my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio one's on the coast with stephen quinn:
If you can’t make it to Munich for the famous Oktoberfest, being held right now, never fear – there are several smaller versions taking place right here at home!
Harvest Haus begins on Thursday. Ooom-pah, sausages and pretzels, and of course, lots of beer await you at the Queen Elizabeth plaza. Running Thursday, Friday and Saturday this weekend, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next, you can enjoy sword-play and dancing, and cheersing with ceramic steins.
Darby’s Gastown is celebrating Oktoberfest on October 2nd from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. They’re pairing four beer styles, dunkel, marzen, alt and hefeweizen with German fare of pretzels and sausages. No tickets required, just show up and enjoy.
Port Moody’s Oktoberfest runs from September 29th to October 2nd and the 6th to the 9th at 100 Newport Way. There will be beer, pretzels, sausages and kettle corn, live dj, singing and dancing. $20 gets you entry to the tent for one evening, $50 gets you a pass for all the days of the festival.
And the 5th Annual Harrison Beer Festival will be held on October 28 and 29th in Harrison Hot Springs. There’s an Irish-themed cask fest on the Friday night, followed by a tasting festival during the day on Saturday, culminating in an Oktoberfest dinner and dance on Saturday night.
Looking for something a little different to do? Why not try a craft beer corn maze! There’s one in Abbotsford running 11:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m. every weekend until October 23rd. The Roadside Harvest Social will provide fun for the whole family – dogs included! There will be three different corn mazes, one for the kids, one for all-ages and one for those wanting to drink their way through it; plus a pumpkin patch, play area, dog bar, photo booths, lounge area and craft beer garden. Entry is $5 for those 3-18 and $10 for those 19+
Roadside’s partner breweries for the craft beer tasting corn maze and beer garden are the Fraser Valley’s Field House Brewing, Ravens Brewing, Old Abbey Ales and Old Yale Brewing. The beer tasting corn maze includes four tasting stations in a three kilometre corn maze with a total of four 3-ounce craft beer samples, and is included in your entry fee.
And looking ahead into November, put these dates in your calendar:
Celebrate Craft... Beer! is a fundraising crafts market and craft beer tasting. It will be held on November 5th at Performance Works on Granville Island. And I have the honour of being one of the jurors selecting the winning beer. Come see which one we choose! Tickets are available on Eventbrite and include a tax receipt for a portion of the $37 price.
Tri-cities cask fest will be held at The Burrard Public House in Port Moody on November 19th from noon til 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 which will get you tasters of 10 cask beers and a beer cocktail. The event is expected to sell out, so get your tickets on Eventbrite now!
Going back to Oktoberfest for a minute, what kind of beer is traditionally drunk at Oktoberfest?
The traditional beer style is Marzen, also often called festbier or oktoberfestbier. This style of lager hails from Bavaria. In 1553 there was a brewing ordinance that decreed that beer was only allowed to be brewed from September 29 to April 23rd. Marzen was brewed in March following a recipe that included high alcohol and hops content to help preserve the beer in cold storage throughout the warmer weather until new beer was again allowed to be brewed. Marzen are full-bodied, malty beers with a dry finish.
Oktoberfest came about as a way to finish off the previous year’s beers and make room in the casks for the new beers to be brewed. If you have to drink a lot of beer in a short amount of time, it only makes sense to have a festival for it! It wasn’t a full-on festival until 1810 though, when King Ludwig invited the city out for his wedding, and it didn’t become totally beer focused until many years later, with Marzen becoming the official beer in 1872. Technically speaking, Oktoberfestbier refers only to beers brewed in the city limits of Munich, such as Paulaner and Lowenbrau. All the rest are Oktoberfest-style beers. In 1990 the style of beer served at Oktoberfest changed to a lighter-bodied, golden-coloured brew, most commonly known as Festbier.
We are full-swing into pumpkin beer and everything pumpkin spiced season. For tasting today I brought in a very amusing anti-pumpkin beer: Category 12 Zombie Repellant Ale.
This is a Belgian red ale with hints of orange and fennel. Category 12 brewed this beer as an alternative to the overwhelming pumpkin-ing of this season.
It is 6.9%. Available in 650 ml bottles at select liquor stores and on tap at 12 Kings Pub on October 7th at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Category 12 tap takeover. You can try the ZRA, plus 7 other Category 12 beers at that tap takeover.
Red ales tend to focus on the malts, but they can be quite hoppy as well. Generally they’re balanced beers with toasted malt characteristics and a light fruitiness. Because this is a “Belgian” red ale, we can expect fruity esters from the Belgian yeast – part of the “orange” flavour. The rest of the fruitiness comes from the Azacca hops, known for their intense citrus and tropical fruit notes.
To round out my beer picks, let’s go with a local Oktoberfest-style beer: Bomber Brewing Marzen – medium-bodied with a dry finish. It’s malty, with some hop bitterness. This seasonal is available in six packs of cans and 650ml bomber bottles at the brewery and liquor stores.
And a twist on the pumpkin beer theme: Phillips’ Toothless Pumpkin Sour Ale. At a mere 4.7% this sour version of the pumpkin spice beer has a sour bite and a dry finish. Available for a limited time in 650ml bomber bottles at private and government liquor stores.