you company. Beyond that, I recommend making it out to one of the beer festivals that celebrate winter beers. Today I am going to list some of the area’s winter beer events (in chronological order).
Holiday Ale Festival (November 28- December 2) – This event takes place under giant, heated tents in downtown Portland. The 17th Annual Holiday Ale Festival happens at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland and runs for five days (Wednesday through Sunday). This is not exactly an intimate affair: the festival attracts about 17,000 people each year. Understandably, Saturday is the busiest day. There will be about 50 beers on tap. Festival organizer work with each brewer to insure that each beer served is unique to the event or is a rare or vintage beer not commonly found on tap anywhere else. Tickets are $30. VIP Packages are available. Visit the website at http://www.holidayale.com for details and tickets.
Brouwer’s Café in Seattle presents BigWood Festival — the annual celebration of barrel-aged beers (Thursday, December 6). From stouts to sours, every beer at this event has spent some time aging on wood. For the past nine years, Brouwer’s Café has assembled an impressive array of big, bodacious barrel-aged beers for this one. It is not exactly a winter beer festival, but it embraces the season with strong, substantial beers that warm you belly and fortify your soul. Keep an eye on the website for more information about this year’s selection of beers. http://brouwerscafe.blogspot.com/
Washington Winter Beer Fest (December 7 – 8 ) – This annual event held at Hale’s Palladium in Seattle features the winter beers of Washington. The event is one of the six annual events organized by the Washington Beer Commission. In other words, it is an official Washington Beer event. Proceeds support the Commission’s efforts to promote Washington beer. Twenty-eight Washington breweries will pour their best seasonal brews. Most breweries will bring more than one beer, or more than one version of their winter beer. You never know exactly what will show up at this event. One year, Boundary Bay Brewing brought a three-year vertical tasting of Cabin Fever. Such rare and unique tasting opportunities are common at this festival. As I said, you never know. Hale’s Palladium provides a cozy location for the event. In other words, it is a rather intimate affair. Tickets are going fast and you should not delay. For local beer lovers, this is one of the year’s premier events. For information and tickets, visit http://www.washingtonbeer.com/winter-fest/
The 9th Annual Strange Brewfest, January 25-27. Not exactly a winter beer festival, but certainly some bold, bodacious beers. Nothing is out of bounds for this one. Strange Brewfest challenges brewers to flex their creative muscle and come up with uncommon, never-before-attempted, thought-provoking beers. The entire town of Port Townsend will sell out. Book your room early. http://www.strangebrewfestpt.com/
The Big Beer Festival (February 16). From the same folks who bring you the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival, the Tacoma Big Beer Festival will feature nothing but the biggest, boldest brews. Not dubbed a winter beer festival, but this event is certain to feature beers befitting the season. Event details are still coming together. Keep an eye on the website. http://www.tacomacraftbeerfest.com
Know of any others? Got a favorite winter beer event? Leave a comment.