Posts Tagged ‘Drunkel’

The Final Day of HAF

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

I knew going into the Holiday Ale Fest that I couldn’t make it till Sunday, and that many beers I wanted could be tapped out. Even though things were tapped out alot of my first choices were still around. The problem is they were disappointing and my backups were tapped out. I still used my 10 tickets, but stopped at 10 since I had only found one beer worth drinking. 1 in 10 is bad odds.

Ok, start off reviewing the fest itself.

What else is there to say other then what’s usually said? No rinse stations, servers who aren’t knowledgeable, beers too cold. You know, the usual. One thing that surprised me was the number of drunks. When we showed up around 3:30 pm at least half the people had had a few to many. I couldn’t believe the number of people getting full pours at every station. Maybe Portland’s beer drinkers are more amatuer alcoholics then connoisseurs like Docs been saying. The other thing is the amount of room and tables available. I’d brought a notebook so I’d have room to write detailed reviews of the beers, but there was no surface to write on and it’s hard to hold a beer and write at the same time. If the fest is going to be so full maybe they should think about a change in location. One more thing, the random cheering is fine, but every 15 min??? Really??

And the Beers……

Listed in alphabetical order by brewery

Papa Noel’s

I know this is available in bottles, but by the time I’d gotten down to the last four tickets I didn’t care. I thought since it said special reserve that it might be a vintage pouring and I was in the mood for some complex flavors. Turns out it wasn’t vintage. It was hoppy and green. Not fair to review a beer before its prime.

Oaked St Nick

Another one not on my list of beers to try, but I had just two tickets left and was next to the line for this one. Turned out that this was my favorite beer of the evening, and the one I didn’t take notes on. I remember that my first sip tasted slightly off, but then smoothed out alot and finished nicely. I wish I could say more, but I was tired of the fest by this time and had already put my notes away. Normally I don’t like “oaky” beers, but this one did really well trying to win me over. Amazing how much better oak aged beers taste when they don’t have that woody flavor to them.

Sang Noir

I tried this after drinking some La Foile. That turned out to be a mistake because the beers ended up getting compared and Sang Noirlost. So much acidity that it overpowers the malts. This is sour for the sake of sour with no complexity. There was a nice cherry note, but it was drowned by the pucker power. No barnyard, no muskiness. Where are the typical sour off flavors? Smell was hard to get out of all the beers, but this one was especially hard. Sinus issues and ice cold beer don’t work well for tastings. I still find it amazing so many people seemed to like this one. Give me more La Foile any day.

North III

Not what I expected. With the sugar plums I was hoping for something slightly fruity and alcoholic. While not watery, this beer didn’t taste as alcoholic or heavy as I would have liked, and I got almost no plum flavor. Flavors were fairly muddied in the 3 or 4 sips I had (we were sharing beers earlier on). Had a nice bread like almost nutty finish. Other then the finish this beer didnt have a ton going for it.

Jim 2009

I was reading Dr Worts reviews before I headed up today to get an idea of what I was getting into. When I tired this beer I was eagerly expecting some heavy cascade/citrusy hop flavors. Instead I got pinesol and pine. To be fair to Doc he did mention the pinesol. I think I got a hint of some malt in there somewhere, but this was just one big piney hop bomb to me. My notes just say the word pinesol though followed by multiple exclamation points.


Reading reviews I thought picking Kronan as my baltic porter was a mistake that I would rectify. When we arrived though Eel River and Lauralwood were tapped out. Resigning myself to what lay ahead I got in line for Kronan. All I can say is watery, bitter, and burnt. There was absolutely no redeeming qualities in this one. Maybe if the beer was served at the proper temp some malts would have showed up to balance things, but that bitter burnt grain taste overan my palate.

La Foile

My second favorite beer, and only number 2 because I knew I’d enjoy it going in so it lacked that pleasant surprise factor. First beer where the smell upped my expectations. very musty, sour odor. I loved this beer at first smell. This beer is much more balanced in terms of sourness then I remember. Just sour enough to temporarily overun your palate and give you a mild pucker. After that it finishes slightly sweet. All those great complex bacterial off flavors are there. The other great part is it doesn’t leave you straining to un contort your face after you drink it like the Sang Noir did. I love sour beers, I just want them more balanced is all. If I just wanted to pucker without flavor I’d suck on a lemon.


I had high hopes for this one, but those hopes were dashed. A fairly generic stout though perhaps a little heavy on the burnt grain flavor. The herbs were pretty much undetectable in my opinion as well. There were some muddied flavors that I’d periodically catch on to, but not enough to say I tasted the herbs, let alone call this an herbal beer. Not as overhopped as I’d thought after reading some reviews. If they’d put more effort into making this a good stout and had some lavender aromatics I would have loved it. I’d put it in the not quite there yet but good try category.


I wish I’d kept up the note taking, but by the time I got to drunkel I was just about ready to bail. All I wrote for this one was not what I expected and I didn’t like what I got. I know, lame review.

For my 10thticket I went and got a 1oz pour of wildflower mead to clean my palate and end on a positive note. This was my dad’s first time at a beer festival withme and I think that experience alone saved the day. My dad really enjoyed himself, and I think we may be going to another beer fest together in the near future. If next years is like this years though I may pass. I’d much rather drop $50 at the bottle shop and taste some great beers at home with my friends and family then drive up to Portland for something of this caliber. Heck, the $40 for my dad and I alone could’ve gotten us several bottles of great world class beers.