Beer, brats and wiener dogs - it's a weird combination, but it's what makes the Oktoberfest Northwest such a freakishly interesting collision of culture and food. Beer and brats are served all weekend, the wiener dog races are Sunday only.
For beer: Prepare yourself for a mild irritation. You have to stand in two lines for beer. First, buy a ticket at the ticket booth marked for beer ticket purchase. Then, take your ticket to the bar at the back of the Showplex and swap your ticket for a plastic cup of beer or wine. A beer last year cost $6. The beer tickets last year could be purchased for cash or credit.
Beer list this year: Warsteiner Dunkel, Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Hofbrau Oktoberfest, Paulaner Munich Lager, Paulaner Hefeweizen, Hacker-Pschorr Maibock and Snoqualmie Harvest Moon.
Food: Last year, the restaurants were set up at four take-out windows and a few kiosks. Lines were long last year. Warning: If it's set up the same this year, you will need to bring cash for the food. The four cafes I visited didn't take cards last year. There are cash machines just outside the Showplex.
Food prices: Last year, the cheapest items were in the $7 range and that didn't get you much (a bratwurst or small sandwich). This isn't a grazing event, most of the food is served in pretty big portions. Expect most meals to cost at least $10.
My favorite meal from last year: Bruno's served my favorite dishes last year. I rate the Parkland restaurant the best in the region for German and Eastern European food (it's like eating in your best friend's grandma's kitchen). Last year, Bruno's served a roast pork dinner ($10) and I see it's on the menu again. The name of the dish is schweinebraten, which is about as fun to eat as it is to say. Last year, roasted pork was topped with a thin gravy and came with two of my favorite Bruno's side dishes - potato salad - potatoes pushed through a ricer and flavored with a hit of vinegar - and the cafe's sauerkraut. This year, they've got that menu item listed and also cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce, curry wurst, bratwurst and kartoffelpuffer, potao pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream.
Perfect beer food: If you've been to a food festival around here, you've probably encountered the Zieglers bratwurst people. Last year, I ordered their spicy brat ($7.50) and thought it was one of the better deals served - and also perfect food to go with beer, naturally. My brat was served on a hoagie and came with a healthy pile of sauteed onions and kraut. The best part was that I could eat it while walking around - which I did while watching the yodelers perform.
Also on the menu this year: Crepe Chalet will sell crepes, stroganoff and a German burger. Kaleenka will sell piroshkies. Gutes Essen Haus will return with a pork schnitzel plate or schnitzel sandwich, also brats and apple fritters.
Last year: Read my full review of last year's eats and see photos of all of last year's menus here.
Where to sit: Long rows of tables right in front of the stage, and cafe tables scattered throughout the showplex.
Kids stuff: Kids are welcome during daytime hours. Last year, kid activities included a pumpkin painting table and a bag toss.
Entertainment: Singing on the stage throughout the weekend. Also, there's lots and lots of dancing (that's what happens at a beer festival). I also saw a group of people in the outdoor beer garden singing in German last year - on key, even. Pretty sure they weren't paid entertainers, but they were just as fun to watch. [caption id="attachment_11801" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Wiener dog races are Sunday only. "] [/caption]
Wiener dog races: Only dogs registered for the race are allowed at the festival. The dachshund races take place Sunday only. Click here for details.
Oktoberfest is housed in the Americraft Showplex building, so it's all indoors, although that's really not something of concern if the weather report is accurate - it looks like it will be sunny for much of the weekend.
Oktoberfest Northwest 2012When: Friday Oct. 5 - Sunday Oct. 7, 2012. Hours are 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday Where: Puyallup Fairgrounds; oktoberfestnw.comAdmission: $10 on Oct. 5-6, $5 on Oct. 7. Kids always free. Free admission also 11 a.m-3 p.m. Oct. 5. Parking: Free, enter through the blue gate Bring cash, expect lines: A few things may slow you down. Last year, there were two lines for beer - one to get the ticket for beer, another for the actual beer. Also, the food vendors only accepted cash last year.
MORE UPCOMING OKTOBERFEST CELEBRATIONS:
Oktoberfest in the Theater DistrictWhen: noon-10 p.m. Oct. 13Where: Opera Alley (near St. Helens Avenue) Cost: $5Food: Stink and Puget Sound Pizza will serve food themed for the event. The Mix will sponsor a themed beer and wine garden with Oktoberfest and seasonal brews from local breweries. Proceeds: Go to the Tacoma Theater District AssociationAge: 21 and older only Live music: Whoopee Cats (1-4), Palmer Junction (4-7) and Kim Archer Band (7-10) Enumclaw OktobeerfestWhen: Oct. 19-20Where: Enumclaw Expo Center; enumclawoktobeerfest.comAdmission: $20 for a two-day pass; purchase at the website or at retail locations listed on the website Beers, brewing and brats will be at this festival, which will include more than 30 brews. Brewing seminars and bottling demonstrations will delve into the hoppier side of the beer trade. There will be dancing, singing and comedy delivered by John Keister of “Almost Live” local TV fame. This could be your chance to heckle him for all those Enumclaw and Buckley jokes.