UPDATE: Pat Nagel reminds me of another one: The Harmon Brewery and Restaurant will celebrate its 11th Anniversary and Oktoberfest the week of Sept. 22-26 with specials and events. Highlights include the debut of this year's Killer Brew fall seasonal and a five course/five beer brewmaster's dinner hosted by award-winning brewer Mike Davis. More here.
Here's something to take the sting out of fall. This weekend marks the beginning of Oktoberfest season. You don't have to be German by any means to enjoy the harvest celebration, but it sure helps if you: A) love beer, B) like sausage, C) can tolerate oompah music. (Tip: B and C go down a lot easier with A.)
Here in the Northwest, we can enjoy a month-long circuit of Oktoberfests, ranging from traditional to extreme. Here's a rundown. Comment to add your own impressions of the events.
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What: Washington Beer Commission 2nd Annual Oktoberfest.
When: Friday, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, 1-10 p.m.
Where: Pyramid Alehouse parking lot, 1201 1st Ave. S., Seattle
How much: $25, includes mug and tokens
The scene: As you would expect, a very beer-oriented event, with samplings from 30-some Washington state craft brewers. Many styles represented, but an emphasis on fall seasonals, including Leavenworth Oktoberfest from Fish Brewing, Harvest Ale from Boundary Bay and a variety of pumpkin-infused ales.
Tip: Limited food on site, but you're right next door to the Alehouse restaurant. No kids.
What: Mount Angel Oktoberfest
When: Sept. 11-14
Where: Mount Angel, Oregon (southeast of Portland)
How much: Free admission
The scene: With its big German population and a backdrop of hop fields and foothills, sleepy Mount Angel transforms into a Bavarian town every year. Expect a big, family-friendly outdoor festival with something for everyone: traditional music, reasonably priced food, bier and wine gartens.
Tip: Mount Angel is a bit off the beaten path. I'd recommend staying in Salem or Oregon City and getting an early start. Bring a designated driver.
What: Fremont Oktoberfest
When: Sept. 19-21st
Where: Fremont neighborhood, Seattle
How much: Festival free; Microbrew Garden admission $20
The scene: This urban Hiptoberfest might not appeal to the traditionalist, but gets big points for originality, with its Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest, Zucchini 500 car races and Miss Buxom Contest. The 21-and-over beer garden features 35 West Coast breweries, including California cult favorites North Coast and Stone.
Tip: If you'd had your fill of the festival, there are tons of dining and shopping options in the surrounding neighborhoods.
What: Oktoberfest Northwest
When: Oct. 3-5. Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.- Midnight; Sunday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: Puyallup fairgrounds
How much: $8 for adults; kids 12 and under are free
The scene: The fairground event is so authentic and well-organized you'd think it was a decades' old tradition, instead of a 4-year-old startup. It's got a traditional music and food lineup, a Hammerschlagen tournament, daschund races and the "swing girl" (2007 Miss Oktoberfest Tana Miller - "back by popular demand"). Impressive German beer offerings here - Hoffbrau, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Warsteiner. (No mention of Bud Light.)
Tip: Included in admission is the Scandinavian Heritage Festival, a more homespun ethnic event with handmade crafts, great (cheap) food and music. (This event has been around for decades.)
What: Leavenworth Oktoberfest
When: Oct. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18.
The scene: Washington's favorite Bavarian-themed village celebrates Oktoberfest over three consecutive weekends, with music, food, beer and family events.
Tip: A free shuttle is offered from campgrounds and motels.
Note: for those of you with a dirty mind, a firkin is a beer cask, tapped to kick off Oktoberfest.