Don’t be surprised if you see lederhosen-wearing, bratwurst-gnawing people downtown next Saturday, when the New Bedford waterfront does its best Munich impression at the ninth annual New Bedford Oktoberfest.
To be held from 3 to midnight Oct. 4 at New Bedford State Pier, it’s the closest of four excellent local brewfests between now and Oct. 17 (see the list at the bottom of the column), and will probably be the biggest party of the bunch.
Sponsored by the South Coast Business Alliance, Oktoberfest is massive, featuring local German-inspired food, live music, and lots and lots of fall beers. More than 17 breweries will pour their best malt-bomb Oktoberfest-inspired brews, pumpkin beers galore, and a variety of other fall offerings.
Music will be on tap, too: the Felix Brown Band, Craig DeMelo & Friends, and Four Legged Faithful.
Tickets to this 21-plus event are only $15, but bring more cash, as beers will be $5 per (with a nifty $10 sampler card that supplies five 5-ounce samples), and the variety of food options will leave your mouth watering. Proceeds from the event go to several local charities, so you can attend and know you’re doing good while feeling good.
The toughest decision attendees may have is which of the incredible beers to try. Not only will local favorites Buzzards Bay, Pretty Things, Mayflower, Berkley, Cisco, Naukabout, Foolproof, and Narragansett be there, but they’ll be joined by regional favorites Cambridge, Sam Adams, Wachusett, Smuttynose (and their much-loved Pumpkinhead), Magic Hat, Traveler, and Woodstock.
If that wasn’t enough choice, the fest will also feature national brewers Yuengling, Left Hand, Southern Tier, Firestone Walker, and Brooklyn. Finally, German brewer Spaten will serve up their famous Oktoberfest.
I used some of my industrial espionage skills* to get a partial list of beers that will be poured (the rest of the list was covered in sticky malt from some Oktoberfest brewer), and there are some definite “must try” brews.
Three of the beers on my must-drink list come from local brewers. First, Buzzards Bay’s Boo! is a fantastic beer that defies categorization. The only thing that should scare you about this bready, malty, toffee-ey, smoky dark brown ale is that it’s so delicious and goes down so easily, you could unintentionally drink way too much of it.
Next up, Berkley will be pouring their excellent Harvest Ale, a straightforward Oktoberfest that’s just ridiculously easy-drinking. Creamy, malty, smooth, and surprisingly crisp, this beer could easily be packaged as a German Oktoberfest import and fool everyone.
Finally, Cisco’s Pumple Drumkin is a fascinating pumpkin beer that ain’t for the faint of heart. The Nantucket brewers might have gone a bit crazy when adding spices to this beer, as it contains just about every flavor one can imagine that goes with pumpkin. I find it complex and quite good, but others have been turned off by its cornucopia of flavors.
Since Southern Tier will be there, I’m hoping they’ll bring their Pumking, which may very well be my favorite pumpkin ale. Incredibly rich, full of flavor, and weighing in at 8.6 percent alcohol by volume, this is a titan of the pumpkin beer world, and must be experienced by anyone who enjoys, or even tolerates, pumpkin beers.
Just remember that you’ll have to get home from this fest, so please drink in moderation and/or bring a designated driver. Nothing ruins a great night like drunk driving.
* Industrial espionage skills = emailing the folks in charge of the event.
Originally published on September 25, 2014