Monday, October 10, 2011

Drink Up! 2011 Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest

by Samantha Grieder
Capital Cooking Contributor

On Saturday, October 8th, crowds gathered for the 12th Annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest Beer Festival. With about 100 vendors, the Village at Shirlington was packed with beer lovers. With taps open from noon to 6 p.m., there was plenty of time to make selections and taste classics to new favorites.

Tickets sold at a base price of $25 and included a wristband, tasting glass courtesy of Capital City Brewing Co., and ten tasting tickets, which seemed to be just enough for most who attended.

Familiar brands included Sam Adams and Allagash, Sierra Nevada and Yuengling. And for those wanting something a little more foreign, there were bound to be a few tents marked with unfamiliar names. Seasonal beers were popular, with many breweries electing to serve their Oktoberfest and Pumpkin varieties. And then there were the eyebrow-raising, truly unexpected, selections, like the almost-confusing and actually a bit sour, Sour Apple beer produced by Epic. For fans of the extra-hoppy glass, area-prominent DC Brau made an appearance, with the brand representative dressed for the occasion in ever-festive lederhosen.

And what's an Oktoberfest without a little food to soak up all the liquid? German food was available for purchase, as long as the 45-minute line wouldn't hold you back. For those willing to wait it out, Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Knackwurst and Bauernwurst were the rewards. Add a side of sweet potato salad, sauerkraut and mustard, for the full German experience. Want more? Bavarian pretzels, larger than your head, were a popular choice. Grab an apple strudel for dessert, and find a place in the shade to sit down.

All in all, Oktoberfest on a gorgeous day is the perfect recipe for success. Guests seemed very pleased, and while overwhelming from the outside-looking-in, making one's way through the event turned out to be very manageable. Having seemingly endless beer taps available in rows helped spread out crowds so that lines weren't too long. 

From the hoppy DC Brau to dark milk stouts to easy-drinking Hefeweizen or fruity Lambics, there was something to please everyone who attended. For a break in the glass pouring, stopping to sit by the fountain or listen to the German music proved successful. Fancy a cigar? Those were available as well. By the 6 p.m. tap closing, a full stomach and content taste buds were perfectly ready for a nap. After all, the event has been 12 years going. Certainly enough time for the planners to get everything just right.

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