Towards the end of each holiday season, brewers and beer bars break out the big guns, breaking out into their stockpile of bourbon, rum, gin and various other liquored-up releases—their kind way of lubricating those extra-tricky familial discussions with a sense of overarching red-cheeked joy.
But not all barrel-aged brews are bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts. As with all things malt-made and carbonated, breweries in the Northwest thrive on their ability to curate diversity in alcoholic beverages.
Whether that is pinot barrel-aged porters, fresh-oaked wild ales, or even back-blending some of that whiskey-soaked goodness with regular, unadulterated stock, brewers are constantly finding new was to impress with their strong seasonal selections.
So, this week, hit the town and taste some wood—there's a lot of it to choose from.
Thursday, December 17
Deschutes Abyss Release Party
For the tenth year running, Deschutes will release its Abyss barrel-aged Imperial stout just in time for Christmas—and at the brewpub, they'll host a vertical tasting stretching back to 2011 so you can taste how the previous years' entrants have aged over time. And if you like the 2012 best, just…don't drink the bottles you buy today until 2018. Science! MATTHEW KORFHAGE. Deschutes Portland Public House, 210 NW 11th Ave. 9 am. Free.
Six beers from Alameda, plus six cheese pairings from Cheese Bar's Steve Jones and six raffle prizes handed out throughout the night. The grand raffle prize is a pair of tickets to a Winterhawks match—which is kind of great, because at Winterhawks matches they sometimes give out free ski lift tickets. MATTHEW KORFHAGE. Alameda Brewing Co., 4765 N Fremont St. 5pm. Free.
Friday, December 18
Fifth Annual St. Johns Winter Beer Fest
The fifth annual St. Johns Winter Beer Fest takes place at the finest hole in the wall up North, and will feature regional beer, cider and mead. A three day extravaganza that should have some excellent surprises on tap (they have yet to release a formal taplist), it's the perfect place to pop in for what should be one of the more low-key beer fests in town. PH. Plew's Brews, 8409 N Lombard St. 12 pm-2:30 am. $10 glasses, $1 tickets.
Glühbier at Bazi Bierbrasserie
In celebration of the cold winter nights to come, Bazi heats up some ales for the evening. These warm, spiced brews are something those in the old country called called Glühbiers, and they are traditionally made from Belgian ales. Tonight, old meets new as German, Belgian, Swiss and decidedly American brews all get nice and mulled, creating an interesting and rare treat — whether from a mug or a glass. PH. Bazi Bierbrasserie, 1522 SE 32nd Ave. 5-9 pm. Free.
Saturday, December 20
Wild Stallions II
The folks at the Hop & Vine assemble as many of the nation's finest wild ales as they can this Saturday, with a special Crooked Stave quadruple-feature that includes their illustrious sour Belgian dark strong ale called Motif. Also on tap are many of the best Northwest sours available, and there will be plenty of beer-related swag to be had. PH. The Hop & Vine, 1914 N Killingsworth St. 10 am-10 pm.
Hoplandia Grand Opening
Saddle up St. Johns residents: you're getting another good beer bar. To celebrate its grand opening, the newly-minted Hoplandia (clever) will bring out kegs of Goose Island's Bourbon County (Regal Rye edition), Barley Brown's Handtruck, and various other national gems. They will also have a drawing for a pair of Winterhawks tickets, and pizza from Pizza Nostra. PH. Hoplandia, 8600 N Ivanhoe St. 3 pm-12 am. Free.
Ex Novo Barrel-Aged Tap Takeover
One of Portland's best up-and-coming breweries brings four of its barrel-aged selections south to Imperial for a night of wood-laden debauchery. Featuring a pinot barrel-aged porter with blackberries, and a peated scotch ale aged in heaven hill barrels, among others, there should be plenty to talk about this evening. Just make sure you have a ride home—them brews is boozy. PH. Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom, 3090 SE Division St. 6-9 pm. Free.
Wednesday, December 24
Christmas Eve Eve
The Beermongers brings out some barrel-aged brews to celebrate the day before the day before Christmas, an annual tradition that will have you just hungover enough that you float through typically-painful family discussions. No tap list as of yet, but it should be a good one—these guys are beermongers. PH. The Beermongers, 1125 SE Division St. 3 pm. Free.