Oktoberfest is September 17th to October 3rd – let the fun begin! Our Oktoberfest lager will be on tap around September 29th, and available to-go for celebrations.
Last year, we shared a bit of history on the occasion. This year, we thought we’d help you prepare to host your own with insights from our friends Steve and Rebecca Pierce, of Alpha Beta Hops Farm. They lived in Germany for four years, enjoying many Oktoberfests. They host a fabulous party each year, keeping the tradition alive in Ashland, OR.
What aspects of German Oktoberfest celebrations stand out most?
Steve & Rebecca: The amazing “tents,” holding 4,000-6,000 people, the happy folks eating and singing, and, of course, the beer. People join strangers at the tables and, before you know it, food and beer arrive. Oktoberfest is like the Bavarian Biergartens—the friendly atmosphere, the hum, or roar, of good conversation, great beer, a rousting oompah band, and the sights and sounds of Bavaria.
The normal fare consisted of half a haehnchen (chicken), brotchen (pretzel) and a liter of beer. Food on the midway included pickled herring sandwiches, lebkuchen (gingerbread) heart cookies, steckerlfisch on a stick and cinnamon seasoned nuts. Since food was consumed in the tents or as you walked along, there were lots of finger foods like freshly cut fries with curry ketchup and hot dogs (no buns) that we dipped in ketchup or dark, sweet senf (German mustard).
What do you usually make for Oktoberfest?
Rebecca: We have 40 to 60 guests so our delicious dishes have to be easy to prepare and serve to a crowd. We always include traditional Munich dishes: sauerkraut, pork, sausage, kartoffelsalat (potato salad) and blaukraut (red cabbage). Radi (large white radish sliced paper thin and salted) is traditionally served. We use Daikon.
What foods do you recommend for aspiring hosts?
Rebecca: Try blaukraut and kartoffelsalat. There are lots of recipes online. Find ones that sound good and easy. For an authentic kartoffelsalat, avoid recipes with mayonnaise—it should be vinegary. Roasted or grilled chicken is authentic. Sausages and good crisp skin “hot dogs” are easily prepared. Serve them without a bun so they can be dipped in senf. Try to find large bread pretzels (also dipped in senf). And, of course, good beer and a few “eins, zwei g’suffa!” (one, two, down the hatch!). Add a couple of Bavarian oompah CDs for a great tasting, authentic celebration.
Tell us about the beer you’re brewing for Oktoberfest
We brewed a Lager with Two row, Munich Malt, Belgian Pilsner and Carapils. Of course, we use our organic Cascade hops – not very authentic. We should use Saaz, Tettnanger or Hallertauer. The secret with any lager is to use a good active yeast. I use Wyeast Oktoberfest and brew early enough so the beer can age and condition at about 40-45 degrees for months.
What’s Oktoberfest like at Alpha Beta Hops?
Steve and Rebecca: We celebrate with the folks who volunteered to pick hops with us. It’s a chance to repay them for their hard work and dedication, break out the Weis und Blau (white and blue – colors of Bavaria) decorations and relive the wonderful times we had in Munich and Bavaria. We grill, sample good bier and continue the conversation.
Thanks Steve and Rebecca! We hope this inspires great times with good friends, craft beer and tasty food.