New Year’s Eve? St. Patrick’s Day? Venerable and established drinking holidays for sure, but ones that often devolve into bedlam and mayhem. Amateur Night.
Seasoned drinkers know that the real holiday to look forward to is already upon us.
We’re talking about Oktoberfest.
Held in Bavaria from mid-September to the first Sunday in October, this festival originated as a royal wedding reception party of sorts but eventually came to focus on celebrating agriculture and the community.
Growing in size and scope, Oktoberfest has come to include games, music, oodles of German fare and, of course, beer!
Märzens are your Traditional Oktoberfest beers. Malty and sweet, they go really well with brats, roasted chicken and all-sorts of other fatty, meaty goodies. As the times have changed, some ‘Fest beers have become lighter in color and body, perhaps hoping to cater to palates that, having been enslaved by rice-adjunct lagers, are yet unaccustomed to the full-bodied flavor of the original brews. Have them if you must but I will deny that we are affiliated in any way.
As the season is nigh, these two South Shore joints are hosting their own versions of Oktoberfest. Strategic planing (as well as Lipitor) is needed in order to maximize your ingestion of belly-filling German grub and delicious beer.
A personal tradition, T.J. Finley’s in Bay Shore hosts it’s 9th annual Oktoberfest this Saturday, Sept. 17.
Starting at 3 p.m., the first 300 attendees get a free liter mug. Large enough to be considered a small fishbowl, it is absolutely essential for getting great beer into your belly as quickly as possible.
A large tent in the back shelters tables where, for a modest fee, you can load up on (Americanized) German fare. Nothing as exotic as hasenpfeffer but enough brats and pretzels to balance your intake of märzen. (This is important.)
Traditional breweries such as Warsteiner, Paulaner and Hofbrau are on hand as well as a slew of craft breweries offering their own versions of Oktoberfest beers.
Located in idyllic Bellport Village, Porters will be hosting it’s own Oktoberfest celebration Sept. 25. Like last year, the village parking lot next to Porters will serve as the fairgrounds.
There will be a section with a bouncy house and face painting for the kids as well as a booth for Carla Marla’s sweets (you’ll still have to go across the street to the actual Carla Marla’s for killer ice cream, though).
Pay-as-you-go for Oktoberfest style beer dispensed from a beer truck (last year, I think it was Blue Point Brewery’s rig) and plates of food. Live music too.
You won’t drop as much dough as at Finley’s, but this one proved to be a good time as well.
It’s earned a spot in my Fall Must Do list.
[Editor’s note: Here is a late edition to the local lineup of Oktoberfest events: The VIP Gardens at Mediterranean Manor is throwing its First Annual Oktoberfest Celebration featuring Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers provided by Blue Point Brewery. This is on Oct. 6. 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.]
Hofbrau Bierhaus Patchogue and the newly resurrected Pine Grove Inn (long a bastion of all things Germanic) haven’t any parties planned, though Bierhaus states they will have a special Oktoberfest menu.
I might expect something from these two players a little later in the game, because for them to not celebrate Oktoberfest is akin to a bar named ‘O’McFlannaCarthy’s” not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
Regardless, at least hit the Finley’s and Porters ‘Fests. And keep your eyes peeled at your local watering holes as the bready, malty, sweet and satisfying märzens hit the tap lines.
These are the true beers of autumn.
Photo: The Biergarten entrance behind T.J. Finley’s in Bay Shore. (courtesy)