Oktoberfest started in Munich, Germany, 199 years ago as a celebration of royal marriage; today, the original festival in Munich is the largest fair in the world, attracting more than 6 million people per year, and similar festivals have sprouted up around the globe. This year, Oktoberfest already is in full swing, taking place Sept. 19-Oct. 4.
In Fremont, Wash., the 13th annual Oktoberfest kicked off Sept. 18. This year it was the West Coast host for the 20th year celebration of “The Simpsons” — which sponsors some of the top microbrew festivals like Oktoberfest on the Minneapolis Riverfront, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati USA, The Great American Beer Festival and Hotoberfest in Atlanta — partially because Seattle has the highest viewing record of the show in the country. Fremont Oktoberfest featured more than 70 microbrews on tap, three beer gardens, two live entertainment stages, a Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest, Brew HA-HA Comedy Show and 5K run and more.
One Oktoberfest celebration has been up and running for nearly a month. Philadelphia’s McGillin’s Olde Ale House started pouring the seasonal beers on Aug. 25, including McGillin’s 1860 IPA, Stoudt’s Festbier, Flying Fish’s Octoberphish, Victory’s Fest, Jack’s Pumpkin Spice and a variety of rotating seasonal beers. The festivities also feature German cuisine like mussels steamed in Oktoberfest beer and served over hay and straw noodles, grilled pork loin, dumplings, bratwurst, knockwurst and German potato salad. The celebration will end Saturday, Oct. 3 with the Midtown Village Fall Festival, when the street turns into a beer garden with live entertainment, beer and food.
A number of beer brands are having celebrations of their own by issuing special brews. Thomas Hooker Brewing Co.’s Octoberfest, which received a number one rating in a blind taste test by The New York Times, is available. It is brewed in March and ages in cool lagering caves throughout the summer. The 5.8-percent ABV brew involves the following malts: Canadian 2-Row, Munich Light, Carapils, Caramunich I, Caramunich II, Vienna and Wheat Malt; as well as Spalt, Hallertau and Saaz hops.
Samuel Adams OctoberFest is part of the Samuel Adams Harvest Collection, which is comprised of Boston Lager, OctoberFest, Cherry Wheat, Brown Ale, Irish Red Ale and the brand-new Dunkelweizen. Samuel Adams OctoberFest has a deep golden amber hue that reflects the season. It is a blend of four malts — Harrington, Caramel, Munich and Moravian — and hand-selected Bavarian hops.
Finally, Spaten Oktoberfest Beer, the world’s first Oktoberfest beer, also is available. The medium-bodied beer, amber in color, balances roasted malt flavor with hopes. It has a rich textured palate with an underlying sweetness.
These are just a handful of hearty Oktoberfest brews available. Try one before Oct. 4, when the festivities come to an end. Prost!