Prost! it’s time to celebrate Oktoberfest

The Fall is a time for turning leaves, football and for all beer lovers, a time to celebrate Oktoberfest. Although a trip to Munich, Germany would be a once in a life experience clinking steins under the tents in the homeland of beer, you don’t have to travel to Europe to enjoy all this annual Festival has to offer.

Just a few hours drive from Palm Springs up in the mountains is the Annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest. They have been celebrating for forty-five years with log sawing and stein carrying contests as well as a bier garden, authentic food, music and dancing, including the chicken dance. This festival continues for eight consecutive weekends, from September 12 – October 31, so there’s still time to make it a weekend getaway. For more information and to buy tickets go to

But if you’d rather keep your celebration to a day trip, one option is to travel west to Old World Huntington Beach for Orange County’s 39th Annual Oktoberfest. Here you will experience authentic German beers, food and bands. Voted the best Bratwurst in California, enjoy these tasty sausages with a Dunkel, Hefeweizen, or Wit bier while enjoying the live Oom Pah Pa music, there is something for everyone. Wednesday and Thursday evenings admission is free and you can enjoy food trucks, bands and of course beer. On Friday and Saturday evenings the party is for adults 21+ and goes until 1 a.m. with contests and more. But if family fun is more what you’re looking for then plan on going on Sunday for Kinderfest/Family Day. It starts with a parade and includes Dachshund races! This festival is every week, from September 13 – November 1. Call (714) 895-8020 for more information.

Another option is to stay home and invite friends over and have your own Oktoberfest celebration! Pop some pretzels in the oven, grill some brats, whip up your Grandma’s recipe for sauerkraut and buy a variety of German beers to try and you will have all the elements you need for your own Bavarian celebration. Part of the fun is to have a variety of beers for everyone to taste. There are so many choices of German beers available, here are some to consider.

A few traditional choices would include Paulaner Original Munich Lager which is a hearty medium-bodied beer with a hint of spice, Hofbrau Original, a golden beer with a hint of honey. For a dark beer option try Hofbrau Dunkel which was awarded 97pts from Beer Connoisseur, this dark red-brown beer has undertones of caramel, malt and chocolate.

Others to consider include the Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier which was awarded 99pts by Beer Advocate, it is a light and refreshing wheat beer that should appeal to many of your guests. Hofbrau Hefe Weizen, is an old-style wheat beer that is fruity and classic in all the best ways and was awarded 95pts from Beer Connoisseur. Another strong hefeweizen choice is Spaten Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, it has notes of banana and spice and is a nice refreshing option. Another light beer choice that isn’t a hefeweizen would be the Reissdorf Kolsch. It is pale straw in color and is slightly sweet with just a hint of hops. Crisp and fruity it is a nice light-bodied choice.

For dark beer lovers try either the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dark which was given 96pts by Beer Advocate and is a malty wheat beer with hints of caramel and banana. The Paulaner Salvator Doppel Bock is a full-bodied, hearty beer that was given an 88 pts by Beer Advocate and stays true to its Munich roots. Another must try is the Schneider Aventinus Wheat Doppel, this dark ruby beer was rated 97pts by Beer Advocate as well as voted #14 of the Top 25 beers of all-time in 2008. It is complex in flavor with hints of raisins, banana, caramel with an aroma of chocolate, it doesn’t sound like it should be delicious but it is, and should not be missed! Finally an unconventional choice might be the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (Smoke beer). They smoke the barley malt over beech wood logs and this results in a smoky yet sweet beer that is unique and fantastic with food, especially brats! As you can see there are so many wonderful options to make your celebration fun and delicious! All these beers and more can be found at Total Wine Spirits Beer & More in Palm Desert, BevMo in La Quinta and even many grocery chains.