TIME to dust off your giant steins, strap on the lederhosen and march merrily to the nearest boisterous beer hall. This weekend marks the start of Oktoberfest — Munich’s traditional monthlong celebration of sausage, beer and bravado — and on Saturday afternoon, the New York City Brewers Guild will convene its own version, Blocktoberfest, with a party in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, complete with a barbecue smoker, live jazz music and, of course, plenty of refreshing, local suds from 19 NYC breweries.
“Blocktoberfest is a chance for New York City’s breweries to come together and prove that NYC is a great city for beer,” says Guild president Kelly Taylor, owner of Brooklyn’s KelSo Beer Co. and brewmaster for Manhattan’s Heartland Brewery.
While most breweries will be serving their usual flagship beers and fall seasonals, some, including Taylor’s own KelSo, Staten Island’s Flagship and Queens’ Rockaway Brewing, have commissioned brand new German- and Oktoberfest-inspired lagers and ales brewed especially for the event. (Brooklyn Brewery’s venerable Oktoberfest Märzen, first introduced 14 years ago, will also be poured.)
We wanted to see how these fresh-faced local suds compared to their centuries-old Bavarian progenitors, so we pitted the NYC vanguard head-to-head against time-honored German styles. How did the newbies fare? Here’s what we found.
Further fests for the beer besotted
Paulaner, the Bowery-by-way-of-Munich brewpub on the Lower East Side, celebrates Oktoberfest Saturday and Sunday with a special release of master brewer Andreas Heidenreich’s Oktoberfest beer (brewed on-premise in their stunning copper-coated kettles). The festivities will continue through October with live bands every weekend and a special Bavarian menu of housemade sausages, whole suckling pig and veal shanks. 265 Bowery; 212-780-0300, paulanernyc.com.
For beer geeks, Greenpoint’s Brouwerij Lane (78 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, 347-529-6133) will host a special tapping Saturday and Sunday of more than 10 rustic Oktoberfest drafts, including two wooden gravity barrels and several ultrarare Franconian gravity kegs from cult breweries like Mahrs and Weissenohe. Jim Barnes from Shelton Brothers Importers will spin German and Austrian records all evening.
On Sunday, sister brewpub Dirck the Norseman (7 N. 15th St., Brooklyn, 718-389-2940) will celebrate with an expanded menu of German favorites, as well as several special beers made on-premise by brewers Chris Prout and Erik Olsen.