Oktoberfest is something we can get behind: It’s a celebration of camaraderie, home-cooked food, and lots and lots of good beer. The annual German tradition technically takes place during the month of September, but with biergartens making merry well into the month of October, why limit ourselves? From river-side picnic tables to historic urban drinking halls, here are some of our favorite Oktoberfests and Biergartens around the country (USA, that is). Prost!
Frankford Hall, photo courtesy of Stephen Starr Group
You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the fraus and fraulines queued up to enter Frankford Hall. Yes it’s worth it, and yes it moves quickly. Bundle up or grab a spot by the fire pits, but plan on spending a few hours at one of Philly’s go-to spots. Classic German beer and schnitzel abound, or go for a new-age beer cocktail (Respect Your Elder has a nice zip to it). The cheese spatzle with carmelized onions will definitely provoke getting seconds (they say spatzle, we say mac n’ cheese), or hail one of the “pretzel girls” who’s slinging hot soft pretzels right on the spot. Can’t get enough of this biergarten? Neither can the locals – Frankford Hall is open 7 days a week, all year round. We’ll drink to that.
If you can’t make your way to Munich, make your way to the next best place: Milwaukee. Located along the Milwaukee River in Estabrook Park, Estabrook Beer Garden is the real deal: German Hofbrau beer is served in heavy glass steins (1 Liter = 3 beers, so pace yourself), giant pretzels and bratwurst are always hot off the grill and live polka bands set the mood on weekends. The ‘Brook is in full swing now through Sunday, November 8.
With a name like Der Biergarten, you know you’re in for something slightly kitschy, very delicious and distinctly Bavarian. Pull up a bench outside in traditional family style seating and cheers new friends and old with pints of Weihenstephan – the world’s oldest commercial brewery. And share (or don’t…) classic dishes like schweinshaxe, sauerbraten and strudel. If you’re a local with a love of beer, join the Stein Club – a personalized stein and any beer for $8, any time.
Though the Southern vibes are distinctly stronger than the German ones, Charlotte’s VBGB has still mastered the art of Getmütlichkeit (good times). Perhaps it’s the union of two great cultures: NC beer is served up in traditional German steins, long picnic tables are great for board games, and sauerkraut and jalapeño slaw makes a surprisingly excellent burger topping. A tasty melting pot, indeed!