When Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig tied the knot with Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in October of 1810 a few kegs were tapped and a new tradition was born. The modern “Oktoberfest” is 17 days, culminating with a German Unity Day blowout filled with countless Lederhosen-adorned revelers.
You don’t have to go to Munich to celebrate what has become a beer drinker’s holiday. Michael Agnew, author of A Perfect Pint’s Beer Guide to the Heartland says that celebrating the German festival is easy in the Midwest. You just need to find the right craft brewer and bring your tastebuds. Here are a few of his suggestions:
August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, Minnesota
“This old, family-owned brewery has deep German roots,” Agnew says. “It hosts about as authentic an Oktoberfest as you are likely to find in the US.”
Schell’s has an Oktoberfest that is enjoyed seasonally, but in A Perfect Pint’s Beer Guide Agnew recommends Schell’s pils as well. The pils is “brewed Solidly in the German Style, it is light, crips, and drive with a sharply bitter bite.”
Capital Brewery, Madison, Wisconsin
Capital has an Oktoberfest celebration in their beer garden. But, sorry, you’ve missed it. The event was September 14th. This doesn’t mean the celebration can’t continue, however. You can still pick up the recommended Autumnal Fire.
“A strong doppelbock based on an Oktoberfest recipe, this beer pours a beautiful ruddy amber. It features an intense malty sweetness with loads of raisin and dark fruit flavors.”
Bull Falls Brewery, Wausau, Wisconsin
German-style lagers are the specialty of Brewmaster Michael Zamzow. Beer Guide author Agnew recommends the Zwickel, an unfiltered pilsner “dominated by spicy, black-licorice hop flavors.”
Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Chicago, Illinois
The Oktoberfest Märzen Bier is a seasonal favorite at this Randolph Street brewer. The Guide also notes “no other brewpub in Chicago focuses on Belgian-style beers to the same extent.”
Millstream Brewery, Amana, Iowa
Millstream and the Amana Colonies have a whole weekend of Oktoberfest events 10/3-5.
During the celebration you can pick up a Child Brau Amber Lager: “This traditional Vienna style is a fifteen-time national award winner, including taking the gold medeal in the 2010 World Beer Cup.””