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Three of the Best Holiday Beer Festivals to Warm You Up This Season

November 30, 2010 at 11:52 AM | by | ()

Sure holiday stress can create the need for a drink or three, but there’s no need to make your selection from the convenience store’s offerings. The holiday season has brewers on the top of their game as they craft plenty of hops, malt, and seasonal spices into winter warmers in all varieties. Here’s our picks for three festivals from which to take a sip or two.

· Seattle's 2010 Winter Beer Fest:
The Washington Beer Commission is ready to pop the top off many bottles of holiday suds in just a couple weeks, as the 2010 Winter Beer Fest comes to Hale's Palladium in Seattle on December 10 and 11. Expect plenty of winter flavors and seasonal selections from over 30 Washington breweries. If you visit be sure to save us a sip of the Hot Chocolate Ale from Airways Brewing—it features cocoa nibs, spices, and a little ancho chile.

In addition to all the beers that need a sampling, be sure to check out the decorations as well. Each brewery gets into the holiday season by decorating their booth, so let’s see if Lazy Boy Brewing Company can hold onto their title from 2009. Tickets to this year’s shindig are $25—although you can save a couple bucks by ordering them in advance. You’ll get a tasting cup that you can refill with six different five ounce samples, but if you’re extra thirsty additional tastes are available for $1.50 each.

· Orlando Holiday Brew Fest:
Although the weather might not feel too comfortable for Rudolph and his reindeer friends, folks in Florida are getting ready for the Orlando Holiday Brew Fest on Friday, December 3. The party starts around 6pm in Heritage Square in downtown, so there’s no need to battle any Mickey Mouse crowds in order to sample a few adult beverages. Organizers are promising more than 100 different varieties including winter offerings from local breweries and those from overseas. Best of all unlimited samples are included with admission—so be sure to plan on getting a ride home.

Tickets are just $30, but if you visit a couple of local restaurants you might be able to score some $25 advance tickets. Admission includes live music, tasty samples from local restaurants, and again all-you-can-sample beer. The Sunshine State might not be well known for its beer, but places like Swamp Head Brewery and Florida Beer Company are eager to show off their stuff.

Getting things ready for the season in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square

· Portland's Holiday Ale Festival:
If untangling the Christmas lights has you in need of a drink you might be in luck if you’re in the Portland area. Final preparations are underway as the city gets Pioneer Courthouse Square ready for the annual Holiday Ale Festival from December 1 through 5. This year’s event promises more than 50 types of suds to celebrate the season, and best of all most of them are likely only available at a festival like this. We’re intrigued with offerings like the Ho Ho Ho Slapper from Beer Valley Brewing as well as Kentucky Christmas from Hopworks Urban Brewery—this one was aged in bourbon barrels.

Tickets are available for just $20 in advance of the festival, but if you wait to grab you tickets at the gates it’s going to cost you $25. Admission gets you into the winter party as well as five samples of this season’s holiday ales. Despite the festival being outdoors there will be plenty of tents to keep everyone dry in case of less than ideal weather, so it sounds like this festival is a don’t miss.

[Photos: Theworldeffect, jcestnik & Jaunted & Orlando Beer Fest]

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