The massive Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany kicks off every year in late September. There are more than few local versions that allow you to revel, in spirit at least, with our German friends.
Oktoberfest celebrations start happening early in Milwaukee. Kegel’s Inn (5901 W. National Ave.) lays claim to the first Oktoberfest of the season in late August, and the outstanding Ervtoberfest at Erv’s Mug (130 W. Ryan Rd.) takes place in early September.
But don’t worry if you’ve missed those, there are plenty of options for gemutlichkeit to coincide with the official goings on in Munich.
Bavarian Bierhaus, 700 W. Lexington Blvd.
When: Sept. 6 to Oct. 5; Fridays and Saturdays
What beers you’re drinking: A variety of local brews made by Bavarian Bierhaus, as well as pours from Spaten and Weihenstephan.
Why you should go: Heidelberg Park, adjacent to the brewery, is an ideal setting for several hundred attendees of what is dubbed “Milwaukee’s original Oktoberfest”. Oktoberfest here celebrates six decades of German fun. German bands, dancing and tasty food like rollbraten, spanferkel and the obligatory bratwurst keep people coming back.
Milwaukee Brewing Company, 1128 N. 9th St.
When: Sept. 20 to Sept. 22
What beers you’re drinking: German brews from Milwaukee Brewing, including MKE Lager, Oktoberfest, a hefeweizen, and a dunkel lager.
Why you should go: A beer tent and beer garden provide ample seating overlooking downtown. It’s the first Oktoberfest for Milwaukee Brewing Company and good beer, live music and a menu that includes knockwurst and vegetarian impossible döner kebabs likely mean it won’t be the last.
Milwaukee was ranked among the top 10 cities in the U.S. to celebrate Octoberfest. Placing ninth in the WalletHub 2019 study, Brew City was rated below New York, Denver, Portland, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Seattle and Chicago. “WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across 24 key metrics, ranging from share of German population to number of beer gardens per capita to average price for Oktoberfest celebration ticket.”
Black Husky Brewing, 909 E. Locust St.
When: Saturday, Sept. 21; noon to 8 p.m.
What beers you’re drinking: Black Husky Jodlerkonig Oktoberfest if you’re in fest mode or delicious Sproose IIPA if you’re feeling bitter.
Why you should go: To see Black Husky founder/brewer Tim Eichinger in lederhosen. There’s that, a firkin tapping at 2 p.m., yodeling demonstrations, games of hammerschlagen and a stein holding contest. If you’re looking for a friendly neighborhood Oktoberfest on a slightly smaller scale, this is a good bet.
Dheinsville Historic Park, N128 W18780 Holy Hill Rd, Germantown
When: Sept. 28 to Sept. 29
What beers you’re drinking: Plenty of options include Oktoberfests from Hacker Pschorr, Paulaner, Hofbräu and Leinenkugel. Or, Miller High Life if you’re inclined.
Why you should go: 2019 marks the 25th year of Germantown’s Oktoberfest. The festivities include the standard music and German dancing, but also the popular Dachshund Dash at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Be sure to come hungry, because the menu of food options is massive. Save room for a pork dinner, bratwurst, knackwurst, potato pancakes and a lot more.
Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom, 1037 W. Juneau Ave.
When: Saturday, Oct. 5
What beers you’re drinking: A few German brews are available in the taproom, but go old school with Andeker Helles Lager.
Why you should go: At noon, they’re tapping a firkin of Oktoberfest and the first 70 pints from the cask are free. Also, there’s a brat eating contest to marvel at while you’re casually sipping on your beer.
Sahale Ale Works, 1505 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton
When: Saturday, Oct. 5
What beers you’re drinking: Oktoberfest brews by craft brewers like Explorium Brewpub, Third Space, Lakefront Brewery, The Fermentorium and 3 Sheeps.
Why you should go: If you haven’t been to brewer Matthew Hoffmann’s Sahale Ale Works, now is the time. It’s also a great chance to try seasonal beers from more than a few craft brewing standouts. And you get to vote on which beer you think is the best of the fest.
Deer District, 1111 Vel R Phillips Ave.
When: Oct. 4 to Oct. 6
What beers you’re drinking: Seasonal beers by Leinenkugel’s. Or if you’re looking for a great Imperial IPA, stop into Good City Brewing (333 W. Juneau Ave.) for a Reward IPA.
Why you should go: It’s a downtown festival in its 10th year. The standard Oktoberfest events are happening, but so is a $1,000 bag tournament and the Das Boot Bar Tour, a pub crawl down Old World Third Street on Saturday.
Those are the highlights, but there are plenty more local celebrations to choose from including Waukesha Oktoberfest (Sept. 27-28), Oktoberfest at the iconic Schwabenhof Pavilion (Sept. 27-28), Cedarburg Oktoberfest (Oct. 5-6) and more. Keep an eye out for German fun near you. Prost!
Photos courtesy of: Chris Kessler; Getty Images; Basse’s Farm; Carly Jo Hintz; Joseph Morales and Company; Marcus Center