Prost! It’s Oktoberfest

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Did you know that Oktoberfest actually starts in the middle to late September and runs through to about the first week of October? It is the world’s largest Oktoberfest in Germany meaning ‘folk fest’, is a beer festival or travelling funfair. The history books stated that Oktoberfest originated in Munich, Germany on the 12th of October in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig (later to become King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. Since then, it has become an annual festival and celebration accompanied by attractions, fun moments with old and new friends, traditional Volkfest food…..and of course a lot of German beer.

Oktoberfest attendees experience a 16 to 18 day festival loaded with amusement rides, side stalls, games, and most obviously: tons and tons of beer is consumed. In fact, in 2013, a whopping 7.7 million litres of beer were served over the 16 days. You do the math!

It isn’t solely focused on drinking beer. Food is just as important. Festival-goers enjoy traditional foods such as Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick),  Käsespätzle (cheese noodles),  along with Bavarian delicacies like Obatzda (a spicy cheese-butter spread) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

“It’s a huge fun fair and there are a bunch of food vendors who most often sell roasted chicken and shredded radish. At the beginning of the festival, there’s a huge parade where each brewery gets a float which has their first beer barrels on the back,” recounts Dave Bradly who experienced Oktoberfest and lived in Munich, Germany for 7 years. Dave now resides in Ottawa, Ontario and at this time of the year longs to be hollering “Prost!” with his friends in the beer tents.

Photo credit: InterNations Blog

The Oktoberfest experience

“Prost” is German for “cheers”. Alternatively, you could also say “Zum Wohl” (“To your health”). Oktoberfest visitors like having a toast before drinking, a so-called “Prosit”.

We asked Dave about his favourite parts and memories of Oktoberfest. “It’s beer drinking with your friends in the late summer at a beautiful location. The whole city and country come together to celebrate the beer harvest, production, and tasting. Attendees range from infants to ancients!”

On the first day of Oktoberfest, the decorated floats parade into the large fields where the beer tents are equally decorated and at the strike of noon, the first barrels are ‘cracked’ to start the celebrations.  Beer continues to flow for 18 days….

The scale of Oktoberfest is hard to imagine, Dave explains, “There are usually about 11 breweries and each brewery had a tent which was about the size of a football field. Each ‘Bierzelt’ (beer tent) has a different vibe to the next and even though they’re big name breweries, they still feel local.” The serving staff are dressed in traditional Bavarian dress and are able to carry six heavy 1 litre glasses in one hand each! Dave mentions that, “It’s a neat concept. You can go from tent to tent as you sample the different beers. The tents are filled with benches that you simply grab a spot to sit with your friends or strangers and make many new friends as you go.”

 

Celebrating Oktoberfest Locally

Oktoberfest is now celebrated all around the world. Here’s a handful of local breweries that we think are worth raising a beer stein & shouting out “Prost!”

Four Degrees Brewing Company

Just opened this summer, this craft brewery is located in Smiths Falls, Ontario. With 4 beers on tap, we thought the True North of 7 and True South of 7 would be perfect for Oktoberfest. Named for Highway 7 which runs through Ontario, extending from Quebec to Detroit.

Our Savvy Brew Crew member & Sommelier, David Loan, describes True North of 7 as “a Helles Lager, defined as a mildly sweet, low bitterness Munich-style lager with very little foam and notes of honey. Indeed, it’s slightly sweet. A perfect accompaniment to spicy food, with no bitterness, clean and easy drinking.”

True South of 7 is a red ale and has a little lacy foam on top. David describes it as a beer with “flavours of toasted wheat, caramel, and medium bitterness. Lots of sweet malt notes and light effervescence. It’s refreshing a crisp, and very sessionable!”

Photo credit: Four Degrees Brewing Company

 

 

Calabogie Brewing Co.

An hour’s drive west from Ottawa, this brewery located in the heart of the village of Calabogie three friends and an ‘imported’ brewer, opened the doors to this brewery, which has been so popular, they are expanding their production facility into Kanata this fall.

