[FESTIVALS&FOODIES] I traded eggnog for winter ales long ago. Potent, rich and generous on the booze, they're a better allocation of calories for the professional eater. Unfortunately (like eggnog), they vanish with the arrival of cherry blossoms, and that's the best single reason to attend the Holiday Ale Festival, held under a big tent this weekend in the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Steve's Cheese's proprietor Steve Jones won't be selling his curds and whey at the Ale Fest, but the Portland cheese-slinger doesn't hesitate to extol the merits of what he calls his favorite winter beverage. Tucked into a back corner of Northwest Portland's Square Deal Wines, Jones rightly calls beer "bread in a bottle." And what goes better with bread than cheese? He reminds me that cows get fat noshing the grains that become beer. So it's all the same—whether poured from the keg or yanked from the teat.
Here are some of our favorite seasonal ales (along with cheese recommendations for hungry drinkers). You can try some of them at the Holiday Ale Fest, and you can buy all of them at beer emporium Belmont Station (4500 SE Stark St., 232-8538) . Psst: Steve's Cheese is located at 2321 NW Thurman St., 222-6014.
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Holiday Ale Festival, Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave. 11 am-10 pm Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 29-Dec. 1; 11 am-6 pm Sunday, Dec. 2. Free admission, but a $5 mug is required to drink. $1 per beer taste. 21+. Visit holidayale.com for more info.