The 22nd annual Holiday Ale Festival will take place Nov. 29 through Dec. 3 at Pioneer Courthouse Square, located at 701 SW Sixth Ave. (the event annually starts the Wednesday following Thanksgiving). The Northwest’s only outdoor winter beer festival – which is tented and heated – will feature 55 craft beers, ciders and meads in the main lineup, all of which are made or blended specifically for the event.
In addition, the festival will also feature a number of Meet the Brewer events and more than two dozen specialty and rare beer tappings. The Holiday Ale Festival is highly regarded as presenting one of best lineups of winter beers and ciders anywhere in the nation.
What makes this festival standout from other similar events is the selection: the festival works with every brewery involved to make sure they send a product that has either been made or blended specifically for the event, or is a rare or vintage beer that isn't commonly tapped in the state.
Despite being held outdoors during one of the coldest months of the year, more than 14,000 festival attendees stay dry throughout the five-day festival under clear-topped tents warmed by gas heaters. An elaborate scaffolding design creates a second level for the venue, dubbed the Sky Bar, which serves additional taps and provides ample elbow room for attendees to relax, spread out and even peek at the revelers below.
To enter and consume beer, the purchase of an entry package is required. Advance general admission costs $35 and includes the 2017 tasting glass – a flexible BPA & BPS-free polymer “glass” – and 14 taster tickets, plus expedited entry all five days with the print at home ticket. General admission at the door is the same price, but includes only 12 tickets and no expedited entry. Advance VIP packages cost $100 and include the tasting glass, 30 taster tickets, special VIP beer lines with little to no waiting, exclusive VIP only vintage beers, bottled water, and express entry all five days. VIP tickets are limited to 250 and are not available at the door. Advance tickets are available at http://holidayale.com/advance-tickets.php.
Once inside the festival, most full pours costs four tickets, and a taster costs one ticket. Certain limited release and special tappings may not be available in full pours, or may cost extra tickets. Additional taster tickets can be purchased for $1 apiece. Previous years’ mugs or glasses will not be filled. Express re-entry requires a wristband and the 2017 tasting glass, and is subject to the festival's capacity.
Designated drivers in a party of two or more may purchase a designated driver wristband for $10, which includes Crater Lake Soda or bottled water for the duration of the stay. One hundred percent of the money raised by the DD program, as well as from the onsite coat and bag check and the Crater Lake Soda Garden, is donated to the Children’s Cancer Association’s MyMusicRx Program, which delivers the healing power of music to the bedsides of children and teens facing cancer and other serious illnesses.
There will also be two food vendors, as well as self-guided cheese and beer pairings. Event hours are 11am to 9:30pm Wednesday through Saturday, and 11am to 5pm Sunday. To avoid lengthy lines, the festival encourages patrons to attend Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. The Holiday Ale Festival is for ages 21 and over.