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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Ale Fest - An Amazing Bounty

The annual Holiday Ale Fest is arriving imminently (Thursday through Sunday, 11/29 - 12/2), and the beer list is out. It is amazing. More in a moment, but feast your eyes on this:
  • Hair of the Dog, Jim II
  • Collaborator, Hallucinator
  • Pelican, Bad Santa (Black IPA)
Used to be that this fest offered regular seasonal offerings from breweries. It was fine, but mostly there weren't any unique beers to draw you down on a wet, cold December day. Well, looking through the list of 41 beers, I see exactly four that are regular seasonals. There are a lot of brewpub offerings (where you often find the gems), and the bigger breweries are mostly sending interesting things, too. But what really intrigues is the variety of styles; no longer is it just winter warmers and barleywines. We've got old ales, a baltic porter, Scotch ales, an imperial stout, a few Belgians, a spiced beer, an oatmeal stout, a couple bocks, and more. Of course, there are lots of winter ales and barleywines, too--so no need to panic.

I'll have a chance to taste some of these Wednesday night, and I'm trying to track down more info on some of the beers now, but here's a short list of the most intriguing options (in addition to the three must-tries listed above):
  • Caldera, Cauldron Brew (dry-hopped strong ale)
  • Raccoon Lodge, Baltic Porter
  • Golden Valley, Oak-aged Tannen Bomb
  • Ninkasi, Otis (oatmeal stout)
  • Widmer, Decorator (weizenbock)
There are also three breweries I've never heard of: Wildfire (Bend), Silver City (Silverdale, WA), Off the Rail (Forest Grove). More as I learn it, but that's a teaser to get things rolling in the lead-up to the fest.


  1. I had the Ninkasi Oatis oatmeal stout in Eugene two weeks ago, and it was outstanding.

  2. "Black IPA" seems to be a growing trend lately... after drinking Barley Brown's Turmoil (which was billed as a Black IPA), I started seeing others popping up.

    And Wildfire is the newest brewer here in Bend... very small shop, set up primarily by the owners of a local sports bar to serve on-tap, but it's been showing up other places, too. I've only been aware of their 2 main offerings: Code 24, a pale ale, and Logger, a, er, lager.

  3. Thanks for the updates, guys. Keep 'em comin'!

  4. Pelican's "Black Santa" which they are calling 'Bad Santa'is an Black IPA made without much dark malt flavor which is kind of cool, but really more of a parlor trick. They use Melanoidin Malt and Dehusked Black Malt, both of these grains will give color, but not always a lot of roasted or coffee flavors. Both grains are available to home brewers for many years now.

    These particular grains are primarily used in Lager beers. The Dehusked Black malt is used to color a beer without adding a lot of Roast, like in a Continental Lager. Example: Becks Dark, ST Pauli Girl Dark, etc.

    Melanoidin MAlt is used a lot with making Bock and Dopplebocks, wear you want color but not the roasty flavor, but more of a underlying chocolate and color.

    "Melanoidan" comes from Melanin. Melanin is teh substance in our skin that gives us pigmant and colors us bronze when we get a sun tan.

    These malts have been used and produced since the late 1960's.

    The Black IPA concept isn't new either. In my travels, I remember having a Black IPA at the 1996 AHA Homebrewers Conference in New Orleans it was from a brewery somewhere in the mid-west. Around the same time, I remember Brain Hunt of Moonlight Brewing fame (CA) making a beer called Black Christmas for quite a few years, then the recipe was chanaged to a different style. Black Christmas was a Black IPA and the year was about 1994-95.

    Check out Brain's current offerings:

    I guess I'm kind of surprised of all the rave about the Black IPA. The beer has been done over and over again for the past 10-12 years in the brewing world... No new ground being broke here... Jon noted it being a "Trend." Dude, it's been a trend a died about 3 times already.... Need to get out more... ;-}

  5. Wow, I think you've got the Seattle Winter Beer Fest trumped with that list.

    Silver City's a decent brewery from the West Sound area up here near Seattle. I had the Winter Bock a few weeks ago. It's okay, nothing worth going out of your way for. Too bad they won't have their Scotch Ale. That's a good one. You might want to give the Elysian Bye-Bye Frost a try.

  6. Dr. Wort, I'm not sure what you're so exercised about--Pelican's may not be the first Black IPA ever brewed (I recall one back in the mid-90s), but so what? No reason not to get exited by this rare style from one of the state's best breweries.

    BR, I love Elysian, and their Bifrost has long pleased me, so it's definitely on the menu.

  7. Not getting excited Jeffery... Insecurities can be sufficating... ;-}

    Just thought a little style history would be of value to your audience.

    Not slighting the quality of Pelicans beers at all! They make great beers!

    There's a lot of talk about: I like this.... This is good... That's funky .... etc. But, I always think this is a venue to EDUCATE the audience, not just make statements and move on.

    I notice you've added some background info on some other Holiday beers.... That's what I'm talking about! A little education.

    Opinions and general reporting info is fine, but since your Blog is about BEER and the city that serves the BEER. Beer education is always a welcome and helpful aspect.

    Not a criticism, just an opinion.. ;-}

  8. If you want to get educational, Dr. Wort, the beer is really just a hoppy ale version of a Schwarzbier.

  9. Hoppy Schwarz! Exactly!

    I wrote an similar article for my blog and noted "Schwarz Bier" in regard to similarities on the grain bill...

    Thanks for adding that!