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10 must-visit Oktoberfests

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Keg bowling at the Denver Oktoberfest.

Keg bowling at the Denver Oktoberfest.



The Great American Beer Festival isn’t the only beer event worth visiting this fall: September and October are stacked with Oktoberfest celebrations, and there’s one (more like 100) for every region of the country. I’ve sifted through a slew of upcoming events and cherry-picked 10 of the best Oktoberfest bashes coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Zinzinnati Oktoberfest / Cincinnati / Sept. 19-21

Samuel Adams sponsors this bash, described as the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the country, which draws half a million people to downtown Cincinnati every year. With a “larger than life” glockenspiel—a giant musical clock fitted with a bar and stage that chimes every hour—it’s no wonder why this event is such a draw. Come for the selection of Sam Adams beer, including Boston Lager and Oktoberfest, but stay for the running of the wiener dogs, the Gemuetlichkeit games, the world’s largest chicken dance (led by boy-band bros Nick and Drew Lachey), and German-style food.

Denver Oktoberfest / Denver / Sept. 19-21; Sept. 26-28

This fest is so awesome it spans two consecutive weekends. Born in 1969, Denver Oktoberfest now welcomes roughly 350,000 visitors annually (considering it’s held right before October’s Great American Beer Fest, fall offers no shortage of beery bashes in the Mile High City). Sip beers from Coors and Samuel Adams, and then switch it up with pours from Angry Orchard and, if you’re brave, shots of Jager. The weekends—just before GABF, no less—are packed with stein hoisting, brat eating, keg bowling and dog racing.

Blocktoberfest / Brooklyn, N.Y. / Sept. 20

Spend a day tipping back beer from some of greater New York City’s finest breweries at Blocktoberfest in and around Brooklyn’s Kelso Brewing, and raise money for a beery cause (the event doubles as a fundraiser for NYC Beer Week 2015). Blocktoberfest features DJs, bands (including Banded Brewers, a group composed of various brewery employees) and a selection of culinary treats from the likes of Beer & BBQ Truck, the offshoot of notable bar Jimmy’s No. 43.

Longmont Oktoberfest / Longmont, Colo. / Sept. 26 and 27

Six local breweries—Oskar Blues, Pumphouse, 300 Suns, Grossen Bart, Long’s Peak and sponsor Left Hand—team up for this Bavarian fest at Roosevelt Park in the heart of Longmont. The two-day event packs a wealth of fun, from the Brewer’s Bicycle Parade to the World’s Longest Bratwurst to competitions like tug-of-war, stein holding and malt sack races (great calorie-burners after gorging on beer and food from local Abo’s Pizza, Styria Bakery and Georgia Boys BBQ).

Upland Indy Oktoberfest / Indianapolis / Sept. 27

Indiana’s Upland Brewing is bringing Munich to downtown Indy later this month when it stages its Oktoberfest celebration under a giant tent in the city’s 14-acre Military Park. The event features an entire court dedicated to food trucks, a lineup of local music and the headlining ingredient: liter steins of the brewery’s Oktoberfest Bavarian-style Lager.

Oktoberfest Live! / Philadelphia / Sept. 27

Staged inside Philly’s energetic Xfinity Live! entertainment zone, this Oktoberfest bash is for serious beer nerds. Unlimited samples (yes, unlimited) of 200 beers from roughly 100 breweries will pour around the complex, including areas dedicated entirely to pumpkin ales, Oktoberfest-style beers and ciders. While you’re there, swing by Victory Beer Hall, Victory Brewing’s onsite pub, for a slew of house pours.

Munich on the East River / New York City / Oct. 3-5; Oct. 10-12

The East Village’s Zum Schneider biergarten might just be the closest you’ll get to a real Oktoberfest celebration when it hosts its annual Munich on the East River next month. A German-fluent staff dressed in traditional garb will sling steins of Hofbräu Traunstein Festbier and Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen, as well as plates of authentic bites like Weisn-Hendl and Haxn (Oktoberfest roast chicken and pork shank) inside the festival tent. Bonuses: live oompah and a strongman competition.

