Three of the best winter beer festivals in the NW are quickly approaching. Sadly, they all take place the same weekend (Dec 4 – 8). How about hitting Bigwood on Thursday, Winter Beer Fest on Friday and then truck it down to the Holiday Ale Fest on Saturday? Good luck. Okay, so you likely won’t attend all three of these…but it would be a shame if you didn’t go to at least one of these events.
Washington Winter Beer Festival – The popular Winter Beer Festival, hosted by the Washington Beer Commission, is one of the events that signals the arrival of winter in Seattle each year. This year’s event will include one session on December 6 and two sessions on December 7. The event moves from its longtime home at Hale’s Palladium to a new location this year at Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park. While some attendees may miss the tradition of the old space, the new location promises to allow for both more breweries and people to attend the event. 50+ breweries will pour more than 150 beers at the event with a focus on seasonal styles like winter warmers, stouts and barrel-aged beers. There is a heavy concentration of breweries from western WA in the lineup, but several breweries will be making the trip across the state to join in on the fun, including Old Schoolhouse Brewery (Winthrop), Paradise Creek Brewery (Pullman) and Snipes Mountain Brewing (Sunnyside). Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Admission includes a tasting cup and six 5 ounce tastes; additional tokens will be available for purchase. The full beer list can be found at this link. I’ll do a more detailed preview of some of the beers closer to the festival.
Holiday Ale Festival – Portland’s largest winter beer fest is a great excuse to take a trip down south to do some beer touring. The event takes place Dec 4 – 8 underneath a huge heated clear top tent that they set up in Pioneer Courthouse Square right in the middle of downtown Portland. While the festival “only” features around 50 different beers, don’t let the low count fool you. None of these beers are your typical winter seasonal releases, or anything from a brewery’s standard lineup. All of the beers pouring at this festival are either created specifically for the event or are older vintage beers of something special for the season. That includes offerings like High West Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cappuccino Stout from Lagunitas and Spiced Unicorn Milk from Stone Brewing. There is also a list of limited release beers for the fest that will be limited in supply and poured sporadically throughout the festival.
Brouwer’s Bigwood – This is one of my favorite events of the year. Brouwer’s Cafe will host their sixth annual Bigwood Festival starting on Thursday, December 5 when the doors open at 11am and lasting throughout the weekend (or until the beers are gone). For Bigwood, Brouwer’s turns over most (all?) of their 60+ taps to wood-aged beers. There are always some really special beers pouring at the fest, including some that you won’t see pouring anywhere else in the area. If you are a fan of barrel-aged beers, this is one not to miss. There is no entry fee, you just pay by the glass. If you go on Thursday, it will be busy. Be prepared to wait in line and stand once inside if you don’t get there early.