Calabogie crafts a Kölsch-Style Ale called Front Porch. Did you know that “Kölsch” is an acknowledged regional designation and only two dozen brewers can legally call their beer “Kölsch”? This is why beers like Calabogie’s 4.2% ABV (Alcohol by Volume), 32 IBU (International Bitterness Units) Front Porch are often called Kölsch-styled – to protect the designation (much like French Champagne).  This ale-like lager pours a brilliant yellow with nice aromas of lemon with a slight honey malt note. There’s a good amount of biscuit malt base in the flavour with a complimentary herbal hop note ending with crisp citrus.

Photo credit: Calabogie Brewing Co.

 


Kichesippi Beer

Brand new this summer, Commissariat Old Stock Ale celebrates a milestone birthday for one of Ottawa’s oldest cultural attractions – 100th anniversary of the Bytown Museum. Kichesippi co-owner Paul Meek, explains that the inspiration for this beer “was a style that we feel would have been enjoyed back in 1917.  The Bytown Museum is a gem hidden in plain sight in our city and we hope this beer will help bring some well deserved attention to the museum.”

Commissariat Old Stock Ale is currently available in a limited run at the Kichesippi retail store, and it will also be available at special events at the Museum especially in October when it celebrates its official birthday.

Photo credit: CanadianBeerNews

 

 

 

Tuque de Broue

Does it take a family to make a beer? Founder Nicolas Malboeuf has involved in his entre clan at the brewery…including his mom! Located in Embrum, the beers are unique and are always made with local ingredients.

Tuque Dorée Canadian Pale Ale is a flagship beer is intended to be served very well chilled. It asserts itself as a “Canadian Pale Ale”, a new term that’s still being defined. Think about it as the craft brewer’s answer to Molson Canadian! As the name suggests, this is a clear golden colour. The head is thick and foam, with great retention. There’s a lot of flavour here, lightly bitter, a bit malty, and with a silky mouthfeel. With moderate alcohol (4.5% alcohol by volume), this is a terrific session ale. Overall, a great argument for the Canadian Pale Ale style! Pick up a can at the LCBO or The Beer Store.

Photo credit: The Beer Store

 

 

Waller St. Brewing

It still holds the bragging rights as Ottawa’s smallest brewery.  And despite its size, it doubles as a speak easy too– go see it for yourself!

“Hefeweizen is a German-style wheat ale, unfiltered and cloudy from the suspended yeast. Higher temperature fermentation increases the production of the flavour molecule (called an “ester”) isoamyl acetate, which tastes strongly of bananas. As a beer flavour, it can be challenging for some people. But many people DO love it, as seen by the amount produced these days by craft breweries everywhere”, explains David.

Waller St.’s beer Hideaway Hefe lives up to its name: lager coloured, with light foam. “The banana is strong from the beginning – more like over-ripe banana or even those yellow banana candies we used to get as a kid. There’s some yeasty brioche, here, too, along with cloves and bubble gum. It’s certainly an unusual beer!”, states David.

Photo credit: Beer O’Clock Blogspot

 

 

Local Oktoberfests

 

Beau’s Oktoberfest

Friday, September 22nd and Saturday, September 23rd at Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds.
http://www.beausoktoberfest.ca/  Photo credit: Good Food Revolution

 

Captital Oktoberfest Ottawa

Wednesday, October 4th
A fundraiser for Ottawa Heart Institute organized by the Bier Markt at 156 Sparks Street.

http://donate.ottawaheart.ca/site/PageServer?pagename=2017_Oktoberfest_Home#.WZcKbT6GPIU

Creemore Springs Oktoberfest Ottawa

Thursday, September 28th to Saturday, September 30th at Myers Volkswagen Auto Haus at Clarke Fields Park in Barrhaven.
Beer, food & live music.

http://www.oktoberfestottawa.com

 

And of course…. there is always the epic Kitchener-Waterloo annual 9-day festival from October 6 to 14. Over 700,000 people make the pilgrimage to  Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival, which turns out to be the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world…to Munich that is!

The annual Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest

 

The annual 9-day festival has attendance of 700,000 people – now that’s a party! It is billed as Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival, and is the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world. This event runs from October 6-14, 2017.

http://www.oktoberfest.ca

 

This article appeared in the Sept/Oct 2017 issue of Ottawa Life Magazine

 

 

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