Harpoon Oktoberfest / Boston / Oct. 3 and 4

Next month, the Boston brewery opens its doors for its 24th annual New England-style Oktoberfest (which, I suppose, means it’s wicked good). Three stages showcase a collection of New England bands, from poppy Summer Villains to the traditional Oberlaendler Hofbrau Band. Since you’re at the brewery, expect a huge lineup of Harpoon beers, including its IPA, Oktoberfest and UFO Pumpkin, which should help you wash down plates of German-style fare.

Los Angeles Oktoberfest / Los Angeles / Oct. 4 and 5

A wine tasting at an Oktoberfest celebration? Sure, why not? This L.A. bash may feature our second favorite beverage (actually, fourth, behind beer, cider and mead), but plenty of beer still flows: The likes of Ballast Point, Black Star, Spaten and PBR will all be in attendance. Sip your suds to the beat of DJs, cut a rug with the Bavarian dancers, and test your brawn during the stein holding competition.

Linde Oktoberfest / Tulsa, Okla. / Oct. 16-19

Six tents set up throughout Tulsa’s River West Festival Park offer more than 50 different beers from the likes of Boulevard, Marshall, Spaten, Samuel Adams, Shiner and Warsteiner. Knock back a few of them before diving into an epic list of German-style dishes including schnitzel, Bavarian cheesecake and strudel, plus carnival fare like kettle corn and funnel corn, all best eaten after a spin on the carnival rides. If you have kids in tow, swing by the Das Jungendzelt tent packed with entertainment geared toward little ones.

[Image courtesy of the Denver Oktoberfest]

 

Author
Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.

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7 Comments

  • Bruce Davis says:

    You should have included an Oktoberfest that was deemed so authentic by Lord Mayor Christian Ude that he along with the support of the Bavarian Parliament made it the only officially sanctioned Oktoberfest outside Germany. It is a great one with German bands and schuhplattler, etc. Since Frankenmuth is the US headquarters for Hofbrau, the kegs of Hofbrau Oktoberfest beer are as fresh as can be.

  • DWitt says:

    Leavenworth didn’t make the list … Man, people are missing out on the best Oktoberfest in the western US. And how is Milwaukee not on there…

  • Thenhaus says:

    Allow me to add Soulard and Urban Chestnut Oktoberfests (both in St. Louis) to the list of overlooked festivities. The former features lots of high quality imports (e.g. Kulmbacher, Mönchshof, Spaten) and the latter is helmed by a brewer from Munich who brews great German-style lagers.

  • Ben says:

    Asheville Oktoberfest- October 11 features 15+Native breweries from the stories Beer City USA, always fun Stratton mountain Boys traditional band, the largest free range organic chicken dance, local rock bands and the Brewer Games to take home the title and “Das Boot” trophy – a huge icon in pride in the NC mountains!
    It’s always a wild time with great people! – Perfect size, attitude, festivity and in the cool southern Appalachians!

  • Jeff Bedel says:

    Milwaukee doesn’t deserve to be on the list (per DWitt’s comment), but Glendale, WI does.

  • The Beer God says:

    I think no list would be complete without Oktoberfest on Beer Corner USA! Home to the Crescent Moon Ale House, Huber Haus German Bier Hall, Max & Joe’s Belgian Tavern and Beetopia (and a DRAFT Magazine top 100 American Beer bar) in Omaha, Nebraska is one of the best Oktoberfests in the Midwest. Held yearly the last weekend of September, this 2 day event boasts Oktoberfest beers from Germany and the US, an HUGE biergarten serving over 25 different biers, as well as another 67 on tap inside the 3 bars, lots of German food, live music and plenty of gemulickeit! In 2013 Oktoberfest on Beer Corner USA saw attendances of just over 10,000 people, served over 300 kegs of beer, and served a bratwurst almost every 53 seconds!

    For more information visit http://www.beercornerusa.com

  • George Miller says:

    The Oktoberfest at Andy’s Corner bar last Saturday was the best!!!!!

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